Thursday, August 31, 2006
my garden below

Quite a few people commented that I hadn't shown my garden before....Well, I think I have, but it was a long time ago....And I may not have shown it in relation to people being in it, at the time, as I did in my last post with the photo's of Wendy & Mark...

So, I thought I would post some pictures of the garden below taken from above---me on my deck---looking down at different plants, as well as from down there and looking up at my house---the picture above was taken way down in the garden looking up at a beautiful Euphorbia Cooperii... This is the view from the South East corner of the garden looking up at my house...The big plant on the right is a very small Saquaro that is about two hundred years old....They are very very slow growing...about one half inch a year, if that! And here I am in the South West corner looking up at my house...It is very hard to get a real sense of how big the garden really is when you are in these corners...cause you really cannot see that there is so much more too the 'whole'..... This picture above was taken by me looking down on the garden from my deck...it is just a small portion of the right side as you are looking down...You can see this bronze statue of a Ram towards the lower center of the picture....And just below is a closer look of this really beautiful piece of sculpture.... And here below is a picture of a beautiful Agave...there are hundreds of different kinds of Agave's...this particular one gets very very big so you need a lot of room for it to grow and it is a beautiful rich green color.... So, when you are standing up on my deck, which runs the length of my whole house, you can look down to the left side and see this Date Palm, below....This was a 'volunteer'...I didn't plant this---some bird did! You know what I mean? Some bird dropped a seed or two and Volia! There is a Date Palm growing there... When I first started my Cactus Garden 20 years ago this was so tiny I thought it would never grow enough to be recognizeable. Well, it is not really BIG yet, but compared to what it was twenty years ago, it is miraculous! And it won't ever have dates, but they call it a Date Palm, anyway! I think it is extremely gorgeous! Here is a beautiful Euphorbia Amak Verigated with an abundance of flowers and you can almost see the necter oozing out of them...Incredibly beautiful flowers and teeny tiny, too...

Here is a cluster of plants which are many different sizes and types...But what I love about this picture is that you can see the city behind all these plants....and there to the right of center of the picture is some of that 'visual polution' I've talked about many times...I just love these plants so much. They are so sculptural and the variety of greens and blues in these plants is phenomonal!

And here below are a couple of Aloe's in silouette, with the mid city beyond...you can see some of the buildings on Wilshire Blvd. and Park La Brea and beyond that the horizon and the ocean.
That building in the foreground is a large apartment building on Hollywood Blvd. just after the city part of Hollywood Blvd. ends, and the residential part begins....My first and only apartment was on Hollywood Blvd. where I lived for three years until I found my house and I've been here, ever since.... And here above, a gaggle of Euphorbia Amak's Verigated with a darling Morning Dove sitting right in the middle, there....I have a lot of these plants because they all came from the mother plant! They have grown incredibly and I love that! I also love that the birds just lite wherever they please....delightful! And those ball-like things on these Euphorbia's are the seed pods, btw.

And here is another dear Morning Dove sitting on a small tree that hasn't bloomed yet.... I love that we can see his eye so clearly....and behind him is Park La Brea and another big building on Wilshire Blvd.

And one more bird sitting on the Waterful Sculpture partaking of a bath and a bit of a drink, too.... And just to remind you what started this post....it was that first picture of Wendy and Mark ascending the middle staircase down in the garden...And here it is again.... And this is just the middle of the garden from a quarter of the way down to not quite all the way down....but there is so much on either side that you can't really see in any one photograph...well, possiby in a panoramic shot, but not even then, I'm afraid...the scope of it is just too big. It covers the whole hill below my house....

Part 2 of this post will be coming along next time....



More to come....


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Tuesday, August 29, 2006
the emmy's and more wendy, too!

Okay. So the Emmy's are over and I can now tell you about my votes. I voted in four categories this year. As already reported, the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy category was announced last week and my first choice was the Blue Ribbon Panels first choice.

