The week that was, 11/21-27/2010

A lead player in a massive Delta habitat-restoration project is quitting that effort, casting doubt on one of the most important attempts in decades to revive the West’s largest estuary. — Westlands quits delta habitat effort, Sacramento Bee, November 24, 2010

“We’re not going to spend another dime on this.” — Jean Sagouspe, President, Westlands Water District, Westlands district pulls out of Delta conservation plan, Fresno Bee, November 24, 2010

“Why would we spend all of this money if we were going to get less water than the status quo?” — Laura King Moon, assistant general manager for the State Water Contractors, on Westlands Water District dropping out of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, Big player in state water plan pulls out, Contra Costa Times, November 23, 2010

“Westlands wants its supply guarantees before anyone else – that’s not how this process works. This is about saving

The Dry Garden: Multiplication by division

Hummingbird sage.* Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Pulling up a plant and ripping it in half at the roots is a violent way of showing affection, but for a school of groundcovers, including many grasses, bulbs and woodsy flowers, doing just that amounts to true love. So, if you have established giant rye, coral bells, irises or hummingbird sage, and you want more of the same, now is the moment to divide and separate the plants.

Short days and early showers are abetting this endeavor. If you can’t jump when the meteorologists say “rain,” do it when you have time, then give the transplants a steady, gentle watering.

How roughly or tenderly you handle division should depend on the plant. Click here to keep reading about how to divide native plants in The Dry Garden in the Los Angeles Times.

*An earlier version of this post mistakenly labeled

“At Home” by Bill Bryson

“At Home: A Short History of Private Life” begins on the roof of the Victorian rectory that Bill Bryson and his family occupy in flattest Eastern England. Surveying the surrounding countryside, the American-born author invokes a local archaeologist who once explained to him that the region’s stone churches aren’t sinking. No, they are slightly below ground because the sheer numbers of bodies buried around them over the centuries have caused the earth to rise.

Having imparted this grisly delicacy, Bryson retreats from his roof but not his house. The author best known in the U.S. for his travel writing uses home to anchor his new book; every room in it is a departure point to discuss how those generations of bodies once lived, how their homes functioned and, surprisingly only recently, began to provide a certain level of comfort.

Click here to keep reading the review of “At Home”

The week that was, 11/7-13/2010

"Always attracted to water..." -- The Financial Times reviews the Monet and Gérôme exhibitions in Paris. Click on "Bathers at La Grenouillere" by Claude Monet for the story.

I was overly optimistic when promising the return of “The week that was” this Sunday. More succinctly, I lied. My apologies. I am neck-high in packing boxes and movers wait for no blogger. In the stead of the Sunday news round-up, this letter. Sent last week by environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Friends of the River to the California Natural Resources Agency, it’s an expression of highly formalized disgust at an emerging agenda for the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, which environmentalists see as benefiting water exporters more than the buckling estuary tapped by California’s State Water Project.

For California water news, go to Aquafornia. For San Diego

The Dry Garden: Letting go

There may be something more painful than letting go of a garden built from scratch and largely by hand, but I haven’t experienced it. Yet after 12 years in the only home I have known in Los Angeles, it’s time to move. The young oaks, toyon, ceanothuses, sages and fruit trees will need to ingratiate themselves to the new owners, or die. Signs painted by local schoolchildren will stay. My father’s ashes along with the graves of three beloved dogs cannot come with me. They are all bound up in the plants.

Yet handing over the garden isn’t difficult because of sacred dust. It’s the living that haunt me. It’s unexpectedly intense affection for the defiantly stray cat that I have taken to feeding. It’s hoping that the mourning doves that I have fed and supplied with fresh water every day since July 1998 find new food and new water.

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