Sunday, April 29, 2012

Retaining the Good and Weeding Out the Bad in Your Garden ... and in Your Life

A simple path from the Palo Alto Garden Club's annual garden tour. Simple is very hard to maintain!

I don't know who weeds those gorgeous gardens I visited on the tour in Palo Alto this week--but somehow I can't picture their posh owners out there wearing garden gloves and carrying a hoe and a can of weed killer. Still someone has to be a little ruthless to maintain a garden.

Thus it is in life. Just as weeds soak up the nutrients and crowd out the flowers you love, so do weedy people. They take up your time, waste space in your heart, and suck up the oxygen you need for your true friends.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Apricot's for All Seasons

I've had apricots on the brain lately, haven't I? Since the recent rescue of the historic J. Gilbert Smith/Los Altos Civic Center apricot orchard in Los Altos, California, I've been pondering: what is the seductive draw of this lovely, scented, peachy colored fruit? And why am I so darned fond of it?

Some of it, I think, is its association with the sunny, dry, California summer days I spent in the open spaces of the San Francisco peninsula of my youth. The rest, I believe, speaks to the richness of the fruit's flavor and the relative shortness of its season. This warm-from-the-sun, sweet, scented fruit is ripe for just a few weeks each summer. And then it is gone.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

History in a Top Drawer

My father in the lot amidst the apricot orchard in Los Altos, California, on which he produced the house he had dreamed about.

During the mud and rain and kamikaze attacks and bombardment of the Battle of Okinawa, my father kept his sanity by building a house in his head. Whether stuck in a shelter, or batting bugs away from the light in his tent--he was sketching out plans for the little house he hoped to build, with my mother, "when the war is over."

He was a lucky man. He survived to fulfill that dream. And I've been lucky too: sorting through his memories here, I've grown to understand more about his, and my own, emotional ties to the land where he was able to find peace after the war.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Trouble for Ms. Gimpy?

Ms Gimpy today. You can see how she is standing on her left leg, and raising her right.

I hadn't seen Ms. Gimpy in a couple of days, when she appeared this afternoon. I think she's been busy sitting on a nest. But today, when she glided over to where I was working outside--to say hello and grab a snack--it was obvious she was having new trouble with her right leg. She was trying to keep her weight off it as she stood to eat.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Irreplaceable Classroom

Artist Robert Schick in the J. Gilbert Smith Historic Landmark Orchard at the Los Altos Civic Center.

I met Los Altos artist Robert Schick at the Paint Out we organized at Moffett Field last autumn--designed to support the Moffett Historical Society and Museum and to call attention to the demolition of historic Hangar One. 

This spring, he, in turn, supported the effort to keep Los Altos from demolishing its J. Gilbert Smith Historic Landmark Orchard. Today, with the threat abated, he brought his sketching class out to enjoy the recently-reprieved beauty.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Great Grandpa "Groezrock" Connection

My great grandfather, Frank Latta, at Montana's Karst Ranch with my mother, Faye Latta, about 1934. My great grandfather was quite a horseman. My mother--not so much.

I've reconnected with several cousins--of the once-or-twice-removed variety--through the Internet, and we've enjoyed sharing information about the great grandfather we all share, Frank Latta, of Bozeman, Montana.

What I didn't expect was to hear from some rockers in the Netherlands, who, it turns out, also find old Frank fascinating!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How a City's Historic Landmark Survived

The J. Gilbert Smith apricot orchard surrounding the Los Altos City Hall, on a cloudy April afternoon.

My local city council spent at least $1M in taxpayer dollars--possibly more: the totals aren't in yet--lobbying its own citizens to plough under and pave over one of the most beautiful and historic spots remaining on the San Francisco peninsula. Just so it could build a larger civic center.

After all that lobbying, marketing, and what is known these days as "outreach,"a telephone survey showed that just 22.6% of the voters volunteered they would vote "definitely yes" for such a proposal--no matter how many ways the pollsters asked the question.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Big Win for Taxpayers and their Orchard

Los Altos City Council Meeting, April 10, 2012

It was raining last night as I drove over to the City Council meeting and my spirits were pretty low. The council was set to announce the results of its "opinion survey" about its proposed new Civic Center Complex.

I had been one of those surveyed--for about half the call, I thought the mayor was having me on--and I found the questions to be slanted, cooked up, and designed to produce a desired outcome. I feared the worst.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rick Santorum's Fourteen-Minute Goodbye

Santorum bows out.

I did thirty minutes on the treadmill at my local "Y" as I waited for Rick Santorum to make his announcement. You can only use each treadmill at this "Y" for thirty minutes; so, when he had not yet spoken after my first thirty minutes,  I had to run over to the board and sign up for another treadmill so I could continue to exercise as I watched the news and waited.

Talk about breathless. My internist should write the Santorum campaign a thank you letter.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ms. Gimpy's Easter Basket, Ms. Robin's Easter Bonnet, and a Marine's Homecoming

Birds? What birds?

I was up before dawn, this Easter morning. Boy they sure do hold dawn early these days. I vaguely recall there was a time when I could see it in from the other end of the day--you know, Lullaby of Broadway style?

But this is a different decade, thank goodness. And in this case I was up for Easter sunrise service and to act as Easter bunny to some friends of mine with a father just returned from a year's deployment with the U.S. Marines in the Middle East. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hansel and Gretel Cottages in Culver City

One of Culver City's Hansel and Gretel Cottages: and now I know someone who lives in it!

While I was in Santa Monica this past weekend, one of my friends told me about a house her daughter had rented in Culver City, California--she told me I simply had to see it. We all piled into the family car and it was, as promised, definitely worth the trip.

The house is owned by two sisters who inherited it from their parents--who lived there all their lives. The sisters now rent it out--though they still store some family furniture in the home. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Weeding Can Drive You Insane!

I have a sort of naturalized garden around the base of my (tilting) birdbath--wildflowers and forget-me-nots and sweet alyssum. They start to dry up in the summer and reseed: in the winter they disappear to return again in spring.

After the spring rains it can be difficult to sort the flowers from the weeds. Plus you have to get down on your knees, plus you have to dig out the gloves and the hand-held-hoe ...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The North Versus the South in California

Such a lovely little cottage I saw in Santa Monica. If you have an extra seven figures lying about, it could be yours.

I was in Southern California this past weekend, and there, spring is spectacular. With an average March/April high that is about four degrees warmer than the San Francisco peninsula and an average low that is about six degrees warmer, the blooms are something extra in the Southland.

I took a long walk in a warm rain on Saturday and found I was surrounded by pretty gardens everywhere.

Monday, April 2, 2012

LA and True Romance: Can't Beat That

Steve Latshaw and his bride Tiffanie.

Love happening late in life--the Second Time Around--is a fine thing. My friend Steve had just such a wedding. After the challenges of single parenting--his son grew up and turned out great. And then Steve met Tiffanie.

It was "... that second time you hear your love song sung. Makes you think, perhaps, that love like youth is wasted on the young ..." (Apologies to Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen).   

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Friend Steve Gets Married! He Found Someone To Love Him Just As He Is! OMG!

Steve Latshaw and Tiffanie Johnson are now the Latshaws.

My dear friend Steve Latshaw, film producer, director, writer and creative person extraordinaire, married his sweetheart last night, in probably the most delightful wedding I've ever attended.

Since  I quit drinking, I'm a much less expensive guest--and events like this are much more fun for me. Now I know when I'm silly, I'm just being silly!  We danced and danced and my friends, who all love Steve as I do, were so pleased to see him happy too.