Monday, January 19, 2015

rob blake's #4 rises to the rafters

Saturday night (January 17, 2015) the LA Kings retired the second of my two, all-time favorite players' numbers.

Rob Blake's #4 will now forever hang in the rafters next to Luc Robitaille's #20, in addition to some other guys you may have heard of named Dave Taylor (#18), Rogie Vachon (#30), Marcel Dionne (#16) and Wayne Gretzky (#99).

Rob's jersey retirement ceremony included 30-ish of Rob's ex-teammates standing by to honor him, with Luc, Kings GM/Rob's current boss Dean Lombardi, current Kings Captain Dustin Brown, and Rob's defensive partner Mattias Norstrom (who flew in from Sweden) speaking about him and his accomplishments both on and off the ice.

People mentioned his records as a defensemen (that Drew Doughty will probably break). They noted he's the only King's defensemen to win the Norris Trophy (Drew will do that eventually too). And they spoke of his Hall of Fame induction last November. But that's all public knowledge.

Dustin Brown, who was beginning his career as Rob's was ending, spoke of how Rob set an example for the younger players like him and Anze Kopitar of how to carry oneself as an NHL player and how to be a leader.

And Luc spoke of how Rob, even when he no longer played for the Kings, paid for Kings season tickets for a family who's three children had muscular dystrophy. The family had attended one game as guests of the Kings, and afterwards while visiting the team in the locker room, the dad told Rob that the game that night was the happiest he'd ever seen his kids. Rob called up the front office the next morning and bought them season tickets that year, and continued to do so every year until, sadly, the kids had all passed away. But that dad -- Luc noted -- was in the crowd Saturday night to see Rob's number go up in the rafters.

That story, my friends, is why I love hockey and hockey players. They are just good guys. And in Rob's case, a good farm boy from Simcoe, Ontario, who made it to the big time, worked hard, developed a booming hipcheck when a shoulder injury made it too painful for him to check the normal way, broke a lot of records, won a Stanley Cup (with the Avs), and stayed humble.

Here's Rob's speech that demonstrates a little of that, and how he feels about his teammates:

The view from Section 205: 

#4 rises to the rafters

Close-up of #4 before being moved over next to #20

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

o holy night...

Saw this on social media today and wanted to share tonight...

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope,
the Spirit of Christmas which is peace,
and the heart of Christmas which is love

After the last few months in America, I think that is especially poignant.

And speaking of poignant, here's a clip (posted on Facebook earlier this week by one of my former colleagues) of one of my favorite scenes from a show none of you probably remember called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It was created by Aaron Sorkin and starred Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. I loved it, but after a much-hyped debut, only about 10 people ended up watching it, so it only lasted one season (2006-07). But it was really good. And this Christmas episode was an amazing hour of television. As someone who loves New Orleans and am still shocked, saddened and ticked off by what happened there in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, I love this classic Christmas song -- performed by musicians of New Orleans led by "Trombone Shorty" -- while it breaks my heart at the same time.  Enjoy and remember to count your blessings...

portland, p to d

Before my trip to New York for New Year's, I figured I should write up all the fun I had in Portland, way back in September. 

Yes, I'm a slacker... I'm really sad how much my blog was ignored this year. But the bright side of my slacking is I thought of a really fun way to document my trip, hosted by the awesome Z's (that's JZ, KZ and RZ.. plus Portland Bella ;).

So just what did I do in P-O-R-T-L-A-N-D? Let's take a look, in un-chronological order:

"P" is for Pittock Mansion

Jenny (that'd be JZ to you), and I hiked the Wildwood Trail in Portland up to the historic Pittock Mansion on Day 3 of my trip. I've decided if I move to Portland, this is one of the places I'd like to live. Why? Well...

It's a mansion (my reasons for wanting to live in a mansion should be self-explanatory after seeing this photo ;)

Or this one, AKA the view from the mansion, up on a hill above Portland

But if that's not enough, it also has beautiful gardens, with Dahlias, my fave (but in this photo blurry) flower.

It's patio has these cool PURPLE and clear tiles, bringing sunlight into the basement

And there's a little house in the garden for Little Green Alien, who LOVES Portland (but that's another story, to be told if/when I finally set up his Facebook page), and had a ton-o-fun with RZ!

