Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Central Grounds (The Quest Begins)

I've been finding it hard to write at home. Too much needs doing here: floors need to be swept, dishes need to be washed, the web needs to be surfed.

So I'm going to try every coffee shop in town until I find the perfect place to work. First stop: Central Grounds, the outdoor cafe at Pasadena Public Library.

Ben posted a picture of the Library's front steps. Once you've entered any of the main portals in Ben's photo, you're in the entry courtyard. Central Grounds is at the east end.

There's always a lot going on at the Library. We receive a newsletter telling us about seemingly endless programs happening there all the time. Miss Havisham posted photos of textiles on display there now, inside the back door. There's a bookstore and countless reading rooms. Oh - and books.

As for Central Grounds, it has good points and bad points from a writer's standpoint:

I like the courtyard setting.
It's outdoors, and yesterday was a good day to sit outside.
The coffee's good.
The service is very friendly.
Free wifi with your library card, and it's easy to get one of those. (Not that I used the wifi, of course. I was there to escape the internet.)

Besides coffee, the menu's limited to muffin-type stuff, yogurt, fruit (sold out by 11:30) and bottled soft drinks. I noticed, however, that people brought take-out food from other places and no one seemed to mind.
Helicopter fumes. There's a helicopter pad atop the police station across the street.
Music. The stuff they played wasn't obnoxious, but when I write I find any music distracting, especially if it has lyrics.
The chairs are hard on the old behind after a while. No cushions.

I got a lot of work done. And darned if I didn't come home to find out the house didn't fall apart and the internet managed to get by without me all day.

I may have to try several places until I find the perfect writing spot. I mean, how many coffee shops don't play music? I'm going to enjoy the search. Meanwhile, Central Grounds is a great spot to meet for a cup of coffee and a quiet chat in Pasadena's Civic Center.


Miss Havisham said...

I'll find you there, no doubt.

Music shall ensue wrecking any thought of concentration... with local kids. You should know The 88 are our sweet little spawn

Good luck thinking with me around.

Saretta said...

I like your approach to housekeeping...not that you'll cut down on writing to keep up on'll just go away from the chores! You're my kinda gal!

Laurie said...

Another gorgeous library!!!!

I'm so with you about music. When I used to have to work out of a client's or agency's office I'd have to wear earplugs if there was music playing. This is the main reason I can't be a cool writer working in a coffee house. (OH,that and the fact that there is no one to look after my kid if I were there!)

This shot is amazing, Ms. P. I love it.

monoblog said...

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elizabeth said...

Beantown in Sierra Madre is a friendly, comfy place. It's about a block north of Baldwin/S.M. Blvd. I used to go there and write, but haven't been for ages. So I can't vouch for the music situation.

Lots of kids and families on weekends, though, which can be either enjoyable or distracting... or often both. :-)

Vanda said...

Oooh, purrdy! From this angle it looks like it could be in Europe. I so want to move to Pasadena.

Cafe Observer said...

P, no spot is perfect. In fact, so fare I've found them to all be far from perfect.
This library certainly has its pluses & minuses.

WiFi is important but how many joints have it, and for free? P, Zephyr has the free WiFi but last I ck'd they told me my operating system was too new to connect to it!!

Or, how many have at least a good basic menu? Or, have a pleasant working environment?

What's a dog to do.
If you're a coffee nut then that had better be good.

Keep us updated on your discoveries. May you bless us with the near perfect lost treasure.

Oh, the chairs & tables, well....

Bernie K. said...

Great honkin' shades of Europe! Looks like the palazzo at Rimini, minus the Vespas.

The ideal away-from-home spot for middle-agers would include: comfy armchairs; sunscreen dispensers on the patio; extra bathrooms (with attendants); every other parking space empty; clerks with purple hair or tongue studs, but not both; no music & no TVs.

Petrea said...

Miss Havisham, I have no intention of thinking while in your company. When you and I get together, let's leave our minds behind and indulge in moments.

Saretta, I can't seem to NOT take care of the chores when I'm home. But there will have to be days when the writing suffers, otherwise the house will suffer more.

Laurie, we're architecturally blessed by California standards, are we not? (I include South Pas.) Thanks for the ear plugs idea, that would enhance Central Grounds a good deal. Might need nose plugs for the copters. I'm glad you like the pic.

Monoblog: Thank you. Everyone, if you have not clicked on Monoblog's Izmir, do so. In my opinion Monoblog (Selim) is one of the most accomplished photographers in the City Daily Photo network. His dreamy oceanscapes, black & whites and occasional piercing portraits are not to be missed. You'll become a fan if you aren't already.

Elizabeth, thanks. I like Beantown and will put it on my list. It's a bit of a trek but I might try the bus and save gas.

Vanda, you've put your finger on one reason I love Pasadena: it's Eurocal. (Visually. Temperamentally you might have to go to South Pas for that.) Come on over. (I work in Hollywood. It's not too far.)

Cafe, don't get me started on Zephyr. I know it's popular but I can't figure out why.

Petrea said...

Hi Bernie! Our comments crossed in the ether. I agree, and I forgot to mention parking. At around 11:15 on a Tuesday, parking around the library pretty much sucks.

