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Signing off on my garden column

Coastline Pilot

“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow…"

"…and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” — Joni Mitchell

Today is my birthday … one year short of being a 60-year Lagunan. That’s a big number, which I once considered old, if not elderly. At this point in time, I believe it is definitely middle-aged.

Today’s column is also my last as the Coastline Pilot’s gardening guy, as I’ve just received my pink slip. It was an early birthday gift from the parent paper, the Los Angeles Times — budget cuts and mandatory retirement age (not really) they say; seems they can have someone cover Newport, Huntington and Laguna for the price of one column. Seems like a bargain to me.


But please, not to worry, as I certainly am not bitter, just a little disappointed. Cindy Frazier has been a great editor. She tolerated my obsession with ellipses, never meeting deadlines, and my idiosyncratic relationship with the written word. Although I swear I never purposely used a word that I needed to look up first.

Cindy did offer to let me dust the plastic indoors plants at the office, or some similar position at the paper. It was an offer I could afford to decline. But it honestly was a split decision, as employment options are still limited around town.

Sweet memories mingle with the finality of not being wanted or useful anymore (can I regress any further into a sea of self-pity?). Strolling down the rose petal-strewn memory lane, Don Chapman gave me my first writing opportunity at the Orange County Register’s News Post (which appears to be more like the New York Times of Laguna with each passing moment) more than 20 years ago.

I then moved on to the Coastline, with Jerry Ledbetter and Stu Saffer, and finally with the Coastline Pilot and my first editor, Alicia Lopez. I thank all of my editors for their insight and for not over-editing my column. And, of course, love and appreciation to Catharine, who encouraged me to write about gardening in the first place. I wish I could write as well as she.


Who could have known that home-brewed recipes for herbal tea, tomato soup and rose cocktail would have a following, and that I could remember loved ones and friends and espouse the joy of hiking, amid wildflowers, in May.

This space was a vehicle to write more than just about plants and fertilizers. It was my personal commentary of Laguna and the opportunity to encourage everyone to get back to the garden. I will miss writing and I will miss you. Finally, thanks for not mentioning too often that my photo must have been retouched. Over and out.

P.S. I canceled my subscription to the Los Angeles Times this morning. (Just kidding!)