Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hosting Angels at Garden Wedding of Robyn Green and Jacob Dilick

It was a miracle.  Not too different from when Moses parted the Red Sea for his people to pass out of bondage. This parting of  torrential rains. I believe the mother's love was so strong, from on-high she held back the clouds for her daughter's wedding. 

A cameo of Cobi Neal attached to the bouquet provided by the groom's mother
The bride's mother flew the pain of cancer on December 14, 2006. But love knows no boundaries. Her spirit was with us last Saturday.  

Edda Gahm, the bride's grandmother, called 10 days before. "The kids" had planned a park wedding- only fate proclaimed that heaven would continue wringing water on Southern California for the first time in years. The small family wedding included family from other states. Even if it didn't rain, mud already closed the parking lot where the nuptials were planned for. Did I have any ideas? 

The answer was instinctive. Hospitality is ingrained into the culture of our faith. God hosted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Abraham and Sarah offered  hospitality to three strangers- only later to find they were angels unawares. We would not know many of guests, but if they were faithful enough to this young couple to brave wicked weather, they are angels to us.

 If Robyn and Jacob (Jake) were amenable, our home and garden were at their service. At my husband's suggestion, we ordered a canopy. Unless the day turned out to be a gale, the bride could have her outdoor wedding. A modest rain, the guests could watch under the patio's protection.  Worst case, we would scoot furniture out of the living room, and they could marry in front of the fireplace. 

After helping set-up, Jake used our bedroom to change into his Air Force dress blue uniform.

With the groom ready, the bride and her friends took over the room.  


How did the couple come to this day? 

Robyn recounts, We met in passing when I was about 17, he 18, at a friend's graduation party. We would see each other every few years at their New Years parties, when would come home for leave for Christmas. Sparks never really flew until we were Best Man and Maid of Honor at our friends' wedding. After three months of texting and Facetiming I flew out to Florida, where he was stationed. We spent an amazing two weeks together. A couple months after I returned he stationed out here, at Edwards (AFB) to be closer. 

Everything about the festivities was profoundly personal. 

While the rain pushed sideways the day before and after the ceremony, on Saturday, January 21, 2017, the heavens opened for the angels to be Robyn and Jake's guests. The canopy wasn't needed. 

Kandi Schultz Hardy officiated. She has known Robyn since she was the bride's teacher at Valley Christian School in San Dimas. The tone and tenor both sober and celebratory. When asked about the service performed, Kandi explained she lightly updated the archaic language of the Christian ceremony her father, the Reverend William Schultz, used during his pastoral days.  She adds " I feel so blessed that he gave me his actual wedding book, not a copy of the ceremony." 

The guests. Some drove through blizzards to be present. Some flew to give support to the forming of the new family of Jake Dilick and Robyn Green.

Prayers said. Promises made. Rings exchanged. Robyn's father passed to Jake the ring her mother had given him, back in the day. The bride says " I don't ever want to resize it- I'll wear it on a necklace."

The lighting of the unity candle signifying bride and groom are stronger now that they are one to the other. Before man and God. 

With this first kiss,  Robin and Jake's life begins anew.   With little commentary, please enjoy these images. May the silent universal language of photography of convethe joy surrounding this union. 

The groom with his mother, Rochelle Dilick. She covered the dining table with a lavish buffet. 

 She served love from the ceremony the following day in presenting "planned-overs" from the wedding feast to feed the homeless in Lancaster. She wrote on her Facebook page " I wasn't sure how many would 'show up' in the rain. They came. They ate and they stayed around and visited with us all for quite some time. I'm thinking that some are considering this their Sunday Family Meal and that makes me happy."

The bride's father with his new son-in-law. 

The bride's sister, Kaitlin, baked and decorated cupcakes. The bride made lemon and chocolate snickerdoodle cookie bars.  

Nikki served as unofficial Maid of Honor. 

It was a fun moment when the little girls ran in the house together, announcing they had picked "all the plums off the tree" to make money selling. 
When we stopped laughing, we took a couple bags out to collect the big yellow plums, actually grapefruit, off the lawn. Tangerines plus some assorted "jewels" from the pathways were tossed in. Not all- we left some polished jewels for the fairies to find their way back):- 

The bride complemented her forest green lace gown with Converse high-top  basketball shoes. 

It's been a secret wish, to have a wedding here. You made that dream come true. Thank you. God bless. 

Thank you, Robyn and Jake, for choosing to share your sacred start of your life together here. The occasion helped me realize how much I take for granted. Every guest was an angel to us. Come what may, all the love which graced this place on your wedding day shall remain with us -and with this place we call home. 

A special thank you to Nikki, Marissa, Jaimie,  as well as my husband Gerry, for contributing the commemorative photos.  

Until we meet again, thank you for ALL YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 


Saturday, October 8, 2016

M.F.K Fisher: Home Ground ~ Loving the California Landscape ~ Paula Panich at the LA Arboretum

A quilt for a tablecloth makes for a country formal picnic 
“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.
M.F.K. Fisher
'Mary Frances'

The landscape where the lecture took place- The LA County Arboretum and Garden - from their Facebook Page.

