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Sat. Dec. 15 to Fri. Dec. 21 Van Nuys CA; Skirball Cultural Center

Saturday- We woke up to bright blue skies. Great, except for the fact that even through the news at 10 PM last night, today was supposed to be a washout! Cold, cloudy with showers, all day! Instead there was not a cloud in the sky! Following the weather forecast, we had made reservations for the Skirball Cultural Center.

The Skirball Cultural Center is a Jewish Cultural Center, focusing on the history of Judaism for the last 4000 years. They also focus on Judaism and democracy, specifically in the US.

Skirball Cul. Ctr. entance

We had passed the center numerous times, as it is overlooking the 405. One of the social workers, Jennifer, had told me about it. So Bob made reservations for the Noah’s Ark exhibit that is currently there. The rest of the museum is walk up, but the Noah’s Ark is timed and for only two hours.

The Skirball is a large cultural center with many activities throughout the year. They hold seminars and concerts, in addition to the museum.

While Bob was picking up our tickets, I cruised the gift shop, which had a lot of Americana items as well as a lot of Jewish items.


We started by viewing the “Decades of Dissent: Democracy in Action”, which was a lot of posters from the 1960’s. We quickly moved to the “Free to be US: A First Amendment Experience”. This area was pretty interesting. It was interactive, with computer generated experiences. You could walk up to an exhibit and it would ask you about a specific incident in history. You learned about the episode, then voted the way you think that the Supreme Court would have voted. For instance, a sister and brother wore black arm bands to school in the 1960’s ( middle school) to protest the Vietnam war. Since it was a peaceful demonstration, we voted for it, and the Supreme Court voted against the kids. Interesting. They had other First Amendment issues, such as you write a 5 word sentence describing “freedom” then step up onto a ‘soap box” and read your speech. Then you pin it to the wall.


A third exhibit was about music. Various songs have been deemed to be too “violent” or  otherwise disturbing, so that they have been censored. Songs like Tim McGraw’s Indian Nation and a Michael Jackson song. This exhibit was by decades and it was pretty interesting to listen to the music.

Next was an exhibit on censorship of books. The entire set of Laura Ingles Wilder were censored because they portrayed Native Americans in a bad light. I read them all when I was a kid! Also included were other books, like Farenheight 451.

Finally, there was a TV exhibit. Evidently a shocking TV skit was Mae West talking to Charlie McCarthy one time and of course George Carlin, “7 words you cannot say on radio”.

By this time we were hungry, so we headed over to Zeidler’s Café. There was a sit down restaurant and a food cart. We were not impressed with the restaurant menu, so we grabbed sandwiches off the cart. Both were very good, $7.50 each. Bob had a roast beef and I had turkey. The guy working the cart was a character!

After lunch, we continued into the historical exhibit, named “Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America”, featuring a Lincoln Spotlight. 

These jars are from 900BC.

Urns from the 900's

This is a beer jug from 500 BC.

A beer jar from 500 BC

Other antiquities:

Jewish history in ancient times

Then we moved into an area which traces Jewish immigration and history. Here are two of the areas.  First France. …

Jewish history in France

Then England….

Jewish history in England

There was a lot on Jewish culture and history. Then we moved into the immigration to the US. Abraham Lincoln fought for not only abolishing slavery, he also helped the Jewish people fight  religious/ethnic discrimination in the US.

Information about Lincoln and his impact on Democracy and Judaism

Abe Lincoln's portfolio

Abraham Lincoln’s presidential portfolio.

More Lincoln memorbelia

More Lincoln memorabilia. In the left corner, in the front, is a handwritten letter from the White House.

A letter handwritten by Abe Lincoln while president.

There were a lot more items. A Levi Strauss display and other prominent Jewish historical figures. The displays followed the immigration of Jews from Europe, including through the 1930’s and 40’s. There was a memorial to the six million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust, including an eternal flame. There was a short  movie on the establishment of Israel.

