Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Watching like a Hawk

Watching like a hawk. What does that mean exactly?  

Look carefully on the lower branch, just above the center right quadrant.

And you will spot the Cooper's Hawk that is settling in.

Observing him from my study, where I spent the vast majority of the day, I have decided that hawks are fonder of inspecting than being inspected.  For at every crack of glass or attempt to sneak around the side to get a good image- he dove over to a tree further in the canyon.  Only to come back when I wasn't paying attention- seemingly to inspect me at the keyboard throughout the day.

It is just out of camera range in the top two images- our grapefruit tree just outside the lawn on the far north corner of the upper garden is bursting with flowers. The air is  spritzed with their citrus perfume. The scent so powerful it wafts with no breeze from the single tree all the way to the patio door. Which I left the screen open to until a 2 foot long alligator lizard wriggled into the sliding door track.  Its snake-like action held ol' Tahoe's attention for quite a while as it maneuvered its way free to hunt whatever bugs lurk about the garden. Which with all this greenery and mostly organic controls- it is obvious how the reptile got so long and fat.


Joan Bolton has a lovely post on orchids up today. As these bloomers on the front porch attest, I have achieved a certain level of success. But God made human beings to be slightly dissatisfied. He knows we need that motivating yearning.

Joan's post leaves me hungry to learn more. To earn more bounty and beauty with what I already have- but with a bit more expert's knowledge stirred in. By reading books with the same attention the hawk gave me today.

Wishing you Godspeed and Good Fortune-

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Starting and Starting Over

It is hard to complain about the weather. Most of the rain from recent storms fell at night. The gentle tapping shooing away any insomnia.  Checking the gauge- in the past several months- the lowest recorded temperature was 39 ° F. It was 55 ° F when Time Warner went on the fritz yesterday morning. Then Blogger liked the images so much, it kept swallowing them. What was ready to post was more scrambled than breakfast eggs. Life is like that. You think you have things in hand, then something out of your control comes up and you need to start over.

In this stage of life, I am simplifying. Breaks in the schedule don't just happen. They are planned. Recognizing that not every meal has to be 4 stars is a relief. Something as simple as Potato Leek Soup aided into being by the Knorr packet is truly gastronomic when puddled into bread bowls heated in the oven while the soup cooked. A sprinkling of parsley and chives and we could both happily enjoy the twin movies. More importantly, we could enjoy each other's company.

My husband is an engineer by profession. If you've ever known an engineer well, you know they can work horrendous hours. The engineer's job is to make the impossible, well, possible. Divining discoveries and coordinating with existing systems- it gets complicated. To be successful- the needs of the customer need to be structured to solve. On time. On budget.

How my husband does what he does, not a handful of people truly understand. But not everything has to be understood: as long as it works. When my husband's signature is attached to any project, the reliability is assured.

If there be any young person reading, understand this. When you are married, it isn't about yourself. It is about the other person. That is equally true for the husband as for the wife. To finish well, one in the other's arms, you need God's blessing- for which He requires your cooperation in all matters of Love and Respect.

'Red' Valerian reliably reseeds in a regal purpley-pink.

"To fill a garden with roses is like filling a vase with flowers - only grander. "

That is what I submitted when asked for a quote for the March 2011 Weeks Roses Newsletter. While the wedding/ writing schedule has slowed my own garden renovation - that sentence takes me back to the year I was a worker- bee constructing bouquets for the Academy Awards.

The lead floral designer started with the strongest features, then filled in.

I have decided that To plan a garden as though it is a grand bouquet is a strong strategy.

Angel Geranium and Santa Barbara Daisy add seasonal charm, texture and feminine ambiance

Successful garden design matches the garden to the people who live with it.  

At the florist shop, I am drawn to mixed bouquets. The kind that appeal to the heart more than intellect.  While I understand the appeal of  analogous and monochromatic displays of long stemmed beauties presented in gleaming vases, such arrangements and such gardens- they are not authentic to who I am.

Roas 'Julia Child' is a favorite yellow

The arrangements I have chosen over the years are overwhelmingly colorful, cheerful- disarmingly casual. Abundantly filled, I adore the type of bouquet where there is an involuntary response to lean over and breathe the scent in. This taste in floral arrangements will guide this slow redesign of a mature garden.

