Friday, February 29, 2008


Our Father in Heaven,
We dedicate these words to those who make this gathering tonight possible in the most special way. To those who have volunteered to serve in our military. Past, present, future.
Bless this gathering of Your children. Be with us, our families, our elected and appointed officials tonight. We pray that we all honor You in how we choose to participate in the political process in this free nation.
We are humbled by Your generous blessings to us, the people of these United States. Tonight we choose to especially thank You for the great fortune that we live in this great Country, where individual freedom is normal. A land where we can assemble to worship freely, or not, according to the convictions of our conscience. Where the exercise of intellect and political convictions is encouraged. Where education is guaranteed. We thank you that we are alive now, in this great time when the content of our character is more important than the color of our skin. A time when men and women alike have equal opportunity to excel. We pray that we never take this for granted.
Lord Grant all of us wisdom as we consider thought, word and deed during these historic times. Guide us to the courage to do what is right when it is not the same as what is easy.
As is the custom of my faith, I offer this prayer in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

This is the text to the invocation given at the Diamond Bar Republican Women Federated earlier this week. More important than it embodies what I believe, these few paragraphs, woven together the last hour before the gathering, express what is so good in this nation and the gratitude I pray is in the hearts of my fellow countrymen. It isn't bad that there is a great divergence of political opinion in the people of this nation. It is bad if there is not goodwill for each other and for the Nation.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Magnolia Soulangiana

The maiden landscape of the still virgin year slumbers at the end of its winter’s nap. Dark with life-giving moisture, the heavy gray flannel clouds are tucked in at the horizon until nature’s alarm, the storm, startles spring awake by first unleashing her frigid dank breath.
The wind shakes apart the blankets that separate earth from sky. The rain is snapped loose in torrential sheets. Swirling currents of air rip branches bare of stubborn leaves that clung on past their beauty.
Undressed by the storm, the blandly colorless branches of Magnolia Soulangiana quiver in their nakedness. Her branches reach upwards, spread wide in supplication for mercy from the nighttime’s winter chill.

The necessity of stripping away the old accomplished, winter’s temper immediately gives way to its nurturing soul. At the moment the tree is denuded of last year’s encumbrances, the promise of springtime is born. On every finger tips of newly bared branches sprout cabochons of darkly royal amethyst buds. From these a constellation of tulip shaped 4” blossoms explode in velvety shades of magenta.
For the next month, the regal presence of this single moderately sized tree will hold court over the awakening garden. Then the flowers will begin to fade then fall. Along the nubby knuckles, smooth ovoid leaves that tender shade of yellowish green which appears when branches are young and supple, will color in the tree’s silhouette. By summer densely packed leaves will lushly shade the interior branches from the harshness of the summer sun.
Throughout the year, a scattering of blossoms will peak over the ends of verdant branches. But it is now, when the glorious pinks and purple blossoms are displayed in one glorious and extravagant welcoming gesture, in contrast to foreboding skies displayed when this tree declares itself as a reminder of the awesome grace of God.
Even on darkest days, He provides beauty, hope and home.

Look in the branches. Tucked in out of reach of predators is a nest. Try as I might, never will I be able to decorate a home more beautifully than He did for these creatures of His.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Do What you Love

According to hairstylist Shannon Morris of Jose` Eber Salon in Beverly Hills, Brooke Hogan is "soo sweet". Here, Brooke models the hairstyle created for her by Shannon for the 2008 Grammy Awards. The style is elegant and classic, a dramatic accompaniament to Miss Hogan's statuesque beauty and the old Hollywood glamour of the deep purple mermaid dress she wore for the evening.

The satin dress was made in Florida for Miss Hogan, but a mix up in shipping delayed its arrival until the day of the event.

Shannon was always interested in the beauty industry. It was no surprise that after graduating from high school, Shannon chose to go to beauty college. Her talent landed her an assistant's position with an established hairdresser in Beverly Hills.

An unfortunate event- a fire where she was working- turned in to a opportunity- when she then moved to work in the famed Jose' Eber Salon. That level of success only happens when you love what you do, have a passion to be the best and have a grateful heart.

Shannon can sometimes be seen here in the greater Los Angeles viewing area as part of the Good Day LA Knock Knock Makeover team. I'm not a big fan of television, but there is something charming about a team of top beauty experts donating their time to make an every day person in to Cinderella.

Shannon is easy to spot when she's on-camera during the segment. She's the one who looks like a movie star.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunsets and Roses

"When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator"
Mahatma Gandhi

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon- instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today."
Dale Carnegie

The first two photographs are courtesy of my husband, Gerry Plunk. All were taken in our backyard.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Rose Gardening While Injured

"Winter teaches us about detachment, numbness. But it’s a way to get through. From winter we learn silence and acceptance and the stillness thickens.”
- Gail Barison,
The Winter Solstice of my Soul

Like larvae in the chrysalis, until the broken bone in my arm heals, my activities are limited. No driving, no sweating, no getting the cast wet. It took two weeks for the swelling in the fingers to go down enough to type with both hands. When I try to hold the lemon still to slice it, a twang in the wrist is my body’s way of lecturing me. This simple task is still too risky.

The normally pleasant weather we enjoy in the hills of southern California means the plants in our gardens require more help to be attractive throughout the year. Nuisances, like snails, never sleep. We must be vigilant or suffer massive proliferation. Some diseases which deep snows would knock down in a colder region, our plants depend on us to rid them of.

Now is normally time intensive in my garden. Not this year. If I am to have any happiness as I recover from this temporary misfortune, I have to accept this time as a physical winter. What is or isn’t done isn’t a question of funding, time or will. My circumstance requires detachment from normal activities.

Acceptance of this quieter time allows the garden to whisper its priorities. What must be done to prevent permanent damage to the garden comes first. Then work and supplements that support general well being will be taken care of. Anything which is just a desire will have to be considered frivolous and unimportant. Adding to the delightful diversions of my paradise will have to wait until this season of my life has turned the corner.

It is encouraging that all my fingers now are limber enough to peck out words on the keyboard. Slowly. With lots of errors to go back to correct. Writing is so much like gardening. You just get started as you are able. Now that I can type, I can garden.

In my garden column I recommend that the most serious pruning of the year, the winter one, is finished by January 30th. Most of the work was done when I fell. The rest I trained a neighbor boy to finish. In many parts of the country, the roses are still held dormant and get a later start on the season than mine will. It will work out.

My helper was taught not to worry about a mistake with the clippers. Roses are very forgiving. Lop off the top of the branches by about a third. Clean out gangly and stems that look diseased or ragged. Make the cuts at an angle just above a grouping of 5 or more leaves, preferably facing outwards.

Then, most importantly- strip all the leaves. Toss them in the trash along with any littering the ground. When the canes look bare as though a winter snow is at their feet: they are ready to be sprayed.

When he was done, I spayed the stems with Immunox® Plus Insect and Disease Control. This will effectively prevent and cure diseases and insects on contact. A systemic, it will continue to protect the plants for up to two weeks.

New leaves are breaking out in crisp, clean shades of green. About a week to ten days later the spraying is repeated. Like scheduled immunizations, I find this routine at the front of the season almost always gets the plants through summer with very little extra need for disease or harmful insect control. Goodbye aphids, hello butterflies.