A Trip to Hillsdale College, 175 years!

The first week of October, Hubby and I flew to Michigan, to attend the Hillsdale College 175th Anniversary Gala, and the dedication of the new Christ Chapel.  The weather was fine on the flight out, and we got to see Mount Rainier from above.

Mt. Rainier

We arrived in Detroit, picked up the rental car, and headed south toward the town of Hillsdale.  It was a beautiful day for a nice drive.  We stayed in the town of Coldwater, about 30 minutes south of Hillsdale, due to the fact that Gala attendees had taken up ALL of the available hotel rooms for miles around!  We learned that there were about 800 people there, and around 600 on a waiting list, which just blew our minds.  The Hillsdale Campus had never entertained that many people at once.

When we arrived in Coldwater, this retail store caught my eye immediately, and I told Hubby that I just had to get a picture.  What with Dick’s Sporting Goods publicizing their decision to stop selling guns, this was an interesting sign in the front windows.

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Our Second Amendment-supporting friends got a kick out of this.

The following morning we were rousted out early, since the first program started at 9:30AM. We grabbed a bite to eat before they finished up the breakfast buffet, and headed over to the Searle Auditorium to hear a presentation on the new Hillsdale Master’s Degree in Classical Education.  Hillsdale is doing their best to encourage real education, not the progressive indoctrination most kids get these days in government schools.  This new program will help train the right kind of teachers.  Next, we heard a great presentation on the School of Government.  Would that all politicians could be educated at Hillsdale!

Lunch that day was quite elaborate (like all the meals at the conference), with carefully-plated dishes that looked very artistic. Are we supposed to eat this?

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We were fortunate to meet up with our Ricochet friends Susan and Jerry from Florida.  We got to sit with them at all the meals except the last one.  You can get an idea from this picture of how many people there were at this celebration.

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And that’s only half the room!  There were almost as many tables behind us!  The lunch speaker was Victor Davis Hanson, whom we had met previously on two Hillsdale Cruises. His topic was Nationalism Good and Bad: Lessons from History, and as usual he spoke without notes.  Mr. Hanson is a veritable treasure, and every word he speaks is golden.

After lunch, we boarded a bus for the short ride over to the Performing Arts building to see a short selection from the college’s presentation of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.  The student actors were wonderful, and got a standing ovation from this audience.  I had never actually seen any of the play before, and I was impressed by how well it was done.

We learned that this production included the senior project of one of the students of stage design.  I was very impressed!

MerchantOfVenice-stage

The student cast was also pretty impressive.

MerchantOfVenice-cast

On the last night, we actually went to see the full production, with some other Ricochet friends, and at the end, the cast got standing ovations, cheers, and whistles from the mostly-student audience.  They sure deserved it.

We finished the play and chose to walk back to campus rather than ride the bus.  Smart, because it was only a two-block walk!  The bus had driven a lot farther than that to get there.

We then got back in the car and drove to our hotel to dress for dinner and the evening’s activities.  First there was a reception in a building described as a tent.  Well, it was bigger and more permanent-looking than most tents we’d seen before!

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Inside the tent, there was a nice bar setup, and tables of finger food.  The decorations were pretty elaborate, too.

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And there was a student group providing entertainment.  They were very good!

StringQuartet

After the reception, we went in to dinner.  After the meal, there were two speakers.  First was Dr. Larry Arnn, the President of Hillsdale.  Dr. Arnn is quite a remarkable guy, and everyone loves to hear him speak, on whatever topic.  Tonight’s speech described the 175th Anniversary, and the History and Purpose of Hillsdale College.  Or the Reason for the Season.

Next was everyone’s favorite Rush Guest Host, Mark Steyn, speaking on American Academia.  He got lots of laughs, and some groans, as everyone in this audience is pretty familiar with the horrid state of most modern universities.  After dinner, it was back in the car to the hotel, to rest up for the Big Day.

At 9:30AM the following day, we proceeded to the new Christ Chapel for the formal Dedication Ceremony.  We had seen the outside of the Chapel the previous day, and it looked amazing.

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We proceeded inside for the dedication, and we were a bit late, so seated way on the side in the back.  But we did have a view.

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The first speaker was Dr. Arnn.  But it was the second speaker who inspired everyone, and that was Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

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After the Dedication Ceremony was over, everyone left the Chapel, and was standing outside waiting for the call to lunch.  That included Board President Pat Sajak, Dr. Arnn, and some Hillsdale students.

