Bob Stane, who everyone knows from all the great music he produces at the Coffee Gallery Backstage and the comedy he set loose at the Ice House for years, is making more than anyone else could out of his “fork in the road” on S. Pasadena Ave. I’m heading there today for a photo myself to catch all the action. Just read on and be amazed. Then give him a hand with food and decor!

Bob Stane Says:  Today, we have two sermons in one.  Double your pleasure, double your fun.
Both have the subtle thread of volunteerism running through them.  Oh, Bob, you have started your novel.  No Chuckie and Chuckette,
I have not.  Wait for it.   Here is the fun part.  As you know, we scored big with THE FORK.  It ran on TV all over the country and was featured in The Chicago Tribune, with color photo.  (Internet Version).  Also The Los Angeles Times featured us with a half page as
did The San Gabriel Tribune.  It went on and on and is still a “happening” event. The door is only slightly ajar. The demons are peeking around the corner.
The conquest of the media world is only a greedy grasp away.  I can almost taste the heady essence of complete power.
Of course with absolute power comes absolute corruption.  Well, I can’t be perfect.  Stay with me on this one.
We are starting The Fork In The Road Gang with everything that goes along with belonging to, and  flaunting,  a snooty and exclusive  organization.  A fraternity  that is much too good for such as I.  But that will be worked out.
You, however, are invited to join.  Can you feel that warm tingle go up and down your spine?  Delicious.
Read the copy about the food drive.  There is a lot more opportunity for future glory in this than you might think.  Then go down to the next item of forkiness  and absorb the hint of evil that goes with ongoing holidays and Pasadena events.        Oh, yes, yes, yes.

THE FOOD DRIVE:  (Good deeds, etc. The Holidays are here)
“Put The Fork In Hunger”  food drive to benefit Union Station Homeless Services.  Largest Food Drive Ever!
This Saturday and Sunday from 8 to 4 P.M.  Bob Stane, Ken Marshall (The Coffee Gallery Backstage) and Philip Coombes(AgentPhil.com) will be launching Pasadena’s largest food drive ever! benefiting Union Station Homeless services.  Union Station Homeless Services  will be feeding more than 5,000 people in the park on Thanksgiving Day and any non-perishables you can drop off at the fork this weekend will be greatly appreciated and much needed.
The food drive will be taking place at The infamous “Fork” located at the “fork in the road” where St. John and Pasadena Ave. meet. (or divide depending if your cup is half full or half empty) This is just South of Huntington Hospital and Bellfontaine.  (From now on, this piece of dirt is dubbed, “Fork  Plaza”). Please look for the volunteers wearing bright Orange shirts.  Simply go slow, roll down your window and give your non-perishable food items to the volunteers with outreach bags.

We are also looking for volunteers (anyone? anyone?) to help on both days of the event, Hint:  students  looking for  service hours.  For further information or to volunteer, please contact Philip Coombes at Phil@AgentPhil.com or call 626 644-3227.  (do not call Bob Stane, phone or e mail Phil.). Adults welcomed and needed. Call now.
Easiest route is from Arroyo (Pasadena Freeway).  Go west on Glen Arm.  Go north on Pasadena Ave.  Admire fork. Volunteer or drop off food.  Go around the corner, park, and gaze. Think about the audacity and the work and imagination that went into this stunt. Now your appetite is whetted.  You are doomed.  However, if Glenda, The Good Witch shows up you may get away with it.
Mapquest. Type in 866 N. Pasadena Ave. Pasadena, CA.  The Fork lives to the left of this address.


What’s next, Bob. Exploit me, take full advantage.  “See World Conquest.”
The Fork In The Road, at Fork Plaza, has only started to infect the community.  So much potential  mischief, so little time.
Get this insight.  “The Fork and Fork Plaza” are new players on the Pasadena scene.  New and shiny. Just right for seasonal exploitation.
The television cameras are waiting for the close up, CB.
We need a Santa hat for the top of the fork.  There will be lights (we hope).  Other wonderful decorations and “inspired” things might happen or appear. The top of the fork is 24 inches wide.  Just right for some sewing genius who can make a hat or ?  A craft project or do you have a huge Santa hat in your garage?  Ideas welcomed.  Ken will install, do not
climb any ladders.
All right, Bob, what do you really want to do?  Spill your guts.  O. K., you got it out of me.  What I really want is to get The Fork featured in The New Year’s Day parade television coverage and as a feature, on TV, during the football game, January 1, both.  That will require ideas.  And a crown on the top if the fork.  See “crafts.”  Want to see your work on TV?  Sure you do.
Now, Bob, how are you going to get it on TV on New Year’s Day? Answer: Remember, The Fork is a new player and the TV commentators have about worn out anything else that might be spectacular in Pasadena.  That leaves The Fork and my festering imagination to supply (safe and sane) visuals.  The Rose Court?  Maybe.  The Cheer leaders of both football teams?  Dancers? Perhaps.
Actually, there is much more but I cannot tell you as I need to reserve much of the ideas to seduce the TV channels.  I have great visuals in store. Can’t give it away. So cool.  You will be proud of me.
Hint:  I may need someone to craft a large pie.  Envision a round wash tub (tin/zinc) cut down (shortened) to pie size.  Then a pie crust (made of?).     Oh, yes, a pie.  That warm tingle is, again, going up the spine.  You will think of better things than I.
Now you can contact Bob Stane.  Think outside the pie:  bstane@earthlink.net
This is going to be good.  (or as Terry Southern wrote of Guy Grand’s escapades in his book “The Magic Christian,” “it cost him a pretty penny to get out of that one.”).


