Saturday, August 21, 2010


If you want a sneak preview of this year's UCLA Bruins football team, today's your day. You're going to have to go to West Los Angeles to see it, though, at Drake Stadium on the UCLA Campus. The Bruins will be back in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl beginning September 11th.

But this photo's not really about the Bruins, is it? Oh no, I don't think so. I think it's about obsession. Madness. Topiary gone insane.

I've got no room to criticize. I'm the one with a desert in my back yard. I'm just saying I hope the person who created this work of art has a health plan that covers the medication.

Football does that to people. This garden delight isn't far from the house that flies the Trojans flag 24/7/365. As there's probably more than one such house in town, I doubt that tells you much.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Boz Kerouac

Boz and I need a road trip and I don't see it happening soon enough.

Boz languished around the house yesterday, dying for some action. He didn't believe me when I told him it was too hot to go out, so to prove it I took him for a brief walk in the mid day. After one block he came home and threw himself on his bed, sighing like Camille.

He and I are both at the point where we need to do something else, something other than what we do day in and day out. It would be nice to get on the road and head out of town with no particular destination in mind.

I used to do that, just for a weekend. I'd fill my backpack, pick  a point on the map and head that way with no intention of actually arriving. That's how I discovered Randsburg, the PPJ Museum, the Salton Sea and the Cabazon Dinosaurs (before they evolved into a creationist museum). California is dotted with odd spots to investigate. Interesting places beckon from the roadside and if you allow yourself an unstructured trip, you take the exit when they call.

But you have to get on the road in the first place.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh, Stop

This photo was just the type to mess with, so I did. I saturated the colors, fooled around with the contrast and tried it in black & white. I antiqued it, faded it, turned it into a negative and freaked it out with psychedelics. When at last I had the look I wanted I compared it to the original and it was exactly the same.

Though I usually like straightforward photos I'm not a purist about it. We have all these great digital tools, they're part of the modern photographer's art, why not use them? People are making interesting stuff with Photoshop and programs like it. Then again, some people don't know how to use them well and you get Photoshop Disasters (best link ever).

It's been very hot here for a couple of days. That's probably why this Stop sign is rusting. I like the heat, but nobody's deodorant stands up to these temperatures.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mansion Adena

Walk north from Orange Grove Blvd. along Garfield Avenue and for the first few blocks you won't be impressed.

Let me rephrase that. You might be impressed, but your impression will be of an area not so much downtrodden as disinterested. Nothing awful, nothing particularly fine. A few small houses, an apartment building of no style, potted plants on porches fitted out with plastic chairs. Nobody's rich along this stretch of road. Some might even be struggling.

Then you come to the corner of Adena Street and this grand, Victorian mansion looms on a hillock. It's out of place, or rather, everything else is out of place. The mansion is what belongs here. It was here first and everything else has invaded its space.

The Adena Mansion was built circa 1885, which makes it one of Pasadena's oldest homes, seeing as how Pasadena wasn't even officially a city until 1886. The home is on Pasadena's list of designated historic properties (the City Council designated it as a landmark in 2006) and its design is attributed to Architect Eugene Getschell.

Sneak up to the gate for a peek and the house recedes, blushing. You can never see the whole house because it hides its genteel self behind bushes and trees. I've been trying to get a good shot for ages.

I don't know if the place is still available as a vacation rental but until recently it was, which explains why one lucky photographer, who is, unfortunately, not me, was able to get onto the property and take these photos.

Update: Thanks to my sister, Ginab. I had found this link to Silverlake, Treasures of Los Angeles Architecture, which is a treasure trove, but couldn't find Mansion Adena on it. Gina figured it out. The entries are in reverse alphabetical order, so Mansion Adena is somewhat in the middle. In case you don't want to search, here's what they say:

Mansion Adena (Lewis Cottage), attributed to Eugene Getschell c.1886
Acclaimed by Architectural Digest Editor Elizabeth McMillan as 'the finest example of Victorian architecture in Southern California', Lewis Cottage was owned by Anna and Henry Lewis, a prominent founding family of Pasadena.

As of 1900, the property was the residence of Anna Luckey, an early advocate for social welfare services and author of children's books. Mrs. Luckey started the first social sevice agency for Pasadena's poor, and as a result, Pasadena became one of the first cities in the nation to have its own welfare department.

The firm CM Design has completed a recent extensive restoration. The house is located at 361 Adena Street in north Pasadena. 


I've posted these as large and clear as possible. If you have trouble reading them you can see the originals for yourself; Thal said he copied these from the Biography Files in the Centennial Room of the Pasadena Main Library.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Women's Room

It's not fancy, but to some people it's the closest thing to home they've got. 

I think if I were homeless I'd be afraid all the time. Tired, too. And I'd do what I could to find my way to the safety of The Women's Room at the Friends In Deed House, 444 E. Washington Blvd., at the corner of Los Robles.

Here's a description from Wired Women, a local newsletter written and compiled by Monica Hubbard:
"This project started, as many do, with a small group of women sitting around a patio table trying to discern where there were some 'gaps' in local human services for women that we might fill. After a year of research it became apparent that homeless women who were single, had no families and generally were a bit older, needed some special help. After a few little projects we decided these women needed a welcoming place to go just to get off their feet and out of inclement weather during the day."

I like reading about the germination of this idea--how the women put careful thought into the best way to go about it, then really stuck with it. The Women's Room flourishes.

The Pasadena Star-News recently featured The Women's Room and a quilting project created by clients and volunteers. The article gives you an idea of what The Women's Room is like and what it means to those who find their way there. 

It seems those gaps Monica mentioned are being filled.

The Women's Room is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays. For more information, call 626-797-2402. You can also volunteer: contact Jackie Knowles at

Monday, August 16, 2010

Zen Monday: #108

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 run free. There's no right or wrong. We're here to have fun.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August Birthday

My friend just turned three. His folks threw a big party with family and friends, and an artist came to draw caricatures of all the kids. I wonder what wonders my buddy contemplated while he sat for his portrait. Perhaps he considered how blessed he is to share his birthday with his baby brother.

Perhaps not.

Meanwhile, baby brother contemplated a completely different set of wonders on his first birthday.

Happy birthday, my friends!