Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This is how the 70s got rollin'

Jimi - Live at the Filmore: December 31, 1969 (Audio Track Only)

Hope you enjoy!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Morning Song

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Buy This Book

My Sister-in-Law gave me this little book last month – The Go-Giver A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea.  I must admit that I don’t read “self help” books, and it sat on my nightstand until the day before yesterday.  This quarter has been so rough, that I thought what the hell, it couldn’t hurt.

Not only do I not read self help books, I don’t recommend them either.  But in this case I’m going to make an exception.  I strongly recommend buying this little book.  In a nutshell the book offers five basic principles to practice in business to ensure success.  It is told in story through a guy named Joe, an ambitious young man having trouble meeting his quarterly quotas.  In desperation, he seeks out the help of a “spectacularly successful” consultant for his secret to success.  In actuality Joe is seeking this consultant’s clout in order to close a huge deal, in order to meet his quota.  The consultant agrees to meet with him the following week and give him daily lessons.  Over the course of the next week, Joe learns these five basic principles:


The Law of Value – Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.


The Law of Compensation – Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.


The Law of Influence – You influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.


The Law of Authenticity – The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.


The Law of Receptivity – The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.


I won’t elaborate on these principles you’ll have to read the book for that, but I will share with you a couple of thoughts.  First, if you’re reading this book to become a successful business person, you’re reading it for the wrong reason.  These five principles are life principles. If you live your life by them, then success will naturally follow.


Second, it occurred to my as I was reading that Che Bella truly follows these principles because that’s how we live our life.  At least that’s what I like to believe.  After all, “A House of Love with no Limits” is our mission statement.


Third, ask George Bailey about the Go-Giver.  He lived his life following the above, although he had to have an angel named Clarence make him realize it.


And lastly, as if to validate it all I received this email this morning:


“How funny, Lisa just called (finally) to let us know that she got the flowers.  She spent 10 minutes talking about how beautiful and unique the flowers were.  Most importantly, she spoke very highly of how special you made her feel.  I must apologize for giving you the wrong hospital and applaud your amazing efforts to locate our special friend.


In an economy such as this, it’s refreshing to work with a business that is devoted to impecable customer service.  I will highly recommend, as will Lisa, your flowers to anyone in the area looking to send flowers. 


Thank you, thank you, thank you for your beautiful flowers.  Happy Holidays.




Pretty cool, don’t you think?

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Monday, December 8, 2008

The story of Amalthea

We recently received a gift from a friend of ours - a room spray called Cornucopia.  In the inside of the top of the box was the etymology of the word Cornucopia.   I quote verbatim "The Cornucopia (latin: Cornu Copiae) literally Horn of Plenty, and also know as the Harvest Cone,  is a symbol of food and abundance dating back to the 5Th century BC.  

In Greek mythology, Amalthea raised Zeus on the milk of a goat.  In return Zeus gave Amalthea the goat's horn.  It had the power to give to the person in possession of it whatever he or she wished for.  This gave rise to the legend of the cornucopia."

La and I did not find this out until much later, but it was a serendipitous discovery.  T's name came from the Unicorn in Peter S. Beagle's book - the Last Unicorn.  We read that book when we were 17 years old....

Quite a few years ago.

Anyway, we were quite touched when we opened the box and read the above.  It's not every day Amalthea's name comes up  like that.

Oh and by the way, the day Amalthea was born,  a new moon was discovered on Jupiter - the name...


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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Human Flower Project

I've added a new link to the Blogs of Note section - The Human Flower Project. It's mission: "The Human Flower Project is an international newsgroup, photo album and discussion of how people live through flowers. We report on art, medicine, society, politics, religion, and commerce. "

It's a very informative site detailing how flowers affect just about every facet of our life. Check it out!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December Floral Classes

We had so much fun last month that we decided to have to floral classes. One for Hanukkah and the other for Christmas Centerpieces. Here's the details:

Hanukkah - Sunday December 14. Class begins @ 1:00 pm. Registration closes Monday December 8 or if we fill the 6 seats available prior to the registration deadline.

Christmas - Sunday December 21. Class begins @ 1:00 pm. Registration closes Monday December 22 or if we fill the 6 seats available prior to the registration deadline.

Prepayment of $75.00 is required to secure a seat. You can register either online or giving us a call at 619.232.3193. To register online click here. In the "Order Description" type in floral class and in the delivery date field enter the appropriate class date.

As the online ordering feature is accustomed to floral orders it will add a delivery charge and CA Sales Tax, but not to worry we'll take care of the manually so your card is charged the flat class fee of $75.00.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Our First Floral Class

and it was a great success!

Here's some pics...

November Floral Class Pics

A special thanks to Chris Morrow for the pics and the video on CNN.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

A friend of ours sent this along to us yesterday and we thought we'd share it with you. We couldn't have said it any better, so click on read more and enjoy. We are all truly grateful for our family, friends, and clients. We have many angels watching over us and we'll be thinking of you all tomorrow.

Why does life throw challenges and crisis at us, like the financial crisis the world is dealing with today? Because that is the only way we will change…it is the only way we will rid ourselves of evil, bad habits, greed, ego and the wrong priorities. Its human nature wanting to stay the course…not to rock the boat, and usually the only way we will change is if we are forced into it by some outside influence…i.e. financial crisis, death, illness, catastrophe. We have to look at the challenges of today as an opportunity…as a way to reprioritize what is important.

