Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thank You, San Rafael School

A distinguished group invited me to speak to them yesterday morning. I was summoned to their headquarters at 9:15 a.m.

They were the bright, charming 5-year-olds of Pasadena's San Rafael School. These kids are part of a dual language immersion program, where English-speaking and Spanish-speaking kids go to school together. Most of their classes are taught in Spanish at the start, and gradually English is introduced. By the time they graduate all the children will be bilingual. They've been learning about different careers and they wanted to know about acting.

My Spanish is abysmal, and after a brief demonstration to that effect the kids were willing to hear me in English. They had wonderful questions about stunts, make-up, plays and movies and they told me stories about their own acting experiences. I was in my first play when I was about their age, so we had a lot in common.

I studied French when I was growing up and would have loved a language immersion education. Pasadena has a dual language immersion program in Mandarin Chinese, too. It's a fantastic opportunity for the kids.

Three of my English-speaking neighbor children go to San Rafael. Two of them were in yesterday's class. It's their first year in school and already they speak Spanish well enough to translate, negotiate deals (truly) and know abysmal Spanish when they hear it. These girls were responsible for inviting me. Seeing their smiling faces in the group was my favorite part.

Update: You can contribute to the San Rafael School here.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Oh Joy, Oh Rapture

I don't know about you but I've left my weekend calendar open, especially tomorrow--you know, for the rapture and all.

I don't fool myself that I'm going anywhere, but I'm excited to see who's holy enough to get raptured. Who do you think? The pope? John Boehner? Beyonce?

Anybody who thinks they're holy probably isn't, so it's going to be a surprise. It's supposed to be only about 3% of the world's population, so maybe we won't even notice.

Are you going? Anybody you know? Whom would you like to see raptured tomorrow?

Oh Joy, Oh Rapture Unforeseen (Boz found this particularly annoying.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baby (pant pant) Steps

Yesterday I did a strange thing. I got up at 6:30 in the morning and went running.

I haven't been running in...ever. I tried once in Chicago when I was in my twenties. I think I did about a mile and decided it wasn't for me.

A mile. I was so ungrateful.

I don't want to tell you how far I didn't make it yesterday morning. The important thing is I went. I'd run a bit then walk until my lungs gave me permission to run again.

Okay. I'll tell you, because it's all right for you to know I'm not an athlete, and because maybe my lack of prowess will inspire you to start your own pathetic regimen. I went around the block. I had to stop running four times and walk. But hey, I started four times! And it's a big block! And I ran in the rain!

It felt good. I plan on doing it again today. I'd be sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens, except my butt kind of hurts for some reason.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pure Love

When you set up a cage at the Farmers' Market and fill it with puppies, you will draw a crowd. The sign requested cash for photos. I tossed a dollar in the box and started shooting.

Would a legitimate breeder sell dogs at the Farmers' Market for $3,000 a pop? (or pup?) Apparently so. I looked them up when I got home and as far as I can tell, the operation is aboveboard. This sweet baby is a Lakota Mastino, "not for the passive owner who has no plans on working the dog. Needs a strong leader who understands dog behavior." 

In other words, you don't bring this dog home, stick him in the back yard and give him a bowl of kibble and a Nylabone. You train him. Every day. If you don't, pretty soon you've got 125 pounds of muscle, teeth and chaos on your hands. This breeder will find homes for these dogs even at the price he's asking. I hope he's clear with the buyers about what they're getting into so the dogs don't end up in shelters, or worse.

I have nothing against purebred dogs. Though my personal preference is for mutts, some of Boz's best friends are purebreds. But if you're in the market for a dog, I recommend skipping breeders altogether and going straight to a shelter, even if you're looking for a purebred--even if you're looking for a purebred puppy. You can find what you're looking for if you're willing to put a small effort into the search because there are so many unwanted dogs. Spend a couple of hundred dollars instead of a few thousand and save the remainder for your pooch's Nylabone fund. Now those things are expensive.

Nylabone images

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not On Their Watch

I've had my head in the proverbial sand for some time now. We unplugged our TV a while back and I've turned off my car radio so as not to hear about politics because I want to enjoy life.

Today I drove John's car. The radio was on when I turned the key in the ignition and I heard "brush fire near JPL." I forgot my errand, turned west and took Oak Grove Drive above Devil's Gate Dam.

The radio said the flames were moving slowly uphill, away from the Jet Propulsion Lab. I could see that, yet I had to pull over when I saw the smoke. My reaction was physical, a loss of breath, an almost-sob. Look--a 5 acre brush fire is nothing compared to the Station Fire of 2009, but of course that's what I thought of. I've seen flames on these hills before. I've stood on the dam and watched the mountain burn because I couldn't take my eyes away.

I'm not the only one who remembered. 115 firefighters shut this baby down in fewer than ninety minutes. I may have watched an inferno from atop the dam, but they've seen it from within.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Zen Monday: #146

Here's your Monday Zen, a chance to reflect on the photo and give us your thoughts without me telling you what I think the photo's about.

Just say what the picture makes you think or feel. There's no right or wrong, no secret, no prize. Just have fun and enjoy the other comments, as I do every Monday.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday, Sunday

There are worse things you could do than sit on the back steps of Pasadena's Central Library on a Sunday. (Not all branches are open today, but this one's open from 1-5.)

You could go north, where the Friends of the Altadena Library conclude this year's book sale from 1-4pm.

You could catch five free museums at Museums of the Arroyo Day (MOTA)

And it's open house weekend at the Jet Propulsion Lab, when our normally modest rocket scientists get to show off.

No matter your plans, keep in mind that the Pasadena Marathon is also today, so check the map for street closures before you head out if you want to find the runners--or if you don't.