In the category of Outstanding Drama Series, my first choice was not the final choice of the Blue Ribbon Panels when all the votes were counted. "24" came away with the Emmy, and my first choice had been "The Soprano's". This category had a very large group of people voting and it was a difficult category because there were no bad shows here. Each one of the five Nominees were worthy contenders. But the overall consensus was not my first choice. We never know how close the voting is by the way...Now that would be very interesting to know, wouldn't it?

In the category of Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series, again the final outcome of all the votes was not my first choice. The Emmy went to Kiefer Sutherland for "24" and my first choice was Dennis Leary for "Rescue Me". This was a really tough category and I found it very very difficult to assign these numbers in a descending order to performances that were all top notch. But, you can only give a "1" to one actor, and so one....and truthfully, no one was a "5". But, you must make these choices and believe me, it isn't easy. But for me, Dennis Leary had the edge with the episode he submitted.

In the third category announced last night,
Outstanding Actress In A Drama Series, again, my pick for "1" was not the same as the the outcome of the final vote. The Emmy went to Mariska Hargity and my "1" went to Frances Conroy. This was another very very difficult category to choose the "1" for....all these actresses were right up there, for me, except Geena Davis. In comparison to the other actresses and the episodes they chose for our 'consideration'---only one episode was allowed---Geena Davis' episode was not as strong as the other four people. I loved Mariska Hargity's speech, by the way....it was so heartfelt and I love that she always mentions her father....very touching.


I'm not deeply unhappy with any of the final outcomes because all of these were very very close calls, generally speaking, so as far as I'm concerned. Yes, I would have loved my choices to receive the Emmy, but those that walked away with the Awards certainly were incredibly deserving.


In two of the other categories that I did not vote on....two actors that I hoped would get the Emmy, did. Blythe Danner, for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, for "Huff" was right on the money as far as I was concerned. I happened to love the series "Huff", but Showtime did not renew it, which is very disappointing to me because I really thought it was wonderfully written and directed and I loved all the actors in this series, too. This was a great cast of people. And in so very many ways this show was better than so very many other shows one see's on television. Canceling this show was, to me, a big mistake, but I'm not the Showtime Network!


And the other actor that I was so very pleased about his getting the Emmy was Andre Braugher for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini Series Or Movie for "Thief". This was a real triumph of a win. This Mini Series was on FX and not a lot of people saw this series because of that....so, for this really superb actor to come away with the Emmy renewed my faith in the process. This was not a "popular" win by any means, which, for instance, Alan Alda's win for "The West Wing" surely was a very popular win. I think Alda was wonderful in "West Wing" but, in my opinion, Oliver Platt, to my way of thinking was extremely outstanding in "Huff". I mean he was perfection! But, Alda walked away with the Emmy and Platt, did not. Yup, I was disappointed. And of course this is my personal opinion based on what moves me and speaks to me and on what I understand about the craft of acting as well as the X factor in acting, too. It is all subjective. And that is why I think it is important that these final Blue Ribbon Panels should be as broad a group voting as possible. The more the merrier, I say, for a fairer cross section of opinions based on what we all see and are moved by.

I could write a lot about the show itself but all I will say is I hate that they give the people who win only 45 seconds to say their 'thank you's'. It is a ridiculously short amount of time and too much time is spent on the banter and jokes of the presenters. That lengthy Howie Mandel thing was a total waste of time to me, and another way for NBC to tout one of it's shows that frankly I do not 'get'.... I mean "Deal Or No Deal"? (I find it impossible to follow...) Who cares! Again, that's just my opinion.

So, another Emmy Show is over and I know that Wendy & Mark had a wonderful time on 'The Red Carpet'. I'm sure Wemdy will be blogging about all this after they get back to New Zealand. They go to Disneyland on Monday and will leave for New Zealand on Wednesday night....A whirlwind trip filled with a lot of exciting moments....

I got to see them one more time, I'm happy to say, today...well, yesterday now! Wendy called yesterday morning and said they were checking out of the Hotel and had rented a car so they would love to come up and see me and take some more pictures. And I thought that was a swell idea! So I got this fun picture of Wendy talking to the Starline Tour Bus guy---these buses come by my house every half hour in the daylight hours...and this was the same Tour company that the E! Channel had arranged for Wendy & Mark to take last Thursday when they came by my house!

