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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fireworks

Today my wish is that everyone in the world had the freedom to vote for their own government, knowing their vote would be counted.

May I have more than one wish, please? Thanks. I also wish everyone had a source of income, a home and a chicken in their pot.

It would at least be a start. When we're free and fed, it's easier to make peace.

I never thought of those things when I was a kid in DeKalb, Illinois. On July 4th, we'd hop into the station wagon and head over to Hopkins Park. We'd find a good spot near the band shell (the old one) and spread our blanket on the grass, maybe near people we knew, maybe not. Everyone in town came out to hear Dee Palmer lead the DeKalb Municipal Band. When the Sousa marches started, everyone--adults and kids--laid on their blankets to watch the show in the sky. Maybe the adults were reflecting on freedom, maybe not. I was just being dazzled.

Thursday night I got to see the Altadena Town & Country Club's fireworks, viewed from the back yard of friends who live across the street. It was a lovely party with great food, interesting people and a beautiful setting (torches included).

The kids were so excited to see fireworks! And it was an impressive show, during which I did not reflect on life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. I giggled all the way through it because the kids were so delighted.

There's a new band shell at Hopkins Park, and the The Municipal Band, still led by Dee Palmer, plays Sousa Marches on Independence Day in DeKalb. Some people sit on the shiny new benches, some lay their blankets on the ground. Regardless of their ages, their concerns or their hopes, for a little while they just listen to the music and watch the show in the sky.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fluff Piece

One of my favorite paths at Hahamongna Watershed Park is currently a winter wonderland. I'm pretty certain this plant is native to California. At this time of year it fills the area surrounding it in the Arroyo Seco with white fuzz. It's on the ground and in the branches. We're probably all breathing it right now. Sure is pretty, though.

You have to blow this picture up to get the full impact. I wanted you to see this the way I saw it, so I didn't adjust the colors or contrast. To give you some scale, the log at the lower right is about two feet long.

I searched the web but I don't think I used the right terms. Can anyone tell me what plant makes this white fluff?

Update, 7/11/09: Ann Erdman, aka Pasadena PIO, went to the trouble to email a couple of experts about this flora and sent me her results.
From Darya Barar, Certified Arborist at the City of Pasadena:
"The tree in the picture looks like an Arroyo Willow to me. I believe the maintenance policy in the arroyo is to allow trees to be as natural as possible.... that means in the fall there is no intervention by City crews."
and from Elise Jackson, Arroyo Seco Program Coordinator:
"Darya is correct. This is a native willow, a predominant tree in the Hahamongna flood basin, behind Devil's gate dam. The white 'fluff' contains the seeds which aids in the wind dispersal of these seeds. You can see in the photo the seeds (dark spots) mixed in the fluff. These trees definitely give Hahamongna the look of a winter wonderland, when the wind blows the white fluff completely covers the air and the ground, distributing seeds for the natural regeneration of our native willow woodland and providing important wildlife habitat."

Thanks to Darya and Elise for responding to Ann, and thanks to Ann for pursuing this information!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Le Déjeuner sur le Sly

Yesterday I made reference to a "secret picnic." S. invited a few friends to help perpetuate her tradition of a "trespasser's picnic," where you have your lunch in an idyllic spot that's somehow...off-limits.

Of course your purpose is benign. You have no wish to intrude. You simply know of a spot. No one's using it, it's perfect, and shouldn't someone have a picnic there?

When you leave, you take with you every bit of what you brought. "Pack out what you pack in," as they say, and no one will ever know you were there.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Theme Day: Empty

Today is theme day for City Daily Photo bloggers, and the theme is "empty." How fortuitous that I went on a secret picnic yesterday. Before we even began to eat, we emptied the first bottle of wine.

I'll tell you more about the picnic tomorrow. For now, check out the other City Daily Photo bloggers around the world who participated in this theme.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's a Tomato

The Huntington's not the only garden in town. People around here love to plant all sorts of exotic things. Back yards overflow with the beauty of nature. Folks share their secrets and the fruits of their labors. And oh, how they brag.

Well, move over.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Zen Monday: #54


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 Monday photo, I'll add a label to last week's to identify it if necessary (if I know what it is).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Free to Believe in Green

I have always had the freedom to think what I please and say what I think. Sure, we have conventions. If I'm rude I may be chastised or lose a few friends. But the law protects my freedom of speech.

For those like me who love to share opinions and feelings, the internet is a boon. The City Daily Photo blog community is all about worldwide understanding and friendship; through it I've made friends all across the planet.

I can't imagine not having the freedom to speak to them. I can't imagine being afraid that if I shared my opinions of my culture, my spiritual beliefs or my country's politics I might pay for it with my life.

A City Daily Photo blogger is missing in Iran. For him, and for all the bloggers, journalists and Iranian citizens jailed either by their rulers or just by the rules, today is a special blog day to raise awareness. I don't know if the Iranian people would elect a leader I like, but it doesn't matter. I defend their right to elect whomever they choose, and to speak openly about their choices.

Click here to view thumbnails for all today's participants, and you'll see our worldwide family united in this effort. To sign the Avaaz petition to the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement and all UN member states, click here. (Thanks to Hilda of My Manila for the Avaaz link.)

UPDATE, 2:30 PM: AMIR IS HOME SAFE! Reports are confirmed, according to JM at Oeiras and Environs Daily Photo. Thank you!