To achieve the garden of your dreams, the design must be authentic to your vision of paradise. To define what your is, drop by the florist. Pick out an arrangement. Take it home and study why it appeals to you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

California: Lessons from the Landscape

Cucamongo Peak on Saturday past by Gene Sasse

It's an old joke. Washing the car makes it rain. I guess calling for water conservation does, too. The 10 day repair on the water treatment plant which reduced by half the  water available by tap  ends on the 27th.  Then if an Irish angel is in charge of  precipitation: the rainy season will end.

I'm sorry I didn't put out a rain gauge to report from- it might've metered up a season of rain this week. If the clouds part long enough between storms, we should be able to view from Diamond Bar ridge lines  -a thick blanket of virginal snow draped down the whole of the San Gabriel Mountains- right down to her ankles- the foothill communities.

All this rain and snow. The wildflower displays should be extraordinary this spring.

Walking about open lands, one observes how God gives structure to His landscape where there is no architecture. Such light ventures reboot the memory cells within.  

 Note to self: call to see if these late (for Southern California) snows will delay the poppy displays at Tejon Ranch.

The poppies and lupine: this year I want to do more than drive by. I feel a primal need to walk among them. If you have never done so: it is as different an experience from watching a video with dancing in it versus getting off the sofa to move.

To experience the glory of God in His natural garden is enriching, enlightening and energizing. 

Thank you to Glenda Bona for permission to reprint last 2 photos from 2009 visit to Tejon Ranch. Now a docent, with good fortune, she will be my guide.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Shower of Blessings Continue

With pre-festivities finished at Shannon's condo, (Mother-of-the Bride) Jeannie Morris grabbed her oldest daughter and a friend to set up ahead for the girl-party's move to George's Greek Cafe .

Middle sister, Tracy was the designated driver for the rest of the females.   The handful  of mid-afternoon regular customers who braved the rain storm outside, sent us up the stairs  with high-fives. 

The room where we continued to shower Shannon with blessings was  as enchanting as a picnic.  A row of  miniature potted daisy- like flowers sharing the center of the table with an assortment of red, white and sparkling wines to toast Shannon with.

Take a close gander at the tight buds in each arrangement. They aren't roses.... They are


....thongs twizzled on a stick. Aka "Why bother?" The colorful - stretchy- lacy thingies definitely got the gals to giggling.

Aunt Billie can be counted on to take a party up a notch):- She was quick to demonstrate her aim. The rafter was soon festooned in pastel undies like flags at a car lot.

Floral crown hand made with love, by mom
Jeannie decorated the headband with flowers from her garden.  A quick check of  the floral lore revealed that for a bride, roses speak of "cheerful love" and orange blossoms say"Your Purity Equals Your Loveliness, Innocence, Eternal Love."

The space filled with love and laughter- and in the tradition of all momentous occasions- the feasting began. 
The saganaki alone is worth the trip!
 The Menu

Battered and Fried Greek Kasseri Cheese, Flamed at the Table with Brandy, Finished with
Kalamata Olives and Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice and served with Pita Bread


Choice of Shaved Beef/Lamb or Chicken cooked on a spit served with Pita Bread andTzantziki

Kabob Style Chicken served in a Pita with Tzantziki, Tomato, Cucumber and Red Onion 

Pasta, Spiced Ground Beef, topped with a Creamy B├ęchamel Sauce

This special cake- the flavor of cheesecake with a ribbon of raspberry and fresh coconut in the icing is why I got to take home all the


The only thing missing for the ultimate Greek pre-wedding celebration- the breaking of the plates.

Which while planned, our neighbors downstairs came up and took care of.  Maybe just a few seconds prematurely- here was still a bit of pasta still on my plate when it was "sacrificed" to the floor. If I weren't laughing so hard I would have asked, "How much did my husband pay you to do that?"

The smile on the busboy tells you all you need to know about his tip):-.

Sister Kelly okay'd sharing these images from Shannon's last single adventure in Las Vegas. 

As singer Jack Ingram promises. What happens on the road, goes on the Internet):-

The White Night

(L-R) Kelly Morris, Lauren Upper, Shannon R Morris , Maggie Stevens , Brie Johnson, Sarah Maxwell, Gwen Parlee, Billie Plunk, Julie Stallworth-Robinson and  Tracy Morris

The Long Beach, Lakewood and Belmont Shore locations of George's Greek Cafe are listed here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Festivities Begin

Brides being a bit older and more established when they marry than in previous generations, they are opting for more authentic ways to bond and celebrate than the traditional bridal shower affords.

