Saturday, July 14, 2012

Independence and Community

The 4th of July always makes me think of being a kid. All of the neighbors would gather to combine everyone’s fireworks into one show and it ended up being a somewhat exhilarating and fun communal event. 

The fireworks that we set off 30 years ago were mild in comparison to what people have access to today. The last couple of years our little valley has been filled with flashing lights and smoke and terrifying explosions on a level to compete with nearby Dodger Stadium

The video above shows a little of the Dodger Stadium show in the distance and then the stuff being set off just down the hill from the house. 

Earlier in the week our neighbors had invited us to come down on the 4th to a party at their mother's house. They said that there was going to be lots of food and drink and even more fireworks than last year (gulp). We came home early from another party to stop by and to keep an eye on the hill. Alex thought that we should be home just in case anything happened. Last year's fireworks seemed pretty intense and the thought that this year was supposed to be more impressive was a little alarming. 

I was also looking forward to the opportunity to get to know everyone a little better. I've lived here for almost 5 years now and I only know a few of the people that live around us. The neighborhood has been through a lot of change in the time I've been here, and a fare amount of struggle. The neighbors next door and across the street have been foreclosed on. Other neighbors have retired and moved away and new families have moved in and started to fix things up. From our vantage point up on the hill I've watched new roofs go on but can also see where blue tarps serve as the only waterproofing for stalled projects. My own renovation has been on hold for years, first while I decided if I could afford to stay, then as I went through the painstaking mortgage modification process, then as I slowly tried to save money to finish the work. 

The party was fun and the fireworks were exhilarating. The neighbor and his friends put on a pretty impressive show. They had actually moved further down the hill away from our house, in part because it was closer to his mom's house but also to get away from the dry grass on the open hill. It's unfortunate that the 4th takes place in July when everything is brown and we haven't had rain for months. 

There were many other people setting off fireworks in the valley and it seems that not all of them were as careful as they could have been. It was at the point when it felt the night was winding down that someone pointed up the hill and shouted.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Siningia leucotrichia

Most people have pictures of their kids on their phone. I have this.

I got it at a Huntington sale years ago and the tag says $8. I've gotten so much more than $8 worth of pleasure out of it. Every year the leaves get bigger and the flowers more prolific.