Friday, November 28, 2008

The Teacher from Kansas

This is a first for this blog. This photo wasn't take in Pasadena. It was taken in Coolidge, Kansas in 1932.

Today's my father's 92nd birthday - would have been, had he stuck around. I miss him.

Fathers are different now than they were when I was growing up. Or maybe they're different in southern California than they are in Illinois. Or maybe life is different. Or all of the above. My father, and the fathers I remember from the 50's and 60's, had to support families on their own. That's how it was done. Now society's limits are less stringent.

My father grew up in western Kansas. He was already the teacher in the one-room schoolhouse by the time he was 16. (He's pictured there above with three - yes, three - of his pupils.) He moved on to be a ranch hand and a bus driver for a while before he became a U.S. Marine. After WWII he married my mother, then went to school with a passion: got his BA, Master's and PhD in rapid succession. Soon he was a teacher again.

He worked. He must have done other things, but what I remember is that Daddy went to work early in the morning and came home late. Time with him was precious and rare.

Now I see fathers with their kids all the time. They enjoy the parks together or the farmer's market. They walk in the neighborhoods of Pasadena, holding hands and teaching things to each other. It seems men have more freedom now to be not just providers but good fathers, too.

The best moments I remember with my father are when we were riding horses or playing guitars or telling corny jokes - when he was being the ranch hand from western Kansas.

To make this a true Pasadena photo post, here's a shot (below) that reminds me of my father. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it's a lonely picture. I think it must be lonely to go through life striving to provide and only rarely letting your softer side show. Perhaps that's not how he felt. My father died so long ago my memory is clouded. Perhaps I'm just missing him, and wishing that if we could, we'd walk together in the neighborhoods of my childhood, holding hands and teaching things to each other.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thankful we had rain the past two nights.
Thankful I have shelter.
Thankful I have meaningful work.
Thankful I'm safe.
Thankful I love my home, family, friends and my photogenic town.

And that's just for starters.

Some of you may remember our friend Abraham Lincoln of Brookville Daily Photo in Ohio. Abe has to spend Thanksgiving in the hospital with a collapsed lung. If you've got a minute, you might click on over there and wish him well.

(Hmm. Thankful for good health, too.)

Wishing you many, many things to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


So I've been taking this class at the Y. I'm learning how to make museum dioramas! Here's my project.

I think the background painting is pretty good. I don't know, maybe it's too clean? Should I add a touch of...what? Poo? Trash? Air pollution? Something to mess it up, make it more real-looking?

The animals aren't quite right, I grant you that. I got the contours okay but their expressions are sorta stiff, not quite alive-looking. So yeah, I have to work on my taxidermy skills.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Weston DeWalt

When I met Weston DeWalt, he said "Nice to meet you, Petrea Celeste."

Celeste is my middle name. I don't use it much, and it's not exactly all over the web. I said so.

"I'm a researcher," he said. No kidding.

Gary Weston DeWalt is a Pasadena author who came to worldwide notice in one of the most compelling stories to hit recent Los Angeles headlines. It began when his imagination was sparked by a single sentence he'd read about a boy who went missing near JPL in 1957 (on my 2nd birthday). Tommy Bowman was never found. DeWalt's idea was to write about how that loss affected Tommy's family over the years. But his research led him deep into a complicated tale involving bulldozers, bad men and even, peripherally, Charles Manson.

Mostly, though, DeWalt came across more and more unsolved cases of missing children, and all those children pointed their fingers at one man: Mack Ray Edwards.

The Pasadena author with a penchant for research helped solved a case that had gone cold more than 50 years ago. And along with LAPD Detective Vivian Flores, DeWalt may have unearthed even more crimes and at least one more criminal. The full story hasn't been told. Yet. DeWalt and Flores are writing the book.

Weston is no stranger to headlines. In 1997 he co-authored The Climb with Anatoli Boukreev, partly in answer to charges made against Boukreev in Jon Krakauer's bestseller, Into Thin Air about the 1996 Everest Disaster. The Climb sparked controversy which DeWalt had to answer because Boukreev died tragically soon after publication.*

It's a delight to converse with Weston DeWalt. He's smart, engaging, well-read and full of stories, some about his research. And after an hour or so it becomes clear that though crime and controversy may intrigue him, it's the people who hold his deepest interest. He cares about Anatoli Boukreev, who saved lives on Mt. Everest then didn't live to fully answer charges against his character. He cares about Eldon Bowman, who after fifty years has experienced little closure regarding the loss of his son. He cares about Detective Flores, who worked so hard on the case of the missing children. It has affected her career, DeWalt says. "It's affected her whole life."

There's more to know about Weston DeWalt, but this post is getting long. I know how Weston feels when a subject just grabs you.

*(I recommend Wikipedia as a beginning, not an end, to research.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Zen Monday: #26

On Zen Monday you experience the photo and tell us what it's about, rather than me telling you what to experience from viewing it.
There's no right or wrong.
If the photo evokes something in you, that's all it is.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Bench for Pascal Jim

A place to sit, with plenty of trees and no music. No dollar transaction necessary. Probably no wifi, but I haven't checked.