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With the Chapel empty, we walked back up the stairs, and got some time with the organ master, who described the features of the Fritts Organ, made by a company in Tacoma, Washington, and got to hear some samples of what it could do. Remarkable!

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That’s Hubby in the foreground.  Now, the Organ:

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And get a load of all those switches!  Even the pedals have extra switches.

Switches-organ

Then we all trooped back into lunch and more speakers.  The lunch speaker was Mollie Hemingway, whose talk was about the political divide in America.  We all had extensive experience with that.

After lunch, we went to a presentation on the Barney Charter School Initiative, with which we were already familiar.  See who was there:

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That was as close as we got to Justice Thomas.  His Security was everywhere, although this audience was about the most congenial and welcoming he could ever ask for.  After that, it was back in the car to the hotel to change for dinner.

The dinner speakers were Dr. Arnn, Mr. Sajak, and Stephen VanAndel, Vice Chairman of the Board, introducing the new Four Pillars Campaign, to raise zillions of dollars for Hillsdale.  There was an excellent video, of Hillsdale students and faculty describing the school.  I can think of no worthier place to donate than to Hillsdale College.  We are so proud of what they are doing, and we are endowing a scholarship for a music student.

After dinner, it was back to the Chapel, for a concert by the Hillsdale Symphony Orchestra.  They were magnificent!

HillsdaleOrchestra

But the best part of all was the end.  The conductor had promised us a big surprise, and that it was.  The Choir all trooped up to the front, and the orchestra and choir played and sang the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.  I tell you, there were few dry eyes in that audience, as the student musicians and singers praised the Lord in song.

After the concert, there was a reception in the Tent, and music by Hillsdale’s Jazz Band.

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JazzBand

And that was the official finish of the 175th Anniversary Gala.  However, we stayed another day, so we could do some shopping and sightseeing.

We parked on the edge of Campus, and we saw an animal that we last saw there in 2010. I don’t think we have these in Washington.  Have you ever seen a black squirrel?  They were very pretty.

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We next went to the Grewcock Student Union to do some shopping in the bookstore. And guess who we met on the way?  I just had to get my picture taken with the guy.

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When we were done with our shopping, we went over to the Music Building, so we could see where our money will be going, when we endow our scholarship. I guess you can tell that this must be the Music Building.

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It was a school day, so we did hear various ensembles, and a student taking a private violin lesson.

Then we got back into the car and did some sightseeing before returning to our hotel to rest and pack to leave the next day.  We saw a fair amount of fields with already-harvested corn, with the stalks still standing.

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This was an excellent trip.  We renewed our commitment to Hillsdale, and we look forward to visiting again soon, before another nine years go by!

 

Random thoughts on Saturday

School dreams.  We all have them.  There are numerous variations on the situation where you find yourself in class, and it’s test day and you haven’t reviewed any of the course material.  The textbook is a fat volume of stories and you haven’t opened it all semester.  And you’re naked.

I have been having an entirely new variation on the school dream.  I am playing in an orchestra, and it’s concert time.  I open my violin case, and my violin is just a pile of sticks.  Or my bow has broken in half.  This one actually has a small connection to something that happened to me in real life.  I opened my case, and one of my bows had lost half its hair!  Another time, I opened my case and discovered that I had bugs, and they had eaten away part of the tip of my bow (you could see the little bite-marks-gross!). I had to fumigate the case and get the bow repaired, which just happened a couple of weeks ago.

On an entirely different subject, I feel a brag coming on.  I have been keeping a running tally of my finances lately, to show progress toward my goal of financial independence when I retire.  My total of investments at my primary investment company, Vanguard, is now comfortably over a million dollars.  About $650,000 is in my retirement accounts.  I am now a “Flagship” investor at Vanguard, and am entitled to a free meeting with a financial advisor, which I intend to set up sometime in August.  And in keeping track, I discovered that I have run out of digits on my little calculator!  Frustrating, but in a good way.

Last weekend, we took our first drive of the season up to the Diablo Lake Overlook in the North Cascades.  I have zillions of pictures of that area, but I always take my camera and get more.  Here are a couple.

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This is the Skagit River around the town of Rockport.

