Thursday, January 31, 2013

Golden Pink

A beautiful sunset that was mistaken for a dawn.

I took this photo early in the month (a few moments after taking the photo of yesterday's lamp).  Sometimes we just get the most amazing sunsets.  You round a corner and POW, there it is.  We've had quite a few like this lately.  I think of them as Golden Pink, but I'm not sure if that color combination exists.  Rose Gold - Is that more accurate?  What would you call this color?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


May you have warmth in your igloo,
oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart.
~~ Eskimo Proverb

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Caldwell-Fairbank House

This home, just about the last of the grand homes that once lined Sierra Madre Boulevard (or, at that time, Central Avenue), is located on the same block where the Lawless House once stood.  Built in 1907 by architect Louis B. Easton, the home was featured in the March, 1908 edition of Gustav Stickley's Crafstman Magazine.  According to this piece on Easton, by architect Tim Anderson, the home was one of about twenty-five that Easton built between 1904 and 1914, in and around the Pasadena area.   

Easton's brother-in-law (his wife's older brother) was Elbert Hubbard, who founded the Roycroft community, and was one of the chief proponents of the Arts and Crafts movement.  While it is not certain how well the two knew one another, it would appear that Easton was influenced by his famous brother-in-law.  Easton, his wife, and their three children moved to Pasadena from outside of Chicago in 1902, as so many people did at that time, for health reasons. 

When Easton was hired by widow Louisa M. Caldwell and her daughter Lillian Fairbank, the foundation was already in place for a Queen Anne shingle home with a two-story octagonal tower, but the ladies had changed their minds.  Easton gave them a more simple home, removing things like formal entry halls and servants' stairs, and including a balcony that faced the mountains, an open floor plan, and the use of native materials.

By 1911, according to Andersen's article, Easton was so well-renowned that architect Myron Hunt hired him to design and build a home for him at Clifton-by-the-Sea, now known as Redondo Beach. (Building Myron Hunt's beach house would be a pretty big feather in an architect's cap!)

I wondered how long the home was occupied by those for whom it was originally built.  1910 census records indicate that 64 year-old Mrs. Caldwell was living in the home by herself, but by 1920 Mrs. Caldwell, Mrs. Fairbank, and her husband James were all living in the city of Los Angeles (with Mrs. Caldwell listed as head of household).  So it seems they didn't occupy the house for very long at all.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Snow Day

Sorry if I've misled you - it's not actually snowing here.  I'm thinking of a different kind of "Snow Day."  The kind one might spend at this very cute place, called Snow's Salon.  Although it resides on busy Sierra Madre boulevard, it seems like an island of calm.  I don't know much about it, except that the sign says: 

Snow's Salon
Nails, Skincare, Facial
By Appointment Only, (626) 840-8287

I just might need to call that number, one of these days soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mid-Century Mood

This house is one of the less-common but still fairly easy to find Mid-Century-style (aka California Modern) homes that are dotted around Sierra Madre.  While Craftsman-style homes are my favorite, Mid-Century Modern is a close second.  Similar to my reaction to Craftsman homes, I find a peacefulness in the mid-century aesthetic.  Yet the two styles seem so different. But are they really so different? According to a Wikipedia article on the subject, there are those that feel that Frank Lloyd Wright's movement of organic architecture combined with Arts and Crafts to create the Mid-Century design movement.  That connection could explain why I get the same reaction from two such at-first-glance very different styles.  The  "futuristic" clean lines of the design of Mid-Century homes and furnishings are easy on the eyes, but I also feel just plain nostalgic when I see this style, as it was popular when I was a kid.  Whatever it is, I'm glad there are a few still around. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Legacy Endures

The windstorm of 1887 destroyed the original Church of the Ascension, but it did not stop the members, who immediately began making plans for a new building. With Ernest A Coxhead as architect, and under his supervision, the parishoners did the bulk of the building of the new church themselves. At a cost of $5000.00, the foundation was constructed with boulders hauled up from Little Santa Anita Canyon, while some of the rest of the structure was made of douglas fir. Although the interior was not yet complete, the first service in the "new" church was held on November 11, 1888. Fanny Hawks was responsible for decorations, which included ferns and evergreens from her own gardens.  Thanks to the dedication of Miss Frances Hawks and her fellow parishoners, the church was rebuilt, and thrives to this day.  

