Monday, December 31, 2012

A Half-Full Glass of Champagne

~~ Year-End Sunset on Sierra Madre Boulevard ~~

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
~~Bill Vaughn
I like to think I am of the optimist variety.  Sure, I may be sleeping by 12:02 a.m. on New Year's Eve - and some years have even been asleep until 11:57 - but still, I like to welcome the New Year with a jaunty smile and a handshake (and a phone call to my mom). 
A lot of people like to use the beginning of a new year to set goals.  "Me too," says the optimist.  Alas, since I tend to be much better at the "thinking up" part, than at the "following-through" part, I may not meet said goals.  But as an optimist, I always think that this will be The Big Year.  You know.  The one where I Get It All Done. (Optimists are not often simultaneously known for being Realists.)
How about you? Do you tend to greet the New Year with a hug, and a mile-long list of goals?  Are you just happy to give the Old Year a boot out the door?  Or are you somewhere in the middle?  


Sunday, December 30, 2012


This building looks simple and unobtrusive, but don't let it fool you.  There is a lot of action behind those doors.  Located in Sierra Vista Park, this is the barn that houses our town's annual entry in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.  This year's entry is called "The Sky's the Limit," in keeping with the Rose Parade's 2013 theme of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" 

I took this photo some time ago.  Right about now, the many dedicated volunteers who put together Sierra Madre's float (whose chassis you can see here, along with a bit more background info on the float), are working at a fevered pace to complete the float's decorating.  The parade is on January 1, but Sierra Madre's float will come back to town a day or two after that, and will be displayed in Kersting Court.  I'll be sure to show you a photo of the float - it promises to be a beauty, as always!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Norris House

This picturesque home was built in 1885 by Stephen R. Norris, who had come to the U.S. from Canada in 1884.  In 1888, Mr. Norris married Adeleine "Adda" Lockart, who was the niece of John J. Hart.  She accompanied the Harts when they came to Sierra Madre from Cleveland in 1884. 

Stephen and Adda Norris had two children: Stella Lockhart Norris and James George ("George") Norris.  Mr. Norris, owner of a grocery store that was one of Sierra Madre's earliest merchants was also, for a time, postmaster of the City of Sierra Madre. 

The Norris House was completely restored in 1985, the home's centennial.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Turning Over a New Leaf

How beautiful the leaves grow old.  How full of light and color are their last days.
~~ John Burroughs

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Taste of Fun

~~ Owner, and all around great guy, Billy Sullivan ~~
 One of our newer businesses in town is The Bottle Shop's beautiful Wine Tasting Room.  Looking through the Tasting Room's website (and passing by on their open nights of Wednesday through Saturday), it seems they have been keeping very busy.   Their Wednesday night beer tastings (which will be resuming on January 9th) are just $5.00, and the Thursday and Friday night Wine Flights are $10.00. 

This Saturday, the 29th, just in time for your New Year's toast, the Tasting Room will be hosting a special event featuring seven California Sparkling Wines, from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m.   The cost for this fun ad interesting evening is $25, and reservations are required (626-355-1262).  The last one sold out, so hopefully I have not given you this tidbit of info too late! 

For additional information on this event, and others, check the e-mail archives on their website.  The Bottle Shop Wine Tasting Room: Where they make every sip count!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Dreams

Some long for a white Christmas.  Some wish for a fun day filled with family, food, and frivolity.  Some just want lots of peace and quiet.  And some would be thrilled with a wee bit of catnip.

Hoping that your holiday was all that you dreamed it would be.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas

Each year, a couple of days before Christmas, a mysterious snowman appears in our snowless town.  I like to think that it's Frosty himself, come to life. 

I took this photo yesterday afternoon, and last night at about 8:30 we stopped back by to visit him.  He was holding court (in Kersting Court!), with kids and adults alike posing for pictures with him.  Everyone was having such a great time - I guess he brings out the kid in all of us.

Here's to the hope that we can all find a bit of the kid in ourselves today. 
Merry Christmas to You!!

"One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don't clean it up too quickly."
~Andy Rooney

Monday, December 24, 2012

Night Before Christmas

This decoration, spotted earlier this month in Savor the Flavor, is perfect for Christmas Eve.  Not only is the art by Karen Didion beautifully detailed, there is a button on the back and, when you push it, an entire Christmas poem is there to entertain you! 

