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stages of a sunset from griffith's observatory

stages of a sunset from griffith's observatory

Day 93 Santa Monica, Abbot Kinney, Griffith's Observatory

The night before I had to fish an insect out of Rob's left ear. True story. All day at the Getty, he'd complained about something fluttering in there. At night, I took a look with the aid of my cellphone flashlight and there it was, looking back at me with it's two tiny beady eyes. I don't know who was more scared; Rob because he had a living thing stuck in his ear or me because I was solely responsible for getting it out of there. A few Google searches later, we came out of CVS with the wrong-kind of tweezers (the pointy kind). In thirty minutes, I was stabbing Rob's ear drum with it. In the end, he got it out himself by pouring olive oil in his ear, drowning the bastard, and letting it float out. The next day, we look at all the suspiciously damp corners of the shoddily-converted Venice Beach garage we're staying in with new eyes.

As a special treat for our first-degree surgery last night, we jump on the bikes and cruise through the sleepy Santa Monica suburbian side streets to get to

Superba Food and Bread

. It's slightly thrilling and intimidating to lock up our bikes and realise there's a door girl

outside the door

. What is this concept? She's like the world's worst bodyguard and the most over-eager restaurant secretary at the same time. Anyway, I overreacted in my head because she seats us on the patio next to the heater in a very cheerful and prompt manner. There's kale next to a bacon steak. I find that strange but a nice change from limpid spinach. 

I'm relaxing, sipping my cappuccino and complaining to Rob, "My coffee tastes like kale. It tastes like

kale

. Why does it taste like

kale?"

when I'm interrupted by an excited squawk to my left. "

Is that Karen Walker?"

I clutch my necklace, which is

indeed

 Karen Walker, and look up at a curly-headed blonde waitress with bright blue eyes, a winning smile. "I'm the

biggest

 fan," she says and holds out her hands for my inspections. They're bedecked with Karen Walker rings. "Are you from...." she trails off. It's polite to let me finish with me having the most Kiwi accent possible but looking Asian and all. "New Zealand?" I check in. She's so excited. She's come to LA to be an actress, her boyfriend is coming in nine days, and she hopes he'll come to live. "I'm only going to show him around here and not any of the bad parts," she giggles. 

After brunch, we're back on the bikes and parked up at the end of Abbot Kinney Boulevard. The shop's are all West Coast cool; full of hard-out American denim, handmade candles from around the world, Rifle Paper Co. stationery, and tooled leather. You know the type. Basically, it's row after row after row of things I like to buy.

Il Lan Dei Venice

 is basically some shipping containers with decking in the middle and some fancy canopy flourishes. I can't get out without buying the teeniest tiniest succulent planter. 

The friendliest golden doodle is out promenading the boulevard. A crowd gathers round him. He's like the movie star of Abbot Kinney. 

An LA winter is like a hot NZ summer. We stew in our garage for an afternoon siesta before mishing across town to see the sunset at the

Griffth's Observatory

. Half of LA seems also to have had the same idea. I scream when I see the Hollywood sign. I bald-facedly steal a guy's place in line for the toilet. Survival of the fittest, sucker.

LA knows how to give good sunset. I don't know of it's the smog or that constant LA haze in the horizon but the act of the sun setting in the west as the earth rotating is a fine art here. There are distinct stages. 

Act One is a very slight amber horizon, like someone spilled a drink across the sky and the water is trickling down a slope.

Act Two is when the rest of the sky enters stage right. Suddenly, the clouds are begging for your attention and so are the skyscrapers which appear to be bluer and more navy than you originally thought.

Act Three is purple haze that gets deeper and deeper as the minutes tick by. Everyone on this balcony is almost beside themselves trying to capture this bit. 

Then everything comes together and it's like the percussions in an a symphony orchestra crashing in with the string instruments and the wind instruments and everyone's playing like the band on the Titanic. All the while, the lights of the city are turning on. 

Then, it's all dark and the LA lights are glowworms in an upside down cave.

After such a spectacular show, it feels like an extra-long drive back home.

homeless at the end of the santa monica bike path

homeless at the end of the santa monica bike path

twisting through the hills off sunset boulevard

twisting through the hills off sunset boulevard