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Local Color – The Old Abandoned Los Angeles Zoo

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Last week when I realized LACMA was closed on Wednesdays, I looked to the internet to find other things to do in Los Angeles this summer. There are several lists out there – things to do with kids, hiking, shopping, recreation – anything you could want! I found some interesting things I’d never heard of. How could I have lived in Los Angeles for 23 years and not know about the Old Abandon Zoo, for example?

Apparently, the Los Angeles Zoo was built in 1912 in Griffith Park. It was closed in 1966 and the remnants of it still remain. How cool is that? I immediately made plans to take the kids there.

Today we picked up one of my son’s friends and headed down. We found a Subway not far away and headed up for a picnic before finding the zoo. We had to visit the visitor center to figure out where we were going, despite me trying to find it on my own. Thankfully, we were pretty close already. (And thankfully, there was a ranger there to help!)


I’ve been several places in Griffith Park over the years and never realized they had a ranger station/visitor center.


“Let’s do this!”

We accidentally drove up to where there was a production prepping. In LA, this isn’t that unusual, and while it’s cool to see some filming/production work going on, it doesn’t make my kids excited anymore.

Production tents

Production tents

Stairway to the old zoo

Stairway to the old zoo

I had no idea what to expect. We headed up the stairs to see what was ahead. (Note: This is where they do Shakespeare in the Park in the summer.)

A glimpse of the old zoo.

A glimpse of the old zoo.

It was pretty neat, honestly. The rock enclosures were interesting. We wondered how they kept the animals from escaping. I’m sure there were pieces missing.

(*If you want to see what the zoo looked like back in it’s heyday, you can see some here, at Hollywood Historic)

Kids exploring the structures

Kids exploring the structures



Heading up to another area of the zoo

Heading up to another area of the zoo

We played in old cages.

boys in cages

boys in cages

girls in cages

girls in cages

I’m thinking birds were in these cages, but I can’t find a specific photo that proves it.

Even Mommy got in a cage.

Even Mommy got in a cage.

The cage below was almost like apartments.



"I can hear you!"

“I can hear you!”

Oh no- one of the animals got loose!

Oh no- one of the animals got loose!

Sad panda

Sad (happy) panda

There were lots of places to explore. We realized later that the new signs up must have been part of the production.

These signs looked suspiciously new...

These signs looked suspiciously new…

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We found this weird little shack near the possible bird cages. We have no idea what was in there, but now it’s full of a different kind of attraction.

Weird little shack

Weird little shack

Lots and lots of graffiti (and litter).

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More cages

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There was also a pretty green area where you can just sit and rest, read a book, or have a picnic.


If you’d like to visit, head to Griffith Park. It’s off of Crystal Springs Road – on Griffith Park Rd. You can always ask the rangers at the station.  It’s a cool piece of L.A. history, and you can get in a little bit of exercise if you go a little further.


Local Color – A Day at LACMA

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I’ve lived in Los Angeles County for 23 years, and today I finally visited LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) for the first time. The kids were good sports, even though the traffic was abysmal – worse than usual. Once we got our stickers, we headed to Urban Light – a piece I’ve seen friends post photos of for years. Now I want to view it at night.

Urban Light by Chris Burden

Urban Light by Chris Burden

Another view

Another view

We put our name down to go to a reservation-only installment called Breathing Light by James Turrell. We had 45 minutes till our time, so we headed in to see other exhibits.

There were several exhibits in the first building we hit – the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, where we saw:

Dead crows

Dead crows

Cool big sculptures

Cool big sculptures

Metropolis - a piece with moving parts

Metropolis – a piece with moving parts

Looking at Junk Dada

Looking at Junk Dada

"It's a wheel!" "It's a parasol!"

“It’s a wheel!” “It’s a parasol!”

In the “50 for 50″ Exhibit, we saw this really cool piece that held a little surprise.

One side

One side

It looks different from different sides.

Other side.

Other side

Calder moving sculpture

Calder moving sculpture

One fun piece is another I’ve seen photos of for years. I’ve always called it spaghetti.

Jesús Rafael Soto’s Penetrable

Jesús Rafael Soto’s Penetrable

As we were on our way out, we saw this piece (I don’t know the name). My children thought they looked like frames and immediately froze as if they were trapped.

