Monday, March 16, 2009

D- Lightful

Time for the alphabet exercise! The sweatless routine where pushing-up memories of favorite things builds the happiness muscles. I lead with some of my favorite things- this time starting with the letter “D”- you are welcome to jump in add your own to the collection.

Dogs. Meet Reno and Tahoe. No matter how old they get, they will forever be our puppies.
Weighing in at 10.8 pounds, with a sleek, short hair, Tahoe is a Min Pin- Chihuahua Mix. She was born to be the leader of the pack. She experiences the world through her nose. The one she put right up in the face of the coyote last year. Tahoe is obedience trained. But before she does what “the master” wants, she tries to see if she can negotiate a treat up front.

Reno, weighing in at 8.8 pounds is allegedly half long haired Chihuahua and toy poodle. She is fully in touch with her lap-dog heritage. She doesn’t care what you are doing or where you are going. She wants to be with “her people” at all times. She experiences the world through her mouth. If something can’t be chewed, it must need to be licked. Especially toes.
Their favorite TV program is The Dog Whisperer and yes, we bought Beverly Hills Chihuahua in Blue Ray to watch together as a family.

Diamond Bar. We moved to our first home here on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1979. From our backyard we had this lovely view of a rolling green hillsides. After a time we noticed that large trucks that went up it during the daytime. One day I drove over to see what our view was of. Turns out we had a view of the driveway leading to the dump with the lovely name- Spadra Landfill. When we moved to Diamond Bar, we might have had a signal at Diamond Bar and Grand Avenues. But I don't remember it. Now on a typical day between 32, 425 and 43,135 cross the intersection, which definitely is managed by traffic signals. Not that there aren't parts of Diamond Bar dedicated Open Space where our natural heritage is self-evident.
This last shot was taken from the South parking lot at Summitridge Park. This spot is roughly 3000 foot higher than were I live. From here you can view much of the San Gabriel Valley. The tree with red berries in the foreground is Toyon. Like most canyons in Diamond Bar which are not developed, the plant population is largely indigenous chaparral and oak trees. The snow covered peaks in the background are the San Gabriel Mountains.

Dessert. Just as not all men are the same, not all dairy products are the same. Some cows are better treated, better fed and cared for differently.

If you’ve only dallied with the whipped cream which spurts out the nozzle of a can- you are settling for mediocrity. The Trader Joe’s brand of heavy cream is richer, creamier, dreamier. Whip it up with some baker’s sugar and real vanilla. Serve over fresh strawberries and let the tongue linger over simply luxurious mingling of taste and texture. The secret to Trader Joe’s heavy cream is the attention to detail. The cream isn’t over-pasteurized and is not made from the milk of over-medicated cows.

Dating. One of the secrets to a happy marriage is to keep dating- each other. Huell Howser frequently makes great suggestions of places to go on his PBS program- California’s Gold. His tip led us to The Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar.

Built by the Merle Norman fortune, the price of admission is right. It is free. It features functional art- mostly cars. Extraordinary cars. Some heralding from the days where there were 1,ooo auto makers in open competition for the hearts and dollars of the public through proprietary colors, gleaming brass lanterns and polished woods- sometimes even on the wheel spokes. A Ford with an etched glass floral design caught my eye.

Behind the main building is the fully restored 1912 Pullman Rail car commissioned by E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin’s eldest daughter, Clara, when she inherited her portion of his vast estate. It is difficult to imagine that this gleaming restoration was found in Massachusetts in a dilapidated state, shivering weather sealed away only by a coat of shrink-wrap. If you can find the bell mechanism in the attached 1937 Hudson locomotive- you can ring it. This exhibit does not need a reservation, but it is toured only at certain times, so check open-times in advance or be prepared to be disappointed.

The main building is open without a reservation, however a little advance planning to get a reservation to tour the Collection, opens up the gleaming showroom just across the street to touring with guides, premier examples of meticulously maintained classic automobiles in a setting authentic to the Hollywood glamour in which they were introduced. I am not particularly an auto aficionado. But this collection filled me with awe and understanding why some people are.

This special tour also allows you access to fine music ‘boxes”. Some of the players fit tabletop. One is large enough to fill an entire wall of the ballroom. Many were played. Seeing violins mounted so they struck the bow to make the music go’ round- that was just the beginning of an era meant to bring music to the masses when a traveling troupe of musicians might not work. I listened to the radio on the way home with a new appreciation for all the steps it took to make enjoying music performed for personal pleasure so portable.
Distictis. Loosely translated, that is Latin for the family of trumpet vines. This D. buccinatoria “Blood- Red Trumpet Vine. ” She wasn’t happy where I planted her. The first summer she cooked in the heat. Never thought I would see her again. But about 5 years later- up she sprang. Happy the tree had grown, giving her just enough protection from the sun for her to be healthy in the micro-climate that grew in her absence. She can grow quite large with time – but she’s a hummingbird magnet- and looking up at her from the neighbor’s garden- she’s worth the effort.

Except as noted here- photos are from my personal collection.

Thank you to commercial photographer Gene Sasse for permission to use the photo of the dairy cows.
The Photos of the Nethercutt Collection Cars and Train are from their website at More information on the Museum and Collection, including hours and how to make a reservation, are easily accessed here.
Toyon is not an easy tree to find for sale. However, the Garrison Foothill Nursery, 679 East 16th St., Upland, usually has both 1 gallon babies for $6.79 and some good sized 5 gallon specimens at $19.50. Larger sizes are available on request. You can call ahead to (909) 949-9878 or go to their website at to learn more about the nursery with the motto, "Preserving California's Water Resources"


  1. Lydia,
    Ahhhh "D". My Daryl for one. Next I am thinking of the space shuttle that was launched yesterday, "Discovery". My John III was on the phone with me three times yesterday from Florida! He was 100 miles from the launch site and stopped at a rest area with some othr truckers and watched the lift off. He took a video and sent it to me. Great stuff! Boy, was he excited!

    "Delight" is a good one and the last name of our niece and her husband, Shanna and Michael Delight! Cute huh? John ,loves his "Dodge" Ram! Daffodils are beautiful.
    Your Doggies are "Darling"!!


  2. D, huh? Well there was ..
    1.'Darling' a love name Jerry and I called each other.
    2.'Dogs', of course! I love them all. Well, maybe not hairless chijujuas or pugs. Probably nice little dogs, but not for me. Gimme a big old black lab any day!
    3.'Dishwasher'... oh, love that appliance!
    4.'Dumplings' ... mmmm, mmm, mmmm
    5.'Dungeness' crab. OMG
    6. 'Daisies' ...yep, a fav.
    7. 'Deputy/Deputies' .. another fav
    8.'Digital' cameras... praise the Lord!
    9.'Dates' ... you pick.
    10. 'Democracy'... I'll leave you with that, since ours seems in peril.
    Again, Lydia, fun.
    xo Oregon Sue

  3. Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and the delightful dogs in Diamond Bar, dear Lydia !

  4. Thank you to Trisha, Annie and Oregon Sue for writing in! Hope you all had a Happy Saint Patrick's Day. My Dad's side of the family was Irish before they were Boston Cops- he was the first generation born in California. So it's always been a tradition-filled food day for us.


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