Landscape. A two syllable word which opens endless linkage to the context of our lives. 
Brea Canyon painting, by John Anderson . Photograph by Gene Sasse captures my neighborhood.
We are products of the landscapes which envelop our lives. Doyenne of modern American writing and founder of the Napa Valley Wine Library, Mary Frances loved California, her descriptives of one place, frequently redolent with memories of other times, other locations. Best known as the originator of the genre of passionate renderings of home craft we enjoy now. Her “cookbooks”  reach beyond the making of food, but commemorate values learned communing with land, community and each other.   

Dijon France Mustard Field, from Pinterest, Steven Block
Born in Quaker Whittier, she lived most of her life in cities up and across California, including Laguna Beach, Hemet, Napa and Sonoma.  She lived in Europe. First in France, during an ill-fated first marriage. 

Dillwyn Parrish with Mary Frances in Hemet Image by Counterpoint Press, Berkeley, California

Then Switzerland, with her second and most passionate companion, artist Dillwyn Parrish. They started as Laguna Beach neighbors , whose respective marriages failed. He was very encouraging with Mary Frances’s writing. And complicating her life as only one deeply loved can. 

In 1938, the couple married, and she wrote of the Swiss mountainside where they inhabited as being where large trees leaned, pushed by wind.  The sudden onset of a circulatory disease required her husband’s leg be amputated. In 1939 there was no escaping war was coming to Europe. The couple stocked up on a pain medication not available in the US, fleeing back to the US. They set up home keeping in a modest cabin on 90 acres in the hamlet which Hemet was at the time. They proceeded to fit it to their needs, which meant including a studio for her husband to paint in. Forebodingly, his best known works from this time were dominated by images of the angels of death.  

Wyoming rainbowm image by Trevor Plunk
With Dillwyn devastatingly ill, his sister largely supported them on the land overlooking groves of apricots and acres of roses. Mary Francis painted with words grounded with grace, scenes such as watching a rainbow grow and die.  The property itself: a visitor once described as being full of “red rocks and rattlesnakes.”

In 1942, facing further amputations due to incurable Buerger’s disease and unable to procure the only pain medication which gave him relief, 47 year old Dillwyn walked a short distance from his home into the countryside. He chose a bullet to end his pain.

Paula Panich began reading M.F. K. Fisher 40 years ago. She was living in San Francisco, the epicenter of the food revolution which she good-humoredly describes as having grown into something of a “splinter religion” where food is the great metaphor for nourishment and shelter.

How does one read the same author for so long, and still eagerly return? Because Mary Francis’s unique writing style braids food, travel and memoir is accessibly authoritative. Great writers, as our own lives are expanded as experience become, we can return to the pages to mine ever deeper layers of intoxicating language. In the words of the poet Rilke,” The world is large, but in us, it is as deep as the sea.”

Author/ Teacher/ Speaker Paula Panich with  Mitchel Bishop, Arboretum Associate Curator of History and Photographer Ilana Panich-Linsman 
An east coast transplant, Paula found retreat from LA life by keeping a writing shack in Hemet. Here she followed her muse, so far as to imitate an archaeologist, mini-excavating on the late writer's land, turning up wine bottles, which now set on a shelf of Paula’s Los Angeles home, near the collection of immortal words brought into existence by the woman known as M.F.K. Fisher. 

Arboretum Librarian Susan Eubank told the capacity crowd, that she intends today to be the inaugural edition of lectures at the Los Angeles Arboretum and Garden.

Until we meet again, thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September- Behind my Garden Gate. Mint, bees and Country Gardens Magazine

September. It began with a phone call asking "Do you have mint?"

Yes. Mint with bees and mint without.  

Stalks of mint flopping through seasonal asters in  a mass of perfect imperfection.

Mint weaving over the roses and through the steps, up into the vegetable lined path. 

 I took my gloves off to pull the sweet smelling stalks of mint out from beneath the  Brandywine tomato. Trained up, the vine has climbed a full-story high.

My uphill neighbor, Sandy, leaned over our shared fence. We chatted about roses, the exceptional holiday weather, good bugs and bad bugs. Promising to get together soon, I gathered a couple ripened veggies and armloads of mint enough to make mojitos for all the wanna-be Cubans in California. 

"Accidental" clippings with the hillside mirrored in my study window
On occasion, I splurge on bottles of  Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy  milk, as much for the smiles when the charming containers are passed along  to friends as vases. Like the one who will soon be enjoying rooted slips of mint and spearmint.  

Now to enjoy my garden. To observe.  The slender ruby hummingbird feeder hanging from the brugmansia (angel's trumpet) is a bird magnet. Hummingbirds and orioles. But like our "mighty" Southern California rivers, it too frequently runs dry. 

