excerpted from caro's journal: topic: LaJolla

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2001-02-25:18:18

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LaJolla

Reason Number 12 To Live in La Jolla

It Only Rains in February

That's not quite accurate, but it's close. At the moment, La Jolla skies are urgently squeezing out every drop of moisture in an effort to make the oranges and lemons and avocadoes happy. Tom left just in time to miss the downpour, although he got some rain while he was here.

I have a new rule: NO ONE is allowed to visit in February anymore! Marc came last year in February to enjoy the rain too. Yes, I know February is the most brutal time in the rest of the world, and it seems like the perfect time to come to La Jolla. But it has to rain in heaven too, you know, and we do try to restrict precipitation to a three-week period during our Winter-Spring, but that's the best we can do.
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2001_05_03:02: A New Day

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The sun never came out today. I'm now convinced that I somehow moved to Canada some time during the 48 hours of sleepless programming.
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2003_05_05:18:0Course Descriptions

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STYLE VERSUS FASHION: Is fashion cramping your garden style? Do you worry about whether one part of your garden "goes" with another? Are you afraid to break out of the neighborhood trend, worried your property will stick out ? Confused about whether your foliages complement each other? Learn why expressing your aesthetic self through your garden is the only thing, and why a natural garden will never be out of style.



THE ARBORETUM CONCEPT: Size doesn't matter, it's how you use what you've got that counts. Learn how to add depth and dimension to a small property. Learn why walls, lawns, and border gardens make the property look more cramped, how trees can be used to make it feel more spacious, and why the scientific names of plants are so important in all of your planning. Specimens as frames and foregrounds; centerpieces and focal points.


GARDENS ARE FOR PEOPLE: Caution! Landscape architect at work—and you are not part of his plan! Thinking of relandscaping? Learn how to think critically about your architect's plans, pick out common flaws in designs, and how to say "No" to the things you don't like. Become aware of typical hardscaping errors, environmentally unfriendly structures, the worst landscaping plants on every architect's plant list. Understand why architects push hardscape, and why may people find that they are unhappy with all that cement in the long run.Why walls are so rampant in La Jolla, and what problems they cause. How walls can take a lovely southern exposure and turn it into a difficult northern exposure problem. Making the landscape architect’s plans wall-free. Household molds and how your garden (and landscaper) contribute; what changes to make, now and for the future; finding beautiful drought-loving plants for close to the house.



IT’S DIFFERENT HERE: You don't have to be a newcomer to get the wrong idea about gardening in La Jolla. Some of the conditions that make La Jolla unique: atrocious soil, cool air, wind, no freeze, no humidity, clear skies, no rain. Common misconceptions: citrus need full sun, hybiscus are drought-tolerant, Euryops is shade-tolerant, Gardenias grow in shade, lawns and open spaces make any yard look bigger. Most gardening books are written to appeal to the broadest possible audience which makes it inapplicable in La Jolla, and much of the general information is wrong too! All the things that make this a great place for humans also change the rules for your plants. But not all plants react the same way: some become invasive and obnoxious, while others suffer or die. How can you work with what La Jolla gives you to make a spectacular garden?


THE YEAR-ROUND GARDEN: How to choose plants that always look good. What plants to avoid, unusual choices for sturdy dependability. Learn to care for exotic plants.



POT CULTURE: Having no luck with your potted plants? Why standard potting mixtures may be the problem. Choosing pots. Placing plants—just because the plant is in a pot doesn’t mean you can put it anywhere you want.


LA JOLLA’S WORST GARDEN PESTS: A satirical look at the most destructive pests in our garden paradise: white fly, powdery mildew, and day-laborers. How to identify them and what to do about them.

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2011_10_26:13: De Anza Cove Water Disaster

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The residents of De Anza cove have been without water since 8:30am Monday morning. It is now Wednesday 1:30pm. We were told that the water would be back on yesterday afternoon (we were also told it would be back on by Monday afternoon), but we were also informed that they were bringing in portable shower stalls. That didn't seem like a promising note.

I haven't had a shower since Sunday morning. Eric carried buckets of water from the water truck down the block so that we could flush the toilet. He really didn't want to bike to class last night, given that we were already several days unwashed and would have no way to clean up afterward. I cavalierly went to the gym to lift and then to the beach to run before class, because of course the water would be back on by the time I got home, right? My hair is so dirty and greasy that I am beginning to smell like a dog. Vigorous aerobic exercise is not usually a part of my camping trips.

And actually, most campgrounds do have running water, some of them hot running water, so we're worse off at home and have less nature to boot. If we'd suspected that we would be living in "primitive campground" conditions for a few days, we would have stored up a lot more water, and bought some huge bottles to tote more back to our "campsite".

