Brainy Cultural Paradise

Side View

Most beautiful libraries focus on what’s inside. Our downtown library both in Pasadena and in Los Angeles are just that. I love a vaulted ceilings and overflowing bookshelves, but I’d have to say for me, the grounds and the facades are just as important. From structures steeped in design history, libraries prove that free books and internet access aren’t the only reason to visit an architectural gem. But the one I love going to the most is a short drive away. Having discovered it when I lived in Los Feliz, it’s still as wonderful now as it was then. There aren’t many things that can claim that sort of history.

Front of Bldg. taken at angle

The Brand Library in Glendale, is unique, most likely because it was a home. Leslie Coombs Brand built his residence on a lot at the base of the Verdugo Mountains. His beloved Miradero—a Spanish word meaning “a high place overlooking an extensive view.” is a 5,000 square foot Moorish mansion. Its design interest lies in a Saracenic inspired exterior with minarets and repeating scalloped arches.  And it’s contrasting late-Victorian style interior gives it warmth. Together these two elements denote a rare sort of beauty and grandeur.  When Brand died in 1925 he left his home and adjacent land to the City for use as a public park and library.


As an Art and Music Library, The Brand Library has  Galleries and a Recital Hall, where art exhibitions are hosted and classical concert performances are given. The setting is surrounded by a magnificent verdant park, hiking trails, and a Japanese garden. So not only does it foster beauty and literacy but it inspires intellectual curiosity and stimulates the imagination. My, oh my, a treasure for my heart and mind!

Better than I Remembered

Today was a sunny day and most would call it beautiful but with cold and rain, life has fallen into a quiet pace.

I love waking up to the soft ambiance of rain outside my window. In the mornings I am reminded how in Europe I would count the bell tolls while the angular winter light raked across the crumpled bed covers.

I watch the trees, vines and the rosebushes rest…on my long walks, the vista dotted with chimney stacks dancing with smoke spreading a foreign scent, one that lingers while a dusty haze settles in at dusk, as a faint reminder of richer blue skies ahead.

As evening approaches the cry of parrots marks the end of day as they dance to their symphony in the sky.

The quiet of a gray sky seems to hum after years of a glaring sun that thrives on noise. With it comes a place where one can create and paint all the worlds I dream of.

The nights are illuminated by hearty home cooked meals.

All that comes with the season, is better than I remembered. I shall miss it when it’s over. For years I cursed the winter, I never knew it could actually be so warm.

Home…at last

Over the week-end I attended the annual Conscious Life Expo that brings together a dynamic and eclectic community of speakers, exhibitors, artists, and visionaries for a four-day exploration on how to transform your life in the areas of health, spirituality and lifestyle. The event is like a kid going to Disneyland. I look forward to it every year and leave on a cloud.

With such an amazing variety of lectures and panels, from luminaries of both the transformational and socially-conscious movements. This year I got to meet Laura Eisenhower, great-grand-daughter of our 34th President whose politics are nothing like her those who came before her. She discussed the Goddess, her symbolism, her death, healing and revival. Stay tuned for that conversation along with my take on futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard, who ran for the Vice-President seat in 1984 under Geraldine Ferraro.

There were film screenings, and special panels on the environment, the future of humanity, spiritual healing techniques, and the afterlife. Sheer Nirvana.

Spread Love. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

A Beautiful Place

This blog was not intended to address foreign policy, global markets, or climate change. Nor is my desire to write about religion, terrorism, war crimes, abortion, same sex marriage, rising oil prices, depleting natural resources, new cures for cancer, viruses, bacteria and vaccines, test tube babies, obesity, famine or water droughts. Besides, when do people like me have all the answers to end human suffering to save the world?

Writer Kurt Vonnegut once wrote: Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

Fortunately, that is how I feel.

Unfortunately, I cannot stop innocence and chivalry from dying. Human lives being claimed by floods, earthquakes, bombs. Animal lives sacrificed for the consumption of fur, ivory, steak.

But I can address a number of issues essential not to survival, but to life.

The fading craft of reading and writing. The endangered art of poetry. Playing the harp, cello, accordion, and ukulele. Writing letters and actually sending them in the mail. Holding doors open for strangers. Dreams stifled by fear of judgment, failure, regret. Vanishing Polaroid photographs. The rarity of any commodity or relationship meant to last a life-time.

I was raised on stories and songs and poems and hope in the triumph of good. Foolish as it is, I keep hoping that all poems, songs, and stories with inspiring words and lyrics do come true. I adore fairy tales, and never say never or that something cannot be done. I take pride in doing my best, being humane, and if I make a mistake to correct it, and not let the world make me hard, nor disappointment make me bitter.

Dreamers do not make promises; they make wishes no one hears. Perhaps they are wise in making the distinction between what they can and cannot change.

I believe in investing real time and real emotions in people and causes dear to me. While on this earth, I continue to hope and to dream out loud. To see a bird as a messenger of the Divine, to blow on a dandelion while making a wish, to contribute a verse and sing it with gusto and to not let the child in me disappear.

