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February 28, 2014

Meanwhile, back at the rancho...

That was is a deluge, steady, non-stop rain. Last night. Right now. During a lull this morning (sprinkles instead of sheets) we headed up into the hills.

The creek, which has been dry for going on two years, is running.

sierra creek


And the lake is visibly fuller. Listen a minute and I swear you'll hear the landscape here, the oaks and sycamores and sere chaparral, drinking it in. That's not wind, it's a sigh.


February 27, 2014

Between the storms

We dodged a few rock slides and slogged through some mud this morning so you could see the bright and blue and beautiful Cove before the next batch of rain rolls in.

First, the runoff channel where the creek meets the beach. (So frustrating that in this dry land we let the bulk of all rainfall flow into the ocean.)

runoff channel

after the rain

But let's look up and to the east at clouds dissolving over the Santa Monica Bay.

clouds fade away

One of my favorite views anywhere:

after the storm

Look! Walter, the beach dog!


February 26, 2014

Moody blues

We've been talking drought for months now, yet it's still a shock to realize we're watching the first real storm of the season edge in and it's already almost March.

A neighbor, a skeptic in all things, has his doubts. But on the beach this morning the layers of cloud and the layers of blue and the still, still air all promise rain on the way.


high tide

half and half

clouds edge in

February 25, 2014

Is it raining yet?

So excited about the storm in the forecast we went to Point Dume to watch clouds--



point dume


clouds move through

February 24, 2014

Sycamores in the canyon

A bit of mist, a (teensy) bit of photoshop.


February 23, 2014

The spokesdog

We're painting the outside of the house this weekend and by we, I mean me and the guys. The guys and I. We. And you remember how, when you're a novice painter, no matter how careful you are or how firmly you've promised yourself to pay attention and never load too much paint on the brush or move the brush too fast or press the brush too hard there's always that moment where the floor or the door or the neighbor's cat are suddenly Belize green in eggshell? Remember how that feels?

Take it, Walter:

oh walter

February 22, 2014

Signs of Saturday: Really?

The things people want to convey to strangers in traffic never ceases to surprise.

and annoying


February 21, 2014


While the rest of LA county had another too-warm-too-soon winter day, we here in Malibu were swathed in fog.

You can actually see the front line of it moving in off the ocean:

the fog

A moment later, we were in the thick of it.

fog moves in

February 20, 2014

You know what who else is different?

Yesterday we checked in with the changes in the kitchen. Here's something else that hasn't stayed the same.

The puppy then:

baby walter

And the puppy now.

grown up walter (well, sort of)


February 19, 2014

The end

It's been almost a year since I bought a mobile home that was so distressed, one of the metrics I used to hire sub-contractors was how pale they became when they saw the work site. The ones who went white got a polite "thank you". The ones whose demeanor revved up a bit at the challenge got the job.

We're painting the outside this weekend, and I've started putting up art and moving furniture into the rooms. Yes, there will be plenty more photos and stories and blow-by-blow descriptions to come. I'm listing the place next month.

Shall we start with the kitchen? And shall we cut right to the chase?


kitchen before now this:


Girl Scout's honor.

February 18, 2014



Fog. It's what passes for weather around here these days.

February 17, 2014

Hide and seek

I was just thinking the other day that it had been weeks since we've seen a coyote. We hear them from the barn during the day, howling in the hills, and from the house late at night, a raucous, ranging chorus. And then suddenly there was this guy, who loped across the street as casually as a neighborhood dog.

He ignored me while I grabbed my camera.


Couldn't care less when the car window came down.

hello, ground squirrel

Here's his reaction to Maisie and Walt moaning in the back seat:

young coyote

There's a network of tunnels all up and down that hill, gophers and ground squirrels, and this coyote, he was grocery shopping.

on the hunt

Sniffing and digging and listening -- look at those ears -- and pointing like a Labrador. And I swear it's not (entirely) because of this, but I was rooting for him.


Good luck, little guy!

February 16, 2014



Zero percent chance of rain in the forecast. So scary.

February 15, 2014

Signs of Saturday: Call me Gil

gil turner's on sunset

My dad, who worked in film and television, started out with Roger Corman and Peter Bogdanovich, which he said was the best film school ever. Dad was most proud of Targets; his friends mostly wanted to talk about Voyage to the Planet of Pre-historic Women, with Mamie Van Doren in a scallop shell bra.

Later, when he got into the guild and did mainstream TV, one thing stayed the same -- no one could say his name. So instead of trying to teach the crew how to pronounce 'Gilles de Turenne', he's just say, "I'm Gil Turner." Only with his accent it came out "Geel Ternair", and every time I drive by this corner of Sunset, I think about that and laugh.

February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day


February 13, 2014

Over here!

We have a lot of Priuses (Prii?) in Malibu, so many that more than once I've tried to unload my groceries into the trunk of the wrong car. (One time I leaped into a blue Prius -- the most popular color here -- and scared the bejeezus out of the elderly man in the passenger seat. My identical blue Prius was parked just one space over.)

Now, thanks to that run-in with a deer, the late, lamented blue Prius has been replaced by one in the less common green. It's a lot easier to spot, but in case there's any doubt, here's the helpful hint as to which is the right car.

walt says, "over here!"

February 12, 2014

Set in stone

woodpeckers and the stone wall

Usually you'll see hear this clan of woodpeckers high in the oaks and sycamores near the creek. The other day, though, five of them (they were't thrilled with the camera and three flew away) were obsessed with the mortar in this stone wall. They're beautiful, with their bright red heads and white, white bellies. (Also, fun fact: write a headline pun with wood or pecker and suddenly we're all 12-year-old boys.)