Dishes are piled up in the sink--again, because we thought we'd be able to put them into the dishwasher eventually, and weren't in camping/dish-conservation mode. I have a wet bathing suit and socks with rotting ocean water in them, because I just knew the water would be coming back on any second now. Neither of us feels like cooking, since cooking generally requires water at some point (what do you do with the raw egg on your fingers after you make a simple breakfast, hunh? You never think about that sort of thing when the tap is working). We're now in lock-down mode: we're not doing anything messy, energetic, or even urgent. The rat cage needs to be repainted because the rats badly need a bigger space but how do you clean up after painting if there's no water? Laundry was already overdue on Saturday, and now we'll have a lot of competition at the laundry when the water is finally on again.

I usually clean the loose tea out of my teapots by pouring the leaves and water into a big saucepan. That way I can clean several pots using the same water. It's a way for me to conserve a little water, doing my part to reduce waste. Then I dump leaves and water into the garden for precious moisture and nutrition. Now even that little bit of tea water has become a precious resource with which to just barely rinse out a milk glass or yogurt dish. I'm also considering making new tea with the tea-pot-rinsing water--it's kind of ridiculous.

This isn't the end of the world. We've deliberately camped like this, and some people live like this all the time. But this is San Diego proper, not the back country wilderness, and not the third world. This problem could be addressed. I know for a fact that this would not be happening in La Jolla, except in the event of a huge earthquake, and only then because the earthquake had taken out a large area of the city such that temporary piping could not be laid. We can has temporary pipings, plz?

I'm heading out to get a shower after posting this. As Eric said, the porta-potties and portable showers are a great opportunity to meet the neighbors!
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2000-11-07:06:30

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LaJolla

Reason Number Seven to Live in La Jolla



Canyons


Hills make visual life more interesting just in virtue of being deviations from the plane, extra edges to catch my atten tion. Steep canyons are especially beautiful in this respect. The human population, being given to building massive dwellings, has no choice but to perch on the ridges or huddle in the valleys. And that means that there are vast open untouched spaces, mos t of them continuous with others, where wild things can hide. Visually, it means that there is something earthy between the clumps of houses, even if there is hardly anything between any particular house and its neighbor. Canyons mean wildernesses in the city.
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2001_06_20:16: Testing

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Experiencing a heat-wave here, with temperatures soaring into the low 70's.
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2000-12-19:06:18

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LaJolla

Reason Number Nine To Live in La Jolla



The December Beach



I broke my toe about 6 weeks ago, and have been laid up. The absence from exercise and the beach made me love it all the more when I finally got back. I swam in the ocean today, after a good run on the beach. The water temperature, said the lifeguard building's bulletin board, was 57F, and the air was 72F. After the run, the contrast between the temperatu re of my blood and that of the sea was quite noticeably vast, but I know of no other way to get into the water than to make myself hot first. The first entry is immediately numbing. I went in up to my chest, and scurried back out, then tried again. As I r e-entered, I reminded myself that the conditions in La Jolla in December were really no different than the conditions on a June morning at Assateague Island, MD, about 150 miles from Baltimore where I grew up, and I always got in the water there, as thoug h it were no big deal. I get a little spoiled here. Having been hot-blooded all my life, I find that my years here have encouraged me to behave as though I'm fragile; last night, for example, my hands were cold, because it was only 68F in the house. My ch ild-self just shakes her head, and points out that _she_ was barefooted AND hot in Baltimore in the middle of winter, in the barely-heated row-house basement in which she lived. I told you I'd get you out of there, didn't I, Little Carolyn?

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2001_04_10:18: Irrational Man

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LaJolla
The weather has been so changeable the last few days! Yesterday, it rained for half an hour; then the sky was completely blue and the sun was bright for an hour. Then it rained for half an hour. Then the sun came out and the wind blew hard for a couple of hours. Then the wind died and it rained. And it just kept doing that all day. The ground was dry when I went to bed, and wet when I woke this morning.

It's like being back in Bloomington, Indiana, where the weather does this most of the time. There, the humidity stays pretty constantly unpleasant, though, except in spring. Here, as soon as the rain stops, it's just gone from the air.

Flour seems to be a lot drier here, too. I find I have to add as much as 50% more moisture to baked goods than I have anywhere else. But there's no such thing as keeping potatoes "in a cool place"; they have to go in the fridge.
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2000-11-04:22:26

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LaJolla

Reason Number Five to Live in La Jolla


Strawberries


The very idea that strawberries could be available all year! True, there is a month, maybe two, during which they're harder to get and pretty poor, and during those dark times I have to substitute kiwis and make kiwi shortcake for breakfast instead. But otherwise, La Jolla is the Neverending Strawberry Basket, just one more absurdity that makes life worth living.
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2000-11-06:02:43

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LaJolla

Reason Number Six to Live in La Jolla



Pointsettias


It's early November, and the poinsettia I bought for Christmas last year started to turn red again in the last couple of days. It will be in full bloom by Christmas. You thought Santa brought them, didn't you.

