Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lost Garden: In Memory

In comments on my first post about Earthside Nature Center, Karin the Altadena Hiker said some put their heart and soul in to the place. It's true. If you keep your eyes open you can see the evidence in small monuments on the property. This one says, "In memory of 'Pop Pop,' Shirley W. Owen, Pasadena, 1895-1983." At least I think it says 1983, it's kind of hard to tell.

The small plaque on this stone says "in memory of Marilyn Close Davis, 1989."

The kiosk (scroll down here for a look at it) is still in decent shape. A plaque lists names, presumably of donors. Marilyn Close Davis, 1989, appears here as well. There's also a Hazel M. Close, 1988. And look, Elna S. Bakker, the founder, 1995. And Virginia M. Connelly, 1995. I wonder if she was (is?) related to Kevin Connelly, the native plant advocate (see yesterday's post) who helped run Earthside. And lo and behold, there's Grace Gertmenian, 1985. I recognize her name. The Gertmenian family is one of the featured families in the fantastic Pasadena Museum of History Family Stories Exhibit that's running until January of 2010.

I'm a little amazed to find this connection. I shouldn't be. The Gertmenian family began arriving in Pasadena from Armenia in the 1920s. They're familiar to me because I'm curious about Pasadena history and they're part of the fabric of that history. The more I learn the more connected it all becomes for me.

I like my history like that--not that I don't like reading it in a book, but living with it is so much more rewarding. This is why preservation is so powerful. A book is history removed. Living with history is letting it touch you and affect you. Seeing Grace's name on the plaque is like finding a message she wrote in the past and left for me to read in the future.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lost Garden: Found

A couple of quick facts about Earthside Nature Center: it was founded in 1971 by the Pasadena Girls Club and naturalist and author Elna S. Bakker. Kevin Connelly, a horticulturalist and native plant advocate, took over the day-to-day operations in 1975. Volunteers and contributions helped Bakker and Connelly keep the place running for twenty years or so. But both of them happened to die in the mid-1990s and no one took up the cause. Earthside has been returning to nature ever since.

Earthside Nature Center appeared to be an abandoned idyll until recently. Arroyo Lover told us in yesterday's comments that plans are in the works, and I found a .pdf about it on the City's website. Since I don't know how to link you to a .pdf, I'll tell you simply to go to this page and click on the GREENVISION link. It takes you to a .pdf of a study that was done this year by four grad students in Urban and Regional Planning at Cal Poly Pomona. Among other things, the study offers suggestions and potential uses for Earthside (the uses they suggest are all parks).

One of the people the Cal Poly students met with was the guy who got the Altadena Hiker and me interested in Earthside in the first place, open space advocate Michael Coppess of East of Allen. His was the last comment on yesterday's post before I had to sign off. He said, "Most recently, the parcel was slated for a fire and police training area. Thus far, there is no official city action preserving the site for open space, park or garden use."

So though Earthside will no longer be abandoned, perhaps it will also no longer be an idyll. I'm glad I got to snoop around and take pictures. More tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lost Garden: Paths

I might not have known about the abandoned Earthside Nature Center if the Altadena Hiker hadn't posted about it. She might not have known about it if Michael hadn't posted about it over at East of Allen. He's posted about it three times: first here, then here and a third post here.

One day, while the Station Fire kept our trails closed in the mountains, Karin (the Hiker) took me on a tour of the nature center. I love hidden spots like this. Nature has overgrown the edges that humans once put there to define it, making it perhaps even more beautiful in disorder. It's over at 3168 E. Del Mar Blvd., behind an abandoned learning center. You can cut through the empty parking lot and take a look for yourself.

Karin, Phoebe the Boxer, Boz the Mixer and I did some snooping. I'll show you what we found over the next couple of days, and I'll do some research. You can also click on Michael's East of Allen posts for more information.

This is the first series I've taken with my new Canon 20D that I feel are good enough to post. I still keep the Olympus SP350 in my purse. It's a good little stealth camera.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

They're Lucky They're Cute

Today's photo was taken in the wee hours by my neighbor. He's been having to patch up his yard every morning since a couple of raccoons discovered something delicious under his grass. You can see a bit of their handiwork behind the trap.

Those cute little animals tore my neighbor's lawn to shreds, yet the yards on either side weren't affected. These guys liked one yard and one yard only. My neighbor called the Pasadena Humane Society and rented a humane trap. He also got tips from PHS experts, who thought the problem might have to do with the fact that he'd recently put down new sod. Apparently, raccoons love the grubs and insects that come with new sod. A raccoon invasion can also have to do with watering lawns at night, which a lot of people are doing now due to our drought watering restrictions.

If you have a problem, check the PHS Wildlife Services page and click on Help With Opossum, Raccoons and Skunks for a .pdf full of useful information.

My neighbor is a nice guy, but he was frustrated after a few days of patching. The title of this post is a direct quote.

Update: The neighbors have caught a second raccoon. There are at least two more. It looks like a single group, not a continuing invasion, so they will catch and remove them all once then (hopefully) it'll be done. The family has named the first two Rocky and Rita.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back on the Mountain

I love the Sam Merrill Trail. Depending on the switchback, civilization seems near...

...or very far away.

Until you get a ways up the mountain. Then everything below disappears into your note pad, your camera, your thoughts, your breathing, your stride.

The trail is open now, as is the Cobb Estate. J and I went about halfway up Echo Mountain yesterday and the skies were downright blustery. It felt good to be back on my mountain. (I share it with the Hiker.) I don't know how far you can go. Most of the Angeles National Forest is still closed (call 626-334-7582 between 7am and 7pm for specifics). But you can go for a good while.

None of Echo Mountain burned. Have at it. Pack out what you pack in. And no smoking. It's brittle as sun-dried bones up there.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Zen Monday: #66

Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what the photo's about. I look for something worth thinking about or, failing that, at least something odd. And sometimes you have to look closely.

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, October 4, 2009


I was talking to some neighbors yesterday about--neighbors. Neighbors are unique friends if you're lucky, as we are, to like each other. We have a good block here. We have a Neighborhood Watch with two block captains, we notify each other when we're going to be out of town and we keep an eye out for the old folks. Moms share kid duties and dog owners share dog duties. Sometimes we run errands for each other. We have an annual block party and socialize at other times, too, just because we want to.

When there's a tragedy, which happens, we do our best to be whatever support we can. It could mean calling the cops or the fire department. It could mean standing by, in case. Or just feeding the fish.

Yet we don't all know each others' private business. And that might be best, living in relatively close quarters. My closest friends live in other parts of Pasadena and Altadena, plus Burbank and Skokie and Cincinnati. They're the ones who've heard all about my dirty laundry.

My neighbors, though--they've actually seen me wearing it.