Sunday, March 31, 2024

March 2024 Lent to Easter

March header
city paradise / urban wilderness lectionary reflections for March
Panorama City Party Ball Venue
California Rangers Ball at a posh venue in Panorama City.
Dance floor pics weren't too great, but the blog header has a good shot of the light show.
world water day banner
World Water Day 2024
palm crosses and lavender in basket in narthex
Palm Sunday
• Palm Sunday! Back at Saint John's Gardena
Maundy Thursday program cover
• Bilingual Maundy Thursday
coral flower and greens
• Creation Beauty on Good Friday
Easter at Saint John's Gardena
easter tulips and dinners
easter golden poppies
• Easter Sunday at Saint John's and around town
living local 2024
March summary
• March Summary:
Panorama City Mural
Santa Clarita Succulents
Palm crosses with Lavender in narthex

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Wake Up Mr. B!

Wake Up Mr B!Wake Up Mr B! by Penny Dale is a book for lovers of dogs in general, airedales in particular, kids, art, books, animals, pets and people. I bought it at the local library sale because the enchanting illustrations were irresistible. My copy is bound in boards and durably sewn in signatures; Amazon listed several copies of the paperback version and there were a few on eBay, too.

Rosie and Mr BWhat a visually lovely book, and the narrative's easy to track, whether you do it via the gentle pictures or the very sparse large-type text displayed in simple sentences at the bottom of some of the pages. Rosie's the daughter, Billy's her brother and Mr B is the big, sort of shaggy, airedale-style family dog. Although the brother and sister appear to be caucasian and they live in a 2-story dwelling, the story could be set in almost any Western hemisphere country, almost any small town to large city and even almost any time from the latter part of the 20th century (the © is 1988) into the current 21st. In other words, these are regular people living regular lives almost anyone could relate to and appreciate.

Rosie and Mr BVery very early on an unspecified day of the week, Rosie wakes up and gets out of bed rarin' to go and ready to play. She can't drag her brother Billy out of bed or rouse her parents from their sleep, but she goes downstairs and convinces Mr B to wake up. Rosie gets dressed and dresses up Mr B and they play play play, imagining and acting out driving to the seashore, getting into a boat, sailing around the world and flying to the moon. The last page outcome? Rosie and Mr B end up falling back to sleep themselves, and the rest of the family wakes them up for the rest of the day.

Rosie and Mr BWake Up Mr. B! is an excellent choice for any teenager or adult who loves beautiful art and illustrations, or for preschool through grade 3 or 4 kids who love to look at pictures, place themselves in a different world and read for themselves. You'll enjoy everything about this book!

• my Amazon review: kids, a dog, imagination and art

Rosie and Mr B

It's a dog's life

It's a dog's life by Mark Stern on Amazon

It's a dog's life cover Quite a while ago I picked up this socialist dog's book and decided it needed a review and a blog. Mark Stern's illustrations are fresh and fabulous! Author Stern follows and narrates the experiences of Patch, a dog whose days progress from true happiness with his simple life in the hood to the production and marketing by someone else of a great idea he has dreamt of.

The "someone else" overdog then It's a dog's life backco-ops Patch's entire existence, along the way setting up himself and his expansively growing company in superfluous luxury—no surprise?! Eventually Patch escapes from being an enslaved cog – and worse – in the means of production. He happily returns to "the true joys of life: fresh air, grass and trees," alongside his sweetheart Honey.

Call it a cautionary tale, a cogent example of "I told you so," or a vision of a more just society that features "what's really important," It's a dog's life is enough to make a human think, think again, and reconsider their own dreams and priorities.

my amazon review: from happiness, to utility, to happiness...

Friday, March 22, 2024

World Water Day 2024

World Water Day 2024
Water for Prosperity and Peace

United Nations World Water Day

The UN has a plethora of informational, study, and visual resources

WWD emphasizes fresh water of every kind, including natural bodies of water with less saline content. World Oceans Day every June 8th celebrates water with easily measurable saline.

I usually blog to the year's theme. For 2024 "More than 3 billion people worldwide depend on water that crosses national borders. Yet, only 24 countries have cooperation agreements for all their shared water" seriously impacted me. We necessarily live life right here, in this building or tent, on this plot of land, these coordinates, in this postal code.

Where does your drinking water come from? Here in southern California some of ours comes from north in this state; a lot of it comes from Arizona. How much do they reclaim locally? I don't know. Do you separate water used for drinking and cooking, for bathing, for laundry and general cleaning? How about the car wash? In any case, although who knows where its life journey has taken it, all of our water for local use is native to the USA.

We're not talking water for prosperity, for flourishing and thriving. This is basic level Water Is Life stuff.

Where does your household and workplace water come from? Have you lived in a place where water crosses national borders in order to become local? Have you been taking extra measures for water conservation?

May the deep peace of the Son of Peace be with your watershed, with your water district, with your household, and with you.
world water day dove and olive branches

Five Minute Friday :: Blame

life stuff
Five Minute friday :: Blame Linkup


I tend to want everything to be all my fault (completely in control and even to blame, ha ha) or not at all my fault (totally outta control no blame). Fact is, everything everyone does factors into outcomes. Bad behaviors, good actions. Negative intentions and positive attempts.

