Monday, September 27, 2010


A couple of months ago I reached my 2 year car-free anniversary.
One of my "regular" bus drivers calls me the bike lady.
After a very unpleasant experience on the metro rail, I don't take the train to work anymore. I've been trying to get streetlamps fixed on my old walking route from the red line to my apartment. Amazingly this has turned into an effort spanning nearly an entire year with multiple forms filled out and council member contact. This city has some growing up to do.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

bus waiting

waiting at the bus stop. would you let your wife, girlfriend, sister or daughter stand here alone? would you want to stand here? what if only 50% of the streetlamps functioned?

who would you meet? who would you like to meet?

what can do to make it better for yourself? what can you do to make it better for others?

4/25/10 - Studio City, CA

Thursday, April 8, 2010

4/3/10 - Fryman Canyon, Studio City, CA

Friday, February 5, 2010

downtown LA

1/24/10 - downtown Los Angeles, taken from the Verdugo Mountains 2 days after receiving ~4 inches of rain

we still have a great deal of work

Friday, January 29, 2010

rain power

1/18/20 - after the rains

Thursday, January 28, 2010

bike and squak

red-lored amazon parrot, Burbank, CA 1/16/10

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Upcyle Christmas Wreath

My apartment is one of the few in my building that faces an open courtyard. People stand across from my apartment, waiting for the elevator and facing my front door. As a result I like to decorate my door. In past years I've gone to Christmas tree lots and asked if I could have some of the branches they cut off people's trees. I was frequently told I could take what I wanted at no cost as the employees appreciated the fact that they didn't have to clean them up. I then tied them together and made a wreath for my door and decorated some of my doorways. It brought the smell of a tree in my apartment without buying a tree. This year I decided I didn't want to do that though, so I instead used things I already had around the apartment. I gathered a dry cleaner hanger, a bunch of random plastic bags in various shades of green and blue, a twist tie (from a bulk bin purchase) and a mesh bag from oranges and pulled together a wreath!

I used pliers and wire cutters to resize the hanger and make a smooth-ish circle. I cut the plastic bags into similarly sized strips and then alternated colors in a semi-regular pattern. I used probably about 7 bags, but most were much larger/thicker than a normal grocery store bag. You could easily do something more striped or a single color. When it looked full enough to me, I tied a bow with the mesh orange bag and attached it to the wreath with the twist tie!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yellow Chevroned Parrotkeet, Toluca Lake, CA 11/28/09

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Costal Cleanup Day 2009 - Balboa Park LA River site

I recently realized I never said anything about Coastal Cleanup day back in September!

LA River cleanups in the Balboa Park area are super easy to reach by public transportation. I caught the Red Line to North Hollywood and then got off one Orange Line stop too early (Woodley instead of Balboa) and just ended up walking to the next stop near the cleanup site. Although I was somewhat annoyed with myself, I did enjoy the walk someplace that I had never walked before.

walking over the LA River on Victory....

Although I've walked from the Balboa Orange Line station to the LA River a few times, I had never realized the street was lined with pecan trees!

Growing up in Texas we'd go to the park and pick pecans in the fall. Then we'd go home and used the hefty nut crackers and have a supply of pecans for the next year.

The Cleanup site was well marked this year, which was exciting. Last year there was a little issue at this same cleanup spot and the people with the supplies were on the opposite of the street from when the rest of the people were for the clean up. It was a little weird and confusing though because the first thing I saw was a giant truck and people bar-b-queing

I'm not sure if this is where the money went from the Friends of the Los Angeles River cleanup a few months ago or what, but there were way more accommodations at this clean up than any of the others I've attended at this same site. There were lines of tents, more junk food than normal as well as tools! Some were more suited for different areas (like the rakes and brooms), but the shovels and hoes were much appreciated.

instead of wandering east where we had just cleaned a couple of months ago, we wandered east under the bridge over Balboa to the other side of the street.

The large number of kids at this clean up when compared to some previous ones was encouraging

A peek into my bag. As usual most of the stuff was plastic - bags, straws, wrappers, random broken items. The hoe allowed us to more easily get at some thing that were otherwise unreachable during some other clean ups.

At one point my boyfriend and I were digging away and a large group of kids, maybe around 10, came stomping through the plants declaring that there was no more trash! Oh no! I wish I had more time to educate them outside of saying "there is a lot more if you look closely!" I think my boyfriend and I spent about 20 minutes just in this area and we only left before we needed more water.

unreachable plastic hanging from the trees

Progress made with the aid of the shovels! A group of people were working on this for a while and they had trouble leaving this behind unfinished. I told them there are other cleanup events here throughout the years, so I hope they get a chance to come back and make progress before it's covered again...