What is happening with most people today is they are consumed by what has been taken away and not focused on being thankful for what we have and the opportunities of tomorrow. Step back for a moment…the reason things get taken away…the reason life throws us challenges and crisis is because it is the only way we will wake up and quit overlooking those things which are really most important in life…our family, our friends, our health, our spirituality, balance, etc. Challenge and crisis gets thrown at us because it is the only thing that will slap us in the face hard enough to get our attention. Think back in your life to a time of crisis…yes you may have lost something or someone…there may have been a scare in your life of some kind, but with that a door opened…a new person appeared when you looked in the mirror…usually a better person…a more thankful person…a more humble person…a more caring person…a person with better priorities.

In every crisis and in every challenge there is an opportunity…we just have to find it. But, until we let go of the pain and anger of what we have lost, and focus on all that we have which is really most important, the agony will not stop. And, once we do focus on what we have, life will be even better than it was before. This week and beyond, make a commitment EVERYDAY to give thanks and be grateful for everything and everyone you have in your life…quit being consumed by what you have lost, or the pain will not stop and we will not be able to move forward towards accomplishing greatness. If we can do this, not only will the pain stop, but life will be better and we will be more at peace than ever before.

Remember, life is about who we become and how we grow when faced with challenge, with crisis, with pain. It is what life is all about…it is when we grow…it is why we are here. Who are you becoming?

This week is Thanksgiving…be thankful and be grateful for all we have in our lives. The rest is just “stuff”. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Tip for Thanksgiving

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

New links at Blogs of Note

Check out Exquisite Corpse - an online journal of Letters and Life. Founded by Andre Codrescu - you may have heard him on NPR's All things Considered. And if you have a sweet tooth visit Cake.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Hot! - Africa Hot

Raymond Chandler on the Santa Ana's:

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge."

Hat Tip: Roger L. Simon - PJM

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Genuine Article

The title speaks for itself.

(See YouTube link below)

Hat Tip: Amalthea

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Ode to an Onion

Hat Tip: Gretchen

Ode to the Onion
by Pablo Neruda

luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.

Under the earth
the miracle
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicated the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
clear as a planet,
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
the table
of the poor.

you undo
your globe of freshness
in the fervent consummation
of the cooking pot,
and the crystal shred
in the flaming heat of the oil
is transformed into a curled golden feather.

Then, too, I will recall how fertile
is your influence on the love of the salad,
and it seem that the sky contributes
by giving you the shape of hailstones
to celebrate your chopped brightness
on the hemispheres of a tomato.
But within reach
of the hands of the common people,
sprinkled with oil,
with a bit of salt,
you kill the hunger
of the day-laborer on his hard path.

Star of the poor,
fairy godmother
in delicate
paper, you rise from the ground
eternal, whole, pure
like an astral seed,
and when the kitchen knife
cuts you, there arises
the only tear
without sorrow.

You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are
more beautiful than a bird
of dazzling feathers,
you are to my eyes
a heavenly globe, a platinum goblet,
an unmoving dance
of the snowy anemone

and the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'd rather be a blind girl...

...than live the rest of my life without hearing magic like this.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Quote of the Week

La and I were enjoying a pleasant Sunday morning at the Piazza Natale in Little Italy when we overhead this gentleman say rather loudly into his cell phone:

"I was at church you prick!"

I guess he was talking to his brother. We almost fell out of our chairs laughing.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Che Bella's New Web Site is Up!

Our new website is up today! Hooray! Many thanks to Amy at Persimmon Design for the overall look of the site, and Jane at Alternative Strategies for her outstanding web work.

Click on the title to check it out. We'd love to hear what you think.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Historic Day

Today we wake up to an historic day. The House of Love wishes to congratulate President-Elect Obama for his victory. Let us all wish him good luck, God's guidance and our support. He's going to need it.
The world was watching yesterday, so I thought I'd share with you some of the headlines.

The Telegraph

The Guardian

London Times

Le Figaro

International Herald Tribune

Der Spiegel

Corriere della Sera

Asia Times

The Australian

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Did You?

Having spent the last two hours in the rain waiting to cast our votes, we certainly hope you took the opportunity to make your voice heard, or are planning to get it done sometime today.

We've never seen an election where we had to wait in line, let alone two hours! But it was fun and exciting, saw a whole slew of neighbors, shivering, wet, cappucino or macchiato in hand (we after all live in Little Italy).

We'd love to hear your voting experience (not who you voted for), let us know your thoughts this historic day.

Ciao! and good on ya if you got to the polls.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Get it?

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Feel What I Feel, When I Feel, When I Feel, When I Feel, When I Feel It

If you enjoyed the poem on our newsletter - Everybody Loves the Sunshine, it makes more sense in this context. Click on Read More and Enjoy the sunshine.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Credit Crunch Holiday Sale

We at Che Bella understand that these are trying economic times, in the spirit of paying it forward to our beloved customers November marks what we call the Credit Crunch Holiday Sale. There's three components to this sale:

  • All hard goods are 50% off for the entire month, that includes Jan Barboglio, Heath, Lighting, books, CDs... everything.
  • Any order placed for Thanksgiving centerpieces placed BEFORE November 22nd will receive a 20% discount.
  • Any gift certificate or gift card purchased over $50.00 will receive a 20% discount. In other words, you can purchase a $50.00 gift certificate or gift card for $40.00.

Come on in and feel the love.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Goodnight Sun, Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Van

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bon Fire @ Fiesta Island

Tonight we're doing a Bon Fire at Fiesta Island. Family, Friends, Dogs, Wine and nibblies, and Tee-ing off into the bay and generally blowing off steam. Pics Monday.

Ciao, have a great weekend!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lord, show me a sign

We have a saying in the Che Bella family. Lord, show me a sign so obvious that even I can recognize it. October's been a pretty rough month and we were feelin' kinda down and then we received this in the mail.


