gardens are good, but weeding sucks

After spending most of my morning pulling weeds, there’s something to be said for container gardens. containersNo tugging up milkweed (very long roots and back-breaking stuff), no yanking up dandelions (a piece of cake compared to pulling up milkweed). According to Mother Earth Living you can grow anything from artichokes to zucchini in containers. I’m about ready to put it to the test just for the “no weeding” idea of it.  Maybe I’ll start collecting pots of all kinds like the lady down the street who can grow anything in old shoes. No joke. She has dozens of odd things she uses to grow daisies, beans, even tomatoes. Me? I guess I’ll figure out a way to turn my patio into a garden. To hell with weeds. Weeds suck.Patio garden

pretty container

 

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waiting for spring

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No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.
~ Proverb

while Ventura & LA counties burn…

The Santa Monica Mountains average a deadly wildfire every 8 years. Since approximately 1939 there have been 10 deadly wildfires that have popped up in this one area. Fire corridors exist and have for decades, especially during the Santa Ana wind events, which is what’s happening now.  So when the powers that be back in the 1980s decided to extend J. Paul Getty’s personal art collection and house the artworks, antiquities, and sculptures in one central location  where the public could browse and stare at works from Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Monet, they decided on a property above the 405 Freeway, smack dab in the heart of the fire zone.

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Getty Images

Not exactly a smart move at the time. But architect Richard Meier said no problem. The guy promised he knew the dangers of putting priceless works of art at risk in a known fire corridor. Experts say he took major precautions. The center is built from non-combustible materials along with travertine limestone and aluminum panels. But that probably isn’t what secures the works of art. There’s a sophisticated air filtration system that kicks in. It reverses normal air circulation and blows outward, forcing the air out of the galleries. The system then locks down and seals each gallery off from smoke and fire. But the fire has to reach the campus first. According to the Museum, landscapers protected the surrounding hillside by allowing only native vegetation designed to contain wildfires because the plants are supposed to burn out before the fire ever reaches the buildings. Sounds great in theory, right? But this week ,the Skirball Fire came dangerously close. It wasn’t the first time. Back in 2015 the Sepulveda Pass Fire prompted an evacuation of visitors from the museum itself. I was last there in 2014. The site is a major tourist attraction which always seems to be crowded.

But I can’t help wondering when Mother Nature decides to test all the safeguards again—and it isn’t a question of IF, but WHEN—only then will we know for certain that the Getty Museum is truly prepared for a natural disaster, the likes of which many people have already experienced firsthand by losing their homes and everything they owned. My

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Image: AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON

heart goes out to the victims, who didn’t even have time to grab a change of clothes before they had to run for their lives.

keep the door open to long distance friends

The holidays are a perfect time to take inventory of those long-distance friendships you’ve cultivated over the years. You may not see them as often as you’d like to sit down for a cup of coffee or go outimages for a long gabfest over lunch, but it doesn’t mean you can’t nurture them along another way. As it turns out I have a whopping high percentage of people in my life who live somewhere else. I attribute this to moving around quite a bit in my early twenties and thirties.

It makes it an art to keeping these long-distance friendships alive and well even though they live hundreds of miles away from me and in some cases in another country. For me, I tend to do a lot of communicating via emails. But let’s face it, sometimes that doesn’t cut it when it comes to sitting down and catching up with friends.  Skype works, as does long Sunday afternoon phone calls. No cutting corners on this one by passing on this part. Think of it this way. If you know someone who’s traveled all over the world you have a built-in conversation. I love beff1ab2bcf0c1ba671cf073d814b48e--long-distance-friends-long-distance-quoteshearing about what life is like somewhere else.  I think we’re all curious about what’s going on where we don’t live and that’s true for people we don’t see in person very often.

So keep the door open to all kinds of communication, making sure you ask what’s happening in their neck of the woods with family and life in general. From Savannah to London or Vancouver, it’s always a pleasure to hear from my faraway friends. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

summer + nature = redwoods

redwoods

No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe.

