Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Life in Ojai

Monday, August 19th, 2013

We had dinner with some new friends who live in Ojai. I met Harry Mattull at the jury meeting for the new OVA gallery. Harry is a wonderful and prolific artist: . His wife Christie prepared such a delicious meal of sweet potato fries, brussel sprouts and shrimp kabobs. We ate outside in the back yard and they set up this charming setting: mattull

Harry collects antiques and the dinnerware was beautiful green glass. It was pretty and pleasant outside.

Friday J noticed something flapping around in the pool.
bird a sweet little baby bird. birdie

We set it down, went to do some errands and when we came back it was gone. Hopefully it was just getting its legs and flew away. Baby birds are so vulnerable where we live, between cats and crows, hawks and blue birds many don’t make it but we did not see and signs of attack.

And here is a pic of the neighbor’s new llamas! They are funny creatures! While we were there one of them spit on the Emu for touching him! ha aren’t they cuties!


white llama

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013


happily sauntering across our yard a school of quails, so cute. I tried to catch a photo but they were so face and I could not get close enough, for fear of frightening them, they hoped up the 8 foot fence and disappeared 🙁

California weather

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

The back yard is looking green, with near 80 degree weather and intermittent showers everything is growing.


this is what the yard looked liked before we moved in last year:
hgtv back yard view And then we graded it:

I think the grading somehow stimulated the weeds since its knee deep towards the back fence and sides. Ferocious weeds.

there is still much to do to get the property in shape but it will take time. I did get some peppers and tomatoes planted and want to get some artichoke plants.

I also took last years Halloween pumpkin and cut off the top, and put soil inside and watered leaving the seeds intact. Then later dh cut a circle from the bottom and planted the whole thing. I’m thinking the shell will naturally compost itself.

pumpkin I’m excited about it as I would love to grow a whole bunch of pumpkins and the vines are especially pretty and the blossoms edible.

Off the art topic and on the life topic

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Because life and art co-mingle like besties:D
We moved out to Ojai in January (in case you are not a regular follower of this blog) into a real “fixer upper”, both the property and the house had barely been touched for some forty years. So, we knew we had a challenge on our hands and because the house hunt and then the moving in process and then the fixing up process usurped so much of my time I have only recently been able to start making art again and that has been like “going home”:D

Now I’d like to share the story of our back yard.

When we first moved in back in January it looked like this:

The terrain was very rugged with mounds of dirt from all the gopher tunnels, there must have been 40 gophers until the hub aka Jerry gopher hunter spent weeks eliminating them. As cute as they are we still could not have them because they destroy all manner of growing things and we have a vision for a yard that is full and thriving.

The ragged terrain also had many weeds and under the surface besides gophers we had wasps, and jerusalem crickets aka “Ninos de Tierra” ( Children of the earth) which give me the heebie jeebies and nightmares. CrEePy!!

Before we dealt with the ground we had diseased trees removed and all the other trees pruned, as they were completely over grown because they had not been touched in so many years. Then we had the ground tilled and graded to even out the surface and create an area for water run off.

The dirt was misery making, as it was very light and with the slightest breeze dust would rise and there would be dust layers on every single thing including the inside of the house where windows were open. The dirt would stick to the soles of our shoes and we would carry it indoors and so I was constantly, all day long laundering throw carpets and towels.

During a particularly stormy day the fence on one side of the property fell down!

So, we had to put up a new one or contend with the neighbor’s dog Thor coming over and doing his biz 😀 HA, anyway, it really freshened up that side of the property 😀

The redwood fence is so pretty!

We also put a new fence on the side of the house where we can drive a vehicle through and a shed because there is no garage.

here is a pic of the fence ‘before’

We had a sprinkler system installed and several stations for hoses with twice the amount of water pressure, now we can keep everything green!

We chose flagstone where the brick path use to be. We both love the colors in the flagstone.

section with spread out pieces of flagstone.

Section on opposite side of the house leading to a shed.

the back yard now, pretty yes?

During the past 7 months, our blind pug has had a hellacious time adapting to the dirt as the area for him to do his biz. So, he would not go until he absolutely could not hold it, during the middle of the night inside the house. He is accustomed to doing his biz on grass. It has been miserable for the both of us, all of us!

Look at him now!
Grass worshiping!! LOL As soon as he steps on the grass, there he goes!! yipppppeeeee!!

We have plans for jelly bean pebble border with maybe rosemary and Mexican sage.

