Thank you + Much love

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I know it's cliche to be thankful today but I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for reading. Whether you stop by this site daily or weekly or once every few months, I'm grateful for your time and support, your insight and emails and kind words and retweets and all of the things you do and have done to support me, my family and this blog through the years.

Our house is currently infested with rats. (We thought they were mice. They are not mice.) And last Thanksgiving all of us had lice. (My rhymes are legit.) And yesterday, while on the phone with Hal who had just finished sussing the rat stitch with the exterminators, I was like OH MY GOD THANKSGIVING HATES US but then I realized, nah, this is just life doing what it does best - serving us a giant piece of shithappens pie on gratitude's birthday. Bon Appetit, humans. Grace (crotch grab) this! 

And that's just what we'll do. Because what a blessing to have a house in the first place, you know? What a blessing to have hair and a house and lice combs and exterminators who will deal with these kinds of things because I am hopeless when it comes to killing things and Hal is kind of also. #peace

...Anyway, all of this to say, hi. Life is wild and you are wonderful and on behalf of all of us, thank you. Sending love and light, health and happiness today and always. 
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Last Minute Thanksgiving Foodstuffs

Oh, hello. This is a Thanksgiving Foodstuff round-up, for any of you who may have missed the last several years of Thanksgiving posts written by master chef, WWW, on whose couch I am currently typing. (ED: Bo decided this week that she will not sleep in a pack-n-play because they are so easy to climb out of and why sleep when you can tear posters off of walls and throw reading lamps at your twin sister so I am operating on very little sleep/massive amounts of frustration. Anyway. FOOD! Food is the best!)

Here are some links to food/recipes/things you may want to make today/tomorrow/Thursday/after Thursday that have Thanksgiving-esque appeal for all you veggies in the house.
Razzleberry Pie

...And now, here's my mom, who is sitting next to me on this couch. Mom? Hit it! 


Hi! WWW here: This year, I'd like to include a pumpkin pie recipe my friend told me is the best pumpkin pie EVER! I have not made it yet because I make my pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving BUT here is a very beautiful picture of the pie.  I did not take this picture (in case that wasn't obvious). 

The recipe calls for grinding whole spices in a spice grinder, which, as it turns out, is a really great activity to do with a child.  Archer and I did this together and we had so much fun discussing each spice, where they came from and tasting the pulverized powders. 


Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving! 


12 Days of Giving: Starlight & Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

For almost five years I worked as a chat host with the Starbright (now Starlight) Children's Foundation and have recently re-joined my Starlight family, this time as a volunteer. Starlight, for those unfamiliar is a non-profit benefiting children living with chronic and terminal illness. It provides entertainment, support and a like-minded community for children and teens who spend the greater part of their lives in and out of hospitals. In Starlight's words:

Over the past 30 years, Starlight Children’s Foundation® has become a leading global charity that partners with experts to improve the life and health of kids and families around the world. Collaborating with experts in pediatric healthcare, entertainment and technology, Starlight provides a unique blend of family-centered programs and services from hospital to home. Starlight partners with more than 1,750 healthcare facilities and every major pediatric hospital in Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, serving millions of children every year. 

Those programs include:

Starbright World® – The first-ever online social network for teens with chronic and life-threatening medical conditions, and their siblings. Members are able to connect globally with others experiencing similar medical journeys.
Starlight Fun Center® – Mobile entertainment units containing the latest gaming system that roll bedside in hospitals to provide distractive entertainment and therapeutic play for pediatric patients.
Starlight Tablets – A critical resource for healthcare professionals to support the ongoing needs of kids while in the hospital.

Today, as part of Starlight's Twelve Days of Giving Campaign, I'm linking to the a wish list put together by the kids and staff at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center's pediatric facility. Wish list items range from Starlight technology/tablets to playing cards and lots in between. These items will live in the hospital and benefit all children and families staying there.

On behalf of Starlight and the kids at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, thank you. Much love. 


"...the most revolutionary thing a father can do is take care of his children."

My cousin, Erica sent me the link to the Daddy Don't Go kickstarter last week, a film currently in production featuring men whose voices are seldom heard and whose stories are seldom told. This is the trailer and, if you have a few moments, I urge you to watch:

In the words of the filmmakers: The film poses urgent questions that expand the ongoing national dialogue concerning fatherhood. Can a man be a good dad in spite of not being a great provider? How does being a father shift a man’s identity?...Alex, Nelson, Omar and Roy shatter the deadbeat dad stereotype, redefining what it means to be a good father for all men.

