"I didn't start cooking until I left home to go to college and had to learn to live on my own. What I didn't realize then was that I had already learned something primal in the kitchen in Michigan. I knew that taking simple, fresh ingredients into a kitchen and turning them into a nourishing meal was part of the natural rhythm of life."
Did you know that Pasadena has a park made especially for little pirates? Last April, the city opened Reese's Retreat at Brookside Park. (Walk east from the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center and you'll find it tucked behind the pools.) Reese's Retreat is the region's first universally accessible playground for kids of all ages and abilities -- and it's so cool that the even the most exhausted parent will be tempted to get off the park bench and join in the fun.
The entire setting resembles a pirate ship, complete with bells that clang and wheels that turn and even a plank for the most scurrilous little scallywags to walk. There are multiple levels to explore either by climbing or by using ramps. The setting offers kids of all physical abilities a safe place to scramble around. Even the soft, rubberized ocean floor is wheelchair-friendly.
The design is beautiful, blending into the landscape both playfully and artfully with lots of natural elements and neutral colors. The playground equipment offers the standard variety of things to climb up and slide down, but it also encourages exercise of the imagination with enough high seas props to inspire your inner Jack Sparrow. (Honestly, try not to bust out a hardy "Arrrrrr!" while pretending to hoist one of the ship's sails.) In a word: wonderful.
It all makes me wonder why South Pasadena can't create something similar in Lower Arroyo Seco Park? We certainly have the right setting. For four years I've driven by our city's forgotten park and wished that the gorgeous space could be put to better use. Garfield Park and Orange Grove Park have lovely play areas with safe, charming equipment while Arroyo Seco Park looks like a forgotten leftover from The Wonder Years.
I know there is a certain hipster fascination with rusting jungle gyms from the 1960s, but wouldn't it be more fun to have a safe playscape that local kids (and their parents) could actually enjoy? Not to mention the fact that our large, isolated park area attracts a certain element that really should walk the plank...
I guess it would take a bit of pirate treasure to make it happen, huh?
Tonight, the Annual Meeting of the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library will feature an Author Night with Dr. Kevin Starr, California's favorite historian. Dr. Starr is best known for his brilliant 7 volume series, Americans and the California Dream. His latest book is called Clio on the Coast: The Writing of California History, 1845-1945. The event will also serve as the SoCal Centennial Celebration of the Book Club of California.
South Pasadena's own singer/songwriter Brad Colerick will open the program with classic songs of the Golden State, as well as a few surprises.
Craftsman is king in South Pasadena, but if you pay attention you'll find a few rather noble examples of mid-century modern. This is one of my favorites by noted architect John Galbraith. (Here's a night shot of the same home.)
I heard about another Galbraith house in the Altos, but I haven't scoped it out yet. In the mean time, check out examples of Galbraith design here and here.
I see a lot of old cars around town, but this is the first time I've seen a Kennedy for President bumper sticker. Are we sure South Pas doesn't have a time machine? (I'll lay odds it's here. Or maybe here.)
When you live in South Pas, you get used to yielding the right of way to film and TV crews. Here, a production company guy wheels a mystery machine across the 110 Freeway overpass on Arroyo Drive.
I can't complain. We just got a check from NBC for the use of our driveway last month. Woot!
For more on South Pas as a backlot for Hollywood, I did a piece about it for Patch back in November, 2010. Check it out here. (And yes, for those of you who have asked, my Patch column will be back soon. I have just been on hiatus. Isn't that what they call it in Tinseltown?)
For those of you having trouble keeping those new year's resolutions to eat healthier: the South Pasadena Farmers Market offers plenty of incentives. (Just don't tell anybody about the Cool Whip you pick up at Vons.)
Wait a minute. This picture isn't from South Pasadena!
You're right, I crossed the border into Pasadena for this one. I was so charmed by the multi-textured planes of this walkway, I just couldn't resist snapping and sharing. Besides, generations of South Pasadena shoppers have ventured over to this department store on South Lake Street. It's part of our shared history.
Back in 2008 the South Lake store was closed for renovations. I was afraid it was going to be stripped of all charm, but instead it was thoughtfully restored and revitalized with beautiful attention to the store's historic period details. (I'm particularly fond of the Men's Department mural and the etched brass elevators.)
Oh, gaze ye on the firmament! a hundred clouds in motion, Up-piled in the immense sublime beneath the winds' commotion, Their unimagined shapes accord: Under their waves at intervals flame a pale levin through, As if some giant of the air amid the vapors drew A sudden elemental sword.
It's January 1st, and that means it's Theme Day for participating City Daily Photo bloggers. Today's theme is Photo of the Year.
I don't know if this is my best shot of 2011, but it's certainly a favorite. I grabbed it on Arroyo Drive last summer right after the San Gabriel Valley had been drenched by a storm. The receding clouds created all sorts of bright, happy colors in the sky, and made the view from my favorite look out seem all the more expansive and hopeful.
In December of 2007, after many years on the west side of Los Angeles (and at least a third of those years spent stuck in traffic on Pico Boulevard) my family settled into a happy little house in South Pasadena. This daily blog covered over 4 year as I put down roots in my new home town.
My New Blog Launching 2013
Check out my multimedia column archive: Views from the Front Porch
Published at Patch.
Find Me Elsewhere...
Thank you Charlie's Coffee House for hosting my recent photo exhibit, South Pas: Observed. From October 2011 through January 2012 my pictures graced the walls of the best place in town to get a cup of coffee!
Read the nifty story on photo bloggers Petrea Burchard, Ben Wideman, Kat Likkel and little old me featured in the September, 2011 issue of Pasadena Magazine.
For over 4 years, I presented a picture a day from South Pasadena, California -- an incorporated city within the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. All photos up to November, 2008 were taken with a Fujifilm Finepix E900 camera. I added a Fujifilm Finepix S2000HD megazoom in December 2008, a Nikon D3100 in 2010 and a Lumix DMC-DS8 in 2011. I shot with them all. In August 2010 I joined the iPhone camera craze and sometimes included pictures captured by my phone. I regularly cropped images and used basic editing software to adjust the brightness, intensify the contrast, and increase color saturation. Other than that, all images came straight from the camera with minimal alteration. (If I couldn't have done it in a darkroom, I wouldn't do it with a computer.)
The bigger picture:
Consider it a love letter to the place I call home.
You can click on any picture to see a larger version.
All photos and prose on this blog copyright Laurie Allee. Reproduction without written permission is prohibited. (Plus, it's really uncool.)
Run, don't walk to the nearest bookseller and pick up a copy of Margaret Finnegan's delightful debut novel, The Goddess Lounge -- undoubtedly the kookiest, most wonderful riff on Homer's Odyssey ever written. Margaret never ceases to inspire and make us laugh at her blog Finnegan Begin Again. Her book is magical, silly, smart and a wonderful love letter to the all the goddesses among us.
Kevin McCollister of East of West LA blows our minds with haunting images of Los Angeles. But since we can't put his blog on our coffee table, we can buy his fantastic book. I believe Kevin's images truly capture the quixotic and often heartbreaking soul of LA. Don't take my word for it, see what The LA Times had to say.