The Rose Garden at Exposition Park–a good place to de-stressify!

It’s definitely time for me to move forward from my outrageous week. That’s what I’m calling it. Thanks so much for excellent comments and interaction with me while I ranted a bit. I don’t often share my frustrations and anger too openly–at least not in print! But now we’re moving into the weekend and I’m ready for a giant exhale.

I did several things this week to “de-stressify.”  Maybe today I’ll just share about one of them.

We spent some time at Exposition Park. In another century this was 160-acres of privately owned racetrack and fairgrounds but in 1889 the State of California and the County and City of Los Angeles jointly purchased the park. By 1909 the Beaux-Arts site plan was in place. It is a beautiful center of the city, with museums, old and new, and wonderfully beautiful grounds.

The centerpiece of Exposition Park is the Rose Garden. The sunken grounds bloom with over 200 varieties of roses. Even in late November the roses are still lovely.

Some of the rose canes are enormous. And many of the roses towered above my head. They are beautiful!

The garden is located adjacent the University of Southern California, the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center. Fortunately the Rose Garden is on the National Register of Historic Places. There have been times when it was threatened!

In 1986 there were plans to replace the garden with an underground parking garage! Imagine! There had been an earlier proposal to turn it into a practice field for the Los Angeles Raiders. Thank goodness for garden-loving activists! Heavy public pressure reversed those plans, and now the garden is open to the public 365 days of the year.

This weekend I’m going to extend my exhale with some time at the ocean. Even though we’re having a little rain, and you know it NEVER rains in Southern California–or that’s what the song says–nothing can spoil time on the coast.

Have a wonderful weekend. December tends to be a busy month…let’s front load the rest and relaxation. Here’s a little bonus to get us started.

I took these photos today…in the rain. These Ginkgo trees were close to my home and when I rounded the corner and saw the gorgeous color I stopped to take a few shots. Who says we don’t have fall color? Proof!

Have a wonderful weekend.

It’s hard to breathe lighter when I’m outraged!

Against better judgment, I typically begin my day with a dose of news radio. There is no shortage of exposure to stories that disturb and distort the peace of the morning, and to liberally borrow from Alice, “Sometimes I’ve been bombarded by as many as six outrageous stories before breakfast.”

I can’t quite explain why out of all the horrors of human behavior one particular story stands out, but you may have heard about the vandalism and theft of ancient Native American petroglyphs from the California-Nevada border. It’s appalling! Federal authorities discovered the vandalism on October 31st, but I heard the first news report just last week.

The Eastern Sierra Mountains are ancient and majestic–emphasis on the word ancient. Hunters and gatherers populated this area more than 3,500 years ago and the area is still used by the Bishop Paiute Tribe for religious ceremonies.

At least four petroglyphs were chiseled from the face of the mountain and taken from the site. Others were defaced with saw cuts. One was broken during the theft and then just propped against a boulder near visitor parking! Dozens are damaged by scarring from hammer  strikes and saws.

It’s a tragic defacement to what area Native Americans have held as sacred space. Their ancestors told stories in those lava boulders with renderings of concentric circles, bows and arrows, deer, rattlesnakes and bighorn sheep. The images depict the  life of the ancient tribes, and terribly selfish and malicious thieves violated the sacred grounds, stripping history and meaning away from their culture in a matter of a very few hours.

Archaeologist David Whitely, who wrote the nomination that succeeded in getting the site listed on the National Register of Historic Places said, “How do we manage fragile resources that have survived as much as 10,000 years but can be destroyed in an instant.”

Yep! Once gain the “few” have threatened the ability of the rest of us to enjoy the freedom to commune with the past through nature. I predict it won’t be long before federal authorities will find it necessary to completely protect the area, and perhaps others like it, by making it impossible to approach.

The Bishop Paiute Tribe is a sovereign nation, the fifth largest tribe in California with around 2,000 enrolled members. The culture of the people is deeply embedded with the natural resources of the area that have been safeguarded by the Paiute people for hundreds of years. This is very tough news to take!

