Thursday, July 16, 2009

Southern California Revisited: Lakewood High 50th Reunion

Class of 1959 -- 50 years ago
What are they like now?
Will they remember me?
I wonder what my old neighborhoods look like?

After 5 hours' drive from our Mad River home to Sacramento, we fly to Long Beach International on Jet Blue (a first for us--it was super!)
And the airport had a charm all its own. I loved that it was small.


That evening at the hotel a few of us chanced to meet in the lobby and were hard-pressed to recognize one another.

So here is what my cohorts look like. We are all not unlike each other even at this advanced age. What a kick! We're holding up pretty well don'tcha think? It was a pleasure to be remembered at all let alone fondly.

This guy (and I don't remember his name now- Mike something) was a major football player. I think he's a Republican now.

Saturday morning and a LOT of catching up to be done. It looks like it's hard to get more than 5 in a single conversation.

Memory Lane

While "the committee" set up the banquet, Keith and I checked out the neighborhoods of my childhood. Here is 5541 Hanbury Street. Significantly remodeled and well taken care of. The "vacant lots" are now handsome parks and the Jakaranda tree is still there.

A closer look at my beloved Jakaranda Tree. I spent many hours in its branches.

My elementary school -- I could remember exactly how to get there. Lady Garmin wasn't even needed.

My 6th grade classroom (the "temporary" building in the distance) is STILL there. That's some temporary!

The little "Lakewood Village" shopping center I was able to walk to as a kid, is trying to be an artist's market with outdoor vendors.

It's quite charming actually and there are adorable bronze statues in fun corners that seem to be kids doing kid things -- painting, playing, riding horses - that kind of thing.

Ah yes, the actual high school. Now heavily barricaded, a testament to how difficult education has become for city teens. This is the most glaring change I noticed. All else seemed to be functioning as one would hope and expect.

This is the 2nd house of my childhood. (Knoxville and Harvey Way) I was an adolescent here. It looked "closed up" but parked cars indicated some kind of occupancy. No clues except a basket ball hoop in the back.

Class of '59 Reunion Banquet at Lakewood Country Club

That evening arriving at the banquet, it was a bit of a reality check to see which classmates were no longer living. Some 56 from a class of 500.

People watching from our table was the activity of the evening; that and seeking out long lost friends. We pretty much had to read their label to learn who we were.

Lots of photo posing, camera clicking, and "cheese" saying.

Then there was the band. They were great! They seemed to know the right music to play. Were we that obvious? Or were they that old?

The Morning After

How to impress your long lost first boyfriend. Can't get the camera to work because you forgot your glasses back in the hotel room.

Ah, that's better: me, Gilbert Mendoza, Marilyn (Pitman) Waite, and Russ Waite.

There was an "all class" reunion picnic, but these classics were the main attraction.

My favorite!

Pretty as a picture!
There were way too many people, so we bought the obligatory hotdog and headed for the freeway and our next stop.

Leaving Lakewood -- Heading South
Traveling to San Diego/La Jolla to visit and stay with my neice, Tambra.

This is her charming house just 3 blocks from the ocean.

Very tastefully decorated by someone who knows what she likes.

A visiting butterfly quite claimed this succulent as his own. He would not be moved by
photographer or high water. There was a resident cat however . . .

Succulents are big in beach county. This was a particularly colorful specimen. Tambra had done some recent landscaping to her front yard. Lots of privacy now and great colors and plants.

An afternoon walk to get the flavor of a Sunday at the local beach.

Lots of seaweed. I wasn't clear if it was normal to have this much or not, but the seagulls liked it.
It was only moderately smelly. I quite liked it and remembered chasing my sisters with a "rope" of it.

North along the beach was not very densely populated for a So Cal beach on this warm Sunday.

Under the pier gave a nice angle and light situation.

More people were on the walk way above the sand than near the surf. There were LOTS of bicycles.

The local museum sports an installation of a "bouquet of boats" (my title) (probably not original as it's so obvious)

The sunset was well attended at La Jolla. Many, many people seemed to have come out, set up chairs, and settled down to watch it as if it was some kinds of performance art. I guess it was.

The next day, Monday July 13, 2009, we drove highway 101 north along the beach communities to catch our return flight at Long Beach.

This is breakfast at a sidewalk outside The Highway 101 Cafe, quite retro and strangely comforting in a familiar kind of way.

Huntington Beach surf where I did most of my beach activities. We had enough time to change and go swimming but I couldn't come to terms with feeling salty and sandy on the airplane, so we passed. It's so BLUE and WARM!!

Funny, I don't remember this power plant in the vicinity, but it must have been there. Ah, selective perceptions!

Tuesday, July 14.

On the way home, we stopped in Red Bluff to pick up my own new cruiser bike. Isn't she pretty!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cambodia is Complicated Feb 15 - March 6: "The Temples are Still There"

Beng Mealea

The Khmer temples were the reason we went to Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2003. 5 years later it was that memory that called us back. However, in the interim, we had learned of other aspects of Cambodia (specifically the world of and need for NGO's-- more on that in a later post) This post is about the temple ruins.