Another example of the work people did with the shovels and hoes! I happened to take a picture of this same bin when we went to a Friends of the LA River clean up earlier in the summer.

More people working until the last minute! This clean up was also weird in that the people sponsoring it had much of the 'stuff' they brought cleaned up and put away before noon, when the clean up ended. In the past it seemed like things didn't end so abruptly at noon.

A portion of the trash when we finished up at noon. Some of the trash had already been hauled away!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

LA River

la river, studio city, nov 1, 2009

I've been walking a lot recently. Something about the night and the streets is very inviting.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Free Food Inc. Viewing

If you're like me and haven't had a chance to see the documentary Food, Inc. yet, on Tuesday November 17 the California Endowment will be holding a free viewing. There will be a panel discussion at 6pm followed by the film (~90 min) with a reception afterward. The California Endowment is located downtown a short walk from Union Station, so it is easy to access with public transportation, but they do offer free parking as well.

California Endowment's
Center for Healthy Communities
1000 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

I've gone to a few other events at the California Endowment about food in our communities and I've been pretty satisfied with the topics, the facilities and the people they bring in including a discussion with Marion Nestle and a viewing of King Corn, all for free and a short walk from someplace I normally am anyway.


Also, PBS has started showing The Botany of Desire, based on the book of the same name by Michael Pollan. I enjoyed the documentary which covered how some plants have essentially thrived because of humans and what the humans get from these plants, including the tulip, apple, marijuana and potatoes. I admit I haven't read this book yet (it's on my library request list), but I have read some of his other books and I've enjoyed them and felt like I learned a decent amount. Oddly enough somehow the book I've been reading about how trees die seemed to cover some of the same topics as the movie. Regardless, PBS will continue to show this documentary in the next week or you can watch the full 2 hour documentary online.

The Source (of my time suck)

Recently the LA MTA debuted their new blog The Source. It covers general events with the LA Metro system, like the upcoming Gold Line Eastside Extension, long range plan topics and other related topics. Yesterday, however, was I believe the first that it was used to provide semi-real time updates on delay problems. The particular problem was that an umbrella blew onto the power lines of the Gold Line, preventing trains from running either to Union Station or to Pasadena. This was of particular interest to me as I ride the Gold Line as part of my regular commute.

So I watched the posts to keep an eye out for my evening commute plans, but luckily at 4:40pm the trains were up and running again in both directions. I left work at my normal time only to start crossing the train tracks as the train approached. It was a few minutes earlier than normal. I hopped on and ended up at Union Station in time to catch the Red Line train I normally miss by 2 minutes! As a result of service delays on the Gold Line I ended up getting home EARLY!

On one hand, I guess I can't complain because hey, it's nice to shorten your commute and get home early, if only for a day. On the other hand, it's somewhat frustrating to see that simply by increasing service frequency or altering schedules slightly, I and many others that scramble to transfer from one train to another at Union Station every day could gain a decent amount of free time in our lives. Kinda sad, isn't it?

That's not to say I don't use my time on the train. I'm a huge fan of the Pasadena Library, which is less than a mile from my work, making it super easy to access a large number of books for no cost and my work has a "Book Swap" shelf where people deposit books they are done reading for others to pick up. Sometimes I just look out the window (especially on the Gold Line) and think. Sometimes I talk to a random train person or someone I know from work. From time to time I work on art and craft projects like colored pencil drawings, crocheting, knitting and needle felting. But even despite those things, sometimes it would be nice to get home and do something else instead. A car ride from my apartment to my work would take about 20 minutes. The train ride and walk to and from the stations takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It's easy to see why I have difficulties convincing others that even live on my street and work in the same area, to take public transportation instead.

I've been riding the train for over 4 years and it has improved in that time, but sometimes I am also a little discouraged to see so much time pass by and nothing really changing to make my ride more efficient or better in any other way. It's not that I keep my mouth shut either - my line of work both enhances and encourages me to exercise my skills at letting people know where there are problems in their system.

Oh well. Off for another day's commute, this time with How Trees Die: The Past, Present, and Future of our Forests in hand.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review - Corvus: A Life with Birds

Corvus: A Life with Birds by Esther Woolfson is a beautifully and lovingly written memoir. After receiving a few doves, Woolfson and her family soon take in a variety of wanted, unwanted and fallen baby birds including a cockatiel, rook, magpie, starling and crow to become members of the family. Woolfson understands both the costs and benefits of keeping some of these wild birds at home, but takes the time to understand and love these birds as best she can, especially the Corvids. The book itself is a mixture of her personal stories mixed in with natural history of the birds species. She researches the way they are portrayed in culture compared to their nature and personal quirks. She pulls you into her world, describing the sometimes minute details of the birds and their behavior, putting a smile on your face or tears in your eyes at the appropriate moment to make you feel something a bit more for some of the few wild animal we still interact with regularly when outside.

