Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pasadena's Evanston Inn (and friends)

Morticia and Gomez weren't always in residence.

The Evanston Inn on Marengo Avenue was once a place where "Many well-to-do Midwesterners stayed in Pasadena in the 1880s and 1890s, once the transcontinental railroad made passage easy and inexpensive. The inn is located on Evanston Place, a name, like that of the inn, suggesting the city's Midwestern roots." [Pacific Coast Architectural Database]

And it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to picture what's now:

as then:

I don't know what the future holds for the Evanston, but please, not another Pasadena gulag.

While doing some research, who should I virtually bump into but Pasadena Daily Photo.

Maybe she'll meet me on the porch

for some cookies and lemonade

and we'll talk about old times.

Maestro, please.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Beetles

All it took was one day, not even a full day, and we bonded -- me and Algernon, Billy, Cora, Deacon.

That first evening, when I took them home and showed them around, of course each reacted differently. Ephraim seemed curious, Fred, excited; Gilda, bold; and Herbert, well, Herbert struggles with some trust issues, and we'd have to work on that.

We were all of us getting sleepy, it had been a long and eventful day, so I tucked them snugly in their transitional house, a mid-century modern plastic cup situated on the porch. Tomorrow morning they'd be able to explore on their own. Good night, Iona, Jeffrey, KiKi, Lawrence, I whispered.

What happened next, I have only myself to blame. What I forgot was the automatic sprinklers, and where one sprinkler in particular points -- relentlessly -- every morning at 4 a.m.

I fished them out of the cup this morning -- Monique, Neville, Opie, Prudence -- dumped their lifeless bodies in a corner of the garden, and drew a shade cloth over the area, to cover my shame.

Six hours later I returned, and all the beetles were gone ... Quentin, Rusty, Stewart, even Ulysses. All except Trevor. Trevor is famous for his steady nerves, cocksure stride, and I-don't-give-a-damn attitude.

"What about the others," I asked. "Are they still alive?"

"Oh sure, they're alive. Most moved to the Blankenship's place on Elm Street, though I think Vera and Winston found a rental over on Santa Anita; Xochitl and Yannick might take the guest house. And Zelda likes the look of that loquat tree next door."

"Without them, my citrus might die. I need them, Trevor, desperately. What should I do?"

Trevor chewed on a bit of aphid butt contemplatively, and said, "After last night, not sure. Just one thing I can think of."

"And that would be..."

"They might listen to one of their own. A word from their higher power, if you know what I mean."

Yes, I think I do. Here's hoping.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Being Sure

Once released in my citrus "grove," I'm 90 percent sure these bugs will wing it out of my yard to greener pastures. According to the internet, that's what I should expect. And I trust the internet. Thanks to the internet, I fixed my faucet and can boil an egg.

Thanks to the internet, I'm also 90 percent sure the younger brother helped orchestrate the horrific event this past week.

And yet.

I've got an unlikely scenario:

Say you had an older brother or friend; a brother or friend you trusted, and though he could be an asshole to others, he'd never been an asshole to you. What if this older brother said, "We're going to meet Jamie, Jack, and some others at the Boston Marathon, and we're taking a couple of pots of food; I've got the pots packed in rucksacks and you need to carry one."

And then, once you get close to the finish line, and the friends aren't there, the brother says, "These bags are damned heavy and we can't see anything. Drop them here, and let's go get a better view."

And, by the way, your brother says, that baseball cap looks stupid when you turn it backwards. It doesn't even keep the sun out. But you're your own man, and keep the cap slung backwards, exposing your face.

You're standing somewhere down the line, and the bombs go off, and you forget about everything -- that the friends never came, that you carried a backpack.

You're shaken by the event, of course. And tweet "No love here," afterwards. But you're 19, and resilient, and head to a party later that evening. At any age, but especially at a young age, when the horrific happens, one heads for the ordinary, for something familiar.

You join your friends, and the whole internet is ablaze with faces of possible suspects. Is it him? Her? Everyone's guessing. And suddenly, you see your face.

I'm not sure how the rest plays out. Maybe the brother tells him the truth, or says the whole city is gunning for them. Their only chance is to take it on the lam. The kid is 19, and has no family except the brother, and he doesn't want to die.

As I said, it's an unlikely scenario.

If the younger brother was an accomplice in the Boston horror, we'll learn the facts; he's not going anywhere. Until then, I won't let the internet -- my egg-boiling and faucet-fixing resource, nor the panting immediacy of the global media, be judge and jury.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Take courage where you find it

I've always tucked a bit of borage -- the herb of composure and courage -- in my pocket, on an as-needed basis. Before a difficult hike or ride, or after a really really bad day.

