fu·nic·u·lar

Bet that got your attention. Especially since anyone I’ve asked so far has no idea what a “funicular” is (include me in that group prior to last weekend).

Here’s how that weekend went.

Zoe had decided she wanted to plant some vegetables. I know what you’re thinking, it’s November. But turns out we live in Southern California and there are actually several veggies you can plant at this time.

So on Saturday morning we headed to Home Depot, coming home with 6-pack plants of broccoli, cauliflower and peas, and a bag of spinach seeds. Oh, and various Christmas decorations (’tis the season!), including a light-up Rudolph and a clapper. Yes, exactly what you think it is, and before you think we’ve turned 80, we ALSO have an Echo Dot. Comparatively speaking, I recommend the Echo. Try “clapping” off something (much less a light-up Rudolph) late at night without waking children and you’ll agree.

But back to those veggies. Before planting I had to clear and replace the top inch or so of soil in our raised (dormant…) garden bed. As I tried to figure out how to best get huge bags of soil to our backyard, I passed a row of kangaroo paws that I love, which needed heavy pruning at the end of their flower cycle. Surrounded by weeds, they  looked so sad, and clearly our “mow & blow” gardeners were not too interested in their survival.

You can guess what happened next. I ended up gardening for TWO HOURS while our children (and my husband) slept, constantly finding things that needed work and ending with finally clearing out the raised bed. Sweating, dirty and exhausted I headed in for a shower after watering our new veggies (still in their packs).

The following morning we put those veggies in the ground, and I found tons of muscles all over my body that had not been used for gardening in a long, long time. Ouch. Zoe (mostly) gently made holes and “tiny homes” for each plant, while Ella shoved dirt all around the bed (and her shoes). Let’s just say it was an adventure and by the time we had 18 plants in the ground, there wasn’t much room for (or interest in) those spinach seeds. So Ella’s final contribution was tossing those seeds all around the bed. We’ll see how that turns out (likely in the tummy of birds and squirrels is my bet).

And then, our real weekend adventure began. We were supposed to meet some friends at MOCA for an outdoor event with food trucks, music and arts & crafts tables, but at the last minute they were unable to go. But we’re brave. SO brave that my husband said, “You know, we could take the Metro downtown.

Yes, LA has a subway! Can you believe it?! I’ve lived here 19 years and been on it once, over a decade ago, but our children have not. So with very little prep, we headed to the North Hollywood station, figured out parking, narrowly avoided a “hustler” at the ticket machine (Bart is skilled at such things), found the elevator (which smelled vaguely of a porta potty), and hopped on the subway.

Zoe was beside herself with joy. Bart showed her the subway map, and she spent the entire ride getting up at every stop to tell us what the next stop was and how many we had left to our destination. At Pershing Square station, we stepped out into downtown LA and started our 0.4 mile (UPHILL – they didn’t mention that on Google maps) trek to MOCA. On the way was a FUNICULAR called Angels Flight, which Bart somehow knew had recently reopened in August.

Little did I know (until just now) WHY it was closed:

It was shut down in 2001, following a fatal accident, and took nine years to commence operations again. The railroad restarted operations on March 15, 2010.[5] It was closed again from June 10, 2011, to July 5, 2011, and then again after a minor derailment incident on September 5, 2013. The investigation of this 2013 incident led to the discovery of potentially serious safety problems in both the design and the operation of the funicular.”

In fact…

On February 1, 2001, Angels Flight had a serious accident that killed a passenger, Leon Praport (age 83), and injured seven others, including Praport’s wife, Lola. The accident occurred when car Sinai, approaching the upper station, reversed direction and accelerated downhill in an uncontrolled fashion to strike car Olivet near the lower terminus.

And as you’d guess, I would never have put my CHILDREN on it if I had known any of that. BART JOHNSON!!! Anyway, thankfully they survived:

(CLICK FOR VIDEO)

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After my husband risked the lives of our children, we headed to MOCA. As we approached he said, “I don’t hear any music.” To which I, the eternal optimist, responded, “Maybe it’s inside or something.” HAHAHAHA. Turns out, after all that exciting travel, we were downtown without a car and had gone to the wrong MOCA… The Geffen (also a MOCA museum), where the event was located, was a 22-minute walk from our location.

Though Bart looked concerned, my optimistic self said, “Remember Italy? Where you dragged me around the entire country, walking for miles, often CARRYING children, running for trains and generally lost? We can walk 22 minutes.

And so we did, downhill thankfully, also walking by the Broad museum, the lovely Walt Disney Concert Hall, and catching a glimpse of an outdoor opera performance of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds“, broadcast through defunct air raid sirens on top of a parking structure. Walking through Little Tokyo, we reached the RIGHT MOCA, where we DID hear music and sat right down at a cool arts & crafts table immediately.

With staples and ribbons, sharpies and safety pins, the girls made a wallet, a purse and a choker that says, “I love my family.” I’d say the walk was worth it! And before you ask, Ella can write her own name (backwards, but still)!

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Inside the museum was an exhibit named “Disappearance”. As we entered there were HUGE rocks on the floor (see below), which of course our children instantly went to touch (and wanted to climb on). Immediately a “helper” headed over, looked at ME (not the kids) and said, “Please ask them not to touch the rocks.

What sort of museum has arts & crafts outside with kids running around and doesn’t allow touching BIG ROCKS on the floor?! Anyway, as the rest of the exhibit illustrated, this was NOT built for kids. There were human skeletons lying in gelatinous goo, large sides of beef, and masses of stuck-together trash, including mannequin arms. Guess what’s “disappearing”? Zoe did.

On the way home, Bart found a closer Metro station with an above-ground rail that took us to Union Station downtown. We entered the station and on our way to change tracks got to listen to an amateur pianist perform and found a Wetzel’s Pretzels for cinnamon sugar bites. It was at this time I realized how DIRTY our day had been. Before touching those bites, I pulled out the wipes and “washed” all the hands I could find, and we headed to our rail for home.

Now hyper aware of the germ-filled transportation we had chosen (and armed with a bag of cinnamon bites), I “educated” poor Zoe on why it’s NOT OK to rub our hands all over the cloth-covered seats of the subway, then eat a pretzel. Or spin around on the subway poles and rub on the windows, then eat a pretzel. The only thing that worked to send this message home was “Would you put poop and pee and puke and boogers right in your mouth?” (GOOD NEWS – she said “NO!”)

And so our adventure was a success – filled with life lessons, as it turned out. Sure, I am now certain I prefer my electric car to a subway ride to work every day (or to anywhere else, for that matter), but we did it! To be clear, we do NOT live in Italy, where technically we were on trains not subways, but I must say, having traveled by subway in Paris, London, Boston and New York, I can say that HANDS DOWN, LA has the worst subway system I’ve ever seen… But at least we have one, I suppose?

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