Saturday, August 13, 2011


Just south of yesterday's photo is this empty building. I had stopped to take pictures of the Bellefontaine Nursery building when this one gave a sharp whistle and said, "Hey! Take my picture, too."

I think this is the structure a friend of mine meant when she commented on Facebook about yesterday's picture of the Bellefontaine building. "I love the brick building next to it. I've been after the owner for years to rent it to me. It's empty and doing nothing. It would make a cute sandwich shop."

You know, it would. And right there amid the Huntington Hospital complex, somebody could make some money.

I'm aware some people are going to look at this and see a tear-down but I like every detail, from the dry, cracked wood at the bottom of the green door to the tattered curtains in the windows. Imagine the musty smell inside. What's in there, do you suppose? What did this place used to be? Do traces of its former purpose linger? Dishes? Old wires? A printing press?

I've never studied architecture and I was a lukewarm student of history. Now, though, perhaps because I'm getting older (as old as some charismatic architecture), buildings are beginning to tell me stories. Some are louder and more articulate than others but all of them talk, and the older they get the more they have to say.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bellefontaine Nursery

This is one of those times when I find a picture of something I like and I figure I'll post it, no big deal. Then I find out it's got a story behind it. In this case, 72 years of Pasadena history.

One of my favorite buildings in Pasadena houses the Bellefontaine Nursery at 838 S. Fair Oaks. I can't help but notice the building because it's so much older (circa 1900?) than the new, beige, high-gloss Huntington Hospital complex that stands poised to trample it without so much as a glance over its nondescript shoulder.

Let's hope that doesn't happen. I don't know what lived here prior to 1939, but since then it's been home to the Bellefontaine Nursery, founded and owned by successive generations of the Uchida family since the beginning.

Current partner Alan J. Uchida has written an absorbing history of his family's business, complete with black & white photos. He glosses over the bizarre World War II period during which Japanese Americans, including the Uchidas, were sent to internment camps: "Fortunately, with the help of watchful friends, the Uchida family was able to retain their nursery which was closed from 1942 to 1945." What a gentle, generous way to say what happened to his family.

How must it have felt, that day in 1945, to have shaken the hand of your loyal (Caucasian?) friend and accepted your keys from him or her, then to open the door of the nursery? Did the outer door stick, just a bit? Did the screen door whisper a familiar screech? The sun would have streamed in the east windows, giving even the dust a welcoming gleam. The air would have been stuffy but in it you would sense a hint of your own past presence--your future, too--still there, if barely, needing nothing more than everything you could give.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A-Movin' Kinda Slow

At first, this looked like a family had a good day at the beach or the city pool.

Then something else entered my mind and wouldn't leave. Something eerie. Something otherworldly. Something...wrong.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Today: Poo.

Boz and I find these free poo bag kiosks at a few of our favorite hiking spots. Isn't that convenient? Of course it's publicity for My Pet Garden, but what a generous way to go about telling people about your business.

In the olden days, I thought it was no big deal if Boz left his creations behind along some of the more rural paths. I mean, coyotes poo outdoors, right? But I learned a few things, like dog feces don't biodegrade the same way wild animal feces do (doo doo). And while those little piles are sitting out there in nature, they're carrying bacteria, parasites and viruses right into our water--and those things can cause all kinds of deadly diseases in humans.

I was walking Boz in the watershed! What part of "watershed" did I not understand?

Now we always pick up, and I thank My Pet Garden for making it easy to do, even when I forget Boz's personal bags.

You might enjoy this rockin' video on today's topic.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I transplanted a bush several weeks ago. It died. But up from the compost in the hole sprung a volunteer--a squash maybe, or a pumpkin--that's so pretty and healthy I'm letting it take over the property.

I might as well. I haven't been lucky growing things, and I'm so pleased to have something grow that I don't care what it does or where it goes, as long as it stays alive. I water it every day. It seems to like that. It can have the whole yard if it wants it.

The bees love love love it, which I consider a bonus. We need more things for bees to love.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Zen Monday: #157

photo by John Sandel

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. This is because on Mondays I post the photos I don't comprehend.

Please share your thoughts in the comments as they come to you. Thanks.

This photo was taken by John Sandel, PDP's resident Zen-spotter, without whom Zen Monday would probably occur about once a month.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

An August Personage

I liked to read books as a kid, but I didn't like school. I was dutiful, I studied, I did what I was supposed to do and got the grades. But I preferred horseback riding, building forts and wading barefoot in the river--things there wasn't time or weather for during the Illinois school year.

Even now, years out of school, for me, August signals the end of fun, the beginning of work.

This year August also signals the end of The Sky is Big in Pasadena. Ben Wideman began his blog in September of 2007 and "Can8ian Ben" has been chronicling Pasadena life ever since. He's a long distance cyclist, a lover of food, baseball and beer, a husband and father, a seminary student and soon-to-be-pastor, and that rare man who can hear all ideas with an open mind.

This month Ben says goodbye to his adopted home with daily tributes to Pasadena in the form of two lists: the things he'll miss (a long list) and the things he won't (shorter). The list of Pasadenans who will miss Ben is longer than a baseball field, longer than Ben can ride a bike in a whole day, longer than the distance between here and Harleysville, Pennsylvania--and I'm on it.