Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God, Life and Mulch~ The Maloof Foundation Tour

God never promised life would be easy. He gave us a mulch pile- and it is our purpose to turn life's garbage into as close to our personal vision of paradise as we can. That doesn't mean we'll ever reach perfection- but it will keep us busy.

Blue is a signature element in the home of the late Sam Maloof, the  first craftsman awarded the MacArthur fellowship. Dubbed by People magazine as the "Hemingway of Hardwood "when a freeway extension  threatened to cut through his original property, the residence and workshop were deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic  Places. The buildings and many of the trees were painstakingly moved to this 6 acre hillside parcel in nearby Alta Loma. Gene Sasse captures the essence of place through imagery of the barn-inspired architecture within the garden developed with native and compatible  Mediterranean plants. 
No detail of Maloof furniture escapes masterful articulation, as replicated by Gene Sasse's lens. 
People magazine dubbed Sam Maloof as the "Hemingway of Hardwood." The first craftsman awarded the MacArthur Fellowship: when a freeway extension  threatened to cut through his inland empire property, the residence and workshop were deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic  Places. The buildings consequently moved to the current 6 acres of hillside in nearby Alta Loma, where the expanded complex where the custom furniture business is continued by his shop-workers, fondly known as "the boys" to whom he largely left the business. 

Photographed by Gene Sasse from the perspective on peering down the axis of the hand-built circular stairway in the original home, the similarity of line to a cut-away Nautilus seashell  is revealed.e

Photographing the home of Sam Maloof,the immigrant who made it big in America, is verboten. Built room by room as he and Alfreda, his first wife of 50 years could afford, the warren of rooms are impractically set up for docents to manage a crowd aiming lenses. However, strolling the garden with a camera captures some of the garden magic created by marrying virtue and good humor. 

Sam found love again after his first wife with Beverly (now) Maloof. With the help of  a Metropolitan Water District Water Wise Grant and community volunteers, she raised from the earth a garden designed to be an embracing partner with the Maloof Historic Residence Museum. A place the website describes as full of "places of discovery, delight and inspiration." 

I gathered lots of ideas to bring home. Here, the simplest lumber bridge provides sturdy footing for Gerry to traverse over a now dry wash. 

A low rock water basin is constructed below a sycamore tree- a notch in the wall allowing torrential foothill water to escape without tearing the structure out- much like an overflow of a dam does.

The longhorn sculpture- a rustic rendition of wood
 Art in the garden draws you out- 

Pays homage to what you love. Don't you wonder if a mouse or rat did a double-take before crossing the path guarded by this "cat"?

Art can celebrate your faith while putting a smile on your face. 

Lastly for this post- What is a garden without fruit?  Fig leafs large enough to wear to cover-up on the beach.  - perhaps we've found the garden of Eden in the foothills, east of LA. 

To learn more about the Sam Maloof Maloof Foundation For Art and Crafts; the garden and tours- click here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Memories of Mass Murder ~ Fleeting Nature of Life

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."
~ James :14 

Aurora, Colorado is a bathroom stop on the drive between here and Wyoming. But with the weekend full of news from the shooting there, I wasn't thinking so much about road trips as of a certain event n 1988.

My husband was on quick business trip to the heart of Silicon Valley- Sunnyvale. He might be home that night: or he might be home the next day. Checking in with his secretary late that afternoon to figure out if I should clean up whatever project I was working on or take our sons out to dinner, Lolly was very clear "Go out to dinner. Take your time. In fact, make sure you have a glass of wine." 

That hit me as kind of odd comment at the end, about the wine. But not as odd as what Gerry said when he called just after we got home from filling up at The Whole Enchilada "It's not as bad as they say it is on the news."


I turned on the TV to see the only story running featured a parking lot full of TV vans, crews and satellite dishes at the ESL plant where Gerry was. A fired employee who was stalking a co-worker there decided he was going to make a very big statement on the eve of her restraining order hearing against him, later made into a movie  The Stalking of Laura Black True Story

Gerry was first in the upstairs conference room to notice the SWAT officers duck through the hallway. More fully outfitted officers crawled with their weapons through the courtyard. The doors were shut. Before it was over 7 people were dead. 4 were injured. 