~ John Steinbeck

Summer along the California coast is inspirational, nothing more so than the Redwood National Forest, enjoying it so much I’m making it a feature in the next series.

Could you really go green?

It was not until we saw the picture of the earth, from the moon, that we realized how small and how helpless this planet is – something that we must hold in our arms and care for. ~ Margaret Mead

 

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So many PSAs out there suggesting we make going  green and cutting back during the drought a part of our daily lives. But could you really take the necessary steps to make an impact to save the planet and go green even if the drought wasn’t an issue? Could you make significant  changes in the way you do things to make enough of a difference to cut down on greenhouse gases, sending waste to landfills, and cutback on the energy you use to do all those things you still love doing?

Here in Southern California we’ve had to rethink the way we do everything. That’s why a year ago we took a few first steps to do our part to go a little greener. It might not be much but every little bit helps, right? Here are four simple things we do now that have become habit.

1. Cut back on water. Our household has learned to use much less water, both outside and inside. Yes, my plants have suffered. But keep in mind I’m not the world’s best gardener anyway. Inside the house, I don’t start the dishwasher unless it’s completely full. I don’t let the water run while washing dishes.  We take fewer showers, choosing to shower every other day instead of daily. We’ve shut off the faucet while brushing our teeth instead of letting the water run like we used to do. Score!

2. Recycle. We recycle everything. Glass, aluminum, plastic, paper, cardboard. Leftovers. When you consider that there’s 60 million plastic bottles in use in the US every day and only 23% of those are recycled, that leaves an astonishing amount out there that ends up in the trash heap and ultimately in landfills. To cut back on plastic, we invested in BPA-free reusable water bottles. We take them with us everywhere we go. Filling them up cuts down on the cost of buying the individual plastic bottles. We also recycle furniture by finding new homes for things, like a couch we had for years that went to a single mom to furnish her new place to live. Score!

3. Cut back on electricity usage. We follow all the energy alerts or what is called Save Power Days. Save Power Days is where you sign up voluntarily to reduce your electricity usage on certain days between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. During these days we delay running the dryer or any other large appliance. We set the thermostat to 78 degrees and open the windows and doors (which lately in the heat of summer has  sometimes made for a sweltering sauna.) We also power down our electrical devices for two hours. The more electricity you save during these energy alerts the more bill credits you can rack up. Score! Buy-Local1

4. We shop locally. Shopping locally means supporting businesses in our neighborhood which translates to saving on shipping. We buy as much  as we can that’s grown or made locally. I live near a lot of fields where produce is grown that ends up at the local farmer’s market. And there are fruit stands open here year-round. We shop at thrift stores whenever possible. That means taking gently used items and giving them a new home and saving cash! Score!

So far, so good, right?

Now comes the problematic area.  To save on fuel it’s recommended we take public transit more often, at the minimum, once a week. To be honest, we drive most everywhere we go. If the trips are fairly short it seems less of a hassle to just jump in the car and get it done.  We do take the train on longer trips, but other than that, it’s the car for most everywhere else. Let’s face it, it’s hard to break that reliance and convenience of having your own wheels, able to come and go as you please, whenever you please, without waiting on a bus timetable.

But we do manage to conserve fuel in other ways, like combining our errands into one major shopping trip. Although public transportation here is first rate and will get you to local shopping malls and back without too much waiting time between buses, as cooler weather gets here, we do plan on expanding our foray into taking the bus. I’ll let you know in future posts how it goes.

The changes we’ve made may seem small now. But it wasn’t always that way. All in all, I think our greening effort is a good first start. As with any change, the more routine things become, the easier it gets. Hopefully, over time, we’ll be able to incorporate even more ways to go green.

Autumn

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

~ Albert Camus

Winter’s coming but until then find your favorite place in the park and enjoy nature at its best.

Photo credit: Jyothi Karthik Raja

 

Photo credit: Larisa Koshkina

 

While most summer flowers have already given up their season, fall daisies are just getting started. These hardy buds hang in there reminding us there’s beauty in simplicity.

Photo credit: Planet Natural