Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stanley's Umbrella Wisdom

Stanley lives across the street from me, he's half of fraternal twins, a robust  man of color in his late sixty's. Stanley's  gate is painfully tentative, he walks as though he was chained at the ankles, the results of a stroke brought on from 3  gun shots to  his chest. He manages conversation with his staccato lisp, when he calls me over,I go armed with patience and attentiveness because he is relentless to share whatever is  on his mind.
 One day not unlike any other, he calls me over because he had something for me. I was working in the garden and needed a couple of minutes to take off my gloves and wash my hands. When I got  to his house, he leaned forward from his steps and handed me an umbrella. Stanley stutters, "take it,you  might  need it one day". I'm thinking, yea right, it's one of those spring like sunny afternoon's easterners dream about during bitter storms. I thank him and reluctantly took the umbrella, It was one of those .99 cent cheapies but still to good to throw into the trash. Besides, Stanley gave it to me in such a protective caring way.(guilt)  I would later throw it in the trunk of my car.
Several months later I was having some sensitivity to the sun, feeling faint from it's radiating hot glare, it felt as if it was pounding me into the asphalt. It was an otherwise lovely outing and I didn't want to be forced to go home. It was then remembered that Stanly's umbrella was in the trunk of my car! Thank you Stanley!
I'm realizing that there is purpose in all things, I may not see it at that moment, but time and time again I realize that there is  an evolved wisdom that sustains me.The trick is to remember this wisdom when shit hits the fan....FAITH!                                            ~Happy New Year!~

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Season for Sharing

The last couple of months have gone by in a blur..I suppose my attention was divided between the two gardens that I've recently completed .I never look forward to down time, but the truth of the matter is that I need to replenish my creative energy and dawn my Domestic Diva cap around my own household!
My garden is flush with layers of color and texture, appreciating the recent precipitation since it depends on natural rainfall. My navel oranges beckon to be picked creating a bounty to be shared.
The cool weather summons a fire in the hearth and fresh baked bread.  I'm thinking that my bread would be a wonderful gift to share over the holidays. I find  that baking bread is nurturing on so many levels, the coolness and texture of the flour is delightfully sensual.
The warmth of the oven,and the scent of the flour and yeast baking is difficult to describe other that it is soulfully mouth watering.

I haven't been bombarded with the usual Christmas frenzy since I do not watch television, and I can't tell you when was the last time I stepped foot in a mall. I  use my down time to make goodies for friends, chop a supply of wood for the fire and listen to the classic sounds of Ella, Carmen, Sara, Miles, Coltrane on my turntable!
That's what I call slow living! I appreciate the slower pace I manage to create in my household, well, as slow as you can get with a rambunctious teenager a foot! Giving back to self is the foundation for sharing in my humble opinion. The gift of time well spent with loved ones, breaking bread and sharing conversation are what memories are made of.  When Last I checked, you couldn't find that kind of gift on store shelves and you
won't find that kind of gift on the markdown isle or the "as is"
section of the store. Giving or sharing is not an all or nothing proposition for one day that happens to fall on December 25th. I say, everyday one can share something even if it's no more than a kind word or gesture. However you spend your holiday, make it MEMORABLE, make it BOUNTIFUL make it SOULFUL.

Friday, October 22, 2010

On the road again with Roscoe

About Eight months ago I decided to sell my,"mommy car". For years I chauffeured my kids around in what boasts to be one of  the safest cars on the road. Volvo, you know ,"Volvo for Life"! Premium sound, leather seats with warmers, surround air bags, you know, all the extra's to keep you alive in the event of an accident. I'm thinking that the car's price tag is nothing compared to the value of my kids lives!Right? Well, I value my kids lives, but it's time for them to take the bus! Years of no gratitude, just attitude revealed that it was time to do something for myself. I sold the Volvo to another starry eyed mom wanting to protect her kid's lives with one of the safest cars on the road! (until they reach 15 or so) I set out to find something special. It had to be a truck with a little something special going on. I can't drive around in an anonymous half-ton..my truck would be a cool vintage work-truck!Daily  I checked the adds in the paper, always on the lookout for something that called out to me! My kids thought I had lost my mind, why would I sell our perfectly comfortable XC90 for a rickety old beater?? You can visualize the rolllllll of the eyes with the exasperated, MOMMMMMM!!! My reply, "take the bus!" BUT, MOM!!!!!