The following is an interview I did with Daddy Don't Go filmmaker, Emily Abt. (View more of her work, here.)

GGC: At what point did you know you had to make this film? What do you hope to accomplish with Daddy Don't Go?

Emily:  In making my previous social-issue documentaries, I ran into a lot of low-to-no income dads who I felt were getting a bad rap - the deadbeat dad stereotype certainly did not fit them. And in living in NYC for the past 20 years, you see these young dads in their hoodies and baggie jeans all the time - pushing strollers, doing homework with their kids on the subway, etc. I always had a soft spot for these dads but I also felt a deep empathy for children growing up without their fathers since that was my own dad's story. So the film is really made to inspire men who are what I refer to as "at-risk" dads. The subjects in "Daddy Don't Go" show that you don't have to be a perfect man to be a great father. More importantly, the film is really an homage to all the young fathers in NYC who are doing the right thing for their kids, against the odds. And the odds are real: Children who grow up without active fathers in their lives are more likely to live in poverty, do poorly in school, run afoul of the criminal justice system, and become teenage parents. This is particularly true for New York City’s African American and Latino children, who are more likely to grow up in single-parent households. While 32 percent of all New York City children under the age of 17 live in households without a father, 54 percent of black and 43 percent of Latino children grow up in fatherless households.

GGC:  Can you tell me a little bit about the dads you feature in this doc?

Emily: Alex, 26, is a single father who lives with his toddler son in a Harlem shelter. Alex fought to keep his child out of the foster care system but now faces a new challenge to his family's well-being: possible jail time. Nelson, 26, is a Latin King and full time father to his toddler son and two girls from his partner’s previous relationships. Money and housing issues threaten the family’s stability but Nelson perseveres. Roy, 28, is an ex-offender who finds a second chance in his son’s loving arms. When a construction accident leaves him permanently disabled, Roy must move in with his parents and find a new way to support his family. Omar, 36, is a single father who rescued his children from their abusive mother but now fights in court to maintain custody of his three troubled kids.
GGC: How did you all meet?

Emily: When we were looking for our dads, we canvassed the city's father-friendly programs and organizations to find stories that fit certain demographics and specific storylines we wanted to represent. One organization was hugely helpful in this search but unfortunately I am not at liberty to name them at this time.

GGC: How, if at all, has fatherhood changed these men?

Emily: What all of the dads in our film have in common is that they all say fatherhood has made them better men and that their children are the best thing that's happened to them.

GGC: How (if at all) have those stories changed since you started filming?

Emily: It has truly been a roller-coaster ride... One of our dads is now facing jail time. This is truly harrowing because it means he would be separated from his toddler son of whom he has sole custody.
GGC: What is a typical day in the life of one of these men?

Emily: These dads are the primary care-takers for their children so that's where the majority of their time goes. Also, all of our dads receive some sort of public assistance so they often have appointments related to that. They also work temporary jobs when they can.

GGC: Has this process caused you to look at your father differently? Fathers in general? Men?

Emily: I was very much moved to make "Daddy Don’t Go" on a personal level. The film is an homage to every urban father I've ever known who negated the “deadbeat dad” stereotype with a deep love for his children. These men, much like my own father, are trying to be the dads they never themselves had. As a fellow parent, their efforts move me greatly. The film was also inspired by the many fathers in my community who, like my own husband, share parenting duties equally with their partners. This new norm has convinced me that fatherhood is a topic of enormous social value at this time. What we are finding in making the film is that our fathers' stories represent that of millions of other men across America. It's been so exciting to connect with the huge social media community that has organized itself around the theme of fatherhood. There is a powerful social movement under way and the definition of a "good dad" is completely changing. More men than ever are the primary care-takers for their children. More men than ever are fighting for custody of their children. More men than ever are saying "being a father is the most important thing in my life" and stepping up accordingly.

GGC: Anything you'd like to add?

Emily: The negative lens through which urban fathers are currently viewed is only going to be undone by work from many angles – political, legal, media, etc. I want to contribute to this effort by bringing new, and positive, images of urban fatherhood to a national audience. "Daddy Don’t Go" will be part of a social movement that believes the most revolutionary thing a father can do is take care of his children.
To find out more/donate to Daddy Don't Go's Kickstarter page go here. Thank you in advance.


"It's, I suppose... more adventurous."

