Wednesday, May 31, 2006
another flower or two!

So on May 25th George had another flower that opened! I took this picture about 10am and the flower was open just about as wide as it ever opens...About an hour later (see the next photograph)....the flower was already starting to close up.... If you aren't on top of miss the whole thing, so I've become a "George's Flower Stalker"! Yes...I realized that I am stalking George and I may need an intervention, or at the very least I may need to be restrained (lol). Though in all honesty I don't think George minds, at all. And besides that, if I don't watch all this very very carefully I will miss a lot of what is going on with these flowers and seeing as how the metamorphasis is such a long s-l-o-w process, and if and when a flower opens is such a very very small and short window of opportunity, I would not get these pictures if I didn't stalk dear George.

An update on another one of George's flowers that 'was'...Here is a picture of the progression towards the next step in the metamorphasis from 'flower' to 'fruit'. Look at those two little drops of necter...Mmmmm, yum yum...And see how this is getting more bulbous as the days progress...eventually this will pretty much be completely round like a ball....

And then, two days later (5/28), there was another open flower! Hooray! And once again, in a very difficult position to photograph, but...I got it! And then I got a slightly-to-the-side- view which had the bonus of having the bulbous flower just to it's right, showing a few necter drops just at the top of that pod...More yum yum.... Oh, how I wish just one flower would open on George where I would not have to become a contortionist to get a really good picture! (I know that passers-by, if they see me, must wonder 'what the hell is that woman doing?') If I'm lucky there might be one or two where I only have to get up on a small ladder, again!

Other flowers are bursting forth in my garden, too...these are such incredibly colorful flowers...I love watching this progression, too.... The above was a few days ago (5/27, I think)...all these buds looking like they are going to burst forth any moment....and they are doing just that... This was on 5/28, in the morning, and they are beginning to truly burst forth as you can see....and then, later that afternoon...5/28, this is what I saw, below. And then on 5/29...some of these gorgeous flowers have opened even more than the day before as you can see in this next picture below...the size of these flowers are somewhere between a nickel and a quarter...and they are perfection.... Now, that's a beautiful creation of nature....such a shocking pink and yet more delicate a color once they are wide open as they are, above.... And here they are, above, the afternoon of 5/30....All Open. All Beautiful. All Extrorinary. Nature just knocks me out.

In the early days of my Cactus & Succulant addiction, I met some really wonderful people who raised cactus and succulants and sold them to the public. I began this Cactus journey 20 years ago and most of those people that I met back then in those first 6 years or so are dead now.
One of the things I learned from all of them is that everything flowers. Everything. One has to be aware and really look or you might just miss the flowers. At first, you might not even recognize that they are flowers because often they do not look like flowers as we have known them---well, that is before becoming acquainted with these kinds of plants. The above is a Euphorbia...and the plant arms themselves are about as big around as a thick cigar...the arms can get two feet high before branching with new arms on the arms, all of which grow straight up....Beautiful little flowers, aren't they?

And another beautiful plant with exquisite little flowers is just below...I've posted this plant and it's flowers before, but I hadn't gotten as close as I got just the other day... The size of these flowers is no bigger than a small child's pinky nail....but the are perfectly formed even though they are sooooo very small...I am aware that I am repeating certain information and I do this for the new readers who might not be familiar with any of this...

And does anyone remember this little new baby which I posted some time in March, I think? Well, the picture was taken March 24th...and this dear little baby was not even an inch long at that time.... Well, now, exactly two months later, it has grown to look like this...! It is between three and four inches long in this photograph and growing pretty fast now...No, this is not a flower, but it is further evidence of this glorious hopeful time of, flowers, flowers and new growth, new growth, new growth. It is everywhere in my garden....and I truly love it! (I guess you all know that by now, huh?)

More will be forthcoming, as always...

Sunday, May 28, 2006
honor and remembrance

As a kid I use to love Memorial Day. There was always a parade in our town. And we lived just about one and a half long blocks off the main street running through our town and the parade pretty much began a few blocks before us. And it usually started early. So I would quickly throw on some clothes, grab something to eat and run up the street to Middle Neck Road to watch the parade pass by....I didn't want to miss any of it...

