Wednesday, December 31, 2008
So here's my most sincere wish for the new year: may it bring comfort and joy to those who suffer. May we see an end to so much senseless war and bloodshed. And as far as resolutions go... don't worry about a few extra pounds or a disorganized office. Instead, may we strive together as a world community to bring peace and prosperity within the reach of all families.
We'll take a cup of kindness yet.
Happy New Year, everybody.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I'd love to hear what this song sounds like. (It would be named "Huntington Drive.")
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
But tell me (those of you who love to put on your secret filmmaker hats and play these little Hollywood games,) if this were a setting in a movie, what would happen here?
(I still seem to have the classic automobile fairy looking out for me: check out the great old cars parked in the shot!)
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I just love the little Christmas tree in the park next to Meridian Iron Works building, just below the Mission Station platform. Sure, there are bigger, flashier trees ... but this one is just right, tucked into a little corner of South Pas. It brings to mind my very favorite Christmas poem, written by (my very favorite poet) ee cummings:
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I shipped the last of my holiday packages tonight -- with a spectacular view from the parking lot. I know the tradition calls for snow and icicles but I sure love Southern California's winter wonderland.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
The Bronze Age archaeological sites Newgrange in Ireland and Stonehenge in Britain were carefully designed to align with the solstice sunrise and sunset points. Throughout human history, this event has marked the point where the sun reverses ebbing and is, in effect, reborn. New life, new beginnings, new hope... these are the hallmarks of midwinter, and people have been celebrating variations on this theme as long as there have been hearth fires to gather around.
From celebrating the reemergence of Amaterasu the sun goddess in 7th Century Japan to the ancient Slavonic 10-day festival of Koleda; from Soyalangwul, the traditional winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and Hopi Indians to Burning the Clocks, the fairly recent tradition in modern Brighton -- this time of year is has been revered in amazingly similar ways by just about everyone who has ever graced this planet. My personal favorite has to be Saturnalia -- the outrageous Roman midwinter celebration that was an ancient combination of Burning Man, Mardi Gras and a Grateful Dead concert. During this week-long festival, men and women exchanged clothes, slaves and masters played role-reversal, and enough social mores were happily abandoned to cause even Caligula to try and limit the celebration to five days.
Today, Wiccans and other neo-pagans honor this day as Yule, while last night Iranians celebrated Yalda -- a Zoroastrian festival commemorating the longest night of the year. Tonight, at sundown, the first day of Hanukkah begins with the traditional lighting of the first menorah candle. Next week the seven day celebration of African heritage known as Kwanzaa will commence with the lighting of the kinara. And, of course, there is Christmas -- the Superbowl of all midwinter celebrations, and the biggest birthday party in the known world.
Whether your midwinter feast includes latkes, yalda watermelon or fruitcake -- happy midwinter, everyone. Bless'd be, Shalom Aleichem and God bless us, everyone!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
While I love the yuletide season's vivacious front with all the ho ho ho-ing and spiked nog and shiny new toys ... what speaks to me is the yearning behind it. When I noticed this scene the other night, I thought it symbolized every holiday homecoming that finds you at the same time lost and found, changed and same, happy and sad. And it reminded me of one of my favorite poignant Christmas songs by Walter Kent and Kim Gannon. It has been recorded by everyone from Bing Crosby to Dianna Krall, but I always think of the particularly wistful rendition by Johnny Mathis.
I'm dreaming tonight of a place I love
Even more than I usually do.
And although I know it's a long road back
I promise you...
I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me.
Please have snow, and mistletoe,
And presents on the tree.
Christmas eve will find me
Where the love light gleams.
I'll be home for Christmas,
If only in my dreams.
Friday, December 19, 2008
(For a few more recent snowy mountain images from around the San Gabriel Valley, check out my overflow blog Glancing About. )
Thursday, December 18, 2008
But on second thought, Orson Welles lurking in a Santa costume is an idea that Gregg Toland could have totally wrapped his lens around...