"No One Is to Blame" by Howard Jones is about unrequited love, and it's a general sigh of disappointment with other longings that sometimes never happen for no apparent reason:
You can look at the menu But you just can't eat
You can feel the cushions But you can't have a seat

You can dip your foot in the pool But you can't have a swim
You can feel the punishment But you can't commit the sin

You can build a mansion But you just can't live in
You're the fastest runner But you're not allowed to win

Some break the rules And let you count the cost
The insecurity is the thing that won't get lost


Once again I'm trying to discern my next move on several levels. That means a classic looking back to recognize what moves went well and which ones didn't; it means looking around at visible options and trying to peer into the future to imagine how past successes and present longings might come together into something new in ways that would serve church and world and offer good stewardship of my gifts, education, and experience. Gifts, education, experiences and desires! As in sense of call.

Like most women – probably most humans – I usually try to figure out who are what's to blame for everything that hasn't happened as reasonably expected. And then there's the unprogrammed, unexpected, the surprises that happen and suddenly everything changes! Everything changes because there's a new factor in town. Maybe a new person has come on stage, sometimes long range plans have turned around. Can we say "blame" the new factor, person, or circumstance?

Ages ago I was counseling with a colleague who said to me, "you keep wanting to hear everything's all your fault. Wouldn't that be nice. You'd be in control." He then pointed out some terrible behaviors and bad actors that had been factors in where my life and expectations had landed. Were they to blame? Partly. Was I to blame? In spite of no responsibility for their actions, simply being there made me a factor, though probably not blamable or culpable. Or guilty!

What's the solution? Is there an answer? Yes, there is. Look back to discern as clearly as possible what has brought you (or me) to this point. Gaze into the future to whatever extent possible. Don't blame; don't wish you could change your here and now. Acknowledge God waits for you at your future. Get up. Put one foot in front of the other. Follow your heart. Go there and welcome the future.

# # #
five minute friday blame
five minute friday icon button logo

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Stewed Tomato

Tomato Salad by Nick Youngson on
NY Photographic

Because I wrote it for an online website, this restaurant review is shorter and less detailed than the others. Terrific restaurant!

Stewed Tomato was a cool restaurant in the once-seafaring, now vacation peninsula and residential town of Harwich on Cape Cod. Named after Harwich, England, the town was settled around 1665 and incorporated in 1694. The Stewed Tomato was in Harwich Center, one of the Seven Harwiches.

Stewed Tomato Review

It's been several years since I was there, yet the Stewed Tomato, formerly at 707 Main Street in Harwich Center, is one of my fondest memories. As a little kid I visited Harwich all the time—my grandparents owned a house with gardens near Bay Road, eight furlongs from Pleasant Bay Beach.

A few years ago, when I returned to The Cape after a long time away, my Heather introduced Stewed Tomato and me to each other and I fell in love: in love with the food – especially the breakfasts – and, of course, in love with the matchless ambience! I highly recommend Stewed Tomato for breakfast, lunch, dinner, anytime.

Most recommended: Kitchen Sink Omelet; coffee.
Eggplant Parmigiana
Eggplant Parmigiana
by Daniel Hakimi on Flickr

The Search for Breakfast

breakfast plate
This is not among my most sparkling literary achievements, but it portrays the neighborhood's social location fairly well, though without any seriously sociological or anthropological commentary (no theological insights, either—after all, the weekly publication was not remotely church-related). With protective changes of faces and places, in this review I'm still hiding the burden of guilt.

The Search for Breakfast

What makes a restaurant a good place to have breakfast on the way to work? We recently looked for the answer in two local eating places.

Pete's Eats

You might wonder how people who used to rely on the Lockout Diner for breakfast on the way to work have been managing to last on the job until lunch. Well, one possibility is that by now they have found Pete’s Eats at 468 Southfield Avenue, down the street from where the landmark diner used to be.

Pete’s opens at 5:30 a.m. weekdays and Saturdays, thus making it a good place for those who begin their day early. The service is friendly, efficient, and most important, fast. The food is cleanly-prepared, not greasy, and the portions more than adequate. A cup of fresh drip coffee is 95¢ ordered separately, with a free refill if you have breakfast; otherwise a second cup is 80¢. The menu lists the expected standard breakfast items at reasonable prices, with six combinations. Combos range from the Number 6: $1.99 for one egg, homefries, toast, and coffee, to the No. 1, called “Super Beat the House”: $5.49 for three eggs, choice of bacon, sausage or ham; three pancakes, toast, homefries, juice, coffee.

For our breakfasts at Pete’s we chose the No. 3: two eggs, homefries, toast, and coffee, with three sausages. This combination was $3.79, and grapefruit juice added an additional 85¢. We also had a single order of three pieces of French toast ($2.75), coffee, and a medium orange juice (85¢). The three sausages were well-browned and drained, and the eggs had the right degree of doneness. The homefries also were crisp, although for our taste they could have been browner. Also well-cooked and greaseless was the French toast, which was prepared with an adequate amount of egg to give it the appropriate golden color. Our only quibble would be that it might have been browned a bit more on the outside.