It was always moving to me. I would always cry. And I think if I saw that same parade today I would cry again. Seeing all the Veterans of all the wars this country had fought up to that point...veterans who were still alive, that is....all of whom would walk the four miles or whatever it was, starting near our house and going through the "New" Village all the way to The Old Village, (as it was known), to a park there where there was a World War One Memorial which is where the parade ended. Some of these men walked with canes. Some were pushed in wheel chairs. Some were very old. And some were terribly young.

There were Bands. Like The High School Band, and some other Bands, too...I don't remember where they were from but it could have been from anywhere. The Boy Scouts marched and The Girl Scouts and of course The Cub Scouts and The Brownies...All the local government officials marched. The Mayors of each of the 9 Townships that made up Great Neck all marched, too.

Church Groups paraded and a group from the one Temple in town, (one year my mother marched because she was president of the Temple Sisterhood..) were all part of the parade along with the Volunteer Fireman, The Policeman, etc. There were no floats of any was before that phenomenom...I'm sure there are probably floats today, but I don't know that for sure. What would make me cry? Well, just about everything. But in particular it was the Veteran Soldiers and Sailors and Marines. And the other branch of the armed forces very prominant in our parade, the Merchant Marine. They marched too, because The Merchant Marine Academy

was and still is a part of one of the 9 Townships that made up Great Neck, Kings Point, which was at the other end of town from where we lived in Thomastown. (Our house was in a little area of Thomaston known as Belgrave Square where all the streets were named for streets in Belgrave Square, London---like Grovesner's Place, Brompton Road, Buckingham Place, and Pont Street, which was the street our house was on.)

Memorial Day always brings up memories of all the soldiers lost, in all the many wars this country has fought, since it first began...and of course, this year I think of all the soldiers lost in this current war in Iraq. The soldiers lost and the many soldiers wounded, too. Killed In Action. That is the phrase used by The Government. "We regret to inform you....", that is how the telegram begins. The dreaded telegram with this terrible terrible news. We had a War Memorial in Great Neck for all those lost in World War 1, (On The Village Green, as already mentioned), and another for all those lost in World War 2, which was very near the Great Neck Train Station. It was on the street level as you approached the station by car....I thought it was quite beautiful and it always put a lump in my throat too, even as a small child. Of course, I cannot find a photograph of that War Memorial, but here is this incredibly impressive and moving Memorial for World War II in Washington, D.C. A fitting Memorial for a war that the country really got behind. No war is a good war. But some wars, it seems, are necessary though the losses are incredibly painful to those who's loved one's have died. Everywhere in our Capitol there is evidence of the "Honoring" of the dead. I think the most poignant evidence are these two images. And this one, too.... And, maybe the most poignant image of all is this one... The words on the tomb of The Unknown Soldier say what Memorial day is all about better than I ever could. Let me quote these words and leave you with this thought before I do: Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring those men and women who have given their lives to preserve our rights and our freedoms. They gave their lives for all of us, and in a very specific way, they gave their lives so that each of us can sit here and write our blogs and say whatever we damn well please. A high price to pay for these hard fought freedom's, I know.

Well, I for one, thank them all with all my heart, and say 'Bless You' on this Memorial Day, 2006.

Here is the quote:

"Beneath this stone

Repose the Bones of Two Thousand One Hundred and Eleven Unknown Soldiers

Gathered After The War

From the Fields of Bull Run, and the Route to the Rappahannock.

Their Remains Could Not Be Identified. But Their Names and Deaths are

Recorded in the Archives of Their Country; And It's Grateful Citizens

Honor Them as of Their Noble Army of Martyrs. May They Rest in Peace!

September, A.D. 1866

We Must Never Ever Forget

What We Have Lost

In Order

To Have Gained





***UPDATE: I just read the most wonderful post by "Ex Scienta Veritas" is incredibly moving and something not to be missed on this Memorial Day. Please, do yourself a favor and go over and read this post and click on the photographs, too....I have put the link right on his pass your curser over it and you will see the shadow...just click and it will take you right there...1:54pm***

Saturday, May 27, 2006
mothers, daughters & grandmothers

This is the third installment of my Mother & Daughter & Grandmother photographs, and the first one to have all three. (not in this particular picture though...). Here we have Kim Hamilton and her daughter Tanya...(though Tanya is also known as Robin, as long as I have known Kim, she has always called her daughter Tanya...)

