Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gold on Lombardy Road

I shot this on Lombardy Road in San Marino before the rain hit. It's probably all mushy now.

I hadn't meant to go that way but I was doubling back to go somewhere else, and figured I'd try a different route than my usual.

Note to self: unusual route = better chance of striking gold.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chanukah in Pasadena

Pasadena's got a church just about everywhere you look. They're in brightly painted houses obtrusive and un, strewn throughout residential neighborhoods and business districts, competing for attention with liquor stores, shopping malls and each other. If you're a Christian, by gosh by golly and by God, we've got whatever you need.

If you're a Jew I hope you can find a home in one of two local synagogues which, as far as I can tell, go quietly about the business of worship, service and Pasadena life.

I realize Chanukah isn't the biggest Jewish holiday, but not everybody's a Christian. So I always hope for signs of acknowledgment that Christmas isn't the only thing going on in December. I've seen a couple of small, shiny store displays of Chanukah candles and paper plates--attempts at appeasement, if you ask me. I hoped to photograph something better for today. I remembered seeing this menorah last year in the parking lot of Chabad of Pasadena at the corner of Walnut and Wilson. I was lucky. It was there last night. I hope they light a big candle in it tonight.

The Pasadena Jewish Temple has Hanukkah services today. Chabad of Pasadena will host a Family Chanukah Celebration at City Hall on Sunday from 3-5 PM.

The best Chanukah/Hanukkah gift I can give you is a visit to Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo. There you'll find Dina, a Jewish transplant from my old stomping grounds in Chicago (whom I met on the web), living a life of study and generous open-mindedness one doesn't expect to find, especially in the Middle East. Dina works on archaeological digs, most recently in Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Think of the things she touches, right there where the ancients walked. They were just like us and we will one day be just like them.

Happy Hanukkah.

A couple of updates from Ann Erdman, Pasadena's Public Information Officer:

Lamanda Park Branch Library (140 S. Altadena Dr.) will host Chanukah fun and festivities with musician/singer Shulamir Rosner on Monday, Dec. 14, at 3:30 p.m.

There will be a Christmas tree-lighting celebration at La Pintoresca Branch Library (1355 N. Raymond Ave.) today at 5 p.m. and Allendale Branch Library (1130 S. Marengo Ave.) Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

La Pintoresca Branch Library will host a Kwanzaa celebration with tasty dishes prepared by members of the Pasadena Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority on Monday, Dec. 18, at 10 a.m.

Ann adds further:
By the way, there's a wonderful exhibit in the Children's Room at Pasadena Central Library featuring origami designs created by the community of students from Weizmann Day School (Jewish), Saint Mark's School (Episcopal) and New Horizon School (Muslim) as part of an ongoing relationship of respect and fellowship. Everyone can marvel at the display through Dec. 31.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fruits of My Labors

I'm learning how to white-balance with my new-to-me camera. It's taking some doing.

Both of these images are altered; I had to do the work in post because I didn't get it right in the first place. The one on the left is the most accurate. Not perfect, though. Still a little too green.

What I want to show you is a tiny fragment of the clementine harvest. These two baskets hold about 150 clementines between them (yes, I counted). If the light wasn't all blown out you'd be able to see the still-overloaded
tree through the window. I haven't made a dent in it.

Here are the originals.

(Update: thanks to Altadenablog for the reminder to turn off your sprinklers.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Local Literary Lights

Before I moved here I didn't know many published authors. But in Pasadena you can practically see at night by the literary lights.

First I'll tell you about Roberta Martinez so you can immediately mark your calendar for an event at Vroman's Bookstore tomorrow evening. Roberta and her friend Patrick Conyers will present and sign their books. Roberta's book, Latinos in Pasadena, "chronicles the legacies of Mexican Americans and other Latino men and women who lived and worked in Pasadena. The Latino community has been an integral part of the San Gabriel Valley, and here is a book that gives it its rich due."

Full disclosure: I've met and enjoyed a lively email exchange with Roberta Martinez. I haven't read her book (yet), but with over 200 vintage photos it's just my thing and it's on my Christmas wish list. Roberta's got about six brains. And I know and she knows and you know that Latinos in Pasadena are people whose time has come.