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This is Lake Diablo.  People for scale over on the left.  The water is always that bright blue-green color, as it is glacier-fed.  However, the temperature that day was about 85 at the overlook, and 92 at Newhalem, the town just where the road goes into the mountains.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

It’s Leavenworth Time!

Once again, its mid-June, and time for the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.  Hubby and I took last Thursday and Friday off from work, and drove the 2 hours up US2 to the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth.  As usual, it was a beautiful drive, with nice scenery all the way up and over Stevens Pass to Leavenworth in Chelan County.  The pretty town was much the same as previous years, but we did notice some changes on Front Street, the main “tourist trap” (but we love it).  This building had been repainted in front, and there was a new business there.

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There has always been an outdoor store on the main street, but this year the facade had been re-imagined too.  Nice!

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And inside the Festhalle, we saw more changes to the decor.  There was some new wall art.

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And a new piece of equipment.

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Of course, Leavenworth is nothing without the accordions!  There was a special exhibit this year, of very old instruments.

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And, of course, the new ones, on sale at the booth of Tempo Trend Music of Victoria, BC.

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The competitions brought out many new players who we had not seen before, and a few familiar faces.  I especially love the kids, ranging in age from about seven to teenagers.  Here’s a group picture of all this year’s kids.  Those guys on the ends are this year’s judges!  On the left is Emmanuel Gasser of Canada, who has been competing since he was about eight years old.  On the right is everyone’s favorite pro, Gary Blair, from Scotland.

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I also took some video with my brand new iPhone.  This act was the best of the entire festival.  Every time I play it, I get all teary-eyed, since they are so cute!

Of course, I had to do my obligatory pilgrimage to the Taffy Shop on Front Street.  I found  a new product they are selling!

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The proprietor says they are selling like hotcakes.  But here is a fixture at the store that never fails to bring smiles.  How long has it been since you saw one of these?

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All in all, another great year at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.

A Trip to the Olympic Peninsula

The week after Memorial Day, I took a solo trip to the Olympic Peninsula, to use up some vacation hours, and get away from the constant stress of work.  I jumped in the trusty old RDX (old, from 2008), drove onto the Kingston Ferry (where the fare-taker asked if I was really a senior!), and headed over to the beautiful Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.  It was a nice day, and I was going to familiar territory.  No maps or charts needed-just point the car in the right direction and go.  Down Highway 101, west toward Sequim first.  I spent two days in Sequim, and one day in Port Townsend.

I arrived in Sequim around 3:30PM, and checked into my motel.  Then, I took a drive up into the hills south of town, to visit property owned by a work acquaintance.  He is a sailor, and found a nice piece of land near the John Wayne Marina.  He gave me directions, and I found it fairly easily.  This is the view from that piece of hilltop property.

View from Shaun's property

He wasn’t joking when he said he had a view of the water!

I was impressed by the house of one of his to-be-neighbors.  Nice place!

Million-$ house

After that, I drove down to the John Wayne Marina.  I have to say that the name is more impressive than the place.  But it has a nice quiet beach.

Beach-John Wayne Marina

View-John Wayne Marina

I still had daylight left, so I drove back to Sequim, and out to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, where I had plans to spend the next day.  It was too late to go down to the Spit, but I drove along the approach road, and stopped at a couple of the overlooks there.  I actually got some very nice pictures.

There are lots of these bushes at the top of the bluff, with pretty flowers-they are wild roses and are everywhere.

Wild rose

This is the view north over the bluffs down to the Dungeness Spit.

Bluff Overlook

Here’s the view looking south.  All the way to the right (west) is Port Angeles.

Looking South

Straight down below.

Beach and dead trees

This is the Spit itself, to the north.  It is five miles long, with a lighthouse at the end.

Dungeness Spit

And look what I saw!  A Bald Eagle, flying below me.  When was the last time you saw a bald eagle flying below you?

spot the bald eagle

Actually, they are pretty common here in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s still a thrill to see one.

The next day, after a lazy morning doing nothing at all, I headed down to the Spit for a hike.  I actually got to use my National Park Senior Pass for the first time, as the refuge is part of the Olympic National Park.  It was foggy, and that fog did not lift all the time I was on the path and down to the Spit itself.  Well, I already have hundreds of Dungeness pictures from previous trips, so I took a lot of artsy pictures in the fog, and even captured some wildlife.

