Saturday, July 23, 2011

Phase I

Remember our Last Day Project? For one year, on the last day of every month we stood in this spot at Hahamongna Watershed Park and looked out over Johnson Field, watching it change with the seasons.

A few hundred yards away, Devil's Gate Dam was backing up with sediment. After years of neglect plus a Station Fire and two seasons of heavy rain, the sediment must now be removed. Much discussion has ensued about how to do so, and it looks like a two-phase plan will soon begin. In order to pacify those who don't want debris-laden trucks on their street, the first phase could involve LA County piling sediment in Johnson Field as soon as the annual toad population clears out.

Toads hang out in wet places. They're about the size of a thumbnail and the color of a pebble. Because they run and hide when I come near them the pictures I've gotten are lousy, but Walt Mancini of the Pasadena Star-News got a good one. The toads will go away when the water dries. It's drying now.

I'm glad the County is willing to wait for the toads to leave. Let's be honest, these little guys are being saved long enough to get eaten by snakes and coyotes, but that's better for the ecosystem than a pile of sediment. Then again, a pile of sediment is better for a city than a failed dam in a flood.

So it looks like we might have a decent compromise, at least for now. Nobody gets everything they want but everybody gets something. That's democracy, and it's beautiful when it works. The coyotes and snakes will need to go somewhere when the trucks come. They know all about compromise. They'll likely end up in the yards of the people who didn't want trucks on their street. Are coyotes in the yard better than trucks on the street? If you live alongside Hahamongna, you may not have a choice.

I'm not crazy about piling sediment in Johnson Field, but I'm crazy about compromise. It's the only way unless we want a monarchy, and I wouldn't vote for that.

There will be a Phase II.

The next meeting of the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee will take place at 6pm this coming Tuesday, July 26th at the Pasadena City Yards - Training Room, 233 West Mountain Street, Second Floor, Pasadena 91103. On the agenda: Update on the LACDPW Post Station Fire Sediment Removal Project.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Trails Catering

Maybe you think Happy Trails Catering is a caterer. Which they are, but you also need to know they're open for lunch from 11-2:30 on weekdays and, theirs is the most magical setting in which to dine since Alice sat down with the Mad Hatter and his cohorts in insanity.

You and your own cartel of kooks may start by entering the storefront of the old brick building at 207 S. Fair Oaks. Order your sandwich or salad there. Then slip down the rabbit hole walkway to the back and you're in Wonderland, enchanted by green grass, white tablecloths and an oak* so ancient and benevolent it deigns to shade the whole place.

When your food arrives, the magic is complete. Look, I'm just warning you--don't expect a normal, drab burger or BLT. The idea is to entice you to hire their catering services, so they're going to wow you with the food.

It's safe to eat it; my analogy is Wonderland, not Faerie. Once you and your mad tea party have finished, you'll be allowed to leave. But you'll be loathe to do so.

*My more knowledgeable commenters have set me straight. It's a camphor!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hardware Horse

I thought of this for a Zen Monday shot, but make no mistake: I'm not making fun of it. I love this metal horse. John and I saw it while out perambulating. (We shouldn't take cameras, they slow us down.) I didn't notice until I put this on the monitor that the horse has a "for sale" sign tied around its neck.

A couple of days after I took the photo I was driving in Pasadena after dark. A truck changed lanes and pulled in front of me--this truck, with this horse in the bed, his for sale sign flapping like a proud, howdy bandana. I prayed for a red light because I wanted to take another photo. I got my red light, but the truck made it through and I lost him.

I don't know the asking price but I hope it sells high. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Art, Art Everywhere

We were just walking, is all, moseying through the park, not expecting to find art. But this is the Dena, where you practically trip over art if you're not careful.

Kids played on the jungle gym. A couple flirted at one of the picnic tables. Guys got a soccer game going on the baseball field. I've never seen anyone play baseball there, only soccer.

If anyone noticed me taking pictures, they didn't care. No one claimed ownership of these works. I have no explanation for them whatsoever. There were birds' nests, landscapes and, uhm, what-have-you, but this is the piece that struck my fancy. This is the seminal one. I hope I don't mean that in all its definitions, but now that I think of it I don't want to know what materials were used.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


all photos by John Sandel

I've dug in my heels. I refuse to raise the debt ceiling at our house. The people who live here have to learn to live within their means. Screw the consequences.

There will be no new sod in the back yard this summer. Suffer! There will be no beach vacation. Whine all you want, but it's not happening. Pay off last year's jaunt to Perris first, then maybe we can talk about Pacoima in the fall.

Some say I'll have our old people eating dog food. Well, at $2.20 a can for the prescription stuff, one old person in particular is going to have to come out of retirement and learn a marketable skill. I've cut spending to the bone. Now you're going to have to raise some revenue.
You may fight me tooth and tooth on this, but I've got a can opener and opposable thumbs and I don't care if you are a card-carrying member of the Flea Party, because I'm the president of our United Fates.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Zen Monday: #155

Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what I think the photo's about.

Just share your thoughts in the comments as they come to you. Here at PDP, we accept all breeds screeds creeds.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Cobb Estate

Before white settlers came to the Cobb Estate, native Tongva people hunted deer, bobcats and rabbits in the brush.

According to Robert H. Peterson's book, "Altadena's Golden Years," the first white person to own this acreage at the top of Lake Avenue was an "early settler" (probably 1880s) named Robert J. Forsyth. After Forsyth, Peterson says, "The title changed hands several times before Charles H. Cobb acquired the property in 1916." (You can pick up a copy of Peterson's book at Webster's Pharmacy.)

Cobb, who had made his fortune in lumber and investments, built a home near the gates of the estate in 1917. When he died in 1939, the house first became a Masonic Home, then from 1942 to 1955 it was a retreat for nuns. A developer bought it and didn't develop it. The home was vandalized. In 1960, with no plans to live there, the Marx Brothers bought the property, presumably as an investment. By 1971 more developers lurked, rubbing their hands together and salivating.

This is where the story really begins.

At 7:30 pm on July 25th at the Altadena Community Center, hear Bob Barnes and others tell how 40 years ago a high school teacher, his students, a millionaire and even the developer who bid against them saved the Cobb Estate from becoming another tragedy like La Vina. It's a thrilling tale, and because no one can tell it better than the people who lived it, I'm going to leave that part of the story up to them.

But here's a hint as to how it turned out: although the Tongva no longer hunt there, you can still spot deer, bobcats and rabbits on the grounds of the old Cobb Estate.