"My son is a partner... in Los Angeles. The company ordered an arrangement from you on or around October 6th. My husband for less than 5 months died very suddenly and unexpectedly on October 3rd and the arrangement made me smile. I just wanted yo to know how jaw-droppinigly gorgeous it was. Frankly, I'd never heard of you before, but I will certainly sing your praises in the future."

Well, thank you for that; we all cried and it certainly made our day. You reminded of us why were here. And thank you Lord for making it obvious.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Who's Funnier

Take our Poll located on the right. Poll ends Oct 26. Time to have a little fun!


or Obama.

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Che Bella Living In Style

Che Bella is featured in the Fall Edition of Living in Style magazine, click on the title above to read.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

What's on the Chalkboard

Today starts the day we post to the blog what's on the chalkboard out front:

If the flowers of His face, from the garden they are in, burst into laughter;
The spring of life would be renewed, the tree of body would burst into laughter.
If that essence of the essence of life appeared all by Himself;
My body would come to life with the grace, my soul would burst into laughter.
If that speaker par excellence opened His mouth to speak;
The dead body would gain the power of speech, the stuttering heart would burst into laughter.
If that master of all beauty revealed the beauty of His face;
All the robes of beauty would [be torn apart] burst into laughter.

(Divan 2525:1-2, 4-5,7)

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Che Bella in October's issue of San Diego Home and Garden Lifestyles Magazine

The October issue is on newstands now. Check it out! Or just click on the image to read the article.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Remember this Nov 4th

Normally this is not a political site and I don't presume to tell you how to vote.

Just Vote!

If you really want to effect change in this country and Lord knows 90% of us apparently do (I'd like to meet one of the 10% who thinks everything is hunky dory), then remember this little snippet when you're pulling the lever this November.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

KFMB Interview

As promised here's the link to Friday's CBS interview about our work on the Ex-List. Click on the Link above. Don't forget the show airs Friday night, but check your local listings.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Life is a highway

Ah yes...The 10 Freeway in Los Angeles.

To me this is one of the funniest scenes in recent movie history.

Hope you enjoy it.

Hat tip: Imeem

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Blog Link added

If you've read and enjoyed Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart, you'll love her blog. Click on the link "Dirt" in the blogs of note section on the right.

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Che Bella goes Hollywood!

Che Bella will be providing florals and technical assistance to CBS's new fall show the Ex-List. Filmed here in San Diego, this romantic comedy centers around Bella, an Ocean Beach florist who has a year to find the right man to marry. A preview of the show is below:

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Little Italy's First Family of Flowers

As promised here's the link to our local TV spot with Larry Himmel. It was fun and Larry is really very easy to work with. Our appreciation for the attention is great and heartfelt.

Click on the title to view the video.

By the way, Amalthea will be on Channel 7 on Street Guide San Diego today at 11:00. We'll provide the link later if you can't catch it then.


UPDATE: I can't find a link on Channel 7's website anywhere. If any of you can find it, please post it in the comments. Thanks.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

The art of woman

..and so an artist, a software engineer and woman walk into this bar...


Hat tip: Eggman

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Summertime is almost here....

Ella and Satchmo





You decide...

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Loudest Island in the World!

Sorry it's been so noisy around my room, I've been playing different albums trying to figure out my top 10. When I first saw Chavo's post title I got all excited because "Island No. 10" was actually the location of a small, but very important Civil War battle in March, 1862. Click here to read more. My editorial comments follow...
This victory opened the northern mouth of the Mississippi to Union control, setting the stage for a progressive southern push culminating in the Siege of Vicksburg, the penultimate (Port Hudson lay about 40 miles south, and was likewise besieged) Confederate stronghold on the river, which surrendered July 4, 1863, one day after the battle of Gettysburg. This victory, and the subsequent fall of Port Hudson on July 9, effectively split the Confederacy in two.

Island No. 10 also launched the career of Gen. John Pope, a blustery, arrogant man who led the Army of Virginia into disaster at the hands of Lee, Jackson, Longstreet etc at The Battle of Second Manassas Aug 27-30, 1892.
We could go on and on, but here's my Island No 10 list in no particular order. Put in your earplugs, because there's lots of big-throated vocals, crunching axmen, and sonic joy.

Badmotorfinger-Soundgarden. To me, this is the album that truly launched grunge. "Rusty Cage" is the best side one track one I can think of, and there is no topping Chris Cornell's roar to open "Room One Thousand Years Wide"
Facelift-Alice in Chains. So much sadness and gloom amidst so much sonic energy. Not as polished as Dirt, but a better expression of the desperation that Layne Staley faced until his eventual, untimely passing
Appetite for Destruction-Guns N Roses. From out of the swill of glam rock and LA glitz in the late 80s came this dose of reality. Crude, loud, and brilliant
The Will to Live-Ben Harper. Best live act I've ever seen and when he plays these songs on stage, you want to cry. "Roses from My Friends" is the most heartachingly beautiful song
The Sky is Crying-Stevie Ray Vaughn. A posthumous compilation of this guitar genius' work. "Life by the Drop" makes me want to grab Jess and all of my closest friends and tell them how much I love them.
Superunknown-Soundgarden. OhmygoodnessChrisCornellhasthemostincrediblevocalrangeandcouldsingthiswholesentenceinonebreathacrossmultipleoctavesandstillgoYAAAAA!attheendcanyou? Go to and type "fell on black days" in the search field to see the brilliance of this band
Ten Thousand Fists-Disturbed. Massive, exhilarating, explosive rock. Also, they cover "Land of Confusion" by Phil Collins, and it's awesome!
don't know the album name-Hotel Costes: Love this album!
And Justice for All-Metallica. Just barely edges out Master of Puppets. I was in junior high the first time I heard "Blackened" and was actually frightened. This album is everything that made Metallica great.
Vulgar Display of Power-Pantera. From the album cover right through the whole LP, your body and mind will be shaken.
I know that my list is the answer to the SAT question "which one of the following is not like the others" but there it is...

