Here in Malibu
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December 31, 2008

A quake, some fog, and year's end

fog fills the canyon

First came that 3 a.m. jolt, short and sharp, an earthquake somewhere off the Malibu coast. The trailer shook, the china rattled, but the household slept on. This morning, fog, rolling in off the Pacific in thick, wet sheets. Longing for sun, we drove up the canyon and caught an hour or so of warmth and golden light.

Oh, and remember my post last week about the vanishing sands of Broad Beach? The Times has a story today that says it's all a result of global warming. I still think the bulldozers destroyed the structure of the beach when, several years back, homeowners built an enormous -- and illegal -- berm to keep the public at bay. The county made them remove the berm and the sand went back but the angle was wrong, the pitch was off, the natural order of things forever altered. But that's just what I think.

Happy New Year's Eve to all of you. Am hoping to shoot the first sunrise of 2009 tomorrow, if it's not (and I'm not) too foggy.

December 30, 2008

The dogs have a new hero

How can this not be an Olympic event? (Via BoingBoing.)

December 29, 2008


wet and green

Just a bit of greenery that popped up on the beach path during the most recent rains. And here's a little post about Robert Graham, whose death last week took so many people by surprise.

December 28, 2008

Farmer girl

farmer girl

I want to move to the country. And talk to the animals. And make new friends. (And yes, I have a new fave photostream on Flickr.)

December 27, 2008

Signs of Saturday: Wishful thinking

A quick, crummy and fuzzy (trifecta!) cell shot of a sign on the cash register at the Malibu Kitchen in the Cross Creek Shopping Center, prime hunting ground for the pap rats.

December 26, 2008

Not-so-Broad Beach

broad beach erosion

Remember the wide and gracious sweep of Broad Beach, a strip of sand in northern Malibu lined with mega-mansion$? For years there's been a simmering feud between homeowners and beach goers over where the public/private dividing line actually is.

A few years back, some Broad Beach homeowners hired bulldozers to build up the dunes in front of the row of houses. Illegal. The county promptly ordered them to hire bulldozers to put the sand back where it had been. The place kind of looked the same, but not quite.

Now, (and who knows whether the whole bulldozer fiasco had anything to do with it, but my cousin, who has lived on Broad Beach since the 1970s, says she's never seen anything like this) now, the tides are sweeping all the way up to people's yards, up to their houses, even on the broadest sweep of the formerly broad beach.

December 24, 2008

Merry and happy

tree lights

It's Christmas Eve and it's the fourth night of Hanukkah -- such riches! Here in Malibu, it's gray and still, the way it gets before a storm. But all up and down the street, sweet, warm tree lights are winking. Magic.

December 23, 2008

All in a row

all in a row

The sight of the little dog in her raincoat has been so amusing, I never really noticed that it comes with extras, like these tiny plastic ducks that embellish the pleat that lets the coat fit snugly around her sturdy butt.

December 21, 2008

Solstice sunset

solstice  sunset

Here's the solstice sunset on Broad Beach. Tomorrow, a minute more of daylight than we had today.

Solstice sunrise

ahh, solstice sun rising

The sun rises over the Palos Verdes peninsula, seen from the bluff in Paradise Cove. Happy new year!

December 19, 2008

Channel change

Remember the pond that forms here each spring?

new salt water pond

Well, each winter the rains rush down the creek bed and carve a channel instead.
new channel

December 18, 2008

The grand-mère coat

the grandmere coat

Just 44 degrees this morning here in Malibu, which means the group of us who wake and walk at dawn dwindles. It also means that, even though it's fur, which I normally never wear, my grandmother's coat comes out of storage.

It's a puzzler, this coat, a mid-century mink, sedate save for the zig-zag zoom-zoom lining. My grandmother's coat, which sometimes still smells of her perfume. She was classy, beautiful and tall, one of those Parisiennes who knew how to knot a scarf just so, who, though she lived nearby for decades, never visited the Eiffel Tower.

I wonder what she'd think of her coat now, worn with jeans and rain boots to walk the dogs, a tennis ball in the pockets that once held theater tickets or opera glasses or a monogrammed hankie. I'd like to think it would be "très bien," but "sacre bleu!" is closer to the truth. She'd smile while saying it, though, pull you in for a quick kiss, for a breath of that sweet perfume.

December 17, 2008

Is it windy where you are?

precision rain stormIt's wild here right now, the wind howling around the house, the clouds crowding the horizon. It's a high wind, a steady wind, not too bad at ground level but up in the trees, way up in the tossing treetops, it looks like waves breaking.

This photo is from yesterday when a cloud snaked out over the Pacific and aimed a precision rain storm at a tanker headed home. You can't really see the ship, not even in the photo below, an alleged closeup, because I can't seem to get into the habit of carrying an actual camera with me. I rely on the tiny -- but perfectly fine -- but tiny point-and-shoot that fits in my pocket and has a limited zoom. Still, you can kind of get the picture.

precision rain storm

December 16, 2008

Window shopping


It's a lean holiday season for so many who lost their jobs this year. Makes me grateful that my annual gift to friends and family of a blooming pot of narcissus is still affordable, still beautiful. A plus -- getting to watch as the plantings scattered all through the house grow a little bit each day.

December 15, 2008

A bright spot

wet dogs
I could say this photo's all soft and out of focus because it's too dark and rainy today to shoot without a flash. Or I could just admit the sight of the little dog, swaddled like a sausage, makes the camera shake as I laugh out loud.