For Shannon Morris, her pre-wedding festivities began with a party in Las Vegas. The bride and groom's mothers were not invited. But as they say- what happens in Las Vegas goes on the Internet):-  That weekend, Shannon and her friends were 10's on the fashion Richter Scale. Bravo!

The official pre-wedding bonding family-style  ritual this weekend wasn't exactly as planned. 

Plan A was for us to segregate by gender. "The ladies" in Shannon Morris's inner circle were to tour the harbors around Huntington and Belmont Shore in a darling little electric "Duffy" boat. Do a bit of  toasting...
Plan A, the water was calm under clear skies

However, Mother Nature decided to make the temporary water restrictions more palatable for  some of us while major repairs to supply lines are made.

The morning of the get together- palm tree fronds pointed straight out in the direction the wind blew. Windshield wipers struggled to keep ahead of the rain's pace. Breakers crashed over the jetties. With weather like this, not a single woman complained when the plans for the first part of the party were changed to begin indoors.
I am surrounded by the love of my Mother- in-law, and groom- to- be,  Kenny
Shannon pulled together an amazing appetizer spread with tubs of refreshments.  You would never know meeting at her apartment was "plan B " or that she had less than a day to get her apartment company-ready.

Shannon Morris, front and center.
The men went out for round table discussions of business and politics over Kobe beef and beer. The women got down to the first part of celebrating the bride-to-be. 

Shannon with Memory Book

Oldest sister, Kelly Morris contacted us earlier. We e-mailed her the requested short memory of Shannon and a bit of marital advice. We were allowed to attach something representative of the advice- as long as we respected the $5.00 gift limit.  Kelly reset our submissions to a special type-face and set them in a custom memory book for Shannon.

Mom looks on as Middle sister, Tracy, tears up reading her entry.

Sitting by the warmth of the fire, we read our submissions out loud, presenting our tokens to the beautiful girl about to be our youngest son's wife.

This is what I wrote-

"My favorite memory of Shannon may be that I have not a bad memory of her. She came into our lives after Kenny admired her from afar - the girl wearing the baseball team's hat- which got her busted and him forever in her debt for speaking to him with such an inauspicious beginning. They were both very young- I would drive Kenny over to her house so he could watch football with her dad until she was old enough to date. Craig asked me more than once what did my son want with her? Well, Kenny did have "I love Shannon Morris" written all over his notebook.

When Shannon's parents moved from Diamond Bar, I hoped they weren't trying to move to get away from my son. They kept picking places with an association to the family. When her sister (Kelly) got a teaching job up the street from us at Maple Hill Elementary School- I told Kenny he should just give up. If there was ever a young couple destined to be married, it is Kenny and Shannon. "

My advice to Shannon

My advice is to live with the salt and pepper shakers handy. Take anything ornery or weird Kenny says with a grain of salt- a good sprinkling or the entire container if needed. And since God's blessings are required for a long and happy life together- sprinkle as much pepper as it takes for people to shout "God Bless You!" Then remember, He has.

This ritual touched my heart in a way I don't remember the traditional bridal shower ever did. Perhaps it was because this clearly wasn't an excuse to give presents. This portion of the celebration was about the person and the relationships she has forged.

This is however, not all of the day. Please come back. There is more to come.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Writer, The Internet, the Bear and Salt

Alleged Grizzly Bear from Canada is really a Kodiak Brown Bear from Alaska
 Writers are voracious readers. We are notorious fact checkers.  We also have this misunderstanding with the world in general that if someone sends us something via e-mail that they want us to read it and report back any discrepancies.

Friends of writers sometimes worry that we are about to go over- the- edge OCD ):-  

A friend passed on a many forwarded email about a monstrous Grizzly Bear allegedly shot in Saddle Hills, Alberta, Canada. Great story, but something about it didnt' smell right. When something doesn't smell right, writers go on the hunt for the truth like a drug-sniffing dog at LAX. It started with my noticing there were no names on this trophy size animal. No fully attributed original source.

What can be put on the Internet can also be checked on the Internet. Online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia are great sources of likely statistical data. The grizzly was not likely to be the size bragged about.  More likely. a Kodiak  Brown Bear. Now bears don't read, so they can't be expected to know what they are supposed to weigh or where they live, so that is not enough to debunk the story.

Next came visits to some well known hunting sites. Just drop in the alleged bear breed and location and up popped some retail and publisher web sites where a "whopper" could get dropped in- and other hunters can comment on the voracity. 

Some believed the story.

