May 2008

Eat, Pray, Love and LIVE!!!

I’ve been crazy busy lately, and also completely absorbed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Finally finished it last night. I laughed, I cried, I related. There’s nothing link getting your spiritual house in order to allow the universe to lay presents at your feet. I’ve accomplished this now and then — not perfectly, but relatively — and it’s quite astonishing what will come your way. I had a dream the other night that I was covered in hundreds of peonies that had fallen from the sky. Now that’s a gift from the universe.

Farmers Market?

So I’ve not commented on a few things because of various distractions. The Altadena Farmer’s Market seems dead or on hiatus. The sign on Lake is covered with a red cloth like a coffin.  We went a couple of weeks ago and while I wanted to be a cheerleader, and hoped Altadena would rise to the occasion, the experience was overpriced and underwhelming. La Canada’s event on Saturday mornings is much more compelling, especially with the French Cheese Guy and bakeries and astounding flowers, quality jewelry, etc. Altadena’s farmers market had two produce vendors and one sad flower vendor. The flowers I got were dead within two days. I hope they are retooling and will try again with more conviction and participants. Perhaps something other than Saturday morning.  Here’s a list of area farmers markets:

Proper Schooling

The departure of Rhythms of the Village charter high school out of the former Edison Elementary School on Glenrose has left a mess. Gang tagging and weeds are now everywhere, even though NIA school is still there. To PUSD: What the hell is going on here? Use and care for the school right or replace it with a park.


I returned from our trip north to find our baby hummingbirds gone. Mom was in the nest one morning, but haven’t seen anybody else in there for a few days. Hope they’re all livin’ the life.


My oh-so-talented pal Jennie Webb’s play Yard Sale Signs is being read next week as part of a reading series:

New festival showcases bold new works by L.A. playwrights performed
and directed by prominent Los Angeles talent
Starting Wednesday, May 7th, Rogue Machine (in residence at Theatre
Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90019) will present the
“Playground” play reading series.  Six free play readings, from local
playwrights, will be presented to the public with one of them going
into production in the next year.  Rogue Machine invites the Los
Angeles theatre community to discuss the work with the playwrights,
actors, directors and company members, and to help us choose.  It’s a
chance to engage in the creative process and be there when it all begins!

The readings are free to all and will be held at Theatre Theater, 5041
W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90019 (two blocks west of La Brea).  We
will offer complimentary coffee, donuts and creative energy!  Please
rsvp to, call (323) 930-0747 and visit for more details.   

Wednesday June 4 8:00 pm
Yard Sale Signs by Jennie Webb (Theatricum Botanicum), directed by
Barbara Kallir
 A lovely, gently surreal tale of five women trying on clothes in a
department store.  An absurdist comedy about mothers and daughters and
women who have given away too much.  Charming, touching and very original.

I’ll be there! Hope to see you, too!




My husband worked on this project for a little while, so here is a link to Discovery’s photos.

Alas, I’ll be out of town for the elections or I’d be out to help this year.
Hoper some of you out there can lend a hand. I promise I will next year. Really. Honest.

Altadena Town Council Elections June 21, 2008
Your Community Needs You

The Altadena Election Committee is requesting
volunteers from the community to participate in this
year’s elections, either as a poll staffer or to
assist with setting up and breaking down the polling

We need people to commit to a 4 hour shift as a poll
8AM-12PM, 11AM-3PM, or 2PM-6PM.

Setup volunteers can rise early or sleep in and help
us break down, and should allot 2 hours of service
either way.

Contribution of this time is vital for a vibrant and
accessible election, and I’m hoping it will be quite
fun as well!

Poll Worker (Check One)
8AM-12PM ________
11AM-3PM ________
2PM-6PM ________

Set Up/Break Down Volunteer
6:30AM-8:30AM _______
5:30PM-7:30PM _______

Please contact:
Election Chair Laura Graham
Email: Laura Graham
Phone Number: 626-543-4844


Loma Alta Rec Center
Farm Fresh Market
Gordys Garage
Altadena Library
Farnsworth Park
Ralphs Market
Coffee Gallery
Altadena Golf Course

For other details including candidate names and census
tract numbers, see:

I may write about Altadena, but I’m not there this weekend. We are up in Mendocino/Fort Bragg enjoying some real time off. I loved Bill Geist’s Sunday Morning piece on the “staycation,” the energy conserving alternative to a vacation. But it seems this year we won’t be taking one of those.