Here are Wendy & Mark down in my garden. I didn't walk down there with them because of the bad air today. So I stood out on my deck and got this long shot of them walking up some of the steps.They are right in the middle of the picture....They didn't stay down in the garden too long because it was very very hot today, and down there, on a very very hot day, it feels like 'hell' down there...But, I'm glad they experienced the garden below and here is a closer look at them ascending the steps. And because I am excessive, I got one more picture of them ascending and got in real close...but I was still waaaaay up above them. The camera doing all the hard work! And I asked Mark to take a picture of Wendy and myself by George, but somehow Mark didn't get that picture. He had a bit of trouble with my camera...but a bit later he was able to get this sweet picture of me with Wendy by another beautiful plant.... And I got a very sweet picture of the two of them in front of another favorite and beautiful plant right in the front of my house, my Webercereus Johnsonii...a rare plant with this very rare and wonderful couple in front of it! I gave them some lunch and as they ate their Ice Cream for dessert, they were checking their map to see what they had to do to get out of our very congested Los Angeles on their way to the less congested city of Anaheim where Disneyland resides. And after a bit, they went on their way, leaving my home wending their way to the 101 freeeway.... And as they drove away and out of my sight, I thought to myself how incredibly special the Internet is that a wonderful blogging friend from half-way round the world could have been right here on my hill today. And this is someone I never would have met before Blogging, and had never even heard of nine months ago, and feel so close to now because of this fantastic way we all have of communicating, called The Blog! Amazing, Amazing....And there they go....almost out of sight...Till next time, dear Wendy & Mark...





A few last gossipy thoughts about The Emmys:

Farrah Fawcett....poor dear....she is really kind of gone, isn't she? Could it be too much bad stuff has been ingested that shouldn't be? These last few years have not been her best years, I'm afraid....Whenever I have seen her on any show----weather this one or Letterman or wherever----she has looked kind of loopy! And last night was no exception....only more so, next to those other two women....the only word for this that comes to mind is....OY!


And Ray Liotta....Can we talk about him for a second? What did that man do to himself???....He was such an attractive beautiful man! Now, he looks embalmed! At least, that's how he looked last night....Oh Dear!
Why? What is this absolute obsession with looking young?? Help Me Oh Nurse!! 'Oh Ray, I hardly knew you....' (And Felicity was almost unrecognizeable, too!!!...Double OY!...)


And, I was exremely happy that Jon Stewart and The Daily Show won Emmy's, again! Well deserved! Very well deserved, indeed


And "Elizabeth 1" and Helen Mirren, too. Beautiful Beautiful film and a Super Superb performance by this always exceptional actress. I've never seen her give a bad performance. Have you? Frankly, I think this was a no-brainer, really! And that's all I have to say, for now......






More To Come.....


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Sunday, August 27, 2006
wendy's visit...!

Wendy brought me this darling little Kiwi! He is lying down with what looks like a little half piece of wood thingy under his neck and he looks like he is just about to fall asleep! Isn't he cute?

Here is another picture of him....she thought he belonged with the Sleeping Hippo and the Mouse and the other pair of Hippo's. So here he is, lying on the Little White Baby Baby Baby Grand Piano, next to his buddies....All sleeping peacefully together.... Wendy and Mark had been to the E! Channel before coming to my home and because of a change in the E! Channel people's schedule, they got to me quite a bit later than we thought they would, so our "afternoon" together started quite a bit later than originally talked about. But, here they are, the lovely New Zealanders, about to sit down on my couch, in the living room! This seemed a miracle to me that they were right here in my house, finally, having come half way round the world to be here for The Emmy's. And the fact that they were staying just down the hill from me was also quite extrordinary....With all the hotels there are in Los Angeles....some much closer to the Emmy Venue--The Shrine Auditorium--that they would be so close was another miracle! They are so cute here...I loved that we all felt right at home with each other, immediately! We never stopped talking and truthfully, completely forgot to take pictures because we were just yakking away like three little Kiwi's!

