Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pool in a School

Sierra Madre Elementary School

I heard a really interesting story recently.  Sierra Madre Elementary School was built in 1931, and there was a beautiful pool in the building in the early years, in an area that at some point housed a Kindergarten classroom.  (I'm not sure if the Kindergartners were always in the "pool room," but they ended up there eventuarlly.)  The Kindergartners were just told to just stay away from the pool.  And they did.  Unfortunately, at some point, the Powers That Be decided to take out the pool (which was quite beautiful, because that's how things were done in those days).  They used the area for offices and then later the space became a Kindergarten again.  From what I can remember being told at some point, this round room at the west end of the school has a Kindergarten classroom.  So, I'm guessing this is where the pool once was.  A pool in a school.  Cool.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


These beautiful warm days we've been enjoying have me fast-forwarding to the summer ahead, while simultaneously thinking back to the happy summers of my childhood.  These long, lazy summers included trips to the beach with my family and, in later years, trips to the beach with my friends (where my red VW Beetle would encounter "relatives" like the one pictured above). 

What?  Too soon to think about summer?  Okay, it won't be easy, but I'll use some self-control and wait until March before I start planning how to spend my summer vacation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fountain of Youth

There is a fountain of youth:
It is your mind, your talents, the
creativity you bring in your life
and the lives of people you love.
~~ Sophia Loren

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Thought you might enjoy a closer look at some of the detail found at the tippy-top of Ascension Church.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, February 23, 2013


~~ Floyd, at Leonora Moss, just before Valentine's Day, when he moved to our house ~~

This is Floyd.  He is the Patron Saint of Lost Cats Who Found a Home.  Handmade by Hank Schlau, and hand painted by Karen Schlau, the original Floyd is a twenty-two pound orange tabby who lives in Natchez, Mississippi.  According to the information that came with our new Patron Saint, Original Floyd got a very rough start.  He was thrown off of a bridge and into Bayou Teche in Louisiana when he was a kitten, but bravely swam toward the bank and began to "holler."  Rescued by Jackie Benoit, he went on to become portly, and take care of other rescue kitties, as well as humans who are unwell.  A darn fine ending to the story, if you ask me.   
Floyd, talented fellow that he is, wrote the poem that runs along the side of the plaque.  Here is what it says:
"Bridge/Water/Cold/Swim/Land/Yell/ Lady/House/Warm/Food/Food/Home" 
Nicely done, Floyd!! The info also states that Floyd is considering applying to become a Poet Laureate, provided there is no actual work involved.
"I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” 
~~ Jean Cocteau

Friday, February 22, 2013

Museums' Garden

The weekend after I took this photo, the Sierra Madre Historical Preservation Society (SMHPS) began a new garden project at the Richardson House and Lizzie's Trail Inn Museums.  The garden is a collaboration of the SMHPS, the Sierra Madre Garden Club, and garden designer Orchid Black, president of the Native Plant Society.  The bird- and butterfly-friendly garden will also contain plants native to Southern California, emphasizing plants found on the Mt. Wilson Trail.  After tearing out the old vegetation, mulch was next on the volunteers' agenda, and planting will begin in the Spring.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what they come up with.  I'm sure it will be wonderful! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013


~~ Seen on the side of a local dumpster ~~

You have to appreciate the initiative taken here.  In these recessionary times, one must use whatever resources are available, in order to make a point...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pink Thoughts

I believe in pink.  I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.  I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.
~~ Audrey Hepburn

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


~~ A view from the gas pumps at Baldwin & Sierra Madre, during a recent rain ~~
“On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard.
I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere,
which is like silence but not empty.”
~~ Mark Haddon, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night"

70% chance of rain today.  Rain can be invigorating. 
Especially in small doses...  Stay dry, everyone!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Presidents' Day

~~ Near the base of Mt. Wilson ~~

Happy Presidents' Day!  When I was young, Washington and Lincoln each got their own birthday.  However, since 1971, George  and Abe have been made to share their special day with the other Commanders in Chief.  They don't mind, though.  I'm pretty sure that they each got good marks for "Shares with the other children" on their early report cards.   

In 1881, when Nathaniel C. Carter purchased much of the land that was to one day become the City of Sierra Madre, our nation's leader was President James A. Garfield  Since my history marks were not as good as George Washington's "sharing" marks, I didn't remember much about President Garfield.  So, I read up on him a bit, and thought I'd share with you.

