Congrats, Santa Monica

In the words of Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

Kind of sums up my life experience as an ex pat: I’m always missing what I left behind. In this case, the many pleasures of California, and like Joni, as the plane glides into LAX, I do feel like I’m coming home. My past few visits have been brief,  one-night stays on my way to New York, but this time I hung around long enough to remember just what a special place Southern California really is.

and it’s not just about the shopping……


The first thing I noticed was the sign above at Wholefoods, and this one

Santa Monica takes the lead. No more plastic bags. Yay! You take your own bag to the supermarket or pay one dollar for a recycyled paper bag (they banned styrofoam  containers sometime ago). Santa Monica is on the coast (hence their awareness of the problem since the plastic bags are swept down from the surrounding areas into their storm water system) so they must wait until the rest of Los Angeles county follows suit.

New Zealand, are you paying attention? We should be leaders in this! I’ve long thought Kiwis take their environment for granted, and with a growing population, we need to wake up and smell the fumes.


Dry cleaners are doing it


Drought resistant gardens are everywhere, showing just what a beautiful thing it is to save water. Don’t you love garden gates?  I want to know what’s on the other side of these.








two more gates (for garden lovers, the first is the former home of Nancy Goslee Power)

let’s have a closer look at that ingenious path


Succulents at Rolling Greens nursery on Beverly Blvd.







and last but not least, two knitting friends, Marla and Mary, and Marla’s son Asher who gallantly escorted his Mum to meet me at Caffe Luxe where they make the most delicious soy lattes.






Next time, we drive up the coast to Santa Barbara…..


6 Responses to “Congrats, Santa Monica”

  1. anushka Says:

    what a lovely post to read about you going back for a visit and of my home state.. we moved to miami and i have that joni mitchell song on my playlist. we are returning in december and i look forward to it already! california is pretty cool… but, while i’m here you’d be proud to know that my new best friend is a kiwi and i’m teaching her to knit. : ) greetings from miami from a former wild fiber customer. (and formerly at

  2. Ellen M Says:

    Oh Mel! I miss L.A. so much! We left the same time you did and have only been back once a few years ago. It was very hard to leave. Love your photos, too.
    I used to work across the street from Caffe Luxe. Is Montana still thriving?

    Enjoy your trip up the coast!

  3. Rachel Says:

    Mel, I agree with you that NZ needs to step up with environmental issues. Pesticides still be used that are banned in other countries, no emission controls on cars, etc etc. The nuclear ban lulled Kiwis into a false sense of security.

  4. Mel Says:

    Hi Anushka,
    You’ve moved from the Caribbean!
    Enjoy your visit to California:) It is a beautiful place.

  5. Mel Says:

    Hi Ellen,
    LA and Santa Monica are suffering from the recession like everywhere. A few empty stores on Montana but not as many as when I was there last year. L’Atelier is no longer there. I gather they’ve moved to Brentwood.

  6. Marla Says:

    Hi Mel,
    Our visit while short was sweet and I look forward to spending time with you in the spring. I think that the first garden gate belongs to my friend, Kathryn Ireland, on 18th Street. If I am correct, there is a large, cobalt blue fountain surrounded by a vintage bench and more succulents.

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