The Watts Towers:
And the "S.R." for Simon Rodia, the beloved eccentric from Ribotolli, Italy who, in 1921, began construction of the seven sculptures that make up the neighborhood landmark.
Interesting that if you started a similar project today, an alphabet soup of enforcement agencies would have you shut down and paying fines before you could say buon giorno.
We were at Bluffs Park the other day when suddenly, this parasail bloomed from behind a hill. We haven't seen any since one crashed and, literally, burned (the sport involves a motor-driven turbine) which prompted the then-new owner of the land, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, to ban all manned flight.
Turns out the guys were just using the gusty day to catch a bit of air for photographs, so no laws were broken. I wish I could say the same of the tiny flying Labrador.
It's lizard country up at the barn, where dozens of the tiny reptiles set up fiefdoms, then defend them to the death. The wood pile, the rock pile, the straw bale in the garden, the tractor wheels, the shovels and rakes leaned up against the fence, they're all meticulously mapped out in Lizardworld.
A few feet from my office door there's this little guy, who has laid claim to a rock and a drain pipe in the spot where the nastrutriums grow. He's athletic and vigilant and fearless, and he's very, very good at catching bugs.
It's not just the contrast to days upon days of the grinding gray of the marine layer -- the ocean has been bluer than blue this week, deep and bright in that giddy, summery, put-the-Beach-Boys-on-repeat kind of way.
She's very busy in her dreams, maintaining order in the universe, getting first crack at the coyote poop.
The mountains here have cycled through the color wheel, settled into white, shrubs and yucca and wildflowers blooming one last time before the hot summer days settle in and end the party.
This gentle reminder comes from the home of Billy Vasquez (have you watched his great "Cheap Eats" video about food along the new Expo Line yet?) and screenwriter Amy Dawes (that's just one section of her intriguing book shelf) and because of it, I'm headed to the Farmer's Market, and the beach, and Watts Towers, and the Getty, and the Central Library, and Dante's Rest, and Dodger Stadium, and...well, you get the picture.
That first day, they stuck as close to mom as possible:
Well, most of the time.
Last night, things seemed a bit more relaxed:
I still feel like a little kid about summer, like I'm getting away with something as I stay outside until every last photon of sunset light is spent, and only the need for a sweater (and Jon Stewart) finally make it OK to come indoors.
Wake up in spring, go to sleep in summer.
He never lets you get too close, which is a shame because he can eat a frog in a single swallow and believe me, the sight of that is unforgettable.
Sunny yesterday from dawn until dusk, the Pacific doing its deep blue thing, the calendar edging closer to official summer (or Summer, if we want to be formal), as the marine layer, biding its time, took a rest on the far side of the horizon.
So, this glowing, rosy sunrise? Didn't happen today. The sun came up, of course, and the pier was there, but the colors and warmth were a no-show, on hold for a few more weeks while the annual marine layer kicks our asses.
It's another relentlessly gray day and we here in Malibu say no thanks. No, we won't admit that the sky is dragging on the pavement, that the windshield is wet with fog, or that the birds are so depressed they're in their nests streaming Hulu.
Instead, here's a sunny morning on one of the pathways in the hills where, if you walk far enough, you come to the knoll from which you can hear a neurotic rooster crowing from dawn to dusk, or the bells from Mel Gibson's church, or, sometimes (God does have a sense of humor) both at the same time.
We here in Malibu live in a late-bloomer microclimate, so while the rest of LA has seen the jacaranda's purple flowers come and go, ours are just beginning.
Because the beach here today looks like this:
We'll dip into the archives for a reminder that in just a few weeks, it'll be this:
A few sunny days and we're spoiled. So here comes the real June weather -- clouded in (not that the Muffinhead notices) from the beach:
...all the way into the mountains.
It's a quiet wave in this spot on the beach, sheltered by an underwater shelf, almost always glassy, and, as it turns out, grassy.
We rounded a bend on the morning walk and for a moment, got to watch a covey of quail who hadn't yet noticed us. I love these little birds, the disparity between their rounded bodies and that upright plume rendering them slightly goofy.
But don't be fooled -- they're valiant and brave, watchful thanks to their ground-dwelling ways. Adults fleeing predators fly away from the flock, distract the source of danger, make that pip-pip-piping alarm cry, just one in an aresenal of sounds that puts community first.
Close up is the brush, now tinder-dry, grasses that quickly grew and quickly died in that spate of late spring rains.
In the middle distance, in a deeper shade, trees and shrubs with roots in rain channels, in sudden creeks and secret springs, still greening as the weather warms.
And then the mountain, coastal sage and chaparral, decades old. If you know how to look you see the swell and ebb, the greys and greens that brighten, then withdraw, a quiet sign of the seasons here on the Southern California coast.