Saturday, February 20, 2010


I promised the Altadena Hiker I'd post a photo of one of the cabins in Big Santa Anita Canyon. (Knowing her, I'll bet she's seen them all.) Here's Bombadil's Castle, one of the fancier ones. Look at that stone wall, will ya? I may be wrong but I'll bet they put it up because this one's right on the Gabrielino Trail and they wanted to discourage nosy dogs.

The Hermit Falls Trail, also in Big Santa Anita Canyon, is more remote--or, I should say, not as popular. The cabins along there might be a little quieter for the residents.

This, however, would be one drawback of living in the otherwise gorgeous canyon: you have to share your idyll with hikers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Scratch on the Scientific Record

Sometimes I post a photo because it's pretty. Sometimes I post a shot of what's happening in town. This one's educational: illustrative of a natural process that's hard to describe any other way.

After the Station Fire came heavy rains, which brought a flood of muddy ash into the lowlands. The landscape of Hahamongna Watershed Park was completely changed and, for a time at least, we have these crackly (technical term) mud flats. They're still soft. I wouldn't walk on them, though tinier creatures have done so.

We're about to have more rains. Who knows what changes nature will bring this time?

If anyone needs a photographic record of what's been going on at Hahamongna for the last two years, I've got so many pictures it's ridiculous. Just putting that out there, you know, for science.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Canyon Depths

I think you should click to enlarge this picture.

The other day, Bellis (who often comments here) and I walked from Chantry Flat to Sturtevant Falls and back. (The road up from Sierra Madre is open during the day.) Our trusty pooches came along, too. The water is flowing clear and clean in Big Santa Anita Canyon alongside the Gabrielino Trail.

Bellis also showed me the trail that goes above the falls. High! Steep! Narrow! Wonderful. There's everything to love about a hike like this one--tall trees, a flowing stream and a waterfall, forceful now after the rain.

This place is extra special, perhaps because of 81 historic, privately-owned cabins, some of which you'll stroll by as you walk along the canyon floor. The cabins are what remain of the original 350 that were built from the 1890's to the 1920's.

I found myself envying the cabin residents but I have to be realistic. It takes a special kind of person to live there. Few of the cabins have central heat, plumbing or electricity (though we did notice some solar panels), and phone service is limited. Not only that, but unless you're a mountain biker with the thighs (and knees) of an Olympic athlete, your home is accessible only by hiking into and out of the canyon.

It's so beautiful there, for a minute I thought I could get used to it if I could heat with solar panels. Later in the summer this stream will be dry, or close to it. But right now it's heaven.

Then I thought about carrying the groceries.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

iPhone Wednesday #3 - TL(h)C

I took this with my iPhone at the Toluca Lake Health Center. It's a nice facility. I go there instead of someplace in Pasadena because my coverage is through my unions, SAG and AFTRA. It's good coverage. I wouldn't mind paying less for it but it's reasonable as health insurance goes. And I'm one of the lucky ones, just being eligible to buy it in the first place.

My husband isn't so lucky. He's with a certain California insurance company that's attempting to raise his rate almost 30%. We got the notice from them about two days before we read about it in the New York Times.

Do we need changes in our health care system? Don't get me started.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Just...picturing the cute little people who live here.

Maybe it's one of those clocks where mannequins come out every hour on the hour and circle around, marching like tin soldiers or knocking up and down like those drinking bird toys.

Or it could be storage space.

Last week Vanda and I went on a photo safari in the San Fernando Valley. Some of the results are on Overdog, should you care to have a look.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Zen Monday: #84

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, or what you want it to mean.

I look for a photo worth contemplating or, failing that, something odd or silly. And I stay out of the comments box to avoid influencing the intellectual path of the discussion, unless I change my mind and decide to say something. Because, you know, when I get in there everything goes downhill.

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

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Good Cardio

Last week John and I climbed the fire road across Las Flores Canyon from the Sam Merrill Trail. It was his idea. With no shade on the mountain we had the perfect overcast day, he wanted to try something different, and why not?

I had all sorts of reasons why not. There's no good trail. It's not a hike, it's a climb. And it's rocky over there, with gravel and scree loose enough to roll you down ten feet for every two you go up.

I didn't think I could do it.

"Sure you can," said John. "You're strong enough."

I begged to differ. I complained a good part of the way up. It was steep. I was scared. For some of the climb we had to resort to our hands and knees just to find something to hold onto. It was most undignified.

I finally gave up, afraid to go on.

"I'm going to see what's around that bend," said John, obviously not the least bit worried.

He was gone for a little while. I found a place where I could sit without having to hold on and busied myself taking pictures. Finally, I crawled up after him.

Not too much farther along he'd found the wider road. He helped me over a few tough steps and we walked. It still wasn't easy; our legs were tired and our lungs were hungry. But we kept going and we made it farther than either of us could have gone alone.

At the top we gazed out over exhilarating San Gabriel Valley views we'd never seen before. We congratulated ourselves for making it so far. We discussed the great gobs of lunch we'd eat when we got back down. And I thanked John for insisting I could make it (the climb, not the lunch).

Happy Valentine's Day, sweetie. Even mountains are no match for us when we climb them together.