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

It's ArtWalk Weekend

If you come by to visit, please bring wine.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Couldn't Resist...

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nice Place You Have Here!

I have to say, having just entered the House of Love, this really is quite a place you have! Love the art on the walls, the high ceilings, lots of natural light. I think good old Fung and his sidekick Shui really had this place in mind when it was all coming together!

As Chavo's kind introduction alluded, I may be a bit tipsy upon entering the House of Love, and it was really thoughtful of him to set up my room with an all-pillow floor, velvet walls, and a wet bar! Now I can lie (read: fall) down without hurting myself, and I'll never be far from the hair of the dog.
There's this little door here near the back of my room, wonder what's behind...No way, a library just for the Tipsy Historian! Wow, there's all the Civil War books I need, a flat screen TV tuned to ESPN, a big gooshy captain's chair with ottoman, dang, I can't wait to settle in!

I've got some stuff to move into my quarters here, so in the meantime, check out The Tipsy Historian to read a story that is sure to put a smile on your face, for there is a World Champion in our midst.
Thanks for letting me hang out with you!

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

You Saw it Here First Folks

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Island 10

La, Amalthea and I have an on-going conversation as to the top 10 albums (forgive the anachronism) we’d like to have on a desert island. I’m a bit of a cherry picker when it comes to albums, that is I’ll pop on an album or CD and pick one, two, sometimes three tunes to play then it’s on to the next one. So my criteria for making the top 10 has to be that ALL the tunes are great.

Here’s my list with no offers of explanation and in no apparent order.

Overnight Sensation – Frank Zappa.

Who’s Next – The Who

Live in San Francisco – Van Morrison

Fulfillingness First Finale – Stevie Wonder

Live at the Apollo – James Brown and his Famous Flames

Where’s the Money – Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks

Blue (or Court and Spark) – Joni Mitchell

So Far – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones

Aja - Steely Dan

That’s it! What’s yours?

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Say Hi to the Tipsy Historian

Check out our newest addition to the Blogs of Note - The Tipsy Historian. Sports, Cocktails and the Civil War. What could be better!

Nothing follows.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Anti Kenny G

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So What

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GW on GW

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Friday, March 28, 2008

The Birth of the Cool

I’ve been listening to Miles Davis quite a bit lately. I’ve always regarded him as one of the most influential musicians in jazz and quite possibly music in general. I didn’t regard him as a terribly gifted trumpet player, but rather one who was ahead of or the progenitor for trends. Until this weekend. Reading Nat Hentoff’s liner notes while listening to “Miles Davis – The Columbia Years 1955 – 1985” I came across the following:

“Miles, as it happened, created his own sound. It was all coming together. The spareness, the evocative use of space, the intense lyricism and the deep fire underneath it all. And nothing was superfluous.”
It was at that moment that I realized the genius of Miles Davis; he was a master of using silence or space to create drama and tension. Communicating the mood through intervals between notes as well as with the notes resulting in a piece greater than the sum of its parts.

This is particularly apparent in the Birth of the Cool period – 1949 – 1950. Another quote:
“In contrast to the hot, urgent sound and drive of bop, these 1948 – 1949 sessions developed softer but still intense shadings of textures and a more supple flexible sense of jazz time.”
In other words, bops intensity derived from a strong rhythm accompanied by an avalanche of notes, whereas Miles kept the intensity by shifting the attention to what happened between the notes.

This brings me to the point I’m trying to make, that is Che Bella’s design approach resembles more Miles Davis than bee-bop. An important design element to us is the incorporation of negative space. To understand negative space, think of Miles’ use of intervals between notes. Negative space creates movement within an arrangement by drawing the eye towards it, through it and around it. By carefully implementing negative space, the florals within the arrangement have more impact. Negative space more accurately mimics nature in the design; think of the tips of tree branches spreading their fingers to the sky or the irregularity of how a plant grows, some parts densely packed other parts not.

To continue with the Miles metaphor, we tend to limit the amount of elements in an arrangement. By elements, I mean flowers and color. One way to think about these two elements in the broad sense is color as chords and flowers as notes. We chose a chord and fill the chord with notes. It can be a one chord/one note arrangement such as a vase filled with lilac, or a chord progression of complementary colors and a note/flower structure within each chord to create an arrangement of drama, or whimsy, sublime or extravagant, always carefully choosing our notes so that each rings clear and true.

Pick up a copy of Miles’ “Kind of Blue” and give it a serious listen, if this doesn’t make sense to you now, it will then.


Give this a listen.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Skin like a Turkey

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Sunday, March 23, 2008


Someone to remember

I see him as did the child of my life.
From diminished vantage a shadow did befall me.
Respite from the summer's heat.
Aloft and over to safety's nest.

Laid me down gently so that I could walk with him
Above the dual hue corridors of suspicion
Into the spectral garden of God's creation
Forlorn destinies were shaken asunder.

Perhaps my innocence did unlock his heart
Or eyes of ample and curious strain
Did connect our lives in permanence
Through life's travails and harvest's sown.

Our journey parted some time ago
But today's cool wind in a whisper
Reminds me that love is never truly lost.
But wil rejoin in eternity's mist.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

This Obama Thing

This whole ObamaJeremiahWrightRace kerfuffle of the past week has got me thinking. No I’m not writing about politics here and yes I do have an opinion, but I’m not sharing it with you. I reminisce about growing up in an inter-racial household. You see, I’m the inverse of Steve Martin’s character in the Jerk, you know he’s born a poor black child and discovers Montovani and becomes white. I was born a poor white child until I discovered James Brown and his Famous Flames.

