Saturday, October 16, 2010


East courtyard at Baranger Studios

You may have heard about these new, hyperlocal news websites going up called There's and and who knows what else. Patch, owned by AOL/Time Warner, is going into small-ish communities around the country. We won't be getting one in Pasadena because Pasadena's population is too large.

Some of our best local bloggers are taking part. Karin Bugge, the Altadena Hiker, will write two weekly columns for Altadena Patch. (Let's hope it doesn't keep her from blogging because her blog is nothing but brilliant.) Margaret Finnegan, who makes me laugh and think at the same time (ouch) with her weekly goddesses at Finnegan Begin Again, is a contributor at South Pasadena Patch. So is Susan Carrier, LA Times contributor and superblogger at Open Mouth, Insert Fork and Cancer Banter. Greg Middleton, Altadena Town Council member and blogger at Real Men Seminars, contributes to Altadena Patch. And so on.

Who am I missing? Hmm. Ah, Laurie. Laurie Allee. Ms. Glimpses of South Pasadena herself. Laurie writes a weekly column for South Pasadena Patch and her first one's a beauty. I want to single Laurie out because she introduced me to her editor, the way-too-talented Sonia Narang, and now I'm a Patch contributor, too. Thank you, Laurie. Thank you, Sonia.

My first article for South Pas Patch is about Baranger Studios, the pretty building at the corner of Mission and Orange Grove. It's got a wonderful history. I hope you'll get a chance to read and comment on the article.

I once said I wasn't going to blog about South Pasadena because it's Laurie's territory. Now, thanks to Laurie, I get to snoop around her territory, take photos and write history articles. That's right up my cobble-stoned alley.

I hope Patch will serve to improve all our area news outlets. It wasn't long ago that towns had more than one news outlet and it was considered a good thing. Healthy competition in journalism is healthy for our society.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day: Water

Today is Blog Action Day 2010. Last year's participants were given a list of topics to vote on, and we chose water for this year's topic. The topics were all important, but as the 21st century unfolds and access to water is already a crisis in so many places, water promises to be a serious subject for years to come.

I'm participating today to help raise awareness. The Blog Action Day people sent a few facts, which I'll quote. I've added my own italics:

  1. Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.
  2. More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.
  3. Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.
  4. It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.
  5. The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.
While these facts may be grim, there is hope for real solutions as more and more people around the world are waking up to the clean water crisis. Earlier this year, the UN declared access to clean water a human right and groups like charity: water and continue to work tirelessly to bring water access to the developing world. 
Thanks for reading. We're a global economy now, a global community, and it's time to think of ourselves in context with the rest of the world.

Update: Pertinent to #3, here's something interesting that Dina found: the Q Drum, a rolling water container.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Last week I mentioned we're going to have a contest. It doesn't start today, but I wanted to do another teaser. You know, get everybody excited, blahbedy blah.

Beginning Friday, October 22nd, every Friday for five weeks I'll be giving away a copy of Hometown Pasadena 2009-2010, THE guide to our home town. The binding isn't paperback but it's not quite hardcover, either. What is that binding, does anyone know? It's flexible and durable at the same time.

On Friday of the sixth week, I'm giving away a copy of At Home Pasadena, definitely a hardcover and too big to tuck into your purse. Mine's on my coffee table, to show off.

You can win both books, so if you want At Home Pasadena, don't let that stop you from entering to win Hometown Pasadena, too. It's possible you could win every week. Holiday gifts! Yowza.

Thanks to Colleen Dunn Bates of Prospect Park Media and for the prizes. Hometown Pasadena is the place to go to know what's happening in Pasadena. And Prospect Park Media--well. They publish these books and many others, including their latest--their first novel, Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan, to be released November 1st. I am very, very excited about Helen of Pasadena.

The contest will work like this: each Friday the photo will depict a question. The Google-able answer will be in the text of the post. For example: if today's photo were a contest photo, which it is not, I might say this is the back of a barn-shaped restaurant on Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena, and I might ask you what restaurant it is. All the clues are in that sentence. If you don't know the answer you can Google it.

