Friday, September 30, 2011

Give a Portion of Thyself- Freelance is like Baseball

"The greatest gift is a portion of thyself. "
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wish I could send you the pampering perfume of the Enfleurage soy candle by Archipelago Botanicals. A blended bouquet of French Jasmine, Lily of the Valley and Rose will glow for a good 60 hours.  The hand-poured mossy green soy wax is displayed in its own  apothecary-style jar with a lid to turn the flame off without a smokey smudge.

Once the candle is finished, the container will be polished and reused as an elegant container for gift giving. Imagine the lidded jar holding candies or sea shells. Perhaps an elegantly old fashioned label printed proclaiming its new use as a holder of homemade bath salts.

The window was my first stained glass project. My husband bought me the equipment for Christmas and the family paid for a class through Diamond Bar Parks and Recreation.  In turn, their gift to me was returned to them through this window that we have all enjoyed.
My next project is a bass Tiffany style lamp. Pattern by Worden, next week the glass will be hand selected. Not just for color, but for how texture and light reflecting qualities.

More  than task lighting, the glass shade is an artistic statement that reflects our mutual love of the outdoors.  When it is finished, it will be my gift to husband. It will be the statement piece as we transform a long-abandoned bedroom into his new study.

This week it was announced  by that freelance writers are still welcome to submit- but we will not be paid. I do not know if this is regional or national. I did expect that for better or worse, Arriana Huffington's 300+ million dollar payday would affect the operations of what is a young start up company. The only questions were how, when and whom. Time will tell if the decision to target assets to her expertise were well advised of not.
Image from Huffington family Christmas card before her then husband's Senate run

I wish the best for As a writer, you were sweet as a summer romance. Lovely while it lasted, and while the breakup may be bittersweet, I will remain glad for our time together.  

I hurt for the editors who got to pass on the change in policy towards freelance compensation. Writers do have an inclination to wonder why such a matter was not covered by some US Civil War 1865 proclamation.  My position is, better to be in my shoes than the editor's. The workload of an editor can be summed up like this

When I was a community editor, I always thanked God.  First for being called to the position. Then that it was to a monthly publication, not a daily one):-

To young aspiring writers everywhere- make peace with the following. Like professional baseball players, the best batting average is below 500. You will not be paid well for being well-rounded.  You will be paid for perhaps how you perform only 1 skill set- but that one thing you do must better than any other living person.

If you are up learning that stumbles are character building events to be thankful for, then go for it. Be a writer. There is nothing more professionally uplifting than falling in love with your topic and then having people remember what you wrote.  

A good story is a gift that keeps on giving.

Local Readers- Bar- the Enfleurage soy candle by Archipelago Botanicals is available at D&D Interiors, 514 N Diamond Bar Blvd # G , Diamond Bar , CA 91765

909-598-1219 for hours or more information

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Caffeine and Mental Health

Coffee by Gene Sasse
" A new study finds that well-caffeinated women have a key health advantage over their more abstemious sisters: They're less likely to become depressed.
 -Melissa Healy

Chambord coffee maker, double walled image from Bodum

A very good  Southern California morning to you.  Outside it is 64 ° F. Fog obscures the distant view, forcing focus on the close- in details of the garden.  As the sun pierces the  filmy pewter veil, the temperature will percolate upwards. Today should reach the mid 80's.  As the blue sky seeps forward, what we see will change, but be no less glorious.

Illy espresso image courtesy of Sur La Table
This month I started spiking the morning pot of java with a half scoop of espresso.  The study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine and publicized in Jewish World Review by Melissa here explains why I have felt so good despite an onslaught of reasons to feel otherwise.

Flowering coffee plant as seen on Wikipedia
 When life seems out of control; when you do not recognize where you are headed- STOP. Re-evaluate. Not everything is best left  in our personal control. Asking for help is honorable.

Understand that not every road is repairable. Sometimes we need to take a different fork in the road. 