The service was fast and pleasant. The server brought our coffee while we decided on what else to order and it was only a few minutes from order to service. This was a little after 8:30, so the place wasn’t crowded, and we would expect it to take a little longer during peak hours, but the efficiency we found leads us to expect fast service at all times, an important factor when having breakfast on the way to work. All things considered, Pete’s Eats is a good addition to the Southfield/Patton Square area.

Sam's II

In the Naugatuck area, we tried another breakfast place that opens at 6 a.m., early enough for most folks on their way to work. Sam’s II, within sniffing distance of Willow Bay, offers a quiet atmosphere, good food, and competitive prices. Its location in the Pilgrim Mall complex on Mohegan Boulevard means more than ample parking at breakfast time.

The bill of fare at Sam’s also includes classic American breakfast items; à la carte and complete meals are available. We were offered strong, flavorful coffee as soon as we arrived, and although we chose the same breakfasts as we had had at Pete’s, at Sam’s the coffee and bacon were included on a combination with the French toast. The homefries were cooked with onion and diced rather than sliced. Otherwise, the food was comparable to Pete’s, as was the service.

In general, the offerings were similar to those at Pete’s, although combinations varied. Despite a few differences, prices also were close.

The greatest difference is in the atmosphere of the two eating places. Pete’s is pocket-sized and well-lit; three tables and seven counter stools seat a total of nineteen people. Sam's is fairly sizable and not brightly illuminated; Sam's booths provide sufficient privacy to allow for comfortable chatting with friends or spreading out the newspaper while eating breakfast. Since the place is large, one would not feel compelled to move on quickly after eating.

To partially answer the question we asked at this start of this review, most would agree that convenience, fast service, good food at reasonable prices, and cleanliness are most important. We found all of these at both Pete’s Eats and Sam’s II and we hope you will too!

Note on menu prices: these prices were during the last century.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Paul Rand :: Thoughts on Design

Thoughts on Design by Paul Rand

thoughts on design
If ever there lived an iconic designer/illustrator, it was the late Paul Rand (1914-1996). In this now 4-decades old treasure of a book, Rand exegetes, illustrates, and explains symbol and word. But is word not symbol in itself and is symbol not a kind of speech?

In less than 100 pages you can read about beauty and utility, humor, typography, and imagination. In contrast to fine art, design has a function, typically as a solution for a problem or concern; graphic, photographic, and typographic design is most familiar to consumers as a modality for presenting a product, event or idea. We live amongst many varieties of architectural, industrial and "other" types of design, as well.

This simply modest yet elegant paperback is packed full of actual illustrations of mostly advertising design solutions accompanied by the "how to" and "why to" involved. You know IBM, UPS, and Westinghouse? Paul Rand designed those logos and campaigns and in the half century since they first impacted the public, Rand's style and philosophy has influenced literally countless others. Thoughts on Design is a "don't miss it" if you can find it and afford it.

Paul Rand online

my amazon review: a jewel, a keepsake

The Exploding Metropolis

The Exploding Metropolis on Amazon
There are several versions; most likely you can buy one very inexpensively.

exploding metropolis cover
I'm blogging and reviewing the original that's copyright 1958. It has been in my library close to forever but I'm posting my review with the 1993 revision.

A group of "Editors of Fortune" magazine at the time, William H. Whyte, Jane Jacobs, Francis Bello, Seymour Freedgood, and Daniel Seligman considered essential elements of urban design and pondered their effects on city dwellers and urban workers. The book's working definition of city simply is the area within the city limits (viii); almost needless to say, "metropolis" indicates the functional and statistical area or areas geographically beyond yet contiguous to the named incorporated entity.

Exploding sounds like unanticipated, sudden, randomness; if the authors knew they'd seen a lot of that from the mid-20th century up to the time they put this book together, they hadn't seen anything yet, though each of them accurately describes the unexpected, often distressingly unattractive results of urban growth and sprawl—even in some cases of planned change and development. In terms of explosive, the schematic "classic case of sprawl" (on page 119) in Santa Clara County, California from 1945 to 1956 is instructive.

Chapter topics

• Are Cities Un-American?
• The City and the Car
• New Strength in City Hall
• The Enduring Slums
• Urban Sprawl; and
• Downtown is for People

add up to Urban Studies 101 as the authors explore existing infrastructural and superstructural configurations in a dozen established USA population centers (along with a couple of references to Toronto, Ontario, Canada), assess ideas in progress and process, and propose future arrangements that might work in terms of "how to live in cities," the central thesis of The Exploding Metropolis.
exploding metropolis back
This book now is more than a half-century old, but ever since humans began moving from hunter-gathering into settlements, they've had to figure out the best relationships between living space and working space and the most convenient ways to get back and forth from one to the other; planning and implementing the most pleasing, amenable, visual layouts alongside the practical became close to essential.

Jane Jacobs especially emphasizes "working streets," and advises us to walk, walk, walk, in order to feel and learn how the city all comes together.

