Saturday, June 12, 2010

June Gloom

It looks like some young artist couldn't be bothered to finish this plein air chalk work, and a few other things besides.

Gray skies, cool weather, on the gloomy side. Perfect for writers, but maybe not so great for those artists who need the light.

Here's hoping for a sunny Saturday!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pole Pigs*

I called these barrel-shaped things "transformers" but John thought they were insulators. Neither one of us was sure. We decided to find something better to argue about.

The wiring of the world seems primitive to me. We've been wired for over 200 years. I think we're on the brink of finding a wireless way to do things that have been wired until now. Will we miss the paraphernalia? Will telephone poles, wires, insulators and electrical transformers end up in museums soon? Or will we trash them all before we realize they're cherished vestiges of our past?

A few months ago, John and I hiked up one of the fire roads above Altadena. High up where the electrical towers stand, we found bits of a ceramic insulator embedded in the soil. One of the big ones must have fallen from the tower and broken. We brought home bits of it as keepsakes.

*thanks to Ted Thompson for the title of this post.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Icing on the Cake

left to right: Berlin Mercado, Jeanne Nelson, Crystal Mazzarella, Tracy Latimer

Pasadena's having a birthday party (it's 124th) this Saturday, June 12th at the Pasadena Museum of History. Yesterday I had a chance to see the birthday cake in progress at the Pasadena west campus of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

Under the guidance of Chef Instructor (and the cake's designer) Alicia Boada, fourteen student pastry chefs are making a three-foot tall, six-tiered replica of the top of City Hall, complete with tiny tiles on a sugar dome, a sugar cupola and gorgeous sugar flowers. More photos on Overdog.

In a separate kitchen, these pastry chefs-in-training were working on the layers. Some layers will make up the base of the cake and some will be eaten at the (free, open to the public) birthday party on Saturday.

I took a series of shots of the student pastry chefs at work and they gave me a taste of the cake and frosting. There are two kinds of each. I should have written them down because they have fancy names and I've forgotten them but they are de-damn-licious and you have to go to the party Saturday and eat some.

I hadn't planned to use this photo. I asked the chefs to pose for a reference for the other shots, and I wrote down their names in the order in which they stood. But just look at them. I had just had a piece of cake with frosting. They had just seen and heard my ecstatic reaction. They'd been working hard for nearly two weeks. Can you see the pride on their faces?

Update 6/13/10: You can see more photos and the finished cake at Pasadena PIO.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Roma Italian Deli & Market

Pasadenish in the know have shopped at Roma Italian Deli & Grocery for imported cheeses, meats, olive oils and other Italian delicacies for over 50 years. You can buy special pastas, interesting wines, and even produce at a more reasonable price than at the supermarket. But the real find at Roma is Rosario, the market's owner.

When he was 14 years old, Rosario came to the United States from Sicily with his father. They bought a house at the corner of Lake and Mountain Avenues in Pasadena in 1955 (Rosario will show you the photocopied picture behind the deli), where they established the Roma Market. In 1964, Rosario tore down the house and built the current structure. Rosario says he's worked behind the deli at Roma Market every day since 1955.

When you go, tell Rosario what you want in general terms and he'll make specific suggestions. He knows his inventory and what goes with what. On my last visit I told Rosario I don't like strong cheeses and he gave me samples to taste of the most delightful, delicious, buttery delicacies--I wanted them all. Give him a little guidance then let him show you his expertise. You'll be amazed at the quality, the flavors and the low prices.

I know I sound like an ad but I love this unassuming, charming little market. Don't let the mini-mall look fool you. It's right out of the old world.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


John and I went scouting yesterday. We were looking for a place to take a photo. You know how much trouble I have finding places to take photos in Pasadena.

But we need a particular photo this time: we want it to look like a studio backlot. You know--huge, warehouse-type buildings, kind of non-descript.

We didn't find it. Pasadena's too descript.

If you know of a place that might fit the bill, please let me know. It doesn't have to be in Pasadena, just within driving distance and accessible to the public. Or if it's not accessible and you can get permission for us to use it, why thank you, that'll be just fine.

I took this shot in Edmondson Alley south of Bellevue Drive. I love Pasadena's alleys.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Zen Monday: #98

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. Unless I absolutely must say something I stay out of the comments box to avoid influencing the discussion because when I get in there everything goes down hill.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Faulkner Was Right

"The past is never dead. It's not even past." —William Faulkner

For your contemplative Sunday spirit: a bit of early Zen from guest photographer John Sandel. This one knocked my socks off and I'm grateful to him for letting me post it.

To be honest, the weather is warm and I was already barefoot.