President Garfield was our 20th president.  Born in Ohio in 1831, he was a college president, a Union brigadier general in the Civil War, and then an 18-year member of the House of Representatives.  He became the President of the United States in 1881.  On July 2 of that year, President Garfield was in a train station, accompanied by, among others, Robert Todd Lincoln.  As the men walked through the station, Garfield was shot twice in the back by an attorney who was enraged after not receiving a Federal office (for which he was not qualified). 

Garfield lay ill in the White House for weeks, as doctors tried to heal him.  Alexander Graham Bell even tried (unsuccessfully) to assist in finding the bullets, using a device that he had developed.  Two months later, the President was taken to the Jersey seaside and, for a brief while, appeared to be recovering.  However, he died on September 19, from infection, internal hemorrhage, and a massive heart attack.  He was 49 years old, and had been president for only six months, giving him the distinction of having the second-shortest presidency in our history (second only to William Henry Harrison who died of pneumonia after only one month in office). 

The President's devoted wife and mother to their five children, Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, from whom he was rarely separated, returned to their farm in Ohio.  She spent much of the rest of her life in private, but busy and comfortable.

In May of 1887, the James A. Garfield Monument (image) was dedicated on the grounds of the Capitol. On the monument's sixteen-foot base are three male figures, each five feet tall. These figures represent the stages of President Garfield's life, as a scholar, a soldier, and a statesman. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Glass House

I absolutely love everything about this house.  The clean lines, the serene feeling it seems to evoke, the beautiful sunsets they must experience.  It's an architectural gem.  I walk by it frequently, and was thinking the only downside might be that other people can look in on you as you go through your daily life.  Then I remembered that nothing about my daily life is so fascinating that anyone would bother to look in to see it.  But, this morning I came across this quote, that made me smile and think of this house:

People who live in a glass house have to answer the door.
~~ Karl Pilkington

Now, that could be a problem!

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Growing in the garden at the Sierra Madre Public Library
February is kind of Camellia Month around here.  Nearby Temple City will hold its annual Camellia Festival on February 23 (many local kids, including yours truly, can boast of having been in the Camellia Parade).  The Huntington Gardens and Descanso Gardens can be counted on to provide stunning displays in their extensive Camellia gardens.  And did you know that tea comes from a variety of the Camellia, called Camellia sinensis??  Neither did I!  Blogging is so educational!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tiny Library

While walking one evening, I spied this little building sitting in a lovely front yard. Sneaking up to take a closer look, I realized it was a Little Free Library!  Here's how it works:  Book lovers come along, take a book, leave a book (or both) and move on down the road, Free of Charge! How fun is that?? 

I have been waiting for this moment for quite some time. Pasadena and Altadena have had them for awhile. (My friend Petrea, at Pasadena Daily Photo, featured another cute one awhile back.)  I was SO hoping that we'd get one here in Sierra Madre.  Thanks to Ellen, who had a birthday wish, we now have one here in our town. And thanks to Ellen's husband, who granted her birthday wish and made this little beauty with his own two hands!!

For more info on Little Free Libraries, where they can be found (all over the world!), and how you can have one of your very own, click here

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's All About Kindness (and Chocolate)!

Leonora Moss - Rockin' the Window Display, as usual!!

If you are a living, breathing human being, you may have noticed that The Day of the Valentine is upon us.  I have to admit that I like Valentine's Day.  In our house, we definitely don't overdo it, but it's fun.  A little dinner (at home, or out), a couple of small gifts, and most importantly, a little extra dose of kindness.  Not that we're awful to each other on the other days...  But it's nice to be especially kind for a bit. 

Here are a few things I enjoy about Valentine's Day:
  • It's an excuse for a special dinner.
  • Little kids get soooo excited. (We used to decorate paper lunch sacks.  I imagine they do something more high-tech nowadays.)
  • General cheeriness when flowers show up all over the place
  • I look fairly good in red
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Hearts. All of the holiday shapes taste better than the year-round "cup" shape. It's a fact.

...and some things that kind of bum me out abut Valentine's Day:
  • People with crazy expectations that their partner cannot ever match up to.  (Let's keep it real, people!)
  • People who are made to feel sad when they don't have a partner to share the day with.
That last one is such a biggie.  Celebrating Valentine's Day is about Love and/or Kindness, and you don't need a significant other to partake in either.  A little dose of kindness can be given to anyone, as can a Reese's Peanut Butter Heart.

The day is yours to do with as you choose.  Enjoy or Ignore.  Either way, the Reese's Hearts are available for only a limited time...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


~~ Spotted in the window of Arnold's Hardware ~~

Gardening is just a matter of your enthusiasm
holding out until your back gets used to it.
~~ Author Unknown

Seems like I've been hearing a lot of birds tweeting and chirping all around, in the last few days.  Spring will be here soon - Time to get out the gardening tools!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Open House

Oh, this Tiny House Movement is really catching on!!!