Whether discussing clearing and developing land, rehabilitating and rebuilding on an existing site, different styles of city government, housing authorities, port authorities, water works or watersheds, every one of the contributors comes back to human scale and human functionality again and again, making The Exploding Metropolis both basic and classic.

my amazon review: Urban Studies 101

The Image of the City :: Kevin Lynch

The Image of the City. Kevin Lynch, Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies, © 1960

image of the city book cover
The Legible City—a city you can read! As an iconographer writes rather than draws or paints an icon, a city comprised of colors, shapes, motion, and light can be viewed, read, and interpreted as an environmental image. The picture includes identity (what is it?), structure (space, shape, pattern relation and discrimination), and meaning (emotional, psychological, historical values) from the observer's own experiences. Each image derives from here and now; the city "image also is soaked in memories and meanings." [page 1] And, of course, there's not a single public image of any city, but a series of overlapping and interrelated ones.

From author Kevin Lynch: "This book is about the look of cities, and whether this look is of any importance, and whether it can be changed." This book is "a first word not a last word…" it's "at once tentative and presumptuous." The research method consisted of relatively objective systemic field reconnaissance and relatively subjective interviews with a small sample of mostly professional and managerial city residents. Citizens interviewed in Chapter 2, "Three cities," were exceedingly small samples: 30 in Boston, 15 each in Jersey City and Los Angeles, so these are not necessarily commonly held public images of those cities.

Kevin Lynch and his colleague Gyorgy Kepes researched and wrote this book during the 1950s; since then we've moved from Metropolitan Statistical Areas to a string of Megalopoleis (I found 3 possibilities for the plural of megalopolis and chose this one). At least two Boston features in the book no longer exist: Scollay Square, superseded by Government Center that includes City Hall of still controversial love it or hate it (I adore it) architectural design, and the Central Artery, replaced by the most expensive public works project in history: The Big Dig. But you will find physical structures of paths, edges, nodes, districts, and landmarks in any human population center larger than a village, so they're not necessarily an urban distinctive. "Districts are structured with nodes, defined by edges, penetrated by paths, and sprinkled with landmarks." [pages 48-49]

The five chapters include:

• The Images of the Environment

• Three Cities—Boston, Jersey City, Los Angeles. In each case, studies came from a small central area of 2.5 x 1.5 miles.

• The City Image and Its Elements

• City Form

• A New Scale

Appendices are sufficient to make another short book:

• Some References to Orientation

• The Use of the Method

• Two Examples of Analysis [Beacon Hill and (the late) Scollay Square, Boston]. There's also a bibliography and index. Margins throughout the book include many many line drawings and there are quite a few Black and White photographs.

In terms of future cities The Image of the City might influence, "We have an opportunity of forming our new city world into an imageable landscape: visible, coherent, and clear." By definition a city is multi-purpose with mixed functions yet with "fundamental functions of which the city forms may be expressive: circulation, major land-uses, key focal points. [pages 9-92] The common hopes and pleasures, the sense of community may be made flesh. Above all, if the environment is visibly organized and sharply identified… it will become a true place, remarkable and unmistakable."

As a handbook about present and about possibilities, "what we seek is not a final but an open-ended order, capable of continuous further developments" [page 8] The Image of the City "is about the look of cities, and whether this look is of any importance, and whether it can be changed," but appearance is an immeasurably critical part of the infrastructure that supports all the activities of the urban enterprise, the work, play, school, and home lives of the city's citizens. A city's physical appearance and the emotional responses that arise from it can be the reason someone wants to move there or the reason they long to leave. "The map, whether exact or not, must be good enough to get one home." [page 9]

Close to the end Kevin Lynch reminds us of Susanne Langer and gives us her definition of architecture: "the total environment made visible." Remember Langer's Philosophy in a New Key where she writes about our human need for symbols and our need to symbolize, to invent and invest meanings in objects, our environments, our activities, and our world?

These are shapes, spaces, and vistas that will – or won't – attract new artistic, educational, and commercial enterprises; no wonder this book is a classic! Kevin Lynch's prose is dryer than I'd prefer, but it is what it is, and if someone doesn't write like a poet, they don't. I'll give The Image of the City a high recommend to read and to read again.

my amazon review: The Legible City

Dinos Gyros

Dinos Gyros

Dino's Gyros, "Centrally located in the heart of Clairemont Towne Square."

Especially now that they have a website, it's high time I gave a shoutout and review to Dino's Gyros. For several years I've loved to pick up their 1/4 Lemon Chicken Plate on Fridays--no special reason for the day of the week, except my Friday afternoons frequently are unscheduled. I've enjoyed their trademark gyros a few times, too.

Dino's Gyros opens onto a food court on the side of Clairemont Towne Square that includes a multiplex cinema as well as discount fabric/home textiles and hardware stores. There's inside seating for maybe a couple dozen, with outside tables and chairs for at least half that many. Large art prints of characteristic coastal Grecian scenes decorate the walls and help set a Mediterranean mood; everything about the place always is bright, light and uncluttered. You'll find the counter staff essence of politeness and hospitality and being able to observe the chefs cooking and assembling adds to the ambiance. Although there are no rest rooms, there's a no-cost community loo next door that's always clean and well maintained.

