This past weekend I escaped from our peaceful community to a different adventure. I packed up my fuzzy white dog, Lola, and we went to Santa Barbara to visit my sister, Elaine, and her husband, Larry.
Ah, it was sublime. The days were fair and sunny and you could see the Channel Islands clearly etched at the horizon's edge. It couldn't have been more beautiful.
Twice we walked the breakwater path that protects the harbor. Lola, a very sociable dog, was in her glory as she met dozens of people who had their canine companions on leash. She said hello to every person and pooch she encountered.
After our harbor walks, we cruised State Street, where the shops and restaurants are. As usual, there was much going on, as tourists ambled along this expensive stretch of real estate.
The most unique and fun addition to this popular street these past two weekends was the placement of 11 upright pianos that had been creatively painted by Santa Barbara artists. It was fabulous to see musically inspired sightseers just sit down and play whatever they felt like. From blues to Beethoven, the piano riffs rang out.
"Pianos on State," as it is called, is an interactive musical experience coinciding with the 2013 New Noise Festival. This is the fourth such event made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Santa Barbara Bowl, Notes for Notes, Santa Barbara Education Foundation, Santa Barbara Arts Collaborative, Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, Laura Inks and New Noise.
It was great fun to hear the music and see who was inspired to produce some impromptu tunes. Yes indeed, it was a feast for the eyes and ears. "Pianos on State" will be coming back next year. This event is worth a special trip.
The Flintridge Guild of Children's Hospital Los Angeles held its second annual fundraising party, "Moonlight and Moonshine," and it was a huge success.
The Thursday Club building was festively decorated with hay bales, pumpkins and chrysanthemums of all colors. Red-and-white-checkered cloths covered the tables.
Guests got into the mood of the evening by wearing Western-themed clothes so I saw plenty of beautiful cowboy and cowgirl boots, gorgeous turquoise jewelry, bright scarfs and impressive hats.
Guild member Juliet Cullen was the event chairperson and she did a superb job of coordinating it all. Helping out on her committee were Maureen Railsback, Charlotte Saydah, Debbie Enterante Zielinski, Daryl Baker-Pollock, Karen Hopper, Michele Stephes, Kim Kessler, Michelle Sabourin, Gala Winter, Kelly Davis, Debbie Post and Paige McIlwain. Kudos to all the guild members for making this event so successful.
Greeting me at the door were Lisa Simone and her husband, Kirk. Lisa is president of the guild and she can't say enough good things about Children's Hospital. Many of the guild members will soon be making a trek to the hospital to tour its new facilities and have lunch with speakers from this hospital, which is known worldwide for its excellent care and medical breakthroughs.
The courtyard patio was set up with gaming tables of roulette, craps, blackjack, and Texas hold 'em poker and saw brisk action the entire night.
Paige McIlwain and Debbie Post rounded up players for the popular wine-toss game where guests threw plastic rings hoping to ring and capture bottles of premium wines.
And if you didn't want to play any of the games, deejay Mark Fortier was encouraging people to join in and learn some line dance steps such as the "Electric Slide" and "Footloose."
The food prepared by Newport Rib Company was outstanding. The pork ribs were absolutely delicious, the coleslaw seasoned just right and the corn bread melted in my mouth. If one didn't feel like eating ribs, there was savory barbecued chicken to sample.
It was an outstanding evening and a wonderful way to raise money for this incredible hospital, which serves 93,000 children each year with physician expertise in more than 100 pediatric specialties and sub-specialties.
There is always a special place in my heart for this hospital because both of my children, Christopher and Heather, were patients there many years ago. The hospital not only gave them excellent medical care, but also provided me such caring support.
JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at email@example.com with news of your special event.