Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Kwanzaa

On Christmas day, John and I took a long walk with the camera. I love walking with the camera, but I especially love walking with John. His eye opens mine. His suggestions inspire me.

We found a lot of sights to enjoy including these cement pavers embedded in the median alongside El Molino just north of Washington. Someone had decorated them with positive thoughts.

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa. The (non-religious) holiday continues until January 1st. I enjoyed reading about it on several sites. Did you know the African spelling is "Kwanza" and the additional "a" at the end reflects the African American celebration? Now you do.

Kwanzaa celebrates seven principles. One of them is depicted here. The others are just good ideas for regular days.

Happy Kwanzaa!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Good Will Toward You

In America it's politically correct to say "Happy Holidays" from late November through December because people of so many cultures and religious backgrounds live here. I'm not a Christian myself but I don't mind hearing "Merry Christmas," nor do I worry much about getting the greeting right as long as people are of good cheer. Greeting each other kindly and wishing each other goodness is what's important.

This is the day we mark on our calendars to commemorate the birth of someone who has had a monumental influence on our culture, regardless of whether or not you believe he existed. If we did as he asked us to do, this Earth would be a peaceful place indeed. I think he'd want us to greet each other kindly and wish each other goodness.

Goodwill starts in our hearts. From there, it can go everywhere. So Merry Christmas, whatever you celebrate.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Memory and Christmas Tree Lane

Hmm. Now that I upload the photo it looks a little abstract. But click to enlarge it and you see it's a tree-lined street. Not just any street, but Santa Rosa Avenue in Altadena, better known as Christmas Tree Lane.

I parked myself and my tripod in the gully at the end of a driveway to get this picture and the homeowner took a peek to see what I was doing. "Oh, you're filming," he said.

"Just taking pictures. Is it okay?"

"Oh sure."

"I wonder if you get tired of all this traffic," I said.

"Oh no! I don't mind," he said. "It's all about the Christmas spirit."

A couple of miles east there's a home where every Christmas decoration you can imagine is packed into one yard. It's bright enough to light the neighborhood, and you can hear the electricity buzz. People crowd around taking pictures and loving it, and I'm glad they do. But it's not my cup of tea.

I go for the simplicity and silence of Christmas Tree Lane. Just a mile or so of deodar cedars strung with old-fashioned lights. People drive slowly and dim their lights. It's quiet and kind of magical.

Those cedars were planted in 1885. A tree gets pretty tall in 125 years. I love this Altadena Historical Society photo of Christmas Tree Lane in the early 1900s, back when the trees were young.

Read the LA Times article or the links above first, to get a sense of the history. Then have a look at the Woodbury House. The Woodbury brothers founded Altadena and one of them planted those deodars (scroll down for old photos and a mention of the nursery where the trees were first planted). The house is still there. Well-hidden, but still there. And so are the beautiful trees and the sweet town those brothers planted.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sparkly and Cold

I finally went out last night and got pictures of twinkly lights. What I won't do for you! It was freezing! The web said 50 degrees, but it was blustery enough for a substantial wind chill factor. Plus there's the Petrea chill factor, which subtracts another fifteen degrees. We're talkin' cold.

Last Christmas I went downtown for photos. This time I headed north. I was looking for the Star of Palawoo. I found it, but with houses and trees in my sight lines I couldn't figure out how to get a good angle on it. You'll get a better view either by driving up to Loma Alta just west of Marengo or by viewing the Altadena Weather Cam at night. It's worth it--well, it is if you bundle up. Such a pretty thing.

I opted for this pretty thing for today's post. These folks on New York Drive just east of Allen put up their Tour Eiffel every year, and every year I enjoy seeing it sparkle by the road. It's also a nice reminder that it's snowing and/or raining in Paris right now, depending on whether or not the temperature manages to get above 32 degrees.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Dining

Despite the cool weather the poinsettias in front of Pinocchio's Pizza on North Lake Avenue looked festive yesterday. The cloudy skies made the white table cloths look all the more crisp.

Note that Big Mama's Rib Shack has poinsettias in their planters, too. And someone has planted more with the sidewalk tree.

I could use some good soul food right about now. And John and I are on a quest for the best pizza in town. Have you eaten at either of these establishments? Help us out. What's your review?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Zen Monday: #77

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 is what it is, whatever that means to you.

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 brilliantly 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 20, 2009

The Horned Man of Pasadena

My little book of pagan holidays (you'd be amazed what I keep handy for research) says the winter solstice is always on December 21st. That's true this year but sometimes it's the 20th, and since here at PDP the 21st is a Zen Monday (which isn't so much pagan as accepting of what is, pagan or otherwise), and since I'm still mustering up my Christmas spirit, I went looking for a horned god instead of a Santa for today's post.

The horned god, or horned man, or green man goes back thousands of years and crosses many cultures. Something of him permeates my thinking and my writing even now. He's hard to find yet he's everywhere. Although I didn't see him in the gardens last time I visited the Huntington, that doesn't mean he's not there. In fact, the pagan gods have long lurked around the fringes of Pasadena.

The horned man has existed since long before Christmas was invented. He'll last as long as humans live on earth. The winter solstice will outlast us, perhaps, remaining long after our holidays have come and gone.