Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Yesterday I called a good day to take for granted.

That was my mistake.

To live surrounded by such beauty is a blessing which should never be taken for granted.

I would like to take this moment to thank some of those who helped me create my garden, Abundancia.

My mother, who taught me that any hardship is easier when you are surrounded by the colors and music of the garden.

My husband, Gerry, who turns any project into an opportunity to buy a new tool- installs and keeps the structures and hardscaping far safer than I could on my own.

Our sons, Trevor and Kenny, who provided years of muscle, humor and dogs.

Our neighbor, Dennis, who prevented Diamond Bar from flooding when I forgot to turn- off the water up here. He keeps me in red apple clippings and with his daughters, treats us to home baked goods in exchange for occasional citrus.

Our neighbors, Chuck and Sandy, who tease and encourage this obsession. When Chuck arranged to load a couple tree roses for me from Otto and Sons in Somis: for that he is member emeritus of the Good Neighbor Hall of Fame.

My friend, Glenda, whose exuberance to use gatherings from the garden at home and in the kitchen- inspires.

My friend Edda, head of our private chapter of Republicans and Roses.

This list, like life and the garden, is not complete. But gratitude should not be rushed. It should be savored.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Point of View

The point of view often depends upon where you sit. In my garden, this morning felt and looked not much different than yesterday. The air a bit plumper with moisture. A good day to take for granted.

Photographer Gene Sasse's garden view is more panoramic than mine. From his Alta Loma garden, see the dramatic visual picture of this spring storm rolling

In the distance: a dark charcoal cloud bank lines up upon the horizon.

Stealthily, the charcoal smudge grows; threatening to smite our sunshine.

But before gloom dooms the day, the clouds begin to lift, to separate. The massive darkness breaking into islands of clouds, the sky looks not so menacing.

Looking at Gene's images, I thought of how they artistically represent where many of us are in life. Problems are coming at us. We worry that we will be overwhelmed. But if we take time. See our concerns as though a a perspective, then we have time to prepare.

Life is like the weather. We cannot control it. But we can prepare. Those who do may not only weather the storm- they can harness its power.

Images by Gene Sasse. Used with permission.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Love Story

Kenny met Shannon Morris when she was a cheerleader and he played baseball at Diamond Bar High School. Her family moved away. They stayed in touch.

It is easy to guess why my son Kenny loves her. Shannon is so beautiful that she even weeds setting seed look lovely in her presence. But her beauty pales beside her loving kindness.

Thanksgiving evening, with her father's blessing, Kenny got down on one knee and proposed. Marriage. These are from their engagement photos- proof of her answer.

I do not have a crystal ball . No magic powers to tell the future. But of this I am certain.

Kenny and Shannon will be together until death do them part. Through triumphs and tragedies. Sickness and health. Wonderful on their own; together they are spectacular.

May God Bless this couple with long lives, together, forever.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

De Nile/ Denial

De Nile. Denial. It doesn't matter how you spell it.

It intoxicates. Sublimates with the emotional drug, The Best of Intentions.

Be honest. We've all been there. Seduced by a dream. Held by hope. Running free only when truth cuts through the fog of wishful thinking.

The news today said another volcano is getting ready to erupt in Iceland. I wonder: did the glaciers there melt because the air was warming? Did we accidentally fall into the State of Denial because popular belief blinded us to other, perhaps more truthful fact? Is it possible that ice disappearing was caused more by the ground itself warming?

In my garden- Look up. The Tabebuia trees spewing blossoms. Soon petals will fall, covering the lawn with Easter confetti.

Look to the curb. See Narcissus punching through the lavender, thick with bees. The yellow- lemon fresh just last week, their hue is darkening, like drying paint.

It would be lovely to think I can hold these images still. Deny that change is inevitable. Sweep up the buds to glue them back on the stems.

Better to accept that loveliness has a season. Trying to hold onto something whose season is over- that kind of "eternity" has all the truth of the serpent in the original garden. All the beauty of dead flowers hung with glue.

The good news is- that once we face the truth- we can leave denial. Be better for it.
This is how this gardener sees health care. Specifically Obama care.

