Saturday, April 11, 2009


Last Thursday night I attended one of the free Lawn and Garden workshops being offered this year by Pasadena Water & Power. I began with the Efficient Irrigation workshop. If we're going to have to ration water, then dammit, I'm going to be water-wise.

I was afraid I might get bored, but irrigation contractor and horticulturalist Tim Wheeler is anything but dull. With charm, humor, and visual aids like charts, nozzles and hoses, he turned dirt and water into three hours of fascination. Everybody likes water, but who knew dirt could be so cool?

I learned why I should never water at night. (It contributes to plant diseases.)
I learned why it's better to use a machine to aerate your soil than it is to use the little shoes with spikes on them, and why it's a good idea to mark your sprinkler pipes and nozzles clearly before you accidentally aerate them, too.
I learned about MP rotators, timers and the new "smart" controllers that can make watering decisions for you based on the weather.

My favorite was learning about different kinds of dirt. I might have sandy loam, but I've never been sure. Now I know how to test it. What I'm feeling about dirt right now could be called excitement.

I'm going to the California Friendly Landscaping Class next. By then I ought to know what kind of soil I've got. Maybe this will be the year I don't kill every other thing I plant.

Friday, April 10, 2009


I took quite a few pictures yesterday. The sky was overcast, the light not so good, but I kept at it. Trees, flowers, a store display, blah blah blah. At the end of the day, while I talked with my neighbors in their driveway, the kids took care of the important business on the block.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Model Library

This model of the early Pasadena Public Library is encased in glass in the lobby of Pasadena's present main library on Walnut Street. Wei mentioned it yesterday in the comments, beating me to the punch! A plaque below the model reads:

"Model of 1887 Pasadena Public Library built to scale from original stone. With copper shingles, gutters, downspouts, and real glass windows, donated by builder, Rex Petty, to Pasadena Public Library."

The model seems to have been made in the late 1950's, a guess I made from a 1958 headline I found from the Pasadena Star-News. (I was unable to locate the article.)

See yesterday's post for a photo of what remains of this building: the main archway that led to the front door. Then head on over to the library! We have a terrific library system in Pasadena, with our great central library and wonderful neighborhood branches. And it's free.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Arch History

The City of Pasadena was incorporated in 1886 and a library was built ASAP. The only fragment that remains of the original building is this arch that still stands at the corner of Raymond and Walnut. According to the plaque inside the arch, Pasadena's "first free public library" was erected in the 1880's. From 1890 to 1927, the library looked like this post card; the arch above is the one facing you at the center of the card in the link. The palm trees to the left in the post card must be the ones that rise above Raymond Avenue today, to the left of where I stood while taking the picture.

Soon the city's needs grew greater than the old building could accommodate, and the Central Library we use today was built in 1927 to replace this one. But it was the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake that rendered the original unsafe. Renovations were deemed too expensive, and the old library was finally razed in 1954. Imagine what it must have looked like after twenty years of waiting for its fate.

The dedication inside the archway says: "This entrance arch, restored in 1955 by the City of Pasadena, at (sic) request of the Pasadena Historical Society, is dedicated to the memory of Pasadena pioneers who in early and difficult days established here a public library as an expression of reverence for literature and art. Their spirit, symbolized in this remaining archway, lives on."

The city's Landmarks page explains why the monument is closed to the public. "Severely damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and subsequently fenced in."

However, that doesn't explain why this piece of Pasadena's heritage has been allowed to fall apart, brick by brick, in the 15 years since the Northridge quake. I asked our illustrious Public Information Officer, Ann Erdman, if any preservation efforts were underway. She told me it's "listed in our capital projects budget, but listed as unfunded at this time. It would require grant funding and/or private funding to do the restoration."

I understand that. The world is in a financial crisis, and despite Pasadena's reputation as a wealthy city, we're not exempt. Programs for jobs, kids, families--in other words, people--take precedence now.

In the meantime, our little arch falls apart. If my spirit were symbolized in a crumbling ruin I'd be an angry spirit indeed. How do you feel about this old arch? Is it worth preserving, even in these times?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Huntington Cool

It was warm yesterday in Pasadena, but we're expecting cooler days for the rest of the week. In anticipation, here's a shot I took at the Huntington on a cold day. I've taken so many pictures at the Huntington that I like to find excuses to trot them out from time to time.

The structure in the background was the home of Henry and Arabella Huntington, the wealthy and illustrious couple who left us these wonderful gardens, galleries and library. It's a pretty fabulous house. What you see is the east veranda.

I hope they enjoyed it while they lived there. I sure get a lot out of it now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Zen Monday: #43

Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what the photo's about.

As I post each new Zen photo, I'll add a label to last week's to identify it if necessary (and if I know what it is).

Update 4/13/09: This was taken in an office building on Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Red Rover

Can anyone identify the little red brushes poking up out of the ground? They show up around this time each year after the rains have dried up. They'll be dried up and gone by the time the summer heat arrives. For now I'm enjoying their miniature charms, but the dogs couldn't care less.