Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shameless New Year's Eve Post

Here's to clean slates and new beginnings, y'all!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Time Portal

I have a soft spot for old-school late 20th Century garage doors. Maybe it's because I grew up in Texas in the 70s and early 80s. Those garage doors were as ubiquitous to my neighborhood as Craftsman houses are to South Pasadena.
I watched a lot of cute boys jamming with their bands inside garages like this. More than one shaggy-haired guitar player stole my heart while covering old T-Rex and Bowie under fluorescent tube lights. I kissed the cute guy who moved from Hawaii in the 10th grade in a garage like this. I had my first lukewarm beer tapped from a keg in a garage like this.
Most of my late night whispered telephone conversations happened in a garage like this: my parents' garage. I would perch on a paint can, giggling to my best friend Mary with the kitchen wall phone cord stretched through the back door and pulled around the front of my mom's Cordova...
I'm sure the teenagers walking through the book stalls in Paris have the same confusing/mad/wonderful dreams as those of us who grew up hanging out in garages. We're not so different. In fact, I remember arguing with Paul from my drama club about whether Godard or Truffaut was the better French New Wave director, all while leaning against his dad's workbench in a garage like this. It's not a grand setting that makes youth so grand. After all, the setting is just the launch pad for where we eventually end up. (Which, more often than not, turns out to be an awful lot like where we started out.)
I know, I know. Garage doors like this don't call for a Gershwin soundtrack. They don't inspire the same homespun nostalgia as picket fences or porch swings. But for those of us who cut our teeth on the edges of American suburbs, garage doors like this are familiar touchstones. They welcome us right back into our past, with or without the remote control.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

a pull at his rein and a toss of his mane...

Oh, a wonderful horse is the Fly-Away Horse -
Perhaps you have seen him before;
Perhaps, while you slept, his shadow has swept

Through the moonlight that floats on the floor.
For it's only at night, when the stars twinkle bright,
That the Fly-Away Horse, with a neigh
And a pull at his rein and a toss of his mane,
Is up on his heels and away!
The Moon in the sky,
As he gallopeth by,
Cries: "Oh! what a marvelous sight!"
And the Stars in dismay
Hide their faces away
In the lap of old Grandmother Night...

--Eugene Field

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Train in Motion

The only way to be sure of catching a train is to miss the one before it.

--Gilbert K. Chesterton

Friday, December 23, 2011

Make a Wish

I didn't notice the shooting star when I took this long-exposure shot on St. Albans Drive (aka: Christmas Tree Lane!) in San Marino last night. I guess it's just another Christmas miracle...

(Do be sure to make the quick drive over to see the majestic pines decked out in their holiday finery. I was delighted to see that it appears all of the beautiful trees survived the recent windstorm.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cookies Galore

The Allee holiday cookie tradition continues! Here is one batch of Christmas tree ornament sugar cookies. (Not shown is Little Bit's menorah cookie. She just had to eat that one. Also, the blue and purple abstract one in the upper right is supposed to be a Diwali elephant. Hey, we celebrate ALL winter festivities around here!)

Next into the oven? Gingerbread people. (And possibly a couple of gingerbread parrots as requested by Little Bit.)

So, what's everyone eating during the holiday season?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vote for South Pasadena's Most Festive House! is launching a nationwide contest to find the best holiday home, and the winner's school district will receive $100,000!  I say we make the hard work of South Pasadena's own Todd Shroeder pay off.  Every year he turns his home into an electric gingerbread house -- that is, if gingerbread houses had animatronic Santas waving from the porch.  

It's glorious, it's magical and it just might net our school district some cash.  

Find out more and VOTE right here

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blurry Parrot

I give up.  

I told myself I wouldn't post one of my close-up wild parrot shots until I actually managed to get one that was tack sharp.  

It's impossible! I either need a new telephoto lens or a steadier hand.  (Or both.)  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Perhaps I'm being too literal...

Art can only be truly art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life.

--Margaret Fuller

Friday, December 16, 2011

Abstract Sky After Thunderstorm

I got caught in the freak thunderstorm that passed over yesterday. As the clouds broke up, the sunlight painted a few amazing pictures in the sky. For the briefest of moments, this is what I saw out of my car window while sitting at a light on Mission.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Art: Blooming

Public Art is a superb way of getting students involved in taking ownership of their future surroundings!