"O" is for Outside

.. which is a lovely place to be when you visit Portland between April and September (after that, it's cold. I don't like cold, so I guess I'd have to make Pittock Mansion my summer home ;) 

In addition to hiking the previously mentioned Wildwood Trail from the Audubon Society Visitor Center uphill to Pittock Mansion and then down the hill a little bit past it...

..we also drove to Hood River on Day 2, making a quick pit stop on the way at the Columbia River Gorge's famous Multnomah Falls, which we hiked to the very top of on my last Portland trip.

In Hood River, a cute little town on the river, we walked along it's cute streets into cute little shops, one of which is where I bought two cute Christmas ornaments made of pinecones, an owl and the porcupine at left, and some fancy soaps for RZ and me.

Hood River will also always be remembered as where I finally convinced / bribed a certain 9-year-old bookworm to read the first Harry Potter book, even though she was sure she wouldn't like it. (Two days after I got home from my trip, an "owl" from Amazon delivered the whole 7-book series to her house, which she read in approximately 3 weeks... and then re-read. Let's hear it again RZ, "You were right Kim. I love it." Yes, I know I was.. but I digress :P). 

"R" is for restaurants

Portland has gooood food (it's #5 on the top #40 US cities ranked by their food list). While I spent a lot of dinners with the Z's family and friends, we did go out to Sal's Italian Kitchen after our Hood River day, where I had a great lasagna and glass of Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley. 

We then went to one of the hottest spots in the city, judging by the line around the block: Salt & Straw. While it may not technically be a restaurant, it was a foodie paradise packed with crazy, creamy concoctions of ice cream goodness, complete with tasting samples! This sampling process was extremely well organized... they had people go out into the line (within the store) and ask what flavors we wanted to sample, then they returned with tasting spoons. So by the time we made it to the counter, we were ready to order. I tasted Honey Lavender, which was a very pretty purple, but had too much actual lavender for my liking. I ended up eating a cone of Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper, which -- despite how ice cream with pepper may sound -- was delish! (FYI to LA Peeps: Salt & Straw is now in Larchmont Village... although from the photo, it looks like it's taken over the space where Crumbs used to be, so I might have to boycott in memory of Crumbs :(  

"T" is for (Afternoon) Tea, my favorite meal of any day

To start our Hood River day, we stopped at Medley Tea House Cafe. Medley is a cute little tea shop on a cute street of stores in Multnomah Village near the Z's house. It's locally owned and operated and has a yummy menu. I had the "Fediezeldicker Breakfast Plate," Masala chai tea and a bite of a giant cranberry orange scone we all split.

Then, on Day 4 before I headed home, we had super-fancy tea at the super-fancy Heathman Hotel (yes Fifty Shades readers, that Heathman Hotel ;).

I had English Breakfast tea (but I don't think it was Twinings ;) and JZ and I shared the 'grown-ups' tea tray, while RZ got her own kids "Peter Rabbit Tea" plate (bottom right of the food photos below). The 'grown up' tea tray was packed with warm scones and jam, banana bread and salmon, chicken salad, goat cheese and cucumber sandwiches and sun-dried tomato deviled eggs, followed on the top tier by chocolate mousse, lemon tarts, devil's food cupcakes, a chocolate peanut butter cake and fresh marshmallows rolled in powdered sugar.

"L" is for Lost Lake

At the end of our Hood River day, we took a detour to visit Lost Lake, rumored home to Big Foot, that also apparently has a great view of Mt. Hood that we did not see due to it being cloudy. But the view of just the lake was pretty spectacular!

"A" is for Apple Picking in the "Fruit Loop"

In between shopping in Hood River and searching for Big Foot at Lost Lake, we drove through the Hood River Fruit Loop and ended up at Kiyokawa Family Orchards & Fruit Stand, where we grabbed a red wagon and headed out to the orchards to pick our own Gala, Fuji, Elstar and Honeycrisp apples. I'm only sad that I couldn't bring fruit back into California with me. Fresh apples are the best!

"N" is for Namesakes of The Simpsons characters

Did you know that Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, is from Portland? If you'd ever visited Portland's "Alphabet District" you might start to suspect it based on some of the street names ;) Here are a few of the character's namesake streets I was able to take drive-by photos of:

"D" is for Doughnuts at Voodoo

And no trip to Portland is complete without waiting 30-90 minutes in line at Voodoo Doughnut. We were lucky and only had to wait about 30 minutes, which was enough time to peruse the menu online and narrow down our choices....

