Sep 6, 2007

A Harvest Time-out

Yesterday, I visited the Lowell Joint School District headquarters in La Habra, California. The staff had just compiled a scrapbook commemorating their first 50 years, starting from about 1932 (the year my Daddy was born). I picked up the album for closer inspection. I became a detective looking for clues... Oh how I love vintage photographs!

Today, I unearthed the above photo, and I was immediately smitten by the contrast between the children and the bleak backdrop. The 9 youngsters look like siblings; however, there is a noticeable demarcation in the color and style of their apparel. Beneath an assortment of hats, the children show little expression. The leaves indicate the end of a season and the basket is filled with what appears to be a type of squash. A bit more difficult to see is a sleepy, large black and white dog just to the right of the children. In the distance, there is a ravine and 2 jagged mountain ranges reminiscent of America's Southwest.

Then I found a photo with an amazing sense of humor. It is rare to find vintage photos depicting anything comical unless the content is related to theater or vaudeville. In this photo we find smiles on faces and a farm dog ready to fetch. It is obvious by the people's relaxed stances that they are submitted to this playful moment. Chairs were removed from the farmhouse, "rubber band man" took center stage, and I can almost hear the giggles of the children. Another observation is that the 2 men bracing the chairs look very much alike, as do the 2 farmers at the right.

Note: Click photos to enlarge.

Sep 5, 2007


I can hear
the asphalt
of Locust Street
on pins
when suddenly,
it stops --
to see
if I'll turn
to look.

- Author Unknown

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By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.

- Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885

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I trust in Nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility.
Spring shall plant and Autumn garner
to the ends of time.

- Robert Browning

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September days have the warmth of summer in their briefer hours,
but in their lengthening evenings a prophetic breath of autumn.
The cricket chirps in the noontide, making the most of what remains
of his brief life. The bumblebee is busy among the clover blossoms
of the aftermath, and their shrill and dreamy hum hold the outdoor
world above the voices of the song birds, now silent or departed.

- September Days By Rowland E. Robinson, Vermont

Sep 3, 2007

Romancing the Crocs

I discovered this photo shortly after posting below. A Romantic Homes magazine, a weathered gray garden bench, and a pink pair of Crocs... This is quite an invitation!

Uploaded by Kristen Anna on 27 Apr 07, 5.31PM PDT.

Blending In?

Yesterday's Great Escape section of the Whittier Daily News showed a header that read:


"To avoid looking like an ugly American tourist in Paris, avoid shorts, sneakers, fanny packs and baseball caps with your hometeam logo. Above all, leave your comfortable but brightly colored Crocs at home."

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When I read the above snippet, I must say that I found it a bit unsettling, and not because I own 2 pair of Crocs. For starters, I don't find Crocs (funky gardening clogs) to be a huge fashion statement, but they are cushy, comfy, and fun. I don't wear most of the other items mentioned either. I'm sure that we all have images etched firmly into our minds of tourist sightings that elaborated far beyond the above checklist. No, what bothered me was something else...

I walked away from the article and then picked it up about 2 hours later. Two things jumped out at me: "an ugly American tourist in Paris," and "blending in." I am well aware of the differing sentiments regarding Americans. Yet, my own community has undergone enormous ethnic changes in the last 50 years, and I frequently see people wearing the traditional garments from their native lands. They don't seem bothered and they're not trying to blend in.

Obviously, American tourists don't all dress the same. Neither do they dress identically here. So my question is this; why must we blend in to avoid being stereotyped as ugly? Our own tourists and immigrants are allowed to be themselves. Should we be apologizing for ourselves elsewhere? Just a thought...

Sep 2, 2007

More Heat & Librarians

Cartoon by Speed Bump. This cartoon has been around the globe via email and is now being sold as an 11x17" poster, personally inscribed according to one's wishes. Supplies are very limited. The cost is $50, which does include shipping.

More Heat

Once again, September did not disappoint us Californians. I was standing in the Sahara-like parking lot of my church and the sun was pressing down on me like a hot iron.
Even the shade had run for cover. My only refuge was my vehicle which felt more like a steam bath.


I phoned Frau Frugal last week and was sure that the voice that answered was not hers. The whispering female sounded monotone and abbreviated. Then I heard, "I'm at the library," and her voice fell silent. Indeed, it was Frau Frugal, and she speedily informed me that she and a friend were borrowing the library's air conditioning to knock out some paper craft projects. As I processed this information, a myriad of library memories crawled into my lap.

With another school season upon us, I recall how many hours I used to spend at the library and– sadly– how seldom I visit now. The Internet and my own collection of tomes have swept this institution to the wayside. Yet, I loved being immersed in words and experiencing the thrill of the hunt. I miss the library's protocol of silence that seemed to magnify breathing, pencils tap dancing on tables, pages turning, and my preoccupation with not being able to talk.

My encounters with librarians were as diverse as each library's inventory. Many librarians became heroes as they rescued me from procrastination or indecision. They glided through the library with such confidence and ease that I was certain they had read every book. Then, there were the few librarians whose quirky, stoic personalities transformed the library into a floor show.

One such librarian's demeanor inspired me to pen a free verse poem in 1976, my senior year of High School. This particular librarian was so staunch that she became a distraction.

library lady

library lady
tends her flock
of book-lookers

hushes...hisses...slithers past

extinguishes high volume voices
with venom smiles

and coil-fully
hugs the necks
of double violators...

- karen june miller, 1976 -