USelaine said...

Hmmm. Sort of a surfing safari without the surfing. I'm looking forward to it.

I am sooo good at not doing housework. No problem there.

keith said...

This is a fun idea. For myself, I think I'd get too distracted people watching.

altadenahiker said...

funny post, and useful. I've been thinking about doing the same because I will use just about any distraction as an excuse. Beantown does look promising -- I stop there on the way to ceramics. And I don't want any internet connectivity, because then I'll just start surfing again. Maybe I need drugs.

Clifford Beshers said...

Nice title. Missed it the first time.

John said...

Plus, on top of that, also, it's just a monumental photograph. With the dark pillars, lacework fence and sundrenched fa├žade replacing the sky, it could be (but for the color) one of those late-19th-century studies British tourists produced of Luxor or Cifu. All you're missing is a sahib in jodhpurs, or a camel-drover in a galabia …

Cafe Observer said...

P, i'm surprised at your comment about the Zeph - what happened? I know MH used to regularly create drama there but i wonder what happened w/that as well. I don't go often, but just curious...

Gee, L, if you can't be a "cool" writer working in a coffee house, then I'd say you're still a HOT writer working out of a coffee house.

One must 4 de near-perfect cafe is a sign that says, "Dogs especially welcomed."

Petrea said...

I'm sorta bad at housework, Elaine. It's web surfing where I truly excel.

Keith, if you ever people-watch me at Beantown, please say hello.

AH, we can't go to Beantown on the same day or we'll never get anything done. I like the Coffee Gallery, but so does everyone else. Not enough seating (except outside, where you're basically on the street).

Hi Cliff! Great to see you. Cliff has more Pie Night shots at his site, people.

Hello John. You sound familiar.

Cafe, if I brought Boz I'd be fawning over him and I wouldn't write a word. I went to the Zephyr yesterday when I left Central Grounds because I needed to eat something and keep writing. I didn't get a photo so I haven't got anything to post about it. I've been there twice. The workers are sweet but they were woefully understaffed, couldn't keep up. It took 40 minutes to get my food. And as has been the case at both of my visits, the food was awful. Absolutely awful.

babooshka said...

Our local library is a godsend. When the net is down at the house those guys pull out all the stops to accomodate this blogger to blog. This looks like it would hit the spot too. Housework. Shudder at the thought.

Cafe Observer said...

P, i only go 2 de Zeph for the coffee which is good. Only food has been omelets, which which is ok-certainly not awful.

I'm at Beantown at least once/week 4 lunch. Nice wIfI & a free pc 2 use. Friendly, if slow, service, ok food. I don't think it's a trek in relation to Pasadena. 1 neg re Sierra Madre is high prices since xcept for KFC they don't have any fast-food chains, nor stop-lights or drive-thru's. SM makes So Pas feel like L.A. Have you tried the Tea House 3-4 doors up?

Ms M said...

Wonderful photo! And enjoy perusing the coffee shops. We have one nearby where we like to go to get out of the house, Java. It's a good place for easy reading, sketching, meeting friends. It, too, always has music playing, but it's easy to push it to the "background" of your mind.

Christie said...

Your library has a cafe!!! And an outdoor courtyard!!! *sigh* Ours has the courtyard, but it is closed off for 6 months of the year. But the cafe! By the way, Roast and Toast plays music, but I really had to think to remember if they actually do or not! It is a great place to work if you like noisy though.

Blognote said...

Congratulations for the BFF Award!!

Petrea said...

True, Babooshka, and we have a wonderful library, with branches around town.

Cafe, I haven't tried that SM tea house, Cafe. It's cute from the outside. As for the Zeph, the omelet I had there the other day was greasy and heavy. I emphasize, the two young people working there were sweet. This was a management problem. There was none. One kid was running the place by himself, during lunch hour, with at least 25 patrons, while the other worker had to run to the grocery store. (BTW the ham in my omelet was packaged, grocery store ham.) I don't have it in for the Zeph, I love the atmosphere. I probably won't do a post about it. But come on.

Christie, you are my Nordic pal. Something about the cold and snow makes the Roast and Toast sound cozy.

Hello, Blognote! Thank you for your visit. I'm extremely honored to receive it from Monoblog. (People, you must visit Blognote, his Arona Every Day blog is as stunning as Monoblog's Izmir.)

Cafe Observer said...

P, 1 worker serving so many customers?! Things must've changed since I was last around.
Maybe the economy is taking a toll, forcing a tightening on their purse strings.

Wunderful atmosphere still.

Miss Havisham said...

It is sad to hear of the demise of the Zeph. I liked it so much. Anyway, I'll be at the Central Library at lunchtime. I've got to turn in SEXUS by Henry Miller--I didn't get to finish it even after an extension. Ah, well. I hope to find and bother you, with any luck.

Petrea said...

Could be a fluke, guys. They still had a lot of business, fo sho. And there was a woman in the front porch room with her laptop, writing away like me.

Miss H., I'll go to Central Grounds again but I'm going to keep trying different places. Haven't found perfection yet.