 Imagine the look on their faces when the tow truck pulled up to the house with this! Three flats, a non-operative engine, rust, and the remnants of a sign which gave me a clue to it's previous incarnation,"No Butt crack Plumbing"! This my friends is a Corvair Rampside pick-up or known as Corvair 95. There were about ten thousand made between 1961 to 1963. This is a sixty two. It would take some work, but since when have I been afraid of a challenge?

 The truck had been sitting on the storage lot for more than 7 years, this I now know because of the back fees I had to cough up! I got the usual, "Do you know what you're getting into?" Have you lost your mind? 
 This is what I call recycling!! Anyone can buy a new truck! How many folks are going to take the time to restore anything? This is one truck the landfill would not get! I found an amazing mechanic that specializes in Corvair's with a mobile service that comes to your house! For the next 6 months we would schedule work days on the truck. I was the handy assistant, learning about my truck and taking care of the smaller details and research. I worked on my gardens in between working on the truck which helped to finance the restoration. I felt certain that the truck would generate additional business just for the cool factor!

I have a new vocabulary as it relates to truck parts! It has definitely generated a new learning curve of which I'm grateful!! It is a work in progress and  totally sound! It squeaks, rumbles, and bounces to it's destination! Along the way, I get high signs, shout outs like, "cool truck!", "nice ride"! When I pulled up to the nursery the other day the truck created quite the buzz! The guys swapped stories about the classics they've had, wanted to take pictures with the truck,

There was even a bit of jockeying as to  who would load my  order on the truck! Roscoe brought such a high energy to the nursery! When I pulled off the guys sort of lined up to get a parting look all waving simultaneously ! It really made the day! Who knew how restoring this cool truck would affect the lives of so many folks out there!

Jesse is one of the nurserymen who has helped me with my orders for more that15 years! Roscoe is now another member of the family, making the rounds, being cool...and just having fun!
Someone's abandoned trash is now my treasure. Recycling takes many forms, nothing preachy..have some fun, create something, but by all means step out of your comfort zone and do SOMETHING!! In the meantime, I'll see you on the road!
Toot toot for now!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A place of one's own

It seems that I've taken a random pause from my blog for the past month. I've been so busy living life that there hasn't been the time or the urge to write. Then there are my  thoughts on  this blogging thing..I mean, is anyone really reading these posts? Does any one really care about laundry, living sustainably, or my thoughts about these concepts? Anyway, life and random thoughts and realizations have been swirling in my head..like this construct called a Bedroom. I'm thinking, why does a bed have to be in the bedroom? What's up with this  idea that one sleeps on this mattress with a headboard and foot board in a bedroom??? My queen sized bed took two thirds of the space in my "bedroom"!  I thought, I want a Salon! So I retired my queen sized turn century cast iron bed to the garage until I can find it a new home. I gave away my Deluxe Pillow-Top and took back my space!! A room of my own! My Salon!  I bought the most sensual 60's periwinkle 7 foot couch ode to Grace Kelley, found the most sumptuous chaise with down cushions!  My new bed is a Japanese futon which is my daily reminder of the simplicity of rest. I love the space I've created..moving around my room, sampling the different views and energy, sitting, lounging, sleeping, dancing! I appreciate the ritual of laying out my bed in the evening, a signal that it's the end of the day and it's quite time, a settling of the mind and body. When I awake, I take a deep stretch, then fold the bedding in a sequence that respects the bedding down in the evening. So simply elegant in purely functional way. Honoring my self...taking naps when I need them, walking, sharing,  taking my time to enjoy the bath, showering in the garden, working in the garden, being around people that interest me staying in the moment. I guess it takes honest living to come to life altering realizations , ah ha moments are pretty cool! It's kinda like the puzzle pieces are starting to fit together and you are starting to get the picture. Get your Ah Ha On! If anything in my post resonates with you, then I am pleased, I want your lives and moments to be fulfilling and thought provoking as mine are at times.
Be daring, write your own scrips, lay in the voluptuous beds you make, create a room of your own! Shake it up people, let em know you were there!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

West Adams Historical District 100 years and counting....