Which poem? You guessed it!  "A Visit from St. Nicholas," published in 1823, and generally attributed to Clement C. Moore.  Interestingly, this poem is largely responsible for our current conception of dear old Santa Claus, including his physical appearance, his mode of transportation, and the number and names of his reindeer.

If you're in the mood for a little poetry, I found this video, featuring a wonderful vintage book, and narration by Perry Como.

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Not Too Shabby!

This absolutely adorable building is the home of The Shabby Dog, a full-service dog-grooming salon.  In addition to pampering your pup with the full spa experience, they feature a boutique that sells dog apparel, collars and leads, beds and blankets, and other accessories to keep your canine looking and feeling Shabby Chic.  The salon, owned by well-known entrepreneur-about-town Sandy Duvall (owner of Sierra Fitness), also provides doggie daycare and boarding. 

Best of all, they have a way cute doggie-mobile (called The Shabby Cab) that will transport your precious pooch to and from his or her appointment. Oh, if only I had a dog...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Gussied Up

Looking for just the right holiday outfit for your little one?  Once Upon a Time, on Sierra Madre Boulevard, probably has just the thing(s) you need.  Open daily, they have a great selection of children's clothing, including shoes, hats and raincoats.  They also carry children's books and educational toys. As you can see, they have some very cute things to adorn your little Christmas angel!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa's Helper

A couple of nights ago, at 8:30 p.m., I spied one of Santa's Helpers through the trees. Yes - it was one of the Elves in Brown.  Such dedication...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Curtain Call

~~ Cinderella stands watch as a king and a caroler breeze past.  Just a regular evening in town... ~~
"I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year."
~~Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
As you can see from the marquee, the Sierra Madre Playhouse production of "A Christmas Carol" will close on December 23rd"Cinderella's Christmas," which has been running on Saturday mornings, will conclude this weekend (Saturday, the 22nd), as well. 

According to the theater's website, "Driving Miss Daisy" will start on January 18th, continuing through March  9th.  The website has more information on tickets, etc., as well as a cool trailer for the play.  Something to look forward to in the new year! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I've been enjoying all the decorated fences this year.  Do you decorate your house for the holidays? 

We went with the traditional colored-lights-around-the-roofline setup.  What's your favorite outdoor decorating style?  Subtle?  Full-on Clark Griswold house, from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? 

I like them all - so much time and effort, and so much payoff.  Each evening, when we light the lights, it takes me right back to childhood.  I would pester my mom mercilessly, until she'd finally (finally!!!!) say it was dark enough to turn on the lights.  Oh man - the patience a child has to exercise at a moment like that!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Place Like Home

~~ This beautifully-decorated house makes me think of home, family, & friends. ~~

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! 
 ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836


Monday, December 17, 2012

Lucky Break

~~  Blurry Artsy photo of the bar.  ~~ 

Lucky Baldwin's Delirium Pub is all decked out for the holiday season, and ready for you to stop by and take a break from all that yuletide hustle and bustle you've been enjoying. 

I know that at this time of year, the pub offers various and sundry delicioso Christmas Brews and New Year Lagers.  But I'll tell you what menu item I'm currently most excited about: Their absolutely stupendous BLT sandwich, which is very much like the one my Aunt Til used to make. (Seriously.  I had an Aunt Til.  She had lots of special dishes.) 

Of course, if you're a vegetarian (or simply anti-bacon), I'm guessing this isn't the sandwich for you, but there are many other choices.  No matter what you're there for, LB's has good sandwiches, good entrees, and great beer.  I'm told they have other drinks too, alcoholic and otherwise, but I'm just too busy choosing between the contents of all those taps to find out!  (I mean, it is a pub...)

So, treat yourself to a break.  You're a good person (everyone says so!), and you deserve it!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December Skies

This was the lovely blue sky that greeted us earlier this week.  Soon after, it got gloomy and cold again, but for a short, glorious while, this was our weather reality.

Whenever the sky looks like this after a rain, I can't help but think of ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky." 

