Dogs Fly, Books, Unsung Art, Vistas, Dolphins in Los Angeles! by da-AL


Having people stay over is the best time to get to know my sprawling Los Angeles better! This month we had the bonanza of double guests. I’m kicking myself (metaphorically) for botching photos of some family, so please envision cheery faces between all these shots…

Pasadena’s lovely Norton Simon Museum (of art), is modestly sized yet dense with treasures! Pablo Picasso apparently made the women in his life miserable, which may explain why this one finds sweet refuge in her book…

Woman with a Book, 1932, Pablo Picasso of Spain, oil on canvas.

I knew about Edgar Degas’ captivating ballerina sculptures (the Norton also features some of those), but not that he created atmospheric monotypes…

Autumn Landscape (L’Estérel),1890, Edgar Degas of France, monotype in oil colors on heavy cream-colored laid paper.

Unsung artists sing out! There’s a special place in my heart for ‘unknown’ artists, given my current status as a not-yet-published novelist. In this work by a lesser-known painter, this hat maker might be more content reading a book, no?…

The Milliner by Valere De Mari of the U.S., 1917, pastel on wove sketch pad paper.

Reading Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-winner “The Goldfinch,” which sets an amazing portrait of a little bird at its core, put me in the mood for Dutch art. Unknown artist(s?) committed these masterly tulips to paper for a tulpenboek, a.k.a. a humble flower catalog…

Branson, c. 1640, gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper.
Root en Geel van Katolikn, c. 1640, gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper.

Animal lovers, join me in a swoon at this visual paean to dogs! Note the proud master’s coat of arms on the collar, his ‘country house’ in the background…

Aldrovandi Dog, c. 1625, Giovanni Francesco Barbiere (a.k.a. Guercino) of Italy, oil on canvas.

Griffith Park is as wonderful for the park itself as it is for the views. You met this part of my family first here

My year ‘round Valentine and moi in front, Angela and Kim in back, with the sun on our faces, the wind in our hair, and grand Los Angeles behind us.

Our doggie barely touched the ground, she had that much fun at Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach. Thank you, Justin, for your many many good works, including getting the city to okay this canine paradise. As for dolphins, dear reader, your imagination is needed — every dang many times those amazing creatures surfaced only yards from us, they eluded my photography. All the same, they were breathtaking!!!!!…

See the joyous dog in flight, visualize the dolphins cavorting, ignore the oil rigs in the background…

What sight do you most wish you could have photographed?

Beautiful Barcelona, Spain by da-AL


Heading off to La Rambla

This is the first of several posts on my a-w-e-s-o-m-e vacation to Spain and France. It’s no wonder that my upcoming novel is called, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat”!

Barcelona is wonderful off-season. In October, the weather was mild and the densely populated ancient city offered my husband and me a great start to a Spain/France adventure. We arrived a Friday evening, bleary-eyed from an overnight flight. Once at our rented room in a centuries-old flat, we stepped outdoors for a quick unexpectedly gourmet dinner. Upon return, we tumbled into bed where stupor overtook us. Fourteen hours later, we woke at two the next afternoon. Our self-imposed itinerary, not to mention our equilibriums, was already thrown off kilter. After sandwiches across the street, we set off for Barri Gòtic, (the Gothic Quarter).

The Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square) was the first of the gorgeous sites we enjoyed over the next few days. Barcelona is part of the larger community of Catalonia. At the square, an unfinished upside-down staircase towers over Catalunya’s first president, Francesc Maciá, representing Catalonia’s ongoing history. The monument was designed by artist Josep Maria Surbirachs.

The Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square) was the first of the gorgeous sites we enjoyed over the next few days. Barcelona is part of the larger community of Catalonia. At the square, an unfinished upside-down staircase towers over a bust of Catalunya’s first president, Francesc Maciá, representing Catalonia’s ongoing history. The monument was designed by artist Josep Maria Surbirachs.

da-AL at the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia

The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is an eye-popping church still under construction since it began in 1835, scheduled for completion in 2028. Cranes continue to erect the innovative structure, its spires akin to the most amazingly intricate candle on the verge of melting heavenward back to the fantastical spirit world from whence it came.

Revelers after pro Spain rally

The cultural and economic arguments for and against Catalunya becoming independent from Spain are beyond the scope of this post. The weekend before we visited, a rally for succession ended in police brutality. Many worried that a subsequent pro-Spain rally scheduled for the Sunday when we were there might end badly too. Fortunately for everyone, the gathering was peaceful and we enjoyed a walk along the La Rambla neighborhood.

skateboard park - rennovated warehouse district

An ally near La Rambla

Throughout Barcelona, art reigns supreme, from the Museu Picasso (Picasso Art Museum) to architect Antonio Gaudi’s many buildings, to street art including this music/graffiti/skateboard park.

da-AL with cousin at Barcelona Cathedral

Our vacation started with a highlight: reconnecting with a cousin I hadn’t seen in far too long and meeting her lovely husband.

Catedral de Barcelona

After they guided us through the vicinity of the Barcelona Cathedral, they drove us up Montjuic for a delicious meal and an impressive aerial view of the city.

dinner at Montjuic

The following morning, we woke refreshed. We rented a car and let the GPS lead us to Basque Country, which lies half in Spain and half in France.

Learn more about Barcelona, the monument at Catalonia Square, Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum, the Barcelona Cathedral, and Montjuic.

From Barcelona, we drove through wonderful Huesca, pretty Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and enchanting Espelette. We were headed further into phenomenal French Basque Country (Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bayonne, and Biarritz), then to experience the food and seaside dogs of San Sebastián, Spain, and to breathtaking Bilbao