If every writer needs a writing cave, so do I. At a remote location, nestled in the San Rafael Hills, overlooking Glendale, La Cañada-Flintridge, and Los Angeles, California, on an acre lot surrounded by wildlife and chaparral, here is where I try to make the magic happen.
I like my writing space to evoke the worlds I write about. I call the decorating style up here “Red-car ranch-house retro”. It’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to my weakly-enforced rule that my writing space should make me feel like I’m in 1938, in the golden age of Los Angeles pulp fiction.
Antique wall maps, nailed leather couches, a pool table, a hat rack, crystal stemware and decanters, ashtrays, oriental rugs, WPA travel posters, a 1938 globe, 1930’s Auto Club road maps, Pacific Electric Red Car timetables, Russell Wright dinnerware, Bauer pottery, craftsman lighting, milk bottles, an O’Keefe and Merritt range, and classic movie and music selections have been chosen to evoke a previous era. I like to feel like I walked into a Turner Classic Movie. I still write on a computer and drive a recent BMW, but for me at least, I feel like the ambiance is working.
Knee-deep in reconstruction, I made a second observation that old city landscapes were more rustic than today. This is a ranch house, after all, and so my curtains should be open; the views up here can border on spectacular. This led me into a second project, landscaping the property to look like properties in 1938.
So what does that mean? It means reverting to the plants as they existed back in 1938. That means a lot of native plants. I found the Theodore Payne Foundation https://store.theodorepayne.org/ a few miles from my property. I’ve been repopulating the lot with native California flora. What surprised me was that as I started planting buckwheat, sage, and poppies, bees and butterflies showed up. Thousands of them came. Next came hummingbirds and woodpeckers, and lots of native birds. I’ve even seen a half a dozen deer.
So that’s how the Buena Vista (Spanish for a good view) evolved into the Buena Vista Arboretum, Pool Hall and Wild Animal Preserve. I’ll be sharing a few pictures as I catch them on my camera as well as recipes using local California native herbs and spices in the future. It’s a learning process trying out the locally grown seasoning. I’ll share the things I learn as soon as I can.