Embracing May Gray and June Gloom…or maybe just accepting it

Los Angeles averages 329 days of sun per year. It’s actually quite warm and sunny most of the winter. Then sometime mid-May we shift into May Gray leading to June Gloom,  a weather phenomenon that appears this time of year in Southern California, as cyclical as spring and summer.

Most years after about two weeks of little or no sunshine I lapse into feeling like I need to hibernate. We are sunshine people and I don’t do well without consistent exposure. This is an embarrassingly hard thing to admit when I know how many of my blogging friends live for months with extremes of cold and damp, without even a spot of sun until mid-spring.

I’m not alone in my physical reaction, however.

With great interest I’ve read numerous studies linking sunshine to mood. Natural sunlight provides essential vitamin D and can protect a person from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sunlight boosts key mood boosting hormones and wards off some forms of depression.

May and June are typically the cloudiest months of the year in coastal Southern California. The clouds are formed when the  marine layer moves in late at night and the resulting damp and gloomy pattern hangs around until late afternoon, when finally the setting sun makes a brief appearance below the clouds and there may be a couple of hours of “happy” sunshine.

A fun and informative blog post on this natural phenomenon can be read HERE, but basically all that’s required is cold Pacific Ocean water, an ocean current known as the California current and a high pressure formation.

There are some benefits to this moisture-laden foggy weather, however. In a mega-drought cycle it is a wonderful reminder that Mother Nature knows how to make an appearance and send a little relief. We aren’t using much outside water right now. Conservation isn’t nearly the challenge it will be in a couple of months.

May and June are somewhat unique, but in July and August the fog associated with the beach areas following hot summer days can also roll in and cool further inland.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is in the Brentwood neighborhood.  On a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean, but it isn’t “at the beach” in the same sense as the Getty Malibu campus. These  photos were taken last August as friends and I visited on an afternoon and stayed into the evening.

Temperatures at my house, less than 25 miles away, had been in the 100s that day. As we strolled around the campus the fog rolled in and the temperature dropped enough that we were cold…and a little wet.

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Mother Nature knows how to cool us off and is doing her best to assist the parched environment.  So I’m doing my best to embrace the benefits of May Gray and may even be looking forward to June Gloom.

We have Hollywood Bowl tickets tomorrow night seeing Neil Diamond in concert for the first time–it’s our first time, not Neil’s. I won’t know until tomorrow if I need to plan for wet weather. No umbrellas are allowed inside the Bowl so this could be exciting.

It is a three-day weekend as we commemorate Memorial Day. Monday will be a quiet day at home, I’m anticipating, and maybe I can get caught up with some of you. I’ve not been spending much time blogging recently.

I have been very busy during the day, yes, but you see, May Gray HAS been making me want to hibernate, and my evenings have been very short! Maybe I need a sun lamp? (If you’ve just endured a long, freezing winter you have my permission to roll your eyes.)

Whatever Mother Nature delivers to your door step this weekend, I hope you have a very enjoyable one. I’ll look forward to hearing about it.

Four generations sharing Mother’s Day with a 144-year-old visitor

I taught preschool for so many years that without even thinking about it I tend to create thematic learning opportunities for my grandchildren. When Aimee and I began to put our heads together about what we might do with my mother, her grandmother, for Mother’s Day, an idea popped into my head.

Why don’t we take the girls to see a very special mother who happens to be visiting nearby?

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“Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1,” more commonly referred to as “Whistler’s Mother,” is visiting from the French Museé d’Orsay along with Édouard Manet’s portrait of his friend, Émile Zola, and Paul Cézanne’s Card Players.

 

Sophia and Karina are frequent visitors to the local Natural History Museum, Science Center and Pasadena’s family-friendly Kidspace, but art museums haven’t yet been a prominent part of their extra-curricular education. I was curious to learn how the girls, 7 1/2 and almost 6, would respond to what they experienced.

We didn’t have to wait too long for the comments to begin. The Rodin collection in front of the museum entrance features several large sculptures, many with the human figure unclothed. Sophia expressed concern, with some distaste, for all the naked bodies. Her art education took a jump-start!

Our thought was to limit this first visit to the Norton Simon Museum to just a few of the halls and then the current exhibition which brought us here in the first place, Tête-à-tête: Three Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, on loan through June 22, 2015.

I was eager for Karina, who dances through life, to experience one of my favorite artists. Industrialist and philanthropist Norton Simon, founder of the Norton Simon museum, also gravitated to the works of Edgar Degas, and with over 100 works by this artist at the museum, there is plenty to absorb. I adore the graceful dancers in his magnificent works. It’s probably because I’m anything but graceful, but great art feeds the imagination and the soul.

Karina in the Degas Room

The girls are very different in their observations. Karina enjoyed discussing some of the paintings with her great-grandmother. She loved flowers and still life and representational art.

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Sophia was interested in Van Gogh, Picasso and Andy Warhol. This didn’t surprise me. The girls have distinctively different tastes in almost everything.

Even the outdoor spaces brought out their differing observations.

Karina enthusiastically pointed out interesting water features commenting on their beauty…

While Sophia, with concern and some degree of suspicion asked, “Is this recirculating water?”

Four generations at a favorite art museum. My idea of a wonderful Mother’s Day.

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Nan, with her budding artist and future eco-chick!

A new week begins!

 

Aiming for a week in slow motion

I sometimes feel my life is perpetual motion, but once in a while I manage to slow down, and even STOP! This weekend was quietly delicious as I fully let the air out of my tires!

I had plenty of time to watch the birds.

 

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Every year about this time we have an Oriole or two stay for a few days of feeding before moving on. I’m so glad I didn’t miss his arrival.

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This little guy has been hanging around. I’ve never seen him before. Does he typically live near you?

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I caught sight of these two prospective parents pulling nesting material out of one of our lighting torches.

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The finches are frequently on the spillway, but I’ve never seen this particularly colorful hummingbird in my garden before. It’s amazing what one may observe when sitting quietly.

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Someone else was caught in the act. These little thieves are a nuisance, but they need to eat, too.

Even a couple of hours of rain! Every drop brought celebration, and the doves thought it worth celebrating with a little meal.

So how am I going to carry the slower weekend pace into the new week?

Honestly? I’m not sure. But I’m going to try. And perhaps if I feel I’m getting in the way of that peaceful intention, I’ll just have to think about one of my other favorite creatures. He takes life in stride.

You’ll definitely want to read  HERE about this patient pet-owner on the most unlikely stroll! 

I think this gentleman may just have the right idea! If I get moving too quickly this week, I’ll have to see what Darwin has to say about it.

I hope the week moves at just the right tempo, whatever that may mean to you.

And be sure to breathe lighter!