They are native to this area, and they grow here all by themselves. Well, they come from Mexico and southward, but La Jolla being plant heaven, they're h appy here. There are some properties around the neighborhood that have pointsettias that have grown to a height and spread of 10 feet,small tender trees with crooked stems. All year, except for about two late summer months, those bright red bracts flutter in the breeze. (Bio note: Petals are distinctly different from leaves and serve a different function. The little yellow centers of pointsettias are the flowers, while the red parts are red leaves.)
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2000-11-09:19:27

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LaJolla

Reason Number Eight to Live In La Jolla


Eucalyptus


The tall, elegant, open-crowned trees that stand out on the ridges and line the highways with bluegreen leaves and yellow or red bottle-brush flowers--these are eucalyptus. They are native to Australia, but like every other plant, they love it here. It rarely rains. But when it rains, the clean wet air is pungent with their essential oil--the one that is used in Vicks produc ts.
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2000-10-26:07:10

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LaJolla

Reason Number Four to Live in La Jolla



It's October 26, 2:00am. It's 70F. There's no heat in the house, and there won't be, all winter. Instead of installing air conditioning units, they installed vast windows that open to the earth. Today, in the garden office, it was 75F, as usual: breezy, stark blue sky, bright clean sunshine. It's as though all of humanity originated in this one spot and our species evolved to live in this one place, and then we wandered forth and forgot how amazing it was to be home. And now I'm home.

I was thinking yesterday, as I splashed in the water I was so desperate to reach and looked up at the hills I had never even dreamed existed, that it's always the same with me: I dearly love the place where I am, and can't think of leaving it. Even the most detestable places have grown on me; even in the most desperate of circumstances I have wanted to stay in my latest beloved space. But there is a difference in memory. Bloomington I will always remember as one of the best places on earth, and Hollins too; while Baltimore is one of the most repugnant. But La Jolla is a trap much worse than Bloomington, and Bloomington manages to trap a fair number of graduates. La Jolla is not likely to let me go without a big fight. (Oh, and, that's "Lah HOYa", not "Ligiolla". Say it with me now...)
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2000-10-19:19:11

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LaJolla
Reason Number One to Live in La Jolla

Coyotes

After dark, coyotes descend from the steep hills to do battle with rats between the cars in the parking lot. The closest I've ever been to one, to my knowledge, was about 10 feet. I heard the commotion around 9:30p, and looked out the kitchen window expecting to see mating cats. Instead, two long ears and a bushy tail trotted out from under my window and walked casually up the driveway as though it were a dog who owned this territory. I clicked my tongue at it and it stopped and looked right into my window. I spoke, and in response it met my eyes for a moment, ears pricked, one paw poised in the air. Then it sauntered up the wi nding driveway without looking back. A creature trapped in a box is no threat.

They howl in the hillsides surrounding this canyon. 'Howl' isn't quite the right word, though. They yip, first one, then two, then more--then they all join in with th eir own version of the song. It is a terrible sound of excitement and triumph: they've found something to kill, and have summoned each others' assistance, and now they're working together, calling out positions and instructions and confusing their prey. T he sounds echo all over the canyon until it sounds like there are hundreds, everywhere. And after a few minutes, an even more terrible silence falls.

In an "urban" area with houses so densely packed on the hilltops and in the bottoms of the cany ons that landscaping becomes an extreme challenge, it is incredible that the land can sustain packs of wild predators that most of us never even see. These are my coyotes, for I am the one who puts effort into discerning them, I am the one who loves them.
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2000-12-28:18:05

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LaJolla

Reason Number Ten to Live in La Jolla


Santa Anna




While other kids are waiting for St. Nicolas, I'm basking in Santa Anna conditions. You can look up for yourself how it happens; I'm more interested in the symptoms.

It's drier than usual now, and I'm careful to drink extra water. The plants, too, which haven't needed much water all fall, have to be hosed down almost every day to contend with the sunshine and dry breeze and the powdery mildew spores that will land and take root if they find a dry leaf. Temperature drops rapidly in the evening--must have been all the way down to 55 at midnight when I took out the garbage last night. But after a chilly night I open my windows and doors. Warm air fills the house and the scent of dry wood and cistus waft up from the patio. My version of forced air heat. Solar power kicks in at about 1:30 as the sun sweeps by my south-west bedroom/conservatory window.