That and my Mom married a black man in 1965. I think it was 1965 anyway. I was eight and my brother was three. The year prior to their marriage, we lived in a section of LA just off of what is now Martin Luther King Blvd. Back then MLK was called Santa Rosalia Blvd; we lived on a street just below Baldwin Hills called Hillcrest Ave. My mom, my brother and I were the only white kids around I’m pretty sure. If my memory serves me correctly (Mom help me out here), there were some white folks still living there – mostly retired. I remember our neighbor across the hall used to race midget cars and give me STP stickers. But by and large we hung out with the black kids in the neighborhood. The neighborhood was working class poor, and this was what we could afford while we waited for my Mom’s divorce to be finalized.

One day, my Mom came home with this portly black guy with a hat, little did I know then that he’d become my stepfather within a year. I admit it was strange to me on a number of levels, conflicted over my real father (whom I didn’t miss, but may have had some sense of loyalty too), being the oldest have my authority being usurped by an outsider, and just being completely different in skin tone. So I was a bit suspicious.

But he eventually won us over.

Snippets of memories come back to me. Walking to Mr. J’s record store at the end of the street to by 45s – James Brown, The Temptations, Smokey, the Four Tops, the Delfonics, the Chi-Lites… Walkin’past the brothers in pork pie hats and the most fabulous Italian knit shirts that to this day I cannot find. Conques and doo-rags were still in evidence.

A year later we moved up the street to Baldwin Hills. To put it into TV parlance, it was kinda like being the Jefferson’s – not for my step dad but for me and my brother. What a difference a half mile makes because on top of that hill lived an affluent, professional predominantly black community. The white folks had fled to Ladera Heights, Trousdale and Beverly Hills some time back. This was a neighborhood of physicians, businessmen, and professionals who got to where they were through education, diligence and hard work.

A brief side note: My stepfather graduated from Columbia University at the top of his class to become the first black anesthesiologist in the US, his brother was a high school teacher in Brooklyn and his sister created the first African studies program for a University (whose name escapes me) in the US and incidentally was a friend to Maya Angelou.

I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this expository, certainly not an historical record of my childhood rather I think the texture of my “black experience”. You see my experience was not of the angry black man, although there was plenty of it bubbling up, the Watts Riots I, the Black Panthers, Malcolm X, and Eldridge Cleaver – my life in that milieu was more like a hybrid version of the Huckstables; which to Cosby’s great credit showed America that we really have very little differences in what we want out of life.

We were all middle class kids raised on middle class values going to middle class schools.

And I’m surprised that we’re still talkin’ about race some forty years later….

I remember the 8th grade parties slow dancing with the girls with the light down low, and Mom (not mine) flickin’ the light switch and giving us the “look”.

I remember having a crush on a lovely black girl named Valerie, and passing her note asking if she’d go steady with me only to have her laugh and show the note to her friends who also got a big kick out it.

I remember my Mom dropping me and my buddy Marvin off at the 5th Avenue theater in Morningside to see some movie, and the gang bangers (the Crips) pouring in through the back doors and stealing our popcorn – we were absolutely terrified.

I remember the day my Dad starting wearing platform shoes – that was the day I grew taller than him. Pursuant to that remembrance, I used to tell him at the dinner table how I tall I was and he used to say “What do you want to be – a basketball player!”

I remember the poster of MLK I had with his I Have A Dream speech and MLK’s picture and showing it to my Dad and telling him how much he looked like MLK. To this day, I wonder if he was complemented or chagrined (as in you all look alike, which was certainly NOT how I meant it).

I remember how much he loved La.

I remember him telling me to get a job 30 days before I went to boot camp.

I remember how much he loved Amalthea.

I remember how life turned on him – became too much for him to bear and him turning to alcohol.

I remember how he lost everything.

I love him and miss him.

I think that’s where I’ll leave this off.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Perfect Night's Sleep

I’ve never been a fabulous sleeper. When people talk about deep, dreamless sleep, or waking up after a full eight hours in the same position they fell asleep in, or actually waking up feeling refreshed, I cannot relate on any level but that of some sort of unreachable dream. I consider it a great night if I only get up twice to stare vacantly into the fridge. Consequently, my bedroom and, more importantly, my bed are my sanctuaries. I have a fetish for bedrooms. I lust after soft, smooshy beds and lavish pillows and expensive, highest thread count sheets. And the blanket,…truly, I have a weakness for blankets. I pile them on. My idea of a perfect bed is one you can burrow into and get lost, pretend you’re in the womb.

My bed sits right under my bedroom window where I can quite comfortably lay on my bed with my arms resting on the windowsill and watch the world go by. Just outside the window are two beautiful and verdant trees. I am on the second floor so if I stretch my imagination a bit and squint, I can fairly convince myself that I am snuggled in my own little nest perched in the tree branches. Humble perhaps, but my sanctuary of sanctuaries. The benefit of this vantage point is that I can see and hear a lot of things without being seen or heard myself.

I’ve witnessed a lot life’s joys and sorrows from my perch. Lovers, partygoers, enemies, and friends. I’ve seen late-night caresses, boundaries of feline territory fought for, won, and sometimes lost, games of tag and hide-and-seek, children acting out the way they do when they think no adult is watching. I’ve seen relationships end and mend, neighbors off to work in the morning looking sharp and back home in the evening looking bedraggled, babies become toddlers and then go off to school. Like I said, I’ve seen a lot of things.