Tanya was a teenager when I first met Kim...and then she married her childhood sweetheart, Henry, when the were both just nineteen...They proceeded to have four children...three girls and one boy. When these pictures were taken, Cohen, their fourth child was just a teeny tiny baby...she is not in these photographs...but Dana & Cory both are.

Dana is next to Kim and Cory is on the far right in this photograph. These two women, Kim & Tanya, are pretty amazing people and these two little girls have grown into incredible young women themselves. Cory has an MBA and holds a very important job as an investment counselor taking care of just one very important client's portfolio for the company she works for. An extremely responsible job, to say the least. She is smart as a whip and a very beautiful young woman, too, like her mother and her Grandmother and her sisters, (and by the way, Aaron, Kim's Grandson and Dana and Cory and Cohen's brother, is a very handsome devil, too...They are all very very bright young people. Aaron is going to school to finish his MBA and Dana is a Doctor Of Pediatrics, about to go to Africa for six months to work with Pediatric AIDS patients. This is one of the smartest most beautiful family's it is my privelage to know and love. And they are also all really lovely caring human beings. Tanya and Henry have done a magnifent job as parents. Incidentally Cory (with her husband and new little offspring), just gave birth to a little girl at the end of April. I would love to get a picture of the four generations, now. But that may not be able to happen for some time, with Dana going to Africa and Cory and Cohen living in San Francisco, plus, Kim, who had been here in L.A. for the last nine months just returned to New York where her other home is...
but I hope at some point I will be able to photograph the four generations....I have a snapshot of the three girls and their mother at a surprise dinner that Kim's husband gave for Kim quite a few years ago...the girls were still young but not as young as in the pictures above, and Cohen is in this photograph, too...she is standing in the back and is of course, the youngest one of the girls. Cohen has been a professional Ice Skater competing in "competition" and she now teaches young skaters and has a very successful career coaching. Here is a photograph of Kim with her late husband,
Werner Klemperer, taken in my home. Some of you may recognize him from "Hogan's Hereo's"....he played the character of Colonel Klink. When Kim and Werner renewed their vows about two years before Werner died, (they had been together for 23 years) I officiated at the wedding. That was a beautiful beautiful day and one that Werner planned down to every last detail. If it had been up to Kim, she wouldn't have bothered....but that's what he wanted and so that is what he got-- and in truth, they were both very very happy with the day! It was a sweet ceremony, Kim's daughter stood up for her and Werner's daughter stood up for him.

Back to those photographs...I love this next "profile" of Kim and Tanya can really see the resemblence in this picture.
Kim is a wonderful wonderful actress and we met at Theatre West. If you have been following my blog, you will notice that Theatre West plays a very important part in my life--professionally and personally. It is there that I met so very many of my nearest and dearest...Life long friendships have been made there not just by me, but by a great many people. Kim is one of those life-long people in my life. We have worked together and we have played together, too. When Werner came into her life, all of us who are close to her were very happy for her...they had a good life together and when he got ill with cancer, I have never known anyone to be as devoted as Kim was to him--24/7.

I love this next picture. It is such fun and they are all having such a wonderful time here... Dana, Tanya, Kim, and Cory. Four beauty's! Kim was very very young when she had Tanya. I mean very young. In her early teens. So she has always said she feels they grew up together. She has also said she feels that Tanya is the most wonderful human being and that she had nothing to do with that...that Tanya just 'came in that way'. I love that. And, Tanya IS a wonderful human being...

This is a delightful family. And here is another picture that shows a lot about the love between them... Over the years, Kim has been a very good friend to me and I hope that I have been a good friend to her as well...I value her friendship more than I can say, and I miss seeing her when she is not in Los Angeles. We do talk on the phone quite a lot, and I'm very thankful for that...There is nothing like 'good' friends and there is truly nothing like looongg time good friends. There is a shorthand with each other because you have shared so much...been there for each other in the good times and the bad. Nothing can replace that. Nothing. I Bless all my friends and I thank them for being such an important part of my life.

