Monday, October 24, 2011

Old School Brand Laundry Soap..a star is born!!

Thank you Ruthie and your awesome team of artisans for making this happen! Cordelia you are the sweetest angel, thank you for your sweet spirit. Starfish..what can I say, you are a girls best friend!

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Go where the love is"

It's been a couple of months since I shared on my blog...I guess I've been so busy living that I've haven't had the inclination to document in words my observations. Since then, my firstborn turned 21 and is attending culinary school in Napa. My second born got two new tattoo's, three more piercings, is artfully sporting blue hair, has survived a break-up with her boyfriend, got on and off the water polo team, tricked me into buying an eye-cam (for french class, yea right) so that she can hang out more on her computer. Nuff said regarding the roller coaster ride of mother daughter relationships!

As for me, I've been creating some artful gardens, meeting new people and finding joy in small things. Oh yes, that includes riding my motorcycle! Hell yea, which brings me to the essence of this post, going where the love is.
I read a post on Dominique Browning's blog, Slow Love Life  that expresses my sentiment so well. Allow me to share an excerpt with you here:

Go where the love is.
Don't try to make people love you. It can't happen.

Don't beat your head against closed doors behind which sit people who don't understand, or can't see, or won't see, what you have to offer.

Don't waste energy trying to convince people of your worth, when they can't see it in your work; they don't want to see it, either because they're intimidated, or have a conflicting agenda.

Don't bury your star--and we all have stars, and all of our stars sparkle with so many different talents, abilities, traits, qualities--don't bury yours among dark-minded people, where it will only tarnish.

Don't keep trying to detoxify poisonous situations. That's my big problem. I'm always the Pollyana, always believing that better is just around the corner, and always willing to fight to get there.

Sometimes better isn't around the corner--and the fight only depletes precious inner resources. Sometimes the only way to end a bad situation is to walk away.

And go where the love is.

That means not only doing what you love, but being where people love you--where they understand what you do, and, more important, where they have an affinity for who you are. Where the wellspring of creativity can be nurtured.

I know. Many people have jobs they loathe, and they can't afford to move on. Many people have bosses and colleagues who bear them ill will. To you, I offer only the hope that you can keep an eye out for something better, that you might someday be able to move on.

And in the meantime, shield your heart from the pain of not being appreciated--and figure out how to go where the love is in the rest of your life. Go home and make music. Go into the garden and paint pictures.

And to those just starting out in the world, wondering where you should start? Same thing. Go where the love is.

And don't be surprised if you find yourself learning the same life lessons over and over again.

Find the love. And go there.


Monday, August 1, 2011


When Steve an Marina asked me to create a drought tolerant garden for their Craftsman home, I was a bit reluctant. I was slowly recovering from
an excruciating experience with a previous client that shook my creative core. The other fact was that Steve and Marina were my friends, what if something went wrong? Clearly, I was a bit wobbly at the thought.

A year later my garden was voted garden of the year by the  West Adams Heritage Association and was the subject of an L.A Times article written by Emily Green

92nd Street House

The year is 1942.
Lee Loften( Pat’s father)  is a defendant in a case that would go all the way to the supreme court in an effort to save his home in Los Angeles.  A non- Caucasian covenant was implemented  which forbade negroes from owning property in his tract.  A judgment was rendered by the court which forced Mr. Loften from his home.

Pat Lofton shares the following in her own words:

My mother was the instrumental part of the whole process. During those times, the woman was not "in charge", so my father's name was upfront.
My parents purchased the house on 92nd street in the late 30's. They later moved into the house. They had friends, the Owens that lived across the street. They later found out about the covenance. They started trying to fight it. They went to the NAACP, but they would not take my parents case. My mother then began to fight on her own. In the middle of the fight, she became pregnant with me. She already had two sons, 9 and 10 and here she was in the middle of everything...pregnant.  It was too much for her and she broke under the pressure. She went to stay with the mother in Fresno, for support. My grandmother was a very strong woman.  She borne 11 children, 10 were girls, two (twins) died when they were young, so she raised these warrior women.  My mother regained her strength and continued the fight.

I was born in 1942, at home, by an African American female doctor who came to our house with her nurse and finished cooking my mother's beans that she started for dinner! Two years later, in 1944, we lost the case and found 30th street.