Odd what I remember being told. Like one of the men in the group disclosing that years before he had been on a plane hijacked to Cuba. Hijacked and now this? That's not the best Karma for a travelling companion, in my opinion. 

Not something I think of directly, that day is likely why when such evil appears on the news, I turn the channel on news reports repeating the evil- doers name into our collective conscience. 

This isn't at all what I planned on writing. It just seemed right. To slow down.Think about the fleeting nature of life and what I will do for the next 30 days; just in case they are the last 30 days of my life. One never knows- we should always be prepared to exit without leaving unnecessary regrets or hardships for our loved ones.

God bless the people of Colorado in your time of grief. We will not forget you and promise to learn something from your pain. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

GBBD - The Garden in Context

"In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. "

 ~ Abram L. Urban  

Orange Bells aka Tecoma  elata

Bees stir the morning air, filling it with the morning hum familiar on the morning walk about the garden with our dogs. 7ish, the hummingbirds chase away the army of bees, taking their turn sipping nectar. Sometime between the sprinklers and  the full sun sky, the butterflies du jour waltz about.

The north slope, a sliver of hillside leading to the backyard, is a tangle of contrasting colors. The hot pink flowers of crepe myrtle trees match the intensity of the Tecoma Orange Bells, with the lavender wands of the Strawberry Lemonade® Butterfly Bush (Buddleja 'davidii Monrell') soothing the scene. 

The context of last week is my new computer  blue screened out. Finally- a blue I didn't like.  My cell phone disappeared. Fortunately, this inconvenient episode began conveniently hours past my last deadline  of the week. Whew!  

I decided to take this as a sign from above to take a few days to reconfigure life-patterns, which were getting as out of control as the front garden, shown above. 

 The blue pedestal of a bird bath barely shows behind the Flower Carpet® PINK rose in bloom, yet that touch of indigo imperceptibly elevates the interest of a simple scene. In planning a garden, it is safe to assume that the smallest detail will adds that bit of visual punch we dream of.  

My  Garden Blogger's Bloom Day entry would not be complete without the hedge of 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' Roses - a gift from a niece- showing off its blooms.  

All this color is in stark contrast the the "natural" context of the canyon eco-system. 

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 A number of readers mentioned how scrawny the coyote looked. 

Speaking to my wildlife expert, the reason is most likely that this coyote is only about 6 months old. If he stays out of harm's way, his coat should fill out this coming winter.

See how magnificently the Creator crafted his coat to completely camouflage him into the brush. He hasn't been seen since that day. The bunnies are back. Now the squirrels have joined in the mix. 

The pair of Coopers Hawks cruise the canyon skies for hours on end. We have a remote gadget now for  the camera. Perhaps we shall be able to catch the skill with which they careen through the branches after their prey.

Looking at the native chaparral and the country garden where I spend hours , I see self- evidence of a gardener who likes a challenge. What do you see?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Independence Day ~ Wildlife ~ Brush Fire ~ What is Important ~ An American Girl

"To everything there is a season, and time to every purpose under heaven..." 
~ Ecclesiastics 3:18

The height of summer - bunnies on the grass... Sipping nectar from once was a tiny sapling my mother grew from seed of her own tree...


Hummingbirds on high...

What could possibly disturb our paradise?

Even when the hawks (see one camouflaged in  a tree across our ridge)  careen through our backyard trees like jet fighters on a mission, they are mostly Coopers- not powerful enough to pick up our puppies in their talons. 

However, Mr. coyote showed up before lunch.

He hung around for a good hour, leaving us to believe his den is nearby. Thinking about the downside of cohabitation with this particular indigenous species.  Sometimes it is hard to appreciate his attributes- coyotes suppress populations of rodents, skunks- and yes, the rabbits that are so used to my husband they think he is one of them- some days gathering around where he enjoys his coffee on our patio. 

Last year one of his compatriots followed a medium sized dog through a doggy door - into the house.