All correct answers I receive by email, not in the comments, between midnight and midnight Pacific time on contest day will be thrown into a hat and the winner randomly drawn on Saturday by the cutest, youngest, most innocent neighbor I can find. Got it? I hope so, because this post is getting too long!

Update: I received word this morning that a new prize has been added: After November 1st, we'll also give away a copy of Helen of Pasadena! Thank you Colleen, Lian and Prospect Park Media!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Making Something

Koi at Houston's Restaurant

Boz and I took a walk last evening and got a look at some of the Halloween decorations going up in the neighborhood. Some people do the same thing every year. (If it works, don't fix it, right?) Some people try new things. It's fun to see folks being creative.

So far the Pumpkin God has not appeared. I hope he does. He's my favorite. But that display is a lot of work and maybe his creator wants to try something new this year. Or maybe he'd rather put up nothing at all. I don't blame him. I usually stick a couple of gourds on the front steps, and rarely do they even get carved.

I guess people are creative in different ways. There's the chef, the painter, the tailor, the interior designer, the architect, the gardener--these people do things I envy. Then again, I'm glad I get to take pictures and write stories. (And as soon as my talents make me enough money to hire all the aforementioned people, then perhaps I can stop envying their talents so damned much)

Sometimes I do the same thing because I know it works. Sometimes, I like to shake it up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mary Linn's Bridal

When you've been snorting and coughing for five days--when you've barely managed to get dressed each of those days and (you're not sure, but) you might not have managed a shower every 24 hours--when you begin to fear you're going to be a mouth-breather for the rest of your life--that's when you need a pick-me-up.

Food will not do. I've been lying around for five days getting no exercise. And for those who've been following my alcohol- and caffeine-deprivation saga, I've got nine days left to go to make it to six months. I'm not giving up after making it this far.

My cold clings to me in a much less attractive fashion than this dress clings to the mannequin, and the mannequin's not even real.

I just need something pretty.

I don't have the energy to go out and take a photo, so I dug through my archives and found this one. It practically satisfies my sweet tooth. We're peeking into the window at Mary Linn's Bridal shop at the corner of Green Street and Fair Oaks. We might even be drooling a bit, which is partly why this is perhaps not a perfect photo. But does it matter, when it's such a perfect dress?

I've never been inside Mary Linn's, but it would be fun to wander through their collection and daydream a little. I think I'll plan for such an excursion as soon as I've beaten my cold and started drinking coffee again. I promise to take a shower and get dressed before I go.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Zen Monday: #116

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.

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

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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Composting Appeals to Me

Something about composting appeals to the Midwestern farm girl in me.

Okay, I've never lived on a farm. But I grew up in the Midwest, that's gotta count.

I enjoyed assembling my compost bin and here you see my tools. On top of the bin are the kitchen knife I used for gouging the holes that needed widening, and the hammer I used for pounding through the screws when they needed a little encouragement. The shovel was for my first layer of dirt and the rake was to gather my first layer of leaves. Then comes the organic waste.

It's satisfying to save the planet, but it's almost as satisfying to save money--or, I should say, to waste less of it. Before we got our compost bin our organic waste went into the trash. If we over-bought at the farmers' market or never got to that leftover salad, it felt like we were throwing money in the garbage. Now that waste goes into our backyard savings account.

Something about composting appeals to the miser in me.

We keep a little container on the kitchen counter for egg shells, grapefruit rinds, coffee grounds and whatever else can be composted. (Tea bags? Can I compost tea bags?) When the container is full I march it out to the compost bin and dump it in. We're getting a good layer of organic waste. We've already got some fluffy, white mold happening. It's almost time to add a new layer of dirt. Then I'll add more leaves. Then more organic stuff. The instruction booklet said to balance the different elements.

Something about composting appeals to the obsessive-compulsive in me.
On a different subject: it's 10/10/10. Do we get any prizes for this?