Huntington Library, Art, and Gardens by da-AL

da-AL at The Huntington, sitting on a bench in rose garden

What better way is there to celebrate a special occasion than with an all-day excursion of gorgeous weather, strolling an array of gardens that span rainforest to desert and Japanese to Australian to more, seeing the worlds’s stinkiest (and amusingly phallic) plant, eating international fare, admiring fine art museums, and ending it all with a high tea?

My honey and I spent our special day at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (a collections-based educational and research institution) located in San Marino, California. Tap photos for captions…

da-AL and her honey having high tea at The Huntington

What’s your favorite way to celebrate a special day?

A Day at Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum by da-AL

Van Gogh self portrait
Van Gogh self portrait

Great museums and art galleries abound in Los Angeles. to such an extent that we’ve become and art city to be internationally reckoned with.

New sites open all the time. By the end of this year, the Marciano brothers who founded Guess Jean will open a venue displaying their ample collection of modern art.

One of many Rodin sculptures at Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum
One of many Rodin sculptures at Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum

Among the giants like the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the Getty, Pasadena’s Norton Simon holds its own. Freeway close with plenty of free parking, and a minimal entry fee, you’re not even at the front door before impressive Rodin statues greet you.

Van Gogh's portrait of his mom
Van Gogh’s portrait of his mom

Inside, Van Gogh paintings fit neatly among an endless array of classics such as Picasso and Degas.

Picasso's Woman with a Book
Picasso’s Woman with a Book
Henri Rousseau's Exotic Landscape
Rousseau’s Exotic Landscape

An entire underground wing houses Asian loveliness.

Aristide Maillol's Mountain
Maillol’s Mountain

The rear of the museum features patio dining with reasonably priced upscale fare. Refresh yourself near ducks swimming in a pond. Thoughtful water-wise landscaping of native plants highlights more masterpiece sculptures.

What’s your favorite museum?

Norton Simon Museum

Norton Simon on Wikipedia

Even the Best Writers, Including Octavia E. Butler, Work Hard on Self-Motivating by da-AL

Ever think you, especially if you’re a writer, are alone in your self-doubt?

Fear not alone. Even the best work hard to keep their self-esteem high and dry. Pioneer sci-fi writer Octavia E. Butler wrote pep talks to herself.

Handwritten writing notes on inside cover of one of Science Ficiton novel writer Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Copyright Estate of Octavia E. Butler.
Handwritten notes on inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Copyright Estate of Octavia E. Butler.

Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was a multiple Hugo Award and Nebula Award winner. She was the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship’s “Genius Grant.” All that, plus she was the first African-American woman to be officially recognized as a fabulous sci-fi writer.

Despite her achievements, she worked to bolster herself. Tangible evidence exists as part of “Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories,” a new exhibition dedicated to her life and work, at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (also called The Huntington) in Los Angeles. She left her collection to The Huntington, including extensive drafts, notes, and research materials for more than a dozen novels, numerous short stories, and essays, as well as correspondence, ephemera, and assorted books.

Photo of Science Fiction novel writer Octavia E. Butler near Mt. Shuksan, in Washington state, 2001. Photographer unknown.
Octavia E. Butler near Mt. Shuksan, in Washington state, 2001. Photographer unknown.

Born in Pasadena, California, Butler started writing as a kid. It took her a long time and suffering through many non-writing jobs to develop her style and eventually sell many, many stories, including her Patternist series, her Xenogenesis series, and her Parable series (aka Earthseed series).