During that time, there was a very popular movie called, "The House on 92nd Street" and the newspapers ran an article about the law case with the title,"The House on 92nd Street".

We moved into the house on 30th Street in 1944, it was really in good shape.  It wasn't a fixer upper.  My mother and brothers changed the kitchen flooring and painted the interior wood. My mother thought all of that dark wood was too much. They did some other cosmetic type changes like most people. My father was into the garden, so he did a lot of planting, etc.

It was wonderful growing up in such a diverse neighborhood. We never had to lock doors, we could sleep with our windows open. I would visit our neighbors that lived on our street at the early age of four and my parents didn't have to worry. I remember the freedom of it all.

She adds, "Thank you for your interest and your work and for coming into my life.

Pat Lofton Brown

Patricia Lofton age 4 with a neighbor

June /2011, Patricia Lofton receives an email from a friend about  the West Adams Garden. Pat says she was so surprised to see her childhood home in the paper!! It brought back so many memories which she wanted to share with Steve and Marina (current owners) and myself! After a  flurry of emails and phone conversations  a tentative plan was set for all of us to meet for lunch! This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of sharing a delightful lunch with Ms. Lofton, one of her childhood friends and my dear friends Steve and Marina. I mean, how cool is that?

I feel as though I’ve met a kindred spirit, and  master gardener! Pat has a small herb farm in Sacramento! You see how life works??

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gardening for the war

During world war one and two citizens expressed their patriotic duty by planting Victory Gardens. Food production was vital because our troops had to eat!.
The Department of Agriculture sponsored a poster campaign promoting conservation of resources. Interesting how we have come full circle to see the value of conservation. War is costly for everyone, and the sad truth is that nobody wins.
Interesting perspective when one thinks about the state of our affairs today.Just sayin........

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Taking back our green spaces............

We're on a mission

I'm on a mission to take back open spaces that resembles a smile with missing teeth.
Withing a two block stretch in my community I counted four vacant lots that have blighted our main corridors for years?

Blight in any neighborhood signals that folks don't care which leads to unhealthy consequences on many levels in my experience. Apathy is a horrible thing and as a landscape designer I've been thinking of ways I could inspire a movement for change!

I suppose it started with a pocket park I helped to create around the corner from my house. The vacant space was a haven for illicit activity, dumping, graffiti and a general sense of hopelessness.
Working with the owners of the property, City Council Office and the City Planning Office,  I designed a garden that represents pride of ownership in the neighborhood!

So I'm thinking how can I create a movement to green up more vacant lots???  It will take a showing of hands, literally!  Set to launch for Earth Day 2011,  I will launch Operation Reconstruction which plans an all out assault on vacant open spaces starting with my community! I'll keep you all posted...We've got work to do!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Turtle and The Mountain

I ventured off my usual course while walking Willow today. I recalled a street in my neighborhood where there were a number of houses that time stood still, a kind of authentic  Old School way of beingness.  I made that word up because it just fits the visual and the essence of  one of my neighbors, Mr. Kameyama.  He shares that  Kame means turtle and Yama  means mountain.
Sr. Kameyama  arrived on  mainland Hawaii in the later part of the eighteenth century from Japan and ultimately moved Concord California  where the Sr. Kameyama was employed by wealthy landowners.
My neighbor Mr. Kameyama grew up in special quarters for hired help with his own daily  responsibilities.
He told me that he would help with the breakfast in the mornings by milking the cows and gathering the eggs.

He attended what he described as a three room school house in the afternoons and in the evening after chores one of the mistresses of the house would teach him english.

Today  he laments he has little time for the garden since his wife passed away last October. They were married 66 years. The couple moved to his home in Jefferson Park in 1948 from Concord California.
No doubt he will share more of his life with me on future walks. I look forward to it.
A sturdy man of 93, Mr. Kameyama walks three miles a day, changing routes on certain days.
He says he looks forward to visits from his grandson who cheers him up!

You never know when you wake up each day what's going to happen that will change your perspective in a good way.

Mr. Kameyama  shows  me another layer of the wonders of culture and human nature, right here in my own neighborhood! Oh, he thought Willow as pretty cool, he thought she was a Beagle, I shared  that she is a Tri-colored Coon Hound.

