Saturday, November 6, 2010


A friend mentioned that I hadn't posted any photos from Hahamongna Watershed Park lately. She thought maybe I hadn't been going there.

I've been going, all right. I take pictures there all the time. I'm just afraid you'll get bored if I post as many as I've got. But okay. Here's a seasonal shot of the upper path on the east side of the park. A branch loaded with toyon berries hangs across the path.

Toyon grows all over the place here and this time of year we see the berries everywhere. Animals eat them--everyone from birds to coyotes. Humans eat them, too. I've never tried them but the Tongva people who once lived here did, and they made a medicinal tea from the leaves.

The Tongva people still live here, actually.

Friday, November 5, 2010

PDP/PPM Books Contest, week 3

At the new Technique Restaurant on Colorado Blvd., depending on which side of the table you choose you may gaze at the ceiling...

...or at what is perhaps a more dramatic view: the kitchen and some quirky, food-related films.

Technique is the new "classroom" kitchen of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. John and I had a lovely meal there the other night. We began with Grilled Haloumi Cheese with compressed watermelon and pickled rind, plus Roasted Bone Marrow with French radishes and toast with house-churned butter (I had to try it). For his meal John had fried, free range Jadori chicken, braised cavolo nero, pommes puree and a biscuit. I couldn't resist trying the Coffee Braised Short Ribs, parsnip puree and house made apple chips, which also came with some delectable root vegetables.

J raved about the cavolo nero all through dinner, of which he ate every bite. I didn't need a knife to cut my short ribs and I can't even begin to define the succulent flavor of that sauce. The parsnip puree alone is worth going back for. I did not eat every bite, I snarfed every bite.

We were too full for dessert. The room is a bit of an echo cavern, but that's the only drawback I can see.

An elegant, fantastic meal, cooked and served by Le Cordon Bleu students, and you won't believe the price. Go ahead, guess. (Liquor license is being applied for, so no wine.)

No prizes for getting that one right, but there is a prize today. We're supposed to be having a contest and indeed we are.

What historic building is now occupied by Technique Restaurant? That's today's contest question.

I've given you all the information you need to Google the answer. As a matter of fact, I've linked you to it.

A quick review of the contest rules:

1. Email the answer to me. There's a link to my email in my profile at the upper left. You have until midnight tonight, Pasadena (Pacific) time. Answers in the comments section will be rudely ignored.

2. That's all you have to do.

3. This weekend I'll ask my cutest, most innocent neighbor child to draw the winning name from a hat. I'll announce the winner in Sunday's post.

4. PRIZES! Once again, this week's prize will be a brand new copy of Hometown Pasadena 2009-2010, thanks to Colleen Dunn Bates and Prospect Park Media. I'm down to two copies after today, so the contest will continue for two more Fridays--plus an additional week when Colleen and I will give away a copy of At Home Pasadena, the lovely, hardcover coffee table book about beautiful living in our beautiful town.

Stick around, because one lucky winner will receive a copy of the brand new novel, Helen of Pasadena, by Pasadanish Lian Dolan. The book is now available on Amazon, at Vroman's and at bookstores everywhere. Whet your Helen appetite by reading chapter one here.

Many thanks to Colleen, Lian and everyone at Prospect Park Media.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Enlightened Art

Maybe you see Tibetan monks creating a sacred sand mandala every day, but since I don't I found this enthralling.

These monks are visiting Pasadena from the Drepung Loseling Phukhang Khangtsen monastery in southern India. (I just love that a monastery has a website.) The monastery was founded 500 years ago in Tibet, but when the Chinese occupied Tibet, as you may know, the Dalai Lama and his followers were forced to relocate their operations.

The Museum's website says, "...sand mandalas depict the world in its divine form, representing a map by which the ordinary human mind is transformed into the enlightened mind." Here, two of the visiting monks use tapered metal tubes to place colored sand grains onto the mandala. When they're finished with one color, they tap the excess out of the tube and it sounds like clinking your fork against your plate.

These guys are experts. The monastery didn't send the new kids on this job. You can see the outline on the table, a blueprint of where this work is headed.

If you're as fascinated by this arcane art form as I am, you can watch it in action for free at the Pacific Asia Museum, every day this week and only this week, from 10am-3:30pm. I missed the opening ceremony yesterday morning. The closing will be Sunday, when this ethereal work will be swept away at 2pm.

And a happy birthday to my brother Stuart! I don't think he checks here, but I like to say it anyway.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Jones for Coffee (I'm sure they've heard that one before)

A fervent discussion over at Pasadena, 91105 and Beyond tells me coffee is of enough importance to--well, to spur a fervent discussion.

Coffee is also important enough to spawn workshops.

When I picked up the brochure at Jones Roasters I thought this was something new, but Jones has been offering Coffee Workshops since 1994. They offer an Introduction to Coffee, Intro to Cupping (what is cupping?) and even Home Brewing (we're still talking about coffee). The classes are inexpensive and kept to small groups.

The one I'd really like to try is already over for this year: Guatemala 2010. I hope they do a Guatemala 2011.