Health care for all, is a goal we all wish to reach for. But it is like wanting the twin trees in the front yard to bloom non-stop. If I'm not careful- to reach my goal- the tree will die. As it is better to work with sound facts. Let other plants share the blooming- load.

If Obama care was financially sound- then the mechanism known as the "Doctor Fix" would have been included in the bill passed by the House of Representatives last weekend. Like a husband covering his trail of infidelity, Pelosi subjugated the truth to a little "white lie".

If Obama care was about health care- hiring 16,000 IRS agents with rights to files long protected from even spouses eyes would not be needed to implement it.
To deny these, is to live in denial. Which is never beautiful for long.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Prescription

Last week is the first time blue birds showed themselves in the backyard. Just to be sure my wild imagination wasn't making this up, they came through again.

Yesterday we were enjoying a breakfast of quiche and fruit salad on the patio- and the first oriole of the season was seen scouting. This is by far the earliest oriole sighting.

This is vacation without leaving home. No traffic. No maxed-out credit cards. No lines. No flight delays. No over-priced beverages of listening to other people making private conversation public on cell-phones.

Create a garden that invites nature in. Sculpt places for wanted wildlife to partake of good food, drink clean water and bare babies in a predator free zone. Be consistent. Beauty can come fast, but it is more important to be consistent and steadfast in good habits. With time, you will reap the rewards of providing a sanctuary of flora for fauna.

The news of the day is the Obama Health Care Bill that Nancy Pelosi carried that BIG gavel in to hit anyone who questions the wisdom of it . While the need for reform is recognized- I'm not an "anything is better than nothing " girl. Details matter. Beefing up the IRS to administer the Health Care only make sense when the true intent of the bill is government revenue collection.

Sanity in a world gone mad is a good reason to garden. Doing so is a prescription for good health not divided by political opinion. Not just for nature. For gardener and garden lovers alike, fleeting beauty is eternal and needs no reconciliation. Beauty is truth is healthy.

Blue Bird by midnightwinter's photostream on flickr

Oriole by Gene Sasse- Used with permission.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Flower Education

California Poppies aren't our state flower just because they are beautiful. They are great role models..
Poppies are pleasant company. They don't complain about current conditions. They understand their calling- to bring joy. Whatever comes their way, they deal as best they can without complaint.

Poppies are self- starters. They don't wait for instructions to do what needs to be done. While they are independent, they cheerfully accept a helping hand.

1776.45 acres of the California Poppy are in bloom up the hill at the California Poppy Reserve in Antelope Valley. If you've never been- all the information you will need before heading up the hill can be found at . Have FUN!

Images by Gene Sasse. Used with permission.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Signs of Spring

Winter waves goodbye. Flowers are already in bloom. At our front door- the spicy scent of carnations rises up in greeting. Living here, where cymbidium orchids are kept outside to bloom year after year- to garden here is much like Pastor Cliff described it will be like in heaven. Enough work for everyone.

With 12 months of color displayed in our gardens, what sets spring apart is the seasonal rituals related to cleaning. Spring is the high season when us defiantly romantic juggle the homemaker's trinity of thrift, beauty and order. That, or end up deserving to be featured on an episode of Hoarders.

To be successful on a budget, the first thing is to pick where you can spend the least for the biggest impact. To be fully motivated, when everything is cleaned and put back, the result needs to be more than just cleaner. The place needs to be better.
This year, I picked the wall behind my bed for special attention. Earlier this week, the wall was the color of dried bones. The old picture matting and frame's years visually dragged down the room. Not now.
I will never part with the frame on the cross stitched homily. My father made it to house the cork board bulletin board for my childhood room. Dad was a very practical man- for him to spend time creating something so non-essential as an mahogany frame to pin school mementos to is a symbol of his love. Part of how he taught his daughter to cherish little triumphs by hanging ribbons and awards displayed there during the school years.

Back in the early 1980's, my eyesight and hands cooperated in crafting items for our home. A quarter of a century after the carved molding was stained and shellacked, the frame graduated to my married-woman bedroom.