(Source: The History of a Parish, by Catherine Turney)

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Legacy of Miss Frances Hawks

Episcopal Church of the Ascension, (Re) Built in 1888

Originally from Delafield, Wisconsin, Miss Frances Hawks arrived in Sierra Madre in 1881.  Following her father's death in 1879, Frances and her mother Hannah moved to San Francisco, to join her brothers Ammi and Nelson.  During their time in San Francisco, Fanny, as she was called, and her brother Nelson met Nathaniel Carter. Fanny, not fond of San Francisco's damp climate, traveled south with her brother Nelson (on Carter's glowing recommendation) where each bought twenty acres in Mr. Carter's new Sierra Madre Tract. Their brother Ammi soon followed and also bought 20 acres. 

Frances' property ran from Grand View to Highland, and Baldwin to Merrill. As a skilled horticulturist she landscaped her yard, and eventually opened a small nursery at the corner of Baldwin and Grand View. While her original house still stands (enlarged and improved from the original one room), it is not quite visible from the street, so I can't show you a photo. But Miss Fanny's home is not her most important legacy.

Being a devout Episcopalian, Fanny was dedicated to the idea that there should be an Episcopalian church in Sierra Madre.  At that time, the closest parish was The Church of Our Savior, five miles south in San Gabriel.  Following a meeting with other like-minded people in the area, Fanny drove to San Gabriel and asked the Reverend Dr. Trew if he would conduct services for the group in the Sierra Madre Schoolhouse building.  He agreed, and the first service was conducted in April of 1885. 

Always moving forward, Fanny then promised a 1/2 acre plot of her own land, to build the town an Episcopalian church. With a generous outpouring of donations and a great deal of gift-giving (including a stained-glass window given by Abbott Kinney, of nearby Kinneloa), the new church was built, at a cost of $1760.00. The Episcopal Church of the Ascension thrived until October of 1887.  Then a huge windstorm came through (probably what we now call Santa Ana winds) and the much-loved church was destroyed.

Tomorrow: The Legacy Continues...

(Source: The History of a Parish, by Catherine Turney)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Year's Engine

This is the Sierra Madre Fire Department's handsome Engine 41, parked near the Float Barn on New Year's Eve.  I somehow missed posting this earlier in the month, but it looks so nice sitting there, I couldn't resist posting it anyway.  Better late than never!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sierra Madre Music

Opened last September, Sierra Madre Music offers lessons in "ukulele, flute, guitar, piano, voice, drums, violin, sax, bass, and more..."  They even offer, in some cases, group lessons, and students can participate in twice-yearly recitals.   In addition, they sell high-end classical guitars, sheet music, music stands, and other merchandise.

For some interesting background on the well-renowned husband and wife owners, Jessica Pierce and Almer Imamovic, please see this article in the Pasadena Star News. 

Now, to decide...  Is it time to pursue my lifelong dream of playing the flute?  Does it matter that I've never been able to master sight reading??  We'll have to see!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No Zooming

This sign is placed on the corner of the Mary's Market building, in the Sierra Madre Canyon.  It's one of your lesser-known commandments, but still an important one!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nature Friends

This is the Nature Friends Clubhouse.  Here is a bit of info on them, as found on their website:

The Nature Friends was founded in Vienna, Austria in 1895 to provide members and their families with places to go and enjoy nature and encourage the study of nature related subjects. The Club soon spread throughout Europe and many lodges and clubhouses were built, usually in forests, ski areas or close to wilderness areas. In 1920, a group of Nature Friends living in the Los Angeles area decided to buy land in the City of Sierra Madre overlooking the San Gabriel Mountains. A few years later, a cabin was built in the San Jacinto Mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest.

What a great organization!  According to their website, the group meets weekly for local hikes at various locations in the area (you can sign up to be on the e-mail list for the hikes).  There are other sponsored activities as well, including their annual New Year's Eve party.  Signs for the event stated that all were welcome. 

