Iles Saint Louis, looking towards Notre Dame cathedral.
Dinner with color. Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, stirfried beef with Chinese greens, steamed purple broccoli, rainbow color s
Swiss chard braised in broth with tumin seeds.
Two and a half months after I finished the conversion of my front lawn into a drought tolerant garden and submitted my photos of the conversion to the Metropolitan Water District, the eagerly anticipated check came in the mail! For about 1357 square feet of lawn conversion, I got a rebate of $2.00 per square foot for a total of $2714, and a chock full of good feeling that I did my part to help out with the water conservation effort that is needed in California.
The check doesn’t nearly cover the total amount of money I ended up paying to landscape the yard, build planters, knocking out the front wall of the house to install a knock out gorgeous sliding door that opens to the deck. However, the satisfaction I am getting with all the work is well worth the effort, and the check certainly helped. The garden is totally inviting and usable now. I love sitting on my deck or in the pebble pit in the yard with a cup of coffee and enjoying the humming birds, bees and butterflies that are now attracted to the garden. I love seeing my little patch of vegetable garden bursting with collard greens, lettuce, chives, cilantro, mint and tomatoes. The front yard location is the sunniest of all the areas around my house and have no squirrels or raccoons eating my crop. I’ve been harvesting a little bit of this and that from my garden almost every day now.
Inside the house, with the addition of the sliding door in the living room, the light quality is so much better. I can sit on my sofa and look out straight into my new garden. The accessible outdoor space feels as if I’ve gained an extra room in my little house. The satisfaction I get is immense. I guess good design and thinking out of the traditional box house and grassy lawn is worth the time and proves rewarding. I wouldn’t have undergone all this work if not for the prospect of the DWP rebate check. Kudos to this program.
When calling the Homeboy Industries phone number to find out where it’s restaurant is located, I got an answering service that says: “Press 1 for Homegirl Cafe, Press 2 for tattoo removal services.” I just had to laugh at the incongruity, yet appropriateness of the greeting. Homeboy Industries, the gang intervention through work program has been featured in various newspapers for a while. They run a bakery, cafe, merchandise, tattoo removal, and counseling center in downtown Los Angeles. They also have a bakery in LAX Airport as well as a presence in several local farmers markets. The nonprofit uses job training as a way to get kids and adults to leave the gang life, teaches them work ethics, self confidence, and the value of earning an income.
While I’ve read about Homeboy Industries in the news, our paths never crossed until a couple of weeks ago when I bought a loaf of Jalapeno corn pan baked bread at the Westwood farmers market. The bread was the best I’ve tasted in a while, so I purposefully sought them out last week when I took my sister and her family from Boston to eat at the downtown Homegirl Cafe. We had chile rellenos grilled cheese sandwich, fish tacos with jicama and crema fresca, carnitas tacos with apple slaw, and a fish soup. These were not cheap, at $10 a plate, but they were so gourmet delicious as to suit even the most discerning foodie from the Westside. Oh, did I mention Angela’s Green Potion, a most refreshing drink made of spinach, mint and limeade?
The service was extremely friendly from folks you can tell who are not too professionally trained yet, but who proud of what they are doing, and are eager to provide you with good food. I left knowing that this is a place I will back come to again and again, not just because it’s for a good cause, but for the fantastic food. They also give tours of the bakery, which I’d love to check out one of these days.
My daughters got this young adult novel, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell for Christmas and they say it’s pretty good. One day, while browsing through the Los Angeles Public Library's e-media catalog on line looking for audiobooks to listen to, I came across this book on audio and decided to give it a listen. I figured I that I can dig young adult novels since I've always liked J.D. Salinger's The Catcher In the Rye, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and of course To Kill and Mockingbird by Harper Lee. These coming of age books are inspiring, funny, and at the same time insightful comments about certain social mores.
Eleanor and Park expounds on the sentiments of first love, comic books, the trials of being part of a dysfunctional and broken family, and being bullied in school. The story is about Eleanor, a new girl in school who is slightly chubby. She is relentlessly teased by some mean girls, but somehow, Park Sheridan, a half Asian/ half Irish American boy befriends her and bonds over reading comic books on the bus, listening to the Smiths and Beatles, and experiencing the joy and excitement of falling in love for the first time. Things don’t end smoothly because Eleanor’s mother is married to a controlling and abusive husband, and Eleanor ends up running away from home.
I find the book a bit one note on the teenage first love experience and I can’t find a theme that an adult such as myself can latch onto: Park is unrelentingly good and understanding and has a very healthy relationship with his parents, and everything about Eleanor and her family is flawed. Somehow, they love each other with no reservations, just like Romeo and Juliet, a play the teenagers are studying in English class.
The premise of the love story between a white girl and an Asian American boy is interesting. There is no over wrought expounding on the Asian American experience, no overt discussions of racism (as topics about Asian American has become these days), and no implication of the Asian Americans’ outsider status. The handling of the love story is sensitive and believable, and the interracial relationship seems to be normal and unexceptionally accepted.
My daughters tells me that some Hollywood studio is going to make a movie of this book.
Now, I wonder whether an Asian American will play the main character, or will studios white wash the story into something else?
Overall: A good young adult read that crosses racial barriers.
I think I’ll read a John Green novel next. My daughters rave about him.
I’ve been listening to a number of Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon. These books all center around a detective based in Venice, Italy. An honorable man working in a city of corrupt civil servants, police, and politicians, Brunetti gamely goes through his work days solving crimes perpetrated by greedy and unscrupulous characters. Brunetti’s Venice is also populated by honest artisans, shop owners, oppressed immigrants, and hard working folks that make the city lively and vibrant. Brunetti’s thankless job is tempered by his wonderful family life: An aristocrat born wife, Paula, who happens to be a philosophical literary professor and a fantastic cook; two teenage children who behave like typical teenagers but who are well grounded and smart. Brunetti’s frequent visit to the local bars for a glass of prosecco during the work day, his ability to always go home at lunch to enjoy his wife Paula’s cooking and advise makes his tough job more tolerable and makes the reader envious of the leisurely Italian lifestyle even when murder is afoot.
I’m not sure how many Commisario Brnnetti books have Donna Leon written, but the audio version of those books are really enjoyable. I listen to them while driving, before I go to bed, or while cooking. These audiobooks are readily available through Los Angeles Public Library's emedia audiobook collection and downlodable through the Overdrive eMedia Console App. This latest audiobook, Willful Behavior, threw me off a little bit. The previous audio books I listened to were narrated by David Colacci, a man with a great Italian accent who takes me to Italy while listening to his voice. This new audio book is however narrated by a British sounding Stephen Crossley. At first I thought no way will I like this new narrator, but after a few minutes, the accent didn’t matter. The story was one of the best Brunnetti investigations.
Brunetti is approached by an intelligent and serious Claudia Leonardo who wants to find out how to obtain a posthumous pardon for her grandfather. She ends up murdered. It happens that the grandfather was once a Nazi collaborator who helped buy and sell artwork owned by Jews before they fled Fascist Italy. Claudia’s attempt to rectify her grandfather’s wrongs led Brunetti to wonder whether the priceless artwork in the hands of her and her family members may have led to her death, or whether her death was simply a crime of passion.
The Brunetti’s story formula is predictable, but delving into Italy’s war time history and its current undertones of Fascism nostalgia makes the story layered and thought provoking. The description of Paula’s meals always make me want to make pasta afterwards.
This leaf looks like giant lips.