Saturday, February 11, 2012

Love Isn't About Presents. But A Gift Basket Might Help.

near the courtyard at Vroman's Bookstore

I thought I was going to post about something else today. Then I heard Vroman's Bookstore is doing a Valentine's Day promotion that almost makes me nostalgic for the misery of my single days. Almost. I mean, those were some bad days. The nights weren't so great, either.

At either Vroman's store, on Colorado Blvd. or Hastings Ranch, you can enter a "drawing to win a holiday basket...filled with books and gifts totaling up to $200," basically by tearing up a photo of the one that done you wrong.

If you kept the photos, that is.

I didn't. There's nothing left of those bad relationships except the emotional muscles I built from the steep learning curve I climbed. However, for single folks who deserve a happy Valentine's Day and who are sick of being left out (I dreaded February 14th for years), it might be more than satisfying to rip the schmuck's photo in half and have some nice tchotchkes and a few good books to show for it.

(There were good relationships, too. From those I kept the memories. I might even have the photos, but as they're not digital I have no idea where they are.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shadow Courtyard

I've been waiting for just the right occasion to post this photo. There hasn't been one, so I'm posting it because it's Friday.

I took the picture last December when I was at City Hall with photographer Ibarionex Perello and his Digital Boot Camp workshop. (He's got another one coming up this month; I highly recommend it.) I don't know why the courtyard was so filled with people but it looked like perhaps a couple of school field trips were visiting. They sure had a nice day for it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Night Shots

I don't post many night shots. I don't go out at night very often and I don't currently have a tripod, so those are my excuses. But I love it out there and I want pictures of it. So here's one of my street.

It's usually night when I post, a night like this one. I'm in my chair with my dog snoring at my feet and my laptop (where else?) in my lap. I wear the most comfortable clothes in my wardrobe, which, coincidentally, are also the ugliest. A glass of water sits on the table beside me. A notepad. A pen. On winter nights, the heater's running.

In summer, I do the whole thing on the front porch, except for the ugly clothes part. (Boz, our dog, knows the words "front porch.") Don't ask my neighbors about Boz's early morning perambulation. I do not get dressed up for that.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sidewalk Cafe HTS

A while back--a long while back--I went on a quest to find the perfect coffee shop. It didn't have to be perfect for everyone, it just had to be perfect for me.

I've never quite given up on finding the right spot. I wanted a place where, number one, the coffee was good. Numbers two through ten or so were items such as comfortable chairs, tables the right height for my laptop, easy parking and, most important, peace and quiet. (Music was okay, but not too loud.)

I found all kinds of places with some but not all of my criteria. Usually, the problem was noise. I wanted a place to read and write. Some people want to socialize, and that's fine. Most small business owners don't consult me when they write their business plan. But does blaring, loud music draw you into a restaurant or coffee shop?

The Sidewalk Cafe at Hens Teeth Square has everything I like. Look at that comfy chair! That natural light! That iced latte! That sticky bun, that...that wasn't mine. There's music, but it's not invasive. Art is by local artists (current works are by Stephen Baldry). This cafe loves its neighborhood and its town.

The Sidewalk Cafe has one problem. The people there are too friendly. How am I supposed to get my work done when everyone's so nice?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Boz Dickens

Today is Charles Dickens' 200th birthday. Any excuse to post photos of Boz! Some folks think our pooch was named for Mr. Scaggs, but no. Although I like that Boz, the dirty lowdown is we named ours for Mr. Dickens, whose little brother nicknamed him Boz.

Note the similarities:
As a youngster Dickens had to fend for himself, working long hours in a shoe blacking factory. Our little Boz lived on the street before he came to us, fending for himself for we don't know how long. It might have been months. It might have been a whole afternoon. No one knows the truth except Boz, and even if he remembers he tends to exaggerate.

Either way he was an urchin of genius, as evidenced by, uh, well, I'm sure he was. And although he may never reach the heights of fame achieved by his namesake, he's a well-known dog about town and about the web.

Dickens became a distinguished writer. Boz can distinguish between a Greenie and a Milk Bone. (But why would anyone bother?)

I sometimes wonder if he ever thinks back on the days of his youth, when life was simple and fame was fleeting. I have my doubts. But he does have memories, however vague. He knows he likes big, muscular guys who smoke cigarettes and sport tattoos (previous owner?). He knows he's afraid of the hose (someone who scared him when he lived on the street?). And at this very moment, he might be reminiscing about yesterday when he suffered the terrifying ordeal of a bath and received a pig ear for being a good boy.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Historic Exploits

bust of a Tongva man at Mission San Gabriel

I didn't know archaeologists were shoveling up artifacts across the street from Mission San Gabriel, did you?

Have some video, it's very cool:
Article and video with interviews, from ABC7.
Article and press conference with lead archaeologist John Dietler in the Pasadena Star-News.

Some of what they found was expected, some wasn't. All of it's a big story. Mission San Gabriel was the fourth of the California missions built by the Spanish in the late 18th century. Its founding and subsequent land grab disrupted the pastoral life of the local native people, to say the very least, and set the ball rolling for the exploitation of the area's resources by, uh, people of European descent.

The Spanish weren't the first to do that and they wouldn't be the last, but you could say that uncovering what lies beneath the surface across the street from Mission San Gabriel is the equivalent of uncovering the beginnings of modern Pasadena, Los Angeles, and the state of California as well.

Mission San Gabriel is a beautiful, complicated place. The Spanish missionaries enslaved the Tongva people, and/or they believed they were doing God's work. Some Tongva worked willingly at the Mission. Some tried to run away and suffered for it. There is no one answer and there never will be.