Focus on where you are, not where you planned to be. Cherish good memories. Pick new goals and move on. To allow malaise to mire your path is never productive.

Praise God for every breath, even when you don't feel like it; for you will.  

On the eve of Rosh Hashana- the Jewish New Year- may this Christian woman share a Jewish toast

“Leshanah tovah tikateiv v’teichateim"—May you be inscribed for a good year!”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Zurich ~ Hazelnut/ Balsamic Salad Dressing ~ Cinnamon Glazed Walnuts

Zurich at Night

 I dream of Switzerland. Back before I knew my husband, I had saved to attend the Fashion Institute there. My mother, who never asked for anything, who never planned on staying gone from Puerto Rico when she enlisted in the Navy knew. If I boarded the plane for school in Europe, I would probably never come back.

She asked me to stay. And so I stayed. If  I had any regrets, they are long forgotten.  


If I were to drive a car from Diamond Bar to Zurich, ignoring the impact of things such as oceans, seas, rivers and mountain ranges would have on the journey, at an average speed of 60mph (96 kmh) straight-through- it would take a bit over 95.5 hours to arrive.  Exhausted, covered in seaweed and wearing a cowbell.  

Healthy Living

Fortunately, my husband flew. Through New York on 9/11 on American Airlines.  Fortunately, that incident was much more interesting for those of us on the ground than it was for passengers on the plane.  


I looking forward to tagging along on some future trip. I want to know if Switzerland looks, sounds and smells as I imagine from Gerry's photographs. Clean, outdoorsy and green.

Entrance to community garden

 Green and gold are the colors Switzerland is known for. Usually locked in vaults. However, after nearly 36 years of marriage, my husband knows to what I am drawn.

Green and gold growing in gardens. These last few images of the community type. With a short growing season, the camaraderie is equal to the food grown.

Compost bin
My darling even knew to bring me back a photo of that greatest commodity in any country- compost.

Back home in Diamond Bar, daily life went on double time with my life's partner gone. If the Santa Ana Winds pick up, we are entering the time of year with the greatest fire danger. Spiders suitable for roles in Tarzan movies  are auditioning in odd corners. With him gone, it would be the one time I could clear his office- at- home space and get it painted without inconveniencing him. 

I have a rule, that whenever Gerry travels, whenever he comes home, there is no doubt that his presence is needed. I can make do on crackers with cheese all week, but when he comes home, it is to order and abundant food.

The night before he arrived back in California, a chicken was roasted, pasta prepared and two roasts braised. One chuck roast was seasoned Mexican style and one with leaks, wine and mushroom gravy.  
A bit over the top? Not when you consider how easy kitchen prep has been the last week.

A special side dish came by way of Nikkipolani. I played with her dressing of hazelnut oil and balsamic vinegar. A pressed clove of garlic, a pinch of salt and just a dash of white pepper shaken well. WOW is how she described it and WOW it is.

Gerald loved the surprise of the simple green salad garnished with dried cranberries, the walnut bits toasted in hazelnut oil sweetened in the cast iron skillet, glazed with melting sugars- white and brown and  spiced with just a bit of freshly ground cinnamon.

Romance can be as grand as the old cities of Europe or as simple as the sensational taste of fresh salad. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

GBBD Sept 2011, The Garden in Context

"Language is not merely a set of unrelated sounds, clauses, rules, and meanings; it is a total coherent system of these integrating with each other, and with behavior, context, universe of discourse, and observer perspective."
Kenneth L. Pike

See my garden in  the context of where I live. Diamond Bar, California
Well-trimmed Eucalyptus as backdrop

The population is diverse. The people are good.  In 2005, Hurricane Katrina did her very best to destroy a good portion of the US Southern coastline. The following Friday, 1,790 miles away, the children at Diamond Bar High School got on the phone. With more than a little help from their parents and cross town rivals at Diamond Ranch High School, they raised over $70,000 for the American Red Cross.

Diamond Bar is a diverse community. Perhaps it is the cross-pollination of cultures. Of all the things that grow in Diamond Bar, it is children that we grow the best.