Others questioned the flora (more likely Alaska) 

The size of the bear living in an interior location. Weight more likely a salmon-fed Kodiak brown bear (more likely Alaska)

A person wrote in he knew who shot the bear(in Alaska) 

Another site mentioned when it was shot (which didn't match the photo "properties" but was embedded underneath. In guess where-a lodge in Alaska.

Notice the pattern?

Then I showed the text and photo to the household Great White Hunter - and the guns did not match the action of the story.

Still, cross reference was needed for verification. Put the info suggesting the original material was a fake- which took me straight to the Afognak Wilderness Lodge.

Guess what I found. An exact match photograph. So I wrote the lodge to request their version of the bear story.

Kodiak Island Retreat

The lodge owner kindly wrote back, giving permission to post the images with the true story that was adulterated for the purposes of someone wanting trophy hunters to go looking for guides or such in Saddle Hills, Alberta.  

Here's the TRUE story that goes with the bear photos (formerly a fraudulent e-mail Alberta, Canada story)

A lot of people have seen pictures and read a few different stories about my bear. I am writing this to set the record straight, out of respect for the animal and the people involved. This whole story started with myself and a very good friend and hunting partner who so graciously made this whole experience happen during May, 2007.

I had never been to Alaska but dreamed about it many times, and the next thing I knew I was flying into Kodiak with a brown bear tag in my hand. Out of all the hunts I had done before I don't think I had ever been more excited. We would have one more short flight to get to our final destination, Afognak Island. From the time we got off the plane to the time we got on, everybody at Afognak Wilderness lodge ( made you feel like life long friends and family. Before I knew it, I was barely unpacked and we were on a boat, glassing for bears. The next morning we would be on the water again cruising the shores, telling stories and of course looking for bears. With a few smaller bears spotted, we headed back to the lodge to let the high tide come down a little and grab some lunch.

As a lot of people know, hunting sometimes requires being in the right place at the right time. As we came through a small channel into a big cove, this bear was spotted almost immediately along with two others close by. We had about a mile in between us. We took every precaution in our approach by covering the windows of the boat with our jackets to hide any reflection from the sun. We knew this bear was big, but didn't really know just how big he really was. All I know is that, at a mile away, you didn't need binos to see him.

Knowing we had to get around two other bears to get to where he was, we were just hoping he was still there. As we came off the hill to the beach where he was, he was gone but had left some pretty impressive tracks going right up into some of the thickest forest I had ever seen. We decided to go up a ridge to see if there was a chance we could spot him down below us. I will be honest, crawling through trees and brush so thick you can't see 30 feet is a little nerve-racking, knowing there is a giant bear very close by.

Of the events that unfolded next are still a little blurry because it happened so fast, but I'll do my best. The next thing I know the bear was 20 yards to our left in a small opening. I do know this, he stood up on his hind feet behind a tree that was a little taller than me, (I'm 6'4) and I could see his whole chest above the top of the tree. He popped his jaw a couple of times, and with a big woof he was on the run. As I said before, the trees were so think we could only get glimpses of him as we were trying to run after him. Anybody who has been to Alaska knows that trying to run through the forest is like trying to run on a sponge . . . to say the least, it feels like a bad dream where your running in slow motion.

Thinking we had lost him, Luke and I both dropped to our knees, and with a split-second clear line of sight below the tree branches I had a clear quartered-away shot as he made his way up a gully. I don't even remember the sound or recoil of that .330 Dakota; all I know is it stopped him in his tracks. The next shot was from Luke's .375 Ackley, If it wasn't for the concussion of his rifle right next to my head, I would have never known he pulled the trigger. One more shot from both of us would put this spectacular animal down for good. Like so many other hunts before, the emotions are so overwhelming to walk up on such a magnificent animal, but at the same time be sad that its all over, just wishing you could keep the hunt going on and on.

This bear was a true warrior. It's hard to imagine what this animal has seen or done in his lifetime. He had a broken jaw from a scrap with another bear and was badly arthritic in his knees. By pulling a tooth from the bear, the Alaska Fish & Game determined he was 18 years old. He squared out at 9' 11", but in his prime was probably much bigger. The official SCI score was 29 5/16" which ties him for #20 in the book. One of the most impressive things about this bear was probably his claws. Anywhere from 5 to 7 inch's, and the longest claws anybody at the Fish & Game had ever seen.