My favorite meal, the Quarter Lemon Chicken Plate, includes choice of white meat (breast and wing) or dark (leg and thigh). I always order the moister, more savory dark, except for the rare times I'm not there until after 4 and only the half chicken plate is available. I also routinely choose the simply perfect French Fries rather than the flavored rice option. Each order includes a small cup of tzatziki sauce, pita bread cut into 8 triangles and a tossed salad: tomatoes, lettuce, onions, black olive and pepperoncini, all lightly coated with tangy vinaigrette. At less than $7.00 including tax, the quarter lemon chicken is comparably priced with other offerings on Dino's Gyros mostly Greek bill of fare. They also have a wine and beer menu and specials for kids.

This definitely is a casual, come-as-you-are and enjoy-who-we-are venue. If you're in the Central San Diego area, I hope you'll visit Dino's Gyros!

Simple Abundance :: For What Its Worth

Simple Abundance co cover

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy helps guide a person through each day of the year, with quotes from famous people and well-known sources along with a daily topic. This is not Holy Writ or a recently re-discovered treasure from the Bard, so don't try to approach it as such. For what it's worth, it's a few hundred pieces of advice and recommendations for enhancing your home, yard. and work environments, your lifestyle and sense of yourself and maybe even helping some of the people around you.

Author Sarah Ban Breathnach doesn't call upon insights or practices from expressions of any of the great faith traditions, so don't expect an exposition of scripture or interpretation of the latest news through the lens of a modern or ancient prophet. However, almost nothing she suggests is incompatible with most religious or spiritual practices.

Some of it's kinda funky, some close to caricature, but (for example) I can relate to "Decorating with the Seasons: Summer Houses" for 14 June, though my own Summer-Themed Habitat might not have the exact same details. "Classic Chic 102" is the subject for 04 June; it's about living spaces, but I like picking up the classic idea for the way I dress that tends to be touches of vintage, preppy, urban, prairie in almost equal parts, so an idea aimed at one aspect of life might inspire another direction.

This is a nice handbook to keep handy on a table, although instead of reading each page-long entry in order, I'd prefer to read at random. For what it's worth, take what appeals to you and leave the rest for another time or maybe never.

my amazon review: for what it's worth

Salads for Every Season

Salads for Every Season

Salads for Every Season: 25 Recipes from Earthbound Farm on Amazon

I was delighted to get this short ebook for free, though it's totally worth the current $1.99 price (reduced from $2.99). I love salads, so maybe I'm a tad prejudiced?! In terms of size, shorter often is better than longer when it comes to choosing a recipe. Author Myra Goodman of Earthbound Farm reminds us salads "redefine fast food," and gives us a dozen reasons for going organic.

Useful guides and instructions include: "A Field Guide to Salad Greens" with descriptions and pictures; a chart of how much to buy and how much to allow per person for side salad or main-course salad; how to grow sprouts, roast sunflower seeds, toast nuts and seeds in oven, microwave, stovetop; how to blanch fruits and veggies; how to seed and peel a tomato...

You easily could scroll through the varieties of flavors, colors, textures, and tangs in Salad for Every Season to find something that fits the ingredients on hand, or you could vary any basic recipe to your own taste. A reader recommendation? I'd especially like to try some of the vinaigrette variations. Besides Salads and Salad Dressing divided into Spring and Summer / Fall and Winter sections, beautiful full-color photographs are worthy of a book you'll love to have on your bookshelf and hold in your hands.

nice variety! my Amazon review

Twice in a Lifetime

Twice In a Lifetime by Marta Perry on Powell's.

twice in a lifetime book cover
Twice in a Lifetime weaves together history, inspiration, love, mystery, southern family, possibilities…

I picked up Twice in a Lifetime because of the wonderful painting on the cover, and then noticed its setting in South Carolina and in a beach community. I knew I'd enjoy the scenery even if the story didn't move me, but as it turned out, I loved the characters and their individual stories.

There's the beachfront house on one of Charleston's barrier islands, Georgia Lee's employment in Atlanta, Georgia, a tenderly close grandmother and granddaughter, and my own imaginings that life in the American South still is quieter and simpler than elsewhere.

The characters attend church and participate in vacation bible school, but Twice in a Lifetime isn't majorly in-your-face religious—it's simply simple Christianity as an integral part of everyday life. The romance that easily happened between Georgia Lee and single dad Matt (who without a doubt was far from the on-the-take northern lawyer family and reader both imagined him to be at first glance) had just enough suspense to be intriguing.

Marta Perry's prose is clean and well-edited. Although this is first in a series about the Bodine family, I'm happy to consider it a standalone narrative, as I'm not sure I want to be disappointed if the Bodine family future doesn't turn out as I'd like it to. In short? The degree of southernness totally was to my liking, and Twice in a Lifetime definitely merits a future re-reading.

my amazon review: southern, likable, and re-readable


boomerangs sign
"You'll always come back for more."