I am a great believer in gardens with plant diversity. Yes, it is more work. But isn't the work required a hallmark how worthwhile an achievement is judged?  I don't garden to have a space to ignore. I garden to interact.

This is what a monarch sees close up.

This is what the human eye sees.

At this cusp of autumn, commuting caterpillars crowd their favorite lanes up the stems of butterfly bush.  

Succulents, lantana and roses

 I am not a big talker. I am a writer. And when the keyboard is resting my finger's voice, if it is daylight you will likely find me outside writing my beliefs in the garden.
Rose Lantana
I believe that every color is beautiful. In humanity and plants.
Choose your plants like your friends. For their strengths.

Queen Anne's Lace
But don't forget to hold precious delicate beauty. A drop of impracticality cures rigidity.

Thank you to Carol May for hosting this month'sGarden Blooming Blog Day Open Garden Tour.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 - Living on Vacation- A Wildlife Garden

9/11 will forever be a set point that reminds us how precious and fragile life is. Watching the ceremonies dedicating the Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania yesterday, I should have held a bucket to capture my tears to water the garden with.

The speeches were all of the one nation under God variety. Former Presidents Clinton, Bush and VP Biden- the word "I"  was subservient to the greater good. The result was the greatest type of outreach- the type that is empathetic rather than self-serving.

God bless my nephew Juadon. You are serving this nation with honor. What men such as yourself you are willing to sacrifice, I pray our nation honors in every way possible.  

'Kiwi' Aeonium ,  Santa Barbara Daisy and 'Moonshine' Yarrow defy the sun's best effort to jerkify the trio

When we first looked at our present home, my husband fell in love with the scent of the chaparral covered hillsides. An avid outdoorsman, he said, “It smells like we’re on vacation.”

 At times we need could use a negotiator to work on for detente between us and nature. Moments like when the snake popped out to grab its dinner in front of me or when my husband had me "watch" the tarantula resting on his briefcase. Somehow, it all works out.
'Butterfly Bush' feeding a baby monarch butterfly-to-be
Where once there was not much more than sagebrush, we now have generously planted with trees, understory and a lawn. Certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Backyard Habitat, our garden offers richer opportunities for wildlife than the tinder-dry brush did

PLEASE enjoy my article on  Creating a Backyard Habitat. published yesterday.

This 9/11 Consider the Flight 93 Memorial is just 10 million dollars from completion. Express your gratitude to the citizens who took on terrorists in our darkest moment. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

White After Labor Day- 9/11

"Not everything that can be counted counts,
and not everything that counts can be counted."
~ Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

 By any name: Garlic Chives , Perennial Chinese Chives or  Chinese Leeks, the late summer garden counts on their steadfast return. Their cheerful white after Labor Day stand in the garden is symbolic; even when the heat turns hostile-hot, God sends up gifts to nourish the butterflies.  

I thought it was a good idea to plant up a few. Turns out it was a GREAT idea- can you imagine how dull this little nook would be without their white smiles?

The herbal compadres have hopscotched all barren patches to where the garden bed bends at the back of the main garden. 

It is a matter of faith- they will steer themselves right around that corner.  

The flat bladed leaves are a petite versionista of leeks. The  reward for having gardened organically where they pop up is they can be used to replace now flopping- over chives in recipes.

For all the joy of a thousand or so blooming  garlic chives,  perhaps my favorite memory of the garden this holiday was the surprise of a single butterfly where it was not expected- just outside the first stained glass window I designed and built.

It rested on the succulent mound while I ran inside to get the camera.

Nothing can make a morning that starts off so well go wrong.

As 9/11/11 approaches, let us take some moments to celebrate the unity of the days that followed right after the attack that brought down the World Trade Center. 

Writers are taught show, don't tell. This link -Michael Israel -shows, through performance art, the best that rose came from the ashes of that tragedy. Thank you to Trisha Bowler for sending it our way.