Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Pretty Penny

Yesterday morning: a walk with a friend in Bungalow Heaven, followed by iced latte and a pastry at Penny For Your Thoughts.

Do you know of another place where you can buy an antique chair for your porch, vintage dishes for your kitchen, unique hand-made frames for your walls and a one-of-a-kind dress for your very own self, then sit down (at a table with a tablecloth) and have a cup of excellent coffee accompanied by a home-made cookie from the tiny, local, Apron Strings bakery?

There's no other place like it. It's not just the great stuff, it's also Millie's artful displays. It's my favorite shop in Pasadena and I don't get there often enough.

Stop by. Ooh and aah. While you're there, I've decided I want that bottle with the starfish on it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Julia Morgan YWCA

Julia Morgan was the first female architect licensed in the state of California. She's famous for creating Hearst Castle at San Simeon. She also designed the YWCA building across the street from Pasadena's City Hall. You know the place--it's been boarded up for years, sliding into ruin.

A couple of years ago, Pasadena's City Council voted to exercise its powers of eminent domain and take possession of the building. I think that was a smart move. The building obviously needed protection and its owner wasn't lifting one single, proverbial finger to care for it.

I'll post more pictures next week. In the meantime, there's another opportunity for you to see inside the Julia Morgan YWCA Saturday morning (tomorrow), from 9-10 am. Enter at 78 N. Marengo Avenue and the docents of Pasadena Heritage will be there to answer your questions and keep you from stepping into any holes. After your tour, stop by City Council chambers from 10:15-11:30 for a presentation and comments.

Neglect takes a toll. Years of doing nothing are going to cost. I admit, though, I find great beauty in ruins.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Author Margaret Finnegan and "The Goddess Lounge"

In my novel The Goddess Lounge, an Altadena mom attends a "goddess consultation" at a notorious LA coffee house/knitting salon/menstrual palace called The Goddess Lounge, and from there on out madcap adventures ensue. On my blog, FinneganBeginAgain, readers ask me to find goddesses to help them with issues as diverse as career advancement to leaky plumbing.

You might wonder: Margaret, what's up with all the goddesses?

I'm glad you asked! I believe we live in a world that lacks historical memory.  We throw out the past like it's old Kleenex. The problem is that if you only have your own personal past to provide context for your experiences, then whenever some new tragedy strikes you can't help but gnash your teeth and wonder how you of all people became so particularly and cruelly ill fated. Your partner leaves you and you gnash.  Your career falls apart and you gnash. Your child/parent/best friend/self becomes painfully ill and you gnash, gnash, gnash.

You know what helps with the gnashing? Stories, ancient stories that remind us that loss, pain and hardship are timeless and universal. The only problem is that, in the old stories, hardship turns men into heroes and it turns women into crazy ladies or dead crazy ladies. Which is why women need better stories. Enter goddesses.

Being a goddess was no cake walk. Husbands cheated on you. Children died and betrayed you. You encountered humiliation, sadness, sorrow.  But you didn't go all cat lady and die. You muddled through. And you didn't get a boob job to please a man or feel guilty for wanting something just for yourself. You knew your invaluable worth, and you expected others to know it too. You were better than a hero. You were a goddess.

Want to be a goddess? Here's what you do: Look around, and in the places of your life where you find disrespect and ingratitude, say: "I am a goddess. I will not put up with this shit." And in the places of your life where you find hurt and pain, say: "You poor little thing, come hide under my wings. I am a goddess, and you are safe."


Meet Margaret at a book signing and reception for The Goddess Lounge:

Saturday, July 21
Three o'clock to four-thirty in the afternoon
SPACE Arts Center
1508 Mission Street
South Pasadena, CA 91030

A portion of all proceeds will go to SPACE art scholarships.

Watch a trailer for TheGoddess Lounge (narrated by Pasadena Daily Photo's own Petrea Burchard).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Denis Callet's 201 Birds

The great horned owls who live at Hahamongna Watershed park seem comfortable with Denis Callet. He has spent so much time there with his camouflage-covered camera that they're used to him. Even the babies pose with confidence.

Check out those toes.

At last Saturday's Hahamongna "Multi-Benefit/Multi-Use Project" Environmental Impact Report scoping meeting, members of the local Audubon Society reported that they have catalogued 201 different species of birds living at Hahamongna. I think Denis has photographed most of them. "It was an awakening meeting," says Denis. "I will attend all those meetings from now on, the wildlife need us more than we need a soccer field."

"Multi-Benefit/Multi-Use" can be considered a misnomer, depending upon how you define "benefit." At a time of drought, when the Colorado River (a source we've long depended on) is at historic lows and the Metropolitan Water District no longer guarantees enough water to fill local groundwater basins, building pollutants into our watershed makes no sense. Nor does disrupting the habitat of squirrels, rabbits, snakes, lizards, bobcats, mountain lions and 201 species of birds.

Denis says four Cooper's Hawk babies were born this year "and I was lucky enough to see them grow up and fledged." He says lucky, I say patient.

I think we can all agree that there's nothing wrong with athletic fields. But some of us--a majority of us, I'll bet--think there's something wrong with athletic fields at Hahamongna. Let's put them somewhere else.

A couple of links you might find useful:
The City of Pasadena's website for the MBMU Project, including the Initial Study prepared by Willdan, the company that will do the Environmental Impact Report (the city will be updating this site as the project moves forward;
Sycamore Grove Field Grant Analysis, a concise report by Hugh Bowles that delineates how the City of Pasadena possibly falsified information on its grant application for state funding for the Hahamongna athletic field, which is part of the MBMU Project;

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Descanso Gardens

Long day?
Long week?
Long walk is what I recommend.

We hadn't been to Descanso Gardens in a while and it was high time we went back.

Go. And when you do, get off the main drag as soon as you can. The side pathways feel a bit secretive but you're welcome to take them. Surprises await when you get off the beaten track.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


This picture is from my archives. I took it once upon a time, during a stroll around the Caltech campus. Caltech is a nice place for a stroll. You're welcome to walk around there and take in the sights--the architecture, the gardens, the turtles.

Arnold O. Beckman was quite the Caltech guy. He did so many important things for southern California and Caltech that the Laboratory of Chemical Synthesis just wasn't enough, so Caltech named the Beckman Auditorium for him, too. I had not heard of his company Beckman Coulter, but perhaps you are not the ignoramus I am.

Professor Beckman was born in 1900 and lived to be 104 years old. For that reason alone, his oral history ought to be pretty interesting.

Thank you to Sid, who added this information:
"These are the arches by Alexander Stirling Calder that once adorned the front of Throop Hall, the first building on the campus."
You can find Sid Gally's history column regularly in the Pasadena Star-News. He is also a volunteer at the Pasadena Museum of History, where he probably knows the archives by heart.