Still life

Still life

I still have many art museums to visit, but I’m glad we did this, despite the traffic. It’s a great trip, and only $15 for adults and kids under 18 are free. There’s a program called NexGen, where kids under 18 can get memberships for free (that lasts till they’re 18) and they can bring an adult for free. So, of course, I signed my kids up!


Nerds and Superheros and Cougars

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Looking back on my life, I’m not sure when I became a nerd or a geek, or which one I am…

According to “” I could be both, I suppose.

Nerd: an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit

Geek: a person who has excessive enthusiasm for and some expertise about a specialized subject or activity

When I was in high school I was in the honors classes, but not the top level. I was smart, but not ridiculously so. I also wasn’t altogether super-motivated, which of course frustrated my parents a little. I was one of those kids who “didn’t apply myself.”

I didn’t think I was a nerd or a geek in high school. I wasn’t in 4H or band or any really nerdy clubs. I certainly wasn’t in the popular group. I wasn’t a cheerleader, on a team, or in student council. I sort of floated between groups of people. I was, however, totally geeky when it came to certain things. Like, I loved the Monkees and all things 60s. Not many kids my age could say the same thing.

I definitely “geek out” about certain things, and have done so throughout my life. Things I’ve geeked out on:

The Muppets (this was one of the first)

Doing impersonations and accents

Duran Duran

The Monkees

The 60’s

Marilyn Monroe




Making homemade baby food


Getting/doing all things Wiggles for my son

Knitting for auctions

Star Wars

Star Trek

Taking photos


Knitting and designing for things I’m currently geeking out on (Like the following)



Fairy Tales

I’m sure there are more, but you get the picture. These days, you can add two more to the list: The Flash and Arrow.

When I like a show, I jump in with both feet and listen to podcasts, read articles, etc. I become one of those people who mock a podcaster who doesn’t know about Speed Force -even though before this year I didn’t, either. (If you’re going to do a podcast about a comic book character, you should really brush up on the mythos.)

I knew the Flash was a superhero and comic book character, but I didn’t know much else. I stumbled upon the TV show a few months ago when I was home with the kids flipping channels after dinner. It was the second episode, and I couldn’t wait to go back and see the pilot. My kids and I were hooked, instantly. Barry Allen, Cisco, Dr. Snow, Dr. Wells, and Joe West are fantastic. (I’m not going to lie – Grant Gustin is freaking adorable, which doesn’t hurt.)

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Flash (Grant Gustin) and Arrow (Stephen Amell)

When I heard on a podcast that the Barry Allen made an appearance or two on Arrow before his pilot was even on, I had to go back and watch. I didn’t understand ANY of the actual Arrow plot, but it was great to see that even back then Grant Gustin was playing Barry Allen as if he’d been around the whole time. Now that my husband has given me the first two seasons of Arrow, I’m in! I love Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity, and the Barry episodes I just watched again now make sense. Again – it certainly doesn’t hurt that Stephen Amell is so good-looking and often does the salmon ladder with no shirt.

My son has been watching The Arrow with me every week when his sisters are in Musical Theater. Now that it’s summer, we’ve been watching Season 3 (No Spoilers!) and my daughters are catching up with us. I wonder what they see in the show. I know they have recently gotten a little obsessed with superheroes and comic books. They’ve been going to the comic book store with my husband for years, but recently they’ve been reading the Marvel and DC character profiles over and over – learning about the various and sundry heroes and villains.

I enjoy the shows for the action and the story, and I suppose you can call me a cougar, because I enjoy looking at the lead actors. I feel dirty just saying it.

So there. I’m not only a nerd and a geek, but I’m also a cougar.

Who’s with me?!


What’s On TV?

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My kids like watching TV. They don’t watch a lot (in the grand scheme of things), but they do have certain shows they like.

First off, as kids they don’t get control of the remote – Mom and Dad do. They watch home improvement shows in the morning with us, and they enjoy food shows. They especially like food shows where cupcakes are decorated or someone finds new and interesting food. They do watch The Flash with me. They can’t wait to see new episodes of The Flash, and sometimes Arrow as well. These are shows we watch together. They also watch dance competition shows.

TV watching these days is very different than when I was a kid.

Back in my day…

Just saying "Back in my day" makes me feel like Grumpy Old Man.

Just saying “Back in my day” makes me feel like Grumpy Old Man.

Back in my day, we had to watch our favorite tv shows when they aired. If we couldn’t, tough luck. (Until I was in junior high or high school and could VIDEOTAPE them. If we remembered.

