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Welcome.  I doubt you were looking for my blog, but I’m glad you’re here.

I took a little side trip of my own today.  Sometimes if the weather’s nice and the tank is full, I’ll follow the GPS instead of the map.  Usually the route is direct; unfortunately it’s not always paved.  Here I’m waiting for my turn to cross  a river without a bridge.

It’s been a year since “Wax” was published and I hit the road in my tin can camper.  Posts about the book tour are archived here, and at  If you like women’s fiction and history, please visit that site too.

I hope we cross paths some day.

The New Business, a Year Later


It’s been a year since “The New Business” launched; there have been changes! Vertical Succulents became Highway 92 Succulents in January, and customers responded with great support. Take a look at the space below, one year after I signed the lease!


dogs welcome


succulent shopping 2

This year the business participated in the Filoli Mother’s Day Flower show. Here’s a bit about it.


A year ago my photographer-friend Kim Smith accompanied me on a visit to Filoli. I was writing a filler article for SVCN and she was taking the requisite five photos. They were just getting ready for the Mother’s Day Flower show. I never imagined that – in one year – I’d return as a nurserywoman with my own exhibit. Who knows what the coming year will bring?

Kim came to the special 2014 Flower Show Preview and Exhibitor Reception, and again, took photographs – enjoy!



Here’s the article I wrote in May, 2013:
Filoli, Woodside

Each year, Mothers’ Day is celebrated at Filoli, and it’s a good week to remember the women who nurtured the lovely garden.

Filoli was built in 1917, as a retreat for the Bourn family. Patriarch William Bourn II made a considerable fortune in investments that included the Empire Gold Mine — the most productive – continuing in operation until 1956. He also owned controlling interest in the Spring Valley Water Company, the privately held monopoly on the San Francisco water supply.

When it came time to join fellow railroad, banking and industrial magnates in the good life on the San Francisco peninsula, Mr. and Mrs. Bourn commissioned Willis Polk, architect and Bruce Porter, artist. Porter earned a reputation for fine interior design, murals and stained glass windows. His role on the Bourn project was to articulate garden “rooms” to compliment the architecture of the house.

The collaborative effort between architect and garden designer resulted in an estate with interior and exterior spaces flowing seamlessly, and the plan is largely in tact today. Isabella Worn came to the project to create striking floral compositions within the framework. Her work delighted visitors.

Known as “Bella”, Worn thrived at a time when women had little opportunity for formal horticulture training, and even less opportunity for a career in garden design. She excelled. She never stopped studying. She had a sixth sense for finding garden blooms that would become popular with the owners of the grand estates, and they’d showcase her flowers in arrangements throughout their homes. She was a woman in demand and attracted elite clients.

Isabella Worn was herself born to a comfortable life. Her grandfather, James Ross, had acquired a land grant for Rancho Punta de San Quentin in Marin County, and the town of Ross is named for him. Her father, George Austin eventually oversaw the family enterprises and properties, including a flourishing lumber business.

Isabella grew up loving plants, and because her family was well connected to San Francisco society, started her business engineering elaborate flower displays for lavish affairs. Her reputation grew quickly and the Bourns recruited her to work at Filoli. It was a good partnership; Bella preferred clients with enough money to fully implement her designs. She took on other clients too: she became an advisor and supplier to the well-heeled garden owners of Hillsborough, Woodside, San Francisco and Carmel Valley.

At Filoli, Worn was charged with choosing bedding plants, coordinating seasonal color, and designing other garden features.

When the Roths purchased Filoli in 1937, Lurline Roth asked Bella Worn to stay on. Under Roth’s patronage, Worn diversified the garden with hundreds of camellias, rhododendrons, roses, magnolias and rare plants. Roth’s passion for the place and Worn’s ingenious designs gave the garden depth and texture. Roth adhered to Worn’s plans after her death in1950.

In 1977, speaking of their partnership, Lurline Roth said:
“Originally, Miss Worn did all the planting for the garden, under the direction of Bruce Porter, and continued until she became too busy with other work, and then she resigned. Later, Bella was able to come back and take-over again, continuing until she died. Under her guidance, I learned so much, as she made me feel that the garden was mine, which might be difficult for one in a supervisory position. We put in the swimming pool area and moved the yew allée back of the swimming pool from up near the orchard. We also did all the planting behind the pool.”

As the garden gained worldwide renown, Lurline Roth was awarded several honors, including the Distinguished Service Medal for the Garden Club of America, for her achievements as a collector and propagator of plants. The formal garden at Filoli is named the Lurline B. Roth garden in her honor.

In 1950, Isabella Worn’s death was morned by many of San Francisco’s most distinguished families, with whom she had worked. From Filoli, Mrs Roth wrote:
“I will always think of her in this garden. Perhaps it would make her happy to know how many loving friends she had. Everyone misses her. She spent her life doing sweet things for others; that was her way.

Isabella Worn brought enthusiasm, passion, and an artistic sense of color and design to her work in gardens and floral arrangements, bringing pleasure and delight to her clients who, invariably, became her loving friends.”