At 1:30 we went to the Noah;s Ark exhibit. This is a permanent, award winning children’s and family destination. As I said, there is a two hour time limit. We went through in about 25 minutes, but if you have kids, this is a great place to take them.

The entire exhibit is hands on. You are allowed to touch and play with any of the exhibit, aboard a gigantic ark, filled with whimsically handcrafted animals. The entire exhibit is made from recycled materials.

Flamingos made from recycled materials

This is a flamingo, made from a “bow” ( as is bow and arrow), with combs making up the feathers, a pink purse making the body, bamboo for the legs, and fly swatters for the feet! The neck is made of pink spools of thread.

Next was an Eagle made of a shoe, whisk’s, and blinds. 

An eagle made from a shoe, whisk, and blinds.

A puffin made from a boxing glove and badmitton shuttlecock.

This bird is made from an oil can, with a badminton shuttlecock, paint brushes, and a boxing glove!

Zebra's made from a piano keyboard, aire vents and bands of steel

The zebra is made from a piano keyboard, air turbines, and metal plates.

A deer made from keys, a carborator and rulers.

The deer has gardening trowels for antlers, Around the neck are keys, in the middle is a carburetor, and the legs are made of wooden tape measures.

A elephant made from steel and Bob is turning a drum in the back. 

The elephant’s trunk is made from bamboo steam cups, the body is metal tubing, and when Bob turned the wheel, a drum beats. When elephants are walked,they walk to a drum beat.

An alligator made from a violin case and tires.

This alligator is made from a violin case and tires. The tongue is the neck of a violin!

A bear made from a bucket and plastic. Through the hole you could see a bird inside.

The bear is made from plastic and a pail. The dot that you see is a way to look inside the bear, and there is a bird inside.

These were all in the entrance. From here, we walked downstairs to the ark area.

The first room 

The exhibit is in three stages. This is the first, with the ‘storm”. You can make rain, wind and lightening. The giraffe moves, by the machine to its left. You can stand it it and use your body to move the giraffes neck and head.

YOu could make it rain!

Bob is turning a wheel to make it rain.

Bob was making the wind blow. The colors are leaves moving.

Here he is making wind. The color in the tube are leaves turning in the wind. I could not catch the lightening with  a picture. You turned a wheel and lightening appeared.

Making the ark float.

This is supposed to be the ark, when the rain hits. It starts as dry and Bob added the water, by turning a wheel.

The giraffe moved. You could make it move by using the maching on the left.

Animals went up the pulley.

You could put animals on this ‘belt’ and then turn the wheel. The belt would take them up into the ark, where they would fall off the belt, and slide back down into a basket on the other side of the pulley.

Denise riding a camel.

Me on the camel.

Bob riding the second camel.

Bob on the other camel. As you may have noticed, there are two of everything.

A Kangaroo

The kangaroo. Next we moved into the Ark.

More Ark

Second room animals

Remember, all of these animals are hand made of recycled materials!

A bird.

More animals

Climbing around the ark.

This is now the third area. Around the entire room, was the tunnel you can see to the top. The kids can climb the rope stairs in the back to the right, and go around the entire room, on a second floor. Then they can climb back down, where this little girl is or on the other side of the room.

More climbing

Of course, no Ark would be completed without a turtle.

A turtle.


Annother snake

Another bird.

Animals hanging out.

We were finally in the last room. This was a play room, with the animals looking on…

More animals haning out

The exit was of course through the Noah’s Ark gift shop, which was of course full of stuffed animals and other toys.

We returned home, took a short nap, and went to dinner at Black Angus. We had a coupon for a $16.99 meal of rib eye, lobster tail, and fried shrimp. We both ate the shrimp and lobster tail and took the steak home for dinner later this week. Bob had a salad and onion rings, I had a baked potato and green beans.

Sunday-  We headed off to Walmart to grocery shop. Even with coupons and shopping at Walmart we are paying 50% more for groceries than our original budget. Some of it is the higher cost of groceries nationwide and some of it is California. The items are more expensive in California and the sales tax is higher.

