Friday, December 22, 2006

Saturday Night Live: Nancy Pelosi

HT Betsy's Page Saturday Night Live does Pelosi.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Garden Update

In the continuing saga of adjusting my gardening skills and plant palette from coastal southern California to Sierra foothills, I have this observation. This year is cold. Algore notwithstanding, for me and my garden, global warming is a crock.

It has been just above freezing every night for over a week now. No frost in the morning and no snow yet (our last snow was in February and broke our African Sumac). Interestingly, one of my early cymbidiums is blooming. The poor things are so confused by the weather here but somehow this one pot got it right. This is exactly the time it would have bloomed in SoCal. Between the super hot summers and the super cold (relative to SoCal) winters, I probably should just give up and find something that will grow here but I am a stubborn cuss and will keep growing them so long as they continue to cope.

I continue to be surprized by my Brugmansia. I thought it would be among the first of my SoCal plants to succomb. Not so. In fact, there is a one which I see hanging over the fence down the hill that seems quite happy here. My plan is to plant my large potted brugmansia in the ground in my back yard. I rooted some cuttings from the big plant in late summer for backup. The ones from hard wood rooted nicely but the softwood cuttings failed to root. I have two small ones in reserve. The large one got infested with some bug or other. It amazes me that a poisonis plant can fall victim to bugs. The leaves got spotted and the new growth was covered with webs. Spraying with the stuff I use on my roses reduced it but did not eliminate it. I am not confident about planting it but intend to proceed. I missed the good planting time before it got cold so I will wait now until at least March.

My next project is to find a replacement for Agapanthis. Whey does anyone plant them here in hot Sacramento? They look awful in the Summer heat with their crispy brown leaves. I am thinking about a small Aloe of some sort or maybe Kniphofia.

The catalogues have started coming so I can begin my garden fantasies for 2007.

Those who don't srudy history are doomed to repeat it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

LA on My Mind - Continued

Lunada Bay

I always thought that we had done great by our kids raising them in a beautiful semi-rural ocean-side enclave in the great LA megalopolis. What I have learned about parenting is that, in my case at least, it was all about me. I wanted my kids to grow up in a tony neighborhood with college prep schools so different from my Missouri farmboy childhood. If I had thought more about my sons, we might never have come to LA.

Our old house, newly rejuvenated, stands naked and defenseless with only one small, newly planted palm tree. I would love to see the renovations inside, although I am sure that they are not to my taste. I can just see the plantings in the back yard around the side of the house and recognize that some of them survive. I drive on an notice that one by one the oldest of the houses in my neighborhood are replaced by ‘tuscan’ wedding cakes. When we moved to Lunada Bay, there was an interesting mix of ordinary middle class and wealthy housing. Now that land values have risen, only the very wealthy can afford even the ordinary houses which are disappearing. The vacant lot where the old Shell gas station used to be is now a park but the core of Lunada Bay retail remains. In addition to the walkable neighborhood schools, the hardware store, grocery store and drugstore were very persuasive in selecting our house. The drug store is now a bank but the market and hardware stores are still there. Over the last five years, the neighborhood schools have reopened bringing back the appeal we originally saw in the neighborhood.
It is a delightful community, still unpretentious and accessible (none of the gates which are so fashionable these days), even with million dollar home prices and tuscan wedding cakes sprouting like mushrooms. It's the only place on the hill with neighborhood shopping. I alwlays said that if you have to live in LA, Palos Verdes is the place to choose and Lunada Bay is the best of PV.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Getting it off My Chest

Maybe you have noticed my absence from blogging lately and maybe not. After the election, I tried to keep a stiff upper lip and controll my rage at the clowns that have coopted the Republican Party. Tonight, however, my wife asnswered an 'out of area' phone call (she has this needy streak) and said that they wanted to talk to me.

