Here in Malibu
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August 31, 2009

Paparazzi in Malibu

First of all -- have you been following the LA Times' remarkable fire coverage? They're updating regularly on Twitter (@latimesfires) too. And lord, the photos.

And now, back to our little slice of coast.

If you happen to live in one of these houses:Homes targeted by paparazzi

And a photo of you appeared in a one of these rags mags rags:tabs

It's because these bozos:paparazzi in Malibu

...were parked across the canyon on Sunday afternoon:paparazzi in Malibu

...using long loooong lenses to spy on you.paparazzi in Malibu

Photo of magazine rack with tabloid covers by mtsofan via Creative Commons

August 30, 2009

The old Cove

Old Paradise Cove

My friend and co-author, Ernie Marquez, whose family once owned all of Santa Monica canyon and beyond, 6,656 acres that included Pacific Palisades and even a bit of Topanga (and whose ancestors lie in a small, sheltered cemetery in the canyon), makes my business cards. Over the years he has amassed a stunning collection of photos of bygone California, including hundreds of remarkable pix of old Malibu. Yesterday's photo comes from that collection, as does this one of the original trailers of Paradise Cove. (Both are in my biz card rotation.)

When we moved to Paradise Cove 14 years ago, some of those trailers were still here, available for about $35,000. They've been turned into beach cottages now, available for about $350,000.

Still a bargain.

August 29, 2009

Signs of Saturday: The Malibu mall

Malibu Trading Post

As the battle escalates over the proposed expansion of the Trancas shopping center, which would turn a sleepy little corner of local commerce into a bloated 22,000-square-foot mall (down from the originally proposed 33,000 square feet, if you can imagine) it's instructive to take a step back and see how it all looked not so many decades ago.

August 28, 2009

Great white shark

Young great white shark

There she is, the fifth young great white shark to go on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Here's the info from the press release:

The young shark, a five-foot, three-inch female weighing 79.8 pounds, was brought north on Wednesday in a 3,000-gallon mobile life support transport vehicle. She was collected August 12 by aquarium staff with the help of a spotter plane and a commercial fishing crew using a purse seine net. She was quickly transferred to a 4-million-gallon ocean holding pen off Malibu, where she remained for almost two weeks. Aquarium staff observed her swimming comfortably and feeding in the pen nearly a dozen times before she was brought to Monterey and placed in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit.

We didn't get our usual front-row seat of the mobile shark tank this year as, at the request of some local businesses, it was relocated a mile offshore near Corral Canyon.

Pete Thomas at the Times has a blog post.

You can watch for the great white in the live webcam here, and you can check out the routes previous sharks took when released from the tank on this site, here.

A great piece by Pete Thomas, about the shark's journey, is here.

PHOTO: ©Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder

August 27, 2009

Tech support

Patsy Due to circumstances beyond our control, blogging has been suspended today.

August 26, 2009

Almost autumn

late august sunrise

It was low in the 60s this morning when the sun peeked out from behind the peaks, which was the moment the mist wrapped around Santa Monica turned transparent.

August 25, 2009

Checkered past


Here's a staircase in the courtyard of one of the buildings on the site of the former King Gillette ranch, with a tile pattern so stark and intense, it makes me dizzy.


Pass the Dramamine, please.pattern

August 24, 2009

A little chile in the air

I moved to LA from New Mexico and, all these years later, I still miss it. The mountains:Santa Fe

The mesas:new mexico

The snow:Edgewood, NM

The cinnamon rolls:The Frontier Restaurant

Which is why, when Bristol Farms advertised Hatch green chiles for sale on Saturday, a friend and I were first in line:roasting chiles.

You see chiles? I see green chile chicken echiladas.:Hatch green chiles

August 23, 2009

Starry, starry night

King Gilette Ranch

We went to the King Gillette Ranch yesterday for a night hike and some stories about the stars. It's so beautiful there, 588 acres of oak woodlands, all open to the public.

We saw a great blue heron's nest, saw the heron nearby, fishing in a pond. Saw hawks and owls in flight, saw the footprints left by a herd of dear, heard a coyote pack's bloody feast.

And we saw stars, lots and lots of stars, though which stars is hard to say as the very sweet and very enthusiastic park service worker who knew the terrain so well, knew so much about the landscape and the mammals (she pointed out the remains of a tiny jaw in some coyote poop) couldn't quite find the Milky Way.

August 22, 2009

Signs of Saturday: Farm life

family farm magazines

Once upon a time in America there were so many family farms, they had their own genre of magazines with beautiful, idealized covers.

Who knew?

August 21, 2009

The wild parrots

Wild parrots in Malibu

I love the colors of these wild parrots, the sliding scale of green, the edges of indigo and orange.

Wild parrots in Malibu

It's a loud bird, no murmur in that voice. Get four or five together or, as at the barn, a flock of 20, and it's the shriek of a circular saw gone wrong.

Wild parrots in Malibu

I rarely see a single bird -- they travel as a flock. When one flies, they all fly. There's the cackle of alarm, the dry rustle of wings, the sudden ascent. And then that scraped and rasping cry fades down the canyon, marks their passage.

Wild parrots in Malibu

August 20, 2009

Back in the saddle again

Patsy and the '49 Plymouth

So the Plymouth is back and so is Patsy, who still finds it the best spot for her afternoon nap.

Meanwhile, my quest to get a permit allowing workmen to park in front of the house without my personal LA County Sheriff's deputy giving me another $60 ticket continues.

As you may recall, the deputy told me to get a permit from Malibu City Hall, where workers told me I can't have the permit because Paradise Cove is private property. Cove management doesn't have such a permit, but they're mulling it over.

So I called the state's Department of Housing and Community Development. The permit guy, Danny Wade, was on duty that day but -- and believe me, I understand -- he was too busy to take any of my three calls and didn't manage to call me back.

Yesterday, the permit guy on duty, John George, did call me back. And promptly told me it has nothing to do with him and he has no idea who to turn to. So I asked for his supervisor's name, which turns out to be Sal.

I left Sal a voicemail message yesterday morning, saying all I want is a hint on where to turn. Surely the state agency that oversees mobile home parks in California might have an idea of how to resolve this issue?

So far, no call back from Sal.

If I knew how to write the code for a poll in this blog post, I'd turn it all over to you. Does anyone there think Sal is going to call me back? Does anyone expect me to make a safe or sane return from my tumble down bureaucratic rabbit hole? Or shall I tie on a pinafore, grab The Mad Hatter's hand and go have tea with the queen?

August 19, 2009

The modern gardener

space man

I'm still fuzzy on the cult of the leaf blower, what with the dirt and dust and noise and crazy outfits.

August 18, 2009

Oh. My. God.

sycamore at the Adamson House

First, please take a close look at this shot of the magnificent sycamore on the lower lawn of the Adamson House. There's a stone wall beneath it where you can sit and feel the breeze, look up at the sky through a scrim of rustling leaves. The scent of the ocean calms you, the sound of the waves calms you, the slow rhythm of summer at the shore enfolds you. Ahhh, sweet peace.

Got that? You'll need it because I've been into the maw of city, county and state bureaucracies today, with a side of private landowners thrown in, and not one moment of it is pretty.

True story. There's a red stripe that says FIRE LANE down both sides of my street in Paradise Cove. The street is 30 feet wide and a fire lane has to be 20 feet wide so designating both sides of the street as fire lanes seems like overkill but I'm a staunch admirer and supporter of firefighters and if they in their wisdom believe we need two fire lanes, so be it. They rock.

The problem is, the fire lane makes it illegal for anyone to park in front of the house. I've paid three tickets so far for the workmen here. They have to park in front because they've got trailers to haul material and they don't fit in the driveway. And now I've got my own personal LA county sheriff who makes it his business to drive all the way into the Cove every day and ticket my house. Does he ticket every car and truck illegally parked in the Cove? He does not.

Be that as it may, we asked him how we can park trucks in front without getting a ticket and he said we need a permit from the City of Malibu. So I went to city hall this morning and sure enough, there's such a thing as an encroachment permit. BUT I can't have one because Paradise Cove is private property.

The city told me the permit I need is issued by the Cove's HOA because they're the ones who had the fire lanes put in. I assured them the HOA had nothing to do with the fire lanes, so the city worker told me to call the fire department. But this, as it turns out, is not the the fire department's jurisdiction. And, as it happens, it's not the county's jurisdiction either.

So -- remember, look at the photo, the soothing, soothing photo -- I'm told to go to the owners of the mobile home park, as they're the ones who will issue the encroachment permit. Except they've never heard of such a thing and thus, do not have such a thing. They said they'd look into it.

Meanwhile (did I mention I've paid THREE $60 tickets in the last two weeks) even as I write this, and I'm not making this up, my personal LA County sheriff's deputy (dude, do some sit-ups) just drove past my house, looking to write me another ticket.

August 16, 2009

A harbinger of fall in the garden

pumpkin blossom

First the flower blooms and, if the bees come and the gophers go, the pumpkin grows.

baby pumpkin

August 15, 2009

Signs of Saturday: Vanity plates

At the local feed store

Seen parked in front of HOWS, the local indie market at Trancas.

August 14, 2009

Another visit from the parrots

parrots in the garden

They're fast and bold and loud, a chattering gang more than a flock, and no matter that they descend on the garden several times a day, each time I see them is as thrilling as the first.

August 13, 2009


oh, maisie

While Maisie lounges poolside, our little town makes a bit of news:

One of those banners towed above our beaches warned UCLA and NBA basketball star Reggie Miller to steer clear of married women.

My neighbor, Pam Anderson (we just saw her this morning, walking a cute golden retriever) apparently loves mobile home living. (She calls her place a one-room trailer but it's actually about 1,700 square feet, three bedrooms and, as the friend who remodeled and sold it to Pam has lovely taste, it's really quite nice inside.)

Point Dume State Beach is on the hit list for closure in the state's current budget fiasco.

And the city has picked a contractor for the bitterly disputed Legacy Park it's building on a vacant swath of land in the center of town.

Meanwhile, you can shop and do a good deed when you buy Heal the Bay's canvas tote at the Malibu Lumber Yard.

August 12, 2009

Here we go again

ripping up the walls

So the guys are back and this time, they're swapping out the 1973-era aluminum windows for some nice, new dual-pane numbers. But first, they have to move everything into the middle of the room, swathe it all in plastic, and open up the walls.

no window


And then they take OUT the windows and for a few lovely minutes the morning mist drifts through the house. Freaky.

windows go out

August 11, 2009


Perfect for a mobile home book shelf

This cover and title are already so great, I couldn't bring myself to open the book in case it didn't measure up.

August 10, 2009


David Kipen and Veronique de Turenne

David Kipen and Veronique de Turenne

Happy anniversary!


We're socked in with a thick layer of fog that rolled in last night, tumbled down the hillside as we watched from the dinner table, some of us welcoming the break, others bemoaning even more chill in what has already been a cool summer.

And this morning I realized it's August 10, the day Here in Malibu debuted three years ago. So happy blogoversary to everyone who visits and writes and makes sharing this little corner of the coast so much fun.

August 9, 2009

Wild parrots in the garden

parrots in the garden

One of the reasons I plant sunflowers every year, besides the beautiful bouquets that fill the house, is these Nanday conures, or black-hooded parakeets, which swoop in to sit and swing on the sunflower stalks, chatting and grousing and nibbling.

parrots in the garden

August 8, 2009

Signs of Saturday: Air hed


A teensy tweak to one of the flying advertisements that use the airspace over Paradise Cove to make U-turns.

August 7, 2009

Vanishing point

vanishing point

Tipping point, vanishing point, point of no return. The point is, we've hit that odd spot in August when the sun's heat says summer but its angle promises fall.

August 6, 2009

Garden garden garden

sunflowers from the garden

Again with the garden?

Yes, because look at the latest harvest, these red-and-gold sunflowers, dozens of them all opening at the same time. The bees are so drunk on their pollen, they mumble apologies as they bump into me while I'm cutting the blooms.

And look! Corn! So many ears all ready at once that practically everyone on my block is eating corn for dinner these days.

corn from the garden

August 5, 2009

Good things come to those who wait


It takes a while for it to get here, but finally, it's jacaranda season in Malibu. Ahhh...

August 4, 2009


full moon

A friend and I had dinner at the Malibu Beach Inn last night, ate and drank and watched the sunset light up the windows on Palos Verdes, And then we ate and drank some more.

When I got home the moon was so bright and everything was so quiet, I took a walk with my little Powershot which, even though it has a setting called "manual", is not manual at all, so I set it for what I hoped was a long exposure and held my breath and here it is, a shot of the palm trees on the bluff in the midnight moonlight.

August 3, 2009

Monday sunrise

Monday sunrise

It's only August, I know, but autumn came to visit today. It was quick, just a sunrise moment, but unmistakable.

The light that came through the east-facing windows wasn't the thin, gray stuff we get on fogged-in days, and it wasn't the incandescent blast of a heat wave. This morning, autumn came to visit with a horizon as red as a bed of embers.

August 2, 2009

The Plymouth rides again

plymouth rides again

True confessions time: for the past four months, the Plymouth has served as a cat bed. Patsy hopped into an open window one day and, in the comfort-seeking manner of domesticated felines everywhere, took over.

She had a routine. Early morning nap curled up in a puff of down jacket left on the front seat. Mid-morning toilette perched on the bench seat's broad back. In the afternoon, she'd migrate to the little shelf under the rear window, stretch out to her full length and toast herself senseless in the sun. When that got too hot, she'd retire to the cool and shaded floor mats.

Only the tinny pop of the early evening can of cat food could lure her. Even then she'd return to perch on the Plymouth's sun-heated hood until every last atom of warmth had dispersed. This went on for so long that the battery died and spiders took residence and the cat hair, lord the cat hair, everywhere. And thick.

So one morning, while the Plymouth was empty, I cleaned it out and called AAA and it went to Malibu Auto where Kelly gave it a new battery and checked the fluid levels and added air to the tires and now I'm driving the Plymouth again and people I don't know are waving to me again and Patsy, well, Patsy has now taken up residence in the little red pickup. Knock before entering.

August 1, 2009

Signs of Saturday: life goes on

Human or animal, you don't get to choose who you love.

RIP Evinrude


And boy, did we ever love Evinrude around here. He was 14 years old, as cranky as he was beautiful, and lived a fine long life.

Thank you for all your kind notes and sweet thoughts.

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