Thursday, May 25, 2006
day after the birthday, "birthday lunch"

Today we had a little Birthday Lunch here at me home for Betty G. The lovely and wonderful Seemah Wilder prepared most of the food and brought it with her....I set the table with some of 'The Good China', and everything was perfect, even though we got a late start.

There were just 5 of us because the always sweet Lee Meriwether is out of town, working. And the lovely, Dianne Travis had to work today too...(she is a wonderful actress, btw...). So it was me, Seemah, Betty of course, Bridget Hanley,(another lovely actress) and a very dear woman named Jo Gorman, who is an old neighbor of Betty's and a friend as well...(And to me, too...). All of us have known each other a very long time....and everyone except Jo, are members of Theatre West! And we have all worked together many many times on many different projects, over many many years, so....there is a comfort level that is truly special.

Bridget, Betty and Jo Gorman....Seemah was in the kitchen putting this

Chinese Chicken Salad together...(Yummmm!). As a starter, she had made some Bruschetta and she had a special cheese that was gorgeous...I had made a yummy veggie dip that people seemed to like very much and we had Croissants with The Chinese Chicken Salad. It was a huge salad and we all ate like piglets! Then of course there was the Birthday Cake! (Another yummmmm!) With Hagen Das Vanilla Bean Ice Cream on the side....(be still my heart....)...You can just
see a little bit of Seemah way over to the left of the picture. I wasn't able to get a really good photo of her in the kitchen. Too dark.

After dessert, Betty opened her gifts and then I showed them all my blog. And Betty was truly moved by all the Birthday wishes from all of you. I think what amazed her was that there you all were from all over the world, wishing her a very happy birthday. I had to read the comments to her because she has Macular Degeneration and really couldn't see them well enough to read them herself.

It was a lovely lovely afternoon and the last of these ladies, Betty & Seemah left about 6:30pm, having arrived at 1pm.
It was wonderful for me to be able to celebrate with these terrific women since I could not join Betty and her family last night at the birthday dinner at La Boheme...a fabulous restaurant here in West Hollywood.
The most important thing, Betty had a wonderful time and so did all of us. (Even Sweetie felt safe enough to come out of the closet to spend some time with Betty and Seemah and me...he knows them, you know?)...

I am tired, but very happy that Seemah came up with this idea and so generously offered to bring and make the lunch. So, Betty's 87th Birthday is here and now the celebrations are over and she can get back to work. Bridget, Betty, Lee, and Dianne are all doing a show called "Nunsense" at a theatre here in L.A., for two weeks starting on June 8th through June 18th. Eighty-Seven years old and still working! God Bless Her!

***NOTE: With my new Template, the links to things are very subtle. You pass your curser over things you think might have a link and you will see a shadow behind it and then you know it does have a link. And on a another note of interest, Betty's book is available in paperback at link was on the word 'book' on yesterdays birthday post. It is a wonderful book...and I think you will enjoy it.***

***UPDATE NOTE: Danny Miller has written a lovely tribute to Betty Garrett today and has written a lot about her career...go take a look if you have is very informative...(remember, pass your curser over his name...the link will be there...)***6pm

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
betty's birthday

Today is my dear dear friend Betty Garrett's 87th Birthday. Yup! This amazingly talented and beautiful woman is 87 years old on this Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006. I have to tell you that there is no one like one. Her attitude in life and about life is remarkable, to me. She has more friends than anyone I have ever met and is the least judgemental person I have ever known, too. She takes people as they are and always sees the good part of them...if there is a good part to see. It isn't that she doesn't recognize evil. She does, and abhors it.(I don't think she ever could see the good side of Hitler...!) It's that she can see beyond certain outer qualities of a person that might turn most people off...and because she is so incredibly accepting, most people who have this hard armour that completely surrounds them, drop that when they are with her.

An amazing thing that I have noticed for all the many years we have been friends...and I'm talking 44 years here...wherever I have gone with it is to the theatre or dinner or a Museum or shopping, people come over to her and speak to her because they recognize her. That in itself is not that unusual. What is unusual is the way they talk to her. 100% of these people speak to her with such love and admiration. They are gentle and sweet and always, always, ALWAYS tell her how much she has touched them in some much they love this film of hers or that performance or tv show she was in....and she is always incredibly gracious, incredibly polite, and incredibly sincere. What you see is who she is and what you see is what you get, in spades. Betty is the same with they are her family or her friends or her co-workers or her fans.