Thanks to Paul, Luke, Josh and everyone at Afognak Wilderness lodge, this bear is truly a trophy of a lifetime for anybody. The bear was mounted by Animal Artistry in Reno Nevada and was on display at the SCI convention in Reno more than once. He now resides in my house, where I get to remember this special story every day.

Thanks again to everyone who got to experience this amazing hunt with me.

Jesse Wallace,

San Luis Obispo, California

The moral of the story is the Internet is not the Gospel. Much of what comes across it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Keep that shaker handy. 

And be kind to writer's. We're an excitable lot consumed with truth, justice and trying to figure out where they next paycheck is coming from):-

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Garden Blooming Blog Day. March 2011

Welcome to my monthly open garden day, cyber-style.

An ancient Spanish lavender sprawls a bit over the sidewalk.  The succulent Aemonium 'Sunburst' is the mother ship to cuttings passed along. In its maturity, the colorful leaf clusters diffuse the sun's rays, moderating the temperature of the soil of the rose it is companion to.

One of the best recent moves was simple. Tattered used-to-be white baskets at the mailbox were replaced with terra cotta azalea pots.  Not only are the pots more spruced in appearance;: the ivy geraniums responded immediately with a flush of healthy growth.

After a fresh weeding, redwood compost was generously spread over this dry and sun baked strip where only the most defiant plants flourish. First to bloom is the French lavender.

Look closely. Reno is inspecting the path just below the arch. Purple bracts of sea lavender (limonium) and the common freeway daisy are in a race to take over .  At 8 lbs, my forever-1- puppy isn't allowed to wander the garden unescorted. However, once she crossed 6 lbs., I worried less about the surveying daytime hawks or evening owls swooping her away.

To put my garden in the context of where it is situated, in the hillside community of Diamond Bar, where I now write about local history for

If you're in town this time of year in daylight hours, turn off Grand Avenue  onto  Lavender Drive. It's a little cut through right behind our local Target, near Calvary Chapel Golden Springs.  This seasonal display really shows off how lovely water -wise planting can be

Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans)- looks like something blooming out of a Disney dinosaur movie.

A sometimes painfully short-lived perennial, Pride of Madeira is a bit gargantuan for most private suburban gardens. The freely seeding spears are however, perfect for large expanses of public plantings. My mother loved springtime drives back here from her home in Whittier. There is a mass planting just this side of  Harbor Blvd on Pathfinder Road in Rowland Heights by the tennis courts.

Flourishing on Lavender Dr. in Diamond Bar, this is the type of landscaping makes me glad to have voted to become a city.

Along the same drive, a stretch of prostrate Rosemary finishes the setting with the fragrance of  inconspicuous blue blossoms and pine like needles.

One thing you have to know about heaven and  Diamond Bar. Both have no shortage of  bees.

Godspeed and Good Fortune.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Comfort of Food

"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has the ability to comfort. "

~ Norman Kolpas

Boeuf Bourguignon-a-la Julia-Child is classic comfort food
An earthquake. A tsunami. Now Nuclear reactors on the brink of breakdown and volcanoes rumbling awake. Will chaos cause  Mohamar Qaddafi to catch a break? His power so deserves to disintegrate. Will the best thing to happen about the events of this week be as inconsequential as not having to listen to the latest shenanigans of Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan?

A week ago was last eternity. How were we to know how much comfort we would need? How much we would want to give.
Reuters Photo from Project Hope site
Timing can't always be planned. There was no way for the  "The Literary Gardener" Paula Panich to know when posted  How to Comfort Sorrow -ii  the intensity to build through last week for the comfort of food-infused memories would be.

Scones, born of the storybook British empire
-are best rendered as the children of folk stories. Best baked from  simple sticky dough, my instincts suggested my family would want me to increase the amounts of three ingredients to 

Sugar-  1/3 cup
Meyer lemons- the rinds of 2 finely grated 
1/2 a lemon- the juice  generously squeezed in (without the seeds) 

 Paula is absolutely right about scones not being cookies. The modern inclination to drop goodies such as chocolate chips should be viewed as heresy. Only because I am inclined to be rebellious ,  dropped into half my dough were
1- handful of  dried cranberries   
the grated rind of an organic orange

Oranges on Rail by Gene Sasse

When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.
  Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, 2009

 It is prime time to order Oxalis Inops

 The comfort of the kitchen is matched is matched by beauty in the garden.  The oxalis has performed a jig over to sunnier spots.  Kind of like my father's ancestor's did as they moved from Ireland and Scotland to cross the continent in less than a century to California.

