Thoughts & Inspiration from the Friends

Thoughts From Friends: Candy Dish

Holiday Candy Dish

Text and images by
Rodney Kemerer,
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member

We have very few moments of enlightenment in our lives. Sometimes we do not even recognize them. For me, one of my best occurred while staring at a candy dish.

Let’s put it into reverse for a moment. The last real Holiday/Christmas we enjoyed was 2019 – after that, masks killed the mistletoe. Normally during the Holidays my wife and I host various get-togethers, mostly informal with different groups we work or socialize with. The prepping for these events, which last almost the entire month of December, begin with early cleaning and excessive decorating. Part of this tradition was handed down by both sets of parents. A fully decorated house was a requirement if you wanted to participate in the season.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Worthy McCartney

Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards in Dubai

On March 4th, I arrived in Dubai and proceeded to participate for the next four days in the 15th Anniversary of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. We celebrated the impact that the support of 260 women entrepreneurs from 60 countries has made on this world.

The bird has a cap on its head and a popsicle stick for pulling off the cap. The owner covers his eyes, so the flash does not bother the bird.

Why Dubai?

Over the course of the expo which opened last October and closes at the end of March, Cartier has proudly created a Women’s Pavilion which has been highly visited during these last few months.  The focus on this pavilion has been a number of issues with one of the key issues focusing on our planet’s most precious resource, water.… Read More

Be My Valentine

Long before the internet and eBay, the only way to find vintage Valentine’s Day cards was to dig through dusty boxes at garage and estate sales. Looking for love in all the dusty places. It is hard to describe the feeling of discovery when a vintage card would be unearthed after sleeping for decades.

Historically, the roots of St. Valentine’s Day go back, loosely to the Romans and “The Feast of Lupercalia.” A horrifying holiday by any standards. Go ahead and look it up but you’ve been warned. This later morphed into the celebration of St. Valentine. In 1382 Chaucer made a reference to the day in a poem, and in 1537 Henry VII declared it a national holiday. We have never looked back… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Rodney Kemerer

This Christmas Season looks like it is going to be a lot like last year. The Pandemic lockdown has cancelled the usual activities and it feels like a total loss to everyone. Within that loss is a hidden gift, much like the one you find tucked into the tree branches after all the gifts are opened. That gift this year is the gift of memory. Rather than being caught up in the usual frenzy, we now have time to sit back and look back to Christmas Past. To things we never realized that are woven into our Holiday Memory Bank.

My father, rest his soul, was cheap. I believe both by necessity and personality. This presented itself in odd ways and, mostly when I was a kid, they were annoying to me. Like saving every coffee can that came into the house or, worse, every piece of cardboard. Christmas presented a special challenge for him in that it was hard to avoid the usual related expenses. One that he carefully circumvented was The Christmas Tree Lot. There was something about paying for a dead tree for limited use that chewed at my father’s very fiber… Read More

Thoughts From Friends: Natasha Gregson Wagner

“Hey Clover, how would you like to pick raspberries today?” Clover is eating a bowl of cereal, and I am drinking coffee. “Where would we pick them, mama?” “There is a raspberry patch down the road. Thought it could be a new experience for us.” “Sure, mama,” Clover answers.

We have been riding out the pandemic at our log cabin in northern Michigan since March.

The mid-July sun was high, the blue sky bright and friendly. The buzz, buzz of bees was our soundtrack as we plucked the tender fruit from its bushes. Willy, our faithful, furry companion, looping in and out of the rows of raspberries, was enjoying the fruit himself.

“I never realized that the best raspberries hide in the back of the bush, mama,” Clover said… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Jeanne Anderson

“Happiness is a work of art. Handle with care.” Edith Wharton

For me, gardens have always been a place where dreams can someday come true.

Someday became TODAY last March when I decided to fulfill the dreams I had for my home and garden. I had already read my coffee-table garden books from cover to cover, and I decided it was time to purchase things I loved and hire people who would work safely and make my surroundings cozier… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Worthy McCartney

I’m Worthy McCartney, and I have been associated with Robinson Gardens and the Friends for a number of years. What a delight it is to always drive up Elden and walk through the entry into the best-kept secret in Beverly Hills…the beautiful gardens, palm trees, flowers, the décor, scents, and beauty that all scream the best of California…

My love for the beauty of California is practically lifelong…having first arrived when my father was transferred here with the Air Force in 1974… At that time, I lived in Orange County which was one strawberry field after another… South Coast Plaza was not yet built out, and a ride up the 405 was quick to my Alma Mater, UCLA…

Not long after arriving, my mom and I visited Catalina Island because she had originally visited it on a trip after high school with a girlfriend in 1946. They took the steamer to the Island. The moment I arrived at the harbor, I thought Catalina was simply magical… That joy remains today, and I appreciate the Island more today for its pristine beauty and conservation efforts… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Superintendent Timothy Lindsay

Wild and Exotic Birds of the Virginia Robinson Gardens A hawk seeks water or an unsuspecting visitor at the cherub fountain on a warm March day. The phrase, “Birds of a feather flock together,” is at least over 470 years old. It was in use as far back as the mid-16th century and was inspired by the flocking behavior of birds when foraging for food or flying in formation during seasonal migrations. This concept is sometimes applied metaphorically to people who act in similar ways. One early spring morning, Friends members flocked together with a naturalist, Darrow Feldstein, who guided us on a garden bird watch. While we moved in predictable formation, we were singularly focused on observing “only” birds in the garden. It turned out to be a cognitive revelation. We enjoyed the garden for the first time with only one objective in mind … Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Beth Rudin DeWoody

As a child, I attended the Rudolph Steiner School in New York City. I was there for eight years. Art making and crafts were a big part of my education as well as eurythmics and music. I knitted, sewed and did macramé; I made a bamboo recorder and carved wood. For every subject, we had to make a “good book,” with each page illustrated with colored pencils… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Barbara Sayre Casey

“So, shall we come to look at the world with new eyes”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

From the towering Tetons to the rapidly rippling Snake River, the beauty of Jackson Hole stuns the senses every day. One never grows immune to the magnificence of its mountains nor the openness of thousands of acres of green grassland ranches. I have had a home here for 25 years, but it is only this year that I have lived here fully and found myself looking at my world with new eyes each day.… Read More

A Swedish Christmas

It is a pleasure for me to share some of my fond memories of the Swedish Christmas traditions and the cuisine that followed me from my homeland when I moved to the United States at age 22.

