Thursday, June 14, 2018


We just returned from Ireland. I'm now sitting back in the comfort of our home with time to reflect on our four weeks of travel. Here are some of the special things about the country that I will miss:

--The beauty of the lush green landscape that is sprinkled with lovely lakes, hills, and mountains.

--Beautiful sunshine days – rarely experienced by the Irish—the locals were constantly telling us how lucky we were.

--Splendid walks along the sea cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Irish Sea—walking paths through forests and lake country.

--Mussels from the nearby sea, warm goat cheese salads with beets, and seafood pies.

--Sitting in a pew of the old St Andrews church in Dublin where Ron's great grandmother was baptized in 1861. This was followed by a walk down the nearby street where the family lived.

--The kindness of the Irish people who were always willing to go above and beyond to help us, including the woman who insisted that we jump in her car so she could drive us to our destination.

--The talented musicians that entertained us in the small pubs—including the stories they shared about the Irish songs.

-- An appreciation of America that's not typical of other countries in Europe. Most of the Irish people we met told us they had relatives in the US and had also visited there.

--The ancient stone fences and walls of limestone that continue to prevail in most of western Ireland. The sheep that wander so freely and peacefully in the green pastures and even onto the roads.

                                                * * *

I'll soon be writing more about unique island and the people we met along the way. Was it a perfect trip? No, they never are. Life isn't perfect. But the beauty of that green lush country and a love for Ireland will stay with me forever.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


   The San Diego History Center has a collection of more than 7,000 historic clothing and textiles in its archives—all meticulously wrapped and stored in boxes, drawers, and other containers. The extensive collection is rated as one of the ten best in the US. The items are not usually available for public viewing, however, nine of the garments are currently on display through June 29 at the Fashion Redux: 90 Years of Fashion Exhibition.

Since 2012, the San Diego History Center has teamed up with students
from San Diego Mesa College School of Fashion and Design for this event. Early each spring, the students are invited to the history center and given an opportunity to view select designs from the historic collection in hopes of inspiration for their own design. Then they work diligently to create their own special garments—combining the past with contemporary trends in design, materials, and fabrication. Four finalists are chosen and given the opportunity to showcase their garments at the annual Fashion Redux event. This year's finalists are Brooke Druen, Jocelyn Soucedo, Anna Acosta, and Christiann Moore.

   In addition to the attractive clothing displays, the surrounding walls of the exhibition room are adorned with dozens of large professional photos of models from the History Center's Photographic Collection. Another area is set a aside for children to creatively color their own designs and display them.

   Demonstrations by students and professors from the school are ongoing throughout the exhibition—providing an opportunity to learn more about various aspects of design including hand patterns, beading, computer pattern design, needle felting, and fabric jewelry techniques. Refer to the schedule for times.
   The premiere event, Fashion Redux Grand Reveal, will be held on April 26, 6:00-8:30 pm. It's a great 
1920s to 1950s
 opportunity to meet fashion designers and to find out more about this fascinating profession. The winners will be announced and there will be a fashion show, light refreshments, and lecture by fashion expert Susan Lazear. One student will go home with the coveted People's Choice Award—decided by those in attendance. (Tickets: General Public-$25, Students-$10.)

    The San Diego History Center, (Casa de Balboa, 1649 El Prado) is open daily 10 am to 5 pm. Free with "giving forward" donation.
Related Posts:  Balboa-The Vintage Urban Park, Dec. 10, 2013


DRESS, c. EARLY 2000s


Monday, April 9, 2018



The fourth annual Open House San Diego was held on March
24-5, 2018. With more than eighty downtown buildings open for anyone to freely visit, it provided a great opportunity to learn first- hand about innovative architecture, urban planning, and design. San Diego became an official Open House Worldwide City in 2015 when it joined more than 40 cities worldwide who hold similar events. The buildings were chosen by the San Diego Architectural Foundation for their unique design, historic value, cultural significance, repurposing of space, and/or environmental sustainability. Twelve of the sites are registered on the National Register of Historic Sites and five are on the Local Register.
    Sites were located in Balboa Park, Bankers Hill, Downtown, Gaslamp, East Village, Barrio Logan, and Point Loma. Some required reservations, but most provided a self-guided tour upon arrival; there were always friendly greeters at the door. Brochures with descriptions, maps, and hours were available online and at designated locations.
Ron and I went on Sunday afternoon to take advantage of the opportunity to tour old buildings, meet people, and to see areas of the city that we normally don't visit. Our first stop was in Logan Heights—one of the oldest communities in San Diego. We easily found street parking and could see the San Diego Bay in the distance as we strolled south along Julian Avenue to our first open house of the day. 
Bread & Salt (1955 Julian Avenue) is an experimental center for the arts; located in the former Weber's Bread Factory that dates back to 1896. The courtyard still displays an oven and 40-foot high floor silos from the original bakery that ceased operation about ten years ago. The renovation began in 2013 with future plans to develop affordable live-work space for artists. As we walked through, we enjoyed the spacious rooms with high ceilings and unique displays by                               local artists.
    Our next stop, described as California's first urban destination
distillery, was You & Yours Distilling Co. (1495 G Street). It is located in the East Village, which is the currently San Diego's fastest-growing downtown neighborhood. It has a tasting room as well as a state-of-the-art production distillery, complete with a copper still. The warehouse-style includes exposed concrete and salvaged wood. A nice setting for a drink, however, we needed to move on since our time was running short.
We then walked to the nearby AVRP Skyport (703 16th Street), located in the historic Snowflake Bakery building (est. 1895). The outside brick facade, original painted sign, and corner entry were restored based on historical photos and earned a SDAF Orchid Award for historic restoration in 2011. We also felt privileged to meet and learn more about the new Seaport Village project directly from the architects and designers that are working on it. 

