Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas at Heritage Square

Here's something Christmasy to do this weekend:

The holidays are a good time to visit Heritage Square Museum, a whole neighborhood of preserved buildings straight out of the history of Los Angeles. This time of year they deck the place out to do Charles Dickens proud.

This picture was sent to me by Brian Sheridan, Director of Development and Communications at Heritage Square. Brian will soon be leaving to take a new position with the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council. (I don't think I'll lose track of him there.)

Brian has invited me to Heritage Square many times in hopes that I'll blog about it, and I've done so because it's my kind of place. I'm so compelled by architecture, especially of old places. There's something about the buildings people used and lived in before us. Heritage Square preserves some unique specimens. The top photo is of the Ford House, where the exquisite woodwork was all carved by hand.

Of Heritage Square Brian says, "before the museum’s existence, few people thought twice about tearing down historic structures. In 1969, long before the LA Conservancy, Pasadena Heritage and others would begin making an impact, a group of concerned citizens moved the Castle and the Saltbox from Bunker Hill to Heritage Square, signaling a tremendous shift in the way we thought about old buildings."

Of course the Museum is more than just a collection of old buildings. They've constantly got something new going on, from movies to school programs. You can even get married there. Heritage Square is a place where, as Brian says, "you can learn about history...where you can see, smell and feel the past. Where you can experience a history often forgotten in the textbooks."

Right around now you can experience Christmas past. But although I mentioned Charles Dickens, I don't think the Ghost of Christmas Past will be in evidence. If you want to see ghosts, you should go at Halloween.

Friday, December 10, 2010

PDP/PPM Books Contest, week 8

This is it! It's the last week of the PDP/PPM books contest/giveaway. Let's give a big round of applause to Prospect Park Media and Colleen Dunn Bates for donating the books!

For the final contest question, I thought devoted readers of Pasadena Daily Photo should have the extra edge. You can't Google the answer to this one, you have to just know it.

Who is my favorite dog?

That's this week's contest question. Here are the rules we play by:

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 but probably not deleted unless they're incorrect.

2. That's all you have to do.

3. I'll put all the correct answers into a hat (or a--well, a bag) and somehow, some way, tomorrow I'll find someone nice and totally unconcerned with the outcome to draw the winning name. I'll announce the winner in Sunday's post.

Our final prize is At Home Pasadena, a beautiful, hardbound, coffee-table book for your drooling pleasure. Designed by James Barkley and written by Jill Allison Ganon and Sandy Gillis, with photos by Jennifer Cheung and Steven Nilsson, At Home Pasadena is Pasadena home town eye candy with sections on gardening, working, collecting--and an out-of-this-world section on bathing. It'll make someone on your list (maybe you) an excellent Christmas gift.

Big thanks to Colleen Dunn Bates of Hometown Pasadena and Prospect Park Media for providing us with all the fabulous books!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm Not Hip

There was a time in my life when I thought it important to be in the know. No more.

I'm too busy now to pay much attention to what's in style. I admit to enjoying the Sartorialist once in a while, but that's more about what's classic or individualistic than what's hot. Being hip requires actual study. You've got to read the right magazines and blogs, watch the right TV.

I don't care anymore. I have so many other things to read, and we got rid of our cable over a year ago. (I thought I'd miss prime time. I don't.) I just don't have time to have fashion sense.

I wouldn't mind wearing the latest clothes if someone else would pick them out for me--in fact I really must do something about my wardrobe--but having the house foundation inspected is higher on my priority list than wearing the right foundation underwear.

It's a function of age, I think. You get older and your priorities change. My mother, in her later years, wore wild outfits all of one color group: purple tennis shoes, long purple skirt, purple leather belt, purple cotton blouse, purple knit sweater and purple straw hat for example--not all the same purple, but at least all purple. You couldn't miss her in a crowd the size of Oregon. This I pledge I will not do. I'm only middle-aged, though, so there's plenty of time for my lack of fashion sense to grow out of proportion in some way of my very own.

Why this photo, instead of one of me in my crappy old jeans and Led Zeppelin t-shirt? Just musing on the hipness theme after a visit to Intelligentsia where everyone else there was right out of...well, I don't know, do I? I don't read that stuff.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fire Station 31

The Altadena Hiker called it an "excellent adventure" and it was. She, Bellis and I had long planned to visit Castle Green on Sunday for the annual Christmas open house. The closest parking lot was full and each of us had walked some distance to get there. But as the line snaked out into the street and another bus pulled up in front of that lovely old building, our enthusiasm dampened.

I hope they made a lot of money and had a great time, but shuffling through the halls shoulder to shoulder with a packed crowd wasn't what we had in mind.