There are all sorts of reasons for Betty to be bitter or angry or 87 she has lived through a tremendous amount of heartache and pain along with all the good stuff, too. But, there is nothing about her that is bitter or jaded or angry. I think what I saw when I first saw Betty on Broadway before she was signed to a contract by MGM was not only this incredibly talented woman, but this really beautiful soul---a person who has such love of what she does and projects that across the footlights in a way that makes audiences fall in love with her. THAT is exactly who Betty was and still is...and there is no doubt in my mind she always will be this incandescent person. I fell in love with her in "Call Me Mister" and I fell in love with her dear sweet husband, the late Larry Parks, in "The Jolson Story". I believe people come into your life for a reason. It was no accident that Betty & Larry came into my life 16 years before I actually met them. And guess where that was? Theatre West. Because of Theatre West and "Spoon River Anthology, I met Betty and then Larry, too. Never in my wildest imaginiation could I have predicted or even known what great friends they would both become when I had first seen each of them performing. No way could I have predicted that Betty and I would be in the same show...a show that was a rare rare experience in the theatre. From our little 50 seat workshop in Los Angeles to The Booth Theatre on Broadway...these kinds of things happen almost never! And the friendships formed and cemented all those years ago...still thrive today. There were only 6 of us in that cast. Unfortunately, two of those cast members are dead. Charles (Chuck) Aidman--adapter, directer and lyricist--and Robert Elston....both gone. Betty, Joyce Van Patten and myself...still the closest of friends...(and Hal Lynch, my fellow 'Folk Singer' who lives in Opp Alabama and still in contact....) we are still here, alive and kicking, and Betty, the busiest of all of us! I treasure her and I treasure our life-affirming friendship. Betty is a nurterer without even knowing it...the best kind to my way of thinking.

A Very Very Happy Birthday, Dear Dear Friend...May there be many many more to come...You are the "best"!

This is a snapshot I took on Betty's birthday in 2001 when she was playing on Broadway in Stephen Sondheim's "FOLLIES"...That year her birthday fell on a Wednesday and she had a Matinee and Evening performance. So we went across the street from The Belasco for dinner between shows. Her two sons, Garrett on the left and Andy on the right, her cousin Carol and me. We had all flown in from California especially for her birthday....Carol and I went to both the matinee and evening show that day. Betty was fantastic. She sang "Broadway Baby". Right after the matinee, we were in the dressing room...(the very same drsssing room that was Betty's back when we were doing "Spoon River" and had to move from The Booth to The Belasco....amazing, looked just about the same too, all those years later...) Betty shared the dressing room with Marge Champion during the run and at that matinee Patti Lupone had come to see the show and had come backstage to visit someone she knew in the cast. She stopped to introduce herself to Betty and Marge and I said I'd love to get a picture of the three of them. Patti Lupone was more excited than anyone. I did send her a copy of this photograph. BTW Betty's swetshirt says, "age isn't important unless your a cheese"...appropriate saying on one's birthday, wouldn't you say?

This next photograph was taken backstage in Betty's dressing room when she did "Meet Me In St. Louis" some years was opening night and we were going to the opening night party. It was a wonderful special night in so very many ways. Betty's son Garrett met his future wife Karen that night...(Karen was in the show, too). I had the joy of performing their wedding ceremony when they married a few years later....that was a great day, too! I love this picture...We were all so happy to be there and wanted the show to be a big big hit. It did not get good reviews but it ran for about six months anyway. Audiences loved it and Betty was delightful in it! I came back to New York another three times during the run...once again at Christmas and then again to visit my brother-in-law who was in the hospital dying...and then once again for his funeral. So I got to see part of the show three more times...

