The Cadillac Hotel

The Cadillac Hotel in Venice Beach, California was built in 1912.  It sits along the boardwalk with an incredible view of the beach.  Located on Dudley Avenue, it also houses a bicycle rental shop and Titanic, a shop with giant robots sells hats and other items.  Reportedly the Cadillac Hotel was a popular destination for Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Charlie Chaplin.

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The Venice Beach Bar

The Venice Beach Bar is located on Ocean Front Walk near Dudley.  It sits opposite the large parking lot off of Rose Street.  The building was built in 1922 and currently houses a bar and eatery.  It is one of the historic buildings in Venice with a lot of history.  It is legend that the music group The Doors hung out here.

The bar is currently closed for remodeling, but will open soon just in time for the good weather.  The views of the beach and sunset are unparalleled.  If you happen to be visiting southern California be sure to give the Venice Beach Bar a visit.

Living Life as an Artist

This year I am living outside of my comfort zone.  After losing my job I needed a way to earn an income quickly.  I had several watercolor paintings I had done and decided to try and sell them.  I set up a stand on Venice Beach and to my surprise I have sold all of the paintings I arrived with.

I have since expanded to acrylic paints and I am exploring abstract ideas and concepts.  Venice Beach is a great place to begin as an artist.  It does not cost anything to have a stand and the weather is usually pretty nice.  The locals and tourists act as a test market for what an artist might experience off the beach.

The downside of supporting oneself as an artist is the money is not great.  One has to learn to live on very little.  Life as an artist is not for the faint at heart.  One has to be willing to go for long periods without money, but it eventually comes.  The waiting is the hardest part, to quote Tom Petty.

Life at the beach has been an amazing experience.  I have grown as an artist and I have met some good friends.  I am always inspired by the other artists I meet here.  There is definitely a creative spirit in this town, and I think there always has been.  It also inspires me to write.  I have never experienced writer’s block, much to the dismay of some.  Hopefully life as a starving artist will be short lived and I will become well fed.

My Time in Latvia ( Part 9)

I stared at the bull and he stared back at me.  I was afraid he would charge at me if I moved.  I stood still for a while and he continued to look at me.  I decided I couldn’t be late for my class and quickly walked past him.  He was actually tied to the ground with a post and a rope.

My host family in Ugale took me on some outings that I will never forget.  One of the trips they took me on was cranberry picking.  I love fresh cranberry sauce and was excited to be able to go picking.  However I did not know that cranberries grow in bogs.  Bogs are swampy water-filled flatlands with mosquitoes and flies everywhere.  The berries grow in the marsh close to the ground.   We each had a wicker basket that we filled with the berries we picked.   Each time I bent down to get a handful of berries the mosquitoes and flies swarmed around my face.  The picking of the cranberries was not fun but it was worth it.  We were able to pick quite a few cranberries that we ate ate several meals.

Another outing I was taken on was a sailing trip.  We went to a lake with an island in the middle and the only structure on this large lake was the dock.  I boarded the boat with the other members of my host family and we set off sailing a course around the island.  The island was a dangerous place I was told by one of the men in charge of our trip.  It was said to have wild boar inhabiting the island, such as the one the grandfather had shot and killed.

My Time in Latvia (Part 8)

I learned to drink one shot to be polite and then leave any other shots full so they would not refill.  There is no way I could have taught classes with many shots of vodka.  At the time I thought of how strange that would seem to Amveerican teachers, and maybe some would like it.

My students were well behaved, respectful and for the most part I did not have any trouble with students misbehaving.  The only trouble I had was with a student in the 9th grade.  Every day he would interrupt class and get his friends to do so as well.  I decided I had to do something about their behavior.  I went home and thought about some solutions and decided I would give them a try.  I was the mean teacher who implemented a boy/girl seating chart, much to the dismay of the class.  It broke up the group of boys from disrupting the class but one student continued to be a problem.  I called on him to answer a question and he did not understand.  I went on to another student and at the end of the class I asked the student to stay after.  I asked him if he was having a hard time understanding the lessons.  He told me yes.  I told him I would be happy to work with him outside of class if he needed some tutoring.  I did not have trouble with any students after that.

Once I started teaching I had to set up a bank account.  The town had one bank and one afternoon I went in to start an account.  The woman asked me my name and I told her Wendy.  I saw she wrote down Vendija, the Latvian version of my name.  I told her the Peace Corps would send my checks to Wendy B…  She told me I could not have two names on my account.  I agreed.  She handed me my bank book with the name Vendija printed on it.  I decided it was’t worth the fight and let it be.  Most Latvians did call me Vendija, but on legal documents I was hoping to have my actual name.

One afternoon I was walking down the dirt street to the school after eating lunch at home.  As I walked maybe a quarter of a mile I saw a bull standing in a field close to the side of the road.  He had horns and stared at me as I approached.  My heart stopped when I realized there was no fence around the field.