Day of the Dead altar honoring Coco Chanel in Pasadena

Coco Chanel altar in PasadenaDay of the Dead has passed but I just came across photos of the altar in the front window of a store on Holly Street in Pasadena.  It was in memory of Coco Chanel and included authentic Chanel jewelry.

Coco Chanel jewelry on Day of the Dead altar in Pasadena



Going to the DMV in Pasadena. In and out in 2 hours

The notice from the DMV about renewing my Driver’s License stated that I had to actually show up at a DMV office this year. The notice also stated that I could pre-register online so I did and found out info about the new ‘Real ID’ licenses.  ‘I might as well get one of those’, I thought, so I dug out the appropriate documents for “Real ID’ and showed up at the DMV on Rosemead at 7:50 on Tuesday morning.

7.50 am The Line behind the DMV on Rosemead Blvd.
7:50 a.m. The end of the line at the Rosemead DMV and a pretty spiffy red car. People with appointments were ushered in through the back door. Those of us with no appointments waited in line.

Not only was I armed with a certified birth certificate, my real SSN card, and a bill from So. Cal Gas to prove that I was an American who lived in Pasadena I brought along my Kindle Paperwhite so I could read while waiting. After reading all the horror stories about the lines at the DMV I thought I’d be waiting a half a day or longer.

Didn’t happen that way at all.  Here is what really occurred.

after 8 am the line has moved
The line at the side of the DMV building. It was a little after 8:15 a.m.when this photo was taken and we had just rounded the corner from the back of the building.


The DMV entrance doorway in sight Sept 2018
It took a little over a half an hour for the line to move from behind the building to the entrance where there  was a woman I’ll call “The Document Screener or The Voice of No”.  (She’s not shown, but that cart is hers.) It turns out that because my birth certificate has my maiden name on it and my Social Security Card has my married name I have to get a document from Spokane County, Washington showing my official name change in order to get a ‘Real ID’. WHAT?!!? Well, never mind. I’ll just use my passport to travel and visit federal locations.  And just do a simple Drivers License renewal today.
The waiting continues at the DMV
I checked in at the “Start Here” sign and was told to take a seat anywhere. So I did. And discovered that the book on my Paperwhite was the wrong one in a series I’m reading. The series BTW are hilarious mysteries set in Dublin by Caimh McDonnell. I mean really laugh-until-your-stomach-aches funny.  So I waited and people-watched instead of reading.
My number is called at the DMV
My number, G 046, is called! So off to window 17 I went, had an eye test and paid my $35. One eye is definitely weaker than the other.
The touchscreen drivers license test
After the eye test I was sent to the Camera Room where I had my photo taken. Next–on to the computers in another room where I was to take the Driver License test. The last time I took it–years ago–it was on paper. Not now. The box on the right opens the actual digital drivers test. I missed one question.
Artistic murals at the back of the DMV on Rosemead
9:50 a.m. As I was heading out the back door I noticed some mural panels painted on the back wall. Took photos and then out to my car and home.  Now to get my passport renewed…


The last Delta rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB

I watched the last U. S. government Delta rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB on the central California coast this morning. It is carrying a satellite that will survey the ice in Antarctica.

The last Delta rocket launch over Pacific
Delta rocket launch Sept 15 2018

From now on SpaceX and other private companies will be used to send satellites into space. I took this photo from my balcony and the distance  to that red dot which is the rocket is over 100 miles. It quickly disappeared behind the palm tree on the left.

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A million dollar home with a blue bottle garden for lawn replacement

Blue Bottle garden Pasadena LA City Pix
This Spanish Revival home’s front yard is now filled  mostly with succulents and cactus plus lawn ornaments everywhere!

The woman who owns this home told me that she decided to take up lawn replacement design on her own.  She said she had no art training of any kind, so I have begun to think of her as a self-taught primitive landscape designer, a kind of “Grandma Moses of lawn replacement”.

Flower Bed Blue Bottle garden LA City Pix
The basic design unit she uses is a circle within a circle within a circle. Each with its own colors. The basic background is dark red wood mulch, which has begun to fade in some areas.

The design of this front garden breaks almost every rule of conventional garden design.

Blue bottles around plumeria LA City Pix
I think the blue bottles are from a water brand–maybe?  Or maybe wine? She told me she loves butterflies so there are parts of the garden with colorful butterfly ornaments. The tree looks like a Southern California favorite from the tropics: a  heavenly fragrant plumeria. To it she has added blue light bulbs as decorations.  And there are lots of wind spinners throughout.

The result is astonishing. Unlike anything else in the staid, quiet Madison Heights neighborhood of Pasadena.  And I love the whimsy of it all!

(For more about lawn replacement go to my Hot Gardens website.)



