Saturday, May 3, 2008


"sfu·ma·to: the subtle and minute gradation of tone and color used to blur or veil the contours of a form in painting." The word originates from the Italian, sfumare, "to gradate tone or color," which itself originates from fumare, "to smoke."

The fire in Sierra Madre, officially known as the Santa Anita Wildland Fire, is now 100% contained. But you can't contain the smoke.

We don't smell it anymore, and when we're in it we don't see it. But when you drive in to Pasadena you see it hanging over the San Gabriel Valley, backed up against the mountains, waiting for wind or rain to clear it out. I don't think we're going to have much wind soon, and surely we won't have rain. But time will take it away. Meanwhile, it softens the views on the Sunset Fire Road.

Friday, May 2, 2008


It's getting warm here. There's less water down by Devil's Gate Dam every day. We savor our walks there this time of year. We won't go much in summer because there's little shade and the sun is too punishing. We'll have to find another place to go.

In this photo I detect the prints of duck, dog, and...some large creature. I'd make a lousy tracker.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Theme Day: Numbers

The City Daily Photo blog family has a theme day the first of each month. May's theme is numbers.

The man in the background of this photo stands at the top of the freeway offramp at Lake Avenue. He's holding a handmade sign that says "Homeless Vet. Hungry. Please help." If I had a sign it might say, "Our dependency on fossil fuels is choking our economy." But that's not very original. I stole it from this article.

Click here to view thumbnails for all 181 blogs participating in this month's theme day. Go on, click on one you've never visited before! Have an adventure! I'm going to click on a bunch of them, and after that I'm going to go buy a bike.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cuts On The Go

Mike Lee does the cosmetology version of telecommuting: he gives haircuts on his front porch.

I live near Mike, so Boz and I walk by from time to time. Mike's dog gives Boz what fer, and Boz gets his back up while trying to act nonchalant. And usually a few guys are waiting in Mike's yard for a haircut. I mean, there's a line. While I took this photo, two guys hung out on the porch and two more played checkers. It was kinda laid back and pleasant.

I think Mike's doing a good job because the guys look pretty good. You can call Mike but I don't recommend showing up without an appointment, because there's liable to be a wait.

Mike's been cutting men's hair for about 7 years, and he tells me he began doing women's hair more than two years ago. There's such a thing as "hairdresser loyalty" and I'm loyal to mine, but if I were going to switch, I'd go for Cuts On the Go. I like the atmosphere.

La Loma Rehab

La Loma Bridge has arched over Lower Arroyo Park since before it was a park. It's a lovely old thing. You can walk a path right up under it and look into its upper parts. Though lately I'm thinking that's not a good idea.

Built in 1914 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, La Loma's lived life to the fullest. She's pretty from a distance but close up, her wrinkles show. Time for rehab.

The La Loma Bridge Project is scheduled to begin this summer and be completed by September. Seems a short time for rehab, but what do I know? I'm just glad the bridge will be brought up to date to meet current seismic standards. As pretty as La Loma is, I wouldn't want to be under it during an earthquake.

Of course I wouldn't want to be under a house of cards during an earthquake, but that's just me.

Update on the Sierra Madre fire: Huge progress. 59% containment this morning, 700 people (out of 1000 evacuated) have been allowed to return safely to their homes. No homes lost, though a few came close to getting scorched. Public schools open today. Cheers to the firefighters!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sierra Madre Fire

For those who don't live around here: it smells like a campfire. The smoke permeates everything (the smell woke me this morning). The sky is white with it. Little flakes of ash float in the air like snow.

In the mountains above Sierra Madre, the pretty, Mayberry-esque community bordering Pasadena to the east, firefighters battle a brush fire that began Saturday. It still burns this morning. Over 1,000 people have evacuated their homes.

Yesterday in downtown Sierra Madre, people stood on the sidewalks and pointed toward the hills. Every conversation was about the fires. Command central was the Sierra Madre Recreation Center, its parking lot filled with vehicles from every surrounding fire department you could think of, including Pasadena's. A few firemen took a break at one end of the lot. At the other end, the news media set up their cameras to get the best views.

In this photo, a couple watches a fixed-wing air tanker drop orange flame retardant on the fire above their neighborhood. Across the street from the Recreation Center was this sign:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Marti's Bees

Although the official day was April 22nd, Pasadena celebrated Earth Day Saturday so everyone could join in. There were arts events, home tours and bike tours. The city blocked streets for an Arts Festival at Memorial Park, with exhibits on recycling, sustainable design, green power and green building.

I checked out one of the Eco-Home Tours. I loved Marti Coleman's shady rear garden ("yard" would be the wrong word, as the Coleman's don't have grass). Every corner invites relaxation or discovery. On a hot day, the Colemans don't need an air conditioner; their garden does the cooling. They've even got a tree house, and there's a hammock up there!

The edible front garden is a gathering spot for bees—thousands of them, without the least interest in stinging people. This might not be remarkable if we hadn't noticed a lack of bees around here lately. Colony Collapse Disorder, a huge potential danger facing our nation's crops, is quite noticeable in California. Scientists around the world are wondering what the deal is.

Perhaps they should study Marti Coleman's garden.