It’s my pal Liz’s 50th birthday, so we hopped on a 7 am plane to Oakland at Bob Hope Airport, rented a car and took a leisurely drive the rest of the way. We stopped for breakfast in Healdsburg, which is a really happening town with fabulous restaurants, galleries and one of my favorite stores, Rainsong Shoes. I picked up one unassuming but beautiful shoe on display, turned it over and saw that it had been inspired by Paul Simon as it sported a “diamond” in its sole. Or maybe that should be soul. Diamonds in the sole of her shoes. Lovely. And it was placed between the heel and the sole to protect it. I coveted the lovely thing, but didn’t buy it. What control I tell you. Then, with photography in my blood, we entered a photo gallery called Capture and viewed some of the most spectacular photo work I’ve ever seen. Fantastic fantasy pieces, blending faces and trees, perilous holes in the ocean off New York, bridges full of cars driving through a gallery. I am sorry to say I can’t recall the artist’s name. I remember his last name is five letters, two syllables, and starts with a B. Do you recall things in certain ways? This subject fascinates me. I will recall the number of letters and syllables and often the first letters. I see the name or word visually and “feel” its structure. As a kid I had a “photographic” memory. I see it, I remember it.

That ability hasn’t remained exactly the same over the years, and I think there’s more to it than just the visual. It’s rhythm, too. My first phone number was 347-3343. I loved the rhythm of that number, and the math. All the numbers could be added to make seven, or subtracted from seven to get the other number. Our second house’s address was 23836. I loved that rhythm, too. I love numbers in a weird way. I see I’m on a completely unintended subject now, but what the hell, I’m on vacation. Numbers. I loved math as a kid. I would do extra math homework, buy the workbooks in the grocery store and ravage them at home. I loved the feeling of accomplishment. In 7th grade, my algebra teacher wanted me to become a math teacher. By then I was over the joy of math and into the transition to junior high and all the social insanity that goes with that, but honored that he thought I could teach. I fantasize about what that might have been like, especially now that I work at Caltech, known for many things wonderful, including the TV show Numbers. Those brilliant number guys change the world with their theories, ideas and proofs. And, of course, all mathematicians say the same thing about the world: it’s all math. But to the me in 7th grade, it was all just too boring.

There’s so much about numbers. Lucky numbers. Seemingly magical numbers. Numbers that seem to repeat in our lives to tell us something. Remind us of something. Clue us in about something. We pick dates that are meaningful. Bet lottery tickets based on birthdays, anniversaries, our own “lucky” numbers. Our lives are run by numbers. In fact, 40+ years ago my dad created his own comic strip called “By the Numbers.” No one had any names, just numbers, except the boss, who had the initials JB. My father was convinced the world was going to hell and would become unbearable to live in. He was an Ayn Rand aetheist and couldn’t bear to see independence crushed by the inept. Which sounds all noble and fine, but I think he could not bear being hemmed in by anything and Rand’s philosophy hit him where he lived.

A number is the reason we’re here in Mendocino. A significant birthday. The 50th. A half-century. A milestone. An achievement to be celebrated. For my friend it truly is, as she’s faced more health battles than I could list. Her medical records would probably stretch around the world. Let me tell you that lupus is one insidious, crappy disease that attacks on all fronts without regard to anything. And the treatments, like steroids, are equally horrid in their side effects. It may be the first signs of it showed up in my friend on her honeymoon nearly 30 years ago. After a beautiful wedding on the east coast, they boarded the QEII for Europe. She ended up seeing the country by wheelchair. So now it’s good times, slow times, up and down times, but talk about a birthday bash! A fine collection of 22 women gathered to celebrate the day with wine and song, dancing and laughter, gifts and gab, tribute and tears.

So here’s to numbers, and the magic, mystery, knowledge, significance, milestones and possibilities they represent. As for my husband and I, we’re in room 210, with a deck, a jacuzzi tub and view over the Noyo Harbor and ocean, anticipating another number — time for lunch!

Shot some pix at yesterday’s Ditch Day. Enjoy!

Yes, our little hummingbird in our backyard sycamore tree has had two babies this week! We can’t see into the nest, but can see two tiny beaks peeking out from the rim. And at the same time, I’ve had a plant — not a cactus, not a euphorbia, can’t remember the right genus, but it’s name is Orient Express, and the flower it has produced knocked me out yesterday morning. I’d been watching the unassuming bloom form for a few days and started to photograph it. Monday evening it looked quite plump, but still tight and I had no idea what to expect. Having trouble posting a pic, will do later!

JON WEINBACH wrote a story in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the flaw that all the Kentucky Derby horses this year have in common — their ancestor Native Dancer and his feet of clay, so to speak. I was extremely upset over the death of Barbaro, and attended a Derby party today with great trepidation. I was so relieved when the race was over and no one was hurt. Then the news that Eight Belles was down and nearly immediately euthanized.