We returned home and unloaded the groceries then went to Macy’s. Macy’s had men’s flannel shirts on sale for $14.99, and Bob needed a couple of them. So we headed over to Northridge mall. When we arrived at the mall, we looked for Macy’s on the directory and headed over  there. It was a women’s store only. We had to find an employee to ask where the men’s section was located. It was on the other side of the mall, in a second Macy’s. Since we had a coupon, that upset us, as we wanted to buy Bob three shirts and a top for me! Oh well, we would work it out. So we hiked back up the mall, and found the shirts. They were junk, made in Nicaragua. You could see through the material! So Macy’s lost a sale!

It was time for lunch, so we hiked back through the mall to the Yard House. Actually, the mall was not all that crowded at this point. We had not had a problem finding parking in the parking garage, especially notable since it was raining.

At the Yard House we asked for a table where we could watch the Redskin game. I asked the waitress to turn a TV to the game. No one had asked for the TV near us, so she asked the bartender to change to our game. That was after she asked me if the Redskins were a baseball team! 

We happily watched the Redskins beat the Brown’s. Bob had two beers, both dark. We had 1/2 sandwich’s and soup for lunch. We may end up back there each week just to watch the games, since we have not been able to watch them all season. Go Redskins!

We returned to the motor home, had a quick nap, walked the dogs, ate dinner and watched some TV.

Monday-  A better day at work. I only had 10 patients on my floor again, so it was fairly quiet, with me being assigned to assist Mary and Jackie with their reviews. Both of the ER case managers had called in sick, so we will have to see what happens. West Hills is already short staffed, and it is going to be worse when I leave in three weeks.  The other CM’s keep trying to talk me into staying and I keep telling them I am coming back in February. 

Bob had taken the car in for the Blue Ox. ( that is the tow bar to tow behind the motor home). We had noticed that the brake did not seem to be working when we connect the car. Sure enough, the wires had corroded and it was not working. So of course,they had to order parts.

Tuesday- Still very short staffed. One of the ER case Managers, Susan, who had oriented me a bit when I first arrived, had been protecting a cat from a  coyote  and had been bitten very badly. She is in another hospital and may not be back by the time that I leave. She is a former LA city cop and her husband is still one, so we were all wondering why she did not just shoot the coyote! Guess it happened too fast…

Wednesday– The parts were in for the Blue Ox, so Bob took the car in for the repair. It took until 12:30 ( from 9) for the work.

I had a horrible day at work. The worst I have had since I have been here. Jackie had called in ( I think she took a mental health day), plus Rosa the secretary has been out sick, so it was really busy. I had my floor and Jackie’s, which meant I had 44 patients. 25 is a heavy load! So it was awful. I ended up just doing the discharges for the two floors, but that kept me really running all day. Plus Jessica and Mary were off, but Rosanna and Merikka were both late. So it was just Valerie and I until after 11 AM.

Thursday- Fortunately, Jackie was back, but no one felt well, so it was a long, long day. Rosa came back again today, also, which helped a lot.

Friday- Everyone felt better and it was a much better day. We have rec’d so much junk from vendors, they we had a raffle to get rid of the stuff. We did not raffle off the eleven pound box of Godiva chocolate though…. I won this snowman, filled with candy. Present I won at West Hills Hospital

The top layer is peppermints, the second layer is peppermint salt water taffy and Christmas colors candy corn, and the other layers are just more candy. They also raffled off  a tower, 3 feet high, of pretzels, popcorn etc., and  two potpourri Christmas trees. 

By the end of the day I felt like going out to dinner, so when Bob picked me up, we went to Maggiano’s. Ah, Christmas season, Maggiano’s was very busy this time. Even with it being busy we only had a 5 minute wait for table.  I ordered a bottle of the Copper Ridge White Zinfandel. You cannot buy it; they only sell to restaurants. The only way to get a bottle is to buy a bottle and drink a glass, so that you can take the rest home. So Bob treated me to a bottle for Christmas.

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