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December 8, 2016 /

Thursday Doors: Balboa Park (Part 2)

My Thursday Doors post last week highlighted some of the buildings and doors that were constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition held in San Diego’s Balboa Park. This week’s post features a group of colorful structures that were added to the park close to 20 years later.

Hoping to mirror the success of the 1915 Exposition and promote the city during the Great Depression, San Diego civic leaders decided to hold a second large-scale event: the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. To help accomplish this bold plan and create whole new areas of the park, San Diego was fortunate to receive the first funds allocated by the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

The second exposition, quite unlike the first, featured some controversial exhibits and unusual sideshow entertainment, including a nudist colony called Zoro Gardens, a Midget Village (yes, that’s what they called it), and Alpha, a 6’2”, 2,000 pound silver robot.

Even though this post isn’t about the nudist colony, I know you want to see it.

Even though this post isn’t about the nudist colony, I knew you would want to see it.

Robots and nudist colonies don't mix... or maybe they do?

Robots and nudist colonies don’t mix… or maybe they do?

San Diego architect Richard S. Requa oversaw the design and construction of many new buildings for the Exposition. Whereas the buildings from the 1915 fair were designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, Requa’s “California-Spanish” architectural designs pulled not only from Spain but also pre-Columbian Indian buildings and temples.


Included in the new construction was a group of quaint buildings and courtyards designed to depict a charming old Spanish village. The six buildings featured shops, restaurants, and a children’s theater.

In 1937, after the fair had ended, the Spanish village was reopened by a group of local artists as an artists’ colony. Although the colony was temporarily commissioned by the U.S. Army for barracks during World War II, after the war it was reclaimed and restored by the artists and has been a beloved local art destination ever since.

San Diego artists have continued to preserve and enhance this historical landmark by adding colorful plantings and unique entryways. Today, the Spanish Village Art Center continues to be a thriving community of over 200 independently juried local artisans. The Art Center features 37 working art studios and galleries that are open to the public.


Join the fun at Norm 2.0’s Thursday Door-a-palooza. If you have doors that you love (and who doesn’t love doors?) and want to share, click here for more info, to read other submissions, and to link up your post.

December 6, 2016 /

GratiTuesday: Pearl Harbor Memory Keepers

Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy. On December 7, 1941, the residents of Pearl Harbor were just waking up to a quiet Sunday morning when, just before 8 a.m., the first wave of Japanese fighter planes and bombers began their quest to destroy the Pacific Fleet and cripple the U.S. military. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan.

The USS Arizona during the attack. Photographer unknown. This photograph is in the public domain.

The USS Arizona during the attack. Photographer unknown. This photograph is in the public domain.

Ninety minutes after it began, the attack was over. 2,008 members of the military and 68 civilians died and 1,178 were wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk or run aground, including five battleships. All of the Americans killed or wounded were non-combatants, given that there was no state of war when the attack occurred.

As we continue to lose members of the Greatest Generation, this special group – those who were witness to the attack – is also dwindling rapidly. Those who were there shared the rallying cry: “Remember Pearl Harbor!” Sadly, fewer and fewer people really do. In fact, the national organization of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbanded five years ago after its membership, once close to 30,000, fell to less than 3,000.

Commemorations of the attack are held annually at the Pearl Harbor memorial site in Oahu. On this 75th anniversary, a key focus will be on our country’s relationship with Japan and a celebration of 71 years of peace between us. In fact, on Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that he would visit Pearl Harbor, becoming the first sitting Japanese leader to go to the site of the attack.

Yesterday’s unexpected announcement came six months after President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the memorial in Hiroshima for victims of the U.S. atomic bombing of that city. Prime Minister Abe, in a brief statement to reporters, said he would visit Hawaii on Dec. 26 and 27 to pray for the war dead at the naval base. “We must never repeat the tragedy of the war,” he said. “I would like to send this commitment. At the same time, I would like to send a message of reconciliation between Japan and the U.S.”

I am so grateful for those who are keeping the memory of Pearl Harbor alive. As we “Remember Pearl Harbor,” it’s also important to appreciate the power of reconciliation. For anyone witnessing the attack that day it would have been nearly impossible to believe that the United States and Japan – bitter adversaries – could now be close allies. I am grateful that we are.

December 1, 2016 /

Thursday Doors: Balboa Park (Part 1)

I recently posted about spending a gorgeous day with a dear friend in one of San Diego’s most beautiful and popular destinations, Balboa Park.  Since there are so many beautiful doors, arches, and entrances in the Park, I thought it would be a fitting submission for Norm 2.0 Thursday Doors link up.


