Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Most Beautiful Thing

No, not this.

This music

We heard music at the top of the hill and stayed til the end and walked home in the dark.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

At the Huntington

Horsetails against the Conservatory. Packing a concealed weapon -- Canon at ISO 800, white balance cloudy, and some other dial.

I think I've either captured an abstract, or the shower curtain I've always wanted.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Creature comforts

Contrary to popular opinion, dogs don’t really think we humans are the greatest thing since sliced bread or kibble pie. It’s not that dogs lie to us, exactly; it’s just, for some lovely reason, they like to make us happy.

And if that means implying, from time to time, that we’re funnier, prettier, wiser, and toss a better tennis ball than anyone else – they’re not above a fib or two.

As for cats, well, cats get a bad rap – you know, their reputation for aloofness and silent superiority. There's a cat from down the street who visits me now and then, and she talks endlessly. I pour out the food in exchange for some sparkling conversation. Sometimes we hang out and dish about the neighbors...

Intro to the GOOD STUFF -- More stories from the adoption front by some of our favorite bloggers. Take a look.

(The link works now. Sorry.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

We won't crop these tales

Some of our favorite bloggers have their dog and cat stories up on Patch today. And some other favorites will have their stories up tomorrow.

When I asked these folks to write a few words for the second annual animal rescue post, most came in with the message, "edit as needed." But taking anything out would have been a crime. So I lobbied to run it for two days.

Hope you drop by.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Before you spake

Just wait until I dress these babies up in the proper quote.

I'm toying with two I found when I googled 'Wall' and 'Shakespeare': "Simply choose your wall sticker and Shakespeare quote color." and

"Our pre-designed vinyl walls have the words of Adlai Stevenson and Shakespeare in a guest washroom."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An interview with photo pro Ibarionex Perello

Taking photos at a holiday gathering is like cooking a holiday meal – without proper preparation, the end result may prove uncomfortable for all involved.

The digital age has made photography both easier and harder, better and worse than it was before. Better, because now we just snap, print and publish. Worse, because now we just snap, print, and publish. Today, it’s way too easy to publish photos – photos that look over-exposed, under-exposed. And photos that those near and dear, friends and family, might find less than flattering.

Post in haste, repent at leisure.

The digital photography phenomenon has other quagmires ...

More on Patch

[I took IP's photo class this weekend, and it made all the difference. But you'll just have to trust me on this while I practice.]

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Manny's Lincoln Heights

This is Manny Rodriguez. Other than the first six years of his life spent in Mexico, Lincoln Heights (or at least that same zip code) has always been his home. He's a community activist, preservationist, and talented raconteur.

His childhood was spent in a one room apartment, here, on the second floor.

“And by one room," he said, "I don’t mean one bedroom, one living room, one dining room; I mean, one room.” And the one room was on one floor that his family shared with 12 other people.

"As embarrassed as I was to let my friends know where I lived, I realize we were relatively happy there. Everyone looked after everyone else. We celebrated holidays together, and would set up a huge table for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had a good childhood."

It was the early 70’s. He learned English by watching cartoons (if I'm not mistaken, he called it the Bullwinkle Academy), and attended local school. Well, sometimes he attended school. And sometimes he went to a Dodger game. The stadium was and still is within walking distance.

After school and on weekends, he and his buddies explored old railroad stations and junk yards. For pocket money, they stole ice cream bars off the truck at the nearby Swiss Miss dairy and sold them to families picnicking at the park.

Manny and his friends played baseball at a field near the railroad tracks, the same field where teenagers, members of the Eastlake Gang, played handball. Though interaction was minimal, the gangsters made sure the boys weren’t bothered.

The men who camped by the railroad tracks (“We called them hoboes"), also watched them play. "When they were sober, they'd give us pointers, as in -- ‘Hey, that’s not the way to catch a ball. Here, let me show you.’”

Like the gangsters, the hoboes kept a protective eye on “their boys,” and chased out anyone who might be trouble.

Manny stayed in Lincoln Heights through high school and college. He married a girl from Lincoln Heights and now they have a son and a daughter, and a house in the hills of Montecito Heights. (His children live a very structured, protected life. It's hard when you have a dad who knows all the tricks, because that means you get away with nothing.)

Though now in a private high school, Manny's daughter attended the local Sacred Heart Elementary School, as had her mother before her. Manny has a friend from childhood who is dying of ALS. The friend commissioned this mural as a legacy to his community and his wife and children. It's on the wall at the Sacred Heart playground. Throughout, it tells two histories --one public, one personal. That's the man and his family at the mural's heart.

Going back and forth to work, I must have driven through Lincoln heights 3,000 times of more.

And I’d notice things – intriguing, mysterious, beautiful, messy, and ugly things -- but not with undivided attention. Whatever I saw was in direct competition with the car radio, phone, pager, and my own eternal internal dialog. I never stopped because, for reasons I can no longer fathom, it seemed vitally important that I rush to meet the stress waiting for me on the other side.

"What's the story behind the park at the base of the Broadway Bridge?" I'd wonder, driving past. Then a month later, "What's the story with the park at the base of the Broadway Bridge," too distracted to just stop the car and settle this question once and for all.

Manny saw one of my posts on Lincoln Heights recently and sent an email.

"If you want a tour, let me know. I love to show off my community."

So yes, I said. Yes.

He's giving me a second tour in December. I figure I should have at least another 2,999 questions left to ask.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fancy footwork

It's funny. I always know ahead of time when I'm going to be busted.

Still, I never have a response at the ready.

"Who are you and what are you doing here? And you have a dog? A dog? Dogs can't come in here!" He said, running up to us.