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Day is pretty straightforward in its narrative, but Night always feels like a deep breath of possibility. Sure, it's the stuff of nightmares and fog, unknown footsteps and deserted streets. But it also has all that moonlight and cricket song and those wonderfully dim streetlamps that cast such long, pretty shadows. Plus, no ringing phones or appointments -- and the kids are asleep. (Usually.)
Night is melancholy... but also hopeful. And that's one of my favorite combinations.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
UPDATE: Looks like some of his friends regret leaving Southern California...
Monday, December 15, 2008
This one is tough and I'm feeling rather silly. How about:
Archaeologists believe they may have discovered the remains of an ancient temple of the Goddess of San Gabriel Valley Topiary.
Nah, that's not quite right. Anyone else have a better caption?
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I often hear long-time residents complaining about the traffic on Huntington. I just don't get it because I've never seen any real traffic on it. Go to Pico or Olympic on the west side at any time between the hours of 8 AM and 8 PM where gridlock is the norm and the driver behind you will lean on the horn if you don't manage to roll into the intersection .05 second before the light changes. Now that's traffic! But I know... it's all relative.
Oddly, this driving dream is named after heir to the Southern Pacific Railway fortune, Henry Huntington who introduced the Pacific Electric Railway as a vehicle for developing the fertile landscape surrounding Los Angeles. The railway stretched east into the San Gabriel Valley, hugging the hills directly south of the San Gabriel Mountains. When the mighty car began to eclipse the humble train, more areas of track were converted to roads and divided highways. By 1953, most of Pacific Electric track had been replaced with bus routes.
Here's a quick snap on Huntington at sunset yesterday. It's always fun to try and capture the magic hour moment as the sky blasts you with technicolor tricks before suddenly fading into the muted grays of twilight. I think I was a fraction of a second late, here, and I was shooting with low megapixels to squeeze more shots out of a full memory card. But isn't it pretty?
Okay, for all of you who have emailed me concerned that I might be shooting pictures while driving, please understand that I pull over and park at the curb to take all road pictures. The only exception is the tunnel shot where I actually stopped on the late night empty road and shot out the drivers side window with my hazards on. I've shot pics from the passenger side while my hubby drives, but I'm not idiotic enough to try drive-and-shoot tactics. Plus, I'm an overprotective mom whose little one is almost always strapped in the car seat during the day. So... you can all rest easy that the streets of South Pas are safe...
Now, carry on!
Saturday, December 13, 2008
South Pasadena is famous for its historic homes, many built before 1930. They stand side by side under heritage trees, lining the uncomplicated and perfectly orderly street grid.
But don't think for a minute that you have the whole picture.
Forget the river rock and pitched roof lines below -- the hills of South Pasadena are filled with classic examples of mid-century modern through postmodern 1970s architecture. Post and beam? Check. Rambling ranch? Check. Chalet-style? Check. Wooden tree-house style homes with huge picture windows and terrifyingly spindly poles holding up wrap around decks? Check! Near the water tower, you'll find eclectic little houses clinging to steep slopes and nestled along hairpin curves. This one certainly grabbed my attention. A pea-green mod with a pink plastic Christmas tree? Yeah, baby!
You can still feel the free-spirited optimism of the era in which these homes were built -- and with spectacular views around every curve, it's hard not to be in a good mood.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
As Jimmy Stewart said, "Merry Christmas movie house!"
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The sun has long been set,
The stars are out by twos and threes,
The little birds are piping yet
Among the bushes and trees;
There's a cuckoo,
and one or two thrushes,
And a far-off wind that rushes,
And a sound of water that gushes,
And the cuckoo's sovereign cry
Fills all the hollow of the sky.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
And it makes me happy every time I pass by.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I might never have noticed this sidewalk entrance to the apartments at 1616 Fair Oaks during the day ... but look at the enchanting way it glows in the night. (Nice bit of San Gabriel Valley topiary, too!)
1616 has such a nice ring to it, doesn't it? I'm sure there's a great short story here. Or a love song. Or TV series about time travel. Or a poem about flowers and curving steps and math...
Or maybe it's just a nifty address with a lovely entryway.
