Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

Sponsored Links

Antelope Valley California

Joshua Trees

I made a business trip to the Antelope Valley a couple of years ago.

It was so pretty, I thought to share.

Joshua Trees dot the landscape in some parts of this desert.

Rocky crags, framed by Joshua Trees

A Joshua Tree close-up

Laurel Canyon

Laurel Canyon Terraces

Laurel Canyon Terraces


Laurel Canyon is a very picturesque area of homes just outside of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood area.

   It is also very steep in many areas. Driving through it I noticed that one homeowner many decades ago had built a series of terraces made from broken concrete on the steep canyon walls below his house.
   The terraces seem to have held well through all of these years and now support an abundance of trees, such so that the terraces are now almost hidden.
   I am impressed with the engineering of the terraces, they are some five feet high or more, and built on a very steep slope. I’d recommend against this type of shoring for this particular project. I’d worry the slope might be too unstable to support the added weight of the many tons of concrete.
   But I’d say the terraces have been in that spot for a good forty years. So, so far it has weathered time and the elements well.

Santa Monica Mountains


‘You’re the reason God made Oklahoma’
~David Frizzel~

Here the city lights out shine the moon
I was just now thinking of you.
Sometimes when the wind blows you can
See the mountains,
And all the way to Malibu.

Everyone’s a star here in L.A. County,
You ought to see the things that they do
All the cowboys down on the Sunset Strip
Wish that they could be like you.

The Santa Monica Freeway,
Sometimes makes a country girl blue
You’re the reason God made Oklahoma,
You’re the reason God made Oklahoma.
And I’m sure missing you.


Santa Monica Mountains, Kanaan Canyon
Santa Monica Mountains, Kanaan Canyon

I’ve spent most of my life (other than a few years in the Prairie) in the hills.
These Santa Monica Mountains are much like the hills I live in.
The topography and the plants are quite similar.
We have a bit more oak trees in our canyon.
This is a view of Kanan Canyon, looking towards Malibu.


Santa Monica Mountains, Kanaan Canyon
Santa Monica Mountains, Kanaan Canyon

Just like home, that could be little Rivenrock at the bottom of that canyon.
We’re just as isolated as those people down there, the funny thing is, they are only a half hour from the bustle of the big city, while it takes us half an hour just to get to our mailbox ten miles away. The postman won’t deliver to our area, it’s just too remote for them to go.

Santa Monica Mountains, Kanaan Canyon


Kanan Road goes from Hwy 101 to PCH (Pacific Coast Highway, Hwy 1) at Malibu.
I was going through Agoura Hills on the 101, in ninety degree heat, and decided that since this canyon runs to Malibu, and the temperatures are cooler there due to the ocean, I’d go and cool myself down some. So I turned left, and went down the canyon, and continued my trip running alongside the cool sandy beaches of Malibu and Dume.
The Santa Monica Mountains are pretty impressive, and full of twists and turns on the road.
Kanan road carries an oddity for California, tunnels. There are three tunnels through the rock one must go through.


LA City Center

   I was in the center of LA last week. The buildings there are very tall…. so unlike our town. So I always enjoy taking photos of them.

   Going to LA is such a radical change from my usual day…. it’s always interesting.


Echo Park California

June 19, 2007
Echo Park Murals


These murals are both in Echo Park California



June 18, 2007
Echo Park

~Keith Barbour~
‘Echo Park’

It’s the morning soon he’ll rise
Find the glasses for his eyes
Aren’t what they used to be
Picks up the clothes he’s worn so long
On the bureau sits the picture of a lady
And the mural of a man who’s been gone for many years

The old man walks in Echo Park
From bench to bench he moves from morning ’til dark
For the ducks some bread he brings
Wonders if he’ll feed them this time next spring

Listening to the children play
Reminds him of other days
Many years ago
Thoughts of a child that he helped grow
And the memory of a letter saying “Dear Sir
We regret to inform you, your son will not be coming home”


   I had some business in Echo Park recently. This was the first time I ever went into this town, and I found it to be a charming bedroom community just between Hollywood and Los Angeles.


This road was paved with huge concrete pavers. 
I’d guess this road was probably paved this way some fifty years ago.



This road was so steep, I really have a hard time accepting the fact that any city government would allow building on such steep inclines. The roads are dangerous at this degree of slope, and the risks of landslide is high.



But still, I must admit that as a person who has lived most his life in hilly country, I prefer hillsides to flat land when it comes to interest and challenge in a landscape. The ability to build good and strong terraces is paramount when it comes to hillsides like this. Terraces will create a large amount of flat land while creating intrigue with plenty of little ‘secret’ gardens here and there. The gardens I saw were interesting and had an interest that is difficult to achieve on flat land.

All-In-All, I’d say this seems to be a pretty decent neighborhood. I liked the openness of the people, and folks seemed to be friendly and open, and they all told me it was a good neighborhood, when the locals are happy and proud of their neighborhood it shows that they will also exert pressure on the ‘neer-do-wells’ who try to cause trouble. This kind of community pressure is what it takes to keep a neighborhood tight and cohesive.



Sweepin’ out a warehouse in West LA


An old posting….

but Emmy Lou is always good enough to listen to again!



