Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Anticipation for Oprah's Rose

Anticipation: that glorious divine suffering of having to wait for what you want.
Carly Simon wrote about it:
“We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway”
Oprah’s Legends™ Rose won’t be available on the market until the Spring ’09 growing season, but writing about it for Gene Sasse's new Southern California gardening website found at http://2garden.com/ left me with a yearning for the Rose that graces the cover of the current “O” Magazine.
Like Oprah herself, the rose itself does not stand that tall. Yet its presence cannot be missed. Whopping valentine red blossoms open in a swirl that make one’s imagination hear the classic Spanish guitar chords of La Malaguena building to a crescendo nearby.
Please drop by http://www.2garden.com/LegendsRose.htm and let Gene's genius with a camera lens transport you to the romance of a sun-drenched garden. Read to learn how a gift intended for a friend turned into next year’s most anticipated rose introduction.

Photographs on this page are courtesy of Gene Sasse.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Words Have Power

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.
-Jack London
These words, written by a man who died in 1916, printed over a sepia picture on the flat face of a postcard bought at the gift shop at Huntington Library, were life-changing.
Our Creator did not put us here to see how long we could sit and watch the world go by. We were not put here with a warranty tag guaranteed to last a certain length of time if we just followed some maintenance program. In these words I found revelation that it is our duty to act upon our dreams.
I am not advising recklessness. I am reflecting that we were created by the Almighty to meet our purpose with the four I’s- intent, intensity, intelligence, and integrity.
The picture above- I am the ankle barely seen above the raft on the right side. Someone else is going overboard on the left side. My friend, Becky, is the one with the horrified expression on her face.
Going overboard turned out to be my professional "baptism". I arrived in Montana an editor. Having made this day trip straight from Bible Study, as we approached the rapids we were inspired to chant, "Yeah though I walk through the valley of death, I shall fear no evil."
On the first bounce, the underloaded raft bent in the middle, becoming shaped like a taco. On the second bounce, it was a back flip into the churning white waters.
There was no fear. It was shoved out by shear exhilaration. And the absolute conviction that I was meant to be a writer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Last Request of Gerry Del Rio Cortes

“ … even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. “ wrote the Greek tragedian Aeschylus.

“It’s almost that time” was the title of a joint e-mail sent by Bridget & Gerry Del Rio Cortes on Saturday, April 12th. On the afternoon of Sunday, April 13th, Gerry left this life, leaving his wife, their families and friends to cope with the loss of someone so good and so young.

Gerry was 44 when he entered the kingdom of heaven. He and his wife, if this life were fair, should have spent the last two years looking to raise a family. But Gerry was stricken with cancer. So they looked for hospitals instead.

I met the couple when we were all volunteers for the Diamond Bar Relay for Life. Bridget put her heart and soul into the event and the organization. To anyone who would listen, she spoke glowingly of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and all they did to help them live despite Gerry’s grave illness. When a position came open, ACS gladly hired Bridget.

In this last letter, Bridget and Gerry wrote together they acknowledged the tragedy that had overtaken them. And while they still hoped for a miracle to spend more time together in this life, in their request for prayers they asked not for healing, but for relief of pain. For his body and for her heart.

In this letter the couple made a joint statement that I believe they would both want shared. This is the last request they made together as husband and wife.

“Lastly, we would like to ask a favor of you. Please take some time out of your life to battle cancer by participating in a Relay For Life event either in your city or ours. It is one day out of your life to fight back against cancer. Visit http://www.relayforlife.org/relay/ to find one near you. All of the funds raised go to the American Cancer Society to help with their research, education, advocacy, and service. Gerry and I have used their FREE services these last two years ranging from talking to a live trained person who gave us information at 2:00 am to getting 4 nights free in a hotel in San Francisco during his chemo treatments. So can other cancer patients and their families. To find out more call 1(800) ACS-2345 or go to http//www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp"

For anyone interested in helping the Diamond Bar Relay for Life, this event has a specific site at

Until we meet again, rest in peace, dear Gerry.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Fan

Monday, April 7, 2008

True Love is Forever

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? I remember when I did. I was five years old and carrying an Easter basket. Our parents took their trio of daughters to Descanso Gardens in La Canada- Flintridge. http://www.descansogardens.org/site/
It was love at first sight of clivia clumps blooming underneath camellias just the right height for a little girl to think they were blooming trees. Birds sang as the danced together in dappled shade of big oak trees. True love does last forever. To this day I breathe in lilac and remember how intoxicating the exhilaration of first love feels.
I was too young to understand the impact of that brief brush with love. But, as is true in all true love, even though the dalliance was short, my life was forever impacted.
Love is patient. Twenty-nine years after I first fell in love, I was able to do something about my feelings. I said “I do” to my garden here.
In the years that have passed, with every plant born, tended- and yes, with those that have been laid to rest, the garden has taught me that love grows in ways I could not imagine in my youth.
Are my memories all accurate? Probably not. But that is not important. What is important that once touched by love, we are forever changed. And better off for it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tending Skin is Like Tending Soil

Tending to our skin is very much like tending to the soil. Skin is like soil to appearance. Flowers are the garden's cosmetics. If the soil (skin) isn't good- the flowers (cosmetics) won't make the face bloom.
Women speak of yearning to spend more time in the garden. But many are afraid of damaging their skin.
I can relate. There is nothing unusual in my spending 2 to 6 hours a day under the bright California sky.

But I don’t want to have skin that resembles my husband’s jerky.
I wouldn't dream of giving up either my time outside or the desire not to look like the day-laborer that I enjoy being. And if I can do this successfully, so can you.
You see,I have “difficult” skin. To the causal observer, the texture is good. However, the natural moisture level is dangerously close to the sands of the Mojave Desert. When I was just in second grade, a doctor recommended the tubs of Nivea Creme. My skin is also extremely sensitive. Allergy pills and a tube of cortisone cream are tucked in my purse.
Not long ago, my desire to be outside had gotten ahead of the supply of moisturizers. I was on a mission to the Brea Mall to replenish stock with "the usual". As I scurried past the Swisa Beauty Kiosk, Raviv, who represents the Dead Sea Premier skin care line, had to notice the dry patches on my face. He was kind about it. But he was going to help. The demonstration began.
Raviv explained the history of Dead Sea, where the product line comes from, as he gently coaxed open the pores. Odd particulates were freed, replaced by with nutrients and moisture.
Hovering nearby was Bill. A regular customer with clear, tightly textured skin better than that of many a man half his 73 years; he is a living testimonial that it can pay to take are of your skin.
In Living a Beautiful Life Alexandra Stoddard offered the advice that “Enormous enjoyment can be gained from turning a necessity into a sensuous act.” On the surface, what Raviv was demonstrating was mundane. However, his recounting of the history and geography of the Dead Sea opened the imagination. The scent of the scrubs and lotions so fresh, it cleared the mind. The day's chores were wiped clean and everything that touched my skin felt softer. The quality of the experience was elevated from routine to ritual.

More information can be found about this skin care line by going to http://www.swisabeauty.com