Several of us at the party broke into tears and had to leave the room. Not only a horse was down, but she was the only philly. Like Hillary Clinton, all of the women at the party had been cheering her on.  We were stunned.  Needless to say the party turned somber. So when my name was called out about a half hour later, I was caught in that weird place where I had won the party’s little trifecta pool, but at what cost?  Talk about a hollow celebration.

So I wrote this little note to Weinbach: “I’m just so sorry that your story was so correct. We attend a Derby party every year. My husband and I won our little pool the year Barbaro won and I won again today. It made me sick to my stomach. Felt like blood money. I won’t be going to another Derby party, but I will be donating some of my winnings to the American Humane Society so at least other animals in need can benefit.”

I am adding to that donation a hospice for animals featured on Oprah, Martha Stewart and other shows called Angel’s Gate. Take a look at what they do. Talk about love.

This was just one unexpected piece of news this week. My oldest friend fell and cut her forehead open requiring stitches. We learned a volunteer and donor at work died. And I got horrible news about another friend, Faye Bordy Fears. Faye was for many years the editor of Dramalogue, a publication owned by her uncle and ultimately sold to Backstage. I also wrote for Dramalogue for several years and got to know Faye a bit, went to her house for parties, to her baby shower. And she came to my house, we went to plays. She even stepped in to help when an old boyfriend was being a jerk. She gave me wedding advice. When the magazine was sold, she and her family moved to Los Osos, ironically where my oldest friend who cut her forehead this week also lives. I didn’t go to see her enough. When I heard the news on Wednesday, I called her husband David and heard his voice crack when I said, “Tell me the news I heard isn’t true.” It was. Faye died due to complications from a routine surgery on Monday, shocking all who knew her. If you know Faye, you can email the family at  A gathering will be held by the family over the summer.

I’ve had a lot of unexpected loss in my life, and it doesn’t get that much easier to bear. Yes, I’ve grown more philosophical with age, and I feel loss differently. When I was young there was drama and shock and some level of fear about death. Now I feel losses of friends and family as a numbing shock first, and then deep sadness because I now know how each loss takes up a little more room in your heart. I think about their unrealized dreams and hopes, and that also makes me think about mine. A lot to think about on a Sunday afternoon.

Been getting a lot of inquiries about the Altadena Farmers Market. Here’s the contact info: Fruit of the Spirit 626-794-1162. It’s held Saturday mornings on Lake above Washington. Still small, so let’s help it grow!

Here’s a release I wrote for my pals Keith and Brian and their California Photography Workshops. I’ve been on three and can say these are a lot of fun and a great way to test out your skills and learn new ones. If you haven’t been to Bodie, it’s a great adventure. Sorry for font glitches here.  







Brian Leng and Keith Skelton, respected professional photographers and instructors, have announced their summer workshop to the historic ghost town of Bodie, as well as Mono Lake and Silver Lakes in the Eastern Sierra June 19-22, and their fall workshop to the majestic Monument Valley, Arizona, September 25-28.


Open to all photographers of any level using 35 mm to large format, film or digital, Skelton and Leng offer all participants one-on-one teaching opportunities to improve visual and technical skills. Included are daily discussions about “seeing,” pre-visualization, specific techniques and exercises to spur creativity. Throughout the workshop, digital work flow, shooting RAW and processing digital pictures will be discussed. Be ready to rise before dawn and experience an adventure!


About Bodie

Bodie, California is one of the best preserved ghost towns in the United States, located in the Eastern Sierra. Founded in the late 1800s during the Gold Rush boomtown era, the rugged and inaccessible town, situated 8,200 feet above sea level, grew to over 10,000 people before the mines went dry. After several devastating fires, everyone left Bodie, leaving almost all their belongings behind, including stores full of merchandise and homes nearly intact. The artifacts have been preserved over the years, giving us a unique and rare look back in time to the turn-of-the-century era of the Gold Rush. One artifact, a letter, recounts a young girl’s dismay at her family’s decision to move from San Francisco to the rowdy, isolated town. She wrote, “Goodbye God, I’m goin’ to Bodie!” Bodie is now a California State Park, open to the public for a minimal admission charge.


About Mono Lake

Mono Lake (rhymes with “OH no”) is the largest natural lake completely within the state of California, and is best-known for its dramatic limestone tufa (two-fuh) towers, usually only seen underwater. Now they tower above due to the battle over the lake’s watery resource. Once endangered when the water feeding it was diverted toward the Los Angeles basin, Mono lost half its volume in the 40 years before an agreement was reached to save it, and the water level still remains low. In addition, over time, rainfall at Mono Lake did not keep up with evaporation, and minerals in the water have so concentrated that the lake is now 2-1/2 times as salty, and 80 times as alkaline, as the ocean. You’ll see brine shrimp and enormous flocks of seagulls at Mono Lake as it is also the breeding ground for the ocean birds.


