Here in Malibu
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May 31, 2009

Rude the dude


In case you think all I do is post pix of the pets, here's a link to my most recent book review, a link to a Home cover, and a post on LAO's own Native Intelligence.

Meanwhile, here's Evinrude, channeling his inner James Dean. (Dig the '50s hair.) Lots more of The Rude One, and Patsy, too.

May 29, 2009

Bobcats -- MIA

Bobcats in Malibu

I've been looking for the bobcats who live near the barn and sadly, haven't seen them in a long time. Sightings were never very frequent, this being a stealthy creature, but once in a while you'd catch a glimpse or cross paths, meet a bobcat's utterly wild gaze and the moment would be electric.

This is the mom and one of her three kittens, all playing in a field near the barn a few years back. Since then, a lot of habitat in the neighborhood has been lost to huge houses and lots of fences and, one of the very worst blights in Malibu, vineyards. But maybe saying I haven't seen the bobcats will do the trick, piss off Mother Nature, who will let me get a fresh glimpse.

May 28, 2009

Did I mention the prom?


A few weeks ago the streets of Paradise Cove filled with kids in formal wear, the boys all 007 in spiffy black tuxes, the girls kind of nervous in tiny, plunging dresses, teetering along on their stripper heels, all of them so young they couldn't help but look beautiful.

They mixed and mingled at the bluff, a surging crowd, laughing and flirting and taking photos, all part of a pre-prom party one of the dads was hosting. Then they swirled their way back up the street, hopped into this souped-up bus and were gone.

May 27, 2009

More May Gray

Happy dogs

May Gray is still going strong and June Gloom is just around the corner. But here are two Malibuites who could care less. Their recipe for joy -- an open field, fresh coyote poop, and thou. Maisie would add that to her Twitter feed, if only she had thumbs.

May 26, 2009

A swallowtail in the canyon

Swallowtail in the canyon

It seems to be swallowtail season here in Malibu, with dozens of these dazzling butterflies floating through the trees. Mostly they're too quick to capture in a photo but this one landed for a while, let me get close enough to see.

May 24, 2009

How to relax on the holiday


A nap. This is how it's done.

(From the fiddle festival last weekend.)

May 23, 2009

Signs of Saturday: A case of you


Lots to look at during last week's Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Festival, including this musician's take on "This I believe."

More pix of the festival here.

May 22, 2009

The garden -- planted

this year's garden

Here it is, this year's garden, planted in the canyon next to the barn. I've got sunflowers and corn, tomatoes and peppers, pumpkins, squash and watermelon, and some herbs and marigolds to help keep bad bugs at bay.

But -- and it's a big one -- there are challenges. Like the earth itself. See? You can make pottery out of it:pot

And then there are my neighbors, the gophers:Young gopher at the barn

Still, I do have help -- look, a ladybug!ladybug

And the memory of last year's garden, which offered up lots of bouquets like this, and nature girl moments like this:Butterfly in Malibu Definitely worth the dirt and digging and non-stop gopher mockery.

May 21, 2009

Sweet peas

sweet peas

One of my favorite flower growers at the Farmers Market in Santa Monica on Saturdays has all the usual stuff -- roses and lilies, mums and ronunculus, lots and lots of crayon-colored gerbera daisies. Every few weeks, though, they have something unexpected, something small-scale and labor intensive like these fragile and lovely sweet peas.

May 20, 2009

Malibu beaches -- the best and the worst

surf skirt, malibu

We tremble a bit here in Malibu when the annual Heal the Bay report card gets handed out. Our beaches are beautiful, sure, but some of them are pretty dirty, too.

I doubt anyone's surprised that Surfrider State Beach made the Top 10 list of LA County's most polluted beaches -- again. But here's the good news: Malibu is home to three of LA County's top 10 cleanest beaches, with Zuma, El Matador and El Pescador each making the cut.

Check out all the info at Heal the Bay's site right here. (You can also get water quality grades via your cell phone.) And if you're a beach lover, consider supporting that fine organization with a donation.

