Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chapter 3, Stained Glass

Inside the big old house we've been visiting this week there's a big old stairway. Someone painted it once--or probably more than once.

The light likes the paint.

A close look at this glass makes me wonder if it's original to the house. Would these be 1896 colors? They look psychedelic to me.

This window is more convincing as an original, with rippled glass even in the stained parts. But it's all guesswork on my part. For all I know, the windows were all put in in 1986.

Except this. Here's the door to the sleeping porch. It's in a tiny hallway all its own, peeking north. Right now it's hard to reach because it's in a part of the house Jim hasn't gotten to yet, at least not entirely.

Jim and Cybele are a busy couple with careers, interests and a baby boy. They may or may not ever finish with all the plans they have for the place but it doesn't matter. The house will wait.

Much thanks to Jim and Cybele for this delightful visit.

Friday, September 23, 2011

One of the Oldest, chapter 2

Inside the house pictured yesterday, nearly every room is a work in progress. Yet a young couple and their baby live active lives here. It reminds me of one of my favorite words: palimpsest.

Wikipedia concisely describes a palimpsest as "a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again." An old home is like that--each room a chapter, erased when one family moves out, then scraped clean, then written on again when a new family moves in.

The husband bought the house ten years ago. It was a wreck and he got the place cheap. Cheap is relative, of course. He put on a new roof and a new foundation. He redid the plumbing and wiring. That was just to make it livable.

But there are treasures here. The original kitchen tiles. The fireplace. The archways. The tiny hallway connecting two upstairs rooms like a secret passage. Yesterday Pascal Jim spotted the sleeping porch with a view of the mountains. Tomorrow I'll show you the stained glass.

Tucked away in a dark corner, years peel away in layers to reveal an early chapter of the kitchen's palimpsest: a pattern of the linen that once graced the walls.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This Oldest House

About a year ago I posted a picture of the front porch of this house. I did so because I loved the scruffy old door.

Scruffy no more. Same door, shined up nicely, with new old hardware from one of my favorite stores, Gayle's Pasadena Architectural Salvage.

The whole place looks a bit more dapper, doesn't it? What a difference a year makes.

I met the homeowners and they gave me a tour. They may not realize how much progress they've made in a year, but I hope they can see it here. There's much work still to be done yet much worth to be had in this house. It's one of Pasadena's oldest homes, circa 1896, though no one's exactly sure what year it was built.

Over the next few days I'll tell you more, with pictures.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Garages, 4

I never cared much for garages before moving to Pasadena and I know why. It's because I never lived anywhere else where the garages were part of the architectural history. In other places I've lived the garages are all aluminum, each one with the same automatic door as the one across the street.

This one speaks for itself, I think. Look at that roofline.

Bonus: we get to continue, in a glancing way, our vintage automobile theme for one more day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Our friend Dive has been posting snazzy photos of fancy cars, flying Ferraris and pretty women at something called the Goodwood Revival.

Altadena's answer: the Badass Buick.

I spent too much time with the thesaurus, looking for a "b" word to describe this car's attractive, sophisticated, yet intimidating look. I finally settled on Roget's initial suggestion, "badass." John agreed. "That is some serious, street-level badassary."

Let's assume it runs.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Zen Monday: #163

In Zen, you learn through experience rather than books or lectures. Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and tell us what you've learned, rather than me lecturing you about it.

Today I reserve the right to join in the comments when necessary--you know, to add to the experience.

Remember, sometimes you have to look closely.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Coffee Barrel

Do you ever get so busy or preoccupied you forget to eat?

Sooner or later you'll be reminded with a stomach wallop. Fortunately I live in a city where I can say to myself: "Pull over at the next sign of food" and such a sign will show itself relatively quickly.

In this case it was a sandwich board (mmm, sandwich) at the roadside, saying something like "coffee, sandwiches, smoothies." I pulled into the parking lot of the mini-mall at 2982 E. Colorado Blvd. It didn't look promising. At the Coffee Barrel, an unassuming shop, I was the only customer. I wondered if that was because of the surroundings or the food. It was probably because of the hour (2:30).

They made me a triple-decker BLT which was fresh and good, and before I was finished eating (every last morsel of) it, the place had begun to fill up. Either that sandwich board was working or I'm the last person in town to know about the Coffee Barrel.