Here in Malibu
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December 31, 2015

tbt: Malibu Canyon Road (ish)*

On this last day of 2015, let's go back a few decades almost half a century to what a road in Malibu Canyon looked like in 1970.

*From the caption: "The eucalyptus trees at the mouth of Malibu Canyon will be removed to make way for a freeway cloverleaf."

A one-lane road was near the top of Malibu Canyon, which made way for an offramp on the 101? Could be.

Malibu Canyon Road in 1970

Throwback Thursday: Malibu Canyon Road, 1970.

(From UCLA's digital photo collection.)

December 30, 2015


Honestly? This shot of the tree reflected in the pond makes me dizzy.

upside down water tree

December 29, 2015

Morning blue

morning blues

Wind all night, moon bright, the bending trees and racing shadows adding serious spook factor to the dark. This morning, though, all forgotten, the colors a bell tone on the horizon.

December 28, 2015

It's Monday?

Walter says 'no thanks' to the start of the week.

Walter says no thanks to Monday

December 27, 2015

A few days ago

christmas eve sunset

Just at sunset on the 24th.

December 26, 2015


cottage holidays

Hello, Dec. 26.

December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

vintage christmas card

December 24, 2015

tbt: The red-nosed reindeer

Someone was naughty and nice.

ho ho ho

Throwback Thursday: Sign on Mulholland Highway, Dec. 11, 2013

December 23, 2015

The beach here this morning

wednesday morning clouds

Everything about the coast this morning, the chill, the dark, the light, the clouds, all of it felt just like December.

December 22, 2015

Hello, winter

Now that's the way to launch the season -- night-long winds and spitting rain and clouds, everywhere clouds in lovely, ominous colors. Two storms in a row, it's exhilarating. For the first time in years the pods of idled lifeguard towers at Zuma look wintry rather than random.

beach closed

lifeguard towers in winter

idled lifeguard towers

winter beach

December 21, 2015

Winter solstice sunrise

The sunrise today, cool and still. Last day of fall.

soltice morning

solstice dawn


Tonight, winter solstice, shortest day, longest night.

Happy (true) new year!

December 20, 2015

The back of the front

That storm raced right through, maybe an hour of rain, including mist and sprinkles. After sunset, a peek through flying clouds.

storm sunset

back of the front

after the storm

December 19, 2015

Signs of Saturday: 'Bu plate special

Another in our continuing series of "I am Malibu" vanity plates.

vanity bu

bu plate special

December 18, 2015

Meanwhile, back at the rancho

It's looking like (Southern California) winter in the Santa Monica Mountains, where the little lake has managed to hang on through the years of drought.

winter lake in santa monica mtns

the little lake

Just a hundred or so yards away--

santa monica mountains

...a coyote watched.

mountain coyote

And listened--


where is everybody?

And had her say.

she speaks

yes, it was very, very loud

December 17, 2015

tbt: Mountain mist

The morning of the winter solstice two years ago in the Santa Monica mountains.


Throwback Thursday: Dec. 21, 2013

December 16, 2015

Early morning rose

Did someone stumble outside, snap the horizon, then race right back to bed?

Yes, someone did.

morning pink

December 15, 2015

Ball o' feathers

chilly ball of feathers

The wild parrots here are not all that wild about this blast of cold weather.

December 14, 2015

The little chill

Thirty-five degrees here just before dawn and everyone, the birds and coyotes and squirrels and dogs and yes, your faithful blogger, ignored the brightening horizon and stayed in bed. But it's Monday, tasks await, so we walked and we saw and here, we report.

A few extra moments in bed bought us six degrees on the thermometer. (And yes, I can hear the laughter and mocking from you people who live in true winter.)

brrrr -- 41 degrees in malibu

The view to the south:

monday morining, paradise cove

And to the north:

monday morning malibu

And as often happens here after a storm, downtown LA (are those construction cranes?) on the horizon.

downtown LA from malibu


December 13, 2015

He's a he

I've been wondering whether the coyote who drops by regularly to our bit of conservancy land is a male or a female and in a recent visit he (yes, he) sat down and let the truth be known.

tuesday coyote

Here's another shot, the colors jacked up to red fox territory to differentiate him from the landscape against which he so easily vanishes.

morning coyote

December 12, 2015

Signs of Saturday: Where does The, Comma go anyway?

The quirks of homemade signs, with their random capitals and errant punctuation, seem like a kind of folk art.

where does, the comma go?

December 11, 2015

Thanks, Dave Evans, for developing a virgin Malibu mountaintop

u2 malibu mansions.jpg
LA Times photo of a neighbor checking out the view, by Anne Cusack.

Persistence and enough money to fight for a decade won the day for U2's guitarist Dave Evans, aka The Edge, who got permission from the Coastal Commission to build five 10,000-square-foot homes, each with its own swimming pool, on an untouched Malibu ridge.

From Nita Lelyveld's story in the LA Times:

For nearly a decade, environmental groups and many residents have objected, saying to do so would needlessly despoil sensitive habitat and mar the visual landscape.

On Thursday, after numerous hearings of the California Coastal Commission, the Irish musician finally prevailed.

At a meeting in Monterey, the panel voted unanimously to approve David Evans' project -- although much has changed since the initial proposal in 2011.

Five houses will be built on the property in the Sweet Mesa area, each one more than 10,000 square feet and featuring its own swimming pool.

But where they once were to stand proudly spread out along the upper ridge line, the homes instead will be clustered closer together on a lower plateau.