May 19, 2009

The hills are alive


Think Malibu and most people think beach. But that's just the hem of our garment, the far edge of this hamlet between the mountains and the sea. Up in the hills it's trees and shrubs and scrub and grasses, almost none of it native, nearly all of it flammable. So when you're walking high up above the houses and you hit a meadow gone all gold and gleaming you think, ooh, pretty; uh oh -- fire.

May 18, 2009



One of the truck tires had a slow leak so on Friday, I took it to Malibu Auto, our local indie repair shop. The place sits under a bunch of sycamore trees and while the tire was being fixed, this egret flew back and forth a few times, gathering sticks for its nest.

May 17, 2009

This morning in Malibu


Here's the view from our walk on this cool and misty morning, a moment that will likely seem dreamlike a few hours from now at the hot and sunny site of the Topanga Fiddle and Banjo and Guitar and Everything Acoustic and Folkie contest. See you there?

May 16, 2009

Signs of Saturday: Bumper sticker

bumper sticker

This is a fast, fumbled shot through my windshield of an antidote to all those honor student show offs. Whether the mom still loves her kid just as much when he's just left the toilet seat up AGAIN is different story. (And a different bumper sticker.)

May 15, 2009

Wish I was here

Dume dune

I'm on deadline today, which means I've naturally found time to do a little sweeping, some dusting, organize the sock drawer and, because the pet karma seems a bit damaged today, take Patsy to the vet for a bum leg, and Maisie to the vet for, well, I'll put it delicately and just say...hmmm, there's no delicate way to put it. Let's just say Maisie went to the vet and he used gloves and she's comfortable again.

Meanwhile, here's a lovely little Point Dume dune. Ahhh, better now.

May 14, 2009



I was in the Valley running errands yesterday and it was a million 88 degrees and sunny, a shock for someone shrouded in chilly coastal mist for the past week.

Today though, we've got sun and here it is, first light on an agapanthus bloom, fighting free of its cocoon.

May 13, 2009


coyote corridor

A steep, deep creek bed borders our path to the beach. It's thick with trees and scrub and, though houses line the opposite rim, there's enough open space that the ravine is laced with wildlife trails. We've seen California quail here, rabbits and roadrunners, raccoons and skunks and hawks and owls and, of course, coyotes. Their scent drives the dogs wild. They race around, trace the coyotes' footsteps, noses to the ground, the hair on Jake's back raised in a goofy Mohawk.

Today they discovered this arch in the underbrush, the coyotes' front door. It's a good-sized opening that leads to a slender path, a twining tube down into the creek bed. Too small for the dogs to follow, not that I'd ever let them as, with a slew of new homes eating up ancient habitat, the wild things here have enough of a struggle to survive.

Those quail I mentioned? Gone for several years now. Ditto the road runner, the great horned owl and the red tailed hawk. Now it's coyotes and bunnies, and a pair of labs doing a bunch of showy running. And, unless one of us stops her, Maisie, rolling in a pile of poop, her take on haute couture, Eau de Coyote. Ooh la la.

May 12, 2009

May gray


No, this is not today's sunrise, or yesterday's, or any day this week. We're deep in the throes of May gray, the chill and foggy season that precedes that other coastal specialty, June gloom.

So this is an antidote, a peek-a-boo sunrise from early this year, shot beneath the pier. And today's dawn? It's right here, so smoothly bland and drab, a spot to focus on was hard to find.

May 11, 2009

Living the dream

You know that dream, the one where you suddenly realize you're out in public but you kind of forgot to get dressed? That happens a lot at Starbucks here in Malibu. There was this girl:

at breakfast today

And we all remember this girl:

more undies at starbucks

And this weekend, there was this girl. Just living the dream.

just another morning at Starbucks

May 10, 2009


It's cool and cloudy today here in Malibu, energy light too flat to shoot pix, so here's the easy way out. Someone else's video. Funny. And in the end, it's not the animal's persistence that winds up looking, well, silly.

May 9, 2009

Signs of Saturday: getting creative

the birds

Here's the sign for Kohl's, the discount retail outlet at the Fallbrook Mall, where a few pairs of ravens have foiled the management and built their nests. Scary, though, as there's no room for avian error.

And a bit of self-promotion: I've got an essay in today's Home section, a meditation on the trend in ridiculously expensive and narcissistic extreme bathrooms.

May 8, 2009

The f-ing truth


I'm a little dyslexic when it comes to numbers. I blame all those crazy word problems where Johnny has seven apples and Sally has two and if the train going 90 miles per hour gets halfway to Judy's house in ten minutes, is it time for a margarita? (Yes.)

This spills over into my struggle with the concept of the camera's f-stop, where the bigger the number, the smaller the opening of the lens. Whose brilliant idea was that? And then, because life isn't already challenging enough (seriously, Miley Cyrus?) depth of field is an inverse proportion to aperture size.

I can get there eventually -- bigger number = smaller opening = bigger depth of field -- but by the time I do, my subject, most recently this lizard, is looking over his shoulder saying dude, have you got the shot yet? It's hot and I'm hungry and I'm already missing a piece of my tail.

Power outage in the 'Bu *

Power is out in Malibu from Carbon Canyon to the Malibu Pier. This includes all traffic lights along that stretch of PCH which means, well, gridlock.

How long will this last? According to the robo-call we just got from the city, about 24 hours.

Here's the bulletin from the city's website.

* All fixed, and very quickly, Yay!

May 7, 2009

In case you were wondering...


Yes, it's beautiful today here in Malibu.

May 6, 2009

Construction begins

Knoll before constructionI'm sorry to say that this lovely little knoll is no more. The earth movers have come (along with their PortaPotty) and are systematically leveling it, making way for a fairly large two-story house. Here's how it looks so far.

Knoll after construction starts

May 5, 2009

When all is right with the world

jake jumps

Here's Jake, just before catching the ball, just after judging the distance just right, eyes closed, muscles coiled, success assured, all with a sweet ocean breeze gently blowing.

May 4, 2009

Point Dume

the view at Point DumeThread your way through the residential flats of Point Dume, where mega-mansions line the bluffs and modest ranch homes sit on grassy lots, none for sale for under two million dollars, and there it is, the headland, a hump-backed peninsula that marks the northern curve of the Santa Monica Bay. There's always a breeze there, always the sound of waves. Sheer cliffs drop to rocky coves, to secret pocket beaches, to rock piles and rookeries and seals basking in the sun.

please be carefulIt's a place of superlatives, one of the most beautiful, most dramatic, most accessible -- and most fragile -- bits of coastal wilderness in Malibu. The paths are clearly marked. The signs couldn't be plainer. It's an ecosystem where a single misplaced footstep can cause damage, can displace a lizard or injure a giant coreopsis or weaken the dune structure so it crumbles, erodes away in the wind and rain.

So what are these two guys doing? Like dozens of people each week, they've stepped off the marked path, climbed over a barrier and hiked across the delicate dunes. But these two guys have upped the ante. Look closely and you'll see they've got climbing gear.

What are they doing? Selfishly, carelessly, cluelessly abusing a national treasure for their own pleasure. It ought to be a crime.

Oh wait -- it is.trespassing at Point Dume

May 3, 2009

Seal of approval


A friend and I walked out to the Point Dume headlands to watch that alleged rainstorm heading our way. We saw some clouds crowd the horizon, watched a shroud of mist roll out over the hills, and caught a glimpse of something sleek and shiny out on the water, diving and disappearing, popping up and bobbing about, these seals, as it turns out, taking care of important, pinniped business.

May 2, 2009

Signs of Saturday: Killer snails

Santa Monica farmer's market

A touch of the horror film among the blood oranges and wild arugula at the Santa Monica farmer's market. I particularly like how the snails get their own dark and foreboding font.

May 1, 2009


The Rude One

Here he is, Evinrude, so gleeful, so emotional, so overwhelmed at the thought that the weekend is finally here, I'm a little embarrassed for him.

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