I'll definitely go back for more to Boomerangs, San Diego, CA, where bright southwestern-hued paint and streams of natural light surrounded us from the moment we entered the building; as we enjoyed lunch, succulent burgers and accompaniments tantalized us. The website insists, "Boomerangs is the place for you. We make all of our burgers with 100% Angus beef with the freshest ingredients and our handmade sides are a must try!"

To create your own burger, you get to add any three toppings and mixers, one cheese and one homemade side to a basic 1/3, 1/2, or 3/4 pound Angus burger. Besides beef, there are additional non-vegetarian plus portabello mushroom or boomerangs locationveggie burger options. The website displays most of the menu items we got to choose from in the restaurant. Prices are modest for such fresh excellence; due to its quality and the fact it didn't shrink much during cooking the 1/3 pound burger was so substantial I'd have been happy to be able choose a smaller, quarter-pounder, especially since the sides added more substance.

Paintings by San Diego-based artist Mark Smith arrayed themselves on the walls; Jose, our server explained the art was for sale but Boomerangs had the privilege of borrowing them for a spontaneous exhibit until they were sold.

If you're not too far from the San Diego area beaches it's worth a trip to Clairemont for lunch at Boomerangs. The restaurant is open every day of the week, so you can't miss. Other features include daily happy hour from 4 to 7 and brunch on Sundays from 10 to 2 with "free-flowing champagne and mimosas," fresh fruit and salads, hot entrees, omelets and desserts.

Most likely you'll always go back for more!

Mister Fish and Chips

restaurant review

...not exactly a developed site, but here it is....

Mr. Fish and Chips
Their ads in the semi-slick coupon clippers we get in the mail intrigued me, so it was time to try the real thing. As the name of the eating place suggests and the bill-of-fare attests, Mr. Fish and Chips, situated away from the shoreline a few miles inland (but all of Paradise is coastal community) in a strip mall on an adjacent mesa, specializes in fried seafood (pacific cod(?), scallops, shrimp and clam strips), clam chowder and batter-fried accompaniments. They serve a limited selection of beer and wine, but I didn't notice any desserts, nor is there a menu you can take with you. However, you can phone in an order that will be ready to pick up when you get there.

Evidently the family-run quick food restaurant has been in that general location almost forever, since 1975, with the current spot the result of a recent move. Mr. Fish and Chips features brightly clean ambiance, six tables that seat 4 (or 6 in a scramble), a counter toward the back where you order from the menu board so they can call your number in 5 minutes or so when your tray is ready and a constant flow of customers for eating-in and taking-out. What good deals, maybe partly because it's cash-only!

The only selection costing more than $10.00 is a family meal for a little under $20.00. For about $7.00 my neighbor and I each got a big piece of fish, either zucchini, onion rings or potatoes, fresh side salad of iceberg, red tomato wedges and chunky cucumber slices with choice of dressings. The basic price included 12-ounce cup of soda (no refills) or iced tea (with refills); you could order any item à la carte. They served the meal in paper-lined plastic baskets with disposable plastic utensils; limited staff and space likely make dish-washing impractical. The batter was light, puffy, crunchy, appetizingly golden and took up almost as much space as the food it covered. Though it didn't have a lot of its own flavor, it also didn't taste greasy or "off" in the least.

At the start of the meal I really dived into the food, but by the end all the batter and fried stuff felt overwhelming, most likely because I've been eating simpler and healthier and almost never anything more than quickly sautéed or lightly pan-fried. Will I go back to Mr. Fish and Chips for another lunch? Probably, but it will become more of an every-few weeks event than a weekly occasion.

Welcome to the City!

On a couple of my other blogs I've posted some old material; the following paragraphs are from a short-lived site on the MSN pages I hosted during summer 2000 and so fun to remember and think about. I'm blogging the introduction here, and then posts on the three topics we actually developed, in topical order rather than jumbled according to date. In what used to be my almost usual social-scientist identity (whatever happened? It got outpaced by the theologian, I guess), I initiated the subjects we discussed.

Welcome to The City!

Welcome to The City! Whether you've always been a city person, whether you live in a suburb or rural area and wouldn't have it any other way, whether you come to the city mainly for fun – to see the sights, hear the sounds, shop the stores, enjoy the restaurants, have an out-of-the-ordinary experience – you'd probably like to join our virtual city! We'd love to have you, and you probably have lots and lots of ideas and opinions to contribute. Welcome!

Atlanta Georgia skyline
The City and Distributive Justice

From: Leah (Original Message) Sent: 8/23/2000 12:27 PM

Who gets what, why, when, how and where in terms of goods and services long has been and continues to remain the central focus of life in the city for many people. This has always been so in any geopolitical area with a distinct income disparity between different groups and different individuals. Globally, of course, but also in the "First World."

In the United States we see it in striking terms, striking because there exists such splendid wealth back-to-back with such indescribable poverty. "Why" probably is the first question. Individual income combined with the inefficient and short reach of governmental and private not-for-profit agencies first come to mind as primary factors. But there are people living in the inner city with adequate incomes who have known only a culture of poverty and who therefore choose either consciously or unconsciously to continue that lifestyle.