    We ended our tour at the New School of Architecture & Design (1249 F Street), which is also in the transforming East Village district. We were fortunate to meet the head recruiter for the school who gave us an excellent tour. She was so enthusiastic that I wished for a moment I attended school there.
Each year, Open House San Diego sponsors a photo competition for best pictures taken at the event. Ron decided to submit a few of his favorites which I am sharing in this post. The official winners haven't been announced, but just entering a photo competition for the first time in your life makes him a winner—at least it does on this vintage blog.

    Our time was too short to cover as many sites as we would have liked, however, we look forward to next year's event, scheduled for March 30-31, 2019.


Monday, March 26, 2018



It's Sunday morning, and we are about to return to San Diego after enjoying a day at the BNP Paribus Tennis Tournament in Indian Wells, California. Ron suggested that we take a different scenic drive back instead of the normal two-and-a-half-hour freeway route. I was especially interested in taking a look at the shrinking Salton Sea

It was a perfect March day in the 70s with plenty of sunshine. The route took us on Hwy 86 along the western side of the Salton Sea, which lies about 50 miles southeast of Palm Springs. As we approached the lake, our first impression was its magnitude and the beauty of the blue waters surrounded by the Chocolate, Santa Rosa, and the Orocopia Mountain ranges. In terms of surface, the Salton Sea is the largest lake in California. It's about 35 miles long and 15 miles wide and 250-feet below sea level. 

As we were driving along, we noticed a turnoff sign to Desert Shores and couldn't resist a little detour to visit a town directly on the sea. The detour was one of the most fascinating I've ever taken, but also a sad one. 

Unfortunately, it looked like a ghost town with everything abandoned and, surprisingly, no people around even on a Sunday afternoon. However, we noticed some rundown trailer camps that appeared to be occupied. Then we saw marinas on dry land with no boats in sight. Most of the homes were empty and falling apart. Those intact had been ransacked. Graffiti was prevalent. There were open dumps and an abandoned boat that was wedged into the ground. The white beach consisted of pulverized bones from fish that died here. On this March day, the air was clear and odorless.

Although we stopped at only one, there are other abandoned towns around the sea with similar scenarios. When looking out to the beautiful blue water with beaches that extend for miles, it was easy to see why people came here by the thousands at one time.

This town and others like it were once vibrant communities. Back in the 50s and 60s, the Salton Sea was the place to go. Tourists and Hollywood celebrities arrived by the thousands. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin led boat races with the Rat Pack and friends. The Pointer Sisters and the Beach Boys performed concerts here. Homes, hotels, schools, and businesses were built. It was a bustling recreation area with beaches, great fishing, and boating. Birds flocked to the area. 

What turned this once vibrant area into a dying community with a shrinking sea and toxic dust in the air.

To begin with, the Salton Sea was created accidentally by the engineers of the California Development Company in 1905. They were attempting to increase water flow into the area for farming. Irrigation canals were dug from the Colorado River into the valley. The canals suffered silt buildup, so a cut was made in the bank of the Colorado River to further increase the water flow. The resulting outflow overwhelmed the engineered canal and the river flowed into the Salton Basin. It flowed for two years before the damage was repaired with tons of rocks. Consequently, the once dry lake bed became the largest lake in California, as well as a serious mistake.

In the 1970s the water level began rising from several years of heavy rains causing floods and damage to properties around the lake. The Salton Sea has no drainage outlet. Currently, there is almost zero rainfall in the area. It is fed by the New, Whitewater, and Alamo Rivers. Runoff flows from nearby farms are polluting the water. It is saltier than the Pacific Ocean. The depleted oxygen of the water and high saline levels have killed all of the fish, except for the hardy tilapia. Fluctuating water levels have caused floods through the years, including a major one in 1981. Toxic dust rising from the receding shoreline has lead to serious environmental concerns. The surrounding Imperial County has the highest rate of Asthma-related emergency room visits for children in California. 