One night last summer when J was gone for the weekend, I went to bed a little early to wallow in the luxury of having it all to myself. A night to sleep diagonally uninterrupted by unearthly snoring is a luxury indeed. I was watching a little cop drama to relax and heard an oboe. One unforgettable run, and I thought, “Weird. That can’t be.” And then the orchestra came in, and I turned to look in wonder out my window towards the balcony across from my bedroom. The guy that lives there was in his kitchen washing dishes at ten o’clock at night with “Rhapsody in Blue” bellowing out of his open windows. You have to understand, I don’t live in boho East Village, or cool Kensington. I live in an average condo complex full of average people in average Allied Gardens. George Gershwin wafting its way into my nest on that warm, summer wind was unexpected to say the least. I fumbled for the remote to turn off the tv and turned around to get a face full of that Gershwin breeze. The sky was clear and indigo, the birds were settling in and the tree frogs were waking up, and my neighbor’s windows glowed golden as I watched and listened rapt. He and I, unlikely and unknowing lovers sharing two private moments in two unconnected lives. And I whispered to myself, “Never forget this magic. Don’t ever forget this night.” I wept and thanked God and the universe for such perfection. And that night, I didn’t wake up until morning.

Mr. Bernstein, second best only to Mr. Gershwin himself... (I suggest playing while reading)

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Come Help Say - Buon Giorno America

Little Italy Association – “I SAY GMA” Video Shoot

WHAT: “I Say GMA” ABC’s Good Morning America Video Submission
(Viewers submit videos to ABC that represent a unique/personal way to say good morning to America). Link with more info: I Say GMA
Little Italy has decided to shoot a brief video clip beneath Little Italy sign on India street, with group of individuals shouting “BUONGIORNO AMERICA!” to demonstrate and promote the unique experience of Little Italy in San Diego.

WHO: Any and all Little Italy residents, merchants, business owners/employees, etc. (the MORE people the better)!

WHEN: Friday, March 28 @ 9am (sharp!)
*Video shoot will last no longer than 20 minutes, dependent on the prompt arrival of participants

WHERE: Participants should meet beneath Little Italy sign on India Street

ATTIRE: ALL participants are asked to wear red, green or white for this video shoot!


CONTACTS: Chris Gomez, LIA - 619-233-3898
Lauren Walsh, Citrus PR – 760-889-2909

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Amalthea gave me a book today called "Plato and a Platypus walk into a bar... Understanding Philosophy throug Jokes.
It's a great book, so I thought I'd include some of the concepts and jokes. Let's start simple:


Does the universe have a purpose? Aristotle thought so, to him everything has a telos or inner goal. The seed to become a plant or flower, it is was the seed is meant to be.

Here's Mrs. Goldsteins view: Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren. A friend stopped to ask her how old they were.

She replied, "The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven."

Obviously, Mrs. Goldstein has a definite idea of what her grandchildrens' telos is.

Aristotle thought that the telos of human life was happiness, a thought disputed by philosphers ever since. If Mrs. Goldstein's grandkids are meant to be a doctor and a lawyer, is this what they necesarrily want to be? And would their telos make them happy? Which begs the question, what is happiness? Ah, but that's for another philogag.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

We'll be in Anza Borrego this weekend.

Enjoying the spring bloom and taking a much needed respite. No blogging from me, so I'll leave you with this nugget.

Gotta love it!

See ya Monday!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Think Local First

50 % of this country’s GDP is generated by small businesses. By small business I mean your local retailer, restauranteur, plumber, electrician, graphic designer, architect et al make a significant contribution to our countries economy. You might say where the small business goes, so goes the country.

Now I have no truck with the big box stores, such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Home Depot, Ikea and the like. I believe they provide a useful service to the consumer. Particularly in the case of stores like Wal-Mart where folks from lower income levels have access to goods and services they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

So this isn’t a slam against them. What I’m trying to point out to you Dear Reader is your impact on the economy where you live when you decide to purchase goods and services. You may not realize this but when you purchase that latte from Starbucks or those jeans from the Gap at the local mall, most of the revenue from that purchase is leaving the local economy. Sure, when you purchase from these establishments they can continue to pay their employees who in turn spend their money locally, however most of the revenue is returned to the parent organization to cover overhead and contribute to the corporate bottom line. Furthermore, many of these companies make the decision (wisely) to incorporate in tax friendly states (Nevada or New Hampshire) or in the case of trans-national companies incorporate in countries with little or no tax laws such as Bermuda. I know because I used to work for one. So not only is most of the money you spent leaving your neighborhood, the state and the country lose in taxes the company would otherwise pay on their profits.

Surveys have shown conclusively that when you purchase from locally owned businesses more money is fed back to the local economy. A 2002 case study in Austin Texas showed that for every $100 in consumer spending at a national bookstore in Austin the local economic impact was only $13. The same amount spent at locally based bookstores yielded $45, or more than three times the local economic impact. (Civic Economics, “Austin Unchained” October 2003).

A 2003 case study of Midcoast Maine covering several lines of goods and services validated these findings. In Maine eight locally owned businesses were surveyed. The survey found that the businesses spent 44.6 percent of their revenue with the surrounding two counties. Another 8.7 percent was spent elsewhere in the state of Maine. The four largest components of this local spending were: wages and benefits paid to local employees; goods and services purchased from other local businesses; profits that accrued to local owners and taxes paid to local and state government… The study estimated that a big box retailer returns just 14.1 percent of its revenue to the local economy, mostly in the form of payroll. The rest leaves the state, flowing to out-of-state suppliers and back to corporate headquarters. (The Economic Impact of Locally Business vs. Chains: A Case Study in Midcoast Maine – New Rules Project, September 2003).