It was pretty overcast with air that was rather bad yesterday....But this is what they were looking at when we stepped out on my deck. That black thing along the horizon is polution! You can see Wendy & Mark's hotel in the middle of the picture and then the city behind it, with downtown L.A. over to the far left...with that horrendous layer of black polution going all across the top of the city....this is what we were all breathing! Not good.

As Wendy and Mark looked down at the garden they could see Outpost Drive way below as well as La Presa, which is the street that winds up to my street, we all saw the Starline tour bus turn the corner about to come up the hill where the day before, on Thursday, Wendy and Mark had been and had indeed come right by my house...Wendy I'm sure will blog about that trip. Well, we decided to go out front and wave at the tour bus when it got to my house...(Wendy took a photo of the bus)...which we did. It was great fun and we even spoke to the driver, Wendy telling him that Pierce Brosnan used to live next door to me...The driver did not know that and said "Your kidding me!"....That was really funny to me that a New Zealander had to tell the tour bus guy this information!

It was pretty late in the afternoon when we got into my car and I drove them up the hill and showed them a few things that the tour bus had not shown them, like this. This is David Lynch's house....it is on the same street as The Bill Macy's, only at the other end of it....It is really 'Pinker' than this but I took this from inside my car...Here is a photo that is a little closer to the house... It has some very interesting design work in the 'deco' style....I believe this house was designed by a famous architect, but I don't remember who....

We drove further along on that street and came to the Macy house which is way up on the top of this hill....They had seen a different view from Outpost Drive on Thursday....but this is the view from their actual street. It's not the greatest picture because the sun was going down and getting in the lens to some degree....Just look at all those steps....You have to be in good shape to maneuver those! (lol)

Then I turned onto Outpost Drive and continued uphill... We were heading up to that famoue and infamous street....Mulholland Drive. I wanted to show them this road that is at the top of the hill and is the sort of dividing place between the city side and the valley side of Los Angeles.
Mulholland traverses the Santa Monica Mountains from the 101 Freeway, all the way to the ocean....It is a great street to take because you avoid a lot of traffic...but, curves and hills better not be a problem for you. I wanted to show them the place that is called The Universal Overlook, because you can see all of Universal and City Walk and Burbank, beyond it. Of course it helps if it is a clear day, but it's still worth seeing even on a 'bad air' day, as yesterday and today was...very very bad.... And another shot, further west right on the road where the summer brush is looking dry and kind of dangerous in terms of fire hazard.... I took them to Laurel Canyon where Mulholland and Laurel Canyon intersects because I wanted to take them down to the Valley side towards Studio City where Betty lives. (You may remember that Wendy had called me to wish me Happy Birthday on 'The Day' and had spoken to Betty, too....)This is the crest of the hill and the dividing line between the city side and the valley...It is rare to see no cars at this intersection.We did go down Laurel Canyon and I drove them past Betty's house...unfortunately Betty is in rehearsals and could not be with us....I had hoped she might be able to join us for dinner, but she is soooo exhausted at the end of her rehearsal day that it was just not possible. (One forgets that she is 87 years old!)

I took them back up the hill a whole other way....there is an area of newer homes and all the streets are named beginning with Dona....so the area is often called 'The Dona's'....it is off of Laurel Canyon down near the bottom of the Studio City side....and it kind of cuts through and again, you avoid a lot of traffic by taking Dona Pegita....It is a very steep hill which takes you all the way up to Mulholland, once again. But you can't tell how really steep it is in this photograph....but believe me, it is long and s-t-e-e-p....And here is another picture showing how Mulholland winds around.... You see that gray line going across ther middle of the picture and going almost all the way acoss? Well that is the continuation of Mulholland which is the road I am on in this picture...there is a big curve and then the road continues....a very twisty road because it was built around the mountains....