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2001-02-08:14:47

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LaJolla

Reason Number Eleven to Live in La Jolla


It Just Keeps Being Spring



Farsam always laughs at me for the way I understand the seasons. For him, they are dates on the calendar. "Winter Term" means something to him, despite the fact that winter doesn't happen here. For me, the changes in the natural world are what indicate the season.

Spring in Baltimore begins in March or April, with a great burst of rain storms and the first crocuses. Spring in Bloomington begins about the same time, with the emergence of the blossoms of dogwood, redbud, and crabapple. And in both those places, there is a characteristic nip in the air that's not quite comfortable yet, and characteristic clean smell. (Then summer strikes with a violent bang and life is hell until September.)

So Spring is, for me, the time when the dormant period ends and the growth period begins, and I don't consult the calendar for that. The smell and the nip are in the air now, and that makes it Spring.

Spring in La Jolla is a long season. It starts in December as the November drizzles bring out the first of the rhaphiolepsis and the hills green up a little after the dryness of summer. It's been a lovely spring here, and should be for a couple more months. Though it had warmed up considerably over the past couple of weeks, I'm just slightly uncomfortable in a turtleneck in the garden office as I write this. I wore black today, to absorb more sun.

Or maybe I should say Spring I and Spring II. We'll get another burst of rain this month (no doubt during the only days that Tom is here from Winterland), and the next group of flowers will open. And that will be followed by Spring III, concurrent with Summer in other places, when we get all the benefits of Summer without any of the heat or humidity. I expect it will be 74 degrees for the Enlightenment meeting. But right now it's a chilly 65, and I'll have to take the computer inside in a minute as the sun disappears into the ocean.

Wish you were here?

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2001_07_06:15: Sundry Aversions

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Wow! It got up to 78 degrees yesterday, and it was humid! Still 78 today, but much drier, and there's a brisk breeze blowing the clouds around.
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2001_07_17:17: Physical Things

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Reason Number Thirteen to Live in La Jolla

July

It's 2:00pm Tuesday. No clouds, stiff, whirly, fresh breeze. A hummingbird has installed itself for the moment on a bougainvillea branch above my head. The fuchsias are blooming madly in dappled sunlight. It's 73 degrees. Did I mention that it's JULY?

Yesterday I was reminiscing about Baltimore with Gail, who is from New York. We were exchanging stories about what we used to do to keep cool. My mother owned a two-story brick row house in an endless sea of row houses and tar streets. There were some trees in the streets, but it wasn't just being in the city that made it hot. It's just plain hot there. When we first moved there, there was a full kitchen in the basement and one on the top floor. We rented out the top floor as an apartment and lived in the basement and first floor. The kitchen floor was wood, raised one inch off the ground, and covered with linoleum. The other room in the basement, which housed the furnace, oil tank, washing machine, my sister's sewing machine and work area, had some sort of composite stone tile laid directly on the earth. We didn't have any air conditioning--not even a fan. So when 100-degree heat and 100%, unraining humidity of July in Balitimore City threatened to kill me, I'd go into this room, lift my hair off my neck, and flatten my sweaty body against the cold stone floor. I had to move around every few minutes because my body would heat up a girl-shaped portion of the floor. I can remember all this, but it's so hard to remember just how incredibly horrible it was. I grew up there, but somehow, unlike my companions, never got used to the heat. Bob Turk, the local weather man, would always herald the passing of a cloud with great anguish and apologies to his audience. Said I, "Why does he want it to be sunny, when it's over 100 degrees in the shade?" Replied Janice: "Because Bob Turk has a pool."

I prayed for rain and longed for winter; on a gray or stormy day, when everyone else was moping around because human beings aren't supposed to like gray weather, I was bouncing off the walls, so happy to have some relief from the awful yellowness that to me meant miserable heat. I never dreamed that there could be a magical place where the sun could shine, the sky could be blue, and yet my strength and will to live would not be completely sapped.

I occasionally heard that the movie industry is in Southern California because it's sunny all the time, and I found that appalling: how could the actors wear makeup and costumes out in the nasty sunshine? Who would want to live in such a place? And though I've been here for four years now, I wake up every morning after cuddling in a thick quilt all night, surprised that it's perfect again.
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2001_07_20:18: Social Considerations

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Quite chilly in the garden at this moment, 6:40pm, sun's just past the crest of the hill still lighting up the lemon trees, a very light breeze blowing the scents of angel's trumpet, gardenia, honeysuckle, alyssum and rose around me.

I've seen the red tide during the day: the water just looks really dirty. It's full of plankton. Tonight I'll walk down to the beach to see the waves glow--it was on the news last night and it looked worth a special trip.