Please consider helping  Project Hope respond to the devastating earthquake in Japan and resulting tsunami.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vintage Romance

We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. 

Carl Jung

Orchid from Santa Barbara Orchid Show
 When we moved into our home, it was decorated in two colors. If beige and tan are two colors.  To make this home our own, we have slowly introduced the colors from nature that we are drawn to on a pleasingly emotional level.

 Our master vanity area is completely open to the bedroom. The cabinet is creamy white on one side and completely open on the other. In theory, the drawers hold the make up, and the woman of the house dallies on a dainty chair to groom. In real life, it was an ugly useless hole under one side of the counter.

Has anyone ever had too much storage? Given time in residence, the most spacious home tends to shrink to 25% less than needed.  Under our counter, wheeled crate corralled bathroom supplies. Useful, but ugly.

Garden colors are romantic- especially appropriate in the bedroom

The scalloped curtain panel was a half measure. 

The arrival of the  snake hatchlings this week arrival sparked some primal neuron that reminded me I own a sewing machine and a leftover bit of fabric from a long ago project.  It felt like a good day to take a break from gardening):-

As this cost NO money- my husband was all for this idea.

Simply mounted on a tension rod, the laundered panels were laid across the 100% cotton upholstery yardage. There was not an inch to spare. One mistake, and I would not have enough to complete the project.

To replicate, simply cut the fabric so finished bottom and side seams match the curtain. Front sides facing the same direction, sew a straight seam just below the rod-pocket.

Voila!  No more ugly storage.  The solid fabric layer chanted the ambiance from utilitarian to romantic. 

 All that I needed to finish the ambiance for the evening was to light a lemon verbena candle.

Friday March 11, 2011 9 AM - 5 PM

Saturday March 12, 2011 9 AM - 5 PM

Sunday March 13, 2011 9 AM - 5 PM

Today's wildlife sighting was flock of  ducks. They appear to have decided they would rather spend the weekend in Newport Beach than Chino Hills):- 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Emotion of Business

"Living is an inherently emotional business."
— David Brooks
Doesn't this image by Gene Sasse just make you want to have a romantic dinner on the patio?

Suspend your attachment to reason and logic for just this post. Take a moment to consider- the difference between good and great isn't always neatly quantifiable.
 Issue 29 of photographer Gene Sasse's Newsletter  is about the awe factor of  commercial  photography.  PLEASE take a moment to enjoy. As his newsletter copywriter, my job is to help him find the words to reinforce the message of his photographs.

For all the technical advancements in publishing images, the math and science is still secondary to artistic wizardry.

 Falling in love with an image is like falling in love with a human being. It isn't just about competence or measurable data. There is an emotional factor.

I'm okay with a camera. I can do composition and play with Photo Shop style programs.  But I am no more a major league  photographer than I am a professional baseball player. 

I'm pretty good with composition. I can manipulate my way through Photoshop- style programs. In short, I can competently convey a thought with images. But an image of mine make someone swoon with desire?

My photos are fine for blogging- which I think of as my sketch book- my practice for larger projects. Yet they  very rarely hold the emotional impact  needed for commerce.

 What the uninitiated to graphic-intense publishing rarely appreciate is that there are photographic dilettantes (like me) and Michelangelos (like Gene). 

The true photographer renders images of structures in perfect  square.  They know instinctively the most compelling angle. They  can capture the texture of a watercolor under glass. They know when to exactly replicate a color, when to brighten it or when to understate it- all depending on the story to be told.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Simplicity and Snakes

 For the Winter/ Spring edition of Western Art and Architecture. I penned a feature on Arizona interior designer David Michael Miller titled Timeless by Design .

Seeing the color shifts in this sparingly planted container at the Descanso Gardens entrance took me back to the interviews that led to the story's Genesis. Listening to David and his admirers changed my understanding of luxury. His rules for timeless design work as well in the landscape as they do with interiors. Let the beauty of the materials take the lead over ornamentation. See the undulating tones of natural materials and rejoice at textural elements.

Back in my own garden, the snake season has opened a day earlier than the previous record. 

The visitor is a new. While we didn't get an image of the intruder-serpent, this Monterey Ringed- Neck Snake image  by Gary Nafis  appears to be a match.

In Latin- Diadophis punctatus vandenburgii
I'm trying to get excited about the idea that it eats slugs. So far, it isn't happening. is an easily searchable guide to amphibians and reptiles of California. The image by Gary Nafis is used pursuant to the terms listed on the site.