Adam Schiff and Terry Tornek confess to their literary habits

Adam Schiff. Judy Chu at Pasadena
Politicians tell all about books that inspired them as young people, and books that motivate them now.
From left at the table: Judy  Chu, Adam Schiff, Terry Tornek, and Laura Friedman.

The 7th LitFest Pasadena is being held this weekend in the Playhouse District. One of the most provocatively titled events on the schedule was “Politicians That Read: The Books that Motivate”. Obviously, with a title like that Trump was not invited to join the panel which included Congressman Adam Schiff, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and, as a last minute addition, Congresswoman Judy Chu. There were, however, quite a few Trump jokes!

Schiff revealed that he was inspired to go to law school after reading “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  His young dreams were to be another Atticus Finch.  He also mentioned that he reads biographies and science fiction.  No books about impeachment, he added.

State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, who represents Glendale, confessed to a love of science fiction.  She especially recommended the works of China Mieville.

Mayor Tornek brought a rucksack filled with books and his own brand of humor about reading them.  He categorized them as books he would never read, books other people thought he should read, books he reads for professional reasons, and–lastly–books he has read for pleasure. He told the audience at Vroman’s bookstore that he was taking the books in the rucksack to the donation box at the Pasadena Public Library after this event.

Congresswoman Judy Chu talked mostly about politics and discrimination. If I remember correctly she mentioned “Farewell to Manzanar”, the book about the Japanese-American  internment camp during WWII.  She said she puts all her books on a Kindle so she can carry them with her wherever she goes.

Now for all you booklovers out there, especially those who spend time thinking about the future of the world, I recommend “A Sea of Rust” by C, Robert Cargill. He writes of the world where humans no longer exist and robots are discovering unpleasant truths.  Great book!


The Animation Expo in Burbank is a place for women illustrators, animators

Ruby Roth animation expo burbank fair 2018
Ruby Roth both writes and illustrates books for children, espousing the vegan diet.

The city of Burbank welcomed the Animation Expo four or five years ago. It is a free event to showcase the work of young animators and illustrators.

Mascot animation expo
This colorful character is the “mascot” for the Animation Expo.

It began as an open air fair adjacent to the long-running Burbank Art Fair and has grown every year.  In fact, it attracts more foot traffic than the Art Fair these days.

This year young women illustrators, designers, authors, animators and all-around artists were a significant presence.  Here are a few of them.

Aiysha Sinclair annimation expo burbank fair
Aiysha Sinclair wrote and illustrated her book, Brown Sugar Fairies.
Tara Wittaker animation
The people around Tara Whitaker’s booth seemed to be a study in teal, including the hair of one visitor.
Isabelle Gedigk annimation expo
Illustrator and storyboard artist Isabelle Gedigk standing beside a poster of a book she illustrated.
red skirt woman at animation expo (
The Animation Expo brings out people in colorful clothing.
blue haired woman animation expo
Not an animator. Not an illustrator, but I loved the way her blue hair matched her blouse.  Surprisingly, there were no leaves at all on the jacaranda trees that line San Fernando Blvd. where the expo was held.  No purple jacaranda blooms yet, either.


Summer Fair season gets going with the Burbank Art Street Fair

Rick Hunter handblown glass
I love hand blown glass and the vessels created by Rick Hunter are gorgeous..

I went this the Burbank Spring Art Fair with the intention of photographing people who attended, but decided to show some of the art for sale instead.

Children playing withbubbles
Little kids played with bubbles while one of those bubble machines ran in the background.

At the time I was there on Saturday there were relatively few people shopping at the fair — at least compared to the thousands who thronged the Burbank Fair ten years ago.

On the other hand, the Animation Expo–which will be in the next post–was very busy.  A generational thing, I guess.

carpet vases Burbank Art Fair
This is unusual! The artist cut up Persian carpeting and transformed the bits and pieces into vesselsShe’s on Istagram at Angela Art.
metal and rope sculpture
A metal and rope sculptured head.
Jazz man sculpture
I don’t know the name of the artist or the sculpture but to me it looks like “Jazz Man”.
Gourd Art by Johnson and Jones
The artist, Kay Jones, who created these masks told me she had planned to do gourd art handbags for 5 years, but has just kept on going with the addition of these fantastic masks.  She also sells gourd purses on etsy.


Metal Mountains wall art
The message in this metal wall art by Mountain Metals appeals to me.

New! Just published! The romantic-mystery, ‘L.A. Ladies’ is on Kindle, Nook and Kobo!

L.A. Ladies ebook cover
‘L.A. Ladies’ is a romantic mystery now available as an ebook and paperback

Today is the day my newest novel, ‘L.A. Ladies’, goes live on Kindle, Nook and Kobo. I worked on this story for almost a year, off-and-on, and the book already received outstanding reception among lovely Goodreads readers.