I thought this gem in the middle of our city deserved a few more posts and pictures.

Balboa Park covers over 1,200 acres and is situated just minutes from downtown San Diego. It is home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens, and the world famous San Diego Zoo. It is the nation’s largest urban cultural park and one of the oldest in the United States dedicated to public recreational use.


When the park (then named City Park) began in 1868 as land set aside by San Diego civic leaders, it was just a scrub-filled mesa without formal landscaping or development. That would change after the turn of the century when a master plan for improvements was formally introduced. San Diego was set to play host to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and the city leaders wanted to put their best face forward as they welcomed visitors from around the world. San Diego would be the smallest city to ever hold a World’s Fair; its population at the time was less than 40,000.

The Exposition’s lead designer, Bertram Goodhue, wanted a regionally appropriate aesthetic for the architecture. To accomplish this, he and his design team combined the styles of highly ornamented Spanish Baroque with Spanish Colonial architecture to create the Spanish Colonial Revival Style used for the Exposition’s buildings. After attending the Exposition, President Theodore Roosevelt put his stamp of approval on the architectural style and recommended that the “buildings of rare phenomenal taste and beauty” be left as permanent additions.


Unfortunately, most of the expo buildings were only supposed to remain standing through 1916, and were not constructed with long-lasting materials. When the expo ended, several discussions were held to determine what to do with the buildings. Even the lead architect, Goodhue, recommended demolishing the buildings, saying “They are now crumbling, disintegrating and altogether unlovely structures, structures that lack any of the venerability of age and present only its pathos, and the space they occupy could readily be made into one of the most beautiful public gardens in the New World.”

Happily, cooler heads prevailed. A city-appointed committee hired an architect to review the buildings, and he determined that they could be restored by a slight margin over the costs to demolish the buildings. The necessary funds and materials for restoration were donated by San Diegans and the labor was financed by the federal government.


My next Thursday Doors post will cover another area of the Park, which was constructed for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

November 29, 2016 /

GratiTuesday: Giving Tuesday


Thank goodness we’ve all survived Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, (what, nothing for Sunday?), and Cyber Monday.  Today, as you may or may not know, is Giving Tuesday.

Since its launch in 2012, Giving Tuesday has been designated as a day when we can make up for the excesses of the past few days (and those coming up) by putting “our money where our hearts are.” It focuses on shifting the emphasis of the holiday season from receiving gifts to giving them to charity. In just a few years, Giving Tuesday has turned into a global movement which unites communities around the world. Last year, more than 700,000 people across 70 countries raised more than $116 million, more than double from the year before.

Although Giving Tuesday is about encouraging giving in general, the movement harnesses the power of social media (it even has its own hashtag, #GivingTuesday), to provide a platform for those interested in donating time, resources, and talent to address local challenges. Givers are encouraged to use the #GivingTuesday hashtag to share their efforts and spread the word about the day on their social media accounts.

The Giving Tuesday website provides more information about the movement and a directory to guide people to organizations, charities, events, and more in their own community. Through the website, Giving Tuesday “brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.”

Whether you go through the website or give on your own, there are lots of ways to join in on this day of giving:

Donate to charity. If you have some extra money in your budget, make a donation to a charity of your choice. Or, think about rearranging your budget a bit: instead of buying that one extra Christmas present, devote those funds to a wider cause. You can stay local by giving to your community’s homeless shelter or food bank, or go national by contributing to well-known organizations, such as the American Diabetes Assn. or the Red Cross. (Be sure to check if your employer offers matching funds.)

Give a nonmonetary gift. If you don’t have room in your budget, you can give in other ways. Donate your time by volunteering at a nearby animal shelter or food kitchen. Sign up to become an organ donor. Give blood. The possibilities for good deeds are endless.

Go beyond charities. Remember that giving doesn’t have to be limited to charitable organizations. Give extra care and attention to your friends, family members and neighbors. Spend time reading to a younger relative. Volunteer to finish off a project around the house.

Most important of all, let this day of philanthropy inspire more days of giving back.

I am so grateful for individuals and organizations that offer support to those who are struggling or who need resources to serve others. Giving Tuesday is a great way to find opportunities to give locally and/or globally. And, once you’ve given whatever money, time or talent you can, don’t forget to use the #GivingTuesday hashtag and help spread the word!