And last but not is Betty's's available in paperback and it is a great great read...Betty is a true inspiration in so very many ways, not the least of which is that she is still performing. Singing and acting and completely involved in many many things despite her age. In fact, I think 'performomg' is what keeps her going. She is so alive on stage... Again, I want to wish you the most wonderful birthday ever my dear dear are loved by so very many people including I sing to you....'Happy Birthday To You, Happy Birthday To You, Happy Birthday Dear Betty, Happy Birthday To You'.

Long May You Wave!

Sunday, May 21, 2006
more george and more more...

Well, another of George's flowers opened up, yesterday (5/19) and by late afternoon, it was closing up already...I couldn't get any closer than this because of where this flower is located on George. It's amazing that none of the flowers that have opened are in easy access...It is possible there may be one or two that will open, I hope, that are in an easier access position, but I'm not counting on it.

George surprised me tonight, (5/20) because another flower opened...and it was not open during the daylight sunny hours, and didn't even look like it was going to open...Go figure. This is the best 'head on' night time picture I have been able to get...and it isn't great by any means...but I feel that it is better than nothing...And, it was the best I could do with this camera of mine...too far away even with the flash...But I got a side view which I think is a very interesting picture...not so much of the flower itself, but of that wonderful outside sleeve-pattern. If I am up early in the A.M. I will take a look and see if this flower is still open in the morning light perhaps I can get a better won't be closer though...that's just not possible I'm afraid because of it's location... I bet I've taken 1000 pictures of George and George's flower-birthing...Of course many of them went right into the recycling bin cause they just weren't in focus or not to my liking...Before George is finished with flowers and fruit this year, I bet there will be at least another thousand pictures!

On another front...Here are a couple of plants in my garden down below...What I love about this picture is seeing this very interesting Opuntia in the foreground (a beautiful plant) and in the background is 'the city'...that building that you can just see the top of is The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and behind that is that awful iPod Ad on the side of the old Bekins Storage building. There are a number of plants in this photograph besides the Opuntia...just behind it is a Euphorbia Ingens, and almost out of sight on the far left is just one arm of a Euphorbia Amak Verigated...and on the far right side is another tall green Ingens with another Euphorbia person in the right hand corner that is quite different than any of the other Euphorbia's that I have or that I have shown you in the past.This is that same plant in a different part of the garden when it was in full bloom...this is a gorgeous lush plant when it is pretty much looks like nothing much at all when it is not blooming, but oh my dears, it is breathtaking when you see it as it was in this picture. This was taken with my no-think analog camera quite a few years ago.

This next photograph is of an Opuntia that was developed by Luther Burbank. It's claim to fame, besides being very beautiful, is that it is practically spineless, so it can't "get you" the way so very many Cactus type plants can and often do. All the pads on this plant are an almost perfect round shape... This little guy is the beginning of a new pad just starting to grow. We planted this across the street because we had done a major 'haircut' on the mother plant and we had these lovely extra pads. It is now a very good size plant and this is just an extreme close-up of one of the existing mature pads with a new little baby beginning it's journey...So very dear, isn't it? You can see the places where the spines would be, can't you? And there is almost nothing there that can draw blood, believe me.

I'm sure that a lot of you are familiar with Hens & Chicks...this particular example of this commonly named plant is quite small but oh soooo very beautiful. Talk about perfect symmetry.Each of these little clusters are no bigger than a silver dollor, just to give you an idea of what you are looking at here in the above photograph. I love that little bit of dark brown on the end of each of the leaves...

This next photograph is a gorgeous succulant that is very colorful and very sturdy, too. This is in a pot out on my has a lovely view of the city and it needs almost nothing to survive and thrive. A little water once a week...and of course, a lot of love! These leaves are very thick and fleshy and it is not in perfect symmetry at all, and that is part of what makes it so very beautiful I think.

And I will leave you today with this very sweet image. This couple that you are about to see sits on a little table out on my front Patio surrounded by all kinds of beautiful plants....they are my good luck and they are very happy together, as you can see... The perfect garden Guardian Angels...spreading their good cheer to all the plants and to me, too...Are they sweet or what?

More to come....

***UPDATE: Sunday, 10:10 a.m.

God is Good! And so is George...Here is the flower, still open this close as I can get given all the obstacles in the way..... Beautiful Beautiful....

Still, More To Come....

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Name: OldOldLady Of The Hills
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