Monday, February 7, 2011

Big Musings on Little Details

There are so many quirky little details I've come to love about South Pasadena. You know what I'm talking about -- the wonderful minutia of this place, the bits and pieces that make our particular tapestry into a comfy sort of security blanket.

There are lovely little details like the way pigeons always congregate on the street lamps at Fair Oaks and Monterey. (Start noticing it! It's like they all got a memo.) There may be a few counter-culture birds lingering in other spots, but the main perch action during the day is always at the Fair Oaks/Monterey intersection. I notice those birds every time I stop at that light, and they always make me feel better. I know they're hanging out up there, like they always do. It's as if they're saying go ahead, move along, we've got things covered here.

There are other little details like the way the library is never actually silent because the chairs -- those fantastic, old chairs -- are so creaky you can hardly shift positions without announcing your move to every other creaking patron nearby. It's wonderful, really. It never ceases to make me giggle and elicit glares from serious South Pas students who ensure that our school district scores high on standardized tests. They don't seem to notice cricket-hum of all that constant squeaking. Maybe it is as familiar to them as it is to me.

These are the little details you wouldn't know by simply passing through. But they've become dear to me as I put down roots in this place and, who knows, leave my own weird little marks here.

The lamp in this picture has been crooked since I can remember. Sometimes I drive by just to make sure it's still crooked. I think of it as my own crooked touchstone, and it always seems to set me straight when I need to feel grounded. If the homeowners ever get around to fixing it, I might just have to come by in the night and tip it back to this position.

12 comments:

Judy Williams said...

Photographs such as this make us stop and pause and observe the little things. It's probably something you've passed a million times and never stopped to study it. Great idea to give those things a 2nd (and 3rd) look, to appreciate how they add up to make a more interesting whole.

Walk Pasadena said...

Individually, each of these objects might be mundane, but integrated into a single scene like this creates a new view of the world, much more interesting than in isolation.

dbdubya said...

I used to see those birds on perching, waiting for an opportunity at Fair Oaks and Monterey. Your post reminds me of a classic Gahan Wilson cartoon - two birds sitting on a wire looking down as people with targets on the heads walked underneath.

Anonymous said...

Laurie
there used to be an elderly gentleman in a red sweater that would throw out seed for them on the northwest corner in the mornings
haven't seen him in about two years
but the birds still wait there for his return

Mike T

TheChieftess said...

You've captured the essence of SoPas in this Laurie!!!

Shanna said...

I can just hear those creaky chairs in the library. And I love this crooked lamp.
I'm so glad you found your niche and are sharing it.

Trish said...

well, true to form, some things never change! ;-)

when I was a youngster, those same chairs used to creak and creak and creak. One passive-aggressive guy used to go in after school and on weekends and not study, but creak in the chairs, just to see whom he could piss off first.

the birds...again, don't change. The old Merrit Malloy poem about "...dogs have died waiting for people...people have never died waiting for dogs..." which, is not exactly true, but does speak to habits hard to break.

and that lamp...there is a story, can't recall it now...brain is still fuzzy from surgery last week...think it was a prank many eons ago...and never reset...but it gives it character. Jack Gillette told the story to me many years ago...I do miss him too.

Anonymous said...

Yes! I love your view of our town. And BTW, your tweets are hilarious. Do you do comedy too?

Mister Earl said...

Is the essence of South Pas expressed in that lamp that South Pas is...

1. Crooked?
2. Tipsy?
3. Off its rocker?
4. Leaning to the right?

alex said...

more likely than not, the lamp is leaning to the left (j/k). lovely post Laurie!

Laurie said...

Hi everyone,

Welcome Walk Pasadena and Anon! Anon, thanks for the Twitter props. It's where I get weird. And write haiku. (You have all been warned.)

I love it that so many of you noticed the pidgeons at Fair Oaks and Monterey! Mike, was the elderly gentleman Marshall? (I think that's his name.) I often saw him in a wheelchair around Busters and the Iron Works building. I had a great talk with him once about him living here in the 30s -- in the apartments in the building that now has Radhika. Anyway, I haven't seen him around and since he was such an older gentleman I have been worried that he might have passed away. (I know Scott Feldmann knows who I'm talking about.)

Trish, so you know this light fixture! It really makes me happy in its crookedness. I'm not surprised you remember the library chairs. I actually mentioned Sonia, my editor over at Patch, that it would make a funny little short video.

Thanks for letting me wax a little romantic about our city, everyone. Hey, it's close to Valentine's Day! I'm allowed!

Anonymous said...

Love this!!!