Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Altadena: Where we live



I’m sandwiched between two poets. Linda Dove lives a mile to the east. Hildegarde Flanner doesn’t live four blocks south, almost a straight line from my house. But she did once, from 1926 to 1961.

Ten years ago I bought my house, and thus began my most meaningful and imprudent love affair. Even from a distance you wouldn’t say my choice was especially wise. It leaks, sprays, sheds, groans. It likes to collect spiders; we have potty problems. When things go bump in the night, it’s usually from down below. My 90-year old doesn't like the cold, and doesn't much cotton to the heat, either. But even if some other guy shares my bed, it’s my house I spoon. My house, built in 1923, one of a series of orchard sheds constructed when Altadena was oranges and grapes, barons and bootleggers. My house; mine.

I love it for the oak and camphor tree, for the hand-blown glass window, the view of the mountains, the plaster lathe walls. I love it for all the birds and lizards. I love it because I find a shard of old pottery when the soil is turned. I love it because my present has a past.

And we’re just a stone's throw away from Hildegarde Flanner’s house.

I’ve walked by so many times, like stalking a rock star. And now I’ve been inside, and I’ll take you there. Actually, the owner will give us a tour.

47 comments:

  1. From my 1927 to your 1923:

    Love this writing, Karin. What a love letter to your house.

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  2. I just knew that drawing room was going somewhere extra special.

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  3. For the love of touch down Jesus; where in the hell did the snark go?

    Mid-Town G

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  4. Chez Hiker is some place special, but we all knew that already.
    V in Paree

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  6. Midtown! If I knew you were coming, I'd've baked a cake.

    Y'all are going to love the innards of the compound. Hildegarde's husband was an architect, and the current owner teaches architecture.

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  7. Thanks for introducing me to Hildegarde. I'd never heard of her.

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  8. I love "It leaks, sprays, sheds, groans." Good thing the 90-year-old has a devoted carer to wipe away the dribble and potty accidents.

    Looking forward to the tour of the poet's house.

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  9. Beautifully said, KB. I think your house brings out the poet in you. Looking forward to the visit with Hildegarde.

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  10. It sounds quaint & cozy. My kind of place!

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  11. Your home was a former orchard shed? wow

    I can't say that my glass paynes were hand blown but I do know that when glass ages gravity causes it to thicken at the bottom making that wavy effect.

    My home is a baby boomer. Born the same year as many of my friends; 1955...and like my friends, it's got a wavy bottom too

    looking forward to the tour HF tour.

    thnkx for the TDJ link
    bizzarrio

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  12. You have an oak tree? Nice!
    ...are their squirrels in California?

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  13. I covet my neighbor's hand-blown glass windows. When we moved in to our house, all the windows were aluminum. Sigh.

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  14. Built in 1923, remodeled (enlarged) in 1928, and sold to us in 1989: For those of us who love old houses, leaks, sprays and potty problems are all part of the charm. And, hey, plaster walls are great for kids with tricycles: no dents like those snooty new houses get in their easy to wreck sheet rock!

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  15. A poet lives a mile to the west of Linda Dove's house.

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  16. I agree, your homes sounds like a wonderful place. The poet's might be interesting but is there an Economic Indicator in her yard???? I think not. I do like the idea of the gifted writer sandwiched between two poets.:) Yum.
    V

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  17. Ah, thanks for putting me in such good company. I have to look up Flanner now; she has such a poet's name! Can't wait to see her house...you find the best Altadena gems!

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  18. Hey, there's some interesting info on Flanner's house in Michele Zack's Altadena book, pp. 108-09..."only the builder's desire for the picturesque or the quaint mattered, and in any case they would soon be obliterated by bougainvillea, Banksia roses, and yellow jasmine, their interiors ill lit and smelling oddly--a faint stink that came from the redwood."

    And so forth.

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  19. Oh, that was Hildegarde speaking, by the way...

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  20. Ah, my house doesn't have the age or the charm of yours, but I'm beginning to know the feeling you describe here. And Altadena . . . all I can say is that I'm damned lucky.