Here are the celebrities of Xmas Tree Lane, the biggest of whom is the lovely Rosa Johnson, Mrs. Altadena. It’s fitting that this icon of our town is dressed as a Santa, so she is Santa Rosa on Santa Rosa. Also here is avid Xmas Tree Lane supporter Supervisor Mike Antonovich, emcee Meshack Taylor (Designing Women), Linda Lane-White, Maureen Ward, and the choirs from Altadena Baptist Church and Blair High School, plus the Altadena Children’s Choir and John Muir High School Drum Corps. Unfortunately the hot cider and hot chocolate ran out way too early, but the crowd was enthusiastic anyway. So take a drive down the Lane and then head east on Mendocino to get the best view of the Balian Mansion (just east of Allen and Mendocino) as it appears before you like a vision.

Here are some pictures from both the Altadena Heritage membership party at Beckett Hall and the lighting of Christmas Tree Lane. More to come!

My father fought in WWII as a pilot of a B-24 based in Pickenham, England. He flew 19 missions over Germany from the end of 1944 until the end of the war. He was a handsome devil, nicknamed “Smiley.” He became a pilot for United Air Lines and served on accident investigation teams.

He would have been 85 on the day we elected Barack Obama president, and he wouldn’t have liked it. He was old school Republican, sometimes talking Libertarian, and predicted in the early 1970s that the world was going to hell and quickly, too. He couldn’t stand government intervention. He drew his own comic strip, By the Numbers, in which no one had a name. Would he be appalled today about what has just happened to the financial structure of our country? You betcha.  

But today, a salute to his service and what he and millions of others did to ensure that we had the freedom to be our best, or screw things up completely. I can only hope that we find the new direction we need.

I’ll post pictures tonight.

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!

This is a different Christmas for me, for us. My husband and I didn’t hold our annual party, aren’t hosting any big shindigs. Instead, we’re visiting friends, going to other people’s parties, viewing the neighborhood Christmas lights — like the Balian Mansion —  stopping in at relatives, and enjoying a little snack and chatter, doing a few things for others. This is the first time in years I got cards out to nearly everyone on my list — custom cards at that. I have time to bake my grandmother’s Swedish Coffee Bread, wrap all my gifts with care, hand deliver cards to my neighbors, call friends who are far away. The gift of time, means, intention and enjoyment of all these things is the greatest gift.  Merry Christmas to all! Here’s a reminder of how to enjoy it all…

Holiday Eating
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table
 knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave
 immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare. You can’t find
it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has
10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an
eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me.
Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy.
Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed
potatoes Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat step #3.

 4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or
whole milk. If it’s skim, pass . Why bother? It’s like buying a sports
car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control
your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other
people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s.
You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the
time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table
while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like
frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near
them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center
of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them
behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if
you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have
three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

Finally, here are some pictures from this year’s lighting ceremony. Pardon the quality — I was stuck using my Blackberry camera and let’s just say it wasn’t quite adequate for the occasion!

The Lights! The Fabulous Mrs. Altadena, Rosa Johnson and MeAltadena Children’s Choir — with legs!

Two updates to recent messages. Thanks Monica…

1.  Change of location Joint Altadena Town Council and PUSD School Board Meeting
        Tuesday, December 4, 2007 @ 7 p.m., Eliot Middle School Auditorium

2.  Change to Pasadena Now article regarding Christmas Tree Lane and repaving of Altadena Drive between Lake and Santa Rosa


        Mike Antonovich’s field representative, Sussy Nemer, sends more specifics:

                  A contractor to the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works is currently re-constructing this section of Altadena Drive between Santa Rosa Avenue and Lake Avenue. This work involves re-construction of the roadway and improvements to medians, curbs, gutters, and sidewalks.

Given concerns about how the Altadena Drive construction may impact visitors to Christmas Tree Lane, Supervisor Antonovich directed the Department of Public Works to implement the following measures:

  1. No construction will occur on weekends.
  2. Beginning on Friday, December 7th, and lasting through the beginning of January, all construction Monday through Friday will be finished no later than 5:00 p.m.
  3. All driving lanes east-bound and west-bound will be open by 5:00 p.m.
  4. Temporary lane closures will occur during the day Monday through Friday.

By adjusting the contractor’s schedule, Altadenans can rest assured that the construction along Altadena Drive will not impede visitors coming to see Christmas Tree Lane. Traveling to and from Christmas Tree Lane will remain accessible for the thousands of Altadenans and others who come to enjoy this annual celebration.

I doubt many of you are blogging today, but we’re doing our Thanksgiving a little differently this year.

It’s been such a busy time the past few months with my work deadlines, and my husband considering a job change for several months and then making it this past week! I also had a writing conference in St. Louis and then met up with Steve in Orlando for IAAPA, the major theme park convention of the year. It was a huge success for his new company so he’s now engineering some fabulous new rides that you’ll see in parks in a couple of years. So while in Orlando we had to do “research.” That meant Kennedy Space Center’s new shuttle launch ride, Universal, Disney World and Epcot in three days. My head is still spinning. Didn’t care much for Disney World, but I love the expanse and etherial quality of Epcot.  We had a luscious dinner upstairs at the Bistro in the French Pavilion.

So with all that, there wasn’t much time for Thanksgiving preparation. And I came home with a sinus/cold thing, so I could barely get through the grocery store. So we’re taking it easy today, gearing up for a small gathering on Saturday instead. It’ll take that long to get the house together since we’ve also been remodeling a bit even with everything else going on.

So I’m thankful this year for the time to relax, to walk our dog Fozzy up Cheney Trail, the time to make some dishes in advance (Grandma’s rice pudding, pumpkin cheesecake and Swedish coffee bread), Steve’s amazing cooking talents, his new job, our sanity the love of friends and family.

 I want to send special thoughts and blessings to friend Susan who’s at City of Hope this holiday, to my mother-in-law who had her own health issue recently, and to yoga friend Helen, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  Cheers to all!