The hub built two fantastic raised beds

(we clearly need to replace the back fence). With the left over sod we created a special pug patch for both the pugs to do their biz. 😀
And so a garden is in the near future, better green living, and a potting shed and composting bin. I also see more fruit trees, rose bushes and lots of flowers. It will take time, but I will enjoy the journey.

Hope you liked the story about our backyard and how meaningful a little grass can be haha..

Fixer upper on a dreamy property

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

On the weekends the husband and I have been looking at properties, our next house is a fixer upper, LOL!

But seriously, this dilapidated mobile home sits on a piece of property I adore. we went back to see it a second time last week and I still think its my favorite of all the properties we have seen over the past six weeks or so. Someone has made an offer on it, we might make an offer on it too.

One of the things I love about the property is how natural it is with so many different plants. The pretty passion flower I posted earlier was growing up around that mobile home where there is a little gate that opens into a big area that must have once been a flower garden, (be still my heart). From the other side there is a nearly hidden little path that leads to the area I am referring to.
I love it so much.

There are several huge oak trees over a very shallow creek in a corner of the lot. There is a huge walnut tree, and a persimmon tree. I already showed you the artichoke plant. There is also two different apple trees, a lime tree, an orange tree, a lemon tree and a fig tree. Its heavenly to me although everything is completely over grown and covered with spider webs, ickkkk. This stalk is the blossom growing out of the blue agave in the front of the house.

We probably won’t be able to get this property but I can still love it.

I found this rock under one of the fruit trees, it appears to be a fish painted on it.

One of the other things I love is driving up to the property because you go through a tree lined path. Its so pretty. This is looking out to the street:

I can dream…

There is also a house on the property, which I do like but its the property itself and the shape of it that I love. I did post a few pics of the house in a previous post. one of the things I like about the house is the little court yard behind this big doors. The house is shaped in a U.

I do not like the kitchen or bathrooms. I do like the long hallway and tile floors.

Passiflora or the Passion Flower

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

I have written about the passion vine before there are several varieties, this one was growing on a property that I went to see yesterday and its intricate unreal looking beauty is always so bewilderingly perfect.

I learned a little interesting tid bits about the passion vine from Susan Ford Collins who writes about it in her flickr set. In fact she goes into great detail about many wonderful exotic plants, great photos and information.

The shape of the stamens is other-worldly! Purple, white and green spots cover these creature-like stamens. Yellow-green pollen hangs ready for attracted visiting bees.

The Jesuit priests who saw natives of the New World eating Passion fruit took it as a sign that they were hungry for Christianity. In the red species, the color symbolized the blood shed on the cross, the 5 stamens the wounds, the 3 styles the 3 nails, the vine tendrils the ropes and scourges, the 3 secondary leaf bracts the Holy Trinity.

In the blue/purple species, white symbolized the purity and blue, the heaven above. The flower is usually open for 3 days representing the 3 years of Christ’s ministry on Earth.

And this woman uses the passion vine to her advantage

Purple Passion, Passiflora, Passiflora violacea

Morning Glory

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

The morning glory is positively glowing this morning!

I grew some carrots

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

I had no idea they would be doll size. They taste very sweet and will be good on our dinner salad.

They are so cute!


Saturday, May 15th, 2010

The Amaryllis are blooming, adore!!


And the grapevine over the pergola is making lots of grapes this year, also you see a rare watermelon bird eyeing the hummingbird feeder 😀

watermelon bird

poolside, MINT! yum for tea



The title from a friend of mine who immediately thought of the song when he saw the painting:

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older too

Ah, take my love, take it down
Ah, climb a mountain and I turned around
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down

And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down
Oh, oh, the landslide will bring it down


Monday, August 10th, 2009

A friend posted this and its rather well said:
The Village Market was giving away a couple of hundred canvas tote shopping bags this morning when I popped in to buy coffee. It seems the give-away was sponsored in conjunction with a local conservation group and the Auduban Festival over in Sharon Connecticut this weekend. What a lovely gesture. I declined the freebie, since I have two bags that I use consistently. Hopefully others who don’t, will try it out.

I’ve been quite impressed with this little local market in the middle-of-no-where and their conservation efforts and ‘green’ eco-friendly policies. They have, of course, the recycling area for cans and bottles, but also bins for both plastic and paper shopping bag recycling. They also have an area with two large barrels for food donations that go to a co-ordinated multi-church food bank nearby. I didn’t notice that until recently and have dropped a few items in whenever I’m able. They also don’t wrap any of their fruits and veggies in plastic. And none of their local meats and poultry are sold with those Styrofoam tray bottoms–using instead a recycled material. I know they’re small efforts. But efforts nonetheless.