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  21. Yes, from her book "At the Gentle Mercy of Plants." I like her prose better than her poems. She has a gentle wit, a light touch, and tells about ... well, that's for the next post.

    Christina, you've added so much charm out your way. Altadena has a magic...

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  22. Your house sounds excellent, but with all those poet spirits in the 'hood, you might need an exorcism.

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  23. Your house sounds like a charmer. :)

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  24. Lovely tribute, Karin, to the beauty of your 'shed'. You might live between two amazing poets, but you are outstanding, too!

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  25. Beautiful writing. I'm looking to buy a house in Pasadena or Altadena and just looked at one today in your neck of the woods. Love it up there. Thanks for pointing out all the creative energy in the 'hood, including yours. (And sorry to bring up real estate... tacky, tacky.)

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  26. Get one if you can, Susan. Not tacky at all. I lived in Altadena when I first "discovered" this area, and I still take my dry cleaning to Merit Cleaners and stop in at Webster's, just so I can amble down the Altadena streets. And I never take the direct route.

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  27. Karin, how do you find out who lived in which houses? Is the answer in Linda's comment?

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  28. I like it that she tried to help Kay Nielsen out when he wasn't doing well in Hollywood. I love Nielsen's illustrations, and until your post today, I didn't realize he lived in Altadena as well.

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  29. Didn't know about Hildegard, but now I do!

    Always knew you were a poet though, clever you.

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  30. Susan, since I'm always on the prowl up here, email me what in general you're looking for and I'll keep my eyes open.

    Petrea, it was a little detective work, including matching some descriptions to what is actually there. The owner has, understandbly, asked that I not give the exact location, so of course I'll respect that.

    Maybe I'll finish this up in the next day or two, before Linda and Bellis uncover everything.

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  31. Careful, Brenda. When Daisy said to Gatsby, “But I loved you TOO” (my caps), he went berserk. LOL? How come nobody here says LOL? How am I supposed to be cyber-cool if I say hip stuff like LOL and I’m the only one.

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  32. Ah, well, because when someone writes LOL, I HHUTH. Figure that one out, professor.

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  33. If it were so, Banjo, I'd say ROTFLMFAO! But alas, it ain't so.

    WV: hoton. I've got my hoton. Do you?

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  34. I didn't look her up. I'm waiting for your take on the woman.

    btw: Mexico won the world cup. The streets of Highland Park, otherwise known as the "Land of Enchantment" are alive with the sound of music, gun shot and car horns.

    time to join the fun

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  35. Earl, I can't get the ROT. I know the rest.

    AH, I have no Ph.k. clue. Something about the Hughie the Hugenot's Uncle Theo?

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  36. HHUTH.

    Hmmm.

    You have hissyfits under the house?
    You hoist hooch until thoroughly hammered?
    You have hiccups uncontrollably, then hives?

    (Obviously I'm no professor.)

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  38. Keeping with the theme of the post, HHUTH just might be: Hang Head Under The House.

    Banjo52, ROT (F) is Rolling on the floor (lmfao.) Don't ask why or how I know these things.

    Hiker! You can have your cake and eat it too, s'ok just "Play 'As Time Goes By"', fitting for your uncharacteristic sentimental post, which caught me a bit off guard... then again I haven't been hear for quite a while.

    Word verification: VAWFST. Now figure that one out.

    Midtown

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  39. WTF, oops, sorry... you can delete one of them, (I'll go hide now.)

    Midtown

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  40. Anon, thank you. Wow, that's a lot of laughing.

    Laurie, I like your hoisting hooch option.

    HHUTH: in context, how about "hit him/her under the head"? Under the head??? Hiker, I think we need rescue.

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  41. Professor, you're good. Though I like the variations far better, it is hit him upside the head.

    Midtown, there will be one more, and then we'll return to our regularly scheduled snark.

    PA, between Mexico's win and the Laker's, I could hear downtown LA all the way up here.

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  42. You're sounding a bit poetic yourself, but love will do that to a gal.

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  43. A 1920s house in Altadena sounds just about perfect. I lived in Altadena from when I was 6 until about 19 and I don't like when people lump it together and call it all "Pasadena."

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