Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 - a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year in review...

I see myself as a pessimistic optimist, so it's safe to say that just when you thought 2017 was miserable, along came 2018 to make us all feel even worse. Having started the year with a cold I just couldn't shake for weeks and weeks, plumbing problems in our condo and multiple car accidents, 2018 didn't really improve as the months went by.

America has turned upside-down these past few years
Double America 2 Glenn Ligon The Broad
These are dark times we live in and just when you thought Trump and the current corrupt administration couldn't go any lower, they descended further and further into the bowels of Hell as the year progressed, continuing to try and take away healthcare for millions, destroying protections for the environment, revoking equality for the LGBTQ community, discriminating against people of colour, denying voting rights, demonizing immigrants and the media, turning a blind eye to mass shootings, giving tax breaks to the rich, giving the middle finger to women with their Supreme Court appointment, cosying up to dictators and undermining America's standing around the globe.

Disney's Aladdin at Hollywood's Pantages Theatre -
a magical musical to start the year
Disney Aladdin Pantages Theatre Hollywood
Aside from all these horrors we tried our best to live our lives and not give in to the gloom and doom.

On January 10 we went to the opening night of Disney's touring Aladdin musical and it was a real treat, a great show-stopping production and real spectacle, with a scene-stealing genie.

It also made up for the fact that someone had rear-ended my car the day before when I was stationary in traffic along the Sunset Strip (the first car drama of many in 2018).

Birthday parties and sunsets in Palos Verdes
Palos Verdes sunset
By mid-January we were enjoying the view of Santa Catalina Island from Palos Verdes for a friend's birthday, the first time we'd ventured there (aside from picking up my parents in San Pedro after their cruise last January).

Enjoying the 26th annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design
at Downtown L.A.'s FIDM Museum in February
Thor: Ragnarok movie costumes FIDM Museum
This year I continued to publish my Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props Blog and visited the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising for their 26th annual Art of Motion Picture Design Exhibition in February to see the dozens of movie wardrobes on display there.

Attending the 2018 Women's March in Downtown L.A.
2018 Womens March LA
Our activism continued this year as we once gain joined thousands to take part in the second Women's March in Downtown L.A. on January 20. Peacefully protesting for decency, equality and democracy.

Second car accident in as many weeks in mid-January
Bashed car bumper
Driving back from taking our Labrador Cooper to Huntington Dog Beach after that weekend I was rear-ended whilst stationary at traffic lights again. Just after I'd had a brand new bumper fitted on the previous Friday it was wrecked by Tuesday.

To be honest this has been a year of being rear-ended, slow punctures and tyre blowouts, cracked windscreens, smashed side mirrors and car break-ins.

A winter visit to New York City in February
Central Park Reservoir New York
For a change of pace in February we ventured to Manhattan for some fun with friends, good food and enjoyed Central Park by day.

Sunny blue skies by day, snowing by night
New York snow February 2018
Then at night we were treated to a winter flurry of snow in the Big Apple, which made the trip seem even more magical.

More plumbing problems in March led to a mini-shower makeover
Walk-in shower makeover
In march more plumbing problems led to a walk-in shower makeover as a "Let's change the thermostat" turned into a stressful and costly weeks long project of ordering and waiting for parts, plus securing and coordinating different plumbers, tilers and glass door installers. Thankfully we had a spare bathroom whilst this one was out of action.

March For Our Lives rally
in Downtown L.A. on March 24, 2018
March For Our Lives LA
At the end of March we joined thousands in DTLA to campaign for necessary gun reform after the horrific events at the Marjory Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and not forgetting all those gunned down at the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas shooting and massacred in the hate crime at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida in June 2016, to name but a few.

This year there've been over 300 mass shootings by homegrown gunmen and something needs to be done about it.

Simply Divine food & wine fundraiser event
at Hollywood Forever for the L.A. LGBT Center
Simply Divine food wine event Hollywood Forever
On same day in the evening we attended a charity fundraiser at the Hollywood Forever cemetery enjoying lots of bitesize treats and drinks to support L.A.'s LGBT Center.

10th Birthday visit to Huntington Dog Beach
10-year-old Labrador Huntington Beach
On April 18, 2018, Cooper turned ten and enjoyed a visit to one of his favourite dog beaches for some fun along the shoreline.

First visit to Santa Barbara at the end of April
after the wildfires and mudslides
Labrador Hendrys Beach Santa Barbara
Plus at the end of April we all ventured up to Hendry's Beach or Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara, our first visit since all the devastating wildfires and mudslides at the beginning of the year, the aftermath of which was still very much evident.

Saying goodbye to our Chiswick flat in London
for one last time in May
Chiswick flat garden London
This year we also made the decision to put our Chiswick flat in West London on the market before Easter before it lost any more value due to Brexit and the exchange rate plummeted even further down a rabbit hole.

It was a long, drawn out process (selling houses in the U.K. is much more complicated than here in the U.S.) but we finally completed the sale in the first week of August.

We'll always have great memories of our time living and visiting there, especially of enjoying the garden when it was sunny.

L.A. Pride Parade on June 10, 2018
LA Pride Parade POSE dancers
In June we were back in time for L.A. Pride in West Hollywood and we enjoyed the Parade festivities, especially as the FX drama Pose put on quite a show vogueing down Santa Monica Boulevard and entertaining the masses gathered there to watch.

Being a tour guide around L.A. for family in June
Walt Disney Concert Hall DTLA
This year was made all the more bearable by having friends and family come to stay with us, the first being my niece and her boyfriend in June.

Enjoying contemporary art at The Broad
in Downtown L.A.
Jeff Koons Balloon Dog The Broad DTLA
It was fun being a tour guide around L.A. and rediscovering all that the City of Angels and Southern California had to offer, like museums, art, beaches, theme parks and restaurants.

Jennifer Hudson at the Hollywood Bowl on July 6, 2018
Jennifer Hudson Hollywood Bowl concert
At the beginning of July we were lucky enough to see Jennifer Hudson play the Hollywood Bowl during a heatwave, then the very next day another houseguest arrived for a week of sight-seeing for the first time.

Recovering from pinhole gum surgery mid-August
Post pinhole gum surgery
In August I was advised to undergo pin-hole gum surgery, which was as traumatic as it looks, and I'm still not sure I'm 100% convinced about the benefits of it all these months later.

Exploring the delights of the 12th annual
Art of Outstanding Television Costume Design
at DTLA's FIDM Museum in August
FIDM Museum TV costume exhibition
Still looking like a chipmunk I ventured Downtown again to visit the FIDM Museum's latest exhibition of TV costumes from the past twelve months, always a joy to see in person.

Celebrating friends anniversary in Solvang
over the Labor Day Weekend
Solvang windmill California
For the long Labor Day weekend we ventured to wine country in the Santa Ynez Valley and stayed at a pretty rental cottage with friends in Solvang.

Enjoying a beautiful Solvang cottage rental
Solvang cottage California
Anniversary celebrations, good food, wine and company made for a great start to the month of September.

Chilling with friends in Palm Springs in September
Palm Springs swimming pool
The following weekend some of our best friends from London came to visit us again and we all ventured to the desert to enjoy the heat and relaxation of Palm Springs in a vacation rental for a few days.

Playing tourist guide - Lake Casitas
Lake Casitas Ventura County
Our girlfriends have visited us several times in our ten years in L.A., so we did the usual mix of favourite trips with a few new excursions added to the mix to spice things up, including road trips to Santa Barbara, Malibu, Beverly Hills and more besides.

Took my first ride on Downtown L.A.'s Angels Flight funicular
Angels Flight Bunker Hill DTLA
We also took the time to explore DTLA in more detail, taking in the contemporary art at The Broad, riding the Angels Flight funicular down to lunch at Grand Central Market, enjoying the views from the 27th floor observation deck at L.A. City Hall and checking out the neighbourhood around Union Station.

Another quick visit to Britain for a special 90th birthday
Birthday lunch Waterside Inn Bray
Less than two weeks after we'd bid our friends a fond farewell we were hopping back on a plane to the U.K. to see them again and for a special family 90th birthday celebration at the Waterside Inn in Bray on a typically British rainy day.

Always time for a cream tea when visiting the U.K.
English Countryside cream tea
During our short week we also drove into the wilds of Wilshire to visit other friends and enjoy the delights of the English countryside in Autumn.

Always time for a Huntington Dog Beach visit with Cooper
Huntington Dog Beach Labrador Cooper
After returning from the U.K. we made sure to treat Cooper rotten and reward him with a beach visit to Orange County.

Baby Trump haunts West Hollywood Park at Halloween
Baby Trump Balloon West Hollywood Park
At the end of the month the inflatable Baby Trump balloon came to haunt the skies of West Hollywood Park on Saturday October 27, 2018.

West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval fun
West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval 2018 costumes
Blue Waves and unicorns were the themes of our West Hollywood Halloween adventures this year and I even made it on the local news with my politically-inspired costume.

Fortunately the country was rewarded with a real Democratic blue wave this November Election Day, gaining 40 fabulous house seats in Congress, even if the Senate still remained under GOP control.

My spirits were lifted by the diversity of women and men of all ethnicities, religions and sexual orientation up and down the ballot. Finally some checks and measures to this orange Idiot-in-Chief and a sense that there are good people out there who believe in equality, compassion, decency, justice and democracy.

Taking advantage of extra hour with a November morning visit
to Hendry's Beach in Santa Barbara
Hendrys Beach Santa Barbara Nov18
We took advantage of the Daylight Savings hour change in November and once again traveled north up the coast for a beautiful morning visit to Hendry's Beach in Santa Barbara with Cooper. There's a reason we live in Southern California with those beautiful skies in autumn.

Getting into the Holiday spirit at Disneyland
at beginning of November
Disneyland November 2018
This year I've been to Disneyland more times than ever with guests visiting and before the festive season got in full swing I went again with a friend to enjoy the rides and holiday atmosphere.

Ready for Friendsgiving guests at end of November 
Thanksgiving table dressing
Thanksgiving was another foodie and merry affair with a turkey dinner accompanied by some of our favourite friends.

Whilst Cooper and I enjoyed the beach, thieves broke in to my car and stole my credit cards at Huntington Dog Beach
Labrador Cooper Huntington Dog Beach
Then in early December whilst Cooper and I were enjoying an empty dog beach, thieves drilled the locks on my car and stole my credit cards (locked safely inside so I didn't lose in the sand or surf). Over $4k spent on my cards later and over $1k damage to my car wasn't the way to start the festive month. Fortunately Cooper and I were safe and unharmed and that's what's most important.

A very Cooper Christmas
Christmas Labrador Cooper
Christmas at Casa Cooper is always a fun affair, catching up with overseas family over phone calls and video chat in the morning, unwrapping a cornucopia of lovely presents and then lunch with friends, wine, more food, games and more wine into the L.A. winter evening.

Buh bye 2018, glad that's all over...
Takeaway sculpture Tom Friedman Beverly Hills
In case you're wondering why I feel the need to chronicle all these events, sometimes it's nice to look back on the years and see just what you did as your memory becomes less sharp with the passage of time.

You'd be correct in thinking that my husband, Cooper and I have a very nice life here in West Hollywood, we certainly work hard enough for it, but our hearts break to see families torn apart, children locked in cages and dying at the border, people's rights being taken away and tax dollars being wasted to appease greedy bigots, homophobes and racists.

These past few years America has not lived up to its promise as a land of liberty, freedom, acceptance and opportunity for all. I hope that changes as we head into a New Year and that all the corrupt people in this administration get what they deserve and are held to account.

Here's to a much happier 2019
Happy 2019 sign
Here's to a happier, healthier and more just 2019 (although you know it's going to get even crazier before all this is over).

Happy New Year's Eve to all my friends, family and loyal blog visitors...

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