November in Sweden is probably my least favorite month. The snow has not yet fallen to brighten up the landscape. It is dark, gloomy, and it rains a lot.

When December and Advent comes, Swedes seem uplifted.

They hang lit paper stars in their windows, take out the Advent candles, and the baking and prepping for Christmas begins. Gingerbread cookies and special candies are made, and the stores are full of Christmas decorations. The churches and schools have their holiday programs. Little children get their Advent calendars, and each day they open a window to find a small chocolate confirming a day closer to when Santa arrives.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Kennon Klein-McCarthy

“To my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can’t see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life.”
– Nancy Reagan

My dearest friend Luke Anderson and new friend Jeanne Anderson were kind enough to introduce me to the magical gardens at the Virginia Robinson Estate. The summer of 2019 was a difficult time for my family with my father’s passing and my mother feeling lost and a bit out of sorts. My parents were married over 50 years, my mother marrying my father at the youthful age of 20. Losing her life partner was devastating as many of you may know all too well.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Keeley Smith

“There isn’t a tree in the world that the wind hasn’t shaken.”

I first encountered this Hindu proverb in 2015. I had travelled to Southwestern India to live a month in a one room grass hut on the beach of the Arabian Sea, studying and practicing yogic philosophies and learning to unwind. It was in this attempt to discover life’s greater meaning, when its heft was placed upon me by my yoga teacher. Hearing those words just weeks after my relocation to Los Angeles from New York, I must admit their poignancy fell on my deaf ears. Island life on Manhattan can predispose one to an attitude that there isn’t really an existence beyond the granite and concrete of one the world’s most diverse and exciting anything-is-possible, go-go-go cities.… Read More

Falling Into Autumn

Falling Into AutumnBy Rodney Kemerer, Member of the Friends of Robinson GardensMy brain is hardwired to the smells from my childhood. At this time of the year it is the smell of burning leaves. As early as I can remember, growing up in the Midwest and later in Pennsylvania, the smell of burning leaves told my brain that winter was coming. As the first pile of leaves was raked together and then slowly smoldered into flame, the smell permeated the neighborhood. It was the signal to break out the corduroy pants and sweater vests. Fall was always my favorite season — the closing in, the shutting down, the preparing for winter, never cold enough to be uncomfortable, but it was the warning sign that freezing weather lay ahead.I have had to re-program my brain for living in California and specifically in a mountain canyon. Now the smell of burning anything…

Thoughts from Friends: Ann Petersen

Mary Osborne has so eloquently expressed my feeling when in the company of trees. I have had a love affair with trees since I was a child, and my father planted a tree nursery on our farm in Illinois. I loved the birch tree then, but when we moved to Santa Barbara, I fell in love with the California oak tree. As an adult, I have always had a home in the mountains surrounded by trees where I retreat to find serenity and peace of mind. I love the smell of the pines and the sound of the wind blowing in the trees.

Forests and trees provide many benefits and services to society, including clean water, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, carbon storage and improved human health. Community trees help reduce air and water pollution, improve physical and mental health as well as reduce crime rates.… Read More

Virginia Robinson Gardens Offers Extraordinary Salve: Volunteering at the Gardens

An Inspirational Message from Friends of Robinson Gardens Member Laura Coleman.

Mornings spent in the Virginia Robinson Gardens are among the most beautiful experiences imaginable. From walking through the King Palm Forest in the mist, the scent of water lifting off leaves, to that first rewarding vista of Virginia and Harry Robinson’s onetime home, every moment spent at the Gardens is a treasure.

Amidst the turmoil of the pandemic, all of us are living life to the best of our capacities. And all of us have fear in our hearts that our loved ones could be afflicted. To say that the Gardens offer an immensely soothing respite during this time is truly an understatement.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Natalie Gordon

Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

These days, there is a strong preoccupation with tomorrow. Questions like, “When will we get a vaccine?” or “When will life return to some form of normal?” dominate nearly every headline. And while the often-devastating news rages on outside our doors, many of us remain at home, hoping for a brighter tomorrow.… Read More

Thoughts from Friends: Regina Drucker

“Somewhere beyond right and wrong, there is a garden, I will meet you there.”

Words so prescient by the Sufi Poet, Rumi, wrote these words in the 13th century. Rumi writes that Love, Truth and Beauty dwell in a Garden. Precious water nourishes the Flower in its celebration of the most reverent color in Persian lore, Green. This explains the devotional myth for the carved Mughal Emerald gemstone. Gardens bring Calm to those who wander through Paradise’s pathways.… Read More

Explore the Magic of the Virginia Robinson Gardens through Art

The Miracle of a Garden

Why is everyone ever so happy
When wandering within a garden’s spaces?
Could the answer be amidst the scented
Pansies which capture all the beauty of children’s faces?
So next when one’s amidst a Rose’s bowers
Put aside your woes and sorrows.
Lend your Inner brilliance on those pathways
Sprinkling miracles about for those who’ll surely follow.

Poem by Regina Drucker, Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member and VRG Historian.… Read More