Finally! Rodger has worn himself out since last summer when his Dad Chet began his last months with us by breaking his hip, not getting emergency care, finally surgery, a struggle to improve, decline at home, onset of pneumonia in late fall, resistance in going to hospital, etc etc, and his passing Christmas Eve. Rodger's life has been turned upside down by this being the only child left, and Shirley, his Mom having passed away years ago. BUT, there WAS hope..............that we could take just a bit of time to have a little get-away sometime, and that we got a couple weeks ago. Perhaps a get-away isn't the right word for everything, since that meant Mark insisted we finally go visit his oldest brother, now 74, who has been sounding a little slow and distant in phone calls, in Riverside CA. WE did manage to get a few days away to Las Vegas to see dear friends Jim & John, but THAT is another "post"..... SO. Today's diary story is about just two highlight stops in the Los Angeles area they accompanied us to, their favorite places. The *** The HUNTINGTON. Library, Collections, and Botanical Gardens *** is impossible to write artfully enough to do it justice (with my writing skills anyway)..... It IS a place you "must" get to WHEN it opens, because you will be there until THEY shoo you out at closing. Okay..... what is the place? Like many American Showplaces, this is the estate of the Huntingtons.....a marriage of massive wealth, he from the family famous for building railroads in the west, and she by inheritance...Arabella had originally married Henry's Uncle, and when he passed away, she then married Henry... hmmmmm. Together they were serious collectors, and that's what they finally became this public place. There are only a tiny FEW Pictures of what we saw that day. After entrance, Mark & Rodger we're often distracted easily at every turn..... BUT, first a stop at the HUNTINGTON LIBRARY, a vast collection of material, so MANY original documents, first editions of writings hundreds of years old, some in calligraphy, some early prints, including a First Edition Gutenberg Bible. This lovely gem was a perfect example..... all calligraphy bordered by artwork: Some books were missing, each with a card saying "by reader request" meaning a researcher had the book checked out for a project....wow. Room after room, here one about nature and drawing of animals hundreds of years old.....times have changed, eh? An original copy of James Audubon's Bird Book left me wishing I could turn some of the pages, but the glass wouldn't let me close enough: Rodger shows you, this is NOT a small book: **** Room after room..... this one showing animal drawings, some hundreds of years old: We finally left the building, and here Mark took the walk up to the burial Mausoleum of the pair...... Soon we were back on track and inside the Tropical Plant Collections....... a beautiful place, many orchids, many carnivorous plants, beautiful settings.... Then from there, we took a short tour through the fairly new and growing Chinese Gardens..... This and the Japanese Gardens are a place that will be fabulous in a few years. There were some photo ops however....... We loved this window: And this entryway nearby: These few little pics can't give you a feel of the hundreds of things we'd already seen. We sat at a cafe', imbibed, and began again.....eventually touring the Desert Plant Gardens....that was magnificent, and NO picture can display the grandeur in the size they're shown here. Finally, we took a short walk through the "palace".... a big art gallery, really. And here's just a tiny bit of odd-ball things WE liked, but we're off the beaten path... These were women, but muscled thoroughly......rather exotic: These babies would NOT be approved of by the current religious right's stern view of moral behavior, but they seemed to be having a good time: This huge vase/bowl was a story on its own....about the butchering of animals for food.....(it did get a little more serious on the other side): I did love this piece, seems that we all should be doing a little more dancing, eh? This final huge sculpture needs now words, it's beautiful: I almost forgot to mention, I was thrilled to find a classic painting devoted to my own people. I believe this my family were the models for this, so we were glad to know WE are part of the Huntington Collection: SO......it was time to go.....the place was closing. We drove from San Marino to Rosemead to dine at a fabulous Los Angeles old family Italian restaurant, Di Pillas.....still run by the daughter of the founder. **IF you do glance at that menu, you'll be astounded..... it's massive. My brother first ate here in 1963........... We rested well that night.