In this case study in Andersonville – a hamlet outside of Chicago Illinois – they found that for every $100 spent in a locally owned business, $68 dollars remained in the Chicago area.

So what is a locally owned business? The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies recommends you ask these five questions:

1. Is the business privately held (not publicly traded)?
2. Do the business owners, totaling greater than 50% of the business ownership, live in your local region?
3. Is the business registered in your state, with no corporate or national headquarters outside your region?
4. Can the business make independent decisions regarding the name and look of the business, as well as all business purchasing, practices and distribution?
5. Does the business pay all its own rent, marketing expenses, and other expenses (without assistance from a corporate headquarters)?

If the answer to all these questions is in the affirmative, then that business is locally owned.

You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m not entirely altruistic here. We want you to shop at Che Bella and Nido whenever you’re in the need of the best in florals or that perfect gift. But if you can’t make to Little Italy, please consider using someone local, I know he or she will appreciate it, we certainly do. Consider it giving a little somethin’ somethin’ back to the community.

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Piss, Vinegar and Beer

I love this guy, check it out!

Hat Tip: Roger L. Simon

Nothing Follows.

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Saturday, March 8, 2008


Last night I decided to throw Steely Dan’s Aja on the turntable, that’s right I said turntable. That’s not surprising to those who know me, but I do have a large collection of vinyl. Anyway, I’m always struck by how brilliant that album is and what a departure it was from anything that they had done prior.

I remember the day I bought that album (it’s still in mint condition by the way); it was 1977 La and I were living in Wichita Falls TX where I was a lowly Airmen, Amalthea was not yet born but on the way, we were driving around town and I decided to check out a record store that caught my eye. Sorry, I can’t remember the name of the store. We walked in and there at the front of the store was the new Steely Dan album.


We didn’t have a pot to piss in back then, but I had to buy it. I was so happy, whooda thunk it. You could actually buy a Steely Dan album in hick town like Wicheeta Falls (we knew people with dirt floors there). I think it cost me 7.99. In all fairness to Wichita Falls it is a lovely Texas town way up north, but a little short on culture if you know what I mean.

But I digress a bit.

So we get home. Roll a fat one. Turn on our 13” black and white TV. Fiddle with the rabbit ears. Turn the sound off (which was our habit). Plop that brand new Steely Dan licorice pizza on the turntable.

The opening chords of Black Cow come through the speakers.

And I was blown away.

Aja is Steely Dan’s masterpiece. Broad and expansive in scope, courageous – a complete departure from anything they’d done previously. Although, there may have been hints of things to come in The Royal Scam, it took me completely by surprise.

Every track on that LP is great. Musicianship, lyrics, production it’s all perfect. Check out the roster of musicians:

Walter Becker - bass, guitar, electric guitar, vocals
Chuck Rainey - bass
Timothy B. Schmit - bass, vocals
Donald Fagen - synthesizer, keyboards, vocals, background vocals, whistle
Paul Griffin - keyboards, electric piano, vocals, background vocals
Don Grolnick - keyboards, clavinet
Michael Omartian - piano, keyboards
Joe Sample - keyboards, electric piano, clavinet
Larry Carlton - guitar, electric guitar
Denny Dias - guitar
Jay Graydon - guitar, electric guitar
Steve Khan - guitar
Dean Parks - guitar
Lee Ritenour - guitar
Pete Christlieb - flute, tenor saxophone
Chuck Findley - horn, brass
Jim Horn - flute, saxophone
Richard Hyde - trombone
Slyde Hyde - brass
Plas Johnson - flute, saxophone
Jackie Kelso - flute, horn, saxophone
Lou McCreary - brass
Bill Perkins - flute, horn, saxophone
Tom Scott - conductor, flute, tenor saxophone, lyricon
Wayne Shorter - flute, tenor saxophone
Bernard Purdie - drums
Steve Gadd - drums (on Aja)
Ed Greene - drums (on "I got the News")
Paul Humphrey - drums
Jim Keltner - percussion, drums
Rick Marotta - drums
Gary Coleman - percussion
Victor Feldman - percussion, piano, keyboards, electric piano, vibraphone
Venetta Fields - vocals, background vocals
Clydie King - vocals, background vocals
Rebecca Louis - vocals, background vocals
Shirley Matthews - vocals, background vocals
Michael McDonald - vocals, background vocals

Every one of these folks is famous in their own right.

Well I’m rambling. If you don’t own this CD, you really need to buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

By the way, I haven’t touched a joint in 30 years.

Jus so’s ya know.

Mom would be proud.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'd like a pizza to go - no anchovies

This brings back memories of being 16, smokin' weed with my buddy Paul and absolutely crackin' up. We used to go to the old Fox Venice theatre and watch Firesign Theatre movies. I hope you find it as funny as I do.

Part Two

Part Three

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

This one is different....

Normally, I don't like kids floggin' stuff on TV. It smacks to me as the advertisers are either really cynical or they think we're just too stupid and we'll go out buy that product 'cuz it's got a cute kid in it.

But this one's different. Kaiser got it just right.

Just the right amount of humor and wryness. Rich in irony. And it's hilarious!

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Have you ever felt like this?

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First Day of Little League

It’s opening day for Little League today. I know this because I saw it on the news this morning. Can I tell you how cute these 4 – 6 year old kids looked? Little munchkins with over sized helmets – they looked like bobble head dolls. Holding a bat that’s nearly as big as they are, taking a mighty swing at the tee ball and to their surprise hits the ball! There’s a moment of indecision…

Finally, the coach shouts RUN!