A rarity these days, I was born in Los Angeles in an area now called the West Adams Historical District.
http://www.westadamsheightssugarhill.com/HistoricWestAdams.html These were the days when street lights
told us when it was time to come in from riotous play. Neighbors were our surrogate parents, and believe me they took their jobs seriously! If you "acted up" at their house, you were in for double trouble when you got home! I didn't realize it at the time but Marvin Gaye was my neighbor about seven doors down!
It was home, and that's all we knew. I never imagined that I would find myself back in the "HOOD", raising my youngest, riding bikes down the very streets I rode my bike at about the same age..so amazing!
I brought with me my lifes experience of creating art through Landscape Design, Restoration, Community Activism, and diplomacy. My neighborhood is culturally diverse and architecturally stunning! I am inspired
by the building techniques, creative use of materials,use of light and natural resources.
It makes total sense to live simply and sustainably when the old ways are laid out for you with built-ins, basements, attics, clothes-lines, carriage houses!
Anyway, one of my neighbors wanted to remove their hundred year old lawn and replace it with a drought tolerant garden! They were just in time to qualify for a $'s for Lawn rebate program offered by The Dept. of Water and Power. The homeowners did not want an irrigation system and plantings could not be more than three feet high, low maintenance and of course compliment the architecture, whew!
My inspiration came from the Caribbean sea. If you squint, you might imagine what the bottom of a healthy sea looks like. The colors and textures will touch one another as the succulents mature.
This garden is totally sustainable, very little if any water is needed. When the garden was completed, my neighbors were refunded almost $1,000! Oh, and the coolest thing is that this garden was nominated and won West Adams Heritage Association's Best Garden for 2010! I say, who needs just plain old grass when you can have a garden that conserves water and refreshing to look at?
These are the kind of ideas and solutions I bring to my community, the community that watched over me when I walked to school. The village we call neighbors that kept an eagle eye out for shenanigans. It's a good feeling to be a part of what's good about community! I want to continue to share by launching my General Store for Sustainable Living and creating spaces for gardens while inspiring positive change.

It feels good to be home!OOPS  Gotta go, I've got some laundry to take off the line and hang another load up!
Be good to yourselves, thank you for checkin in!
Peace Out!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Time flies when you're knee deep in a project. It's been a flash of nine months since I've started this renovation and there is so much yet to do! ugh! The short of the story is that I've been given an amazing opportunity to create change...and let me tell you change in every sense of the word! What was once a Japanese nursery in the forty's, morphed into an open air thrift store serving the community for the past twenty plus years. One could find just about anything on this corner lot of 6,500 square feet, and I mean anything!!!
The original brick paths and flower beds have been covered in alternating layers of carpet,plastic tarp,plywood, roots and whatever was caught between the 6 to 8 layers. This was an effort to create a "dust-free"environment to sell clothes, couches, records,lamps and whatever came through as donated items.
Generations have shopped the thrift store through demographic changes, riots, earthquakes and the introduction of crack. Through it all a wonderful salt of the earth woman serviced the needs of the community by supplying an ever changing client base with a treasure hunt of a space. We met about 4 or 5 years ago when I would stop in to see what treasure had my name on it. September of last year she asked if I would partner with her as she was growing tired and wanted to have time for herself before she met her maker.
I took on the project with the intention of organizing, merchandising, throwing out stuff, donating stuff, selling stuff and whatever it took to create paths between the mounds of stuff collected over the twenty years!
I have since been given full reign to transform the entire space into what will be a general store for sustainable living! URBANSCAPES I thought to myself, this is what this community needs, a resource for living fully, healthy, environmentally! These kinds of concepts exist on the west side of town, but nothing in perceived marginalized mid-L.A.
 So! That's what I've been working on. It is a monumental task, and at times I wonder what the hell was I thinking??? The reality is, it's bigger than me, and it's not about me although I am the messenger of creativity. It's really about standing up for positive revitalization! This corner lot has the ability to transform an entire community of apathy. The street does not need another liquor store, lawnmower shop, car repair shop, vacant lot, adult care facility, pawn shop and the list goes on. I guess someone had to be the change, create the change for what is sustainable in the big picture. Living not just surviving.. I will offer recycled, repurposed, goods for sustainable living. Workshops on saving and protecting natural resources (including $'s), drought tolerant plants, goodies for the garden and outdoor living including a demonstration vegetable garden! It will be a welcoming green-space in the heart of the city, with fruit trees for shade!!!!!
I will keep you all posted on the progress..in the meantime this project has tested me on so many levels.
I will not give up as some have hoped, it has tested my resourcefulness, patience, finances, belief in mankind, but I won't give up! It's not about me, it's about community in the fullest sense of the word.
By the way, I found the stools and typewriter buried under 6 feet of debris.
Anyone out there want to offer support, ideas, contributions to the cause, by all means, please drop me an email! We are a village!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Timeless Treasure.................