The Tiny House Movement.  Have you heard about it?  I have been reading quite a lot about it lately.  According to this website, the typical, average-sized American house is about 2,600 square feet, while the typical "Tiny House" is about 400 square feet.  The rule of thumb seems to be that any home under 1,000 square feet will qualify you as a bona-fide member of the Tiny House Community.  It's all about simplification - financial, environmental, and well, just life in general.  Small houses cost less money (initial purchase and upkeep), have a smaller carbon footprint, and take up a lot less of a person's time. 

Here in Sierra Madre, we have our share of Tiny Houses, especially in the Sierra Madre Canyon.  I believe that quite a few homes in town were built as vacation cottages/cabins, as well.  Sierra Madre can even boast a Tiny (at 932 s.f.) Greene and Greene House.  I happen to live in a Tiny House.  Imagine... for all these years, I've been thinking that we were just people who lived in a really small house.  Nope.  We're Trend Setters.  Who knew??? 

So, do you want a Tiny House of your own?  Check out Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.  You can buy blueprints and build the house yourself.  In case you were wondering, I'm partial to the B-53, with a three-bedroom model at a gargantuan 874 s.f. but please, don't feel pressured by my Trend Setter Tendencies.  Feel free to choose for yourself.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Lizzie's Front Yard

I begin this post by telling you that I, apparently, have trouble reading the calendar.  Earlier today, I posted about Presidents' Day.  As it turns out, that is not until next Monday.  I do have a day off today, but it is for Lincoln's Birthday.  So, if you're wondering where that Presidents' Day post is, I'll re-post it next Monday!  (Oh, life can be so very complicated at times...)

For today, I bring you what I have come to think of as Lizzie's Front Yard.  This is more commonly known as Mt. Wilson Trail Park (aka Turtle Park), which houses both the Richardson House (seen in the photo) and Lizzie's Trail Inn.  Lizzie's has been in this spot for many, many years, once serving ravioli and fried chicken to local hikers, and even some "distilled spirits" during prohibition.  The two buildings now serve as museums, which can be visited on Saturdays.  Click here for a bit more history about them.

See those hikers on the right?  They have just come down from nearby Mt. Wilson.  Not sure how far they went, but any distance on that trail is a challenge. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

One Book One City Continues

~~ Dan King, during the presentation ~~

Yesterday, I attended a One Book One City event at the Sierra Madre Public Library.  In our city's 2013 book choice, "Unbroken," Air Force crewman Louis Zamperini, survives a plane crash in the Pacific and is captured and held prisoner by the Japanese. 

Yesterday's presentation was by historian Dan King (website), author of "The Last Zero Fighter."  Mr. King earned a degree in Japanese Language from Cal State L.A., and worked for Toyota for fifteen years, living in Japan for ten of those years.  His talk, and the subsequent Q & A, gave readers of "Unbroken" even more to think about. 

As research for his book, Mr. King was able to interview several surviving Japanese Navy pilots and airmen (only one of whom is still living), in their own language.  His presentation gave a very interesting "two sides to a coin" history of the Japanese pilots, from the time they joined the navy, through to the end of the war.  A very eye-opening and  thought-provoking morning.  I look forward to reading Mr. King's book.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Yellow Bus has lots of things to entertain children of all ages, any day of the week...
"I cannot go to school today"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox.

And there's one more - that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue,
It might be the instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke.
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in.

My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My toes are cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There's a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is ...
What? What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is .............. Saturday?

G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

Friday, February 8, 2013

One Book One City

In December, I mentioned that the Sierra Madre Public Library's choice for this year's One Book One City is the latest offering from Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit (in which our own local racetrack, Santa Anita, played a part).  The book, "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption," is the true story of Lieutenant Louis Zamperini, who was shot down during World War II.  I've read this wonderful book, and can tell you that it grabs you on page one, and doesn't let go until you turn the last page.  The library is hosting several events this month.  Tomorrow (Saturday), World War II historian Dan King will be speaking at the library at 10:00.  For more information on this and other upcoming events, please click here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Crowded at the Court

On Monday I shared a photo of a rare, crowd-less Kersting Court (say that three times fast!).  For a different perspective, here's a photo of the same corner on a typical late afternoon...  It's jam-packed!  It certainly isn't always like this, but when it is, there's a certain camaraderie to everyone hanging out, just doing their thing.  It isn't very easy to walk through all these people, so you may as well just find a seat, sit down, and relax for a bit.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Native Confusion

Is it just me, or is winter weather in So Cal highly difficult to keep track of?  I know we don't have the snow that others have to contend with, but it seems like our climate is all over the place - raining one day, fully sunny the next.  I grew up here, so I should be aware of this stuff, but I just can't keep up. 