Blue Bottles, wind spinners and butterflies in Pasadena LA City Pix
The blue bottles are a striking visual element during the day and light up at night along with many other parts of the gardens. Stacked around the edges of the garden are bags of mulch and empty pots, so I think she is not done with her design. Happily, all the plants look alive and thriving    

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The hidden artwork at the Del Mar Gold Line station in Pasadena

The Gold and Red Lines of the Los Angeles Metro should be designated as the “art and culture Metro Lines”. They were among the earliest ones built and the Metro invested a significant amount of money in site-specific artwork for each station along these two lines. The newer Metro stations still have art–mostly in the form of tile panels–but nothing quite like the Gold and Red Line stations.

Del Mar station with apartments
The apartment buildings are in a deep brick red color. The Old Pasadena trolley station from back in the early 1900s is the low gold color building in the front. And behind it, slightly left of center, is a gray tower, the site specific art for the Del Mar Station. From the street it is almost unnoticeable.

At the Del Mar station the artwork designed by Ries Niemi is dwarfed by the massive rental apartment complex that surrounds it. But go inside the plaza behind the old trolley station and here is what you will see:

Gray tower artwork at Del Mar Gold Line Station
It may look like a kind of industrial building, but it is part of the artwork created for this station by Ries Niemi. It shelters the entrance to the stairs to the garages for the apartment complex.
Ries Niemi art at Del Mar Gold Line station
In addition to the tower, Niemi created decorative elements for the barriers in this station. At the Del Mar station the Metro plunges underground.
Detail Del Mar Gold Line art
A detail of this artwork which shelters the stairs to the lower level garages of the apartment buildings.
Old trolley station in Pasadena at the Del Mar Station
Los Angeles had an extensive trolley system back in the first half of the 20th Century. When cars became more popular in the 1950s, the trolley tracks were pulled up. This one trolley station remains but is now a very popular restaurant.
Historic Castle Green Pasadena
About a block away is the historic Castle Green, the last remaining building of a hotel built back when Pasadena was a resort destinationIt is an artwork in itself.


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Finally. Metro is getting out of the bike rental biz in Pasadena. A rant.

Setting up bike rental stations around Pasadena was a silly idea in the first place and as of Thursday, August 16th, the bikes and their stations are being removed. And, so far, I have not seen any of those electric scooters on the streets here in Pasadena to take the place of bikes.

UPDATES: 1) It turns out Pasadena was paying Metro $100,000 PER MONTH for the bike rental stations and bikes.

2) As of August 24th The City of Pasadena is developing regulations for electric scooters and

3) I saw three guys on electric scooters over by the Westlake Apartments, that huge rental complex at Green and Pasadena St.

Metro bikes at Del Mar rental apartments
Metro bikes lined up across from the Del Mar station. I’m willing to bet that most of the passengers who get off at Del Mar catch an elevator home–not a Metro bike. A huge apartment complex surrounds this Metro station.  You can see more of the apartments in the photo at the top of the page.

From the beginning when Metro installed bikes in downtown L.A. and I saw them at a CicLAvia bicycling event, I had questions.  The biggest was why on earth was Metro wasting public funds setting up a bike rental business when there were many private, local bike companies who could do it easily.

Gold Line Metro train at Fillmore station
In the back is a Metro Gold Line train, partially obscured by trees, speeding out of the Fillmore station. The bikes are lined up neatly in this very attractive plaza by the station.  Many people who disembark at this station go to nearby Medical Offices and I’m not sure biking is on their minds.

Metro is supposed to built tracks and trains — not worry about getting their passengers through the last mile or last block home.

two bike stations at Fillmore gold line
Before Metro installed the bike racks at the Fillmore Gold Line station, they had two places to lock up bikes instead of the dozen or so bikes now at this location.

I guess the blessing in all this is that the Metro bikes, at least in Pasadena, have failed.  Maybe that’s why private bike businesses didn’t set up rental stations before. It wasn’t a viable business. The only successful bike rental businesses I know about are at the beach.  Tourists love them.


Metro bike station by Pasadena City Library
These bikes adjacent to the Pasadena Central Library are the closest ones to the Memorial Park Metro station which, itself, is the closest Metro station to Old Town Pasadena. Why no bikes at Memorial Park?  (Not that it makes any difference now.)

As long as I am on the topic of Metro financial expenditures–bureaucrats spending taxpayers’ money–I like to know why Metro Link (the Inter-urban train that runs on train tracks from downtown L.A. to San Bernardino) is dueling with Metro Rail about establishing a Metro Gold Line station in Claremont, a city that Metro Link already serves. It’s a crazy duplication of effort!

Metro bike station at Hilton hotel
And talk about making no sense — a Metro bike station across the street from the Hilton hotel. Oh, please. Just how likely was it that Hilton guests were going to rent a bike and pedal around Pasadena? (Rhetorical question, of course.)  It is at least one  mile from the nearest Metro station. I really wonder if anyone did a market study before this whole bike rental biz was started!  Or did someone have an investment in a bike manufacturing company and saw a way to make some more sales?

And the last of this rant: why isn’t the Gold Line being extended beyond the Atlantic Station in East L.A.?  Anyone have an answer?

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