Obituary for James C. Russell

19 September, 2013

James C. Russell (Jim), aged 82, of Hollywood, California, died on 17 September 2013, at his assisted living home in Eagle Rock, California. He was born in Franklin, Pennsylvania on April 1, 1931, to Allen Cunningham Russell and Gwendolyn Romaine Leber Russell, the second of eight children. He was a graduate of the University of Maryland and George Washington University. He is survived by his daughter, Kelly L.C. Russell of Pasadena, California and her husband Timothy Down; his son, Kenneth A.C. Russell of Portland, Oregon; and two grandsons, Russell Burton and Colin Burton; and also siblings Don Russell of New Castle, Indiana; Anita Russell Mower of Escondido, California; Esther Russell Hicks of Grand Junction, Colorado; Timothy Russell of San Diego, California; and Jonathan Russell of Fort Worth, Texas. He also leaves behind numerous cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his siblings Allen Russell of Coral Gables, Florida; and Gwendolyn Russell Hicks of Parachute, Colorado.

During a long and varied working life, Jim shucked shrimp in a restaurant kitchen (and never ate shrimp again), and he was a teacher at Massenutten Military Academy and at LeConte Junior High School in Hollywood. He served in both the US Air Force during the Korean Conflict and the US Navy during the Vietnam Conflict. He spent many years as a teacher and guidance counselor with the Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS) in Europe and in Korea, and he also held several positions in public affairs and in Army recruiting. A passionate Anglophile, he was fortunate enough to witness the procession for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. He was also in Berlin at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and he brought home a piece of it.

A life-long sports enthusiast, Jim enjoyed tennis, Washington Redskins football and Dodger baseball. He examined life with a writer’s mind, posting literary e-mails to nurture and entertain family and friends with an acerbic wit, always catching life in a humorous cross-hairs.

A funeral will be held at Church of the Angels, 1100 N. Ave 64, Pasadena, California, on Sunday, September 22 at 2:00 pm. A reception in the Parish Hall will follow.

Pop in yard

Sonoma County: Freestone and Bodega

8 September, 2013

I don’t always trust what I read on TripAdvisor, but I do consult it when traveling.  The Scout is busy in Sebastopol, CA this weekend, and I was curious what TripAdvisor would say about this bastion of all things local, organic and yummy.

Image

We drove out to Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone, and yes, the scones are well worth the short and beautiful drive.

Image

The town of Bodega (not to be confused with Bodega Bay) is a few miles down the road from the bakery.  Both towns were principal locations for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Here’s the school:

Image

The church adjacent to the school:

Image

Bodega recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Birds, and the Bodega Country Store was well equipped with all things Hitchcock and bird-y.  (I guess they didn’t want to call it Bodega’s Bodega.)

IMG_1541

IMG_1539

IMG_1546

IMG_1542

IMG_1549

My favorite Hitchcock is Rear Window, but The Birds gets full points for being enduringly creepy.  The homage to The Birds carried on by the Bodega Country Store has it’s own creepy factor, but tinged with humor.  Tippi Wine, anyone?

IMG_1537

Pizza of Venice

7 August, 2013

Pizza of Venice has arrived in Altadena, CA.  It’s been around long enough to garner rave reviews on Yelp.

Say what you will about economic recovery.  When a place like Pizza of Venice opens on Fair Oaks Avenue in Altadena, there’s good reason to rejoice.

Image

When the “Fungi” pizza goes for $7.00 (the one on the left), there’s even more reason to rejoice (mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese, no sauce).  The chicken curry pizza on the left (the special on the day I visited) was $13.00.  It was appropriately spicy and delicious.

Congrats to Sean and Jamie, the owners.  Shout out to Leo for his expertise in the kitchen.

IMG_1441

Pizza of Venice, 2545 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, Altadena, CA 91001.  Telephone: 626-765-9636.

Jacintha Saldanha

8 December, 2012

Perhaps you have heard about Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse at the London hospital who answered the telephone call from the Aussie DJ’s looking to have a bit of a laugh at the British Royal Family’s (BRF) expense. Saldanha put the call through to the nurse in charge who then prattled on about Kate’s condition to the DJs unimpeded by any suspicion of “humor” in the making.