From: Aisha in response to Message 1 Sent: 8/29/2000 11:14 PM

America's foundation is built on the many backs that we step on or stab to get to where we are today. It's definitely survival to the fittest. This is not a democratic country. There is no such thing. Democracy would only be successful if everyone wanted the same thing for everyone else...Pure equality. That will never be. Because there's always someone that wants you to kiss their ass.

On the other spectrum, there are so many spineless jellyfish out there that are willing to do it. Fighting for beliefs or rights has become about as faddish as bell-bottoms. The rich will be the "haves" while the poor will be the "have nots." When the "have nots" finally get tired of pressing their noses against the windows of the "haves" lives, that's when the division will stop. Knowledge is power. If everyone could empower themselves and their children with the will that you can be successful no matter where you're from, then we can ALL receive equal justice.

Boston Massachusetts financial district
The Arts in Inner City Boston

From: Leah (Original Message) Sent: 8/26/2000 1:38 PM

Living in Boston this summer, I've experienced an incredibly rich diversity in what might be called the "popular arts." The music takes two basic forms: live and impromptu (Gospel, soul, hip-hop, steel drums, rap, and probably some forms I don't recognize) and recorded CDs. Some of the CDs blast forth from houses, cars, or boomboxes on foot, some of them are simply background to whatever activity is in progress, for all ages, any age. And the CDs are quite likely to contain what's generally called "objectionable lyrics," as well as evoking very definitely objectionable images.

I'll comment just briefly on the visual arts. To me, they're far more exciting than the music. Colorful, representational paintings on the sides of buildings, on trash cans, on sidewalks. And of course, the large paintings the local daycamps and preschools turn out—some of them are very well done!

In contrast to the Inner City Arts are the Downtown Arts. Some more sophisticated, professional versions of what we have here in the inner city, but downtown one also can find classical concerts, free and not, as well as museums, most of which charge an admission price way out of the range of most of the people around where I live. However, there are a few cost-free times at some of the museums, but unfortunately it's still a hefty price to get into the special exhibits.

Cleveland Ohio
Metro Area Population

From: Leah (Original Message) Sent: 8/19/2000 6:46 AM

I'm concerned that the high price of good housing in most cities will be sending people out of the Metro/Central City area to less expensive, but also less desirable and attractive neighborhood and housing. Part of my concern includes the very real possibility of more affluent people and families moving into the vacated housing, rehabbing it, and increasing the value not only of their own housing, but also of the housing stock in the surrounding neighborhoods.

From: Aisha in response to Message 1 Sent: 8/20/2000 8:57 PM

I live in Georgia. Suburban "sprawl" has affected every area of our state. No community is really safe. Even though there is more money being brought into the less desirable communities, the prices have been skyrocketing. Whoever has the gold holds the key...

From: Leah in response to Aisha

You said it perfectly: "Whoever has the gold, holds the key..." Community organizing is the only answer that has any chance at all. People may think it's behind the times, but if bunches of people would get out there, they'd find it works!

From: Torrie in response to Message 1 Sent: 8/25/2000 4:30 AM

It seems that here, in Ohio, the cost of housing is less expensive within the city. There are a few exceptions—German Village, Victorian Village, Italian Village. The cost of housing in the suburbs is skyrocketing—along with increased property taxes. Property taxes alone consume 30% of my monthly mortgage.

New Mood Downtown

downtown Chicago
Downtown Chicago with Legal Reuse Rights

A really really old one, spunoff some from our very first assignment when I decided to begin a second bachelor's degree. The course was introductory sociology; we got to go to the university library and choose an article from journals the professor had on reserve. Of course I had to choose something very urban: Society, v. 16 no. 6 pp. 4,6-7, September-October 1979

New Mood Downtown: internet link
• Wolf Von Eckardt, New Mood Downtown
• Society: v. 16 no. 6 pages 4, 6-7 September-October 1979

This article is concentrated and conclusive regarding positive aspects of the current migration back into the cities as a place to live. Von Eckardt shows a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for city living. Reflecting on contemporary trends, he cites everything now [1979 for the article's date] happening in a most positive light, taking negatives exclusively from the 30 to 40 years preceding the back-to-city-living trend. Although the article is only three pages long and therefore limited in scope and depth, the author seems almost obsessively intent on proving his point and extending his own enthusiasm to the reader.

The essential thesis appears to be that use – or misuse – of architectural space is the prime humanizing or dehumanizing factor. Beginning with the fact of the physical return of people from suburbia to cities, and ending with the observation that it is people who are beginning to make their environment livable and workable, the writer lists a series of factors that contribute to the neglect and decay of the city:

  • residential exodus/flight to suburbs
  • suburban shopping centers
  • freeways
  • exit of industry
  • poorer people remaining in the city
  • suburbs receiving a lot of tax money
  • "urban renewal" attacking the apparent, visible problem of substandard housing rather than the real problem of limited employment skills and opportunities

Von Eckardt sees the extensive implementation of housing modeled after Le Corbusier's Ville Radieuse as the worst mistake, observing that the concept of stark concrete slabs surrounded by air and light in reality was unable to provide the casual, routine social interaction needed for development of a healthy community. Again, in negative terms, he indicates that unique architectural style not so much reinforced and perpetuated whatever sense of alienation already may have been present, but was a major contributory factor in its emergence, as the style allowed for no functional neighborhoods.