It was someone calling for Mike Reagan wanting money to put out negative ads on Hillary but he started by asking who I thought could beat her. Frankly, I think she will beat herself, but I rose to the bait and told him that all the Republican candidates were a pack of fools and loosers and that I wasn't prepared to throw any money to any of them. He came back manfully with names. Did I like Sam Brownback? Now all I know about Sam Brownback is that he is a Senator and from Kansas and those two facts alone are enough to convince me that he is not the man for the job. He tried Gingrich, Guliani and on. I told him that I didn't really care because even if you elect a Republican, he turns Democrat as soon as elected so I might as well vote for Hillary because then I really would get what I voted for.
He seemed surprised by the hostility that came flowing out of my mouth and, to be truthfull, so was I. But it felt good to tell somebody that I was through trusting Republicans to stand on party principles. The Democrats may get me killed but at least I will always know where they stand.

LA on My Mind

I had a business meeting in Southern California. There was supposed to be a social event Friday night which was cancelled due to household illness so everything got turned around. As a result, I left Sacramento mid-morning and drove to LA with less urgency. I usually prefer 99 to I-5 because there is more going on. Little did I know that the new bond money is already at work rebuilding the non-freeway portion south of Merced. It was about 5:00 when I reached Valencia when I would have preferred an earlier, or later, entry to LA traffic. With KJAZZ on the radio I was ready for the traffic and my next choice was the route to my hotel in Torrance. I picked the Hollywood and Harbor Freeway route through downtown LA over the San Diego and it was a good choice. The traffic never stopped although it slowed at times and it was good to see LA again and relive the commute that had been my daily experience for twenty-some years. There didn’t seem to be any new buildings other that construction of something near Staples Center but what I found amazing was that the names at the top of the buildings were difference in many cases from those I remembered just 5 years ago. Rush hour on the Harbor Freeway is not a good time for sightseeing so I was not able to make a complete survey. I guess that putting your name on a building is a more tasteful kind of advertising that buying a billboard. There were new buildings crowding the freeway at USC which seemed to be some sort of concert hall complex from the decorations on the slab facing me. After USC, the traffic gradually lightened and I got to my hotel by 7:00.

Saturday morning I was free so I slept until I wanted to get up. I returned to the Harbor Freeway and continued the path of my old commute to the house where I lived until two years ago in Palos Verdes. We sold it when we moved to Sacramento and the buyer had done some needed improvements before selling it nine months later. Part of his improvements includeed a complete clearing of 40 year-old trees which had sheltered the studio we built for my wife from the street. Now the new owner has curtains on the French doors which open onto a grass lawn and the street. It’s no longer our house – in more ways than the legal sense – but it is still a lodestone for me every time I get back to the area.

The drive through San Pedro to Palos Verdes Drive South was much the same but The Donald’s golf course had caused some improvements on the Drive. There are now several parks along the road which overlook the golf course and the ocean. The slide area is still sliding but from the condition Saturday, the last road renovation must have been recent. I noticed a new sign for the ocean side neighborhood just past Abalone Cove. I never knew it had a name in all my years in Palos Verdes. If I had to tell anyone how to find it , I would tell them to look for the Fire Station. Now there is a sign proudly proclaiming the Neighborhood of Abalone Cove. Who knew?

Next I passed the apartment complex where my wife and son lived for the six months between selling our old house and moving to our new one in Sacramento. It looked the same. I did not have much emotional attachment to the apartment but I did love the ocean and Catalina view from our third floor balcony. When we lived there, goats grazed on the open field between the complex and the Marineland site and the exteriors for the Movie, Fun with Dick and Jane were being filmed at a false front residential street over the fence. I had heard that construction was finally started on a resort hotel on the old Marineland site but I saw nothing different.

On to Golden Cove where the ocean view Starbucks has been joined by a Subway. The Starbucks represents an upgrade from 25 years ago but the Subway is a step down from the old Golden Cove Deli. The Starbucks was there before we moved but its neighbors were still under construction. Not an improvement from my perspective.

Then on to Lunada Bay, my old neighborhood and the place my kids call home. When we moved in, I was living my dream. When I first came to California, I stayed with an Army buddy in Gardena and he first showed me Palos Verdes and I began to dream about someday living there. It took me eight years and a detour to Manhattan Beach but we purchased a home three blocks from the cliffs (no view). Number one son was nine months old and number two came along 6 years later. They have never lived anywhere else while they were growing up.