Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Walk With Tommy

The famous Tommy, of My Life With Tommy, had an opportunity to check out Hahamongna Watershed Park the other day. He gave it countless stamps of approval (the solid ones responsibly removed by Tommy's human, Susan).

When the rain came after the Station Fire in late 2009, water rushed off the mountains bringing with it the mountain's unprotected surface. Tons of ash, sand, rocks and burned tree trunks filled the watershed. As much as Tommy enjoyed inspecting the rubble, it's got to be cleaned out from behind the dam. There is some dispute, however, as to the best method for doing so. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works has looked at only one alternative: digging out 50 acres of natural vegetation (read: wildlife habitat), turning Hahamongna Watershed Park into Hahamongna Wasteland Park.

If you'd like to help prevent that, or just learn more, click on For starters, from the home page you can sign up for updates and sign the Save Hahamongna petition (and check out the videos to see why a watershed is not a great place for a soccer field).

Susan, Tommy and I strolled through some of the beautiful, semi-wild acres we may soon be missing. You can do the same any time, or join the Hahamongna Walkabout sponsored by the Arroyo Seco Foundation February 19th. Tours will leave each half hour from 9:00 am to 10:30 am, so click here, learn more about the Hahamongna Walkabout and reserve your place.

Mark your calendar! Not like Tommy would do it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pearls Before Whine

It's been chilly here for a few days, so I wanted to post a photo that would remind me of summer. I like our hot, languid days. Not everyone does.

My Chicago friends are freezing right now (30 below!) and I'm not going to gloat. The night before last, Lake Shore Drive was closed down, leaving people stranded in their cars. In some places, Lake Shore Drive is like a highway. Closing it is like closing Sunset Boulevard all the way from the ocean to Silverlake. There was so much snow that workers couldn't get to everyone and some people were stuck for 10-12 hours. (30 below!) Many abandoned their cars only to find themselves in white-out blizzard conditions, lucky to find their way back to their vehicles.

So. No whining here. Instead I'll link you to a song that never fails to lift my spirits even when they're already good, and makes me think of my Chicago days in the warmest way.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Notes on the Sam Merrill Trail

We've had cool weather for a few days and the sky is clear. I took this shot from about a mile and a half up the Sam Merrill trail, looking out from alongside one of the electric towers. If you enlarge the photo you can see Century City and Santa Monica. That glow is the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.

Just looking at the photo makes me want to get on the trail--any trail. Each has different merits. The Sam Merrill trail is so popular I rarely use it on weekends. John and I like it for exercise because it has some steep parts and it gets your heart going, not to mention your lungs and thighs. And the views are great. Other trails in the area might be less well traveled and therefore better for bird watching, finding wild flowers or thinking.

I wrote a lot of the first draft of my novel on the Sam Merrill trail. John and I were living near the trail head while I was writing it, and I would stomp up the hill with a note pad in my pack, letting the characters talk to me. Whenever they said anything worthwhile I'd stop and write it down.

Most of what they said may have worthwhile, but not worth keeping for the final draft. But you have to write that first draft in order to get to the second, third, fourth, etc.

Walking is a great writing tool. I walk a lot, and I always have a note pad and pen with me. Camera too, of course.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Petrea's Kitchen Tips: Blueberries

Friends are coming for breakfast today. Isn't that grand, in the middle of the week? Each of us is grabbing an hour or so out of a busy schedule to indulge in coffee and talk. I'll lay off the caffeine so the laughing won't be too strident.

Because people will bring things to eat and the house was already clean, I used yesterday to prepare in irrelevant ways: I cleaned the oven (we won't be baking), trimmed the rosemary bush (it could have waited), returned a library book (talk about irrelevant) and went to the grocery store (we did need eggs).

And I washed some blueberries. A tip: wash them in very warm (not hot) water, then let them dry completely on a towel before you put them in their basket in the refrigerator. They'll last longer.

Petrea's Kitchen Tips is probably not going to become a series. This is the only one I can think of offhand.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Theme Day: Fountains

The first of the month is theme day, and we've got a good one: fountains.

There are many interesting fountains in the Pasadena area. This one's at El Molino Viejo in San Marino. El Molino Viejo was built and operated by Native Americans who lived at Mission San Gabriel in the early nineteenth century.

I was taking pictures for an article for South Pasadena Patch without a thought for the blog. But when the boy ran by (and I just barely caught him) he turned the picture into a theme day photo.

To see what other City Daily Photo bloggers are doing with the theme, check them out here. We're 1340 blogs strong now. That's a lot of international camaraderie.

P.S. If you'll be visiting the Pasadena area, you might want to read my latest article on Patch about the Arroyo Vista Inn.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Zen Monday: #131

photo by John Sandel

Students of Zen are taught through experience.

Please experience the photo and tell us, in the comments, what you have learned.

(Your first Zen Monday? Just have fun.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bobcats in the Back Yard

A who's who of LA County environmentalists showed up at Eaton Canyon Nature Center yesterday morning to make plans--for Hahamongna and for the future. As can be expected from a first meeting of many minds, it was inconclusive.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works plans to clear fifty acres of sediment from behind the Devil's Gate dam. I think most people agree the sediment must be removed. The problem is that LADPW has disingenuously used the Station Fire (now a year and a half gone) to declare an emergency, bypass the usual Environmental Impact Reports and tear out fifty acres of natural vegetation along with the sediment. They have investigated no alternatives.

Hahmongna is a sensitive wildlife area, a natural watershed. This is coyote habitat. It's hawk, kingfisher, rabbit, heron, rattlesnake, bobcat, ground squirrel, etc. habitat. Where are these creatures going to go, into the neighborhoods? (Yes. They'll go into the neighborhoods.)

What can you do?

Visit Hahamongna. Learn why it's important. There will be a Hahamongna Walkabout Saturday, February 19th from 9:00am - 12:00pm.
Get Educated. Read the County DPW's plan.

Demand a full environmental review.
Is there an election coming up in your district? Ask your candidates where they stand on this issue and what they plan to do about it. Regardless of what district you're in, your Pasadena City Council person votes on the fate of Hahamongna.

I've talked a lot about Hahamongna this week. PDP is not going to be All Hahamongna All The Time. But Hahamongna is dear to my heart, so I hope you won't mind me updating you on the status of this surprising gem of open space in the midst of our city.

About the photo:

I don't often get a chance to view Hahamongna Watershed Park from the north. I took this shot less than a week ago, looking down from above The Meadows. I hope you'll click on the photo to enlarge it.

Some features:

-the jewely pools on the left are catch basins controlled by Pasadena Water and Power. The green areas along the left (east) side of the park look that way because we had a good rain this year.

-the tanks in the right foreground belong to JPL. During the Station Fire helicopters were filling up there, so I assume the tanks contain water.

- in the center foreground, the ground is lower than in the green parts. A year ago that area was filled with vegetation. But the spring rains of 2010, then more rains late in the year, came pouring down from the mountains in a rushing stream so powerful it took out acres of growth.

-what may be harder to see is that there is still a lot of water at Hahamongna. The freeway is the light colored band across the right center of the photo. The Devil's Gate dam is slightly left of center. In front of those, the shimmer of high, brown water. Many trees are submerged.