Monday, March 26, 2012

The "Singing Senator" Bob Huff, Robins and Love takes Work

Robins are year round residents of the San Gabriel Valley

Some "harbinger of spring". Less than an hour after the robin decided to check out our garden, a full 2" of rain hurled full tilt on what was to be our "date night" ; the Spring Re-election Gala for Bob Huff. If  a political fundraiser doesn't asound like much of a date- you've never heard California's"Singing Senator" croon away in any of the 7 or so languages he performs in. 

Courtesy Photo
 Bob was my replacement when I left the Diamond Bar Planning Commission. Lacking the edgines so prevalent in the popular political culture- the conservative Republican is able to get endorsements from even the liberal Los Angeles Times. To paraphrase the editorial board in one election, they might not agree with Huff on much, but the conversation would be productive. 

Bob cherishes and protects my favorite word in the political vocabulary "freedom." How he has gone on to serve a wider constituency is something  this homebody would never have considered. So in a way, I guess my greatest gift to politics was quitting ):-

Being a Planning Commissioner is an experience that changes how you see the world. I saw urban planning as akin to quilting- with map upon map overlayed, stitched in place with changing lifestyles and embroidered with political theory.   

It is quite out of fashion, but there is something to be said for the urban planning  that allows for privately held open space. In our tract, the utility easement was developed underground, leaving the finger canyon behind our homes undevelopable and in constant rebellion to revert back to nature. 

What we can't do with our land, because of easements preclude structural development, is the gift of interaction with real wildlife and native vegetation. 

No disrespect to my friends with advance degrees from Harvard, but I wouldn't trade their formal educational accomplishments for the seasons spent learning from this quirky little lot that straddles civilization and wilderness. Working land teaches what is important in life.

Love takes work. While the head is wrapped around the rules- the heart wanders off on a path to be cut through the wilderness.

While I have been blessed to enjoy recreational use of public open spaces and keep up on the latest in horticultural trends;  it is seeing a Robin enjoying the abundant garden that lights my heart.

That Robin has the freedom to fly to any trendy garden in North America, yet it chose my garden for a Sunday stroll. With such visits-the commitment to keep a lawn for birds to pull worms from and maintaining trees and bushes abundant with berries to dine from and  build nests in- the joy dividend is better than any bank deposit yields.

In my lifetime I have met a Prime Minister, two US presidents, several premier captains of businesses- yet I am happier for having the company of  my feathered friends. 

  I confess. When the squall ran through, I had my doubts about the wisdom of wandering off from home in a rain storm. We had such a thoroughly good time- I'm glad we did. It was just the right bridge to cross  back to a full work schedule.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where there is Water There is Life~ A New hummingbird

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."

Loran Eisely, The Immense Journey, 1957

The finch stand atop the bubbler. The secret to not having mosquitoes in a water feature is to keep the water moving. This small barrel fountain is set on a timer to splash twice a day.


While the hummingbirds at this fountain generally quench their thirst in-flight- the finch prefer a foothold within the moving waters.

Even the smallest patio can have a little water feature. Be selfish- set yours to splash when you are most likely able to feel the restorative magic of  nature's beauties bathing.
See the drop of water held in the beak? There's a photo that would not have happened with a point and shoot camera.

An assortment of Hummingbirds is returning with the flowers

I wonder if the mild winter contributed to a drop-off in daily counts of "our" hummingbirds?
Most years it is as though they rather not migrate away. Not for anything. They shelter in place. But this year- they packed their bags for the winter season. They are just now returning from whatever rendezvous tempted them.

Plus a newer variety to our garden.  Last year the new critter was a snake. I like it so much better that this year the new guest is a hummingbird.

 OK- Hummingbird experts- This newbie to the neighborhood likes to fly stratospherically high. He is stealthily quiet. Small of stature- perhaps that explains his Napoleonic effect on the ethnic varieties of fellow hummers giving him wide birth. If you know what name he goes by, please drop a line.  

Thank you to Gerry Plunk for today's images. Glad you like "my" camera):-

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Weather, Hawks and Wildlife Report

When the skies cleared, the red tailed hawk took to gliding over the air currents .


Weaving hither and about, it mesmerizes like the swinging watch of the hypnotist.

To and fro, searching for food. Small rodents, snakes and the like

I wonder if the smaller Coopers Hawks will come visit this summer. 

The sparrows pay no mind. It is rare that little birds are snatched from bird feeders. That is usually the scalpel precision of falcons. Otherwise, the arms of the mature cultivated garden make it difficult  for larger predatory birds to successfully swoop in  for dinner..

Other than the striking emerald green laws, it is hard to imagine the pounding the rain gave last weekend. 1.10" between midnight and daylight, with a thunder strike nearby.  My husband told me the lightning flash and thunderous cymbal crash were nearly syncopated. The house heaved- awakening me from a deep slumber with thoughts of tornadoes. It mustn't have hit a house: such close calls with disaster usually makes the news, Things that  because things that frighten make the news.  

