How Does My Garden Grow

IMG_9601I’m a tomato growing guy! Over the years I’ve raised them at home and work.

Does raising tomatoes at work where I was paid make me a farmer? Sure. Why not?

Now that we’re in the land of perpetual sunshine I’ve got a single tomato plant in a pot on our patio. Growing space is limited. One is enough.

IMG_9600I cheated. The pot, with a plastic tomato cage above, came from Home Depot already in bloom. So far, it has survived my questionable care.

Our patio has limited sunshine. That’s good for people, but not optimum for tomatoes. They can’t get enough sunlight.

So far the impact has been minimal. Maybe it’s that sunshine is stronger in SoCal than Connecticut. Because of our more southerly latitude the Sun is higher in the sky.

I certainly started earlier. Back in the Northeast I never planted until Memorial Day. These bad boys are close to a month in.

IMG_9608I had been watering the tomatoes by hand. Today I installed irrigation.

We have a tiny sprinkler system for our flowers and bushes. I tapped into that, adding ‘dribblers’ for the tomatoes and a few other plants in pots.

The dribblers are rated one gallon per hour. The system runs two minutes every other day. That’s 4.27 ounces of water three or four times a week.

Is it enough? I’ll let you know.

In Connecticut tomato season ran from late July into October. It will be longer here. And no killing frost!

My Creative Family

We are a very small family. Even then, I am only in touch with a smaller subset of my relatives. Outside my immediate family, my closest relative is Cousin Michael. He and his family live in California – in the OC.

Michael is our most educated Fox. He has a closet full of bachelor and masters degrees, plus a law degree and PhD.

When he was in high school, he wanted to be a farmer&#185. That’s not the normal career path for someone born within walking distance of the Flushing El, who could see the Empire State Building from the front steps of his Queens apartment building.

If I remember correctly (and he’s not shy about correcting) he then studied library science, and of course, law. I’m sure I’m leaving something out.

He ended up working for the federal government as a staff attorney for the Labor Board in Washington. I remember visiting his office in a government building so depressingly institutional, linoleum and green wall paint would have classed the joint up.

At some point in Washington, he got hooked on theater. I don’t know how that happened, because Michael and I were out of touch for many of those years, but he got the bug. Michael gravitated to directing.

Though he taught and occasionally did ‘lawyer work,’ directing was obviously his vocational passion.

I have never seen Michael’s work, but now I’ve gotten to read about it. His latest production, Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame” is in the midst of a short run in Santa Ana, CA.

The Orange County Register’s reviewer was very positive.

This could be some bizarre, post-nuclear world where everyone struggles for survival, or it could simply be the extreme result of societies that value ideologies or materialism over human life. The time, place and context are never specified because, as director Michael David Fox’s staging proves, Beckett’s ideas transcend such specifics, creating disturbing images while raising philosophical questions deeply troubling once dwelled upon.

Beckett means for us to dwell on these issues, and Fox and company oblige with a compact staging that, like “Godot,” can be achingly funny one moment, stark and bleak the next.

I wish I could pop on down to Southern California to see it. The show runs through May 20, Friday and Saturday evenings and a Sunday matin

The Rain Arrives in Los Angeles

Let me set the stage. Los Angeles has had a ridiculously rainy winter. If people haven’t been directly affected, they know someone who has, or are worried they might be the injured party the next time.

I’m not just talking about houses sliding down hills. There are lesser, nagging problems that come out when the winter is very rainy. Roofs leak. Poorly sealed doors and windows let in water. Trees and branches tumble. Drivers panic, because they’re not sure how to handle their cars on wet roads. It’s a mess.

The truth is, Los Angeles is not built for bad weather. Too much is outside. Too much is exposed to the elements.

So today, when the rain returned, you could see everyone clenching their teeth just a little. No one was anxious to repeat the hell of earlier this winter. Only 1/3″ more rain and this would go down as the 2nd rainiest ever!

We thought we’d take it in stride.

We started the morning with breakfast at the hotel. I had an omelet, which was stuffed full, but only OK for taste. On the other hand, the place we ate itself, Breezes, was excellent. It is tastefully underdone and expansive… and expensive. That’s a given here.

We headed out to a Disney’ish upscale, outdoor mall called The Grove. It is adjacent to The Farmer’s Market (which I remember Jack Benny talking about when I was a little kid) and CBS&#185.

The stores at The Grove are similar to those you’d see at a nice mall. While Steffie and Helaine looked around, I headed to Barnes and Noble. This is an especially nice B&N with a large collection of books on all matters show business, plus how-to’s on writing screenplays, teleplays and books.

As the showers continued, the Grove became less of a fun place to be. There’s little cover, so there’s no avoiding getting wet.

We ducked into the Farmer’s Market, where Steffie proceeded to by a t-shirt. The Farmer’s Market is the antithesis of The Grove.

Here all the stores are one of a kind. There are lots of food stands, plus produce and meats, and clothing. It’s an eclectic mix.

We tired of the Farmer’s Market quickly, especially since we had eaten already. Back to the car, we headed to the Beverly Center, not far down Beverly Blvd.