And the little bobble head doll scurries down to first base as fast as his little legs will carry him, head bobbling all the way.

Meanwhile, all hells broke loose in the infield. Kids scampering every which way, until one of ‘em figures out how to catch the ball, (their mitts are about the size of their heads) unfortunately in the melee the first basemen’s been drawn off the bag and the kid who picked up the ball, throws it to thin air.

The kid makes it to first and decides to take two. The first basemen manages to run back and get the ball, the coach is shouting THROW IT SECOND! He throws it over the second basemen’s head and the ball ends up in left field. The left fielder wasn’t expecting that, as a matter of fact he was looking the other way. After a few seconds and shouts from the coach, he goes scampering after the ball. Meanwhile, our intrepid batter decides to make it a triple.

Obviously, the kids have yet to fully appreciate the mechanics of the game. It’s like watching puppies play baseball.

The left fielder manages to catch up to the ball and throws it back to the second baseman who ducks when the ball gets to him. Fortunately, the pitcher (why there’s a pitcher in Tee ball I’ll never know) who’s mind is in the game and manages to scoop up the ball.

The third base coach is giving the “round house” signal to the runner to go for home. So the little tyke rounds third and barrels towards home. The pitcher turns and throws the ball home…

The throw is good.

It hits the catchers’ oversized mitt, but he doesn’t have the strength in his little hands to close the glove and the ball drops to the ground.

Our intrepid bobble head doll makes it across home plate for an in the park home run!!!

I wonder if A-Rod started out this way.

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March is House of Love's First Anniversary


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White Rabbits, White Rabbits

That's what the House of Love says on the first of each month. It's supposed to be the very first thing you say, but sometimes we mess it up with Good Morning. It's supposed to bring you good fortune for the month.

Do you have a similar tradition/saying?

UPDATE: Here's what Wikipedia has to say: Rabbit Rabbit White Rabbit

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Flower God, God of Spring

FLOWER god, god of the spring, beautiful, bountiful,
Cold-dyed shield in the sky, lover of versicles,
Here I wander in April
Cold, grey-headed; and still to my
Heart, Spring comes with a bound, Spring the deliverer,
Spring, song-leader in woods, chorally resonant;
Spring, flower-planter in meadows,
Child-conductor in willowy
Fields deep dotted with bloom, daisies and crocuses:
Here that child from his heart drinks of eternity:
O child, happy are children!
She still smiles on their innocence,
She, dear mother in God, fostering violets,
Fills earth full of her scents, voices and violins:
Thus one cunning in music
Wakes old chords in the memory:
Thus fair earth in the Spring leads her performances.
One more touch of the bow, smell of the virginal
Green - one more, and my bosom
Feels new life with an ecstasy.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

For Jessica

A happy song for Messica.

I love you.

Chavo (Dad number 2)

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The Morning Routine

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Is Che Bella Expensive?

Every so often I Google “Che Bella” to find out what people are thinking about us out in the ether, in other words I try to keep track of any reviews of our work. While Che Bella’s reviews are always excellent one comment that seems to be a common denominator is that we’re expensive. That may seem to be true on its face, however I’d like to take a moment to explain a little about our philosophy and what goes into the florals we sell in the hope that folks understand what we sell is at a fair market value.

When we first decided to open Che Bella we made a conscious decision to bring San Diego the finest florals the world has to offer. That means we sell only the highest quality flowers. Did you realize there are several grades of flowers? Es Verdad. We choose only the highest grade flowers so we pay more for the good stuff.

We also decided we didn’t want to compete with the Costco’s, Wal-Mart’s, 7-11’s, Home Depot’s, Trader Joe’s and all the other myriad places where you can buy inexpensive flowers. We simply cannot compete with their purchasing power nor do we want to, our intent is to provide quality and high end design not volume. These big box stores may provide flowers at low prices but you need to remember that the flowers you purchase there are a miniscule part of their overall sales. Do you really think that the flowers they’re selling are getting the daily attention that we give our product?

To ensure we have the quality we demand, we personally hand pick every stem from the local wholesalers three times a week. That translates to a 300 mile weekly drive. We could have our flowers delivered, but we lose control over the quality and that’s something we’re unwilling to do. That said, most of the fuel cost is absorbed into Che Bella’s operation and not passed onto you through the florals you buy.

In order to provide high design florals, we hire only the best designers in San Diego. Every arrangement that goes out the door is an artistic expression of an individual with many years of floral experience. To attract these artisans we have to offer an attractive salary and benefits package. We are a socially conscious shop, we offer health care and 401k retirement benefits – we don’t have to do this but we feel it is important not only because it brings us the talent we need but also that we’re doing what we can to improve the lives of our employees. So there is a labor component when you purchase an arrangement. A good analogy I like to make is going out to dinner. When you order a $15.00 plate of spaghetti, you’re not receiving $15.00 worth of pasta. You’re receiving the cost of the pasta marked up plus the labor and a percentage of the restaurants overhead plus a little profit, it is the same with us as it is with any florist.

As I mentioned above we are a socially conscious shop. That means we try to the best of our ability to purchase flowers from growers and wholesalers that are grown environmentally safe. Meaning a minimal use of pesticides or using organic growing practices that avoid the use of pesticides altogether, we also try to find growers who follow fair trade practices, that is that their employees are paid a fair wage and work in a safe environment. Again, these flowers are more expensive to grow, therefore more expensive when they come to market. To learn more about fair trade click here.

We understand that when you come to Che Bella you’re paying a premium, but you can rest assured that you’re receiving a premium product from a company that cares about what it is offering, cares about not only its employees but the employees of our suppliers and growers, and our environmental footprint in the world.

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It's been awhile...

So let's start with something light

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