Over the years in Diamond Bar, we've listened to neighbor's pets become part of the food chain (and when this happens it doesn't matter how long the pet suffers, the police do not respond). A babysitter reported being followed up the street while she fearfully hurried the baby stroller. There was the teenager who had to wait for mom to call to say the coast was clear- a pack was circling the yard when the girl first tried to come home. Our former veterinary doctor  shared a doberman being killed in a coyote attack.

Handsome creatures, coyotes are opportunistic terrorists hiding in the tall chaparral. Be advised if you live in the foothills- all it takes is a moment's inattention. Our Tahoe got away with going nose to nose with a young male once. She was alone in the backyard less than a minute. What probably saved her life was "the barking bunny" confused the predator long enough for Gerry and I to come running from different directions. The coyote sailed over the back fence like Superman: in a single bound it cleared the fence and the ravine. 

As if this wasn't enough excitement for our July 4th celebration

It wasn't just our barbecue smoking up the skies. Our first hint was the LA County Fire helicopter.

There was a small uphill brush fire not far past "our ridge"

Even with winds strong enough to pull the palm fronds like windsocks, emergency services did not sound concerned. With a high temperature of the day a beach-like  76 degrees, everything was speedily under control. I doubt most of the town even knows there was a fire. 

There is a time and place for everything. Tonight it would be dinner for two. At home. I cut off writing before noon. We took a needed break from studying our downloaded copy of the Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act. Our personal  anxiety over its ramifications for our family could use the day off. The Act helped other people and somehow the brilliance of this nation's framework to work things out over time will prevail. 

The Fourth of July is a holiday. Time to get in the mood with proper preparations. While Gerry solved the woodworking issue of what to do when a board of black walnut does not want to stabilize, I cooked to a moviethon of favorites.  Glory . The Patriot.   The board where the food waited to be heaped onto our plates groaned under the weight of 

Twice baked potatoes 
Barbecued corn on the cob
Fried Okra 
Barbecued short ribs -

We ate to the new classic movie The Help. We chatted away at ALL the GREAT changes in life we have lived to see.  We are eager for the day when Emma Stone wins her first Oscar.  

We will share the barbecue rib technique soon. Absolutely the BEST ever. Only topped by 

                                                      Homemade Ice Cream. 

Custard based- so good I think I could go shopping and my husband wouldn't care what I bought, just so I make him more):- 

Now, I can't leave you with that substandard picture of dinner as the last personal impression of what you saw on this blog. So I leave you with this image of my model- niece Abby Plunk, so pretty in pink. Abby - if you see this- know we pray for God's blessing on your journey.  To us- You are as quissentential an American Beauty as any rose.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thoughts On Independence Day

United States Flag, Gene Sasse photographer

"Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God."
~ George Washington

California Capitol. Gene Sasse photographer
"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South."  
~ Abraham Lincoln

Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods 
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” 
 Theodore Roosevelt, Strenuous Life

Native Colorado scrub brush
Some of the greatest serenity I have known has been on horseback. As a young girl, my Uncle Frank would lift us nieces up onto his horse to watch the fireworks go off at nearby Disneyland. The 4th of July- it is the one day in the calendar I don't think my father ever drank to excess on.  The date bordered on sacred in our family. 

 With the devastation in Colorado Springs, I am glad I have these memories recorded from a ride through The Garden of The Gods Park. Due to the wildfires, it is currently closed. 

Pikes Peak- the inspiration for Katharine Lee Bates "America the Beautiful"
My husband was assigned to Colorado Springs for 30 days, which turned into 13 months. It was in the Holiday Inn there that he learned to inlay wood- it gave him something to do more interesting than just get up, go to work, dinner and TV. Towards the end of his stay, rather than have him bring his laundry home for 4 days, the company authorized my visiting him there. 

What I remember most about Colorado is clean unspoiled air. I think it is safe to say that this nation is united in praying for the environment the state is rightly renowned for quickly heals. 

Whatever our differences politically, in the contentious months that bare down prior to every election like the sun on the Mojave Desert, it is my prayer that our collective nation   comes to again remember  that people are more than their politics.