Van Nuys, Oregon, mon amour


Was last weekend it? Will it prove the last fleeting glimpse of Pacific Northwest-like conditions we shall see for some time?


Will it be Thanksgiving before I peer out the kitchen door and say: my goodness, what wet leaves we have today! Thank God it’s over. Mother nature has forgiven us at long last. Let’s put on our boots and walk Fryman in gratitude.

Is it winter yet?

Inquiring minds wish to know
Inquiring minds wish to know
Autumn intimations in Sherwood Forest
Autumn intimations in Sherwood Forest

Rainfall may be 50% of normal for the second year running in Los Angeles, but today we got our first joyful, gloomy autumnal day in the Valley.  I actually wore pants.

Yay! Fall, leaves, fall!

Yellow now, ye sweetgums and Chinese elms.  Blush crimson and drop your veil.  Flutter and flail and land where you must. Find your savasana on the rooftops and leaflet the storm drains. If we can’t have raindrops, may we at least have you.

No more sipping pumpkin spice latte with a sweat damp forehead.

Holding on to the yard


When we bought the house twelve years ago the backyard had been reduced by the prowling of three enormous Rottweilers to a moonscape of grass-less, weed-less hard pan adobe.  Re-sodding was the first order of business. Before bathroom renovations, before closets or windows or electrical or a hundred other more practical things.  The one-bedroom apartment era of our lives was over. We had graduated to homeownership.  Dammit, if I wasn’t going to have a smooth grassy expanse extending off the patio, my own Van Nuys-ian bit of the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. So in went the Marathon, which lasted about a year, before retreating to scattered clumps about the yard.  Undeterred and figuring I had been dealing with an inferior brand of grass, I upgraded to the much more expensive St. Augustine. Charged it, as all things were in the first Housing Boom.  The St. Augustine lasted…for a couple years, but eventually succumbed to the sunlight deprivation and thirst of the seven backyard trees which surround it.   What we were left with is more or less what you see above.   For the past few years I’ve made a Spring ritual of buying grass seed and restarting the lawn. It lasts until about August and then….well, you get the picture.   Faced with a choice of trees and shade and fruit on the one hand, and a lawn on the other, or some kind of Mr. Miyagi-like native plant Zen garden as a third alternative, I have chosen to…keep sodding.  Homeowner, thy name is schmuck. I’d rather curse the darkness and keep pushing my rock up the hill, than admit defeat. Stubborn People built this country,  I remind myself, always eager for a rationalization. Quitting is not our nature. 

Ballona Creek, nearly dry in February
Ballona Creek, nearly dry in February

This may be the year Mother Nature intervenes in my foolishness.  Then again, two days of rain are coming this week. If I start tilling now….