Friday, February 26, 2010


Heroes are men and women who step up to the plate to right a wrong. Not because it is their desire so much as it is our need. I believe I met a hero-in-the-making the other night. His name is James Hosking.

You may recognize this story from this Deputy District Attorney's website:

"On January 21, 2010, Ms. Katie Tagle petitioned Judge Robert Lemkau to modify a custody order to prevent her 9-month old son’s father, Steve Garcia, from having unsupervised visitation with the infant. Judge Lemkau not only ignored the fact that Mr. Garcia had made death threats against Ms. Tagle and her son by phone, e-mail, texts, suicide letters and even short novel, but he also told Ms. Tagle that she was lying! "

"Judge Lemkau ordered Ms. Tagle to turn her baby, Wyatt, over to Garcia and, within 10 days, Garcia had shot Wyatt and himself to death."

If a judge is a person and persons are accountable for the results of their actions, then a judge who ignores a woman whom an officer brings in for protection because actionable, credible threats against a child are tossed with the importance of a candy wrapper at a ball field, must go.

I don't just wish James Hosking good luck. I thank him for running to replace Judge Lemkau. The life of that child can never be replaced. But the judge should be.

James Hosking wasn't the main speaker last evening at the Diamond Bar Republican Women Federated. I didn't expect to be impressed. I was. This is why. He spoke with clarity. A passion dividing right and wrong. A willingness to speak with anyone, anywhere.

When it comes to voting for judges, don't most of us fly a little blind? This is a clear opportunity for the people of San Bernardino County to know who and why they are voting for a judge. To return justice to where it was once denied. To someone who will protect not just the process, but the people.

To learn more about James Hosking and how you can help him win election to the bench on June 8, 2010, please go to

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care

54°F. Winds calm. With humidity hovering near 83%. breathing is easy .

There is a Health Care Summit in Washington D.C.. Like everything else, it will reap what is sown. So far as I have surveyed, most of what has been sown is condescension and ill-will. Not much , "Seek first to understand. Then be understood."

Perhaps today that will change, but I'm not holding my breath. Not while there is so much I can do which is productive. To follow the lead of theologian Reinhold Neibuhr who prayed,

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

Today is a perfect day to be in the garden. To enjoy the exercise, aroma therapy, the sensory uplifting component of good health.

Of course, as a hausfrau philosopher, if President Obama, my Congressman Gary Miller, or other leader were to ask my advice, this is what I would say,

1. Do no harm. Unless you think you are smarter than Hippocrates, don't mess with the first tenant of medical professionals.

2. Worry less about being smart and more about being wise. Even men known for being smart are better remembered for being wise.

3. Focus. In all the proposals blooming: there are too many idea seeds in the hopper. You can't tell which is going to take over. In my experience- that means in the end what is going to be harvested is pretty much weeds.

4. Patience. Pick one problem at a time to solve. Then you'll know who, why, what and how you've had success. If a "solution" just doesn't work across the micro climates in this country, then the federal US government just isn't the right jurisdiction.

5. Pray. Separation of State notwithstanding, if those who lead don't know the value of prayer , then health care doesn't have one.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Job Skills

Do you think this is what the boss is picturing when he says they aren't going to assign "older workers" to certain assignments? Heck, if someone isn't concerned with age discrimination, why would they worry about child labor laws?

Meet Alexander James Chavez. Son of my nephew Manny, and his wife, Krista.

Proud papa describes his prodigy son's activities, "Yeah. He's workin' on updates. He said something about the "host servers bandwidth and network conflicts. I dunno, these kids and
their computers. He said maybe mid week... "

Learning to use a computer came much later in life for me. My Hispanic mother never typed. Women with college degrees didn't type back then. At least not educated women from Puerto Rico. They paid other people to type for them. My mother explained- "If a woman learns to type- she will be locked in an office doing other people's work and never be paid properly."

So I vowed never to type more than I had to.

In His infinite wisdom- or is it His sense of humour, I gave to God my life to do with as He pleased, and God decided I should become a writer.

Getting me in front of the keyboard was the first order of business. Keeping me there was the next challenge. I learned that to type was so painful for me- anything I typed was memorized. The first real exercise of this skill- a list of student and parent names for the Maple Hill Elementary School. My husband offered to type it- but with hundreds of exotic names like Maninder and Zenobia- I didn't want to make Gerry's kind offer into a test of our marriage's strength. So one finger at a time, my fingers crawled over where they now run and leap. The keyboard.

The moral: Keep your options open. Don't let prejudice keep you from building skills. I thought typing would close off the opportunities in life. Turned out to be the one skill I had to have to use every other asset I bring to any assignment.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Bed as Alter of Life

" As a sleeping place sought out night after night, which also serves as a place for lovemaking and dying, in which people are conceived and born, to which they retire when ill, and where quite often draw their last breath, bed takes a position of almost inconceivable importance in human life." -Stefan Bollman

The bedroom is where we experience our most intimate moments. Here, technology is pretty much banned from the sacred space. Nothing to distract from the serenity. No television. No computer. Until our children were old enough to drive, there wasn't even a phone.
What is there is the space where I am most myself. Where I wake to say thank you to God for granting me another day. Where I hold and am held by the man who is my husband and best friend. Where I read until late at night and wrestle with our puppies. Where I have shed honest tears and asked God, "Why?" And when I am very still, I hear His answers. "Have courage... Have patience... Don't worry, this will pass... "
In the dark of night, peace comes in a beautiful space. If you have only one room to call authentically beautiful, let it be where you start and end your days. In your bedroom.