Now Saldanha is dead of an apparent suicide. The woman must have been terrified. She was the first line of defense between the BRF and the ravenous world-wide media. Were I in her shoes, my thoughts would have been something like this: How could I have been so stupid? Why did I believe the caller was the Queen? Now I’ve gone and done it. I will probably lose my job. I have disgraced myself and my family by not carrying out the simplest of tasks. I will be an international laughing-stock. There is no hope for my future. I will never work again. Cameras will hound me for weeks, and then my permanent status as a pariah will be cemented forever. Might as well end it now…

Forgive me for conjecturing about the thoughts of an apparent suicide, but I find Saldanha’s alleged act the logical conclusion of a rational person who couldn’t bear her mistake.

Let’s play the blame game, shall we? Royal Family, I know you’re trying to be like us, but you deserve a severe dressing down on this one. When one of you (Kate) ends up in an institution inhabited and run by us mortals, here’s a suggestion: Lady-in-waiting (with staff), 21st century style. Think Valerie Jarrett (Obama’s left-hand woman).

Kate is in hospital. A phone call comes in regarding Kate? All inquiries about Kate go directly to the royal staff on duty no matter what. Ah, so simple, isn’t it? Oh BRF, how do you not have protocol for how to handle one of your own being amongst Muggles?

Am I missing something? Was such a protocol in place at the hospital? Was Saldanha’s mistake not handing the telephone off to the royal staff on duty? In my cursory glance at today’s news, I see the BRF apparently treated the initial debacle with a “Ho, Ho, Ho” and nothing more. Saldanha was, no doubt, waiting for the next, and certainly less sanguine, royal utterance.

Now that Saldanha is dead, the least the BRF could do would be to arrange for her body to be flown to India.

Many of us will pray for the repose of the soul of Jacintha Saldanha, and for her grieving family, friends and co-workers. I urge the Royals to take responsibility for their own lack of management in what should have been a routine hospital stay. BRF, Jacintha Saldanha thought of herself as one in your service. She believed her error was irreversible, and she fell on her sword in service of you and your unborn child. She deserves your highest respect and honor.

20 July, 2012

Jessica Ghawi, who wrote under the name Jessica Redfield, was a victim of the shooting in Aurora, CO on July 20. She survived an earlier shooting incident at the Eaton Center in Toronto in early June. Her blog post about that event is above.

A Run On of Thoughts

I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.

What started off as a trip to the mall to get sushi and shop, ended up as a day that has forever changed my life. I was on a mission to eat sushi that day, and when I’m on a mission, nothing will deter me. When I arrived at the Eaton Center mall, I walked down to the food court and spotted a sushi restaurant. Instead of walking in, sitting…

View original post 951 more words

Lincoln Avenue Nursery

17 May, 2012

I have known for a long time that the previous owner of my house was also the owner of  Lincoln Avenue Nursery.  I stopped at the nursery once years ago on a rainy day, but I didn’t stay to look around.  Since then, I have driven up Lincoln Avenue about a zillion times thinking to myself, “I want to stop in there one of these days.”

Last Sunday was One of These Days.  Last Sunday, I stopped. I walked through the whole (huge!) property. As Ferris Bueller says, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

From the nursery’s web site:  “In 1923, a Japanese family bought the nursery. Ms. Mary Takemura’s mother ran the business.”

I live in the house that was owned by Mary Takemura’s mother.  Her surname was Matsuzawa (I wish I knew her first name).  When Mary and her sister sold the house after their mother died, they sold it with everything left in it except for their mother’s clothes—-the furniture (I’m still using the dining room table and the sideboard), the dishes (I regret getting rid of them), and the stuff in the drawers.

Yes, I still have some of the stuff that was in the drawers.  I use the tacks once in a while.  The Antiobiotic Candettes container holds 3 razors and 2 3-inch sewing needles.  In case I ever need them.  I didn’t know/remember that the bathtub caulk was still in the drawer.  That’ll get tossed today.

I couldn’t get over the size of the nursery’s property.  There are tens of thousands of plants, trees, shrubs, and succulents there.

I felt like I was at a micro version of the Huntington.

Mary Takemura died in January 2011.  From her obituary:

…She was a lifetime resident of Pasadena and is survived by husband Henry (married 62 years), with whom she ran Lincoln Avenue Nursery for more than 50 years; daughter Joan Takemura (David) Johnsen; and sister Ruth Sumiko Matsuzawa Ikeda.

Mary graduated from high school at Gila River Relocation Center, studied 2 years at Wooster College, Ohio, and graduated in 1948 from UCLA with a degree in Psychology. She was also an artist and worked at drawing, painting, making pottery and calligraphy.