The wind blew dry anything it didn't plain blow-away. The smallest portion of warmth is enough to bring out the butterflies. Swallowtails and Painted ladies this week.

Painted lady nectaring from a scabiosa

 When spring is young, even the lizards are lovely. I've never noticed one with such a beautiful blue belly.

Or maybe this wonderment was here all along. What changed is this winter I got a lesson in slowing down. In paying attention to the details. In savoring life.  

God bless you all. Thanks to the support and prayers of people like You, I understand the importance of the expression "Thank God that's over with." 

Thank you to Gerry Plunk for using my camera to take these photos while I was locked up in a witness hearing room. Glad to be home.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bona-fide Baby Shower- Part III. Beach Decor and Presents

It must be the food in the last post looked so good: the Internet ate this last bit):- 

Instead of a lawn, the couple has a harbor 
Back for one last taste of Baby- Bingo bash

This  scene brought back memories. Uncle Frank didn't like being a landlord. So when he and Aunt Doris sold their apartment building, rather than splurge on a couple weeks in Hawaii, they moved to Huntington Beach for one magical year. Living at the base of the pier, Uncle Frank got a pair on binoculars to sight- see from his deck. Aunt Doris had the first microwave oven of anyone our family knew.    

Ocean related motifs authentic to the beach living
 Beach living in California isn't all ocean views. But when you have neighbors with stained glass windows featuring cranes and sailboats, there are advantages to being packed in. You get artwork to enjoy. For no additional cost):-

A young family's home should include touches of humor. Because Chris and Gennina are down to earth, thrones in the entryway work. Custom crafted in Texas, "The chairs were given to us by one of our friend, Johnnie MacDonald. Chris's throne was given to us on our wedding day. Mine was given on our 1 year anniversary. " Beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean-suitable  family crest a prince's chair awaits baby Joseph's arrival.

The family embraces the inside joke with more royalty- themed baby wear.

What's a baby shower without the crochet hooks getting busy? 

Or tiny shoes (that may be too big when baby arrives)  

The Baby even got a jogging suit that matches his daddy's

Although Papa Chris definitely takes a larger size ):-

When Jonathan debuts- it is with quite a wardrobe.

But as good as the party and the gifts were- this party was a success because the celebration brought family and friends being together in joyful anticipation.

Cheng's Daughters name is Vanessa and Jessica Hernandez's daughter is Samara.

Children taught moms how to boogie

Paul Bona standing in front a Memory Wall
The young couple's family orientation is exemplified in how they solved the common decorationg dilemma: the "great white wall" that came with their honeymoon cottage on the beach. Gennina related how this memory wall came to be, "We came up with the idea to put a cork board... Chris and Kenny had a ritual to go fishing every Saturday." Originally thought that the wall could be used as a backdrop to display "every fish that they caught.... we ended up putting pictures of our family and friends as memories for Chris and I."

Kenny with his bride- Shannon

Thank you to our youngest son Kenny-  for demonstrating uncommon loyalty.  What a blessing it is to be in a position to be 30ish  and already have friendships, such as with Chris, a quarter of a century old. When you and Shannon are ready to expand your family, that devotion will see through the changing seasons of marriage.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bona- fide Baby Shower- Part II - The Festivities


Put away the calorie counter. We're going to skip the appetizers, including the tub of guacamole, the fresh tuna wrapped in bacon that was last seen headed to the barbecue: the mountain of main courses, the refreshment bar- and go straight for the desserts. Loosen your belts....

This is the dessert table BEFORE the main cake arrives

The black forest cake - I count it as Glenda's birthday cake.

(L-R) Cheng San has been friends with Gennina since 3rd Grade
Cheng San from S and S Donut and Bake shop in Valencia - made baby- in-waiting Joseph's frosted blue nautical cake with swimmingly fun details including the blue fondant whales.  Gennina says " Her family has owned this bakery for years- like since we were in elementary school. She was one of my first friends when I moved to California from the Philippines in 3rd grade."  

Gennina continues, "The cake was 3 different flavors. The top was and second tier was white and chocolate cake with nuttela filling. The bottom was chocolate with butter-creme filling."

A bevy of red velvet, cinnamon sugar and peanut butter cupcakes by Sprinkles Cupcakes of Newport Beach  lined empty spots of the table.  

As if we had room for one more bite- chocolate mouse and cheesecake desserts were stuffed into mini shot glass desserts made by both grandmothers-in-waiting and Gennina.

Waddle. Waddle.

The very tall blonde is Gennina's hair sylist- and our daughter-in- law
Gennina is surrounded by beauty experts Sandy Tran and Shannon Morris Plunk.
Sandy is a colorist and Shannon is a stylist with Jose Eber Salon in Beverly Hills.  