Back in my day, we didn’t notice summer hiatus, because we were all playing in the middle of our street all day long every day of summer.

Back in my day, we were introduced to old shows when they were in re-runs on channel 11.

Back in my day, we were introduced to old movies on channel 5 every Sunday.

Back in my day, we didn’t know about any new shows on the horizon unless we had a subscription to TV Guide.

Back in my day, we had 6 stations – CBS (2), NBC (4), ABC (7) plus channel 5 (ktla), channel 11 (kttv) and PBS. That’s it. When I got a bit older, we got cable and suddenly had HBO and MTV, which were magical when you’re a tween.



Kids these days can stream shows on their TV, computer, or phone.

Kids these days can watch shows that were on last week, last year, or 20 years ago on various streaming services.

Kids these days can watch things recorded and skip commercials.

Kids these days can watch TV from any room in the house. Or even in the car.

Kids these days can watch episode after episode (binging). I think this makes people more impatient. (I know it makes ME more impatient.)

Kids these days are very aware of how many episodes are in a season of TV, and how long the hiatus lasts.

Kids these days can hear about new shows and new developments on the web, on commercials, or from friends who go to conventions.

Kids these days have hundreds of channels to choose from, and tens of formats with which to stream video.

Kids these days have more access to actors in their favorite shows on social media – and are very aware that those are actors on their tv. And special effects.

Kids these days have the world at their fingertips.

As their mom, it’s my job to make sure what they’re watching is okay, making sure they watch the shows with me instead of in their room on their own device. It’s my job to have conversations with them about anything that could be scary or confusing.

I both love and hate how easy it is to watch tv shows these days. I love that I can watch episode after episode of Mad Men and catch up with the live shows. I love that I can go back and watch The West Wing or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What I don’t love is BECAUSE it’s so easy to binge-watch these shows, I do. “Just one more” is what I end up saying three times before I realize it’s way past my bedtime.

When I was a kid, I had no idea but to just be patient, or find something else to do with my time. These days, I have to MAKE myself be patient, which is much harder.

I’m curious to see what it’ll be like when my kids are parents…

Driving Around L.A.

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So, my kids took an improv camp this week. The theater is only 20 miles away, but we are talking about Los Angeles, so it’s not an easy hop over to Hollywood.

According to Google Maps, it takes 30 minutes with no traffic. Who’s kidding who? We needed to be there at 9am, so we’d definitely hit traffic.

Monday we headed out and I followed the directions given to me by my car’s GPS. Hahahahahahahahaha. That was a terrible idea. It told me to take the 2 freeway. It was packed, and then merging off the freeway was worse.

We sat on this freeway for a very long time. And an even longer amount of time to merge off the freeway when it ended.

We sat on this freeway for a very long time. And an even longer amount of time to merge off the freeway when it ended.

On the return trip home, I took a different route.

Up Highland toward the Bowl.

Up Highland toward the Bowl.

When I came back to get them 4 hours later, I tried getting off on Los Feliz from the 5. One of the highlights? This apartment building, with my husband’s name on it.

The kids pointed out the name of this cool old apartment building.

The kids pointed out the name of this cool old apartment building.

That was a pretty good way to get there, but I was still going to try a few different routes. One route took me past Paramount Studios.

Paramount Studios

Paramount Studios

One day I got off on Forest Lawn, down Barham, to Highland. Not a terrible way to go, unless they’re doing construction, which they were. :(

I avoided freeway traffic when I could, by driving parallel to them.

I avoided freeway traffic when I could, by driving parallel to them.

Certain parts of Hollywood brought us by movie theaters.

Giant Minions!

Giant Minions!


Another studio… Warner Brothers

Sometimes we were entertained by simply reading signs – like this restaurant.

My son's comment, "We'll get you loaded" (get it?)

My son’s comment, “We’ll get you loaded” (get it?)

This sign has me intrigued.

This sign has me intrigued.

Sign on top of the El Capitan Theater, where we've seen Disney movies.

Sign on top of the El Capitan Theater, where we’ve seen Disney movies.

In the neighborhood near the theater we found a few gems.

Discoland? I'm there!!

Discoland? I’m there!!

I'm not sure what this is, but it makes me want a popsicle.

I’m not sure what this is, but it makes me want a popsicle.

*I looked them up. They are neither chubby, nor kids. Discuss.