The idea of sacred and spiritual place, timeless historical implication and general natural beauty being stolen from future generations is devastating, and I’ve been thinking about it all week.

The destruction of the petroglyphs is nothing more than vandalism. There is no archaeological team behind it. No one was studying the historically rich escarpment. A few well orchestrated thugs may sell the pieces to private collectors for a few hundred dollars.

I thought about this while we were touring the Cleopatra exhibit at the California Science Center this weekend. I’m certainly not equating authorized archaeological expeditions with vandals, but it did come to my mind that perhaps we are a little cavalier about the search for lost treasures, the burial grounds of ancient kings and queens, and historical artifacts that belong to lost civilizations.

I suppose I’ll be thinking uncomfortable thoughts for a while. I’m too interested in history and what we learn from the discoveries to put aside curiosity on a not yet well-formed principle, but while “touring” I was mindful of the people and civilization of Cleopatra’s Day. It was a bit overwhelming.

Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt will be leaving Los Angeles and the west coast at the end of the month. I’ll share more about this very extensive collection next time, but for today, let me just share a couple of photos to whet your appetite.

Dealing with antiquities is tricky business, isn’t it?

Stay tuned….

How are General George S. Patton, the San Gabriel Mission and an old grist mill connected? Come take a field trip with me and I’ll explain.

Mark Twain said, “One of the most admirable things about history is, that almost as a rule we get as much information out of what it does not say as we get out of what it does say.”  

As I continue to study early California history, I uncover more stories connected  to early mission life, and the more I discover, the more I realize I now have additional research questions.

I suppose this is why historians often choose a particular era or even one single historical event and then dedicate their work to becoming experts. I have no design on fashioning myself into an expert, but I’m definitely hooked and have multiple areas of early California history begging for my attention.

This week I was able to stay very local, within five miles of my home, and take my field trip to another historic landmark. El Molino Viejo, or The Old Mill, a former grist mill associated with the operation of the San Gabriel Mission.

The mission was founded on September 8, 1771, dedicated to farming and self-sufficiency. One of the remaining mission structures is less than ten miles from current mission property, the Old Mill, built by the Tongva-Gabrielino Mission Indian laborers around 1816, as designed by Franciscan Father Jose Maria de Zalvidea.

Between 1816-1823 the Old Mission gathered water from an adjacent canyon and the mill was responsible for grinding enough wheat and corn to feed the mission inhabitants.

Be sure to read the story on the plaque and see how General George Patton recovered the millstones.

A surprise to many who live locally, the water that left the grinding area then flowed to what is now the very popular Lacy Park. The padres used the water that accumulated into a bog  for wool-washing, and as a tannery and sawmill.

In 1846, Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor or Alta California sold the property and it is there that new stories open into the settling of the Pasadena area. I am working on those bites of history and will look forward to sharing them with you as I do a bit more local touring.

I hope you’ll enjoy photos of the current mill site . The mill is the oldest commercial building in Southern California and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The grounds are beautifully landscaped and maintained by The San Marino Women’s Garden Club, “The Diggers,” with specific attention devoted to native plants. This late in the season there isn’t much in bright color, but I’ll be going again in the spring to note the changes. It is really quite lovely as it is with natural brush, many fruit trees, wild grasses and succulents.

The birds, bees, butterflies and small animals are very much at home!

Part of my personal study is to better understand complex stories and find a way to share them without overwhelming amounts of information. My exercise in studying the historical record is indeed at least scratching the surface of what is “said and unsaid.”

Indigenous “Californians” date back some 13,000-15,000 years. It’s impossible to study the life and activities of the mission without acknowledging that all mission success was realized at the expense of the native Gabrielino-Tongvan people. Their story is much more complex than I can develop in a single blogpost, but there are 6,000 Indians buried at Mission San Gabriel Arcangel.  There is a lot to learn.

And as I share, I don’t expect others to remember all the details, but I hope it excites you enough to think about what little historical field trips you might make to better know your own local history. Be careful, though. It’s addicting.