Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Sure, take my picture. Step over me, around me, on me --what do I care. It's 100 degrees in the shade.

What's left to write in one of my Altadena Patch columns could fit into a free-sample Trader Joes cup.

I've written about every local wild bird, reptile, chicken, dog, duck, cat, goat, horse, and rat. The effect of rats on the garden. The urban gardener, the gardening group, trees, tomatoes, bananas, herbs, flowers. Native flowers, and when to plant them, how they grow.

Growing native gardens in parking lots. Parking lots and stores. Stores, no stores, which stores, local stores, chain stores. The nice streets, blighted streets. The history of streets. Fireworks on the street. Street parades. Children in parades. Children in art class, children posing in trashcans.

Rules regarding our trashcans, rules and water usage. Water, and rain, too little rain, too much rain, rain at the wrong time, rain at unexpected times. Natural watersheds, watersheds in open space, food growing in open space. Open space and education.

Education, schools -- duo language, private, boarding, public, home. Homes, maintaining homes, and roofers, plumbers, electricians, contractors, written estimates, reading the fine print.

Reading and local writers, painters, potters, sculptors, musicians.

So I came up empty this week. Given we're now in the triple-digits, you'd think I could half-bake one little idea. But you'd think wrong.


  1. Karin, even your writing about not writing is interesting.

    Lemme think.

    Road rage. Toenails. Windowsills. Bicycle chains. Chain gangs. Motorcycle gangs. Gang violence. Violets. Lunch.

    I'm riffing here, just trying to toss you some ideas.

  2. I agree w/Petrea, I bet you can even write about pulling weeds and it would sound exciting!. Or scraping gum off the bottom of your shoes?? I can imagine the colorful 4 letter words on that one..lol

  3. How about your official town poet? How about that Institute of Domestic Science where you can make cheese? How about the city ordinance where you can only own two dogs? How about the bike store? How about...hmm...a new novel that takes place in Altadena. I know of one.

  4. i read the title as "friends", and we have many of those lizardy friends around here in sp. stay cool.

  5. How about the latest rumor that I heard? Wal-mart's planning a third store in that half-finished hulk at Lincoln/Altadena? Watch the comments come in!

  6. Har.
    How about writers that drink through the night?
    Altadena's literary history, from the wannabes to the made its?
    I hesitate to praise your writing, only because sometimes praise causes us to freeze over the keyboard.

  7. You can always return to a subject. Lets see....maybe something like this

    "Mountain Bikers; Scourge of the Foothills Part II"

  8. Love the rhythm of your writing in this post! And the photos.
    It's been over 100 degrees here, too. And with range fires to the east and to the west, the sky has a strange, sci-fi orange-ish glow.

  9. You've come up with great weekly pieces ever since Altadena Patch started, so I think you deserve a vacation. But if you did, I'd miss my Tuesday morning shot of excellent writing.

    Plan B would be to move to a different Patch area. How about The Adjacent?

  10. Is baking better than steaming? Maybe, but I still feel for you.

    Get cool, revive and then tackle the next piece.

    Love the lizard photo.

  11. Sounds like some good suggestions up there. Mine is always about closing your eyes and discovering what walks across your eyelids.

    Of course, 100 degrees can kill anything. Do you have AC? Even so, you can get claustrophobic.

  12. When my brain needs a break I go to the movies. It's cool and they have popcorn.

  13. I think you should write about air conditioning repairmen. Tall. Hunky. Glistening skin. Could turn out to be a great Harlequin Romance novel as only you could write.

  14. Ice age, ice cream, popsicles, snow, sleet, hail, ice burgs, avalanches, Slurpees, alcohol rubs, Freon, absolute zero, hypo thermia, sex?

  15. PB, Hah! And I've done the gang violence, but you're right, windowsills are an unexplored territory.

    KBF, over at Patch they won't let me use 50% of my normal language. They even edited out "asshole."

    Margret -- done, done, and done. Linda, Des, and Zane Grey. (All of these I thoroughly enjoyed, btw)

    Alex & Banjo, yes on the a/c. This is another kind of fried.

    Bellis, that's like the single Patch around that hasn't invited me over. Because then, you know, I'd prevail upon PA.

    Des, ixnay on the drink all ightnay.

