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December 30, 2018


I love this photo from the Malibu Times, shot by Jimy Tallal, who is one of their contributors. A family whose house burned in the fires last month decorated a Christmas tree in front of the ruins.

photo by Jimy Tallal  in Malibu Times

December 29, 2018

Signs of Saturday: Words in trees


December 28, 2018

Heron at the pond

watchful heron at the pond

He popped up out of nowhere, gave Walt this stern look, then went back to his wading and (successful) fishing.

December 27, 2018

Laura Avery retired

Laura Avery has (sort of) retired

If you've ever listened to the terrific culinary podcast put together by the Good Food team, you know Laura Avery. She's the voice and the force behind the Santa Monica Farmers Market and she's retiring, "ending her 36-year run as market supervisor." Last week the Wednesday market turned into a de facto party.

laura avery retired

December 26, 2018

It's Puppy Wednesday!

Turns out there is no down time when you're a very busy Labrador.

Miss Daisy dreams of running

December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

Christmas sunrise in Paradise Cove

The sunrise this morning in Paradise Cove.

December 23, 2018

Guard dog

Walt and Daisy received a 'treat tree' as a winter solstice gift from their dear friends Fred and Diane, and even though the treats have long since been removed, the little blue spruce remains bacon-scented and thus requires constant surveillance.

Walt on guard duty

December 21, 2018

Today is the winter solstice

The shortest day, the longest night, and the true new year.

today is the winter solstice

This is always the first ornament to go on the tree:

all creatures great and small

December 20, 2018

tbt: The Cuthbert Cottage

me and the coyote, watching the same sunset

One night, I realized I wasn't the only one watching the sun set.

Throwback Thursday: coyote and the sunset, shot on Aug. 27, 2014.

December 19, 2018

It's Puppy Wednesday!


When it comes to her hero, Walt, little Daisy puts the 'adore' into Labrador.

December 18, 2018

'Tis the season

merry california christmas

'Tis the season where everyone has to look at my favorite vintage 'Christmas in California' postcards (sorry not sorry) YET AGAIN.

December 17, 2018

Winter is coming

Nothing says Christmas like a half-gallon of heavy cream.

nothing says Christmas like a half-gallon of whipping cream

December 16, 2018

The deepest blue

When it gets really cold around here (and yes, I can hear laughter from all of you who live with actual snow) the colors of the Pacific go dark. I love how the path just vanishes at the edge of the bluff.

vanishing point

December 15, 2018

Signs of Saturday: Bu plate special

The climate-and-prayer edition.

pray for rain

December 14, 2018

Sunrise at the Malibu pier

sunrise at the malibu pier

morning light at the malibu pier

malibu pier at dawn

December 13, 2018

What happened to the Mulholland Highway oak grove

The oak grove before the fire:

oak grove before

The oak grove after:


December 12, 2018

It's Puppy Wednesday!

And Daisy wants you to know this photo was taken under protest.

Daisy has PETA on speed dial

December 11, 2018

Holiday colors, Malibu style

the pacific Pacific

December 10, 2018

And time moves on

new growth in solstice canyon

The cycle of fire is the cycle of life.

December 9, 2018

We're going to need a bigger ladder

it grew a foot since last year

Last season's Christmas tree grew (and grew and grew) during the year it spend in the courtyard garden. It's coming inside next week and I can't wait. It smells so good.

December 8, 2018

Signs of Saturday: Bu plate special

Bu plate special

This one has extra resonance post-fire.

December 7, 2018

After the rain

In the hour before sunset last night the winds here were howling, blowing birds and runners off course at ground level and, up in the stratosphere, rearranging the clouds.

post-rain sunset

December 6, 2018

Now it gets dangerous again

Solstice Canyon oaks were hit hard

When the rain began here on Wednesday it wasn't too bad, gentle and light. Long before dawn today though, a steady downpour began. It hasn't let up since. We're under official flash flood warnings, mudslide warnings, and PCH is closed in several places, as are other streets where flooding has become quite bad.

The fire, when it raced through, was burning so hot that it pushed waves of combustible gases down the canyons. Moments before the wall of wildfire actually reached us, the landscape was already exploding into flames.

Solstice Canyon, decimated

Today that leaves tens of thousands of acres in the Santa Monica Mountains -- they're saying up to 100,000 acres burned -- utterly naked. The shrubs and scrub and grasses whose root systems anchored the hillsides, whose foliage spread and slowed the winter rain, helped funnel runoff into certain arroyos and specific gullies which, over the decades, formed a kind of hydro-logic, are gone. Now it's a free-for-all. On the hillsides, rain sheets down and gravity takes over, no undergrowth left to stop or even guide it. It's just mud and ash and debris and rocks and boulders, all mixed into a freight train of slurry.

new channels appear with every rain

We've been hiking through Solstice Canyon lately and even last week's rain, a storm that was weak and short, transformed the landscape. New streams appeared, surrounded by mud that was ankle-deep. Solstice Creek itself was a thick sludge of slow-moving muck.

Solstice Creek runs thick with ash and mud

You'd see lines of deer tracks and groups paw prints that were definitely not dog, the wild animals here navigating an environment that has been radically changed.

deer tracks in a mud flow in Solstice Canyon

there are debris flows throughout Solstice Canyon

The whole point of this being don't take the flood and slide warnings lightly. Post-fire, it's a different world.

December 5, 2018

It's Puppy Wednesday and guess what?

Dog in raincoats!

I got these a few years back for that El Nino that never really reached us and have used them ever since. Walt adapted well and likes wearing his. (He looks chic.) But Daisy still hasn't quite forgiven me.

he's very chic

that face

walt waits for daisy



far afield

coyote scent

December 4, 2018

What happened to the oak grove in Solstice Canyon

in solstice canyon before the fire

solstice canyon after the fire

December 3, 2018

Red sky at morning

There's talk of rain on the way and today, the morning sky agrees.

first light

red sky at morning

December 2, 2018

Safety in numbers

Hundreds of wild parrots are flocking together in Solstice Canyon these days, ignoring the clan divisions or rivalries or whatever it was that kept them in separate groups pre-fire. Now they stick close to a cluster of trees, voices rising to a sheet metal screech each time a pair of patient hawks, endlessly circling, come too close.

parrot flocks unite post-fire

the parrots are OK

10 seconds of flying parrots

December 1, 2018

Signs of Saturday: Welcome home

It's just another sign until you walk into the store and employees welcome you back with a bear hug, know which customers' homes didn't make it, listen as tales of the fire get told (and re-told), of harrowing escapes, missing pets, the devastated landscape, bewilderment about what comes next, acts of kindness that give meaning to those hand-lettered.

warm hearts

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