So how did we end up at Fire Station 31 and what did we find there? The story and more photos are on Overdog. And don't miss the Hiker's take on the tale.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hahamongna: the Good News

This past July 7th, 23 local bloggers raised their collective voice to protest the construction of soccer fields in our watershed. Our voices joined the chorus of other citizens and we were heard; instead of two soccer fields, now only one is proposed. Not perfect, but a damned sight better.

For our efforts, the Hahamongna Bloggers will be awarded the Best Advocacy award at this Thursday's Arroyo Verde Awards.

Quoting the Arroyo Seco Foundation's website: "The Arroyo Verde (Green Arroyo) Awards are the most prestigious local environmental awards. The awards recognize those who have made a valuable contribution to protecting and improving the Arroyo Seco watershed and our local communities during the past year."

I'm proud and pleased that we've won an award. Even more, I'm thrilled that we joined forces to speak together and help protect our beautiful watershed.

Our voices may be required again in the future, but for now we get to congratulate ourselves. If you were a Hahamongna Blogger and I haven't sent you the information, email me! Let me send you the info so you can come to the party!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Zen Monday: #123

photo by John Sandel

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 I stay out of the comments box until the end of the day to avoid influencing the discussion, unless you people get totally out of control. So far that hasn't happened but there's a first time
for everything.

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

Sunday, December 5, 2010


The Hahamongna basin fills up with rain and silt every year. The Devil's Gate Dam has a job to do--keep all that stuff from flooding Pasadena, South Pasadena and beyond.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Water Resources Division Flood Control District (LACDoPWWRDFCD for short) has a job to do, too--keep the dam in working condition.

Well, the LACDoPWWRDFCD's been busy, you know? So many dams (14), so little time. The sediment behind the Devil's Gate Dam has been building for some time and could have continued to do so. But the 2009 Station Fire scorched the mountains so severely they couldn't retain their soil. In early 2010, along with ash and debris, it all came flowing into the basin by the ton. Actually, it came by the cubic yard--almost a million of 'em.

Last year was an average rain year. Another year like it will bring the dam near to "uncontrolled flow at the spillway," according to Ryan Butler of the LACDoPWWRDFCD. Last Tuesday, Butler and Ken Zimmer of the LACDoPWWRDFCD presented the Postfire Sediment Removal Project (PSRP) at a meeting of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee (HWPAC).

Beginning in September of 2011, long after this coming winter's rain (which, you may recall, could bring the dam near to "uncontrolled flow" if it's an average year), the LACDoPWWRDFCD will first create a road into the basin from Oak Grove Drive near La Canada Flintridge High School. Then they'll remove 15 acres of native willow trees from the basin. By then they figure the rains will set in so there probably won't be much sediment removal next fall and they'll cease working until the spring of 2012.

Then (two rainy seasons from now, I guess we should pray for drought?) the emergency work begins in earnest. That will be 300-400 trucks per day, 7:30am-5pm Monday through Friday between May and December, hauling sediment out of the 50 acres closest to the dam to sites in Irwindale and Azusa. The job is expected to take 3 years at a projected cost of $35 million.

The "emergency" status of this project gives the LACDoPWWRDFCD a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) exemption, meaning an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) isn't required (even though there's still more than a year to do it--but you know, so many EIRs, so little time). The LACDoPWWRDFCD still has to get permits from the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Each of these agencies may require some sort of mitigation, environmentally speaking.

More questions will be asked. The city of La Canada Flintridge will have to weigh in. Mary Barrie of Friends of Hahamongna wrote an excellent report about the LACDoPWWRDFCD presentation. Arroyo Seco Foundation Managing Director Tim Brick expressed, among other things, his belief that this should be an issue in our upcoming municipal elections.

The stuff's gotta go. But does it have to go like this? The outgoing chairperson of the HWPAC, Tim Wendler, asked if other plans were considered before this one was chosen. "There's not a lot of options," said the LACDoPWWRDFCD's Zimmer. He added, "Deferring clean-outs doesn't work." Seeing as the LACDoPWWRDFCD has been deferring clean-outs for some years now, I guess we could say we have proof that he's right. Zimmer had the second-best line of the evening when he said, "Believe it or not, this is the fast track of the county."

The best line of the evening came from HWPAC member Maria Isenberg: "Can we get rid of that nasty little soccer field?"

I will bring you good news about Hahamongna later this week, I promise.

Here's good news about the PDP/PPM Contest:
Steve Scauzillo of Temple City (Daily Photo) is this week's winner of the PDP/PPM books contest! Steve was among those who answered correctly, "Who were the original architects of Pasadena City Hall?" It was the San Francisco firm of Bakewell and Brown. I took this week's poo bag to the Pasadena Farmers' Market and asked the beautiful daughter of one of my favorite merchants to draw a name at random from the correct answers. Steve won a copy of the lovely book At Home Pasadena from Prospect Park Media.

UPDATE: here's the county's sediment removal project.