These come to me in my garden: a thought. Plumbers tape stops leak on threaded hose bibs, why not on threaded necks on nectar reservoirs? YES. Oh happy birds. 

Garlic chives. The whole of this wonderful wildflower can be used for cooking. Or left to reseed and come again next summer. 

Carrots. Like people, come in many colors.

Just in case our friends do not understand how obsessive my garden- passion is... Wouldn't it be fun to serve purple carrots in the garden near where the Rose of Sharon blooms? Match food to flower, like shoes to a dress.

In the dining room, dappled light shines on the cover of the newest edition of one of my favorite magazines, Country Gardens.  If circumstance should ever remove me from this beloved plot of land, I should still love this magazine, for as much as any other, it plays the strings of my heart in a happy melody.

Until we meet again, thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

To Be Happy at Home ~ Worthy Ambition

"To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour ends." 

~Samuel Johnson 
The Rambler, November 10, 1750 

Fresh butter's natural yellow
Real butter is a miracle of homekeeping.  3 minutes in the Breville Food Processor turns cream to culinary gold. The buttermilk squeezed out- good enough to serve company- and have them toast you for the discovery.  

Whipping up the latest batch, I thought of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). An Englishman, he was born in a time when the middle class was rising on both sides of the Atlantic. Suffering from ill-health the length of his life, he was acutely aware of the foolishness of wasting time.  His essays on the moral imperative to join profit and delight are beacons worth searching out.

Wisdom wears well. Johnson's quote at the top are still relevant and worthy  over 200 years after posted in a two-penny rag. 

Fast forward to today. It is flummoxing to ponder  why people aren't profoundly chastened by what they post on social media. All the rants and insults... thanks to technology, could outlive this generation. This generation may be remembered for contemptuous ill-manners, unrighteous indignation and no patience for either spelling or grammar. Can we share a group shudder?  

Which is why I write. In hopes to point even a few souls (including my own) to the gratitude for one more day. 

Fried Okra, Lydia-Style

 Okra was not in my Puerto Rican mother's cooking repertoire. Think she made it once, for I have vague memories of something akin to algae-colored slugs pretending to be a vegetable. 

Thank God this California girl married into a family with roots deep in states with long summers.  Oklahoma, Arkansas and Arizona.

They introduced me to one of the gifts of summer, fried Okra. The family- version was a bit gritty with cornmeal, so I changed it up a bit. In my version, pieces of the vegetable are tossed in a pancake-like batter before rolling in cornmeal. 

When the devil is in me, the battered bits to into a batch of hot bacon fat with chopped onion and chunks of ham. Otherwise, olive or other oil does suffice. At the very end,  freshly grated Parmesan cheese melts atop the hot mountain of Southern Hospitality. 

Poached eggs, Apple wood Smoked Bacon and a homemade turnover topped with whipped cream. 
I confess. I am guilty of binge watching the  The Great British Baking Show and swallowing whole Laura Bolton's delicious blog Fork Knife Swoon,

It struck this summer, this Epiphany. In this Age of Air Conditioning, it's okay to unleash worship from taste buds at the heart of the home, the kitchen range. The Sabbath brunch is nearly a service of celebration. The raspberry- lemon filled turnover, topped with freshly whipped cream was worth every calorie. Which certainly were gloriously ad infinitum.

Where we live is not just a house. It is a deeply personal retreat. We cocoon there, cuddling amongst reminders of what makes us happy. A bed so high, we sleep easily from oxygen deprivation; clinging to each other for fear if we fall off the edge, we'll break a hip. If we want to fight, we don't need to use fists- for there are lots of pillows.

As the bedroom is the first and last memory of the day, I think it the most important. I may dream of raising the ceiling, adding a balcony and improving the bathroom to more modern en-suite proportions. Still, there are elements I would keep if we were suddenly billionaires. No amount of money could ever change my heart. I was born a lover of country and romance. 

That means that we are slow to throw things out. It is better to rethink the purpose than to trash an object with cherished elements.

This nightstand was my passed- along childhood desk. My darling re-imagined it as his nightstand. On my side of the bed, is a similar desk from his childhood. Simply refinished, it serves double duty. First as my vanity- and bridge for the puppies to get in and out of bed on their own. 

Creativity solves waste. 
Inconveniences are opportunities disguised as problems. The downstairs bathroom light bar has been giving us fits. A shade broke. The fixture professionally rewired- but the bulbs kept pulling apart faster than my hair was falling out. Our best guess is that the modern light bulbs were ever so slightly different- causing the bulbs to overheat and sockets to pull apart.

Finding shades that matched both budget and taste wasn't happening when the great ah ha struck again. There were shades I bought on close-out for an outdoor project which never made it to the top of the list. Doggone if they weren't a perfect solution.  

Taking kitchen scraps out to the compost heap, my heart leaped. For in the compost heap, a salvia emerged. Just like in life. Expect, embrace surprise. Love the life you decided to live. 

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful-