We were up in the canyon yesterday, the dogs and I, and it felt like spring. Not a typical California spring, as it was unusually cold and unusually sunny, but still, with the light and the breeze and the bonanza of wildflowers, a gift of all that late-season rain, no one here minds one bit.
There's a vintage Jeep behind the barn which, when he has time, a friend is repairing. It's also where a Meyer lemon and a Mexican lime, still in their pots, wait to be transplanted.
That's where I was standing last week, happily watering the trees and admiring the view when I realized something on the Jeep was moving. Toward me.
There's a middle part of this story, and maybe there's some shrieking and possibly some running and at least one panicked phone call, but in the end the killer anaconda I was certain I saw turned out to be this little garter snake.
In a town where SUVs squeeze into any space they can, it's refreshing to see someone abide by parking guidelines.
Of course, there's a joker in every crowd:
It's just a two lane road up to the barn, narrow and edged with trees. Every few hundred feet, the canopies touch overhead, form a tunnel of shifting green.
It was in the oak tree tunnel yesterday that this hawk appeared, swooped right over the hood of the car and landed on the limb above. You can't quite tell from this photo but he's looking right at me with his fierce raptor eyes, staring over his shoulder as I snap a shot or two.
We drive off but the hawk stays put, back to serious business now that the pesky human is safely on her way.
Here's the deal -- one group of environmentalists wants to dredge and re-shape the Malibu Lagoon, a $7 million project they believe will save an ailing waterway. Another group of environmentalists say the lagoon's just fine, and the dredging will actually kill it. Surfers, meanwhile, are worried about what any change to the landscape will do to Surfrider Beach's famous wave.
Last week, a judge in San Francisco put the kibosh on the project, until at least September. Today, the New York Times catches up with a story of its own:
It was a cool weekday afternoon, but dozens of surfers were bobbing in the water, waiting for a wave. This was Malibu: the national symbol of surfing, adored by California wave riders for 50 years, near the famous stretch of coast where Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon partied on the beach.
These days, Malibu is renowned for something else: a court and civic battle that has pitted surfer against surfer, environmentalist against environmentalist and City Council member against City Council member. A $7 million plan to clean up the Malibu Lagoon -- its brackish waters clogged with silt and mud -- has stirred up a community that is more commonly identified with exclusivity and natural beauty than street protesters and smack-downs at City Council meetings.
The rest of the story is here.
Those beach party films? Actually shot at Leo Carillo, Corral, Topanga and Paradise Cove. The lagoon fight, meanwhile, has split the Malibu City Council, put surfers on edge, and has environmentalists going mano a mano.
Malibu. Gotta love it.
Malibu Lagoon photos from Flickr, via creative content.
That's the thing about remodels -- you have to live through them in real time.
My house in Paradise Cove belongs to someone else. They moved in last week, with plans to remodel it. (Yeah, I know. And thank you for your reactions to that news.)
The day I signed the papers I had 30 minutes of sheer jubilation, followed by 30 days of sheer despair. I'd been in that house for 16 years. Big Events took place there, little ones, too. Life happened, as it does to us all.
The place used to belong to Otis Chandler, for heaven's sake. But Otis moved on without a backward glance and now, it seems, so have I. In the two weeks after escrow closed, I leased my own house back from the new owners. I kept waiting to hit bottom, to feel worse and worse and instead, I kept feeling better.
Packing helped a little. Throwing a series of goodbye parties helped a lot. But what helped the most was the moment when, after two insane weeks in the rental market (yes, stories to come) I decided to buy another mobile home (oh yes, stories to come) this one just north (it is north, isn't it?) of here, about 15 minutes up Kanan Road in the Santa Monica Mountains.
"Here in Malibu" becomes "Here in the Malibu" and I'm hoping you'll join me.
Need I say it? Stories to come.
I've been spending some time in Ocean Park the last few days, a cute neighborhood just west (it is west, right?) of the Santa Monica Airport. Lots of shops and cafes and restaurants and businesses, including this one, which declares the notary public is always on duty, even when s/he's clearly not.
And yes, there's some big news tk, though I'm not
ready able ready able prepared (jeez) yet to tell the tale.
Waaaaaay back in 1992, we bought our first living Christmas tree, a Monterey pine so fragrant, it spiced up the whole house.
Last week, while in Woodland Hills for a few days, I did a drive-by of the place. The house hasn't exactly prospered since we left, but our Christmas tree has done astonishingly well.
It's long been a given that high levels of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) in the Malibu lagoon are a result of our fair city's aging septic systems. But according to a new study by the USGS, the culprit actually may be the kelp. From the press release:
Tests show that FIB concentrations routinely exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public health standards for marine recreational water in Malibu Lagoon and occasionally exceed those standards at several Malibu beaches.
According to preliminary results of the study, scientists suspect possible sources of FIB to the ocean are kelp accumulated on the beach, discharge from Malibu Lagoon to the ocean, or movement of water from the lagoon through the sand berm separating the lagoon from the ocean. Scientists hope to know the exact source of the FIB to the near-shore ocean and the Malibu Lagoon once the study is complete.
More studies and more testing are on the way. For the full report, look here.
The dogs know the sound of Nick's car, can hear it from a mile away. Jake always takes the front seat and Maisie sits in back, from where she carefully monitors Nick's driving with her tongue.
For some sunny pix on this rainy day, a few views of the Topanga Fiddle Festival on Sunday.
Lots of people:
I love this man's face:
In one of the prettiest spots around:
Pay attention to the tunnels on Kanan Road and you'll see the dates each was built, over 40 years ago. Here's a shot of Malibu -- the Malibu, it was known, back before developers turned it into Rodeo Drive 2.0 -- when getting here was an all-day adventure.
This little motel, meanwhile still stands. At $89 a night, it's a deal.
As a friend said when I showed her this untouched 1974 mobile home bathroom: Calgon, take me away! My mind went to a darker place. And no, I can't share.
Sometimes Maisie grabs Jake's collar to lead him where she feels he should go. And sometimes she skips the formalities and just grabs him.
Our version of weird weather continued here on the coast with a strong and steady rain storm last night. But on the beach, the kayaks are stacking up, each one tangible proof of someone's summer fantasy.
If we're using housing starts as a yardstick for the economy, then the tree in the parking lot at Cross Creek, where no fewer than five egrets families have set up housekeeping, leads the way.
You can kinda almost mostly see the "Free Lemonds" sign. And though they did not, in fact, turn out to be a cross between a fruit and a nut, the lemonds, they vanished.
As some of you may recall, the garden up at the barn is an annual struggle. First of all, there's the
clay soil, from which I made this pot:
And then there are the
rodents gophers, whose hunger knows no bounds:
When I fenced the garden a few years back, dug the chicken wire a few feet deep to keep tunneling invaders at bay, it looked like this:
The next year, I skipped the fence and the garden turned out like this:
So this year, a friend built a fence and installed an underground barrier that's two feet deep.
Maybe this will give peas a chance.
Even as the sun rose this morning a fog bank swept in, the kind that's wet and thick and has a scent all its own. We're wrapped in it right now, muffled, really, so here's a bit of pink, a cheery flower in the canyon.
Yep, it's a camel, a goat and a zebra on Mulholland Highway in Malibu, just waiting for someone to whip up a joke.
We're in our second day of desert winds, high and hot. They start at 3 a.m., a brush against the window screen, a whine high in the trees. They dry your skin and smooth the sand and turn the sky a blue so deep, it nearly chimes.