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October 31, 2013 / Linda Hartong

GREEN GARDENS- HOME OF BARBARA LIVINGSTON

Barbara Livingston, the president of Carmel’s Residents Association has been reading my blog. She is curious about how I work and invites me over for a chat at her home nestled in her green garden. 

Barbara is visually impaired but is the “queen” of coping devices. When we pick a date to meet, we do so with “Siri”. The three of us check her calendar and finally find a date.

I have noticed her distinctive gate many times.

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Today I go through and close it.

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The garden is a world set apart. Behind ivy -covered walls and bamboo, it is quiet.

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I admire her art as I knock on the door.

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Her assistant answers the door. She leads me past the light filled living room to the left and the charming dining room to the right and into the kitchen where I wait for almost thirty minutes for Barbara. She is nowhere to be found. 

I finally give up and decide to tour her garden while I wait.

Gravel paths weave under a canopy of oaks.

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The garden floor is low maintenance plants with pots and ornaments nicely placed. 

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I head around the house 

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To the back porch.

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It opens off the living room and continues the “Out of Africa” theme used in the living room. Barbara was once an interior decorator.

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Zebra cross the veld  behind a stand of Maidenhair Ferns.

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The animal print cushions and wicker furniture are inviting.

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This is just one of three exterior mirrors I notice. This one has faux painting around it.

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I turn my attention to the back corner. The bench is hidden in ferns .

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Buddha has found the perfect spot to meditate.

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The garden opens up to a dining table 

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And more chairs.

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Ahh! Another mirror.

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I would love to know the story behind this colorful fish.

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A step up past the lemon tree 

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Is a bird bath

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With a plaque at its base.

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I turn back to retrace my steps. 

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The orange Lucifer Crososmia adds an exotic touch.

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I am just admiring the wind chimes when I hear voices.

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The elusive Barbara appears. She has been watering her neighbor’s garden.

Back into the house we go.

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We sit at a cozy kitchen table covered with notes of things to do. The answering machine picks up calls, workman check in, a dog is tended to and orders given to her assistant. This woman is the master multitasker . 

Some time later, I am out the door. I feel like I’ve stepped out of a whirlwind. 

I have read many things about Barbara. She is very political, controversial and so outspoken that she often pleads her remarks be “off the record”. 

The Carmel Residents Association was formed “to protect and enrich the traditional quality of life” in Carmel.  Barbara, as president, takes this job very seriously.

5 Comments

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  1. augustgirlmusings / Nov 1 2013 12:42 am

    Thank you. I grew up in Carmel-by-the-Sea and love these blog entries. I so enjoyed this particular one, knowing Barbara, and I have not been to Barbara’s for a very long time. It sounds like she is doing well!! I was very touched by the plaque in the Buddha’s lap. Barbabra’s mother, Marje, whom I knew quite well, used to have it hanging in her garden. Very special.

  2. augustgirlmusings / Nov 1 2013 12:43 am

    Thank you. I grew up in Carmel-by-the-Sea and love these blog entries. I so enjoyed this particular one, knowing Barbara, and I have not been to Barbara’s for a very long time. It sounds like she is doing well!! I was very touched by the plaque in the Buddha’s lap. Barbabra’s mother, Marje, whom I knew quite well, used to have it hanging in her garden. Very special.

  3. Michelle R / Nov 1 2013 1:20 am

    Thank you for the tour of this amazing lady’s home. So full of texture and peace. I really adore your blog updates, each and everyone of them. I have been to Carmel many, many times since I was a little girl and it still remains my favorite place in California. Hoping to visit sometime in November in fact.

  4. lornagannon / Nov 1 2013 2:59 pm

    I have never been to Carmel but I really enjoyed your wonderful tour round this fascinating garden, so full on interest and personal touches. Thank you!

  5. Michael Smith / Nov 2 2013 2:03 pm

    I enjoyed your tour of this lady’s invitable haven! The fish…..the wind chimes! I get the feeling she likes to keep the garden un-disturbed. Really enjoyed! I like the density,full growth as if every thing reaches out to touch you! Michael

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