It gets me to thinking, that in spite of the myriad of environmental issues and the apparent on-going energy crisis and climate change dilemma–there are so many individuals and small groups working in unison with larger organisations–which are doing their part, in their own way, to make eco-changes possible. I actually can barely remember a time when my own circle of friends and the small social group I hung with–back in Florida wasn’t into recycling–and didn’t have some very real awareness about the environment in which they lived along with their individual impact on it. Long before scientists and environmentalist–well before Al Gore and his fellows– brought global warming to the world as a very real crisis directly into everyone’s homes, I’ve known folks who were cognoscente of their own environmental footsteps. In very personal ways.

I would venture to say, that I cannot recall in recent memory anyone I’ve known, befriended, or even been well enough acquainted with–who hasn’t made some effort toward conservation and a friendlier and safer environment. From replacing incandescent bulbs thruout their homes with energy saving florescents–to replacing inefficient appliances–turning in petrol sucking cars–and using less chemicals in their households. And I can think of no one I’ve known in recent years who doesn’t have recycling bins in their homes. Many, with gardens–have composting piles. Small changes. By an individual. Add up. All in all, even before the global climate crisis became an issue imperative, I think I’ve been very pleased and proud of the people I’ve known, and their concern and selfless attitudes toward making a difference.

Even when I was a kid coming up in the late 60’s and 1970’s, during perhaps the golden age of careless conspicuous consumption–when plastic began to rule the day and gas guzzling behemoths roamed the highways-I lived in a household that recognised recycling as an important aspect of our day to day lives. I remember returning bottles to the store for the few penny deposit, and gathering cans and bundling newspapers and hauling them every month, with my Dad–to a recycling center. My Father, well into his 80’s when he passed away, continued to recycle and compost and show great concern about the environment and the world around him.

I realise there will always be the large segment of humanity that simply doesn’t care. The selfish, the callous, the self-serving and the recklessly complacent element of society. Those individuals who feel no responsibility for the world around them. Nor for others. And there will no doubt always be the mega-corporations and corrupt governments and the political strong arms which will fight environmental initiatives and place profit over conservation.

But I’m not a doomsday scenario fan. And while the problems are enormous. And immediate. I can’t find it within myself to believe the world is on the very edge of imminent destruction. That there isn’t hope. And a very real sense of growing optimism. Nor can I believe that everything is gloom and impending Armageddon-like destruction. And I know, in no small way, that the only way I can ever hope to be a part of the greater solution, is to do my part. As an individual. Here. And now. And to surround myself with others of like mind, or spark an effort in those who need it. I can only worry myself so much, over the inaction and selfishness of others. And instead, be convinced and comforted knowing I’ve done what I can.

In the world in which I exist–and I think–I’ve always tried to exist–a smallish space and place–a microcosmic hamlet of the global village–I see hope. In one individual at a time.

The reality is, that I’m quite certain I won’t be journeying about on terra firma long enough to see the enormous and imperative global changes made that will be needed to salvage our environment in the long run. Nor will I be here to be a witness to the if’s and when’s of a possible catastrophic era if those changes aren’t implemented. And I certainly don’t have children. I don’t have an argument for conservation and awareness that includes a desire to leave the world a better place for my own off-spring–a next generation that is genetically connected to myself. But I do, in some small way, believe I have, as a participant and a consumer on this planet–a very real responsibility to take care, use caution and common sense as my guide–and if not able to give back all that I’ve taken–then by all means–leave as little a destructive impact as I can.

And in the midst of the the growing anxiousness, the dire warnings, the rancorous pessimism and the enormity of the global challenges, I seriously find some comfort in others who are making even the smallest attempts to do their part. Like those conscientious friends I’m gifted to know and have known, scattered all across this globe. And the small attempts of the little local market in the village. Magnify those efforts by thousands. By hundreds of thousands. And there’s a presumption of Hope.

Given the choice. I’ve always tried to choose optimism. It’s not always easy. And in matters of the environment–with all of the ominous hypothesis and foreboding theories and the menacing facts that are presented before us–it’s often difficult to live in the moment. And embrace what’s now. And present. While still making an effort to preserve for tomorrow.