The Beverly Center is a huge mall. The parking is on the lower levels with the mall running on levels 6,7 and 8. The mall seemed too open and cold. Maybe that’s not a fair judgment for a mall. Something was missing.

I found the Sony and Bose stores interesting in that I wondered why things were so expensive? Sony espcially computers that seemingly doubled as works of domestic art. Call me crazy, but I really look at computers as commodities today… even though this blog entry is being written on my Sony laptop.

Dinner tonight was another notable restaurant, Spago, picked by Steffie. She had heard about it, and its appeal. Helaine and I had eaten there a long time ago. Back then, a busboy had spilled a carafe of coffee all over her white suit. No need to go on.

My friend Paul joined us for dinner. I met Paul back when I met Howard, at Emerson College. Paul is a producer, mostly concentrating of DVD compilations right now.

Back when we went the first time, Spago was a 2nd floor walkup, right on Sunset. Now it’s on Can&#245n, near Wilshire, in Beverly Hills.

It’s a large, dark restaurant. At the end of the dining room is the kitchen, behind a large expanse of glass. It is a very busy kitchen.

We all shared a smoked salmon pizza as an appetizer. For dinner I had a lamb dish. The lamb itself was excellent, but the sauce was a bit overwhelming and the potatoes were puny. My chocolate desert was very tasty.

We were told the menu was printed daily, meaning there was no reason to read specials. They were already on the menu.

If you’re reading this in the East, there is a West Coast practice that is somewhat unusual. All restaurants have valet parking – and the pricier the meal, the more expensive the parking. In the case of a meal like this, they’re really nickel and diming you to death!

We had been told not to expect any celebrities at Spago, and we heard right. It looks like an older crowd, mostly expense accounts , not at all Hollywood and splashy – at least not tonight.

We are going to one more LA restaurant Sunday, which does have a celeb reputation and where we’ve seen big time stars in the past.

Tomorrow, we head into the OC to see Cousin Michael and his family in Irvine. Rain is expected. California is much more fun in the sun.

&#185 – The CBS complex is usually identified by these words, “From Television City in Hollywood.” It is not in Hollywood.

How Tough Will Winter Be?

It’s that time of year. My email box overflows with people wanting to know what kind of winter this will be? Are they planning on leaving if my answer is too severe?

Lots of people make long range predictions – The Weather Service and Farmer’s Almanac to name two. I guess their forecast has value, but not to most ‘regular’ people.

We don’t live by the season. We live moment-to-moment. Trust me on this.

It could be unseasonably wonderful for two weeks, but if an Arctic blast comes, you’ll be feeling it and forgetting about that good weather in the rear view mirror.

So, as a rule I keep away from long term predictions. I’m thinking, maybe I’d be better concentrating on the next week, not the next two months.

Today, I got an email from someone asking about acorns. There doesn’t seem to be too many this year. Is that a sign?

Hey, if squirrels could accurately predict the weather, I’d be on the squirrel plan! I only stick with science because it works the best.

I wrote back saying acorns weren’t a predictor but actually a product of what has already happened. And then I realized, I don’t really know that. It sounds right – logical – but I really don’t know. So I scouted around.

We’re very lucky here in New Haven to have Yale University&#185. I checked their online directory and found the Director of the Forestry School. I was sure he’d know if acorns could predict the weather.

Yes you are completely right. the acorn crop is a reflection of past

weather. For the red oaks they take two years to develop – a poor

pollination period because of rain for a few days can mean acorn crop

failure two years down the road. Large acorn crops are therefore

unusual – once every ten years or so – and we think result when the

weather allows for it – “all the weather gods must be aligned”

Of course, it is part of the power of the Internet to be able to reach someone with so much knowledge, and then be able to pass it along. People might think I’m smart to know about acorns, but I’m just smart enough to ask questions.

Oh… there’s more to the story. I thought I was writing to him at Yale.

I am in Panama at present but if you need any further help give me a an

email buzz

We live in a wondrous time!

&#185 – I often wonder if the feeling is mutual, but that’s another story.

Big Weather Monday

It was a busy afternoon at work today. A line of strong thunderstorms moved in from the west. There was certainly enough damaging activity along the line to pay significant attention. Last night’s computer model runs, and those from this morning, showed an unstable airmass for this afternoon. Here in Connecticut, that’s the best indicator of the chance for strong thunderstorms.

I’m mentioning this because the Weather Service never posted a Severe Thunderstorm Watch or a Tornado Watch. We went from nothing to a Tornado Warning! That’s somewhat jarring.

There has been damage from the cells that brought on the warning, but I can’t be sure if it was actually caused by a tornado. Probably not. We are more likely to get straight line wind damage.

To me, the toughest part of this is going on the air and asking people to move to a position of safety. I know I’m scaring the living daylights out of some people. It is not something I can do easily… not that I won’t when it’s necessary. It’s just that I won’t do it when conditions are marginal.

The big question that’s going to have to be asked over the next few days is, why no watch? This is a major question. It’s not like some farmer’s field in Kansas had a little corn knocked down. This is an urban/suburban area with moderate to high population density.

If the Storm Prediction Center didn’t feel this line met their criteria, they need to reevaluate.