Just a few doors over from the theater... Flash Film Works. I wonder...

Just a few doors over from the theater… Flash Film Works. I wonder…

Being HUGE Flash fans, this was cool. I have to wonder if the chubby kids put the bricks in that building.



Explanation. I’m fascinated by contractor stamps on sidewalks. I love seeing how old neighborhoods are. My neighborhood is stamped from 1947 – 1949. The one just north of us is 1952 and beyond. Seeing that this neighborhood is more than 20 years older than our own is pretty cool. This will most likely NOT be the last time you see me post one of these.

The kids had so much fun!!

The kids had so much fun!!


Five days. Ten trips there and back. 15 hours in the car. Several different routes. 5 studios, 2 cemeteries, several movie theaters, 1 historic venue, a big park, several neighborhoods, 5 freeways, and three happy kids. I certainly know my way around Hollywood/LA now, and will have no problem finding my way.

Thanks, Comedy Sportz! We’ll be back!

Me and Betty Draper, Part Deux

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Last year at almost exactly this time, I wrote THIS post about Betty Draper and me.

At the time, I wasn’t caught up with Mad Men (and yes, I have watched the entire series at this point), but I asked if she was going to join Weight Watchers. Well, she did. Here’s a screen grab I took of the meeting. One thing I’m glad has changed is that they used to weigh you IN FRONT OF THE GROUP. And announce whether you lost or gained!! No thank you.

Note: The scale is in the front of the group.

Note: The scale is in the front of the group.

You see her portioning out little cubes of cheese and half a grapefruit. She cuts celery and snacks on it during the day.

Yum! Celery!

Yum! Celery!

I feel you, Betty. Celery isn’t my favorite, either.

I have to say that the difference between what Betty and I are doing now are these:

I keep track of my points on my phone.  – There were no such thing as points back then.

I can eat anything as long as I track the points. – There was a long list of forbidden foods.

I exercise several times a week. – I don’t think Betty does. In fact, walking for fun/exercise is a crazy concept back then.

I make meals my whole family can eat, and modify my portions. – Betty has the whole family eating fish all week.

Things that seem to be the same.

We both eat a lot of veggies.

We’re both HUNGRY.

We’re both busy moms who need to feed a whole family along with maintaining what we eat.

Now, Betty lost the weight by the end of one season. This is because, honestly, the actress lost her baby weight and under that fat suit she was thinner sooner. But for story’s sake, also, you can’t just keep beautiful Betty Draper Frances fat for too long. I mean, there’s a whole fat betty THING that happened.

I think if someone wrote a song about Fat Genevieve, I’d eat more ice cream while I cried.

I do wonder how Betty handled losing weight while raising a daughter. I have a feeling that she didn’t think twice about whether anything she did affected Sally’s perception of herself. Betty is a character who is very wrapped up in appearances and what a woman looks like.

I’m trying to lose weight and be HEALTHIER and STRONGER, without lamenting how I feel about what I look like, but it’s hard. I don’t want to be anything but a good example for my daughters, and I want them to love themselves and take care of their bodies because it’s the best thing to do – not to be thin or pretty or starve themselves. They see me eat real food, and they see me have a glass of wine or some ice cream SOMETIMES. For awhile, they saw me eating ice cream and cookies and chocolate almost every day, which isn’t great.

Overall, I’m trying my best to do the best I can for myself and maybe along the way my girls (and heck, my son, too) will want to be active and healthy and learn how to do things in moderation.

Only time will tell.

A Different Kind of Summer Camp

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Today I dropped my kids off at summer camp.

They don't need any luggage for camp.

They don’t need any luggage for camp.

Sort of.

They will not be rowing boats (unless they do). They will not ride horses (unless they do). They will not sleep in bunk beds (unless they do).

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They’re going to an improv camp. So, I suppose there’s a chance that they might do some activities or scenes where they pretend to row boats, ride horses, and sleep in bunk beds. But probably not. I have no idea what they’ll end up doing.

What I do know is that they will:

learn new skills



be there for each other

step out of their comfort zone

and hopefully… they’ll have a great time.

As you may know already, I used to perform improv, and it’s how I met my husband. So the fact that my kids love it and want to do it as often as possible makes me happy.

I hope this class gives them good memories and a good experience. I hope it gives them tools to help them through the next school year, when all of them are at different schools. I hope that at least they have a little fun and some good stories to bring home.


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