For your weekend viewing pleasure:

"Growing old is a privilege and an adventure. Everyone should be living in color. You know what I hate? Beige. My motto is don't wear beige. It will kill you." 


To Doc Martens, steely determination and living a full and racy life. 


"Be your own best friend"

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I never liked those "Best Friends Forever" necklaces. Probably because I never wore one. I never had a best friend when I was little but I knew a lot of girls who did - girls who wore their half of the heart with the words "Be Fri For" or "st ends ever." I envied them. And also felt a little hurt not to be included. Everyone was paired up except for me, I thought.

Which is why I was disappointed at first to see that the rainbow necklace I had eyed from afar while shopping for Fable's pajamas, was actually a pair of BFFs.

I couldn't possibly buy it for her.

Until I realized of course I could. I had to. 

Fable regularly offers the following advice to Archer, me, Hal when we are having a rough day:

"Remembew. You'we youw own best fwend," she says.

It's a stock answer that has been said so many times and at so many points that it's the first thought I have to offer others who are struggling. It's the first thought I offer myself.

"Be your own best friend, self."

I didn't think this way when I was five. I thought being a lone wolf (which I was) was something to be ashamed of. Surely I had to be a failure of a friend to have no BFF to call my own. Fable is nothing like I was at her age. She is friends with everyone, always has been. She was born a friend. To animals and people, flowers but especially herself.

And that self love has been the greatest influence on my own.

I surprised Fable with the BFF necklace after school the other day and she surprised me when she asked me who she should give the other half of the rainbow to.

"Yourself. Both sides are for you."

Her eyes went big, epiphany style.

"Because I'm my own best friend?"

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They don't sell Fable's necklace online unfortunately (it's xhilaration from Target), but I did find a couple of equally awesome options on Etsy:


the gift that keeps on sprouting

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
For 30 or so years I have been making English toffee as holiday gifts for my friends. Pounds and pounds of it. That is until last year. There were several reasons for this decision. Besides the fact that I wasn't eating sugar, it seemed like the one thing that was going to put me over the edge as I prepared for our household of family coming home. (Sometimes you just have to give something up to stay sane. I gave up giving out Christmas cards years ago for the same reason.) So this year, when I sat down to write up my to-do list for the holidays, I started thinking about the toffee. Do I want to make it this year? And the answer came very quickly. NO. I’ll make a batch for the family, sure (with Archer and Fable helping, of course). But I no longer feel like standing over the hot stove, making batch after batch of candy.

The other day I was buying my sprouts at the farmer’s market from my sprout/salt lady, Jennifer, and I noticed she was selling bags of a mixture of dry lentils, mung beans and adzuki beans. For over a year I have bought a jar of her sprouted lentils and beans once a week and we eat them on our nightly salad. “Are you selling these so we can sprout at home?” I asked. “Yes,” she answered. “It’s easy.”

I have wanted to try sprouting for ages—ever since we visited David several years ago and I watched him prepare his jars of sprouted grains in preparation for making his gluten free beer. And suddenly standing there I had an instant brain wave…make homemade sprouted lentils and give them with Jennifer’s fabulous truffle salt as presents for Christmas! (I’m hoping that my lentil/salt combo might be a welcome break from the plethora of sweets that everyone gets this time of year.)

To make sprouted lentils, start with dried beans that are fresh, preferably organic. You can make your own mix from either packaged or bulk lentils and combine several types of lentils together…brown, green, and French…and add some mung beans and adzuki beans if you would like. You can get a ready made mixture from Sun Organics. Many places sell “sprouting jars” that have a screen on the top for easy draining, but you don’t need these…you can sprout in regular canning jars or simply in a bowl. Remember, the beans/lentils will grow to about three times their size when sprouted, so make sure you allow for that when you put the lentils in the jar or bowl. If you use canning jars, you can take out the lid insert and replace with a piece of clean muslin during the sprouting process so the lentils can breathe.

1. If sprouting in jars, add lentils to about a third way up the jar and then fill the jar with fresh filtered water.
2. Cover with muslin or screen. (If sprouting in a bowl, add lots of water and cover with a paper towel so dirt and bugs can’t get in.
3. Soak overnight. This “wakes up” the seeds out of their dried, dormant state.

