Saturday, August 14, 2010

Balboa Island

Each summer, my friends rent a beach house on Balboa Island for a week's vacation. Last week was it, and they invited a few of us down for a day. We didn't hobnob with the rich, but we hobnobbed on their territory.

First we spent a couple of hours just steps from the house on the beach. It was a mostly female group--talk, laugh, much more talk. Then, after a lovely dinner on the front porch (almost as much laughing as eating), we took a boat ride around the island. That was a blast. I posted several photos on Overdog.

From the looks of it the richest people in Orange County have thrown their money into Balboa Island and the shores that surround it. The water's edge is cheek by jowl with new-money mansions and ostentatious yachts.

Ah, but it's still a beach town. What you can't see in this photo is the sea lions that have climbed up onto the back of that boat, lolling and barking--hobnobbing on the territory of the rich, as it were.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Small Business

I've been taking morning walks. Besides being good exercise, walking gives you a different perspective on every little thing and it's a better way to take pictures than driving.

I walked along Lake Avenue the other day and took these photos before business hours, thus the empty parking lots. 

It's been quite some time since I ate at Orean the Health Express. They've got a nice website, which seems to me a requirement these days for any business, large or small. They've also got a drive-through window. Convenient.

Angel's Tropical fish doesn't have a website, though they have a web presence, as in reviews. Not being in the market for tropical fish, I can't corroborate. Boz the pooch would like to have a pet, but you know the drill--he'd start out with good intentions but I'd end up having to take care of it, and I don't even want a fish.

I wonder how these small businesses are doing. I'm no expert but my friend Karen Klein is. If you have a small business or are thinking of starting one, do yourself a favor and follow her blog.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Don't Even Start

An accurate calculation done on my fingers tells me that as of today I've been nicotine-free for 19 days short of 19 years.

This ash tray in the parking lot at Samy's Camera brings to mind several things including pity, relief, revulsion and gratitude.

I don't fault smokers for their addiction. It is hard, hard, hard to stop smoking once you start. (Thus the pity.) I know because I smoked for years and it took Nicotine Anonymous to get me off the stuff. I sat in those 12-step meetings and listened to heroin addicts talk about how much easier it was to kick smack than cigarettes.

But I managed, and I don't have to do it again. (Thus the relief.) One of the benefits of quitting is a super sense of smell, which is how I found this "butt can" in the first place. (Thus the revulsion.) And the benefits are endless. Of all the debilitating things smoking can do to your health, it can do just as much damage to your self-esteem.

We can point to major turning points in our lives. For me, quitting smoking was one of them. Losing that crutch allowed me to bring happiness into my life in more ways than I can count on fingers, toes and all the family digits. (Thus the gratitude.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Brookmore Apartments

The Brookmore apartment building on Marengo Avenue isn't on Pasadena's list of historic structures. Seems it could be, though it's not the oldest building in town. The website says it was built in the 1920's and has been renovated for the modern apartment dweller, with parking, wireless internet and basic cable included in the rent.

I found rental info that looks relatively current. If you're thinking of moving in you might want to talk to other tenants: the web has some imperfect reviews. I take that stuff with a grain of salt, though. People who love a product or service tend not to bother to write about it, so the negative often weighs too heavily.

I like the old-timey, Midwestern prairie look of the place: the brick facade, the neon sign, the fire escape. I imagine what it looked like long before the freeway entrenched itself close by. I wonder who dwelt in its cozy apartments in each decade of the last century and picture the changing trends. In the 1920's, City Hall was being built not far away; perhaps a young secretary or city official lived there. In the 1930's, after the stock market crash, it could be that the place saw hard times. Maybe the tenants were mostly single women in the 1940's when the men went off to war. And so on.

It's possible that folks who lived there years ago are still in town.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Free Time

Bus lot behind John Muir High School

In the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD), school starts September 14th. For the sake of the school kids, I hope it feels like a long way off. School's a great thing, but summer is, too, and kids need that block of time for disorganized activities, being lazy and having nothing to do.

It's no secret children are over-booked and over-stressed these days. My neighbors were talking yesterday about seeing eight-year-old girls in make-up and sexy outfits at summer school. Why, when I was a kid, we never...


Whose parents do I sound like?

Yeah. When I was a kid I swore I'd never say some of the things my parents said. But I'm right.

Change is inevitable. But I'm sorry kids have to be so organized, so supervised, so scheduled even in summertime. I wonder if my parents were sorry I had to spend my summers riding my horse to the candy shop and building forts in the forest and swinging from the rope that dangled from the willow tree over the river bend.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Zen Monday: #107

At last, at last, it's Zen Monday, the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what I think the photo's about.

I look for a photo worth contemplating or, failing that, something odd or silly. And unless I absolutely must say something I stay out of the comments box to avoid influencing the discussion. 

Let your imagination dictate. There's no right or wrong. We're here to have fun until we just can't take it anymore.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Artistic Partner

Because I like to take pictures you might think I choose some amazing shots for my screensaver and desktop photos, and I do. They're not pictures of Paris, or the Great Wall of China, or the wild scenery of Patagonia. They're not my own photos, either. They're pictures my husband takes.

John has become a pro at making detailed, unconventional shots with his iPhone. He photographs leaves and objects and whatnot in just the right light, then processes the photos in software and pushes them to their artistic edges. I like looking at his artwork on a regular basis, and since I stare at the computer a lot a screensaver's a no-brainer.

This photo, however, is one of mine. I took it in an attempt to emulate John's style. It doesn't quite make it. The difference may be that John works alone. I have a collaborator.