I am creating a waterwise garden in a depressed part of Los Angeles which has kept me busy..
I will share more with you all soon, in the meantime I wanted to share this Timeless Treasure from
Tuck and Patty!
Sending you all Clarity and Peace!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A New Perspective on slowing down....

A few weeks ago I decided to sell my, "mommy car". It was a Volvo XC90. When I bought it my concerns were safety and reliability for my family and of course for work. We all enjoyed the plush leather seats, premium sound and  the, "butt warmers" as the kids called them, especially on cold mornings on the way to school. I'm realizing that my kids are more independent now, in fact, my son is driving (omg) and my daughter is comfortable on the school bus or public transportation to get around.
In the near future, (three years) I may be an Empty Nester, and I didn't see it coming! Damn, time really does fly! Anyway, I'm thinking, why am I spending all this money on payments, insurance, registration, gas, upkeep and whatever parking tickets for a car that sits in my driveway 75% of the time? Duh!!! I've cut my monthly overhead by almost $1,000 by re-thinking the need for this money guzzler! My carbon footprint just got smaller and my wallet fatter!! I have been riding my bicycle to work or walking. You all know that I have a motorcycle, but Ziggy has been in the shop, so I've really had to reevaluate my means of transportation.I have had an up close and personal view of my neighborhood! The interesting thing is that I'm keenly aware now of how few healthy food options are within walking distance. Buy locally? The grid was laid out to encourage driving, which supports the auto industry, not community. I did find a new farmers market about 20 minutes bike ride from my house which is a welcomed addition to the neighborhood! Hopefully there will be more options like this in the future. I had to be conscious of my purchases as there is just so much one can fit in a bicycle basket. This is a good thing because I need to plan a menu around what I can carry! Hmmm, no waste there! Slow living is a good thing, I get more exercise, buy less, consume less and have an opportunity to interact with local artisans and markets!
Now this is a beautiful thing!! Life is sweet if you really stop and count the small potatoes!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Resurrection of Ziggy

 When I was around twelve, my aunt took me to Sears to pick out my bedroom suite.  That was my first design experience. But even before that, I was constantly busy with my hands. I remember making colored paper chains out of chewing gum wrappers that draped and zig zagged  across the ceiling of my room! I was born an artist but I didn't realize it at the time. As an adult, world travels fueled my vision of things, adding layers and layers to my aesthetic vocabulary. When I put that with having grown up working class, making do, there was no waste in our house. We were recycling when it wasn't a "green" thing, but the way we lived, period! Today my entire lifestyle including my work and passion  as a landscape designer is about restoration, giving life to things, living spaces and outdoor environments.
Back in November of 09 I crossed paths with a salvage truck on it's way to the dump. I flagged him down to get a better look at a gnarly looking rust bucket perched on top. Since completing my black belt in martial arts, I was looking for a new challenge. Some of my dojo mates had motorcycles and often rode to class, or were engaged in conversation about their various motorcycle experiences.Owning a motorcycle was a long shot of a reality for me until I met Ziggy on the top of that truck. I don't need to tell you that everybody and their mama thought I had lost my mind when I told them I bought a motorcycle, not to mention the way the bike looked! I first saw it as a restoration project, I had no expectation about the experience except that I would learn something new!
I decided to study for the written motorcycle exam at DMV since it coincided with having to renew my drivers license. Passing the test was affirmation that I still had some kind of intelligence left , and just maybe I stood a good chance of taking the CHP motorcycle training course and doing reasonably well.
Now you need to know that I never rode a motorcycle in my life, and those motorcycles you learn on are no joke! Let me tell you now, you can do anything if you want it bad enough. There was no way in hell that I wasn't going to pass that course! I had to represent for the sista's because I was the only woman in the class, and those guys were not cutting me any slack!
I felt like superwoman after passing that course! Couldn't talk to me for a week! I was a BADASS! BOO YA! I now have a M-1 motorcycle license! In the spirit of Bessie Springfield, cheers!!!!
Anyway, back to the restoration. I found a vintage helmet to create a custom image. I love the work of Kara Walker, so I adapted one of her pieces for my  helmet.  It's been a huge learning curve on so many levels.
I have an intimate relationship with my bike in the slow process of putting her back together.  I don't take her power for granted, even though she's a a small bike. Quite humbling and so freeing at the same time. It is a totally different experience being on two wheels with power! The name Ziggy came to me after riding her a few times, it's kinda the way she she sounds! So people,  the moral of this story is...step out of your comfort zone, you have everything to gain and it feels so good when you conquer your fears! Don't be afraid to be a BADASS for something you are passionate about! Give me a shout out when your see the BRONZE BOMBER on the road!! PEACE!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Lavanderia

