Saturday, August 20, 2011


I was trying to make a "whoosh" with the camera, and I got this instead. It's more of a "whu-uhp!...phhh."

I'm fine with that. Often, when I set out to create something, I have to let go of the outcome.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Wikipedia says pomegranate trees were introduced to California by the Spanish in 1769, to be exact. Someone must have kept a record of it. Wikipedia's article doesn't mention how long it took them (the pomegranates) to reach Pasadena.

Our neighborhood pomegranates will be ready to eat in December or thereabouts. Tell that to this bug.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Victorian Pile

Someone once asked me for a photo of a Victorian mansion, as opposed to the usual Pasadena Craftsman. A "Victorian pile," I think she said. Pasadena has them, but the fanciest ones are behind fences and foliage, hard to photograph without trespassing or at least being downright rude.

But wait. How many times have I driven by this place on Marengo? Not fancy but huge, and gorgeous in the way a tattered, vintage nightgown might be. It's got "former glory" written all over it. Nathaniel Hawthorne himself would have drooled.

At first I thought no one lived in it.

I was wrong.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guest Author: Irene McDermott and The Internet Book of Life

Today's guest author is all about computers--and libraries. Made for each other! Please welcome guest author Irene McDermott.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the “Book of Life” contains the name of righteous souls. The Internet Book of Life: Use the Web to Grow Richer, Smarter, Healthier, and Happier, is my new book. This book of life lists the names of righteous web resources: reliable, useful sites on a variety of subjects designed to help families in all aspects of daily life.

I am a librarian at the Crowell Public Library in San Marino. People often ask me if the internet will put libraries out of business. When people think of libraries, they think of books. Yet, since the web came on the scene in about 1995, library use has increased by 50%. Many come for the computers and then pick up a best seller on the way out.

So, the internet has been nothing but good for libraries. I know that I owe my career to it. I studied for my master’s degree just as the graphical web emerged, from 1993 to 1995. At an internship at the Getty Institute for the Arts I learned about the web and taught it to the librarians there. The skills that I learned that summer, playing with the baby web, landed me a “cybrarian” gig at the USC, and later, my current job where I not only staff the reference desk but take care of the computers, too.

When my husband became ill with colon cancer in 1998, I used the web to find an experimental treatment that saved his life. Unfortunately, even the latest medical research could not save him from the glioma that took him from us in 2008. Still, we were active partners in the treatments that prolonged and enhanced the quality of his life thanks to timely information that I found on the internet.

A couple of years later, after I felt sufficiently recovered, I turned to an online dating site to find new love, a divorced dad who healed my broken heart.

As a mom, I find the web essential for managing my household. I use it for shopping, recipes, making travel plans, online banking, and even learning how to make repairs around the house. My son has become a search master, using it for school.

In 2002, I spoke to the Library of Congress about reference resources available to librarians on the web. My sister, who accompanied me, insisted that I share these helpful sites with the world. The Internet Book of Life is the result. I hope that the sites and the stories in my book will help families everywhere to save money and live happily.

Keep current with websites from the book on my blog:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tool Talk

I have a red wheelbarrow. I like it a lot. I don't need a blue wheelbarrow but if I did I'd go to Altadena Hardware, because last time I was there they had a pile of wheelbarrows.

I love hardware stores and we have many excellent ones in the Dena. Besides Altadena Hardware there's Crown City Hardware (specializing in antique and Craftsman stuff), the highly recommended Berg Hardware and Eagle Rock's beloved Tritch Hardware. You probably know of more you can tell me about. I'll be honest, Pasadena's OSH isn't bad, either--the staff there is knowledgeable.

But I like the small stores. I like aisles not quite wide enough to walk two abreast. I like shelves stacked from floor to ceiling with things I want but don't recognize. Shiny!

The best, though, is the language and the experts who speak it. "What you need, ma'am, is a consarn two. They used to come in two sizes but they don't make the three anymore, the two's standard now. How's your wingbrack? Threads still tight? Huh? Oh. Lemme show you. Here's a wingbrack. It's got this here hinge, and you just flip the spring--no? Okay, so you take the consarn two like this, and you jam it into the wingbrack until the flip nozzle opens..."

I will arrive home with a bag fully of shiny wingbracks, flip nozzles and consarn twos. I will love them and perhaps not remember what I learned about how to use them. I might regret not having bought the blue wheelbarrow, but I've still got my red one and that is one tool I know how to use.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Zen Monday: #158

In Zen, the emphasis is on learning through experience as opposed to books or lectures. Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and tells us what you've learned, rather than me lecturing you about it.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good book. It just happens that Monday is the day you write it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Imaginary Horses

It's the middle of August and southern California might be the only place in the country where the weather's beautiful. We used to be the ones with the insufferably hot summers, but the last two years our summer days have been almost--almost cool. Folks are loving it. Me--you know me, I wear a sweater.

Sundays on our block are a good time for the kids to get out and play and for the adults to hang out and talk about whatever, you know, the usual stuff: how to solve the world's problems, who has the nastiest grill, whether or not we should get matching block t-shirts with our names on the back.

I used to wonder why adults did that. Talk, talk, talk was all they ever did. Boring! How could they just stand around and jabber? Why didn't they ride imaginary horses like the rest of us?