Saturday, April 30, 2011


Sometimes you have a hundred ideas and no luxury to write them all down. Sometimes an idea for a story is a long time in coming. Sometimes you wonder if the idea for the story you just wrote is the last one you're ever going to have. Or maybe that's just me.

Then I sit at the keyboard, open a document and let my fingers go. Silly me, all this time I thought ideas came from my brain.

Friday, April 29, 2011


There's a lot going on this weekend in Pasadena, especially Saturday.

1. The Doo Dah Parade. Eau mai gawd.

2. Arlington Garden's sixth anniversary celebration.

3. The grand opening of Reese's Retreat (9am-1pm).

4. And if you're bookish (I'm bookish!--and you thought I was American) there's the LA Times Festival of Books, not in Pasadena but too close for comfort. This year it's being held at USC instead of UCLA. I don't know why, do you? Anything to do with football rivalry?

5. Plus, if you have energy left after Saturday, Sunday there's the Altadena Home Tour.

Which do you plan to attend?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Geology Lesson #3

It's been a while since Pasadena Daily Photo's resident geologist paid us a visit. Earlier this week, Becca brought her geology students to the Arroyo Seco on a field trip. I asked her to tell me about it:

"The students are enrolled in physical geology at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC). This field trip to Hahamongna was to get their feet wet (no pun intended!) before going on their overnight field trip next week to the Mojave Desert. Some of them had never seen a fluvial system (river) before. Several of them were super-sunburned in class [the next day]. They did a great job--I really enjoy working with them."

Boz and I met the group out on the northwest reaches of the flood plain in Hahamongna Watershed Park, where they'd spent the previous hour in the riverbed identifying the many different types of rocks washed down from the mountains in last winter's storms. Then we guided them southwest to this location:
This semester, the class is writing a feasibility study on the proposed athletic field at Hahamongna. Boz and I were invited along to show them where the field is going to be. That's the spot, right there.

I enjoyed meeting the students. They were interested, inquisitive, polite, smart and just generally pleasant to be around. According to Becca, most of these young adults are from the city and get their first taste of nature from these field trips. I hope they had a good time in the Arroyo and, more importantly, I hope they learn an appreciation of nature and its preservation.

While we stood on the shore, Becca quizzed her students about the topography and geology. They asked questions of her and of me. Boz strained at his leash. The water's kind of smelly because at this spot it's standing water. The only thing Boz likes more than stinky water is stinky water with mud.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guest Author: Amy Ratcliffe, Geek With Curves

For the third month in a row, I'm happy to present a guest post by a local writer. Today, meet Amy Ratcliffe.
I love her story. She wanted to be a writer. She thought about it. Then she decided to make it happen and bam! 
I think you'll like Amy as much as I do.
My name is Amy Ratcliffe. I'm a geek (that will be relevant in a minute). For most of my life I said I wanted to be a writer. However, I didn't do much to make that dream happen. I wrote as often as I felt like it in my writing notebook, and if you only write when you feel like it, the notebook doesn't fill up very fast. I participated in National Novel Writing Month a couple of times and actually defeated it once. I started blogging and realized it was fun to get feedback on the words I was putting out there. But I didn't know how to translate any of this to making my dream happen.

Then I was watching Star Wars for the nth time in January of last year, and I thought to myself: why not create a blog just for discussing your favorite geeky things?  So I started Geek With Curves. I signed up for Twitter around the same time. This started a new chapter (pun entirely intended) for me. I made myself sit down and write every day whether I felt like it or not. I started making connections. I also found a huge geek community on Twitter. People that didn't judge me for reading comic books or dressing up like Han Solo.

Through these people, I found writing work. Slowly but surely I am building a list of sites that are happy to accept articles about the politics in Game of Thrones or the female role models in The Clone Wars. I contribute to websites such as,, and the L.A. Times Hero Complex. I am doing what I love. A talented artist I know always tells people, "Don't tell me how bad you want it, show me." This is the phrase I keep in mind when I've had a long day at work and don't feel like sitting in front of a blank screen. I don't sleep as much I'd like, I definitely don't watch as much television as I want to, but I hope the sacrifices will be worth it when I'm doing what I love to do full time. And I believe I'll get there. Eventually.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Just a Bunch of Guys

Meeting these guys and taking their picture might be a turning point in my blogging career.

They were getting ready to leave just as I pulled into the gas station to fill up. I've been shy about asking people if I can take their photo. I could have let them go.

But I grabbed my camera, jumped out of the car, told them who I was and and asked them to pose. They were most obliging. Admittedly, it's easier to approach a group, even a motorcycle gang. It's a Pasadena motorcycle gang, after all.

I asked if their group had a name and one of them told me they were "just a bunch of guys." What a pleasure it was to meet them. From now on, I think I'll be braver about asking people to pose for the blog.

I asked the guy on the left how we'd know if he was smiling. I think we know.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Zen Monday: #143

Is it Zen Monday again?

Why, yes it is. Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and tell us what you've learned.

Is this your first Zen Monday? Just say what the picture makes you think of or how it makes you feel. It might be helpful to click on the photo to enlarge it.

There's no right or wrong, no secret, no prize. Just have fun.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Church

It could be in the mountains, too--or the desert, or lost in the woods. It's a big place.

Have a nice holiday, whatever you choose to do.

Heads up for those who follow the Hahamongna happenings: 
A special meeting of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee will be held on Tuesday, April 26th at 6PM at the Flintridge Retreat Center, Room 117, 237 West Mountain Street in Pasadena. There will be an update on on the LA County Department of Public Works Post Station Fire Sediment Removal Short-Term Solution in Hahamongna/Devil’s Gate Basin, with a presentation by LA County DPW staff.

The next regular HWPAC meeting will be May 24th.