Beng Mealea was where we wished to go first. We had not seen it before, and all the guide books described it as less visited by tourists because it was some distance (37 miles) from the larger complex that accommodated most of the visitors to Angkor, but no less worthy. Moreover, it had been largely left to the ravages of the eons and strangler figs. Now I don't know what that says about the person to whom that is an appealing ad. They also mentioned it had at last been demined. (may explain the sparse tourist attendance.)

Among the fallen blocks are still the lintels and such-- structural features so skillfully crafted by ancient artisans to honor to the Khmer deities.

One special thing about Beng Mealea is you can still clamber over the tumbled blocks --this is no longer allowed at most of the Angkor temples. The negative side is that we chose to do just that -- clamber over the fallen blocks, and it was there that Keith experienced severe aggravation to his bursitis, a situation that would prove to be the undoing of the entire rest of our stay.

This is my favorite photo of the day. It grandly captures the towering structure atop the geometric rubble of eight and a half centuries and is at once being strangled amid and supported by the jungle vegetation.

Here the causeway is still somewhat in tact, and yet the passage of time is quite evident in the substantial trees. You might be interested in how other seekers of sacred places have interpreted Beng Mealea. Try this link:

Just a simple pretty stone in a simple pretty place. Well, maybe not so simple.

The 7-headed naga guarding the eastern entrance provided a nice sunny location for the requisite photo.

Eight and a half centuries in a tropical jungle climate can cause a little bit of wear, but these two teethy naga faces are still quite fearsome. Perhaps it's the upturned nose.

Nice renderings of the Apsara figures (Hindu celestial dancers) at the base of the corners of this tower catch the sunlight to accentuate their shadowed shapes.

With this visit to Beng Mealea, we had been in Siem Reap a week and kept hoping the aches and pains of traveling and general old age would lessen if we just kept going. That didn't quite work. (Clambering over the ruins at Beng Mealea was a glorious way to finally acquiesce to that reality, however.) A day of rest would lead to renewed energy and "a step forward" which would in turn rapidly lead to two steps backward. At the end of the second week, we had to call on an old friend to "rescue" us from our own folly. We needed to give up, rethink, regroup, relocate, and try to salvage what strength and sanity we could for the long flight home.

Another Day Another Temple (or two)

Here we catch a glimpse of the sunrise on the road out to Bantey Srei, a temple to which I particularly wanted to return.
Our guide, Srun Sopheak, worked with us on an adaptive program that helped us experience the highlights of Siem Reap without depleting our physical reserves and giving Keith's shoulders and hip a chance to heal.

This delicate, detailed and intricate sandstone carving is typical of many of the style elements throughout Bantey Srei. The name is said to mean "Citadel of Women," and while, not only smaller than many Khmer temples at Angkor, it is different in other ways as well.

Here again is the detail of story in the surface texture of the temple architecture. The small temple was unusual in that it was not built for royalty but for a favored guru and teacher. There is some suggestion it was a prototype for the eventual main event -- Angkor Wat itself.

Here is one more Apsara perspective on the deeply carved sandstone. This stuff must be incredibly hard, in order to hold its shape through all these centuries.

The inner enclosure was catching the early morning light and it was here I decided to find a quiet corner and sketch a bit. Keith and Sopheak went back to the entrance for coffee. They sent me a baguette and coffee in a bag. I was in heaven! The sketch didn't turn out that well; I never was very good at scale.

The depth and substance of stone were appealing here.

Here, it was geometry and color.

I liked the obvious effort at reconstruction here. I think it was the Swiss who were instrumental at this site.

Laterite sides of this walkway are still ever so strong and well placed.

This pediment and lintel are awesome. Nearly every inch is carved. The little guy on the corner above the column is a kick.

Do you get the feeling there is/was something pretty heavy smashing down on these blocks? The colors are pretty cool too.

On to Ta Phrom

We thought we'd just make a little tiny stop at TaProhm for old time's sake. I really wanted to prioritize my time by going first to Bayon, but I was outvoted. It was late morning and quite warm and worst of all, swarms of bravely, wilted tourists were trying to see as much as they could and take as many pictures as possible. They were cuing for photo ops.

OK, we succumbed and posed for the Laura Croft classic. They now have a platform/stage-- how convenient.

Still in shaded, secret corners there were little treasures to be awed at by the closely observant.

The ravages of savages, weather, and time have taken a toll, but it sometimes only heightens the appreciation for what has survived.

Peek-a-boo (enlarge to see the face among the roots)

Note: as we were exiting against oncoming busloads of tourists and taking a few last photos, our camera battery died. So even though we continued on to Bayon and I got to climb to the face towers on the upper terrace. (Yay! ), .... I didn't get any photos.

But here is one we took 5 years ago. It's pretty good and the old guys are still smiling the same way. 5 years older when you're already 850+ years old doesn't make a lot of difference.

I invite you to check out the Wikipedia treatment of Bayon in lieu of my other personal photos. It tells you more than I could begin to. It's a very special place.