    Oh Ms M, oh, well described. Such and eerie sight. Hope you're not getting any of the ash fallout.

    Bayside, I haven't been to the movies for awhile. What's good?

    Terri, funny you should mention that. I am working on a little something something.

  16. Those guys took all my ideas. No fair. Oh! How about poor sports?!?

  17. Movie stars! Who ya got up there?

  18. Did I just feel a little quake? Could be your next topic.

    I know an Altadena woman who says her neighbor has 40 roosters raised for fighting. Depressing but true.

  19. The demise of road maps. Kids just found one while cleaning out a car, and think it's hilarious that I won't get GPS. I tell them the GPS is in my head.

    Or, as a friend was discussing today, appointment books vs. electronic gadget reminders?

    So much newfangled stuff. So little time.

  20. Hmm, yes, sports and movie stars. Susan, did earthquake last Thursday. But Marjie, you tell those young 'uns that in ancient times, mariners used their testicles to navigate the ocean. It must be true, I heard it on PRI.

  21. I feel your fry...or I will tomorrow when TheChief and I venture down to the land of triple digits, just for the night...am I nuts? I was fried at 90 degrees up here today!!!

  22. Sometimes I just let the photos ' talk'. They have a lot to say!

  23. Uh Oh...the dreaded blank page. But, I agree with Petrea. Maybe you could write an article about nothing, kind of like an episode from Seinfeld.

  24. I would very much like it if you would list some of your favorite authors and why. Bill Bryson? Nick Hornby? Martin Amis? Oh, that's me. What makes your brain tick Karin? Inquiring minds..

  25. Yeah, don't get me wrong. No writer's block, I'm just tapped out on Altadena for now. And when it comes to the Patch columns, they have to be Altadena-centric. Which I'm just finding a tremendous Albatross right now.

    Kenny Mac, oh yes, let's talk books. I love the Martin Amis essays -- they're so beautifully crafted and sly and...and...British. But I've never been able to get through his fiction.

  26. Okay, now that you've clarified your appreciation of Martin Amis, I understand. I could never enjoy his novels; I'll have to check out his essays.

  27. Heeere leezard leeezard leeezard!

    The pic reminds me of a squirrel I saw up on San Gorgonio once. It was hovering in the 90's/100's at 7000ft and the squirrel was flat out on a low hanging branch and PANTING. As I got close he gave me a look of "oh, I don't care if you kill me now, I'm sure it's cooler in Hell than here! Go ahead, do it!".

    I have to give a nod for you writing so much about "nothing". We'll have to bestow the "Seinfeld Award" upon you!

    wait, they edited out "asshole"? In relation to the car break in or? WTH is the world coming to when you can't accurately describe someone who altered your world? Try asshat on them next time! ;-)

    For inspiration, how about picking out a few people in Mtn View Cemetery and researching them?

  28. you can write about nothing and I'll read it!

  29. You could interview everybody in town.

    Or I could come up the hill and commit an unsolved crime.

  30. I've got an idea that I'm curious about: that block of Highview between Altadena (north) and Mariposa (south)--clearly a midcentury modern one-block large development in the middle of craftsmen all around. What's its story? It's made me very curious in the last month or so.

    Another thing I'm curious about: which olive trees in the western part of Altadena are left over from the old olive groves? What variety are they? Does anyone still use them for any purpose?

    Also, the house on Altadena that belongs to Dale, a RIPE member. Her husband unearthed an ancient grape vine, barely alive, and nursed it back to life and made award winning wines with its grapes. AND, I need to know more about the ancient avocado trees that some old nursery-man planted on their property--two of which survived a great freeze early in the 20th C.

    Speaking of nursery men, what about more about that Clark dude who came up with the name Altadena when he named Altadena nursery?

    I want to know! And you're the best story-teller I know, so let's hear it!

  31. Christina, you're hired! I want to know the answers to these questions, too!

  32. Des - If you want to give Amis a spin, I suggest starting with "The War Against Cliche." I know the title is rather a scold, but the rest is brilliant.

    Trish, I like the cemetery idea. But maybe just Mt View in general to start.

    Pat, I prefer to call them sweet nothings. But I'm most curious as to what PB has on offer.

    Christina, thanks. Just a big old thanks.