Friday, June 10, 2016

The Big City

What a wonderful, marvelous, fabulous day! Aside from the fact that the train ran late both going and coming--I'm talking more than an hour late each time, but I'll skip over that--we just had a ball. Met Susan and Pat in the agreed-upon place at L.A. Union Station, then we took the short walk to Olivera Street. I was here years ago with Ellen and it was just right for meeting old friends. Pat, the methodical type, had done research on where to eat and had selected La Golondrina Cafe. This was just perfect: In the middle of a wide area lined with street vendors and their intensely colorful wares and a festive, but not too-large crowd, we sat on a sunny patio and talked and talked and laughed. A couple playing mandarins strolled around--obligatory in L.A., I guess--and we ordered a Margarita (Pat), wine (Susan) and Corona Extra (guess who?). Mexican food isn't a big favorite of mine, but I hit on carnitas, which turned out to be a delicious sort of shredded pork which you're supposed to put in a tortilla, but I much prefered to eat it with a fork, which I did. Marking the fact that this was a major event, I actually had two beers, practically unheard of for me. Susan gave me two cards, on which many of my friends from Sunrise Bay had written notes saying they had missed me and wishing me well--how sweet of her to have arranged that.
It turned out that we sat there talking for three hours! Finally, we noticed that the place which had been crowded with lunch-goers, was filling up with early-dinner patrons, and we left. Pat, who is religious (well, so is Susan), suggested we go to the Cathedral of Los Angeles and we did. It was about a mile walk through a busy city, but we got there at just about five. Usually, it closes then, but we were told there was a graduation that evening, so we were in luck.
I had expected an interesting old Gothic church, but this was finished in 2011 (the earlier cathedral had been burned to the ground by an arsonist), and it was just magnificent. I won't describe it, as that would take an age, except to mention it can surely hold a thousand worshippers, it soars at least seven or eight stories high, contains an huge, gold-leafed altar piece from 1600 Spain (this wasn't the main altar, but simply in a side area), and is so elegantly designed and executed it almost lured be back to Ma Church (but that ain't gonna happen). It also contains some wonderful art, obviously commissioned specifically for this venue; I was intrigued by a huge painting by August Dore and I'm going to look him up. We had to get back to the station after that, as my companions' train was scheduled to leave at 6:40, so with hugs and some tears, we parted...
And now I'm going to suspend this, as I slept late and must go to T.O.P.S.; will resume later.
Okay, it's later. I waited at the station for my train, which was scheduled to leave at 7:15. Good thing they have green spaces on each side of the main building, plus a rose garden and a lovely tiled fountain with koi fish in it, because it kept getting delayed and delayed. Finally boarded, but endured another delay of a half hour until I was able to call Ellen and tell her we were moving. (Finally got back to the Ventura station at 10:30.)
While we waited, a young woman and I struck up a conversation. We sat together (she was on the first leg of a l-o-o-ng journey to Sacramento, which involved several trains and a bus) and had a great conversation. I didn't realize she was Hispanic until her phone rang, she answered and spoke Spanish. She said she was one of nine children and has four of her own, three in college and the youngest in high school. She showed me pictures of her parents' (both still living) fiftieth anniversary, with all eleven in a formal photo. When we exchanged names, she said hers was Chris; that stands for Chrystanth (as far as I can approximate the spelling) which means "chrysanthemum." I mentioned a Japanese dirge I had found years ago that starts "Here she lies where all must come/After days grown wearisome/She that was Chrysanthemum...." To my amazement, she immediately looked it up on her phone and found it. She even found information on The Bibliot, a series of books published in 1911, which is where I had found it years ago. That was fascinating and so was Chris.
Home a bit before 11:00 and had a salad, some cherries, then deep sleep after a--well, see first sentence above.

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