Today the 654-acre estate is a California State Historic Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an outstanding example of early twentieth-century architecture and garden design. The garden is maintained by fourteen full-time horticulturists, numerous student interns and more than one hundred garden volunteers.

Filoli is located at 86 Canada Rd  Woodside, CA.  It’s opened to the public, Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 am–3:30 pm, and 11:00 am–3:30 pm on Sunday. There is an admission fee. Filoli is closed on Mondays and most public holidays.


Rosie the LGBT Riveter – Special from Newsweek

Last week an article in Newsweek reported on the effort to collect WWII homefront  stories from the LGBT community  — especially women within the community. My book Wax and I were mentioned and I’m honored.  Here’s a PDF of the article for your reading pleasure!

The new business

It’s hard to pass up a good deal.  On May 18th – exactly 40 days ago – I discovered a greenhouse for lease for 14 cents/square foot, with retail space at the front of the house offered at 23 cents.  A long-time friend (I won’t call him old) with a dream of becoming a nurseryman was ready to jump in, but he’d committed to some large scale projects through the summer.  I came on as partner – for two years – to help get the business up and running.  No, I’ve never worked in a nursery.  The way I see it: no one comes out of the womb knowing much – except maybe Mozart.  We’ll figure it out.  We’re going to raise and sell succulents.

I’m keeping progress photos.

The nursery was abandoned more than a decade ago, when cut rose growing moved to Central America, so there’s work to do.The goats are important members of the team.

goats at workpost goatsweed block down!





Stay tuned.  We plan to open on September 5th.

The new book

DSCN0904I’m still working on The Earthen Corral.  I thought I’d finish it by Christmas 2012, but that was before the wreck of the Fjord Queen on October 13th. The clean-up (both physical and bureaucratic) took much longer than expected and before it was complete, Barry nearly electrocuted himself.  I was buying pumpkin for a Thanksgiving pie when I got the call from a deputy sheriff. Barry was in a coma for a week, but eventually made a full recovery.  Other life events have conspired to keep me from finishing the book, but now I’m getting back to it.  I’ve missed it.

Enjoy this short excerpt:

The Earthen Corral

Prologue July 12, 1851

Francisco Guerrero met Francois Le Bras, the man who would kill him, at the corner of First and Market. Guerrero was leading a friend’s bay horse to the mission, where he planned to spend the night. Eye witnesses said he encountered La Bras walking on the plank road and generously offered the diminutive man, who was thought to have a-little-something-wrong-in-the-head a ride on the bay.

They traveled amicably at a trot for ten blocks before the pair sped to a gallop. “It appeared”, one woman said, “that the men were racing.” Others described a sort of “scuffle” with the riders whipping each other’s horses and perhaps each other. Minutes later Guerrero slumped forward and then fell.

Le Bras rode on, and boarded the horse at a near-by stable. The next morning, when he tried to sell it, he was arrested by the San Francisco Vigilance Committee, a newly formed public-spirited group determined to clean up the city. They had hung a man the month before, for stealing a safe.

The investigation revealed considerable blood tracked along Guerrero’s path, suggesting he’d been injured before the fall. It appeared that the first blow, at the top of the hill, broke the skin. The attending physician stated that Guerrero had several injuries to the head, “probably from a club”. The coroner found that “Guerrero came to his death from blows inflicted with a deadly weapon.” These experts concluded the death was not an accident.

But the Committee did not administer their swift justice. They quickly concluded there was insufficient evidence to determine La Bras’ innocence or guilt. They turned him over to the regular authorities. He was tried for murder four months later and found not guilty. Some say the proceeding was hastily brought and poorly conducted. Neither physician – that had examined Guerrero – was called to testify. Historians believe that someone got away with murder.

Help fund WWII Home Front History Exhibits.

Cropped Cover for Malloy jpegProceeds from the sale of “Wax” will help fund new exhibits at Rosie the Riveter/ WWII Home Front National Historical Park. Click on the “Buy Books” link in the top menu bar.

“Wax” tells the story of a young woman who struggles to conform to post-war expectations of marriage and family. The Rosie the Riveter Trust has sold the book in the Rosie the Riveter/ WWII Home Front National Historical Park visitor center store since it opened, and  I’m grateful for their support. Now it’s time to give back. All proceeds from the sale of the print version of “Wax” – through this website or the National Park bookstore – will be donated to the Rosie The Riveter Trust in support of exhibit development.

Many hands make light work.


To everyone who helped: combing the beach for rubble, cutting wood and metal, loading sleds and sacks, toting loads, offering kind words, strong hands, and so much heart (not to mention homemade cookies): A very big THANK YOU!! The day was a huge success, with a fifty member human chain moving 9000 lbs of shipwreck.  She was loaded for transport by 2:30. Both tanks were removed as well as all the boat debris that made it to the beach.

Hopefully there is a crane in our future, that will lift the engine, transmission and ballast.  Stay tuned.