"Oh, I know, I know. I just...I just..."

We both waited for me to say something more as I backed out of the room. "I just...Hah!...well, you know... Oh, say, maybe you can point the way to the garden? I think I took a wrong turn."

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Things are falling apart around here now that I have no television. TV always helped me get through the unpleasant things in life – vacuuming, dishes, bills, taxes, death. Even writing. I can’t watch TV and write, but TV would be the commercial in between paragraphs,or maybe my paragraphs were the commercials in between TV, not sure about that one.

When people permanently pull the TV plug, some say they see God. At the very least, they imply they’re suddenly part of the intellectual elite. And to that I say Mazel tov. If one can be admired for not doing something, that’s a club I want to join, because there’s ever so many things I don’t do. Not to brag, or anything.

Like ex-drinkers, ex-smokers, non-gluten eaters, and atheists, ex-TV-ers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and talking about their specific area of inactivity.

If you mention something you saw on one program or another, they’ll interrupt in a state of near hysteria to say they haven’t owned a television for 2 years, 3 months, 14 days, 8 hours and 33 seconds.

Personally, I don’t think watching an old Cary Grant movie or sitting through every tennis grand slam has kept me from finishing a novel, saving the whales, grouting the tub, or polishing my nails. As to what I haven't done, the list is long, but TV can't take the credit.

Sure, maybe I’ve seen Once Upon a Time in the West some great multiples of once, and I've happened to watch It Happened One Night on more than one night. As to how many times, I can’t say. Like all of life’s sensual pleasures, it’s best not to count, else you might fit the definition of some unpleasant word.

Anyway, I’m going to get cable or satellite again. If I’m doomed for the next few months to unthinkingly search the house for my recently departed dog, at least I can find Morley Safer in the living room (or whoever it is still breathing at 60 Minutes).

But even though I plan to turn in my membership card to the sanctimonious non-TV club, I recently realized I’ve belonged to another for quite some time.

When someone mentions in passing the insidious practices and usury rates of the credit card companies, my eyes roll back in my head, I wave my arms like windmills, jump up and down and shout, “I never have a balance on my credit cards!”

I truly believe, with some soul searching, we can each take pride in something we’re not doing and how well we’re not doing it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cal-Tech Gene Pool

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The long ride home

I’m not the best rider in the world. I’m probably not even the best rider on the block. Let’s just say I’m queen of the unscheduled, spontaneous dismount and leave it at that. Still, I love horses in general, and my horse in particular. I’ve boarded Vandy at Altadena Stables for twenty years; we’re two very satisfied customers.

... Once upon a time, Captain George C. Hester built, owned and operated the Altadena Riding Academy where Altadena Stables stands today -- south of Altadena drive, north of Mariposa and west of Lincoln. By 1921, it was the millionaire’s row for the horses of millionaires and their horse-loving wives, sons and daughters. The Academy claimed six acres, including a 3-acre riding ring – the largest in California -- and a polo field. Most of the Captain’s 50 horses were thoroughbreds, and all came from Kentucky and Virginia. (This was a point of pride, as in those days, California bred, i.e. “homegrown” carried no bragging rights.)

The stable employed and housed grooms, trainers, a blacksmith, a veterinarian and even some guy whose job no longer has a name -- one tasked with keeping the leather of bridles and saddles well oiled and supple...

More on Patch

Monday, November 7, 2011

Not in the writing mood

But that's ok. My friend, the artist Dianne Patrizzi, included Phoebe's face in her latest piece. Phoebe's not the star, but I've always thought supporting characters make or break a work of art.

Click here to see Patrizzi's picture and post in toto. Toto? What am I saying? I mean, Phoebe.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Family resemblance

Take in one minute of each and tell me I'm imagining things.

Lonesome Roads

Rick Perry

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Small Favors on Facebook

You know what makes me mad?

Every time, every fucking time someone refers to my blog, says something nice about my blog, on Facebook, he or she gets one weak, limp, wizened "thumbs up" in response. You know how embarrassing that is?

It's like running for 6th-grade student council all over again.

What, you -- you lone thumb in the wilderness -- voted for me because your mom is friends with my mom and she made you do it?

As for the rest, apparently it goes against your deepest, strictest principles to click bloody Like. It's really that hard to drag the mouse a few centimeters and press the button?

Granted, Like offers no qualifications. No Sorta, Kinda, Maybe if I'm Drunk. But people, it's not going on your resume.

Everyone else I know on Facebook can say something such as, "I love trees!" and they can count on 50 Likes and 30 comments. I write 400 words and get the single digit.

Don't think this goes unnoticed. I'm counting heads and taking names.

Getting your goat

Was I really thinking about raising goats? Well, maybe ... probably not ... no.

To be honest, I’ll use any excuse to visit the Zane Grey Estate on a Saturday morning. It’s such a pretty place, a connection to old and new Altadena that smells of pine and healthy earth and growing things. So a workshop on raising goats? Sure. Should they ever offer Window Washing for Dummies, Do it Yourself Drywalling, or any other skill I have no intention of practicing, I’ll still be first in line.

The only downside to visiting Steve Rudicel and Gloria Putnam of Zane Grey and Mariposa Creamery fame, is that I feel like such a slacker. I don’t raise goats and chickens, make my own cheese and wine. I don’t own a restaurant like Steve, I’m not an astronaut or nuclear physicist or whatever it is Gloria does professionally.

Long ago I learned to set the bar rather low so as not to be a disappointment to myself.

About 40 people turned out for Gloria’s presentation, “Goat Keeping for Dairy.”

More at Patch