Turns out what I thought was borage wasn't borage at all. And the only thing that's protected me from my own rabid cowardice has been the common thistle.

Whatever works.

Here's to a better week ahead

From some of the gang

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Life at the Top

Among the many things I won't accomplish in this lifetime, scaling Mount Everest is one of them. Which makes me sad, but is probably for the best. Reaching the Everest summit would mean death to my sparkling cocktail chatter. Never again could I exit a conversation, any conversation, without dropping, "That reminds me of a funny little story about base camp," or "As my Sherpa always said..."

Bragging seems to be a cultural practice; some countries excel at it -- America being one of them -- while others achieve greatness, quietly. In our family, we kids, the Americans, constructed shrines for our third-place spelling medals, whereas Dad, a Norwegian, and accomplished in so many ways, hid his commemorations in a box in the attic, which we found only after he died.

Sir Edmund Hillary, in spite of the dashing name, was a most self-effacing man; so self-effacing that when he and Norgay reached the top of Everest, he took Norgay's picture, but would not let Norgay take his.

I find it almost inconceivable that someone could do something so magnificent as hike Everest and then not crow about it. Though overt crowing is frowned upon in any culture, the effect can be mitigated with the proper preface: "I'm deeply humbled to announce that, in the fabulous department, others find I am not wanting."

Anyway, I've officially crossed Everest off my to-do list. I'll never have the two basic requirements at the same time: Money and fitness. Everest is really expensive -- sad fact is, I'm only fit when unemployed.

Guess I'll have to be satisfied with racing out-of-shape high school boys up the Echo Mountain Trail. And that does kind of work for me. Because, and I'm most humbled to tell you this, I always beat them to the top.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


This is my garden. Welcome. Pardon, while I sweep away a few errant leaves.

Yes, this is how we look, in the morning, before our coffee, without make-up. It's funny, and sad, that some feel the need to enhance nature, either surgically or photographically. As if we can improve perfection. Leave it, leave it be.

Don't touch a thing. From the yellow rose

to the blue retriever.

Monday, April 8, 2013

To have and have not

Once upon a time, a race of "aged people" roamed the earth. Extinct by the mid-1960's, the Aged P's were replaced by their more vital offspring -- the matures, silvers, and seniors.

For the moment, anyway, you can find remains of their old stomping grounds in Altadena, the erstwhile Scripps Home for the Aged, rechristened simply The Scripps Home in 1965 or so. The property was sold and razed around 2007. Residents who expected to live the rest of their lives in the shadow of the mighty San Gabriels got packed off to another location, 12 miles south.

Scripps Home is nothing but an open field today, as it has been for the past five years. Soon there will be a high-end-high-density stucco development called MonteCedro. A retirement village, yes, but oh, so much more. Residents will discover "The Art of Life in Harmony" -- I expect that means yoga will be involved.

M and I planned to take some photographs this past Wednesday -- of the meadow plus a bank of houses on the east-flanking block, before total demolition and construction begins.

But in the morning, M sent an email, "Check it out. Location fenced, curtained, and locked. We might have to cut our way in."

I choked on my toast. M is getting pretty big for her urban exploring britches these days.

Still, I brought a Buck knife, just to be able to say, "Take it; Trouble is your business."

Alas, alas for M anyway, no heroic efforts were required. The deconstruction supervisor saw us poking around and gave us a tour of the grounds.

This bit of history will be history by the end of the month. Most of the houses were built in the 20s and 30s, maybe a couple from the teens. When the developer purchased the properties quite a few years ago, legend has it, there was a hold-out -- one owner who refused to sell.

That's often the case.

Should you ever find yourself in LaCrosse, Wisconsin -- not something I recommend, by the way, but still -- should you ever find yourself in LaCrosse, there's one place worth a visit. A big garden-variety shopping mall, famous for its Kohls, where a classic two-story farmhouse sits on the edge of the parking lot. When the developer bought the surrounding property, this farmhouse owner refused to vacate and waged a lawsuit, one that lasted almost a decade. And the farmer won, if living in a field of parked cars constitutes a win.

And who's to say? For some, the heart is where the home is. The cupboards built by a grandfather, an upstairs window where a mother did her ironing. Floorboards that creak as they creaked for generations of footfalls. In which case, perhaps it doesn't matter if you live next door to the Cracker Barrel and a long-bed truck, it's what's inside that counts.

Now, where was I. Oh yes...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Do Tell

This isn't, like, a satanic symbol, is it?

I'm going with isn't.

I actually have a pretty good story to go with this -- just need a little time to unfuck it.