The price of this workshop is $295.00, not including hotel, food, and travel expenses. Limited to 12 participants. For more info visit, or email


Past participants say:

Keith and Brian are professional shooters (Brooks Institute graduates) who will take you right to where and when the best shooting is and then teach you how to get great shots with infinite patience.” – Denny Clark


“You go away simply feeling satisfied that you’ve explored an exciting location.  But the best part is reviewing the photos you took as they bring you back to your experience through images just vivid as your adventure.” – Len Wilson

The Alabama Hills workshop was an excellent and well-organized workshop.  Keith and Brian warmed everyone up in the early afternoon with shooting assignments, after which we were all ready for the setting sun.  They knew exactly where to take us, and when, to capture the best light for that time of day.   The small number of participants also insured that Keith and Brian spent time with everyone, suggesting, critiquing, and teaching. – Vahe Peroomian


We enjoyed not only the adventure of exploring an overlooked site of extreme variety, but exploring it with the photographic eye, with subtle but experienced guidance of Keith and Brian, who helped reveal the continual surprise of the landscape.” – D Swanson Patrick


About Monument Valley

Deep in the heart of the American Southwest, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by the golden sandy desert have been filmed and photographed numerous times by countless photographers. Yet every image is different from the one before. You will photograph free-standing sandstone rock forms that majestically rise 1,000 feet from the desert floor. Learn how to photograph panoramas using Stitching and photograph the stars and star trails. There are not many places where you can see as many stars as in Monument Valley. Come and experience the beauty for yourself!


Cost is $395, not including hotel, food, and travel expenses. Limited to 12 participants.

For more info visit, or email


About California Photography Workshops and Tours

One of the best ways to improve your photographic skills is to join a workshop. Advance your photography knowledge while traveling to destinations throughout the West and the world. We have designed adventures of travel and discussion themes that will enhance your photography and your appreciation of some of the best places on earth. Our workshops are designed for all levels of photographers. Having taught at local colleges for more than 15 years each, Skelton and Leng were recently profiled in Shutterbug Magazine for their innovative workshops designed for anyone wishing to explore or renew their interest in photography. Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Keith Skelton in Shutterbug magazine: “For some of us, learning the traditional film methods and developing was easy. The controls on a regular film SLR are far fewer than the controls on a digital camera. In contrast, the many options available in digital photography can be both exciting and scary. Most people default to Auto mode. However, when the Auto mode setting is used too often, the photographer may begin to wonder whether the creative control lies in their hands or the camera’s preset buttons. We offer a solution for the person who wants to ditch the auto setting and regain control of capturing an image.” The solutions are working as many of Keith and Brian’s students return for multiple photographic adventures.

Keith Skelton grew up in rural Oregon working in canneries, on farms, and playing in bands. He has been a professional photographer since 1980, working for clients such as Boeing, Leo Burnett Chicago, and Expeditors International. He has been published in The New York Times, The Oregonian, Travel and Leisure, and Newsweek, to name a few. Keith has photographed everything from Keiko the whale to Presidents Carter and Clinton.

Recent personal projects include photography in India, China, Guatemala, and Mexico. Keith has also been teaching workshops through Santa Monica College and Pasadena City College for seven years. He graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in 1980 with a BA degree in Commercial Photography and a minor in Photojournalism. He also attended the University of Hawaii and the University of Oregon. Keith’s website:

Brian Leng’s photography obsession began with shooting for the Hamilton High school paper in 1968. After high school, he attended Santa Monica College and later received his BA from Brooks Institute of Photography. In 1974, Brian opened up his first photography studio in Hollywood and began shooting assignments for advertising agencies, design firms, and corporations. Brian operated the studio for over 15 years with his wife, artist representative, Jill Youmans. Some of their clients included J.C. Penney, Herbal Life, and Eastman Kodak. He photographed everything from a camel having lunch in a restaurant, to 300 Groucho Marx look-a-likes. Teaching is now Brian’s main focus. He has enjoyed sharing his knowledge with aspiring photographers at Santa Monica college for 15 years.


Brian is past president of the Southern California chapter of ASMP (American Society of Magazine Photographers) and on the board of directors for APA (Advertising Photographers of America). Brian has recently volunteered his services to a Heart Touch International outreach HIV/AIDS program in Thailand.

For more information about these workshops, and for a full calendar of upcoming workshops, visit or email

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