The path down to the Spit is through a stand of second-growth timber, and is actually very pleasant.

OrangeFlowers

I have no idea what these orange flowers are, but they are common around the Spit.  Followers?

Weird trees

I was taken with this apparently-live tree growing around a dead one.

Path to the Spit

Above is the path down to the Spit.

And, of course, what’s a National Park without some guilt?

Guilt

I found a nice “nurse log”, where a dead tree nourishes new, living plants.

NurseLog

As I rounded a bend in the path, I got my first view of the Spit below, in the fog.

First view of spit

Some of the trees beside the path looked positively eerie in the fog.

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Path in fog

As did the Spit itself.

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I really loved all the beautiful driftwood on the beach.  Many of these must have been huge trees when they were alive.  And people have added their enhancements over the years-lots of little piles of rocks in the branches and crevices.

Huge driftwood log

big logs

Doesn’t this one look like a log-shark?  It sure did to me! Or maybe a wolf?

log shark

Beaches in Washington tend to be rocky, rather than sandy.  This is due to the fact that granite and basalt form much of the foundation around us, and what falls off ends up on our beaches.  Even the rocks are beautiful.

Rocks sand surf

Rocks

I took this one-minute video, to give you a sense of the beach that day.

Behind me, to the east, is a small bay, in the crook of the Spit as it winds its way north.  A little white-crowned sparrow was sitting on a piece of driftwood, seemingly posing for me.  I didn’t get too close, but he let me take his picture.

portrait of sparrow

And then he turned around.  What a pretty bird!

sparrow facing

More pictures of the bay, and the grasses along its beach.

quiet bay

beach grasses

I’ve always been fascinated by driftwood, with the bark still on it.

driftwood closeup

And a couple of more sights on the path back up the hill to the car.

tree grows funny

empty nest

The next day, I drove up to Port Townsend.  I first stopped at Chetzemoka Park, overlooking the harbor and downtown.  Here is what I saw there.

TallFir

Chetzmoka rhody

Chetzemoka arbor

flowers

Plants

After spending a while at the park, I went to check in to my bed-and-breakfast inn, the Ravenscroft.  It is a beautiful building, and I had a nice room on the second floor.

Ravenscroft

B-n-Bveranda

Here’s the view from there.

View from BnB

In the evening, I took a stroll downtown.  Port Townsend is a touristy place, with lots of nice gift shops and restaurants.  Its harbor is picturesque, and I found some features this time that were not there the last time I went!  It looked like someone had fun piling up the jagged rocks, making “rock people”.

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RockPeoplePier

The next day, I did some sightseeing around the area, where I had not been at all.  I first drove through town, and admired the many old houses around.  PT has a reputation for having many Victorian-era houses that are well-kept (and very expensive).  Many have been re-purposed as apartments or bed-and-breakfast inns like Ravenscroft.

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Then, I drove south out of town, and headed east toward the water.  I discovered Indian Island Park, which consists of Lagoon Beach and Mystery Beach.  They were really beautiful.  I especially got a kick out of the river-pools running into the main body of water, because they were shallow enough to observe all the crabs-dozens of tiny guys under each rock and on top of the rocks too.

Lagoon Beach

LagoonBeach-river

How many crabs?

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This is Nordland, Washington, on Marrowstone Island.

NordlandHarbor

BlueBoat-Nordland

Pier-Nordland

All too soon, it was time for me to head back to Port Townsend to catch the ferry to Whidbey Island.  When I boarded the ferry, I took lots of pictures of the PT harbor, and the fleet of sailboats out that day.

Ferry-Salish

PT-Harbor

PT-Sailboats

Ferry-wake

Once we hit Whidbey Island, I exited the ferry and headed for the south end of the island, from which I was to board another ferry to Mukilteo, near home.  The last sight of my trip just totally made me laugh.  The car in front of me in the ferry line pushed every one of the standard Progressive buttons, and was not at all shy about advertising its persuasions.  Typical!

Lib-1

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Resist Hate, except for President Trump!

All in all, a delightful getaway.  I had a great time, and came back refreshed.

Friday, on the Santa Monica Pier at Sunset

Yeah, it’s basically a cliche, isn’t it?  Who hasn’t seen pictures of a sunset off the famous Santa Monica Pier?  I first saw the attraction way back in 1999, on my first adult trip to the area.  I remembered how beautiful it was, and jumped at the chance to repeat the experience.  February can get cold, and it was about 54 degrees with a brisk wind.    Here’s what we saw.