While the clubhouse is available for rental, the website cautions that it is a private facility, so please contact them before visiting, if you'd like information on requirements for rental, or on how to become a member.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fletcher House Revisited

This is the porch at the Fletcher House, which I posted about last May.  Dr. H.C. Fletcher built this home in 1890, where he cared for TB patients in the house, as well as in smaller buildings on the property. 

The second family to occupy the home was the Henszeys, whose son Thomas married Julia Carter, daughter of city founder N.C. Carter.  Thomas and Julia Henszey lived in their own home in Sierra Madre (which I have not yet located).  Thomas passed away in 1925, while Julia lived until 1965.  Both are buried in the Sierra Madre Cemetery.

The Fletcher House has a rich history, including several families.  It is obvious that the current family loves the home and is caring for it beautifully.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Brake Time

Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.
~~ John F. Kennedy

We took a walk on the first day that the weather turned warm again, and stopped for a break at Goldberg Park.  Obviously, we were not the only ones out enjoying the beautiful day.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see a shadow.
~~Helen Keller

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bicycle Dreams

This electric bike is just the right thing for cruising around Sierra Madre.  I wish I had one.  I think I'd ride my bike more if it had a quiet little motor attached to it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ice Skating

Well, look at this.  Sierra Madre has frozen over, and all the little birdies are ice skating!  Okay, the whole town hasn't frozen over.  Just small parts of it, including this bird bath that the local birds and I received for Christmas.  (This has also occurred in other local cities - check out this post from Petrea, of Pasadena Daily Photo.) 

I know that this weather is not considered "cold" by the standards of much of the rest of the country, but we just aren't used to it.  Neither are our birds - they tell me they are ready for a bath in warmer water. 

The weather is supposed to begin to warm up today, but I've enjoyed this cold snap.  It's been fun eating lots of soup, and wearing scarves and coats originally purchased for vacations in eastern locations.  Like the birds, though, I think I will welcome a bit of warmth.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mail Sweet Mail

Here in Sierra Madre, we have only one U.S. Post Office, as well as a couple of private mailbox locations (e.g., Mail Box & Postal, on Sierra Madre Boulevard).  Now, doing my very best imitation of a famous postal employee - Cliff, from Cheers - I'd like to give you a post office fun fact.  As of 2011, the U.S. Post Office had a total of 31,000 post offices.  That's a lot of individual mailboxes to attend to each day.  I'm pretty sure this one is the cutest of them all!

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Kid in Town

~~ Beautiful Jewelry Display! ~~

Not long ago, I had a chance to stop in to our town's newest shop, the Yellow Bus Gift Shop, on Baldwin Avenue. Owner Yumi kindly gave me a tour, and I saw many things that kids will love, that are similar to Hello Kitty items (but, in my opinion, much cuter!!): Pens, paper, erasers, etc.  Yumi went to Korea last summer, and chose each item herself.  But the store is not just for kids - there is also beautiful jewelry and art for the grownups, too.  If you haven't already been there, go check it out.  I think you'll love the store as much as I do.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Field Trip

~~ Good coffee, and good shopping, at Penny for Your Thoughts ~~
Last week my friend Petrea, from Pasadena Daily Photo, came over for a coffee and a visit at Bean Town.  Afterward, the two of us strolled up Baldwin with our cameras, to enjoy the beautiful day.  I can honestly say that I could not have had a better time.  Soon after, Petrea posted about our day. 

In an exciting turn of events, we had another chance to have coffee this week.  This time, the gathering was on her turf, in Pasadena, at Penny for Your Thoughts, a mere ten-minute drive from Sierra Madre.  (Although, as we say, we are not territorial around here.)  

After I deliberated for awhile (so much to choose from), owner Millie served up a delicious chai tea latte and scone.  She was also very gracious when, thinking I was putting money into the tip jar, I instead plopped various forms of currency into a container of milk.  (My second-most embarrassing moment ever.  Really.)

Penny for Your Thoughts is not just a coffee shop.  They have antiques, and gifts, and antiques you can give as gifts.  Plus books.  And, as if that isn't enough to keep just about anyone happy, there is a very pretty patio in the back with more seating for coffee drinkers, along with more interesting things to peruse and/or buy.