I never learned about the Japanese Internment in school.  I learned about it when I moved to this house, built just after the war.  Built just after internment.

I wish I had contacted Mary before she died.  I would love to hear about her life, about her mother’s life, and about her father.  I feel connected to this family–when I go out to the lemon tree in the backyard and pick a lemon; every year when the cherry blossom tree in the front yard blooms.  And every time I need a 1/2 inch tack.

Doo Dah 2012

2 May, 2012

Congratulations to Ann Erdman, Grand Marshal of Doo Dah 2012

Tra la, tra la.  That’s the sound of Ms. Ann, Lady of Leisure.

All Hail the Queen (the once and future Princess HaHa).  I prefer Intergarlictica, but these days Her Majesty is known as Patrizzi Intergalactica.  When you hear those frogs croaking in Hahamongna, you can be sure they are breathing her name to Mother Earth, rousing the energies to preserve the wildness as it is.

Mr. Developer, step away from the watershed.

More photos of Doo Dah 2012 by the talented Brian Biery are over here.

Black History Parade 2012

18 February, 2012

Happy 30th Anniversary to Pasadena’s Black History Parade.

The bands played…

The politicians waved and smiled…

Mayor Bill Bogaard

Pasadena’s City Council District 1 Representative Jacquie Robinson

I was busy talking to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) when he went by—more on that later

State Assembly Member Anthony Portantino, with a bold wardrobe choice—a John Muir HS cap

There were smiles all around

Lady Edna Bluain, honored by the Jackie Robinson Seniors.

Denise Jones of the Pasadena Deltas

There were drummers…

and the Pasadena Cowgirls…

There were celebrities…

Willard Pugh, who played Harpo in The Color Purple

Walter Richards on the right.  Didn’t catch the name of the young man on the left (but if you know, please leave it in the comments)

The Buffalo Soldiers

The kids

the youth

the Masons

the Real Ryda’z

and the Way of Life Car Club

Back to Rep. Adam Schiff—-I said hello and then pointed out that he had a hard act to follow, since his car was right behind the one carrying the Los Angeles County Foster Mother of the Year.

She is a real hero.

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make the parade a successful one.

Occupy the Rose Parade

11 January, 2012

I was fortunate enough to receive a couple of seats to the Rose Parade this year. If you watched the parade on TV and saw the opening musical number, I was sitting near the performers who popped up and belted out their lines. I noticed them before the show started and they had that far away look in their eyes like Laurence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate. Perhaps that what the specter of appearing national television does to one’s psyche.

People seemed to have a problem with the concept of Occupy the Rose Parade, but the intent was not to disrupt the parade. Why not take advantage of an opportunity when the streets are blocked off and people are watching to express one’s opinion? After all, those Jesus people do the same thing every year.

The music is courtesy of the Rose Parade—it’s the “good bye, we’ll see you next year” music. Of course, seeing the Constitution roll by with “Sentimental Journey” playing…well, the irony was not lost on yours truly.  Oops…the song is Moonlight Serenade.  Thanks, PetreaMr. Earl mentioned it was Moonlight Serenade on Facebook too.  In any case, as you can hear in the video, the music was terrifically loud…

The music was more upbeat by the time the Octopus rolled by (anyone know the name of the tune)?

Lil’ Rex

18 November, 2011

First I found his collar in the backyard – “Lil’ Rex” and a phone number. I returned the collar and met his owner who mentioned that all three of his cats, Lil’ Rex, Big Tex, and Spanky, spent the majority of their time in our yard (which he dubbed “Shangri-la…for Cats.” The Scout started feeding Rex tidbits from the barbecue. No, no, no, I said. He’s going to be here all the time. But furry tiger-looking things have a way of making sure their needs get met, and Rex knows how to work the meows and the purrs and the stretches that say, “Surely you see how beautiful and talented I am, especially compared to my brother Big Tex who is too stupid to get over here and eat your food.”

I’m terribly allergic to cats.  But I let Rex sit on my lap and scratch him under the chin and talk to him like he’s a dog. I don’t think cats care for verbal niceties, but Rex puts up with them. Afterward, I walk to the washing machine like an arthritic robot and remove all my clothing. In the shower I hose off like Meryl Streep in Silkwood.

He looks like a lovely ampersand to me.

Beau chat