Friday, December 5, 2008
But even that is nothing compared to the way things used to be. Our home, like many in our neighborhood, was built in 1900. Laundry for the original owners was far more involved than anything we've ever known. First of all, forget hubby tossing in a load of whites. Victorian wives were expected to not only launder but often make all clothing worn by the family. Laundry had to be soaked, rinsed, boiled, stirred, bleached or blued, starched, wrung out, hung up and then ironed (with an actual iron that had to be retrieved from the fire.) Water often had to be fetched from wells and carried back home. If the water was too hard, it had to be boiled with wood ashes -- or Borax -- before being used.
And soap? Think of this next time you lug a box of Tide from the store. Most Victorian women had to make their own lye soap and use it to scrub soiled items on a washboard. For tough stains? Kerosene. Bleach? Try salt and lemon juice. And sometimes human urine. (I couldn't make this stuff up.) After scrubbing, laundry was then agitated by hand with a "dolly" -- a cute name for a long stick with some wooden pegs on the end that women used to stir, poke, jiggle and otherwise beat the heck out of whatever they were trying to get clean.
No wonder every cookbook had a recipe for absinthe and laudanum was sold over the counter!
Starch was a necessity of Victorian life in an age where wrinkles and limp collars were a sign of a slovenly character. Starch, of course, was made at home. Victorian housekeeping manuals are filled with various instructions on how to make the "best" starch -- wheat? Potato shavings? Sugar? Rice water? Take your pick -- but you had to pick something because only the most unkempt homemaker would neglect this important aspect of clothing maintenance.
After starching, the homemaker commenced to hanging all clothes to dry on outdoor clotheslines. (Hopefully, the above activities could be completed before mid morning as to maximize the sunlight. Victorians wore a lot of velvets -- and velvets not only took forever to dry, but they also tended to grow mold quite easily if left damp for too long.) After the laundry dried, the lady of the house moved on to the ironing -- with not one but many various implements set upon the stove top or into the coal fire. General irons, fluting irons for pleats, "mushroom" irons for puffy sleeves, "tally" irons for bows and strings and flat irons for sheets and pillowcases. (Yup, a proper Victorian lady had to starch and iron those, too.)
And all of this was accomplished while wearing corsets that limited normal respiration by up to 70%.
Needless to say, while I enjoy my home's architecture, and its vintage light fixtures, doorknobs, wood floors, picture rails, wooden built-ins and wavy-glass sash windows... I have no desire to journey back to the year it was built. And if my washer or dryer ends up on the fritz, this retro laundromat will certainly do in a pinch!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
So what does a brutal murder have to do with our fair city? Steve Hodel -- a police investigator with 24 years experience -- believes he has finally uncovered the elusive killer: a South Pasadena High School graduate, and (get this) his very own father! You can read all about the library's event here, and watch a local news story about it here.
Moving from real life crime to mystery fiction, The South Pasadena Library's next Author's Night is on January 22, at 7:00PM and features the Edgar Award-winning author of the fantastic Mas Arai mystery series, Naomi Hirahara -- who just happens to be another South Pasadena High School graduate. Prior to Ms. Hirahara's program, renowned jazz master (and South Pasadena resident) Elliott Caine will perform a freewheeling set of “Blue Note” style jazz. No tickets or reservations are necessary, and the entire community is invited to attend.
Thanks to our fabulously cool City Librarian Steve Fjeldsted for keeping me updated on all the famous -- and infamous -- goings on at our wonderful library ... and for not thinking I'm terribly weird for creeping around the place in the dark.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
It's a little too perfect...
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Now, if you could reclaim any wonderful old toy, what would it be?
Monday, December 1, 2008
I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
Where ox-lips and the nodding violet grows;
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in...
Okay, so you won't find nodding violets or sweet musk-roses here, but you might just dance with delight after a yummy meal in this bistro's cozy, comfortable setting. Which brings me full circle -- and how apropos, given the current theme. I don't know the history of this lovely quilt, but it always captures my attention. Although it's a traditional textile, it's also quirky and magical and eclectic. (Kinda like South Pasadena.)
Be sure to circle around the other City Daily Photobloggers, and have a look at the many creative and diverse images from all over the world.