We had five days of rain about two weeks ago which is not unusual for desert climates like California.
My gardens got a good drink that will last until the middle of summer. The only drawback is that I couldn't hang my laundry out to dry, and due to the moisture in the air, drying them in the house took forever!!!
I decided to check out my local lavanderia about two blocks away. I can't remember the last time I used the services of a public lavanderia. Early in the mornings on weekends my latina neighbors are pushing laundry carts piled high with laundry most visably, blankets. There are often children following the train of push carts carrying a bottle of commercial laundry detergent and or bleach.Upon my arrival, I noticed the vending
machines carried only Latin brand soaps. Hmm, I pictured Old School Brand in those vending slots!          The lavanderia was clean,and  not too busy as I had a  choice of machines depending on the size of my load. Two dollars and  fifty cents  buys you a slightly larger than standard machine. Drying costs about twenty five cents for 10 minutes. I brought  a couple of loads.  I got  my change in quarters from the change machine, put the quarters in the machine, followed the directions for adding soap, then pushed the temperature buttons  start.

The slots for the soap held about one half  cup of soap  each. There were two slots,and  a slot for a rinse liquid. A bit confusing in my opinion, anyway I put 2 tablespoons in two slots,(prewash, and regular)  wash since I was washing a large load of comforters.
Now I had about 30 minutes on my hands, so I sat and imagined the stories behind the faces I saw, listened to Latin music over the speakers and watched a young father become engrossed in a Latin soap opera on T.V. while his young toddler ran around the lavanderia.
I wondered what the difference would be to my laundry using the commercial machines, my measured amount of soap and the hot commercial dryers. My blankets were fluffy and fresh! I love the option of the lavanderia.
I can talk with my neighbors, experience diversity in a micro environment, and be productive! I love the scent of my  air dried laundry, the crunchy towels which are wonderful for exfoliating the skin, and the experience of being in my garden. I would have to say though, the lavanderia  offers something very special as well.
I appreciate the option! Well, I must buzz off, I'm working on a VERY cool project that I'll share with you all later. In the mean time, be well, productive in your lives and above all, GRATEFUL.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Ritual of Bathing

2010 the first year of a new decade. A lot happened in my life this past year. I learned more about myself, my strengths, and my resolve to live fully. No resolutions, no promises, no expectations. I have more clarity and know what feels right in my life, the choices I make in what I do on a daily basis, the people I surround myself with, the things that matter. Enjoying the flutter of a hummingbirds wings while sipping nectar in the garden matters. Contemplating the wondrous balance in nature that surrounds me matters.Having the ability to create sumptuous gardens that will out live me matters.Slowing down to appreciate rituals of life matters!
We are living in a technological age where the entire world is connected through space 24 hours a day.
I went to a restaurant recently and sat across from a couple who were both texting, not speaking a word to each other! On another occasion a young mom was dropping her toddler off to school while talking on the phone. What kind of  message is being sent to the young child?