I'm not particularly emotional about the particulars of coffee. But coffee itself: yeah, I'm fervent.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Zen Tuesday: #9

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. But as this is not Zen Monday but Zen Tuesday--hell, we can do whatever we want.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Theme Day: Public Transportation

photo courtesy of Pasadena Adjacent

If you live in Pasadena you've seen this artfully decorated bus. Take a look at all the Pasadena icons: starting at left, you see the Thinker (one of Rodin's at the Norton Simon Museum), then the Colorado Street Bridge and the LA River. Next, City Hall in a bed of roses (we're the Rose City), the bell tower at St. Andrew, Pacific Asia Museum, a bunch of brands and...a bull.


We are blessed at Pasadena Daily Photo today because, thanks to Pasadena Adjacent, we have scans of the original artwork that led to this design. How did she get hold of this work, you ask? Easy. Pasadena Adjacent, aka PA, created the art on this bus. Cool, huh? She was kind enough to take me through a little bit of the process.

Here's a scan of an early proposed design:

Left to right: PA started with the tile from the Royal Laundry on South Raymond. Next, parakeets. I didn't know this, but PA says there used to be parakeets (wholly different from our famous parrots) in the Arroyo Seco near where Busch Gardens used to be. (PA should know, she grew up here.) Then you have the bridge and the river.

The portrait of the two women refers to one of the more interesting stories from the Colorado Street Bridge's dark side, aka "Suicide Bridge." "...a despondent mother threw her baby girl over the railing on May 1, 1937. She then followed her into the depths of the canyon. Though the mother died, her child miraculously survived."

I was going to say "one of the more tragic stories," but they're all tragic.

Then we have the brands and the...bull.

You may be aware that some folks in Pasadena don't like calling our bridge "Suicide Bridge." The idea of commemorating a suicide attempt on the side of a bus didn't sit well with the bus art people. But they liked PA's work so they sent her back to the (literal) drawing board. I don't know why the tile and the parakeets were dropped--not iconic enough?

PA returned with this:
Now we're getting there! You see our Thinker on the left, and the bridge, City Hall in its bed of roses, St. Andrew's Tower and the Pacific Asia Museum. On the right we have a cut-out of a Rose Bowl Queen. Totally iconic Pasadena.

PA's idea was to include under the queen's crown a picture of Dr. Kate Hutton, aka "the earthquake lady." See the seismograph running along the length of the San Gabriel Mountains in the background? Dr. Hutton, a Caltech seismologist, is a local fixture on the news whenever there's earthquake activity. Queen Kate's scepter is a parking meter. PA says parking meters were new in town (it was 1994) and folks weren't too happy about them. I guess before then you could park pretty much anywhere in Pasadena for free.

The bus art people didn't want earthquakes or suicide or parking meter jokes.

Fine. PA threw the bull back in.

What's up with the brands and the bull?

PA had done her research. The brands are not about the bull, as I had assumed. They're the brands of of the different California missions. The bull represents the Indiana Colony, the first Anglos to settle Pasadena, some of whom were cattle ranchers.

And PA did manage to inject a bit of humor into the design: the Thinker is soaking his toes in the Los Angeles River.

This has been a fun post to put together, thanks to Pasadena Adjacent. Let's give her a big hand! She's an immensely talented artist and Pasadena is lucky to have her. Thank you, PA!

Update: I'm now at liberty to tell you that Pasadena Adjacent's name is Elizabeth Garrison. She and her partner Victor Henderson have created numerous works of public art around southern California. Tash did a great post about their work at Fire Station #5 in Westchester.

City Daily Photo is now 1299 blogs strong! Blogs all over the world are participating in today's theme day. Check them out.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

This guy looks happy, right?

John and I saw him in the window of The Kitchen, a gourmet catering and gifty shop. It's in that "bonus" part of Pasadena that's so far west on Colorado Blvd. it's almost in Eagle Rock--but it's still ours.

Okay, this is it. Pasadena (even the bonus part) is decked out for Halloween. Tonight the holiday season begins in a big, loud whoosh!

We'd like to think no, we've got almost a month before Thanksgiving, but it's really only three weeks and that goes by fast. Then a month until Christmas, a week until New Year's, and poof! Where did the time go?

So I'm trying to think right now, to remember: savor. Savor the little kiddies coming to the door, savor the autumn clouds and crisp air, savor the parties even if there are too many, savor the food (of course), even savor the crowds at the stores, dammit, if that's what I have to do. I'm going to have fun this holiday season. I'm going to enjoy every minute of it, from the weird decorations to the traffic, so that every gift I give arrives in the hands of its recipient loaded with good vibes.

If this sounds like a resolution, it is. Feel free to call me on it if I start complaining.

Happy Halloween, for starters.

I promised to announce the winner of the PDP/PPM Books Contest Week 2, and tada! It's Melinda Baumle of Pasadena! Congratulations, Melinda. Melinda's name was randomly drawn from among all the correct answers to Friday's contest question by my cute, innocent neighbor, PDP's resident geologist Becca. (What can I say? The neighborhood kids must have been working on their costumes.) Melinda says her prize, a brand new copy of Hometown Pasadena 2009-2010, will come in handy because she has little ones and is always in need of new things to do to entertain them. Hometown Pasadena has a good kids' section.

Hometown Pasadena makes a great gift, too. I have more to give away. We'll play again Friday.

Update: I forgot to say what the answer to the question was! The Braley Building is owned by the Church of Scientology.