I settled for three doughnuts this trip (clockwise from the one with peanut butter drizzle in the top center of the box shot below): "The No Name" (which was disappointing.. it made me really thirsty.. I think because of the peanut butter drizzle on dry rice crispies), "Butterfingering" (which is exactly what is sounds like, a doughnut with butterfinger sprinkled on top, and was fine) and the "Dirt" doughtnut (which was my fave this trip -- the "dirt" is Oreo crumbles.) The other two doughnuts in the box below were the Z's -- "Diablos Rex" and powdered sugar filled with lemon.

I'd had "Captain My Captain" and "Grape Ape" (sitting next to each other in the case in the bottom right photo below) last trip, and so far "Captain by Captain" (covered in Captain Crunch Berries cereal) and "Dirt" are my faves.

Thus concludes the story of my four-day adventure in Portland, which took 22 times longer to write up than to experience. LOL! If you enjoyed this and ever want to visit, I know a good tour guide ;) 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

things that make me smile

Win number two in three years is now etched in silver. While the first time will always be the best, looking at these names is special because not only is the current team there, but three members of the LA Kings I learned to love hockey by watching in the late '80s / early '90s -- Luuuuuc, Blakey and part of the All-American line from our first Cup run, current scout Mike Donnelly. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

garden surprises

I've lived in my house almost six years and for the first time in those six years, the vine on my patio trellis has bloomed with these GORGEOUS red and purple flowers. Love! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday, September 21, 2014

a super-fun disney day in downtown la

Today was super-fun! Three of my pals and I signed up a month ago to take the always sold-out Charles Phoenix Disneyland Tour of Downtown LA and it did not disappoint! 

We took the metro to Union Station to meet up with Charles, a humorist, author and "ambassador of Americana," who I've seen leading tours around Downtown LA multiple times on my weekend downtown adventures. But today, we were part of the group following the guy in Mickey ears with a megaphone. And while I'd already been to a lot of places on the tour, today I saw them in a whole new light... looking through the layers of history surrounding us daily if we just take the time to look at them (to paraphrase a certain tour guide :)

The tour began at Union Station, where we admired the architecture and got to go into the closed-for-eons restaurant to the left of the terminal (that could finally re-open soon as a gastro pub!).

Next we took the gold line one stop north to Chinatown, where I haven't been in years. We threw pennies in the wishing well (think Snow White's well at Disneyland), had egg rolls at Hop Louie, and saw the just-reopened, frozen-in-time office of the first Chinese lawyer in LA, You Chung Hong.

From Chinatown we hopped on our tour bus and went to El Pueblo de Los Angeles to walk through Plaza Fire House No. 1, the first firehouse in LA, which is now a museum showcasing an old horse-drawn fire engine and other historic equipment. This made me think of my grandpa....

From the fire house we walked across the square to Olvera Street. I've eaten there twice and browsed the shopping stalls. But today we went into Avila Adobe, the oldest existing house in Los Angeles, went up on a roof to view the recently restored, controversial "La America Tropical" mural, and had an amazing taquito at Cielito Lindo.

After taquitos, it was time for lunch (ha!). We walked down the street to Philippe the Original, where I (and many others) believe the french dip sandwich originated. I had a beef french dip, potato salad and a bite of blueberry pie. Delish!

 From Philippe's we took the bus up to the Bradbury Building, a national landmark, which for years was called the only important piece of architecture in Los Angeles. Numerous movies have been filmed there, including Blade Runner. And I've been there before thanks to my friend Cwennen, whose office used to be located there, and walked around it as a bustling office building. Today, it was very quiet and museum-like.

After the Bradbury Building, we walked across the street through the Grand Central Market (note: at 3pm the Eggslut line was not that bad), then walked UP the stairs next to Angel's Flight, since the rail cars are currently shut down. Then we walked through California Plaza and down the street to Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Then it was back on the bus to visit the neighborhood Charles says would be a block behind Main Street USA, Carroll Avenue in nearby Echo Park. It was one of the first neighborhoods in Los Angeles and is also home to the largest concentration of Victorian houses in LA, including the house where Michael Jackson's Thriller video was filmed (below, lower right).

After hearing about the historic homes, we drove down the hill and around the corner a bit to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. We saw about a fifth of their current show Fiesta, then had ice cream and cake in the party room.

Then it was back on the bus to return to Union Station where our tour ended... but not before taking a photo with our tour guide. Here's to super-fun, photo-filled Sunday fun-days! :)