In heated competition of the infamous shower games: (L-R) Belinda Alarcon, Mary Huang, Cheng San, Natalie Uribe and Sandy Tran go for it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bona-fide Baby Shower - Part 1 "The Memory Quilt"

“There is a history in all men’s lives.”
~ William Shakespeare

Chris and Gennina Bona's pregnancy portrait

L-R Shannon Morris Plunk, Gennina Tan Bona, Glenda Bona and (me) Lydia Plunk
 My cold weather readers, forgive my rubbing in just how beautiful the weather was Sunday at the beach. Take solace that as I write, we are back to running the heater. 

Nothing says baby shower quite like beer. I should have known when Shannon's husband Kenny (aka my younger son) walked in with a couple 6 packs that the guys had calculated  Women chit-chatting while playing shower games equals a nice afternoon to cruise the harbor.

Glenda comes from a family filled with teachers.
 Grandma-to-be Glenda did an awesome job with the shower games. I would say that even if I didn't win the first game. Probably the only baby shower game I could win):- It was a contest to match baby names of species with adults. Example: a squab is a baby pigeon before it becomes a menu item on an expensive French menu.

Glenda ( and her husband Paul)  have done lots of nice things for "the kids" who are now having their own kids. But nothing touched my hear like what Glenda did with quilts.

Passed from 1 generation to the next

The first quilt was her son's baby quilt. When Joseph is born, thanks to Grandmother Glenda, he will feel the same softness against his daddy's skin as Chris did when he was less than 2 foot tall. 

Even the black and white slashing holds significance. It was cut from childhood curtains

It was all "oohs and awes" when Glenda undraped the memory quilt she made for her son's growing family. She saved her son's personal history in the form of t-shirts from growing up.
Schools, bands, first jobs are all memorialized Then she took a class at a local quilt shop.

Quilts are applied geometry - only better
The shirts were placed under a template to get an exact cut. Then a Wonder-Under  fusible web was ironed to the underside to stabilize the knit fabrics.

Finding a space large enough open floor space to lay-out the squares so Glenda could get a preview of how she wanted the individual squares laid out were an issue for the former writer/editor.

Once she had clear which arrangement of the pieces was most visually pleasing came the part that would have put my friend in glasses if she didn't already need them.  It was iron, measure, pin, measure again until the front side was finished. Any slight deviation from square risked the entire project. 

In 1989 in Diamond Bar, Alta Ski and Sport Sponsored a Charity Race

Once the perfectionist in Glenda was satisfied, the red backing was affixed to the back. The edges double turned to seal in the backside of her craftsmanship.

Glenda recommends that anyone trying this project should consider not just quilting along expected seams. Sometimes highlighting a particular design is a nice touch.    

If I were to pick a motto that rings true for Glenda it might be

“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Connecting to Show and Tell Friday

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Rock is Rolling

Some argue the weather was most spectacular today.Others will argue it is "The Rock" that the Los Angeles County Art Museum (LACMA) is moving through side streets from the Stone Valley Rock Quarry in Jurupa to the mid-Wilshire art museum.

With my new Adele CD timing my freeway drive to the beach at 1 side +3 songs- I decided to return home on lower grade arterial. At the corner of Harbor and Grand, the traffic signals were coming down. I was on my way to meet the rock. Like many movie stars, it didn't feel as big in person. But the transport certainly was.

There is something about a 294' transporter equipped with more tires than I will ever own in my lifetime that is disconcerting. This isn't a major port. This is a suburban thoroughfare. The sight challenges one's notion of  appropriate setting.

If the rock itself didn't garner lookie-loos- the channel 4 NBC news van could. Wherever there was a long lens- kids ran to see if they could get close enough to get on camera.

The transport crew meticulously added more wheels beneath the actual boulder. When they travel over Colima Road later tonight- it wouldn't do to drag high center.

Wouldn't you love to know where they buy their shrink wrap? I have a hard time just getting rolls wide enough for Easter baskets.

The men who do this sort of work deserve our respect. One miscalculation- a chain snaps- its an HBO movie.

Just what size rock can a girl get for a reported 10 million dollars? A 340-ton, 21&1/2-foot-tall granite boulder. Kind of ironic that the title of art exhibit it will go in is titled "Levitated Mass. " 

One more look at the behemoth transport needed to spread the weight of streets not designed to roll a rock over.

This operation is complicated. As a  former Planning Commissioner- I note the logistics are worthy of a 4 star General.  The coordination of agencies- I have read over 100 were involved- Herculean. The command of the vehicle -awe inspiring how the trucks will push and pull around corners. (Hey- My husband wants to pull the bumpers off his boat to put them on the side of his Chevy Avalanche when I drive it.)

As art- I think the museum would do better at managing expectations for the actual display. The rock is not Stonehenge. It is not the pyramids. Not even close. It is the journey that is interesting more than what I expect the end result to be.

In the end, I hope the mini mountain arrives safely. The weekend is over- when last seen the rock had 14 miles to travel to La Mirada- and only time enough expected to go 10. When it reaches LA- If commuters there don't like being inconvenienced by Presidential Motorcades- I don't expect any geologic formation interfering with traffic will be viewed as any more considerate.