Here she is, swearing like a sailor happy to be dry in her shiny, yellow raincoat. (And here's her inner monologue.)maisie and her coat

December 13, 2008

Signs of Saturday: Grrrr


Beware of the cranky, French-speaking dog.

December 12, 2008

Friday light

first light

Early, too early to be out without a tripod but there I am, pressed against the fence, arms braced, breath held, to catch the earliest light, the blues of sky and sea and sunrise, dissolving on the here-comes-the-rain horizon.

December 11, 2008

A touch of the grape

Remember this big house, the hills in all directions stripped bare for a vineyard?
this is progress?

Now it's an even bigger house, and the vineyard reaches further:

December 10, 2008

Care package for Portland

south from Point Dume

Dear Melissa,

Got your 911 tweet yesterday for some sun and here it is, the view you know so well, looking south from the Point Dume headlands. The air was warm, the sand was warm, the wooden bench where you can sit and watch the waves was warm.

I've got to be honest, we just had a few five foggy days in a row that had people here checking out airfares to Tahiti. But things are back to December-normal here in Malibu, with cool mornings that quickly warm to sunny days, then ease into long, slow sunsets so spectacular, scores of drivers pull over on PCH to watch.

Of course we are suffering the annual torment of the tinny muzak loop of Christmas carols, a pestilence in every establishment with a cash register, but c'est la vie during the holidays. So hurry home from Portland for your Christmas visit. Everyone here misses you.



December 9, 2008

She's all that


As a member of the LA Times Layoff Class of '08, now waiting to hear more about how the Tribune Co.'s recent Chapter 11 filing affects us, I'm in need of silliness. Enter the little dog.

More than a few of you have written to say Maisie the Teacup Lab deserves a blog of her own and I agree. Would that she had thumbs to hold a camera and guide a mouse and hitchhike around Malibu in search of fresh coyote poop locations.

What the freakishly small black dog does have, however is a really pink, really big, remarkably flexible tongue. Does iPhone have an app for that?

December 8, 2008

December light

monday morning

No use trying to figure out the light this time of year, it's such a complicated mix. There's the tilt of the earth, the sweep of storms, the retreating sun, the coming solstice.

Here's the beach this morning, looking north soon after sunrise, the sea so smooth, the winter grays rimmed in palest rose.

December 6, 2008

Signs of Saturday: falling rocks

falling rocks

There are so many signs in my neck of the woods I've been meaning to blog that I'm hereby inaugurating an almost-weekly (wiggle room!) feature, Signs of Saturday.

Here's one of my favorites, posted just before northbound PCH narrows to a twisting two-lane blacktop, steep drops to the water on one side, steep and seemingly deadly cliffs on the other.

Welcome to the beach! Enjoy the drive!

December 5, 2008



The sun rose today and we could see it. It flooded the house and warmed the air and the cats lounged on the deck doing that languid, boneless thing and in the trees, the birds went nuts.

I'm guessing that if, after a mere five days of foggy gloom my mood matched the overcast, my fantasy about moving to Vermont to live on a farm might be a wee bit off-base.

December 4, 2008



Is it possible to get Seasonal Affective Disorder from five relentless days of thick, gray, wet, gray, cold, gray fog? Did celestial contract negotiations break down somewhere? Is the sunlight on strike?

I'm forced to reach into my archive for an antidote, a silky fresh nasturtium radiating every blessed blazing golden orange hothot shade of a heat-wave sunrise.

Ahhh, better now.

December 3, 2008



Driving home from a late-ish dinner in Venice last night when suddenly, brake lights. PCH, that box canyon of roadways, was closed between Sunset and Topanga and we were stuck.

Police ordered northbound cars up Sunset to the 405, to the 101, to Topanga and then back down again to PCH, an hour's detour to go half a mile. I headed up Sunset and, thinking to find a quiet place to check the Thomas Guide, followed a car with flashing tail lights as it veered left into a tiny side street.

As the rest of the PCH traffic roared on up the hill, we wound down and around a dark, twisty road in the dark, foggy night. Suddenly, a fortress of a guard gate with a sign demanding I.D. loomed up, but a man with a flashlight waved us through. We drove.

The road narrowed and dropped and at each fork and curve, another flashlight waved us on. We crept through the shadowed grounds of the Getty Villa, magically and mysteriously open for our tiny caravan. How did they know? Why didn't the police know?

The last flashlight waved us through the Villa's front gates and there we were, just moments later, back on PCH, the only northbound car for the rest of the drive home.

Photo: Flickr / via Creative Commons

December 2, 2008

When the fog rolls in

another foggy day

We've been fogged in for a few days now, socked in, hemmed in, pressed against this cloudy coast. Usually, like a parlor trick, you can drive into the hills and emerge in sunlight. Yesterday, though, when I gave it a go, the fog was faster. Here's the little glimpse I got before the fog rolled right over me, rolled past me and obscured everything. No little cat feet, I'm afraid, just a heavy, hefty layer of wet and drippy gray.

December 1, 2008

Malibu flyboys get grounded in Bluffs Park

Perhaps you remember this photo of parasailers making a landing, once a common sight in Bluffs Park?


Well, it eventually led to this -- a crash landing and a quarter-acre fire near the park last summer.

Which has inevitably led to this:

signs 005

The sign appeared just a few days ago in Bluffs Park. (More about signs in the park tomorrow.)

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