Photo by Gene Sasse. Used with permission. Taken at Garden Valley Ranch in Petaluma. CA.

Quote from Women Who Read Are Dangerous.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love and Gardens

God knew what He was doing, growing a garden to put Adam and Eve, His intended lovers. Their first sight of each other. Their first kiss. Their first taste of each other. It wasn't by accident this all took place in a garden. Gardens don't just grow plants. They grow love.

To garden is to artistically express hope in the future. Seeds are planted in expectation of the coming season. Trees go in long before they cast a giant shadow. See how a young lady's beauty is enhanced as framed by nature. The image is simplicity itself. The foreground is a planting of Mexican Sage (s. Leucantha). A single bold Agave americana 'Marginata' serves as backdrop.

This Valentines Day, the sun warmed Diamond Bar to 79 °. It was a busy day of preparation in my own garden for spring. 400 bulbs are going in the prepared soil this week. But the day will come when it will be time for a break.

The Garden World Social whirl consumes April. This is the traditional High Season for gardeners craving invitations from generous souls who open their gardens to strangers. During these visits will occur a happy communion between those who like to dig and dally with plants and butterflies. Novices will hesitantly try Latin pronunciations on sympathetic ears. Cameras click and pads of paper are sketched with words and diagrams of new ideas to try.

Author Nan Sterman sent this photo to build anticipation of what to expect if you accept this invitation

The Encinitas Garden Festival & Tour is an all day event that includes a walking tour of 20+ private gardens, school garden, nurseries, a visit to the Monarch Butterfly Program, fire station garden, and more.

The Gardener's marketplace will showcase some of San Diego County's best boutique plant growers, photography, garden art and supplies

There will also be talks on all types of gardening topics.

Tickets go on sale March 1, 2010. For more information visit

Thank you to Trisha Bowler for the lovely photo of daughter-in-love Debbie. Taken at the
Terranea Resort on the Palos Verdes Peninsula

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Celebrating Life

What we choose to remember determines our happiness.
Remember the tranquil sunrise after a storm.
The snow on the mountains, not so far away.

The bright smile of a daffodil- close up.

Fresh lemons to pick from trees in the middle of winter with which to roast.
This is why I live in California. Why this is a good life. Not the weekday traffic on the 210 Freeway between Diamond Bar into Pasadena.
Back to the garden.

Rosemary. The Getty Villa uses them to border their garden because the bushes clip evenly, though on different sides of a planted bed enjoys different levels of light exposure.

I have a new favorite seasoning! NapaStyle Citrus Rosemary Gray Salt. Taste testing in the NapaStyle Pasadena store, my "Brawny Dude"- his big brown eyes lit up when he tasted the gray salt. It is infused with bold bits of rosemary and zesty gratings of lemon and orange rinds. We brought some home to experiment with.

When my mother- in- law came to spend some time fattening up here, I double checked that there was no gluten content. Didn't think so, but she's a bit frail, and it isn't right to take chances with someone's health.
An E-mail to James Franklin of the South Coast Plaza store was answered right away. At this time, all the NapaStyle salts and rubs are gluten-free.

So grab your favorite arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) recipe and make the following adjustments:
In a dutch oven- saute a diced scallion, some carrot slices and Basmatti rice in butter until the scent starts to lift you closer to heaven. Then press some celery sticks to hold the chicken (this raft holds the cooking chicken off the bottom of the pan- into the rice. Remove from heat.
Stuff the cavity of a whole chicken with a lemon skewered with a branch of rosemary- one from not too low on the plant in case the neighborhood boy dogs have been marking the herb garden, if you know what I mean.
Slide a knife between the skin and meat of the chicken breast. Tuck 4 or so garlic cloves in these pockets.
Set the chicken on top of the rice- and sprinkle what looks like the right amount of the Citrus Rosemary Gray Salt.
If your recipe calls for water- use a good chicken stock instead. Cover and cook as directed.
After the dinner prayer, when you taste how special something so simple to prepare tastes, don't thank me. Thank NapaStyle founder Michael Chiarello. He makes us gal's look like we know what we're doing in the kitchen so much easier.

Thank you to Gene Sasse for permission to use the top 5 photos.
NapaStyle is the source of the salt packaging image . Order some so they will forgive me for ripping it off their site.

This post is dedicated to Julia Child. If I post this quickly, it is still the anniversary of her first episode of The French Chef.
No pets were harmed in cooking this recipe ( If you read my last post, you know what this means).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Reading and Rain

The week ended with drenching 3.61" of rain in two very wet days. My heart goes out to those people whose hillsides did not stand whole.