-Dave Schofield

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mission Street: Wide View

I always find something new and interesting when I shop on Mission. (This time, the new and interesting thing was this vantage point from right in front of Great Harvest Bread.)

Monday, December 12, 2011


South Pasadena is still discovering the tree casualties of recent hurricane-force winds. Many damaged trees that didn't fall during the storm are now awaiting removal. (Sigh.)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas on Wheels

Fa la la la la la la la la!

(Full disclosure: I found this old beauty just a few yards over the border in San Marino.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The hurricane-force winds toppled giant trees all over town, and yet this little pomegranate managed to stay securely attached to its branch.

What a lovely symbol -- and natural ornament -- as we head into the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I figured we could all use a break from power outage updates and pictures of destruction. How's this for a beautiful bird's eye view from Pasadena looking toward South Pas? (And just look at those hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful trees still standing tall and strong!)

All together now: ahhhhhhhhhh...

Monday, December 5, 2011

One of Many

Walking through Garfield Park yesterday was a complete shock. Our shady central oasis is considerably less shady, with at least six trees toppled, awaiting the chainsaw and wood chipper.

Yes, many of the park's trees still stand. (This one is fine.) For that, I am glad. But with each passing day, I find another landscape dramatically changed and it's starting to wear down my nerves. The tree in this picture crashed right on top of the picnic table where Little Bit and I loved to have after school snacks. It's unsettling and creepy and sad.

I think it will take me a while to process the loss of so many San Gabriel Valley trees. (The loss of these were bad enough.) Maybe it will be easier when things get cleaned up. I've never been one for viewing open caskets, and seeing all these fallen trees feels a little bit like staring at corpses. I'd rather remember them as they were, and celebrate the ones still standing.

Our power finally came back on yesterday, but I know many South Pas residents are still hunkered down in the cold. For updates, check the Southern California Edison map here, and Patch updates here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Play Through

South Pasadena's Arroyo Seco Golf Course was hit pretty hard by the windstorm. There are several other giant trees uprooted near this one. (I'm not sure how it affects the par for this hole.)

Power is still out for a large portion of South Pasadena residents -- including yours truly. Here's hoping things get back to normal soon. For status updates on power outages in South Pas, click here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I know it's not Darfur. It's not Somalia or Iraq. It's not Katrina or Fukushima or the World Trade Center. I know our own Station Fire destroyed so much more. I know.

We're very lucky. I know for the most part that structures did not topple. It wasn't human lives ripped apart. We didn't have damage from bombs or bullets. It could have been so much worse. I know, I know.

But I also know that we dearly loved all those uprooted trees. We loved the way they shaded us. We loved the way they turned our hectic urban jungle into a beautiful urban forest. Like contemporary pagans, we don't just like the landscaping -- we love the company of trees. When one falls, we feel it like the loss of a spiritual cousin. When hundreds of trees are lost, it starts to feel like there is some kind of rift in the rightness of things.

While I'm grateful that most trees were spared, I've seen so many fallen ones in South Pas and Pasadena in the last few days, I feel shaken. Familiar landscapes are changed and I can't pretend that I won't miss what used to be. And one thing is for certain: the Christmas tree lots with all those chopped-down trees seem a bit ghoulish now.

Friday, December 2, 2011


"Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are."

--Joan Didion

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight.

--Raymond Chandler

(More on all of this when power is restored.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Today is the first day of the month, and that means it's Theme Day for participating City Daily Photo bloggers. This month's theme is Action Shots.

I'm not sure why I decided to post this picture. It's not particularly action-y in the just-caught-the-football or running-and-about-to-miss-the-train kind of way. But it is a quick snap of the normal, everyday action on Mission Street. And anyway, there just has to be a story behind that guy waving at a headless mannequin in a window. A secret sign from a spy to a hidden action hero? You decide.

For worldwide interpretations of this month's theme, be sure to check out my brilliant fellow City Daily Photo bloggers. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants