Saturday, April 5, 2008

Thank You, Virginia

Yesterday's photo was taken at the Cobb Estate, 107 acres at the top of Lake Avenue in Altadena. The land sits across Las Flores Canyon from the beginnings of the Sam Merrill Trail. The best information I've found about the estate is in a book called Altadena's Golden Years, compiled by Robert H. Peterson. You can get it at Webster's, and some online sellers.

There were once gold mines in Las Flores canyon, but by the time Charles H. Cobb came along they'd been "worked out." Cobb purchased the estate 1916, built his home there the following year and raised a family. He was a Mason, and contributed to the building fund for the Scottish Rite Cathedral in Pasadena. When he died in 1939, the home was converted to a Masonic Home. Later the Sisters of St. Joseph used the house as a retreat. The Marx Brothers (yes, honk honk!), Groucho, Harpo and Gummo (Chico was busy?), acquired the property in the late 1950's, but soon vandals ravaged the house and it was torn down in 1959.

Eventually developers got the bright idea that 107 unused wooded acres would look just fabulous once they were paved and covered with houses. The community was up in arms, but who had the money to stop the development? After a fundraising campaign involving conservation clubs, citizens and schools, it was philanthropist Virginia Steele Scott who swooped in late in 1971 and made it possible for the Cobb Estate to become a wildlife sanctuary (see wildlife in yesterday's post).

I wonder if these steps led to the front door of the Cobb house. Perhaps they're modest kitchen steps, or they led to an outbuilding. As you wander the paths and roadways of the estate, you come across several ruins peeking from the weeds, and wonder what they might have been.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Proof positive that our young people are not only good looking, they also grow on trees.

More on the Cobb Estate tomorrow.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I realize this doesn't look like your normal bookstore. But Vroman's isn't your normal bookstore. It's Bookseller of the Year.

Yeah, I brag about Pasadena. But in this case I have Publishers Weekly to back me up.

Vroman's is our largest local independent bookseller. Their selection reflects a less homogeneous clientele than that of a chain store. It reflects Pasadena. It's ours, part of the community since 1894. You can study writing or crafts at Vroman's Ed, there's always an interesting author or speaker, and when you buy something, a percentage of your purchase goes to a local charity of your choosing.

Every kind of author from local success stories to past American presidents to international stars appears at Vroman's for book signings. Out front there's a newsstand and Zeli Coffee Bar. Out back is this pretty plaza where you can relax and read if there's nothing official going on. (The wires above are sparkly lights for night-time events.)

Vroman's thrives at a time when other independent bookstores are closing. I don't know enough about the book business to tell you why. But my guess is it's a combination of reasons too many to mention, starting with: it's not your normal bookstore.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Music in the Mansion

The Fenyes Mansion at the Pasadena Museum of History looks so bright in the sun it'll make you squint. I was nosing around on their website, and did you know they're going to have opera singers? In the mansion? That's so intimate. And so—I don't know—rich.

It's called Music in the Mansion: Timeless Treasures, and the first of three concerts is Tuesday, April 8th. (Go here and scroll down.) You still have time to call for reservations at 626-577-1660, ext. 10.

If opera's not your thing, there's other stuff to do at the PM of H: wander the gardens, browse the museum exhibits, tour the Fenyes Mansion.

My favorite thing about the mansion: almost all the furnishings are original, down to the lace curtains imported by the original owner more than 100 years ago. That's not only rich, it's rare. And so—I don't know—intimate.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Theme Day: Water

Water's a big deal in southern California, and getting bigger. Or should I say smaller? We're in the midst of a drought, and the stuff's getting harder to come by. Pasadena's City Council is projecting a water shortage and has implemented a plan. Well—we're all implementing the plan. At least, we'd better be.

The flood control basins at Hahamongna Watershed Park did their job this spring. Above, ducks enjoy the mountain run-off in a basin south of JPL in a photo I took January 11th.

I took the photo below on March 8th. Easy come, easy go.
178 City Daily Photo blogs are participating in theme day this month. Click on a few and have an adventure!
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Adelaide, Australia by Gordon, Albuquerque (NM), USA by Helen, American Fork (UT), USA by Annie, Anderson (SC), USA by Lessie, Ararat, Australia by Digger, Arradon, France by Alice, Ashton under Lyne, UK by Pennine, Athens, Greece by Debbie, Auckland, New Zealand by Lachezar, Austin (TX), USA by LB, Bandung, Indonesia by Guntur Purwanto, Barton (VT), USA by Andree, Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro by Paja, Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro by Bibi, Bellefonte (PA), USA by Barb-n-PA, Bicheno, Australia by Greg, Bogor, Indonesia by Gagah, Boston (MA), USA by Sarah, Whit, & Leyre, Boston (MA), USA by Cluelessinboston, Boston (MA), USA by Fenix, Brighton, UK by Harvey, Brookville (OH), USA by Abraham, Budapest, Hungary by Isadora, Budapest, Hungary by Zannnie and Zsolt, Canterbury, UK by Rose, Cape Town, South Africa by Kerry-Anne, Chandler (AZ), USA by Melindaduff, Chateaubriant, France by Bergson, Cheltenham, UK by Marley, Chicago (IL), USA by b.c., Christchurch, New Zealand by Michelle, Clearwater (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Clearwater Beach (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Cleveland (OH), USA by iBlowfish, Coral Gables (FL), USA by Jnstropic, Cypress (TX), USA by Riniroo, Dallas/Fort Worth (TX), USA by A Wandering Soul, Dunedin (FL), USA by Smaridge01, Durban, South Africa by CrazyCow, East Gwillimbury, Canada by Your EG Tour Guide, Evry, France by Olivier, Glasgow, Scotland by Jackie, Greenville (SC), USA by Denton, Grenoble, France by Bleeding Orange, Guelph, Canada by Pat, Gun Barrel City (TX), USA by Lake Lady, Hamilton, New Zealand by Sakiwi, Hampton (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Haninge, Sweden by Steffe, Helsinki, Finland by Kaa, Hobart, Australia by Greg, Hyde, UK by Old Hyde, Inverness (IL), USA by Neva, Jackson (MS), USA by Halcyon, Jakarta, Indonesia by Santy, Jefferson City (MO), USA by Chinamom2005, Jogjakarta, Indonesia by Jogja Portrait, Joplin (MO), USA by Victoria, Juneau (AK), USA by Gwyn, Katonah (NY), USA by Inkster1, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Edwin, Kyoto, Japan by Tadamine, Lake Forest Park (WA), USA by Azure, Larchmont (NY), USA by Marie-Noyale, Las Vegas (NV), USA by Mo, Lisbon, Portugal by Sailor Girl, Lisbon, Portugal by Maria João, Lodz, Poland by ritalounge, London, UK by Mo, London, UK by Ham, Mainz, Germany by JB, Maple Ridge, Canada by Susan, Marseille, France by Alex, Mazatlan, Mexico by Kate, Melbourne, Australia by Mblamo, Melbourne, Australia by John, Memphis (TN), USA by SouthernHeart, Menton, France by Jilly, Mexico City, Mexico by Poly, Mexico City, Mexico by Carraol, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Greg, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Mitch, Minsk, Belarus by Olga, Monrovia (CA), USA by Keith, Monte Carlo, Monaco by Jilly, Montego Bay, Jamaica by Ann, Monterrey, Mexico by rafa, Moscow, Russia by Irina, Mumbai, India by Kunalbhatia, Mumbai, India by Magiceye, Mumbai, India by MumbaiiteAnu, Nancy, France by yoshi, Naples (FL), USA by Isabella, Nashville (TN), USA by Chris, Nelson, New Zealand by Meg and Ben, New Orleans (LA), USA by steve buser, New York City (NY), USA by Ming the Merciless, Niamey, Niger by Dinabee, Norfolk (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Norman (OK), USA by Chad & LaCresha, Norwich, UK by Goddess888, Nottingham, UK by Gail's Man, Odense, Denmark by ania odense, Omsk, Russia by Nataly, Orlando (FL), USA by OrlFla, Oslo, Norway by Lothiane, Paderborn, Germany by Soemchen, Paris, France by Eric, Paris, France by