Recently, I had dinner with a friend who was wearing a light down jacket, while I was sporting a light cardigan.  Clearly, the down jacket was the more sensible choice for the day, but I got it wrong.  In fact, I consistently get it wrong.  I head off to work in a parka, only to find that my colleagues are all wearing t-shirts and capri pants.   I show up in open-toed shoes and no coat, and everyone else is wearing boots and carrying an umbrella. 

It seems that they are all members of some secret weather society that I have not been invited to.  Now, you may think that following the weather reports more closely would remedy my problem, but even then...  The bottom line here is that I just may be a big weather doofus. 

It is my sincerest hope that, eventually, summer will arrive and we can all blissfully bake in the horrifically-hot California sun.  Weather so consistent that songs have been written about it.  Uncomfortable, sure, but comforting in its sameness. 


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top Dogs

"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing, right in your ear."
    ~~ Dave Barry

I was fortunate to capture some action here, as the Shabby Cab zoomed up Baldwin, delivering some precious cargo to the Shabby Dog.  The soon-to-be-pampered passengers were probably headed for a bit of spa-time, some babysitting, or maybe an overnight stay.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Two Pairs

~~ A rare, quiet moment in town. ~~ 

The shop-lights are on, and the businesses have not quite closed up for the evening.  Meanwhile, my friend and I sit at an outdoor table and enjoy the solitude.  (If there are two of us, is it "pair-itude"?)  For this brief time we are the only outdoor patrons, with this pair of chairs for company, as we visit and catch up on each other's  lives.   Life, as it does, will pick up the pace again soon enough.  Quiet moments like this are rare indeed, and always appreciated.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Louie T. Newcomb

Newcomb's Ranch is a popular destination on the Angeles Crest Highway.  It's a great place for breakfast, lunch, or a beer, and they even have a gift shop.  It is visited mostly by motorcycle riders in the summer, and skiiers in the winter, but all are welcome. 

I only recently noticed Louie T. Newcomb's lovely grave marker in Sierra Madre's Pioneer CemeteryAccording to the Newcomb's Ranch website, Louie (born in 1851*) was a master trail blazer and cabin builder.  In 1888, he visited the area above present-day La Canada, and built a cabin near what would one day become Newcomb's Ranch.  Soon he was visited by friends, as well as hikers and hunters, and he ended up becoming one of the first forest rangers in the San Gabriel Timber Reserve.  Mr. Newcomb held this position for many years, and built cabins and trails that are still used today.  

In about 1904, Louis T. Newcomb married Grace Crandall, who was born in Ohio, but had moved with her family to Sierra Madre.  The Newcombs purchased a home on Grandview Avenue in Sierra Madre, and had a daughter whom they named Grace.  Mrs. Grace Crandall Newcomb passed away in 1940, followed by Louie in 1954, at the age of 103*. 

While Louie T. was the first Newcomb to arrive in the mountains, in 1929 he sold the bulk of his land to his cousin, Lynn Newcomb, Sr.  In 1940, he left the "high country" for good, stating that work on the Angeles Crest Highway had "ruined the place." Lynn Newcomb, Sr. and his sons founded the ranch, as well as the Mt. Waterman Ski Area, in 1939.   Lynn Newcomb, Jr., who passed away in 2011, is credited with creating the first chair lift in So Cal, in 1942. 

* Interestingly, while the headstone and some census records show Mr. Newcomb as being born in 1851, there seems to be a disparity in his reporting throughout the years.  For example, the 1940 census shows him as not being born until 1870.  I double-checked every which way possible, and it seems that I'm looking at the right person, but this is yet another mystery to me!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Two or Three Houses

I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude,
two for friendship, three for society.
~~ Henry David Thoreau

These two houses, and the nearby house where Snow's Salon is located, are so similar.  I can't help but think that all three were built at the same time.  At any rate, I find them calming.  I think it's the symmetry... 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Theme Day: Umbrellas

~~ Taken Last Summer ~~
The City Daily Photo Theme Day for February is Umbrellas.  Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking ahead, and didn't take any photos last week, when rain and umbrellas abounded.  No problem, though.  There are lots of umbrellas of the shade variety around here.  A nice reminder that spring and summer are just around the corner.  Next month's theme is Cafe Chairs.  Stay tuned!
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