Compost Lesson #11

Gingerbread houses are, of course, compostable. And so it all comes full circle, almost like a Hendrik Hertzberg essay, but messier. Happy Holidays!


I Need a

Like the pak choi in the previous post, the vegetables pictured on this photo blog are what we grow in our backyard. These beets are an exception. They just looked too good not to photograph.


"Formula for an Interesting Life:

Acquire skills and use them. The more skills, the more interesting."
-Stewart Brand
The Next Whole Earth Catalog, Second Edition

No Knead Bread How-to Video with Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey.


Artifact #2, Though Not Chronologically

[I hate to distract from pictures with words, particularly in what I had hoped would be a wordless series, but I feel this editorial aside is necessary in order to note that Grover was called Lola long before the Kid discovered Charlie and Lola. So, the Lola in this photo was named Lola and unnamed Grover without consideration for Lola of Charlie and Lola. I probably should have just left that alone, but wanted to make sure it was understood that Grover became Lola just because a two-year decided it should be that way—for no discernible reason apparent to her adult handlers—and not because this then two-year-old was referencing Charlie's kid sister Lola. Clear?]


Lola and Charlie.


Luv 2 Nap

Every day I pass witty vanity plates and think Wouldn't that make a funny photo? No. I've spared you more times than I could count.
Napping, however, is my special talent. It's something I'm really good at.
So I share this with you.



Typically a freezing rain and mud type of bike race in the rest of the country and in Europe, Southern California cyclocross is its own thing. This is a small glimpse of SoCal cross on a recent 72-degree afternoon in Glendale, CA.

The fast guy in this photo wearing his aerobic strain with poise is Andrew.
Up! Up!



I like the idea of it and even enjoy my friends' updates, sometimes.


Recycle, Compost, Landfill

Life and work have gotten in the way of this photo blog of late. And that's good. I'm not one of those people who values wedding photos over weddings, and if life wants to step forward and assert its primacy, well, by all means.

But I'm back from a trip to the Bay Area and have a picture or two to share, something I hope to do with more regularity in the near future.

For starters, here's one from the California Academy of Sciences. I can't wait to go back. Along with almost everything I saw at this ultramodern museum, these waste bins really show the thoughtful design (and money—oh so much money) that went into making this institution light years better than anything we have in L.A.

Recycle. Compost. Landfill.



I just came across another obituary that overlooked DeCarava's true greatness by narrowing his stature: African-American photographer. (Try Cartier-Bresson: French photographer.) DeCarava was, indeed, that but what about his plays with light? His prints that grabbed this viewer's eyes and pulled me in, hoping for, seeing revelations? I've never seen prints in a gallery that called for such viewing effort as did his. Not many have given me more pleasure. Blacks, lighter blacks, barely lighter blacks, set off by a touch of light, many shades darker than white. His work may have shown those of us not of his time or his place or his background something of what he knew, but it also granted us a very deep look into mysteries that can't be confined to superficial ethnic or cultural or racial categories. His street photography was more complex and rich than that of most of his contemporaries. It's aged better, too.
His cultural contribution should be celebrated, but that's hardly where his profoundly deep art ended. It's easier to categorize art than to work at seeing it.



Enough rain today to keep the seeds moist, but not enough to wash them away. Grow, little carrots. Grow.


Park[ing] Day '09 Gallery

Last year I drove around visiting and photographing a number of Park[ing] Day parks. This year I decided to leave the car at home and use buses, trains and my feet for getting around. Between the reduction in sites this year and the limitations of public transportation—and, of course, the heat—I didn't get to see quite as much as I had hoped. If I didn't get to your park, I wanted to—I really did—but it's a big city and I had to choose parks along or near the Wilshire corridor to maximize the limited time I had. By the end of the day I had taken 2 trains, 6 buses and walked about 5 miles.
I saw a lot of people who made a big effort to temporarily reinterpret public space, photographed some, and here it is.


It Is That Time Again

Sugar snap peas.

Park[ing] Day L.A. 2009

This is Gruen Associates' park from 2008. Creative people all over L.A. will be taking over parking spaces and making parks again this Friday (9/18). And I'll be taking pictures. Last year's gallery of the sites I visited is here. Here's a map of who's doing what/where this year.



Bike geeks like bike art. I'm no exception. It just so happens that a dear friend (who happens also to be a relative) makes some quietly fun stuff in that category—spare, elemental chalk drawings of bicycles that are beautiful individually, even more so grouped together. But don't take my word for it.
See for yourself.



Compost Lesson #9

Straw is available wherever people in jodhpurs and velvet helmets ride horses. It is the brown to your kitchen waste's green. Add it to a compost bin to keep things balanced and unsmelly. Smelly = Out of Balance. Bales of straw are also great for mulch in the garden and as benches for outdoor summer screenings. And they're cheap.


Field Notes

This humble notepad has an extensive devotional following on flickr. The kid (mine, pictured) has piles of notepads of every size, but using a parent's is always preferred.


Cooper's Hawk?

The 30 or so sparrows usually flitting around our backyard were under cover in an instant when this hawk arrived. If anyone can help with a positive ID, I'd be most appreciative.



I made the mistake of reading the side of a milk carton this morning, and it annoyed me enough that I picked up the phone. Is there any connection between a stock image of a young seedling in a model's palm, and the milk my child drinks? I called Horizon Organic today and told them I thought it was less than honest to state "choosing organic leaves the world just a little better than how we found it." If they were indeed leaving the world a little better than they found it, you'd think they'd allow customers to visit their facilities. When I asked if I could see where the milk we buy comes from their helpful customer service associate replied, firmly, no.



I have a Fuji Instax 200 on loan and am savoring the joys of instant, undigital photography. This installation—HappyHappy by Choi Jeong-Hwa—of plastic toys and containers from a $.99 store is currently at the BCAM plaza, between LACMA and BCAM.



I lost this knife about 20 years ago; found it recently. I have more useful knives, but this one's prettiest, hands down. I thought I'd photograph it before it goes missing for another 20 years.


Compost Lesson #7

The optimal temperature of a backyard compost pile is between 135 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. But don't bother buying a thermometer. Decomposition only goes in one direction. Let it.


Julius Shulman: 1910–2009

No picture with this post, in honor of Mr. Shulman whom, we thought, would never die. I like to think a lot of significant Southern California structures exist, in a way, only because Julius Shulman's photos gave them life. Whether one visited any of the buildings Shulman immortalized on film or not, the vision he put forth was much greater than what any of us would come away with visiting the same scene.

I've stared at his images, long and hard, trying to absorb just a touch of his way of seeing.

This past year I had the good fortune to hear him speak at UCLA. He didn't answer a single question put to him, though he did speak at length. No one held it against him.


Compost Lesson #6

Smith & Hawken is going out of business, after 30 years. You might still be able to find one of these bins in an S&H store, but they're no longer taking online orders. I've had this one for about 10 years; it's not pretty but it does what it needs to: enclose compost, let it breathe, keep it hot. If you can find one on sale, it's a worthwhile buy.


Compost Lesson #4

"With us the wastes that escape use typically become pollutants. This kind of use turns an asset into a liability."
—Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America