All-in-all, it was yet another beautiful day.  The warm, friendly environment of the shop, the warm, friendly people, and the warm drinks and baked goods were delightful.  Just what this bred-for-warm-weather girl needed on a cold, January morning.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Blustery Day

It was a blustery day and, apparently, too cold to play.

You can walk by Turtle Park and see kids on the swings at just about any time of the day.  But yesterday, it was COLD.  It was cold, and the wind was blowing off and on (hence the leaves everywhere), which just made it colder.  I'm guessing that I was not the only one who said No to a walk (and maybe a swing on the swings).  

On the plus side, the off-and-on winds made for blue skies, fluffy clouds, and an incredible sunset.  At least that's what it looked like, from my most-of-the-day vantage point inside.  On my way home last night, I did venture out of my heated car to take this photo of the wind-blown park.  This was the best I could do, in terms of showing you how windy it's been.  It's wind, after all.  Just when you go to take the photo, it's moved on...  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mountain Scene

Look deep into nature and then you
will understand everything better.
~~ Albert Einstein

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Basket of Delicious

Too few people understand a really good sandwich

I'd like to think that James Beard would have approved of Bean Town's BLT Panini which has, in addition to the usual stuff, turkey, spicy mustard, and swiss cheese.  It's a feast, in a little red basket.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Magical Float Barn

~~ Birds and Rainbows, heading out to pick up a well-deserved award! ~~
Thought I'd share one last float-related photo.  On New Year's Eve, we stopped by the Float Barn, in Sierra Vista Park, just prior to the time when the float headed out of its almost-yearlog home and out onto Colorado Boulevard to show off its beauty to the world.  

This shot gives a decent overview of some of the fun things that were going on. Down below, there were float workers and up above, on the catwalk that covers three sides of the building, visitors were free to stand anywhere - and for however long - they liked. 

This was my first visit to the barn.  It was like a glimpse into a magical, time-warp world, with reminders everywhere of the many years that the members of the Rose Float Association have been working together.  What really captured my imagination were the shelves with various containers holding seeds from years' past, including Cranberry Seeds, Alfalfa Seeds, Spanish Moss, Fennel Seeds, and Ming Moss (with a label that said "2/04"). 

All around the tops of the walls there were signs from previous years' entries, including Suenos de California (2011), and California Girls! (2010), both of which won the Governor's Trophy.  What a nice feeling it must be for those who work so hard, to be recognized by the Tournament of Roses Association!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Golden City

There was a time when you could regularly see all the way to the ocean from Sierra Madre.  Our city's founder, Nathaniel Carter, even had a hotel that he called the Ocean View.  

Nowadays, our views generally consist of much closer locations in the daytime, and city lights at night.  So, imagine my surprise a few evenings ago when, walking along Carter Avenue, I caught a teeny glimpse of downtown Los Angeles.  At least I think it was Downtown.  I'm going to go with that, because it was pretty exciting!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Float

On Thursday I was able to stop by briefly to snap a few photos of our city's Rose Parade Float while it was displayed in Kersting Court.  Not a moment too soon, because it left within an hour of my stop-in (phew!).

The many hands that make up the Sierra Madre Rose Float Association have much to be proud of, having won awards for seven out of the last eight years.  Charles Meier was the designer of this year's float, and of many of our city's award-winners.  He now runs his own boutique float-design company, Paradiso Floats, which is housed near the Rose Bowl.  A profile of Meier, with photos of some of his floats - including the South Pasadena Rose Parade entry he designed at the age of thirteen -  is available here

The Rose Float Association's 2013 entry won the Isabella Coleman Award for Best Presentation of Color and Color Harmony Through Floral Use.  According to this interesting article, Isabella Coleman was involved in the early days of the Rose Parade, beginning with helping her mother to decorate the family's electric car in 1904, at the age of 12.  She went on to pioneer many of the techniques that are used today, designing more than 300 Rose Parade floats in her 55-year career.     

I hear that the Association will begin working on ideas and designs for the 2014 float very soon.  Can't wait to see what next year brings!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Winter Walk

We went for a walk up to the Sierra Madre Canyon on New Year's Eve.  It was colder than... Well, I don't know what.  It was just Cold (Capital C).  But it was beautiful, too, with the true-blue sky, and the bright sun filtering through the trees that are absolutely everywhere. 