Among positive forces now at work – presented both as a response or reaction to Corbu's style of architecture and as an awareness that possibly we were in danger of losing the "good old" things about the city – the author mentions particularly the rediscovery of the neighborhood as a social setting and the multitude of creatively revived downtown shopping centers. His only reservation seems to be the suggestion of a need to find a solution for the problem of gentrification of lower-class housing and the subsequent displacement of people already living there.

The limitations of a short article better serve the purpose of either a general, broad overview or of a concise unilateral view as presented in this article than that of a thorough presentation of multiple aspects of a situation. Although Von Eckardt's bias comes through forcefully, he also succeeds well in portraying the renewed cities as most attractive and as definitely the place to live.

Because of the relative terseness of Von Eckardt's exposition of the urban revival phenomenon, and because he documents it will with specific examples of decay, demolition, revival and rebuilding, the article is both informative and convincing. Written in easily readable non-technical language, it incorporates virtually all of the observations I've read in popular literature over the past two or three years.

Though never stated overtly, overlaying the focus on architecture as the apparent major factor in the city's crisis/rebirth is an implied awareness that life happens and can be lived only in community. The architectural accidentals that at first seem to be Von Eckardt's central concern thereby can be seen as enabling and facilitating community.

© Leah Chang

Culture Bound :: Shaker Heights

Larchmere District Ohio
Part Cleveland, part Shaker Heights,
the Larchmere District has community, commerce,
and plenty of urban grit.

Culture, identity, home, belonging, etc.

As those cultural anthropologists insist, each of us inhabits a range of cultures; more than a single culture encumbers each of us. We see, hear and feel; we remember, dream and hope through the senses our cultures have given to us and we've inadvertently received; and to some extent, our cultural identities constrain and limit us.

Wednesday evening, August 18, 2004, I watched The Reunion, on our local ABC affiliate, KGTV Channel 10. The subject struck me extremely: present-day interviews and retrospective reminiscences of the experience of some Shaker Heights, Ohio residents who'd been part of an intentional racial integration project beginning with their kindergarten class and continuing through high school in the Shaker Heights public schools.

Those were the identical years I spent experiencing blockbusting, white flight and redlining in Boston; those same years some of the neighborhoods around me blazed with anger and rage at the same time Watts, Detroit, Atlanta and too, too many U.S. inner cities became furious conflagrations and locales of supercharged and globally publicized citizen/police interactions.

But that's almost a digression, since lately I've been thinking I need to go home, and although there's no way I can return (or would return) to Big Tree Place or any of those other physical dwellings, no way could I return to First Mariner's Church—especially since it disbanded a while ago. However, I can return to my *home* culture, the culture that's my Muttersprach, my cultura franca – to invent an idiom – and I need occasionally to do so! Besides, in the same way you never step into the same river more than once, because both of you and the river have changed, the home you return to cannot be the home you left, so even if I had a physical option to go back there, I still wouldn't be able to relive something that's no longer there, a location that even in terms of my heart's identity I've rationalized, streamlined, and simplified.

# # #

Saturday, March 16, 2024


Partners cover

on amazon, with eight chapters, each in two parts: Part One: Neighborhood Revitalization through Partnership; Part Two: Whittier Neighborhood, a Minneapolis Case Study.

More than ten years after its publication in 1982, at one of the annual Salt Lake City Neighborhood Conferences I received a copy of this soft-cover, 11.7"x9.1"x0.8" explorative report on revitalization of the Whittier section of Minneapolis. It's printed on heavy, coated paper, and it's packed with narrative, with Black and White and color photographs, diagrams, charts, and general inspirations. I'm reading myself and my current situation into some words about the USA from the Prologue that could apply to many individuals:

"This book is about the end of an era and the beginning of a new possibility. The era it leaves behind was 'on the road,' mobile, going anywhere, celebrating space. The possibility it welcomes is 'coming home,' rooting, creating a stake, celebrating place."

Partners inside pages
"Neighborhood is about place. It declares that one special place is the foundation for life's living. America 'on the move' was hard on places, whether prairies or forests or older cities. This is the story of a new generation that came home and found a way to recover a place that had been misused by old-fashioned Americans. It is about a beginning, a possibility, a way people act when place really matters." [iv]
partners inside  pages
Partners back cover

In the wake of famously misguided attempts by government and by private investors to remedy real problems of inner city decay, neighborhood decline, and infrastructure deterioration, Dayton-Hudson (now Target Corporation) partnered with residents, businesses, local government and other entities to help the actual people of Whittier revitalize and reclaim the community for themselves by creating a home, a place to be, during the 1970s.

Partners is a fascinating study about people power, grass roots action, and the resurgence of hope and life. Three decades later, this book is hardly dated at all, and still would be useful and instructive for any urban studies, American studies, sociology, or cultural anthropology course.

Partners inside pages

my amazon review: creating home