Side Note:  Please don't judge me for loving Electric Light Orchestra.  They sold 50 million records, so I can't possibly have been the only one (circa late 70's/early 80's), happily driving along with their cheery and, dare I say, creative music in my eight-track!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


~~In the Memorial Garden at Ascension Church~~
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." 

~~Fred Rogers

Friday, December 14, 2012

Just Passing Through

This peaceful walkway leads from the parking lot behind the Sierra Madre Public Library, up to the building's front entrance.  I've always liked the way it kind of gets you in that "library mood," as you pass from the world of cars and freeways, and into the private sanctuary that is books. 

Speaking of books, the library has just announced this year's choice for Sierra Madre's "One Book One City" program for 2013.   The book is the award-winning "Unbroken," by Lauren Hillenbrand.  I read this book awhile back, and highly recommend it.  A month-long series of events focusing on World War II (the setting for much of the book) is being planned for this coming February, and the library has copies of the book for check-out.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Great Communicators

Our local parrots are known for squawking like crazy, and they're frequently on the move.  Yesterday, as I left for work, they left their noisy, elusive personas behind and posed quietly on these power lines, seemingly waiting for me to take my photo.  I zoomed in a bit, but there were many more, enjoying the calm, pre-rainstorm morning. 

I've always been fascinated by these roving gangs of merry little creatures who have an affinity for our San Gabriel Valley.  When I was a kid, my friends and I thought (and who knows if one of us made this one up?) that there had been a train accident somewhere nearby, and the birds were on board, escaping to safety in our valley.  Other theories - probably not from the imaginations of eight year-old girls - are that they escaped (or were released) from a pet store during a fire, and that they were smuggled in to the United States for the pet trade, and somehow released. 

According to The California Parrot Project, there is no single event that accounts for the thousands of parrots that roost in our local trees, but rather that "dozens or hundreds of instances of escape or release ultimately led to the breeding populations we have today."  Currently there are thirteen separate documented species of naturalized parrots in California.

If you're wondering why parrots tend to be so joyously, happily noisy, the website says that they use their voices to make contact with one another, to play, and to announce their arrival and departure.  In fact, their need to communicate is at the very core of their being.  No wonder I like them so much.

Today, we're expecting more rain, wind, and maybe even a bit of hail. Now that I think of it, maybe these guys were having a meeting to vote on where they should go to stay warm and dry during the deluge.

For a wonderful photo of a much larger group of our parrot friends, and more info on our parrot phenomenon, take a look at this post from my friend Petrea, at Pasadena Daily Photo.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


~~Our local roses make every day special~~

Today is December 12, 2012.  We've had a day similar to this one each year this decade.  1/1/1.  2/2/2.  3/3/3.  You get the picture.  So, unless someone adds a thirteenth month next year, we won't see another number combo just like this in our lifetimes. 

People tend to place varying levels of importance on dates like these.  All those matchy numbers are milestone-like with just the right festive flair.  People get married, expectant parents hope for a unique birthdate, and already-born birthday boys and girls enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime day.  Of course, some people assign a much more significant meaning (while others disagree). 

Me? I'm planning to go to work, attend a couple of meetings and if it doesn't rain, go for a nice walk in the afternoon.  Just a regular day - special in all its sameness.  What about you?  Any big plans today?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012



We interrupt this already-busy season for a little-known-fact break:  The poinsettia is a native flower of Mexico, brought to the U.S. about 100 years ago by Dr. Joel Poinsett, the first United States ambassador to Mexico.  While they are popular all over the U.S., most of today's poinsettias are grown in California.

So, at this crazy time of year, when we all get a little stressed out from time to time, it's important that we all, like this little family of four (see the cat in the lady's lap?) take time out from all the excitement to stop and smell the poinsettias, as it were...

Monday, December 10, 2012

About the Twelve Days

~~The Twelve Days of Christmas Have Landed in the Window at Savor the Flavor~~
According to Wikipedia, the specific origins of The Twelve Days of Christmas, first published in England in 1780, are unknown.  While it is considered an English carol, it is likely of French origin. It is thought to have been a "memories and forfeits" game, in which verses in a song became increasingly more complex, and the person who is unable to keep up has to forfeit something, e.g., a kiss or a sweet. 

Historically, there are many variations on the twelve gifts that are given, and there are even variations on who gives them (for example, "my true love" vs. "my mother").  In recent years, e-mails have circulated, claiming that there is a deeper meaning to the Twelve Days; however, it appears that this is simply rumor.