Monday, February 14, 2011

American Gothic.....................................

American Gothic- "I had experienced a kind of bigotry and discrimination here that I never expected to experience..At first, I asked her about her life, what it was like. and so disastrous that I felt that I must photograph this woman in a way that would make me feel or make the public feel about what Washington,D.C. was in 1942. So I put her before the American flag with a broom in one hand and a mop in another. And I said, "American Gothic"-that's how I felt at the moment. I didn't care about what anybody else felt. That's what I felt about America and Ella Watson's position inside America."
- Photographer Gordon Parks

Saturday, February 5, 2011


In the process of restoring my 1962  Corvair Rampside suitably named Roscoe, it would have to
have 4 new tires. You need tires?, you go to Bobs Tire Town Bob's has been a fixture in Los Angeles, the corner of Washington and Arlington for more than thirty years. It's been there so long that you almost don't see it anymore, you know what I mean? Anyway, back to the tires. Bob's carried the size tire that would fit my vintage truck which was not the case with the big chain stores. I borrowed a car and took my rims over to Bob's. Edwin, Bob's manager had already pulled the tires I would need, and within a half hour I was out the door; but not before I made Bob an offer he couldn't refuse.I said,"Bob, your place looks like shit!, let me create a garden for you!" He was already tuning up his mouth to say no because he didn't want to spend any money. I said, no really, all I need from you are tires! He couldn't quite wrap his mind around what I was saying because he had no point of reference. The place always looked like shit, people just stood around waiting for their cars. Most people   used their  time to make calls or went across the street to the mini market just for something to do.
I asked Bob if he could get me some tires, about two hundred of them? He said,"Tires, sure!, I got tires, I'll get you the tires, when do you want them?" You can tell by his excitement that he bought my idea for the tires.
I think I had him at, FREE! Anyway, I set about gathering recycled plants while my helper cleaned the space, stacked the tires per my layout, then filled the stacks with soil. I did a first layer of plantings with what would be the bones of the garden. The larger Agaves, Salvias and grasses.
We had a good two weeks of rain
after which  I  planted another layer with Aloes, Sages, and Succulents.  I've got some weeding to do which is fine,because  it's sort of therapy. This garden is gonna rock in another year or so; right now it's causing quite a stir in the neighborhood. When folks walk by when I'm working they can't help but give me an old story about Bob's Tire, or ask me about the Agave's. Isn't that the plant you can make Tequila?
The cool thing is that Bob let me run with it and the community gets a garden! It feels good giving back to community! So now you know what you can do with used tires! If you have an eyesore in your community, or if you would like a community garden or a garden of your own, go it! Maybe that's all it'll take is for someone to get the ball rolling and that someone could be you! Get your hands a little dirty, it feels good, kinda naughty but nice! We've always been told to keep our hands clean. I now  give you permission to get them dirty and grow something! It's rewarding in so many ways!'s kinda sensual!! shhhh!
Have fun!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's Not a Contest.................

I've been thinking about what I wanted to write about for a few weeks now. Christmas has come and gone.The year 2011 is new and old already if your routine hasn't changed. A lot is going on in the world these days. Precedents are standard fair..sort of a societal Shock and Awe
In the midst of all this I am compelled  to stand my ground. Stand in the realization that, I am enough!  My contribution to society is self!... yea.. I didn't come to the planet to sign up for the race of who's got the most, I am enough!  It took me more than half of my lifetime so far to come to this conclusion, and I can tell you, it's a deeply satisfying perspective.

What's on my mind is that I believe we all contribute something special, some of us are the teachers, but all of us are learning.  I'm learning that less is so much more! I embrace slow living lovingly. Fresh baked bread, line drying my laundry, truck restoration my landscape design projects, living low on the radar is so much more peaceful. I appreciate enjoying breakfast on the front porch and  hanging out with my dogs in the garden. I'm humbled by light that creates sculpture is unexpected places I am dazzled by the dance of the humming birds.

I'm even more humbled by the ability to "SEE".  I see the world in paintings and still life grateful I am for this artistry. I digress. With the advancements in technology it is easy to get caught up in the contest of what's new and improved. I hope you will  find your rhythm of slow....keep something for yourself. I dare ya!