Closer to Outpost Drive again there is this empty place where you can see the city. The first shot is a long shot.... And then zooming in a bit closer on Downtown Los Angeles.... Again, you can see all that black polution going across the horizon. They keep telling us the air is better than it used to be. I assure you, it is not. That black that is going across the horizon? It was once just tan. and then it became brown, and now, it is black! I think Wendy & Mark were kind of shocked to see this because where they live they don't have this kind of polution, at all.

By this time it was about 5:30p.m. or so.....I had wanted to take Wendy & Mark to Hollywood Forever. This is the famous cemetary right in the heart of Hollywood, surrounded on one side by the old RKO Studio--then Desilu--and Paramount Studio, that used to be called just The Hollywood Cemetary. It is a wonderful place filled with much great Hollywood History. It was in terrible dis-repair and was actually on the verge of bankrupcy when the people who own it now, bought it and renamed it Hollywood Forever. I first came here in 1961 with my dear friend Sammy. And I loved it. There are beautiful Palm Trees and other foliage, too. And this very beautiful lake with lots of ducks and egrets and all sorts of other birds...It was not in great shape even back in 1961, but still gave one the feeling of 'old Hollywood'. It is a place I always bring out-of-towners, if they are interested, because it is not a part of the Starline Tours....It took us quite a while to get their from Outpost because the traffic was horrific. And I wasn't sure it would still be open....and, it almost wasn't! The guard at the gate said he was closing at 6:30pm and it was now 6:15pm....well, it wasn't very much time, but, at least we had 15 minutes. I haven't been there since it became Hollywood Forever and it was wonderful to see how well cared for everything is and how green the grass is, too. Everything looked well taken care of which I was very happy to see.

Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and Junior are both buried here in a very beautiful strip of land that has a pool on it and it's own archway. It was really wonderful to see how beautifully cared for this is now. I had never seen the fountains working in all the years I have been visiting this cemetary. And here below is a closer look at the actual monument.On the other side of the road, Wendy noticed this monument. Here below is a closer picture of this particular monument... As you can probably read...it is Johnny Ramone of "The Ramones". Wendy took a picture of it from the car....(I did not take these pictures...I found them on the Net...) And as you can see from the first picture, the small lake or whatever you want to call it is right behind....there were lots and lots of birds there and I took this picture from the car of a few of these sweet birds... There are many many interesting people buried here. Rudolph Valentino, Marion Davies, Harry Cohn, (the head of Columbia Pictures), Tyrone Power, John Houstan, The DeMille Family, The Talmadge Sisters---Norma and Constance, etc., etc., etc....I think this is why it has such an old Hollywood feeling to it because it is filled with so very many early film stars from the 'Silent Picture' days to today.

We had to leave so quickly that I didn't get to show them a lot of the wonderful gravesites like Tyrone Power. But as we were driving back to the entry way, Mark saw a squirrel and got very excited because they don't have any squirrels in New Zealand, which btw I did not know....and then he saw another and both Wendy and Mark got very excited about that.

We went back to my house and there they both saw two deer down in my garden and crossing over to the hill on the right...I had said that I see deer all the time and so I was so pleased that they got to see a couple themselves.

We had some dinner and sat and talked some more and then I took them back to their hotel. It was quite a big full day for me and I was quite tired by 1o:30pm....But it was a very very special day and one that will stay with me for a long time. Here are another couple of pictures of Wendy & Mark....
And last but not least by any means....a sweet picture of Wendy and me, taken by Mark.... It was as if we had all known each other forever and were just catching up once again. The Internet and blogging in particular really gives one this feeling so that it didn't seem odd to be meeting Wendy, at all! And by extension, her dear husband Mark. I wish we had taken more pictures of us, but as I said, we just comletely forgot about our cameras we were talking so much and enjoying each others company so much...well, I speak for myself here(lol). We'll find out how Wendy felt when they return to New Zealand next Wednesday. But suffice it to say, I wish we had had more time together because there are many other places I was going to take them...well, next time. Right?

I will leave this post up for a few days....it's a long one and I hope and enjoyable one, too....I'm going to go and rest now....





More To Come.....





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