This weekend, we were fortunate to see the Los Angeles Master Chorale perform their Festival of Carols at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  Conductor Grant Gershon introduced each of the songs.  When he got to this one he began by saying, "Each year, as I program the music for our performances, I try to stay away from annoying songs.  But this one is a very snappy version, so bear with me!"  The audience laughed (because, really, who doesn't think this one is tedious?), and then the chorale wowed us with John Rutter's version of the carol.  I was hooked. 

I found a recording of the version that the Master Chorale sang, from an album entitled "The Colours of Christmas."  It featured The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Bach Choir, with John Rutter directing.  I find it to be a very nice three minutes.  Let me know if you agree!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The JailHouse Rocks!

This is the entrance to the JailHouse Inn, which I mentioned in a recent post.  I don't know who did these paintings, but I'm wildly impressed! 

I worked in this building in the 80's, which just happens to be how I started my love affair with Sierra Madre.  My boss's secretary sat just in front of the inside entrance to the then-abandoned jail, and it was my fondest wish to see the inside.  (What?  That's not everyone's fondest wish?) 

So, I never made it inside, but was so happy to hear it had later been put to good use as the smallest Bed & Breakfast in the country.  Not to mention just about the most creative business idea ever!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Santa Claws

A friend and I were out walking yesterday, and went to see these Santa hats that are adorning a beautiful group of cacti.  Imagine my surprise when this sweet kitty popped up out of nowhere, demanding asking for a little pet.  (Seriously.  He popped up.  I almost dropped my camera.)  In a classic quid-pro-quo, I scruffled his fur for a moment, and then he* kindly posed for my photo.  We are now BFF's. 

I'm curious about what he's thinking in this shot.  It might be something like, "Boy, if I had opposable thumbs, I'd be wearing a cool hat, rather than those cacti.  I'd look awesome.  Besides, you can't even pet those guys!"  Or maybe, "Wait.  I hear something.  Is that the can opener?" 

(*Although the kitty and I did not discuss gender I am, somehow, convinced he was a he.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Bailey Home

This home sits somewhere at the top of the list of Adele's Favorite Sierra Madre Homes (not exactly recognized by anyone in particular, but heartfelt just the same).  Thanks to a walking map purchased for the grand sum of One Dollar from the Sierra Madre Historical Preservation Society, I now know that it is the 1910 Bailey Home. 

Mrs. Ida May Jameson bought this home, across the street from the Jameson Home, in 1930.  The home was purchased for her widowed sister Georgia West.  The Jamesons appear to have been kind people, as Mr. Jameson's sister, Minnie Ryan, was living with the Jamesons at that same time.

Apparently, Mrs. West, who was about 70 when the Bailey Home was given to her in 1930, found our town a bit too sleepy for her needs, and soon headed back to the big city of Los Angeles.  Mrs. West's daughter, Ruth, then moved into the home.   As of the 1940 Census, Ruth's niece Shirley Snyder, the daughter of Ruth's younger sister Olive, was also living in the home. 

Miss Ruth West must have found Sierra Madre much more agreeable than did her mother, as she lived in the Bailey Home until her death in 1974, at 86 years of age.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Miles of Tiles

I have passed this wall on the east side of the Sierra Madre Elementary School campus, many times.  Although I assumed that a group of students made the tiles, I have always wondered what the exact story is. 

So, Crackerjack Researcher that I am, I went straight to the website to get my info!  Editor Bill Coburn (whom I was lucky to meet not long ago, in Who Ville) had, of course, posted an article that gave me the info I sought.

About ten years ago, students in the school's Art Docent Program each created two identical ceramic tiles: One that they would keep, and one that would be donated to the school.  The students learned not only the process of tile making, but the history of the craft as well.  The donated tiles would then be installed on a wall, as part of the school's renovation.  This was a community effort, with parents, grandparents, teachers, and civic groups donating time to the project.  This wall appears to be the product of that effort.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fanciful Fencing

Love your neighbor as yourself;
but don't take down the fence.
If the owners of this fence were my neighbors, I definitely wouldn't take down the fence.  But that's only because it's so fun.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Memorial Garden at Ascension Church

Until very recently, I was unaware that Sierra Madre's Church of the Ascension has a Memorial Garden for ash burials.  The entrance to the Garden, seen here, is just north of the front entrance to the church, on Baldwin. 