This photo is a bit "busy" but I couldn't bear to leave anything out of it.  In fact, this is kind of a metaphor for how it is to be in the canyon.  There's something to see wherever you look.  The longer you look, the more cool stuff you see!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A View of Things to Come

You need three things in the theater - the play, the actors
and the audience - and each must give something.

Also, you need some nice guys to change the lettering on the sign when a new show is in the works.  

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that the Sierra Madre Playhouse's next show will be Driving Miss Daisy.  The play was a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1988, and the 1990 film was an Academy Award Winner for Best Movie. 

Running from January 19th until March 12th, our Playhouse's performance is certain to be another winner.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Practical Cat

Okay, I do try to keep the cat posts to a minimum.  But this cat is not mine, so it's okay, right??? 

When I'm walking around town and see a kitty safely ensconced on his porch, I try not to make eye contact.  Cats put a lot of stock in eye contact.  If you don't look at them, they will often not come your way, and hence will not be in danger of being too near the street.  That, you see, is my Clever Plan for Feline Safety.  However, this little fellow, the cat-whose-name-I-don't-know, was on his way to the sidewalk before we could look at him (or not).  So, we did as was expected, and got to pettin'!  

After a short time, including a good deal of rolling around on the warm sidewalk (the cat, I mean, not the people), a loud truck came down the road.  I was worried about our new little friend, and was trying to come up with another Clever Plan for getting him back up to his porch.  As the truck got closer, Mr. Cat perked up a bit. Then he looked toward the sound, casually turned around, and sauntered back to his porch/safety zone.  No problem.  Crisis averted.  Man -  They are so much smarter than we are...

The naming of cats is a difficult matter. It isn't just one of your holiday games. You may think at first I'm mad as a hatter. When I tell you a cat must have three different names...
~ T.S. Eliot

(Here's the rest of the poem, if you'd like 
to read it again, or for the first time!)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It Was Such a Great Tree

~~ Can you see the "animal" that the branches make? 
 I think it looks like a rabbit.  What do you think?~~

Today was a sad day at our house.  The avocado tree in the front yard, which has been my trusty friend for over 20 years, with its constant shade and beautiful green leaves, went to Avocado Heaven.  It was definitely time. The tree had become brittle, and was in danger of damaging our house, or us.  But still... 

Danny Osti, owner of Osti Tree Service, came with his amazing crew and, with his genuinely kind personality and obvious love of life, made the morning not nearly so bad.  Danny, whose birthday is today, is a truly caring individual.  Not only did his professional team do a great job of getting the tree out quickly, they paid special attention to not ruining our budding broccoli plants that are growing not far from where the tree was.  And the cleanup left the yard looking better than it had before.  So, thanks to Danny and his guys, it was as pleasant a day as possible. 

Now, with all that sunshine hanging around the yard, it is time to start thinking about what kind of flower and/or vegetable garden might need to be planted.  With change comes opportunity!  But, oh, how I will miss that tree...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Politeness Counts

Here in Sierra Madre, we're a generally cordial bunch of people.  You don't see a lot of grouchy signs.  (No Trespassing!!  Keep Your Dog Off of My Lawn!)  Instead, you'll mostly find polite requests, such as the one in the photo above. 

I'm guessing that most residents have experienced this cordiality at some time or another.  In fact, anyone who has spent time sitting at any four-way stop in town, as we all wave at each other to go ahead, would likely agree. (Please, you go first.  No, no. After you!!)  It may not always be the most efficient thing - traffic can back up a bit during these friendly interactions - but I'd say it's a very nice way to live.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year Greetings from Sierra Madre!

~~ Sneak Peak of Sierra Madre's Award-Winning Entry in the 2013 Rose Parade ~~
I just want to take a moment to say thank you so much for reading this blog. I truly love our city of Sierra Madre, and have enjoyed sharing my view of it.  The friendships I've made and the things I've learned have meant the world to me. 

Hoping that this year is the best yet, filled with health and happiness for you and your families. 

A Very Happy New Year to You!!