topanga banjo fiddle contest

The thing I love best about the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival is not the contest itself, or the professional acts, but the many folk and bluegrass jam sessions under the oak trees.

Despite the event’s name, it’s not held in Topanga, but rather at Paramount Ranch, famed Western movie set turned National Park, which suffered terrible losses in the 2018 Woolsey Fire. Nearly the entire Western Town burned down; only the church and railway depot were saved. Then COVID came along, putting a stop to the festival for the duration.

But now it’s back! It was good to return to the Ranch yesterday, and hear the music once again. I wandered from jam to jam, sketching the artists and audience while tapping my toes. Good times.

overcast

Behind me, a flock of Elegant Terns kept rising, wheeling and calling before settling down again. A Great Blue Heron swallowed an enormous fish after slapping it about for a while. We each did our thing, and I came home sated and peaceful. I never regret visiting this place.

I never promised you a rose garden

The Exposition Park Rose Garden is a historic 7-acre site containing more than 20,000 rose bushes and more than 200 varieties. My favourite parts of it are the corners, where no roses are growing. This is the south-west corner, tucked between the Natural History Museum and the space shuttle’s external fuel tank.

at starbucks

I was attracted to the colourful vessels on the shelves, and found myself a seat facing them, at the end of a long table. It’s only now that I’ve scanned and cropped the image that I see how skewiff (one of my Mum’s favourite words) those shelves are! It’s quite comical, really. That upper shelf is ready to take off into orbit!

mott adobe ruins

In 1910, Johnny Mott, a famous LA attorney, built an adobe home on the banks of Malibu Creek, in what was then Crag’s Country Club. It was reported in the Los Angeles Times that Mott’s longtime friend, President Herbert Hoover, was a frequent guest. 

When 20th Century Fox bought the property in 1946, the adobe was retained as a movie set. You can see it in “Viva Zapata!” (1952), starring Marlon Brando, but by 1970 it had fallen into ruins. 

The Mott Adobe ruins are now part of Malibu Creek State Park, and only the dramatic stone fireplace is left standing.

the bees moved in

We have a low retaining wall that was built long ago with an old hollow metal drugstore sign, supported in front by a pile of broken concrete. Yesterday morning I realised that bees have taken up residence inside the sign. I was working around that wall the day before, weeding and watering, and didn’t notice any activity. Was I just oblivious? Or did they move in overnight? Either way, they are welcome.