I don't know Roberta's co-presenter Patrick Conyers, nor have I read his book, Pasadena 1940-2008. However he co-authored the book with Cedar Phillips, who wrote Early Pasadena. (Gotta love Arcadia Publishing for going with a good idea.) John gave me Early Pasadena for my birthday this year and I devoured it. (That's a figure of speech. I didn't actually eat it. I read it voraciously.) I'm a happy reader when you give me archival photos and accompany them with historical information.

And if you do those things with style you might just be Michele Zack, who recently published Southern California Story: Seeking the Better Life in Sierra Madre. Disclosure again: I know Michele. I haven't read her latest book (yet) but I read her previous one, Altadena: Between Wilderness and City (published by the Altadena Historical Society). I loved that one, too. Michele has a knack for digging up juicy little (or big) secrets a town might want to forget but really, really, ought to remember.

I think I could feature a local author every week and never repeat myself. Pasadena's crawling with 'em. Someday I'll even feature myself.

Hey, why not today? Full disclosure: here comes a plug! My story, Belinda's Birthday, is in the running to be Story of the Year at the Rose City Sisters Flash Fiction blog. The story with the most unique page views wins, so go take a look. In fact, three other local bloggers--Susan Carrier, Desiree Zamorano and Margaret Finnegan--have published wonderful stories at Rose City Sisters. All are bright literary lights with whom I'm proud to share a similar flash fiction url.

Leave a comment if you've got something to say. And thanks for supporting your local literati.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


According to Google (and where else would I get my weather information?) it got to as low as 37 degrees in Pasadena sometime in the last 24 hours. I bundle up so much you'd never know I lived in northern Illinois for much of my life. The only person in our family who dislikes the cold more than I do is the dog, and he's a soCal native.

It rained quite a bit yesterday. Southern California's in its third year of drought and we do need rain, just--not all at once. Autumn's Station Fire left very little vegetation in the mountains above town. Instead we've got thousands of acres of ash. Mix that up with a few days' worth of downpour and you get mudslides.

We're used to "fire season." We're used to ash. We're even used to mudslides. But the Station Fire was the biggest in the recorded history of the Angeles National Forest, and this year the ash could come charging down the mountains in torrents of mud the likes of which haven't been seen in these parts before.

Could. Not necessarily will.

It's supposed to be sunny today. We'll have more rain later in the week. But I'm optimistic, which is easy for me to say because I live in a part of town that's not in any danger (fingers crossed). The most I have to worry about is that the dog refuses to go outside without an umbrella and since he lacks opposable thumbs (to cross his fingers or carry his umbrella), guess who gets to bundle up in all her winter finery and accompany him.

Altadenablog is always a good place to check for updates on severe road and weather conditions in the mountains.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Zen Monday: #75

Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what I think the photo's about. There's no right or wrong. It means what you think it means.

I look for a photo worth contemplating or, failing that, something odd or silly. And I
stay out of the comments box for most of the day to avoid influencing the intellectual path of the discussion.

As I post each new Zen Monday photo I add a label to last week's to identify it if necessary--if I know what it is.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hungry for Holiday Headgear

At South Lake Avenue's annual Holiday Open House yesterday every other store was giving away food. Sure, you could get discounts. You could also get coffee and cookies with your complimentary chair massage at Touche Salon and Day Spa. You could munch on the free sample appetizers at Cafe 140 South while gossiping about passersby. Maybe you skipped the food and ducked in to Williams-Sonoma to get your picture taken with Santa, but I didn't. I went to Ten Thousand Villages for the refreshments.

Despite near-blizzard conditions with temperatures in the mid-fifties, Lake Avenue was lined with friendly elves who braved the cold to entertain the crowds. It seems some people stayed home by the fire, afraid to drive under cloudy conditions. They missed the fun!

The elves were nice, but no matter how I begged they would not trade hats with me. It was disappointing. The Wikki Stix at Giggle sounded tempting, but you can't eat them and all I really wanted--besides food--was a hat.

(I know you can't eat a hat.)