Gordio, Pasadena (CA), USA by Can8ianben, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia by Murphy_jay, Pilisvörösvár, Hungary by Elise, Pont-à-Mousson, France by Tintin-j, Port Angeles (WA), USA by Jelvistar, Port Elizabeth, South Africa by Sam, Port Townsend (WA), USA by raf, Port Vila, Vanuatu by Mblamo, Portland (OR), USA by NWgal, Portland (ME), USA by Corey, Portsmouth (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Prague, Czech Republic by Honza03, Quincy (MA), USA by Cluelessinboston, Riga, Latvia by Prokur, Rotterdam, Netherlands by Ineke, Saarbrücken, Germany by LadyDemeter, Saigon, Vietnam by Simon, Saint Louis (MO), USA by Strangetastes, Saint Paul (MN), USA by Kate, Salem (OR), USA by jill, Salt Lake City (UT), USA by atc, Salt Lake City (UT), USA by Eric, San Diego (CA), USA by Felicia, San Francisco (CA), USA by PFranson, Seattle (WA), USA by Chuck, Seattle (WA), USA by Kim, Seguin (TX), USA by Thien, Selma (AL), USA by RamblingRound, Sequim (WA), USA by Eponabri, Sesimbra, Portugal by Aldeia, Setúbal, Portugal by Maria Elisa, Shanghai, China by Jing, Sharon (CT), USA by Jenny, Singapore, Singapore by Keropok, Sofia, Bulgaria by Antonia, St Francis, South Africa by Sam, Stavanger, Norway by Tanty, Stayton (OR), USA by Celine, Stockholm, Sweden by Stromsjo, Stouffville, Canada by Ken, Subang Jaya, Malaysia by JC, Suffolk (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Sunshine Coast, Australia by bitingmidge, Sydney, Australia by Sally, Sydney, Australia by Nathalie, Székesfehérvár, Hungary by Teomo, Tacloban City, Philippines by agnesdv, Terrell (TX), USA by Jim K, Terrell (TX), USA by Bstexas, The Hague, Netherlands by Lezard, Tokyo, Japan by Tadamine, Toruń, Poland by Torun Observer, Toulouse, France by Julia, Turin, Italy by Livio, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Jazzy, Twin Cities (MN), USA by Slinger, Victoria, Canada by Benjamin Madison, Vienna, Austria by G_mirage2, Virginia Beach (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Wailea (HI), USA by Kuanyin, Washington (DC), USA by Rachel, Wassenaar, Netherlands by Rich, Wellington, New Zealand by Jeremyb, West Paris (ME), USA by crittoria, West Sacramento (CA), USA by Barbara, Weston (FL), USA by WestonDailyPhoto, Williamsburg (VA), USA by ptowngirl, Willits (CA), USA by Elaine, Yardley (PA), USA by Mrlynn,

Monday, March 31, 2008


The farmers and sellers who work our local farmers markets are a big family. They watch over each other. While this girl's mother sells vegetables, the girl has about 40 babysitters keeping an eye on her.

They even watch over their customers. I once forgot my change and my tomatoes, and the booth operator tracked me down to deliver it to me. It's a big market! Other such stories abound.

The Pasadena area has three certified Farmers Markets: Tuesday mornings at Villa Parke, Thursday evenings in South Pasadena and Saturday mornings at Victory Park.

I know some of the sellers by name because I buy from them regularly. We catch up each week on families and the news. When you become a regular at the farmers market, you begin to feel like you're part of that big family.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


When City Hall went dark last night at 8:00 for Earth Hour the sky glowed pink, thanks to a heavy mist and what I'm guessing might be sulphur plasma street lights.

Last night's celebration was a well-attended blast, with a storyteller in the courtyard followed by drumming outside the main entrance.

Some lights stayed on. They had to: you can't have people bumping into each other, knocking over plants and tripping over curbs. But we enjoyed being together in the semi-dark, not needing electricity for a time.

Update 3/31/08: Smart husband says probably not sulphur plasma lights but sodium vapor lamps. Which is what I meant.