Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Backsides

I like the backsides of places
 no one expects you to look

where the old curtains are hung, if any
where they paint one less layer because it's cheaper
where ducts spit hot dust onto dead grass
where rusty, unwanted things wait by the trash

because that's what's really happening.

Friday, January 21, 2011


It's been a couple of years since I took this photo of the Curtin House on the grounds of the Pasadena Museum of History. The Curtin House was designed in 1915 by Sylvanus Marston, one of those early architects Pasadena is grateful for.

Today's a good day to post this because I want to wet your whistle for June 11th. The Pasadena Museum of History will be hosting Pasadena's birthday party, like it did last year and like it has many other years except not exactly, because this year is Pasadena's Quasquicentennial. If you want to be precise, Pasadena was incorporated on June 10th, 1886. But we don't need to be precise. We need to have our party on the weekend.

So mark your calendar. There will be cake.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Four Stars, To Be Exact

I learned from the 1/17/11 issue of Wired Women, Monica Hubbard's packed-with-Pasadena e-newsletter, that the Pasadena Public Library earned a four star rating from the The Library Journal "for providing exceptional response to patrons and superior customer service."

The Library Journal, a trade publication for libraries (as opposed to, say, itinerant rodeo riders), was founded in 1876 by Melvil Dewey, the guy who invented the Dewey Decimal System. It has the highest circulation of any library journal. I mention these things because I think they make recognition of our library by this publication especially brag-worthy.

I enjoyed reading about library director Jan Sanders, who in 1999 was named to the Intellectual Freedom Hall of Fame. Could there be a cooler hall of fame? Maybe, but this one's way up there. Apparently it's not like the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame in that it doesn't have an actual hall. I couldn't find it on the internet. But still.

Congratulations to Ms. Sanders and the Pasadena Public Library. May your (our) funds not be cut too deeply.

Be made whole by books as by great spaces and the stars. I love the library.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lights, Camera...

When John came home and told me he'd seen inside our sewers, I had to go look. Woohoo! The Advanced Sewer Technology truck had appeared on our street like the Wells Fargo Wagon, spreading excitement, joy and sewer video.

Hey, this stuff doesn't happen every day.

The monitor in the upper left of the photo shows the main sewer line under my street. It's quite clean, considering.

The gentleman in the photo was handling cords and lines, making sure they didn't get stressed or caught up in anything. Another person on the truck operated the underground camera, which can go as far as 6,000 feet.

These guys were inspecting the main sewer line as well as lines to individual homes. The man I spoke to said the camera couldn't get through in some places because of tree roots. (Pasadena has a lot of trees.) Advanced Sewer Technology reports such glitches to the gas company, who hired them to look for gas pipes in the sewer tunnels.

To the workers and companies involved, this means safety and problem prevention. To me, this means there's a manhole on our block I hadn't noticed before. Strange how you can drive over something every day for five years and not know it's there.

(Meanwhile, my newest article is up on South Pasadena Patch: The Gabrielinos: Life at the Mission is second in a series.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On the Map

Civitates Orbis Terrarum

"I'm one of those people who get dizzy just being in a bookshop, so you can imagine what these rare books did to me."

Thus spake Barbara Ellis, aka Bellis, about how it felt to assist the head of Caltech's Archives and Special Collections in putting together an exhibit of rare maps and books. The "On the Map" exhibit, created by Shelley Erwin, explores the concept of mapping earth and sky, and includes such rarities as a copy of Ptolemy’s map of the world that was printed during his lifetime.*

He could have touched it himself.

I know, right??? AS IF!

Here's an early map of Moscow. I couldn't take my eyes off it.

The exhibit is small, filling a few display cases on the second floor of the Parsons-Gates Hall of Administration on the Caltech Campus. It's a wonderful opportunity because these books and maps literally rarely see the light of day. As it is, they're displayed in low light to protect them from UV rays.

This is Kronborg Castle.

I know! Elsinore! Where Shakespeare set Hamlet! Cool! Also cool, and factual as opposed to theatrical: Tycho Brahe's island observatory, Uraniborg on Hven, is pictured. It's the little island in the sound.

Most of the items were donated to Caltech by Earnest C. Watson, founder of the Watson Lecture Series, professor of physics and dean of the faculty at Caltech for many years. I'd love to know what else they've got in the archives. It must be an amazing place for the eyes, imagination, and white-gloved fingers to wander.

Bellis says, "I was very thrilled to be allowed to touch those books and look through them, though very sparingly and gently."

Read Barbara Ellis's excellent article about the On the Map exhibit in Caltech's Engineering and Science Magazine.

*Sooo wrong! See Bellis' comment.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Zen Monday: #129

It's Zen Monday again, can you believe it? This is the day you tell us what the photo's about, rather than me telling you.

The reason we call it "zen" is loosely (very, very loosely) based on the zen idea of teaching through experience rather than telling--you know, lectures, taking notes, reading books.

So, please experience the photo and let us know what you learn. There's no right or wrong. We're here to have fun.

(Please take the time to scroll down and see the stray dog pics I posted late yesterday.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lose Somebody?

We interrupt this post to bring you today's stray dog report. This little guy followed Boz home but ran away when I tried to lure him into the yard with treats. We saw him again when we walked in a different part of the neighborhood. This time, with Boz as a lure, a couple of kids invited the little guy into their cat carrier, where he seemed calm and willing. No collar, no tags. Looks to be a male Chihuahua mix. He's on his way to the Pasadena Humane Society because those kids and their mom are heroes.

About, oh, ninety seconds after our Chihuahua friend was dispatched, Boz and I saw this beauty. I believe it's a female but can't be sure. S/he wouldn't let us near. No collar, no tags. I almost thought she was a coyote but on second look that was only because she was scruffy from being on the loose. I wish I could tell you where s/he's headed. Last seen in the vicinity of Mountain and El Molino.

A collar, tags and chip costs about $25 and very little heartache.

Sugar Water

I love the pergola and whatever's growing on it. It's a nice way to shade a porch. I didn't think I'd like the lion but he grows on me. Not crazy about the other statue, but that's a personal choice. The bougainvillea is gorgeous. I have two of them that look like weeds. Occasionally they pop off a sallow bloom.

I don't know if the feeders are working. I did not see bird one.