PierOverview

The view from the little park on the street above.

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This gentleman was playing an amplified Erhu, a Chinese stringed instrument.  Very nice!

PierPeople

SunsetPalms

SunsetSurf

SouthSurf

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The pier has an amusement park, with some nicely-lit rides.  I was taken with the Ferris wheel, which looked like it was wrapped up in the roller-coaster.

Rides

And later, after the sun sank below the horizon, the lights came into their own.

Pinwheel

Just good fun.

SoCal Interlude: Patterns

Over the weekend in California, my eye was caught by the many interesting patterns I saw in the hotel, and outside in nature.  Some were repeated, some not.  A guy at the hotel front desk told me that the carpet pattern in many places was the Golden Poppy, which is found in California.

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This pattern and variations was found in many places in the hotel.

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This one is on a high-back sofa in the lobby.

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Then, there was an interesting side table, with a marquetry top, and metal stand that worked very well together.  Pattern on pattern!

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Then, if you looked up, you could see the right-angled patterns of the windows and walls on higher floors.

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I was taken by the pattern on the elevator doors, too.  My readers will know that I am a fan of the Art Deco period, and this looked like a pattern from that period of design.

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Even the walls and ceilings carried eye-pleasing patterns.  The first one is the front of the front desk, and the second one was the ceiling in the restaurant.

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Nice lattice patterns-different execution of the same basic idea, and both very pleasing to the eye.

Speaking of eye-pleasing, this is what greeted guests stepping off the elevators behind the front desk.  I just loved the colors.

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And, finally, this very pretty mirror on the floor where the Hillsdale seminars were held.

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Patterns, patterns everywhere you looked.  Definitely not boring!

 

A Trip to Southern California, First of Two Posts

A Trip to Southern California, First of Two Posts

This week, we went to Southern California for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar, the subject of which was Politics and Principles.  The venue was a nice Hilton Hotel  near the John Wayne Orange County Airport.  Over two days, we had a President’s Club reception, a nice dinner, with remarks by Dr. Larry Arnn, the President of the college, and an excellent lecture by Andrew Roberts, on The Importance of Churchill for Today.  He brought, and signed, copies of his book on Churchill.  Which weighs about 5 pounds!  I bought one, and from just the first few pages it is going to be a joy to read.

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The second day, there were talks by Peter Schweitzer, who spoke on the corruption of America’s political elite (which we are all familiar with already); Dr. Arnn, who discussed American Principles and Public Policy;

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Christopher Bedford, on Trump and the Media;

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And Dr. Shelby Steele, who discussed the current state of race relations in America.  I know of him through his excellent writing in the Wall Street Journal, and I was excited to hear him speak.

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I was very lucky, because on Saturday as we were just packing to leave, I actually met Dr. Steele in the hotel corridor, so I got a chance to exchange a few words with the man, who is very gracious.

The Hillsdale program ended Thursday at 3:00PM, so we had the rest of the day free.  We headed over to the nearby South Coast Plaza Mall, which is any shopper’s dream.  Inside the main court, we saw their wonderful Chinese New Year display.  They did the Year of the Pig proud!

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That’s a pretty happy pig, sitting on all that gold!  But you really have to look up to get a real feel for the holiday.

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The epitome of Festive!

On Friday, we headed up to Santa Monica, to meet a Ricochet friend of ours.  Ray really wanted to see Venice Beach and its Canals, and our friend offered to take us on a stroll, and then out for lunch.  It was a bit later than we planned, but we had a nice walk.  Just in case you are not familiar, the “canals” of Venice, California, are narrower, and much shallower than the real Venice!  But one of the canals is named The Grand, and people whose houses back up to the canal milk it for all it’s worth.

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That’s their house number on the left!  Very creative painting on their wall.

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Very pretty, but that water is about two feet deep.  No danger of drowning if you fall in.

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We figured that the owner of this yard was a modernist type of artist.  Both the tree with the crows, and the legs above, are in the same big yard.

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When was the last time you saw a dinghy with a figurehead?

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This is definitely Southern California!  Ripe lemons!

Of course, when we were done and back to the car on the main road, what should we see across the street?

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Yep, the homeless encampment.  It was like we’d never left home.