November 27, 2016 /

Friendships beyond the bond of work

There are a few very special people I’ve met through work with whom I’ve maintained contact over the years. Some I met multiple jobs ago, and others I met at my last place of employment before I retired. Although it’s not unusual to have a variety of work friends while being employed under the same roof, continuing the relationships after the commonality of work is over can be difficult. Often you discover that work was the glue. Once the glue is gone, it is easy for the bonds to separate and disappear.

The workplace friends who are still in my life are there because work was the catalyst, not the glue.

One of these friends and I had been trying to arrange a get together for a while. She still works so doesn’t have the same flexibility as I do. Finally, we were able to arrange a time and date that worked for us both. It wasn’t until we met that day that she mentioned that it was her birthday.

This is a woman with lots of friends. She also has family close by. But, she chose to spend part of her birthday with me. How nice is that?

Overlooking Balboa Park, from the top of the California Tower

Overlooking Balboa Park, from the top of the California Tower

We chose to meet in one of our city’s most beautiful parks, on what turned out to be a gorgeous fall day. A perfect place and perfect weather in which to stroll, chat, laugh, observe, confide, and just be.

We rendezvoused at about 9 a.m. and we didn’t say good-bye until around 2 p.m. We spent the day enjoying each other’s company as we wondered around the park, visited a few museums, and had a lovely lunch on an outdoor patio. Our conversation easily flowed from one subject to another and we both mentioned how nice it was to spend the day without a schedule or an agenda. Other than encouraging her to retire at the first opportunity, very little of our conversation was about work.  It was a perfect day with a dear friend.

Happy birthday, my friend!

Happy birthday, my friend!

I am lucky that I still live in the community where I grew up and spent a majority of my working life because, like many people, I find it harder to make new friends as I get older. Children naturally gravitate to each other, school often brings kindred spirits together, and most working environments encourage engagement among colleagues. Now that I am retired, it can be difficult to build a new connection beyond superficial interactions. My blogger friend, Liesbet, recently wrote about the difficulties of making friends while living a less anchored lifestyle. If I were to move and start all over, I’m not sure how well I would do.

Fortunately, at least for now, I don’t need to worry.  I just need to get more of my friends to retire so we can get together during the middle of the week.

And not talk about work.

November 24, 2016 /

GratiThursday: What I don’t need

I postponed my weekly GratiTuesday post until today when we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. So, just for today, this is a GratiThursday post.


As I took apart our newspaper this morning, I was struck by how many Black Friday ads it contained. Dollars off this, a huge percentage off that. Best of all, you can take advantage of these tremendous offers TODAY! Get to the stores early… fire up your computer… shop!

As I dumped all of the advertising flyers into our recycling bin, I thought about how grateful I am that I don’t need any of what was being advertised. I didn’t even really want any of it either.

At this stage of my life, I choose quality over quantity and I do more with less. Just like an artist knows the worth of incorporating negative space in their paintings or photographs, I don’t need to fill up all of the open spaces of my world. I have fallen in love with my life just the way it is.

I am so very grateful for the abundance in my life.

November 15, 2016 /

GratiTuesday: What my mother didn’t live to see

Eight years ago, when we elected our first African American president, my jubilation was tempered a bit with sadness because my mother didn’t live to see it happen. She would have been in awe of the historic event and immensely proud of her country.

From as early as I can remember, my mother was politically involved. She was passionate about women’s rights, racial equality, and the environment. Before I was old enough to enter kindergarten, she took me along with her to League of Women Voters meetings. Later, we marched together in anti-war demonstrations. Our family often discussed current events and world affairs at the dinner table.

But, as much as she loved the politics of courage and optimism, she loathed the politics of fear and division. She was a proud member of the Democratic Party, but she had plenty of Republican friends and always enjoyed a healthy, respectful debate.

Respectful, being the key word.

She wouldn’t put up with vulgarity, hateful rhetoric, or hurtful comments. Someone who disparaged others for their religion, sexual orientation, or their ethnicity would never have been tolerated. Negative remarks about a person’s looks or abilities would have been rebuffed. She definitely wouldn’t have put up with anyone making fun of someone’s disability.

And, she would never have invited a bully or a bigot into her home.

Although I miss my mother terribly, in many ways I am grateful that she didn’t live to see who we’ve invited to stay in our nation’s house.


Just like my friend Kate ended her post today about the election…

“Comments are closed. It’s time to heal” (and I think I may have a long way to go).