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Mount Washington's Twelve Gifts of Thanksmas - Part 1

The author looks back with gratitude for a year in Mount Washington filled with friends, good food, and hospitable homes.

Another year is ending and in the first part of the annual “Thanksmas”, I look back with gratitude for everything, both enduring and new, that makes Mount Washington such a special place: food and community and friends and warm and lovely homes.

And thank you, readers,for welcoming The View From Jack Smith’s Street into your homes and for your comments, ideas and suggestions.  You’re the heart and soul of every story.  Happy, merry Thanksmas to all!

For the first gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me:  the sanctuary of the Self-Realization Fellowship.

No matter how old they are, we cherish our kids, worry about them when they’re away (especially hundreds of miles away at college), and welcome them – and their many hungry friends – when they come home for a visit. But when seeking a refuge from a house of gangly guests, the Self-Realization Fellowship, with its green lawns, hidden glens, and serene atmosphere, provides the perfect place for quiet, calm, and reflection.  Thanks, Self-Realization Fellowship!

For the second gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a new coffee from Antigua Cultural Coffee House.

I often joke to friends that I owe my parenting skills to coffee.  I credit java with increasing my stamina, sharpening my brain, and helping me to pivot quickly and act decisively whether I’m diving for a child's dropped plate or solving a complicated chauffeur puzzle. (“Can we give Billy, Josie, Jasmine, and Geoff a ride home from band practice?  Billy has a tuba.”)

I’m an even more effective parent if the coffee is good and easy to grab like the "Mount Washington Elementary School’s Premium Blend Coffee”.  Specially roasted by Yancey Quinones of Antigua Cultural Coffee House, the “rich dark roast” can be purchased at the school; 50% profit from sales of the 12-oz, $14 eco-friendly bags is donated to the school.  Thanks, Yancey Quinones and Antigua Cultural Coffee House!

For the third gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a visit to the Wachtel Studio-Home.

After coming up with the idea for the home-visit video series for Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch, the inaugural house had to be special.

Boy, was it!

J.T. Allen and Laura Berry opened the doors to their home: the former Wachtel Studio-Home: one of the first houses on Mount Washington and L.A. Historic Cultural Monument 503.  J.T., a writer and storyteller par excellence, talked about unusual architectural details, such as the room-length skylight, of the house used as studio and gallery by painters Elmer Wachtel and Marion Kavanaugh Wachtel: prominent representatives of the early Arroyo Arts movement.  Thanks, J.T. and Laura!

For the fourth gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a Mount Washington Elementary Progressive Dinner.

I’ve lived on Mount Washington a long time but there are always more places to see and new friends to make.   The Mount Washington Elementary Progressive Dinner provided the opportunity to do both!  Conceived by Sharen Steele Herran, Mount Washington PTA's Vice President of Ways and Means, and chaired by Nina Zippay, the fundraiser was a party on wheels.

Richard Herran and Princeston Edwards drove vans filled with revelers and hosts and hostesses made them welcome: Nicole Thomas and Roy Staley for martinis and Swedish meat balls; Alan and Jim Palmer-Carter for paired soup and wine; Mark and Arlette Feinberg for mojitos and cochinita pibil; and Monique and Rod Austria for a dessert spread paired with coffee provided by the ever-generous Yancey Quinones of Antigua Cultural Coffee House.

The food was delicious, the houses were wonderful, the company was great.  It was the perfect evening to catch up with old friends and make new ones.  Thanks Mount Washington Elementary Progressive Dinner!

For the fifth gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a visit to an earth-friendly home.

Maybe it’s because Mount Washington is such a mix of city and nature but those on the Hill have always been earth-friendly.  No one is more environmentally conscious than Jerry and Gloria Schneider who designed their green and gold, Southwestern-style home to live in harmony with nature.

Jerry shared ideas that anyone can incorporate into old houses or new: insulation; blinds that block out the sun; plants grouped by water zone, and how to use windows to help heat escape the house. Thanks Jerry and Gloria Schneider!

For the sixth gift of Thanksmas, Mount Washington gave to me: a Farmer'Stand with local produce.

Many neighborhoods have farmer’s markets but I’m willing to bet that few are more locavore than The Farmers’Stand.  Locals Zack Christensen and Alec Christensen supplied the summer-only stand with produce from their quarter-acre mini-farm off Avenue 37. In addition to just-pulled-from-the-garden freshness, the stand provided a much-needed spot for neighbors to meet, greet and eat samples of Zack’s delicious prepared foods.  Thanks Zack and Alec!

Stay tuned for The Twelve Gifts of Thanksmas: Part 2

susan December 25, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Thanks for Thankmas...
Carol Tanzman December 25, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Wow, View From Jack Smith Street, you get around!
Kim Axelrod Ohanneson January 04, 2013 at 12:32 AM
Thanks for reading, Susan! Happy New Year!
Kim Axelrod Ohanneson January 04, 2013 at 12:33 AM
It's a pretty amazing view, isn't it, Carol?!

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