Saturday, May 31, 2008

Loading Dot

This might be the cleanest loading dock I've ever seen. It faces the alley behind Cook Books and The Archives Bookstore on Washington Blvd. at Hill. (The mind-boggling Cook Books store will be featured here Monday.)

I think this is an early 20th century building, say, before about 1940. It's easy to make such a guess, as Pasadena was incorporated in 1886.

The "dots" on the upper part of the building are washers or plates that anchor reinforcing bolts, or tie rods, to protect the building from bowing. Some plates are even designed to prevent bolt heads from pulling through the brick. You can tell by the relatively random pattern that the tie rods were added later and not part of the original design. You'll see a lot of these around Pasadena in older buildings, because tie rods are popular (if sometimes futile) in earthquake zones.

Pasadena has a lot of these old brick buildings, well-preserved and put to good use. They feel Midwestern to me, and since I grew up in Illinois, it's one reason I feel so at home here. You can't beat it—a bit of Midwest, with California weather.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Awareness Center

The first thing you remove at The Awareness Center is your shoes. After that: stress of the day, weeks of worry, years of hard living—what you remove is up to you. If you need more you can sign up for a private session or a healing. It's a pretty place, with soft light and a serene feel to it. I'll post more photos in the future.

The Awareness Center specializes in Kundalini yoga but they also have Hatha for all levels taught by Bindu, who has a loyal following and also teaches private students. (I practice Hatha with Bindu, pretty much at the "stress of the day" level.)

I've studied yoga off and on for years at lots of different places. They all attempt to create a happy atmosphere and some achieve it. The feeling of goodwill at the Awareness Center is genuine. This probably begins with owner Gisela Powell (Wahe Guru Kaur), then trickles through the teachers and staff to the clients. When you enter and remove thy shoes, you feel all that goodwill right down to your toes.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


A shop window on Fair Oaks in South Pasadena. When I took the photo it looked like no one had been inside for a long time. It's next to the Rialto Theatre. I imagine when the Rialto gets revived, this shop will wake up, too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Algae Season

It's algae season! Woohoo! Bring the kids!

Alga gets bad reputation. Icky. But I think it's beautiful. And come to find out, it could be a natural resource. I just read this article that says algae are rich in oil, and a potential biofuel. (Of course it's going to take extensive research to work out the bugs.)

I took this picture in the Lower Arroyo a couple of weeks ago, so I don't know if the algae are still flowing there, but they're prolific at Hahamongna. Hey! This could be a real resource for Pasadena!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Zen Tuesday: Nature Calls

Because yesterday was a holiday we didn't have Zen Monday. Zen Tuesday's in order this week.

For us city folk who hear the call of the wild and sort of want to heed it: a phone. Just in case.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Memorial Day was once called "Decoration Day." Loved ones gathered to decorate the graves of those who had fought for their country.

When I arrived at Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena Saturday, someone had already been decorating the graves with small, identical American flags. A local veterans organization? Anyone know?

The soldier graves at Mountain View go back to the Civil War. The history contained in the place must be amazing. But this recent grave brought me to tears. It's not a blank stone; I photographed it from behind so as not to invade the family's privacy. This soldier's been in the ground three years. He was 22 when he died in Iraq.

When his family arrives at his grave today, they'll see that flag and know that others care. They won't know about my tears, but I hope they'll know that the loss of their "beloved son and brother"— as an individual and as a symbol of other individuals—is felt by other citizens of the world. Some of us feel he died for a cause. Some of us feel he died in vain. And in America, we still have a right to say so.

I live in California and my father, who was a Marine in World War II, is buried in Illinois. I hope someone decorated his grave with a flag today.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quiet View

I visited Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena yesterday. I don't have loved ones buried there. My plan was to get a photo for Memorial Day, and I got plenty. I'll post one tomorrow, and perhaps more in the future.

Last week was stressful, and I guess I hadn't realized how much until the weekend came. Alone at the cemetery with my camera, late on a cool and cloudy day, my mind goes where it will. And it will go to thoughts of my mortality because I'm surrounded by the dead.

Why is that calming? Because I'm not dead. I'm here. Glad of it, too.

Stress be damned, I don't need it. It's a waste of my precious time.