In addition, Reverend Louis Redner Dalrymple is buried in the crypt that is located within the church.  A memorial plaque in his honor can be found near the altar.  According to "The History of a Parish," by Catherine Turney (1985), the plaque reads as follows:

"Beneath this chancel lies the body of
Louis Redner Dalrymple, Rector
October 1901 to June 1903
Died January 30, 1904"
As you can see, his time as rector was very brief, but it must have been positive for him, and for the parish, as he is the only person buried in the church. 
According to, the ashes of 134 people are located in the Memorial Garden, including those of Reverend Donald Behm, who led the parish from 1979 until about 1986 and who had, prior to arriving at Ascension, been the Archdeacon of the Diocese of Los Angeles.  Also located in the Memorial Garden is Catherine Turney, who wrote the 1985 book about Ascension, in honor of the church's centennial.  She passed away in 1998.
Interestingly, I purchased my copy of the book "The History of a Parish" on e-bay, through a seller in the mid-west.  It appears to have been a gift copy given by Reverend Behm to Reverend Ronald Erlandsen, another important rector in the history of the church.  Father Erlandsen was, among his many other accomplishments, instrumental in helping the church to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"The History of a Parish" seems to be a story of Sierra Madre as well, with City history interwoven throughout the book.  Hopefully, I'll find some good tidbits to share with you!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Fired Up!

~~Village Pizzeria got a cool new outdoor heater!~~

Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire
and live with it.  The reason? Because he alone
has learned to put it out.
Village Pizzeria got one of those new (well, at least they're new to me) outdoor heaters.  One might wonder whether the majority of the heat may escape from this type of heater, with all that flame being exposed.  Well... I'm sure that someone who knows what they are talking about has thought of this, and they're just as efficient as the other kind.  Also, I just think they're pretty!  Especially since this one is right next to one of the city's festively-wrapped lightposts.  (Besides, if you are sitting outside in December, you should probably be supplementing the space heater with a jacket, anyway.)

Speaking of fire, for those locals who have been living under the same rock that I have (Hello, Neighbor!), and only recently heard of this, The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD)'s Wintertime Residential Wood-Burning Curtailment Program began on November 1st.  During a no-burn alert, wood or manufactured logs cannot be burned, due to the health hazards from fine particulate matter.  Gas logs are still okay, and the AQMD has a program to help residents convert their wood fireplaces to a clean-burning gas log set.  There are expected to be 15-20 of these alerts between November 1st and the end of February.  Interestingly, campfires, beach bonfires, and ceremonial burnings are exempt.  To hear of the no-burn alerts as they happen, you can sign up here, on the AQMD's website. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

An Ode to Rain

~~Sierra Vista Park, in-between cloudbursts this week.  Click here for a similar view in August.~~

Now, at last, the rain is here,
It comes still later every year.
And while I'm glad, and find it fun,
Soon I'll be whining, "Where's the sun?"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Theme Day: My Street

~~Historic Kersting Court Shops - A Long-Standing Tradition~~
This photo is not actually of My Street, as in where I live, but is instead of My Street as in My Go-To Street.  This is the street where I go if I need to buy a gift.   The street where my husband and I go for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner (plus afternoon coffee!).  The street where we meet with friends and/or family.  Not to mention the street where I (very frequently) go when I need a good photo-op.  This last bit is evidenced in posts I've done on the following shops seen in this photo: Leonora Moss, Savor the Flavor, Baldwin Jewelers, Mother Moo Creamery, and Lucky Baldwin's Delirium Pub.  I've even gone so far as to feature that mailbox.  If we're splitting hairs though, as I'm prone to do, I actually have three streets besides the one where I live, that I consider "mine."  Sierra Madre Boulevard and Baldwin Avenue are the main streets in town.  Kersting Court, where this photo was taken, bisects the two.  Any of these three could be considered as "My Street" for all Sierra Madre residents.  I think most anyone in town would agree.

For photos from around the world, interpreting this month's City Daily Photo Blog Theme of "My Street," Please Click Here