4. Drain and rinse lentils, and drain again. Lentils should still be wet but not standing in water. Cover with muslin or paper towel. If sprouting in a jar, lay jar on its side. Make sure that the canning jar lid insert is replaced by cloth or a screen.
5. Repeat this process a couple of times a day until you see sprouts appear, usually anywhere between 24 and 48 hours.
6. If you are going to cook the lentils, a small sprout is all you need. They will be ready anywhere from 24-36 hours. For salad lentils, repeat the process until the sprout is about ¼ inch.
7. Put in jars and refrigerate.
You can cook with your lentils or use fresh. The advantages of sprouted beans and lentils are:

• The phytic acid present in beans is neutralized so more magnesium, calcium, and iron can be metabolized in our bodies
• B vitamins and carotene are increased and Vitamin C is created in the sprouting process
• Complex sugars, which contribute to the gassiness of beans, are broken down
• Enzymes are created in the sprouting process that aid in digestion


Cooking with sprouted lentils/beans: Once your lentils/beans are sprouted, they don’t need much cooking. You can use them in any lentil/bean recipe, but your cooking time will be much shorter. Steam them for about 5 minutes and add to any dish. Add them to rice or quinoa during the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Or toss with olive oil and garlic for an easy side dish. Once steamed, grind them in the food processor and use for a pate spread or lentil hummus (add salt, garlic, tahini, lemon, herbs).
lentils + gigande beans + greens, salt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and truffle salt.

Or…eat them raw with a little lemon, garlic, salt, and olive oil, or as a topping on your salads and sandwiches. And…they are absolutely delicious simply sprinkled with Jennifer’s truffle salt, either raw or cooked.

For presents you can put lentils/beans into jars, add a festive label and voila! Easy and healthy presents! 
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Any Raffi fans in the house? Here's a song to "shake your sillies" out that's a lil more rockandroll and foot stompy and RAAAAAAAAAAHH! (And also kind of festive because of the bell part.)

187. Heavy Bells by: J Roddy Walston & The Business

Or, if you prefer...

Shake your Sillies Out by: Raffi 

talking to strangers

"Don't talk to strangers, Mom," Fable says.

I have just said hello to someone. Good morning. You look amazing, love that dress...

Fable scoffs.

"Mo-um! Was that a stranger?"


"You shouldn't talk to her."

"Why not?"

"Because you're not supposed to talk to strangers. They're dangerous."

It is time to have the talk, I think. The same talk I had with Archer when he came home from preschool with the same backwards logic lodged in his impressionable brain.

"Did that lady seem dangerous to you?"


"Strangers are just people we don't know yet," I tell her. "We're all strangers to each other."

"But you're not a stranger, Mama."

"Yes I am. So are you."

We go on to discuss the importance of trusting our instincts when it comes to people we meet, listening to our bodies, acknowledging a nervous tummy, saying NO when we feel uncomfortable, building armor out of the trust we must establish in ourselves.

I tell her that "stranger danger" sounds clever because it rhymes but it does more harm than good in the long run and "avoidance" is seldom the answer to anything in life.

I don't want her to never talk to strangers. I want her to acknowledge that there are people out there who do not have her best interests at heart. That there are people who exist in the world who for reasons we will never understand, want to hurt others. Maybe even her. But that doesn't mean we push everyone away. That doesn't mean we close shop and mute our mouths.

I understand where the "stranger danger" thing comes from, and recognize why it is taught to young children in school, that teachers mean well when they write it on their blackboards. Same way they did when they taught us about DARE: TO KEEP KIDS OFF DRUGS. Ha! More like, DARE: TO SCARE THE SHIT OUT OF FIFTH GRADERS WITH LIES.

After DARE I thought that

1. Marijuana was as bad for me as Heroin because it was a drug and all drugs were bad.
2. As soon as I entered high school I would be tied to a chair and forced drugs.
3. The only way to make it in this world was to learn to "say NO!" to everything. Especially drugs which were illegal and "here's how you snort a line and smoke a joint. Drugs make you feel good and then die. NOW GO SAY NO!"

Education is important and empowering teens to "walk away from a bad situation" is helpful, but teaching FEAR is not the way.

"If you have a bad feeling, trust it. No matter what. But please do not associate strangers with danger. Do not be afraid to connect. To compliment. To say no. To say yes. To say something."


Years ago there was an old man who used to sit on a bench at the park where Archer played. He made the moms at the park feel uncomfortable.

Because he was a man.

And he was watching their children play.

So finally I went and talked to him. He had grandchildren and great grandchildren but they all lived far away so he didn't get a chance to see them much.

So here he was.

And had he been an old lady, nobody would have batted an eyelash.

But he wasn't. So eventually he was told to leave.

"You're making me feel uncomfortable" one of the mothers told him.