The sun has set on Super Bowl 2010.

The bid to write the introduction to an art catalogue is submitted. Back to reading.

This is the title I found at Border's Books

"Women Who Read Are Dangerous" uses women depicted in compellingly haunting and beautiful images through the ages, reading. By Stefan Bollman- I can't imagine not LIKING this tome.

With more rain predicted this coming week, this is a light the fire, cuddle up under the comforter with a cup of hot cocoa in the living room and read until you fall asleep kind of treat.

Speaking of treats. Guess what I found searching the byroads of blogging.?VintageGardenGal.

The bloggess, Bonnie Manion, writes with authentic pleasure of gardening, home-grown food and vineyard lifestyle. Reading about her chickens, I discovered something about myself. As I commented back, "All my favorite homes to visit when I was a child ALL had chickens in their yards."

This absolutely lovely blog brought to me a sense of peacefulness: my spirit uplifted to a place of calm.

Bonnie was kind enough to allow me to post this photo from her blog. I had asked to use it with a chicken recipe- but I can't bring myself to use images of Julia, J.Lo, Fanny, and Coco at home in the garden as a lead in to roast chicken. That recipe can wait a day or two.

This is the exact link to Bonnie Manion's post at VintageGardenGal
You can sign up there for her newsletter, "Scoop from the Coop".

Sunset Image by Gene Sasse, Photographer of the Usual and Unusual. Studio (909) 941-3993

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Gabor Sisters and the Law

Before there was Paris or Nicki Hilton or Lindsay Lohan: there was you. The original Beverly Hills celebrity. Happy Birthday Zsa Zsa.

I hope birthday girl, now that you have a more formal name- Sári Prinzessin von Anhalt- I hope you don't mind a little gossip about your early "run-in" with the law. Not the one in Beverly Hills.
This was much earlier than that one. Much more pleasant . With one Reserve Deputy Sheriff Lou Stark (d 2006).

According to a reliable source, Deputy Stark and Eva may have dated a bit in Budapest. But he definitely took credit for teaching your mom, Magda, Eva and you how to cook Hungarian Goulash.

You are reported to have said this is "THE BEST" Hungarian Goulash ever..

1 ½ pounds boneless pot roast of beef, chuck or blade or stew meat cut
into 1 ½ inch pieces. (Use lean meat)
1 ¼ cup beer or wine (rose or dry white)
½ cup tomato paste
3 ½ tablespoon paprika (red Hungarian)
1 green pepper chopped
3 medium size onion chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
2 T oil or lard or bacon fat

In a pressure cooker add oil and onion. Brown slowly.

Add meat, brown on all sides, add paprika, salt and black pepper, mix well.

Add beer or wine, tomato paste, green pepper, mix well.

Cover pressure cooker, bring to full steam and cook for 20-25 minutes.

About 4 servings

Reader- Thank the beautiful Oregon Sue for permission to reprint the recipe and little story
For those with a fear of pressure cookers- Sue reports putting in a crock pot for the day or in a pot on the stove for 4-5 hours will also work.
With all the rain (3.2" here in Diamond Bar overnight) this seemed like a good story to pre-empt the "how to clean cactus" based on article The Huntington sent.

I'm pretty certain my husband is much happier to have his wife playing in the kitchen than out with the vacuum cleaner in the rain. Dont misunderstand. He likes when I garden- but like most husbands, he loves it when I cook.

Unable to source image of Zsa Zsa and her prince. The peppers image was found on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Week of Reflection

This was a week of reflection. My mother in law is home with us recovering from serious illness.

An assignment I wanted went to someone else. Rejection is as reliable a companion to a writer as rain is to clouds. To be a writer you learn to deal with it. As dead plants become compost upon which the garden becomes greater for, rejection is something a writer uses to cultivate ever better results.

But this one hurt. As a writer, I am supposed to put all the emotion out there for everyone else to share in the pain. But to myself this course is not true.

Bottom line. I wish everyone on the project that rejected me God Speed. My disappointment is my own. Those dearest to me understand what and why. And to everyone else I would like to introduce a lost art. Discretion.

There is more healing value in the sunset reflected in the snow on the peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains than blathering blabbing.

It is more uplifting to be carried away on the wings of a Monarch found sunbathing on nearly bare rose branches.

More triumph at the sight of a gladiolus which weaved its tender stalk through a thorny thicket.

More delight in the discovery that this daylily- the color matches the sunset sky in the top image.

I have moved on. A new deadline stands ready to leap over tomorrow. New horticultural treasures to give a home in my Diamond Bar garden.
Contrary to what one might think given the shrinking number of garden-related titles found in bookstores and on TV- garden writing isn't dead. It has moved. Some of the best is on the Internet. Often on the by-way we call blogs. My goal is to soon post a reading list. But one is so GOOD I didn't want to wait.
Santa Barbara garden expert and writer Joan Bolton is one of the BEST. Her advice is full of pioneer spirit. Her writing is straightforward, accurate and cheerfully delivered.
Join me in subscribing to Joan's blog at