I must admit that I have a fascination with birds, so this book was especially relatable and touching to me. I grew up with a parrot at home, who is the closet thing I'll ever have to an older sibling, so I understood some of the relationships being described of man and bird. I also know a couple people who have had crows before and seem to gush with the same sort of love that Woolfson does. Although this book doesn't have such an intense "green" leaning, I would still recommend this book to anyone interested in birds, understanding the relationship between man and other animals, nature or if you need a little bit of light reading between some of those more intense environmental books.

birds, Solvang, CA 2007

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10/24/09 - International Day of Climate Action - BBC Cleanup

Yesterday was the Internation Day of Climate Action. As part of this event, Siel from Green LA Girl and Sara from the Daily Ocean arranged a 20 minute Blogger Beach Clean-up, which is somewhat part of a large project that Sara has going on. Admittedly, my boyfriend and I did not take the most Climate friendly transportation to Santa Monica to join in, but it was the first time I had been out to Santa Monica since February and I was looking forward to meeting some people. I, as usual, had my camera on hand to tell my part of the story.

heading out to clean for 20 minutes!

I was surprised at the large number of cigarette butts scattered all over. It's like some people see the whole entire beach as a giant ashtray!

One of the two lifeguard towers that Sara focuses her clean efforts between.

Most of my recent clean-up efforts have been focused on the LA River or some of the areas near my home or places where I walk. I've learned that each place has the obvious trash as well as the trash that is possibly more harmful, yet easily missed. I quickly realized there were tiny bits of plastic all over the sand and that these wads of kelp and other sea stuff also contained hidden plastic bits within. This one had some white plastic ribbon stuff. Plastic stringy things are especially alarming as they easily become tangled around animals, especially the feet of birds. I see this all the time with pigeons, which sometimes eventually lose their toes, feet or lives due to infections. I really hope the shoes belonged to someone still at the beach because I left them behind.....

Another wad, this one with some black plastic straws mixed in with some little shreds of white plastic I soon realized were all over the beach and white fluffy stuff that looked like it came from a pillow or stuffed animal.

Remains of a day at the beach, thankfully with no accompanying plastic pieces left behind.

Heading back to the meeting area after the cleanup we walked past the bathrooms and realized there was once again a large "jackpot" of plastic pieces and more cigarettes

A peek into my bag at the end of the 20 minutes. Most everything was plastic or Styrofoam including wrappers, countless plastic straws and tiny shreds or broken pieces of plastic. Based on the difficulties myself and others had at trying to figure out if what we saw was a piece of shell, plastic or Styrofoam or if something was a straw or the shaft of a feather, I can easily see how animals are confused as well. It's saddening and frustrating to see what we've done and how small careless actions can really add up.

After our 20 minutes of cleaning, everyone got together to hear some people speak briefly, including a representative from Heal the Bay, CICLE, and Sara from the Daily Ocean, while enjoying some of the complimentary snacks and drinks.

The Heal the Bay representative and the trash the group managed to pick up in only 20 minutes.

Afterward we headed over to Pourtal for some drinks before I was seduced by the beauty of a sunset on the beach, something I don't often get a chance to see, but reminds you why consciousness of the problems and efforts to fix them are all worthwhile.

Thanks to Siel and Sara for putting together this cleanup event!

I think after all of these cleanup events I've realized that a couple things really need to happen. First, people need to become more aware of what types of things are passing through their hands and into the trash. There is no need to generate the amount of waste that we do. Theoretically, if everyone picked up as much trash as they intentionally or unintentionally dropped, there wouldn't be trash all over the place. Obviously that doesn't happen. I think some people also don't see the big picture or the cycle from the comfort of their cars and from their tv set. I think after many people reach this point, they also begin to realize that it's actually very difficult in some instances to work around this waste problem because the companies that sell the products that create this waste are not held accountable for the entire lifecycle of their products. What are all of these stupid tiny pieces of plastic? If every business that handed out straws for drinks had to make sure the straws ended up in the "right" place, I don't think they'd be so generous with the plastic tubes that might end up traveling to more destinations in their lifespan than the person that once placed their lips on them to sip their soda from a plastic cup.