In this novel Robin, who has lived a privileged life in Los Angeles,  begins anew after the unexpected death of her husband and finds herself in situations she never dreamed she would encounter. Love and danger seem to be turning her new life upside down. And the collie on the cover? Her name is Pretty Girl and she plays an important role at two turning points in the book.

Here is where you can find the ebook:




It is also available as a paperback on Amazon.


After El Nino the L.A. River looks much different. Not so pretty pretty!

Glendale Narrow January 2016
Winter has come to Los Angeles and the plants on islands in the river have really taken a beating. See below for a summertime view.

The first of several months’ of heavy El Nino storms blew into Southern California this last week and the Los Angeles River went from being a trickle in an almost-dry concrete channel to being a flood sweeping into the ocean.  (These photos were taken after the flood had passed.)

Because the river paths, in particular at the Glendale Narrows and in Studio City, are the settings of key scenes in my new novel, ‘L.A. Ladies’, I decided to take a few photos in winter when the area is anything but the pretty pictures of the area in summer. (‘L.A. Ladies’ will be published on Kindle on February 18, 2016.)

Cyclists ride slowly by L.A. river
The paths along the river are shared by walkers, joggers, bicylists, and horses. The Los Angeles Equestrian Center is nearby.

I’m going to include some Summer vs. Winter photos here as well as some sights away from the river.

Here is what I saw on a walk along the Los Angeles River in January 2016:

Los Angeles River Glendale Narrows
This scene at the Glendale Narrows in July is often used to show the L.A. River. It only looks like this in summer.
I 5 Freeway overpass at Glendale Narrows
The image of a natural river vanishes in the roar of traffic on the I 5 Freeway, a main north-south highway in Los Angeles which passes over the Glendale Narrows.
Ducks walking at Glendale Narrows
What a surprise! Alongside the river were 8 ducks walking along at a very stately pace. They seem to be portaging from one part of the river to the next.  The power of the rushing water stripped leaves from the small trees behind them and debris that looks like white plastic bags coats the branches. The bags would kill sea creatures if the plastic reached the ocean.
Dreamworks Animation building
Dreamworks Animation, that yellow building, is right beside the river trail.
Palamino horse near Glendale Narrow
A horse named Katmandu spends his days beside the trail. His owner lives in the building behind the corrall.
Los Angeles River after the January storm.
Another view of the L.A. River after the storm water has swept through.


Earthday, animation expo, and arts–just another fun weekend in beautiful downtown Burbank

Woman in lepart pattern pants
People of all ages flocked to this 3-in-One event to shop, to people-watch, and to take in the warm afternoon sunshine.

As I wrote some time ago, the purely arts festivals in and around Los Angeles are having a hard time of it in recent years.  Low attendance, few sales, disheartened artists and craftspeople.  The city of Burbank, however, put together three festivals this last weekend on San Fernando Road that turned into one very dynamic event.

The Earthday part of this festival was an ode to plastic and cilantro.  Sponsored by the Burbank Public Works Dept., there was a long tent covered with plastic bags–the bags that are now banned in many cities in California.

Earthday tent Burbank
Banned plastic bags covered the exterior of the Earthday tent in downtown Burbank

(As an aside: the plastic bag ban is turning into a nice source of revenue for cities.  If a shopper wants to buy a paper bag to carry groceries home, it costs ten cents–which is paid to the city.  City council people all across California, no doubt, feel really good about this: cleaning up the environment and sneakily raising taxes, too!)  But I digress…inside the Earthday plastic bag tent children were given small terracotta pots to paint and then cilantro seeds to plant in the pots.  It will be time for salsa in about a month!

The Burbank Arts and Crafts Festival which spread along three blocks has been around for years and years.

Glass art Burbank Fair
This glass art is a three dimensional interpretation of life in a forest.
Mascot skater at CTN expo
The mascot for the CTN animation expo in Burbank.

The CTN Animation Expo is a relative new-comer, but added an interesting  group of people to the mix that wandered along San Fernando Road — much younger and much hipper than the typical arts fair attendees.  There are several animation studios in Burbank and nearby which makes this the ideal location for the event.

Rather than tell you more about all this, I’ll show you some of what there was to see.

Artist setting up booth at Burbank Fair
The weekend began with artists setting up booths to display paintings, photographs and many types of crafts at the Fair.
Hand crafted small kaleidoscopes displayed on a table at the Burbank Fair
All Fired Up pottery
Beautiful pottery at the All Fired Up booth. The potter is a retired Beverly Hills hair stylist.
Gourd purses
Among the unusual crafts were these handbags made from gourds at the Jones and Johnson booth
Crowd at Buurbank ARts Fair
Among the crowds were many younger people. Perhaps more interested in the CTN Animation Expo?
Chalk art at Burbank Fair
What would any Fair be without chalk artists creating their works on the street?!  And there were buskers playing a violin, a banjo and Andrean flutes on the sidewalks.  The violinist and banjoist played their music far too loud!
Bubbles at Burbank Art Fair
By late afternoon children –and some adults–were having a great time making big iridescent bubbles from soapy water in plastic wading pools.