Because he was a man who liked to watch children play.

Because every man is Humbert and every child is Lolita and YOU ENJOY WATCHING CHILDREN PLAY? YOU MUST BE SICK.

My dad likes to watch children play at the park.

So does my mom.

So does Hal.

So do I.

"Why did you ask him to leave? He wasn't doing anything wrong."

"He might be a sexual predator," one of the moms insisted. "You never know."


I am constantly asked how I could possibly share so much of my life in a public forum. Post photos of my children for potential crazy people to see. Subject my family to "bad guys" and "bad girls" and scrutiny or worse... 

"The Internet is crawling with crazies," people say. 

The world is crawling with crazies. Never talk to strangers. Never write to strangers. Never post photos for strangers to see. The world is fucked up and everyone is trying to get you. And your kids. Buy a bunch of guns just in case. Change your identity. Blur your children's faces. Blur your own. 

That is not for me. 

That is not what I intend to spend my life doing. I will not live in fear. I will not write in fear or share in fear or teach my children to hide from life. I can live side by side with the unsavories because I exist on this earth and that is what happens here. So I choose to live. To leave my house, to drive my car, to pass people on the streets and to share what those moments yield. Because as much as all of that is part of my experience. So is this.

I talk to strangers.


Quite possibly the most life-changing exchange of words I ever had happened in a Taxi cab at Kennedy Airport in 2000. The driver and I spent thirty minutes in a car together and after discussing what we had done with our lives thus far. (He had left his medical practice in India where he was a surgeon because he wanted a better life for his children and driving a cab was a great way to help people.)

"I get to move people forward for a living," he told me with a smile.  "Just like I used to...."

He went on to say a hundred thousand profound things about what it meant to be a human on this earth... and changed the way I sat in cabs ever after. It changed the way I lived my life, went about my days, moved myself forward, and somewhere, on an old computer lives a "book" of essays I wrote based on the various interactions I had with strangers while traveling alone those early years of adulthood. It's title was "You Start Life Now" which were not my words, but the cabbie's.

"You start life now. Keep moving..."

In Anne Patchet's "What Now" she writes:

One of the first lessons of childhood is to be wary of strangers, and while this is good counsel to guard against the world's very small nefarious element, it also teaches us to block out the large majority of those who just have something on their mind they'd like to say. We are taught to be suspicious, especially of anyone who might not look like us or share our beliefs. By the time we reach adulthood, many have perfected the art of isolation, of being careful, of not listening in the name of safety...

...Once you decide that strangers are more than just dangerous accidents waiting to happen you will find yourself able to listen. How much sadness could be averted by taking the time to notice all the people we have come to ignore? Would we in fact be safer and not more at risk if we asked someone to voice his feelings rather than wait until he looked for other means of making himself heard? The world may be telling you to go forward, to climb and to strive and to move briskly ahead, but while you're doing all that, be sure to keep your ears open. Divest yourself of prejudice whenever possible. The Hare Krishna may just be the one who sees you to your gate.

If we cannot talk to strangers, how are we to ask for directions when we're lost? How are we to build relationships with people whose stories differ from our own? Expect our children to grow into adults when we teach them to steer clear of them? That strange men are dangerous. That men who like children are dangerous. Because "liking children" has become something very loaded when said aloud. When said in quiet. When written online.

And yet...

Recently, while on a walk in our neighborhood, a disheveled man approached Archer. Archer was on his scooter a block ahead of me as I pushed a stroller and held Fable's hand across the street.

Archer looked back as the man talked to him. I read his lips as he said, "No I don't. My mom's right over there."

Then he pointed.

It was one of the only times in my life I felt panicked. Everything moved in slow motion. Like in a nightmare when you can't run even though you want to and your mouth won't scream.

Until finally it does.


The man turned and then ran off, through traffic, across the street as Archer scooter'd over to us to explain what had happened.

"He asked me to go for a walk with him," Archer said.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, that was scary, though."

And it was. It was really fucking scary.

But I was there. And Archer knew it.  Not RIGHT there, mind you, but close enough. And maybe there's something to that. Being close enough so that if something does happen, I'm there, behind him... slightly removed... a block away. So that he can listen to his own gut before turning toward mine. So that he ALWAYS will.

Even when I'm not there.

Because someday I won't be. Soon enough he will find himself in unsavory situations with unsavory people and he will need to know how to flex his intuition, trust his gut, know that it's okay not to get into the car with the drunk driver or the "stranger" or the "friend".