February 11, 2014

Too soon

green too soon

There's a frill of green in the Santa Monica mountains that's emerging at least a month too soon.

February 10, 2014

Once more with feeling

clouds roll by

No matter how many photos I shot (and seriously, thank goodness for digital because there were a lot) not one came close to how beautiful the end-of-the-storm clouds looked yesterday in the Malibu hills.

February 9, 2014

A whale spout

Headed to the home repair palace yesterday amid storm clouds.

ventura county coast

rain off the malibu coast

On the way home the sky peeked through:

storm clears

When the sun came out, the Pacific turned this color:

blue off the Ventura coast

And then a pod of whales swam by. See that tiny puff of white? Whale spout. (See that tiny spot of gray? Rain drop.)

that puff of white? Whale spout.

Not a bad commute, all things considered.

looking south from Mugu rock

February 8, 2014

Signs of Saturday: (really and truly) coming soon!

the new grocery in Trancas

Vintage Grocers coming to Trancas

The construction delays that caused Erewhon to drop its plans to anchor the Trancas shopping center has led to some good news -- the western end of Malibu will once again be home to an indie market.

From the Malibu Times:

After months of uncertainty and rumblings around town over what store would replace the old HOWS Market at the Trancas Country Market in western Malibu, center representatives have confirmed the successor as Vintage Grocers, a new independent market.

Several banners went up on Wednesday displaying the new name and center representative Scott Rozier said he is hoping for a March 1 opening, with possibly a soft opening around Feb. 19.

The market has a Facebook page, and has been busy hiring staff. Stock will be a mix of high-end specialty items and conventional supermarket products.

From the Surfside News:

(Managing partmer) Fuchser said he expects to stock 60 percent of Vintage Grocer's inventory with "gourmet organic" food items, while the other 40 percent of stock will consist of "conventional" market items.

Some of those items, he said, will include locally produced products such as Bonnie's Tasty Herb Rub, Beachy Cream Ice Cream, Malibu Honey, Malibu Olive Oil and a few others.

"We understand there's a lot of cool things already produced here," Fuchser said. "We've reached out to a lot of folks and we're putting their products here and we want their support."

Even more details (the co-owners previously worked for Bristol Farms) on Zuma Organic's blog.

February 7, 2014

The lake here this morning

That was nice -- an actual storm(let) with actual raindrops and for quite a while. This morning the clouds lifted a bit...

fog rolls through

Then settled again.

post-rain lake

The little night heron didn't care.

night heron

Not even as last night's fog kept rolling on through.

fog returns

February 6, 2014

Jay Leno and the '49 Plymouth


The summer I bought the '49 Plymouth two things went wrong. A local garage botched the job of replacing the clutch, and the radio went out. The car was still drivable but without the radio to listen to Vin Scully, what was the point? So I asked around and though no one knew of a good vintage car mechanic, I did get a tip on a radio guy. Norb Fournier. Just his name gave me confidence.

Norb owned Van Nuys Radio Service back in the 1950s and when he retired, he moved his gear into the workshop behind his house. He was in his early 80s when I met him. Didn't advertise, but word-of-mouth kept him busy. My radio just needed a new tube, Norb said. Quick job. Wait here.

So I did, admiring the tidy lines of tools, bins of parts, neat stacks of antique radios. And there, taped to a wall near some photos and old invoices was a scrap of paper that said "Jay", with an 818 phone number. Jay Leno? But no, Leno famously had his own garage and his own mechanic for his remarkable car collection and really, would Jay Leno's phone number be Scotch taped to a workshop wall in Van Nuys?

I called the number when I got home. Got voicemail. A woman's voice. I left a message anyway, said how I saw the number on Norb's wall, that I was in dire need of a good mechanic for an old car and if anyone there could recommend someone, please call. I felt like an idiot when I hung up. And just a few minutes later the phone rang. "Hi -- this is Jay Leno returning your call."

He was so nice, matter-of-fact and kind. He asked about the car, commiserated about bad mechanics, brushed off my apologies for bothering him. And then he gave me the name of the gifted mechanic who would keep the '49 Plymouth running for years. Let him know I sent you, Jay said. Which is why it never matters the context in which his name comes up -- my first thought is always Jay Leno, great car guy.

February 5, 2014

Do drop in

I love this shot of Maisie catching the ball. It looks like she just coptered in for a landing.

do drop in

February 4, 2014

The beach here this morning

the beach here this morning

Cold and quiet and look -- kelp. Next month, batches of it will be tested for radioactivity.

From the Malibu Times:

A research team led by UCLA ecologist Peggy Fong will take 15-lb. samples at locations off Escondido Beach and a second site near County Line Beach sometime between Feb. 24 and March 5. More than 20 labs and universities will take place in a West Coast-wide effort called Kelp Watch 2014, testing 35 sites from Alaska to Baja.

Found up and down the coast, these canopy-forming kelps act like sponges and absorb most of what is in the water. The kelp serves essentially as a natural dosimeter, which means it measures an absorbed dose of radiation.


No public health risk, the state Department of Public Health says.

February 3, 2014

Maisie in the mist

It was supposed to be Maisie in this layer of mist that covered our little valley but the minute she noticed the camera, the tiny Labrador ran. (OK, there may have been a squirrel involved.)

where's Maisie?

Walt gallantly took her place.


February 2, 2014


Why were hundreds of seagulls circling the 101 at Kanan Road today? It was so strange.

seagulls in agoura hills

seagulls far from sea


seagulls in the mountains

February 1, 2014

Signs of Saturday: Thank you

santa barbara courthous

One last shot from the Santa Barbara courthouse. Considering the venue, you can imagine the variety of inflections with which those words have been uttered over the years.

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