It's not just the five mansion which, despite amendments to the original building plan, will be visible from pretty much anywhere. It's the indefensibly steep toll that building the compound will take on a fragile environment. Again from Nita's story:

" of the homes on just over five acres of the property will require 63,390 cubic yards of grading and disturb 17 acres of habitat classified as environmentally sensitive.

Yes, the project has been substantially reduced in size over the years Evans' people have been fighting for the compound. What hasn't changed is that to even reach the land, a new road has to be built, as does the infrastructure -- pipelines and power poles -- to bring water and electricity to the five mansions.

The city of Malibu gets to weigh in on the new road, and LA County is part of the permitting process as well. Which is why the Coastal Commission has upped the term of the building permit from two to five years.

From the start Evans has said his intent is to build green homes. Trouble is, there's no green way to do that. Once these mansions are built, centuries-old habitat and wildlife trails are destroyed, the land is further fragmented, and another increasingly rare bit of true wilderness gets erased. And for what?

December 10, 2015

tbt: A bookstore is born

Seven years ago, John Evans and Alison Reid brought Diesel, A Bookstore, to Brentwood. I admit I'm biased but imho, it's one of the nicest indies in LA.

DIesel opens in Brentwood

Diesel opens in Brentwood

Throwback Thursday: Diesel, a Bookstore, opens in the Brentwood Country Mart.
Shot on Dec. 7, 2008

December 9, 2015

Stuff we saw this morning

The Cove going pink at dawn:

wednesday morning pink

Your photog turning the camera into an unreliable (still pink, no orange) witness:

wednesday morning

wednesday dawn

wednesday sunrise

A kayak adrift:

kayak floats away


A kayak vanishing:

kayak vanishing

buried kayak

A sailor sleeping in:


All as the new day arrived.

north this morning

December 8, 2015

Happy 11th birthday, tiny Labrador!

It's hard to believe that baby Maisie:

jake and maisie

...just turned 11.

ten years old

She seems to be fine with it.

maisie celebrates

maisie is 10


Walt is just happy she's here.

walt loves maisie

December 7, 2015

Autumn colors in SoCal

Wait -- pink?

fall colors in LA

Yes, pink.


autumn = pink in malibu

pink tree

autumn colors in LA

Well OK -- also blue.


December 6, 2015

The sunrise here this morning

From the front yard (yes, lazy) and not from the beach, but still pretty nice.

sunday sunrise

Happy Sunday!

December 5, 2015

Signs of Saturday: Wishful thinking

When we bought our first mobile home (it was a Meteor, sigh) I fell in love with fact that these houses have names. Chateaux have names, estates have names, and so do aging trailers of a certain era.

Trucked into place by semis to sit cheek-by-jowl in often unlovely parks, the names, aspirational and filled with hope, feel to me like a bit of Americana.

mobile home names

mobile home, named

mobile home - key west

December 4, 2015

Investment group buys Malibu Riviera Motel


When the Malibu Riviera Motel went up for sale at the beginning of the year, Curbed LA's headline called the place "questionable". I suppose that's fair enough. Nothing much has changed since the motel opened for business in 1949. New furniture as the decades changed, a new 'vacancy' sign -- the one in this post went dark a few years back -- and of course the town around it has been transformed.

It's just $99 a night to stay there and in Malibu, where our local billionaires have snapped up the Malibu Beach Inn (bought, gentrified and recently sold by David Geffen) and Casa Malibu, bought and razed by Larry Ellison, it has been a bargain. Sure, the grout in those original showers is a little scary and yes, amenities are few, but it's a democratic place where guests driving rusted out Chevys park next to fellow travelers in brand new Mercedes in the rear lot.

I guess the only surprising thing about the sale is that it took this long to happen. As for what comes next, it's anyone's guess. The Malibu Times reports the structure will remain.

"It's not going to be torn down," (co-manager Maggie ) Pedersen said. "The structure of the building is still going to be the same, they're just going to renovate it and give it a major facelift.

"[The Wilcox family] just wants to give it to somebody that's going to give it new life."

In recent years, the 13-room motel has reportedly fallen into a bit of disrepair, according to reviews on travel websites like and Yelp. According to Pederson, full repairs and updates to the motel, which boasts of famous guests like Marilyn Monroe and Bob Dylan, could come to at least half a million dollars.

Shaun Gilbert, a member and spokesperson of the investment group, said they are looking forward to beginning work on the historic property.

"We're very excited for the unique opportunity that the Malibu Riviera presents and eager to get started," Gilbert said in an emailed statement to The Malibu Times.

Construction begins in January 2016, which leaves nostalgic types less than a month in which to pay their respects. (And yeah, if I were you I'd skip the shower.)

before kanan

The Malibu Riviera Motel, before Kanan, before, well, almost anything we see today.

December 3, 2015

tbt: Rainbow

post-rain rainbow

The sun peeked out for a moment during a storm and voila, rainbow.

Throwback Thursday: Dec. 7, 2009

December 2, 2015

Here kitty kitty

At first I thought it was a coyote emerging from the brush. Same size:

bobcat in malibu

Same range of colors:

who goes there?

And yet so very different. Bobcat. A big one.

here kitty kitty

I stared and he stared back.

the bobcat came back

He won.

the bobcat


December 1, 2015

Hello, December

And so here we are, the first day of the final month of 2015. Solstice in three weeks, 2016 in another four.

We said hello to December on Zuma this morning, where the thermometer clocked a (delightfully) chilly 48 degrees.

Considering the awful color choices made for so many public structures, this perfect shade of blue for LA's lifeguard towers feels like a bit of a miracle.

Zuma beach on Dec. 1

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