He will need to know how to listen to himself.

Words are power. Giving our kids the tools to look inside themselves for the answers is power. But telling a child "not to talk to strangers" contradicts the very point it aims to support. Silence is not an empowering solution. LISTENING is. To inner voices and feelings, instincts and intuition, all of which must be valued and nurtured, honored and discussed.

"Don't talk to strangers." < "Always listen to yourself."


Sorry, I have to...

I realize I have posted the same thing across all of my social networking things and places but I am so incredibly proud of my brother and keep refreshing all of the pages to read the commentary from the puzzling community who seem to be the kindest bunch in the land for welcoming David with high-fives and hoorahs.

David has spent the last few years constructing crossword puzzles as a side project and this, I assume, will be his first of many published puzzles. Because he's amazing. (He went as a crossword puzzle for Halloween one year. He literally made a crossword puzzle and wore it so that people could solve him during the party. AMAZING, RIGHT?)
Will Shortz writes: “This is David Woolf’s debut. All three 15-letter answers are particularly nice. OSCAR WAO was new to me, but I’ve read up a little on the book since accepting the puzzle, and the entry feels eminently crossword-worthy.”
David's Woolf's Crossword Puzzle debut is available in today's New York Times, on newsstands and online. 


Apologies to my brother who is undoubtably rolling his eyes at my extreme jumping up and down all over the Internet-ness but whoa, am I ever proud to be his sister... today, every day, always.


Places to See: Descanso Gardens

two roads diverged in a yellow wood and she took neither of them. because the railroad track was far more interesting/dangerous.


Over the weekend we spent the day at Descanso Gardens which is absolute heaven. We'd been meaning to go for years and years and then when Heidi mentioned here I was like OH YES LET'S GO SEE HER PLAY except we totally double booked that day (I am extremely good at doing that) so we decided to head over this past weekend with our favorite "fifth" child, Ryan, who has become as much a part of our family as everyone else in our family. Here are some photos from our day.
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I wrote a little more about our day over at Go Mighty if you're interested. My Nana was friends with Manchester Boddy back in the day and wrote a really wonderful essay via email so that I could share it with my kids on the way to the gardens. Which is what Nana always does. She writes these beautiful essays about her experiences in Los Angeles and sends them to me and they are TREASURES, all of them. Insightful and hilarious and full of gratitude for having lived in close proximity to so many wonderful characters. 

Here's an excerpt:

...Among the people I encountered in my early life was Manchester Boddy owner and publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News, a founder of All America Rose Selections and hybridizer of camellias, proteas, and roses. He was also crazy about lilacs, eastern and California ones, and developed some of the early varieties of eastern lilac that would bloom in California. Manchester was a true gentleman through and through but a great businessman. He deeded his La Canada estate to the City of Los Angeles and it became Descanso Gardens, which is open to the public...

...We were often together socially, mainly at dinner up at the Wright’s home next door to my house in Del Mar. “Chester,” as he liked to be called, always asked to sit next to me at dinner so he could pump me full of information about plants and gardening. He said that he felt that I would someday have a career in horticulture. Among the many things he taught me was how to prune the roots of camellias and repot them back into the same  tubs. Years later when I got on TV, “How to Repot Camellias” was one of the first demonstrations I did on screen...

...While I was with the magazine (San Diego Home/Garden), I interviewed a man called Howard Asper, who once worked for him. Howard was a famous protea expert and I was writing an article on proteas. We reminisced about Manchester and how much we loved him...

...One of the stories Howard told me was about a time Manchester asked Howard to take a brand new tractor and do some work next to one of the lakes in Descanso Gardens but not to drive it across the land bridge between that lake and the next one. Manchester said, “Now don’t drive it over there because the ground is still soft and this new tractor might sink into the pond.”

Howard was young and didn’t believe him. He remembered how hard they had pounded down that ground a year earlier. He was sure it was thoroughly compacted and on this hot summer day the earth looked hard and dry. He drove the brand new tractor across and it fell into the lake. When he told Manchester what had happened, the latter simply said, “Okay, go get the old tractor and wade into the pond and hook a chain onto the new one. Then haul out that new tractor and take it to the dump. After you do that, phone this number and order another one.”“He never even raised his voice,” said Howard. “Now that was a true gentleman...”
Botanical gardens are my favorite places to bring my kids. Probably because they were my favorite places as a child. I may have a brown thumb but my eyeballs will always be green.  (Thank you, Nana.)
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