Concerns about the future of the Salton Sea date back almost 60 years. The Coachella Valley Historical Society has clippings and correspondence from owners of property near the sea in the 60s and 70s expressing concern about the environmental impact of energy development at the south end and the deteriorating quality of the water. An active "Saving the Sea" group was making proposals back in 1994 with no action being taken. To date, despite dozens of proposals, studies, and promises, nothing has been done, and the problems keep getting worse. 

For anyone wishing more information on the subject, there are hundreds of postings on the internet. An article that gives a good summary of the topic was published in the June 10, 2017, issue of the USA TODAY, The Dying Salton Sea.  On the lighter side, to hear what the locals of Bombay Beach have to say about their town, watch the video, Huell Howser: The Salton Sea.


Monday, March 5, 2018


The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Clock Tower in the East Village of downtown San Diego can be seen from numerous vantage points throughout the city and Coronado. I frequently admire it from afar when walking on the Bayshore Bikeway in Coronado. Too far away to actually read the time, but it's still a reminder that time keeps moving along.
There are no bells or chimes, and it is really quite plain with just one large white clock face on all four sides of the tower that is adorned with a white pointed roof. When it lights up at night it is especially striking. Standing about 300 feet tall, it is considerably shorter than many of the nearby structures.
After admiring it from a distance, I decided to head over to the East Village to get a closer look. The MTS Clock Tower is located at the 12th & Imperial Transit Center near Petco Park and just south of the San Diego Central Library. The tall gray cement structure, with red-steel beams at the base, was built in 1988. It sits on a plaza adjacent to the James R. Mill Building/Trolley Towers that serve as a hub for the county Health and Human Services Agency. The station is a major transfer point for various trolley lines and buses. Padre fans often pass by or use this stop when attending baseball games. It's surrounded by parking structures, residential construction projects, and the San Diego Trolley maintenance yard.
                                                  * * *
San Diego is not known for tall or famous landmark buildings. Its skyline is spread out and consists of many different types of architecture. The nearby airport serves as a deterrent to extremely tall structures. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restricts downtown building height to a maximum of 500 feet within a one and one-half mile radius of the San Diego International Airport. The tallest building in the city is the 24-story One America Plaza that was completed in 1991 and stands 500 feet tall. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018


It was May 1981. Ron and I were walking under the covered arcades and peering into the old shops and restaurants of old Bern, Switzerland. We noticed an art gallery that was adorned with beautiful mosaics and decided to wander in. Here, we were attracted to a colorful mosaic of the Bern ClockTower (Zytglogge). The art piece was a replica of the tower as it appeared in the 16th century and as it still looks today. It was artistically constructed with hundreds of small glass tiles and stones in shades of brown, orange, gray, cream, and gold that glimmered in the light.

Ron and I are not art collectors, and it was a little unusual for us to think about purchasing a piece of art, especially when it was three feet tall and weighed at least 30 pounds. However, there was something special about this mosaic that made us decide to return to Bern on our way back home to see if it was still available.

When we returned to Bern by train, a couple of weeks later, the gallery was closed. Fortunately, a nearby shop was still open and the friendly proprietor, who also spoke English, helped us. He called the owner of the art gallery to let him know we were there. The owner arrived and let us in. We made our purchase.

The proprietor wrapped it well for us, and we carefully carried it on to the train to Frankfurt and then on to the airport the next day. There was little airport security at that time, we just lugged the heavy package on to the plane as a carry-on without any problems.

For the people of Bern there is a saying: Time is always marching on, so enjoy the next hour of your life. I will try to remember that. However, as for the mosaic of this old clock, time has never changed. 

                                                                    * * *

More than six hundred years ago the city of Bern, with its old wooden buildings, was ravaged by the great fire of 1405. The city was then rebuilt in a similar medieval style, but this time in stone. The original guard tower was rebuilt, but with the addition of a clock--it  became known as the Clock Tower. The mechanisms were completely updated in 1530 by Kaspar Bruner and are still keeping the city on time. 

The famous clock doesn't just count the minutes, it also powers an hourly performance by a dancing jester, bears, and a gilded figure name Chronos who flips an hourglass and opens his mouth with each strike of the bell. On the east side of the tower is an astrological clock and calendar.

For the past 40 years, Markus Mari has been presiding over the maintenance of this
mechanical wonder. He is also known as the Timekeeper of Bern. If time permits, it would be interesting to attend one of his three weekly tours of  the tower to see and hear the pulleys, gears, wheels. and cogs in operation.
*Photo courtesy of Bern Tourism

Wednesday, February 14, 2018