mercedes rule and a rented lear


After much deliberation, option-weighing and advice, we have decided to move. We’re only going down the beach about six blocks, but as most of you know, even moving your entire existence fifteen feet to the left is a massive uprooting, and this place has been pretty awesome to us.

At first, we were thinking about Josie’s advice to rearrange and purge, but for me, it ultimately came down to something very arbitrary and simple. When we got here in 2006, it was so sunny and hot we had to find refuge under the tiny lemon trees standing in the yard. With each passing year, however, I was noticing the front yard being constantly moist, with the grass getting sickly. Our tomato output looked something like this:

2007: 8 Brandywines, 9 beefsteaks

2008: 2 Brandywines, 2 yellow tomatoes

2009: 1 Brandywine, 1 zebra, all others not fruiting

2010: tomato plants staying green but not fruiting, except for about 9 Sun Golds the size of marbles

When Lucy was one, I posted this picture:


…and now we haven’t had any oranges in two years. Inside, the house has gotten darker and colder, even on days with full sun. Mold starting growing on the birdfeeders. After trying vaguely time-lapse pictures like this in July…


8am, 10am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm

…I realized the culprit. It’s name is the Monterey Cypress:


…and the guy across the street has about eight of them. When we moved in, they were only 15 feet high, but now they are about FIFTY feet high. By August, the yard was in shade by 1pm, and by November, most of our house was plunged into daytime blackness.

I called him and asked him about trimming and “topping” – and he was very nice about it – but those particular trees are native to a tiny, ancient forest in Northern California and are now worth about $60,000. And if you “top” them, they don’t survive.

I could have invited a horticulturist or an arborist over for solutions, or made myself a terrific nuisance, but you know what? We need more space, and we’ve been here five years. Tessa wanted a fresh start in a sunny, airy, beautiful craftsman, and we found one close by to rent.

What’s more boring than real estate stories? Well, hearing about somebody’s nighttime dreams, for starts. Also cricket scores, shopping for linens, being sick, and Wisconsin basketball. But it’s still pretty boring, except for this: it’s not always bad to offer a little surrender when the change can do you good. On rare occasions, it’s okay to uproot a little bit so a family of trees don’t have to.

10 thoughts on “mercedes rule and a rented lear

  1. Adam

    I can accept hearing about dreams, shopping for linens, and being sick – but cricket scores – you’ve over stepped the mark there ! Good luck with the move….

  2. Anne

    Congrats, Ian, Tessa, and Lucy! I love those craftsman houses. Friends of ours live in one in Venice Beach and have raised 3 kids there. (I adored their lemon trees!)
    Good luck with the move.

  3. kazoo

    indeed, having not uprooted since landing permanently in LA, i know the pain and terror of moving. BUT, if you need extra hands, there are plenty of us willing to help out – whether that’s lifting, packing, or supplying a steady flow of treats!
    just say the word! and can’t wait to see the new place…

  4. josie

    Lack of sun isn’t an arbitrary reason to move…SAD is real! The good news is, as renters, you’ll have half the heartache/headache of moving because you’re not dealing with that fretful selling and transaction process. Freedom! Isn’t that what renting is all about?
    And you’ll still end up purging when you go to pack/unpack. It’s inevitable, since you’ll question why you might want to hog storage space with something you haven’t used or thought about in years…
    Enjoy your new pad.

  5. tregen

    lived in Laguna Beach for 7 years. Loved it. cool summers, water, etc. but after awhile, the long fogged in falls/early summers, the tourists, the traffic, the lack of parking, the jerks next door (no matter where you moved) made us move inland a bit. Now live in “old town tustin” with a big lot, one meyers lemon tree, one fig tree, two tangarine trees, one peach tree, two blue berry plants a nice big back yard patio and big yard, separate garage/work shop, and enough room for 8 tomato plants, strawberry plants, herbs, peppers, etc. Loved the beach but so much happier inland a bit. Hope your place is full of sun and happiness.


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