Confession. Other than to install the mattress- the one my husband says he sleeps well in because it is so high off the ground it causes oxygen deprivation- the bed has not been moved since the year we decided we would decorate in the style of a bed and breakfast inn.
Removing the bedding and mattress to move the bed from the wall- this operation was to seek and destroy the dust bunnies underneath. It was pointless to individually them. If they left on there own, they could be known as the Thundering Herd.

At noon, the needlepoint, en frame, took a drive to Ken's Ace Hardware with me. Paint color expert Karen helped match one of the blues in the lettering to Benjamin Moore "Nantucket Fog". She sent me home with a quart of eggshell enamel to paint with and an 18" square paint chip to shop with.

A quick stop at Baxter's Frame Shop- Jill sorted through the matting samples to find a sumptuous crushed blue fabric for a new picture mat that showed off both the needlework and the new color of the wall.

If you don't think you can afford to renew a room this spring, maybe there is a tool you've forgotten. Coupons from the newspaper. This is today's actual savings at my local Albertson's.

The total time to make the room more welcoming was one day. The total expense was just the cost of one can of paint and one custom mat. The result result is rejuvenating.

Ken's Ace Hardware is on Diamond Bar Blvd., in the same shopping center as K-Mart.303 South Diamond Bar Boulevard Diamond Bar, CA 91765-1613 - (909) 861-5861

Baxter's Frame Work is at the corner of Diamond Bar and Grand, in the same shopping center as Albertson's

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St Patrick Day Memoirs

Thirty one years ago today, we made Diamond Bar our home. The first house belonged to a divorcing couple with playful Irish Setters which wandered the house and covered the windows full height with their muddy paw prints. Trevor's days were spent in a baby walker to keep his hands off the whatever the dogs had spread across the floor. With an electric floor scrubber, just the kitchen/ dining areas took nearly a week before crawling could be advised. Then we opened the kitchen cabinets. The paper lining could not be seen for the layer of mice poop covering it.

Why would we buy a house in need of so much work? Because the structure was sound. the layout easy to live with. This home was looking for someone to redeem it from neglect brought upon it. Bening half Irish, there is a heritage gene pushing us to lay loving hands to uplift the natural character of the architecture out from under the disrespect piled upon it.

That, and really, whenthe Irish say we are looking for a home, we really mean we are looking for a place to make a garden which holds the building we call home.

Sin and redemption are struggles the Irish are drawn to solve. 7 years later we passed a smiling cleanly painted house surrounded with blooming mauve tree azaleas guarding archways, , clumps of clivia bursting with bloom in shady corners, and a platform where all the neighbors gathered on the fourth of July, to see the best fireworks displays in the San Gabriel valley

This year will be a wee simple Saint Patrick's Day. Yesterday,I was in an auto accident. All in all, not bad as things can go when you see a big vehicle rolling steadily straight towards your face. Still, I'm a bit unfocused today. The safest plan is simply to enjoy view painted by the clouds generous sprinkling this season- wonder at how something with no color- rain - morphs dusty brown to shades of emerald.

Instead of me turning green from drinking beer, some good Corona beer churned with water in a garden sprayer aimed across the lawn will propel green enhancing religion to enhance the lawns health with deepend shades of green leaves.

Until we meet again- May your days be long, full of love, and spent in a garden full of blooms and empty of snakes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Destination Las Campanas

The tortilla soup is good. The broth is more complex than most restaurant versions- layered with a hint of chipotle chili hidden within a the tomato puree. The condiments of guacamole, cheese and avocado on the side are a nice touch.

But go to Las Campanas for the garden setting. It is rich with ideas to adopt. The seating at Las Campanas Restaurant is all outdoors. The serape isn't just for decoration. It is to be wrapped around the shoulders of any diner who finds the air a bit to crisp.
Mature palm trees form a fine canopy in this garden dining room protected from the urban streets of Riverside by the welcoming structure of the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa.

Color and taste aren't the only senses served. Wild and wild looking birds serenade to the sound of splashing fountains.

We came in through the front door. But leaving through the back- the rhythm of color and form underneath the vine covered walkway-....

This just might be how the entrance to heaven looks. Don't you think?

For Riverside, CA location, hours and menu- click over to