Sometimes when in a group, it amazes me when asked a “big question” about life or death, or a humanitarian contribution many do not have an answer. With unlimited funds I know what I would support in greater measure. When the sands of time run out and my end is near, I know how I would like to remembered. What I don’t understand is why death would be frightening. To not think of it is frightening. The revelation of truth is liberating and saves time. And time is what we have so little of.

A Muse or a Whim

For Christmas I received a little fictional bon bon for the discerning literary palate.  As  my friend pointed out, Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock is a trilogy of strange and delightful images, and a story-line with a mystery.

The entire set of books are inventive and imaginative and wonderful…especially for someone like me who lives to write letters.

It has beautiful, sometimes disturbing artwork that only adds to the postcard and letters that have been written between a couple.  I could spend hours just looking at the artwork, finding something new with each glance. It’s that wonderful.

Throughout the trilogy, there is the slightly guilty thrill of opening an envelope addressed to someone else and reading the letters.

Equal parts Romantic (in the Byron sense), Impressionist and Surrealist, Griffin and Sabine is a memorable experience. I read a book each day, while it rained and took my time savoring each book; wrapping myself up in this charming, intriguing, simple yet incredibly layered piece of art.

Its best feature is that it is a very non-traditional book. As an experiment in artificial “found” literature, the book follows the correspondence of two random people separated by miles and culture who are tied together by an inexplicable link. This book is a window into that connection and their discovery of one another.

Sabine has the gift of second -sight and begins to correspond with Griffin since she can psychically see his artwork. She too is an artist. Griffin feels threatened by her knowledge but eventually out of loneliness and her emotional support forms a friendship.  Despite his emotional wall, he falls in love first.  She reciprocates his feelings, and we sense they are soul-mates.

In the second volume it’s Sabine’s turn, like a treasure hunt, to find the answer to the ultimate question, or maybe to find the question of self. She travels to meet Griffin.  Scared that Sabine isn’t just a figment of his imagination, but a real person, Griffin flees.  Now their letters and cards are coming from all around the globe. Is it real? Is it love? Is someone else watching them?

The artistically beautiful poetic declarations of love are worth reading over and over again.  And every medium is used to its finest and fullest potential from collage, watercolor, print, to script.

A bit darker than the first in this trilogy. The second book ends with another bit of mystery.

In the final book, Griffin is back in England and Sabine returns home. It looks as though they are back to where they began, but they remain determined to meet one another.

And, we are introduced to a third character, who appears to have something to do with their inability to actually meet, but who he is and what his actual intentions are is  somewhat vague.

The writing this time around is a bit more grounded, perhaps because of the very real interference in the physical world. And Sabine’s’ psychic gift is waning. The consideration given to the correspondents’ strange connection is played down, with more emphasis given not only to the danger they’re suspecting in their world(s) but also to the physical longing they both now feel after missing each other in transit.

The art feels similarly placed on solid ground, particularly after the trans-global mysticism that seemed to have gotten in with Griffin’s travels last volume. We see less outright experimentation on both sides,and indeed one of the cards this time is simply a color negative of a previous one.

The series could have ended here, and indeed it appears we have seen the end of the extraordinary correspondence between Griffin and Sabine.  But the story’s not quite over.  And the ending leaves much to the reader’s imagination as to what happens to the pair.

I’d like to think that they formed a union in some far away land and continued to do their art, living happily ever after.

If you’ve read the books please feel free to comment.

If not, I encourage you to do so, and be stirred by lovely art, wonderful prose, romanticism and the feeling of eternal love.

Heart Giving

Being the start of the new year, I’ve been thinking about gifts; those that we give and those that we receive.

While living in Las Vegas, I befriended a neighbor. She was an older Russian woman, recently widowed, who had married a Psychiatrist. She was well-off but lonely. Having been a homemaker, she did not have children and had a very small circle of friends. Her only living relative was a sister in Russia. I encouraged her to get involve in the Arts, which she did. And, I invited her to dinner a few times a month. She was an excellent guest and always brought me a box of chocolates or flowers. She took note of my formal table setting (we ate in the dining room) and I wore a pretty apron with slacks, never jeans or a casual dress. She was delighted that I served a small appetizer and began the meal with a homemade soup and ended with a liqueur. One day when I couldn’t get her on the phone, I went to her house and was about to leave a note when she answered the door, puffy eyed. “My darling” she said, “Come in.” I sat there and listened to her, speaking as little as possible, because that was what she needed. After a while she asked me into her bedroom and showed me her enormous jewelry collection; both real and costume. My eyes danced. A costume cuff bracelet caught my eye. She offered it to me. Sensing that it might have come from her husband that she loved so much, I could not accept it.

Months later, on a spring day she had left her french doors open and was burglarized. She called me for moral support when the Police arrived. Later, when the fear died down, she said, “Your bracelet is gone. You see I wanted you to have it, it had to leave me anyway.”

I watched a sense of generosity filled with warmth that echoed a feeling of life, in the spirit of wanting to give.  The virtue of generosity is spontaneous and joyful with a reward that is priceless. It enables the giver to know their best self and ultimately their power. And I realized my error. It enabled me to  acknowledge how profound life is, to be uplifted in an instant. Lesson learned; allow others to give to you. Don’t block it. Their is grace in receiving.

By giving or receiving, we experience oneness and a wonderful connection with others.