June 29, 2007
Sweepin’ out a Warehouse

~Emmylou Harris~
‘Two More Bottles of Wine’

Ain’t gonna let it bother me today
I been workin’ and I’m too tired anyway
But it’s all right ’cause it’s midnight
And I got two more bottles of wine
I’m sixteen hundred miles from the people I know
Been doin’ all I can but opportunity sure comes slow
Thought I’d be in the sun all day
But I’m sweepin’ out a warehouse in west L.A.
But it’s all right ’cause it’s midnight
And I got two more bottles of wine

   Yep, I’m back to my old job. Like the majority of small American Family Farms, we make most of our money from off the farm, both of us holding jobs in town.
   So we are picking up materials from one place, and hauling it to other places. Sometimes it goes to the recycle yard, sometimes to the dump, sometimes to venders. ‘Moving Stuff’ is how I describe it when asked. But this is all done under the loose supervision of knowledgeable people who have the information as to what goes where, but today, all ‘Adult Supervision’ was gone for the holiday. Us ‘Workin Boys’ didn’t have anyone to tell us what goes where, so we were instructed to sweep out the warehouse. Yep, acres of smooth concrete with pallets and materials that needed to be moved aside to sweep under it. Hours of pushin’ broom and driving forklifts moving stuff around. All the time sad country songs kept coming into my head, Roger Miller and especially Emmylou Harris (who I always love to picture in my mind) filled my thoughts as the dust and torn-off labels arranged themselves into neat piles for eventual disposition.
   Music has a way of taking our thoughts and arranging it into the neat rows like the dust I sweep. Perhaps it is the focusing effects that I appreciate. It takes away the sadness of being away from home, or maybe it just lets that sadness share itself with a kindred soul who had the wordsmith ability to arrange it all into poem and prose with accompanying music. The soft angelic voice of Emmylou will be forever in my mind, reverberating through the spaciousness inside like the cough of a backfiring engine reverberates through the cavernous space of a metal clad multi-acre dusty warehouse…one that still needs sweeping.



~Roger Miller~
‘King of the Road’

Trailer for sale or rent, rooms to let fifty cents
No phone, no pool, no pets, I aint got no cigarettes
Ah but, two hours of pushin broom buys a
Eight by twelve four-bit room
Im a man of means by no means, king of the road

Los Angeles at FF

   Los Angeles really is quite a place….

   Here’s a video of LA at Fast Forward…
a very colorful video, fast paced

Los Angeles: in motion from Michael Marantz on Vimeo.


   Here’s some photos of Century City…
the business area sandwiched between the 405 and Beverly Hills


Century City

Century City

Highland Ave, Hollywood Calif

Highland Ave Hollywood Palms

Highland Ave Hollywood Palms

   The Los Angeles area has these tall palms all over.  These ones are on Highland Avenue. Highland is one of the main arteries that lead from the Hwy 101 into the Hollywood area.

   It’s easy to get used to going into Hollywood. It seems a mythical place…. but yet, there it is, sandwiched between the hills of North Hollywood (another ‘for-real’ town), and West Los Angeles.

   A friend was visiting from Germany one time.. he called us from Hollywood to inform us he’s coming in the next day or two.  He was so excited when he told me “John, I’m on Hollywood Boulevard!!!”  LOL, I forgot that’s a kind of a really cool thing!

   Actually, I mostly just drive through Hollywood… Oh sure, I stop in and say hello from time to time.  And while I enjoy driving and seeing the sights, and there is certainly a huge amount to look at….. I don’t tend to go roaming and visiting the places that want money to see.  I’m content visiting from my car seat.

   Yet, Hollywood is not all glitz and glamor.  Hollywood is actually, against all common perception a very conservative town.  There are a great number of churches, mosques and synagogues here and there.  Many of the people in Hollywood are highly religious, and seem to enjoy a quiet life after they come back to home.




Highland Ave one street over

Highland Ave one street over

   Thus it is that one street over from the palm-lined Highland Ave, you can have this little poplar tree lined street.  I mean, doesn’t this look like it could be a background scene for some place in Ohio?

  Hollywood is so full of contradictions…. a religiously-based town… full of people in conservative religious garb walking along the sidewalk to work, surrounded by the oddities of Los Angeles…. the drag queens, prostitutes, hustlers, and the many thousands of tourists, with their Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts, pulling their wheeled suitcases behind them.

   It’s all such a study in contrasts…. Hollywood is something of a microcosm of American life….. we may not be all too happy with the way ‘the next guy over’ leads his life…. but we tolerate it…. and try to keep from looking at anything that offends us.  That way we can all get about our own little lives… making our own little contribution to society in whatever way we can… and somehow.. like the master editor who can take snippets of ‘this’ scene, and ‘that’ scene, various camera angles, and add in the audio properly mixed with a compelling music score…. you end up with an amazing little place…. Hollywood…. mythos and reality blended into one.




   Truly, there ain’t no place like it.


Colorado Blvd Pasadena Calif

taco marketing

taco marketing

I figured for fifty cents I could fill my belly.

But it was a nightclub trying to draw people in.

It’d cost me more than fifty cents in the end.

I got a burger instead at the famous burger joint up the street with the yellow label…

It was an excellent burger… but really huge


And it still cost me much more than fifty cents


And really all I wanted was to eat some salad and fruit.






  Pasadena California is a really swell little town.


   Yeah, it’s snug up to Los Angeles… and it’s got high buildings like the city….


   And it’s got a lot of people, traffic and freeways criss-crossing all over and around it…


   But it is nestled at the base of some very tall and steep hills that cannot really support a lot of building…. so wherever you are in Pasadena you can look up at the hills and feel you are not that far from quiet and solitude.


   And best of all, Pasadena is just a ‘hop, a skip and a jump’ from Los Angeles.  A thirty minute drive will usually get you from one to the other (OK, that’s not a promise, and you should always reckon on an extra hour travel time in LA to account for traffic).


   So, I’d recommend Pasadena as a base from which to explore the Northern and Eastern parts of the LA area.


A Church in Pasadena