Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, December 29, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 5



 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 29, 2012 


 By Christoper Nyerges [Nyerges is the author of “Self-Sufficient Home,” 
“How to Survive Anywhere,” and other books. He can be reached at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, 
CA 90041, or]


 We are really fortunate to live the San Gabriel Valley. There is a lot to do and 
see in different subject areas. Arts enthusiasts MUST go to the Norton Simon 
Museum in Pasadena. All the years I taught sixth grade that was an annual 
field trip. How many people can boast that they have seen firsthand works of 
Rembrandt, Degas, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh (Currently his Self-Portrait is 
on loan there.), Gaugin, Diego Rivera, and Henri Rousseau? There are pieces 
of modern sculpture by Moore and modern works by Picasso, Kandinsky and 
many more. Then, one can go downstairs and see Eastern art. There is a MUST 
for students of Ancient History as there is so much from India and China. (The 
late Norton Simon and his wife, actress Jennifer Jones traveled to Asia on their 
honeymoon, and this is how they acquired the works located on the lower level on the museum.) Norton 
Simon was an amazing man who amassed a great fortune at an early age and loved art. He wanted to 
share his art with many and that is why we are blessed with the Museum. They also have tapestries to die 
for and altar pieces 
from Middle Age 

buffs must go to the 
California Science 
Center to see the 
Endeavor and a lot 

 What has 
fascinated me 
about our area is 
all the cities have a 
different founder 
and such interesting 
history. Many 
years ago, my mom 
came to California 
each year from 
New Jersey. It was 
too much and too 
crowded to deal 
with Disneyland. 
I wanted close 
by interesting 
excursions so I went 
to the yellow pages and looked under museums. Her very favorite was the El Monte Museum. Signs 
call the city, “The End of the Santa Fe trail”. That’s because several wagons continued past Santa Fe 
and ended up in the current city. It was such a lush, fertile area. In the Museum on one side are 
several little “cubicles” that include two bedrooms, barber shop, apothecary, music shop, dress shop, 
classroom area, general store, living room, kitchen and much more! 

 Walking to the other side, the hall has a display from “Gay’s Lion Farm”. The circus couple 
came from Europe and began this popular farm. Celebrities and even a president came to visit! There 
are display cases throughout with dresses, jewelry, memorabilia from different wars, a tribute to the 
El Monte Police and Fire Departments and a Rolls Royce Winston Churchill rode in!

 “Learning or Living History” is the theme for the Homestead Museum, 15415 East Don 
Julian Road, City of Industry. This museum covers the history of the LA Region from the 1840’s 
when it was still part of Mexico through the 1920’s when Los Angeles was known world-wide as 
a metropolitan city. Encompassing three acres there are three sites to see, the Workman House, 
an 1870’s Victorian country home constructed around an 1840’s adobe, La Casa Nuevo, a Spanish 
Colonial Revival mansion, and El Campo Santo, one of the region’s oldest private cemeteries. (Pio 
Pico is interred there)

 There are three other must-sees in the area. Arcadia’s Ruth and Charles Gilb Historical 
Museum (380 West Huntington Drive, Arcadia, (626-574-5400) has a tribute to Anita Baldwin 
(Lucky’s daughter), Veterans, famous Arcadians in addition to tracing the history of the local area.

 Washington Irving, Mount Wilson, and General George Patton are connected to Alhambra’s 
founder, Benjamin Davis Wilson. To find out how, visit the Alhambra Museum, 1550 W. Alhambra 
Road, Alhambra. (626) 300-8845. Call ahead for days/hours.

 Monrovia’s founder, William Newton Monroe played an important role in railroad 
construction! He was born in Lexington, Indiana, and fought in the First Iowa Calvary during the 
Civil War. He and his wife came to California in 1884 and was the Superintendent of Construction 
of the Southern Pacific Railroad for twelve years. A successful businessman, he bought 240 acres of 
land from Lucky Baldwin in 1886 for $30,000! He also built railroads in Mexico and the first one in 
Alaska. The museum covers his life, the history of the city and more. Monrovia Historical Museum, 
is at 742 East Lemon Ave, Monrovia. (626) 357-9537

“What’s Going On?” 

News and Views from Joan Schmidt

Carel Struycken has 
long been interested in 
the principles in Permaculture 
not only as it 
relates to growing fruits 
and vegetables but also 
in the perspective he 
takes on most human 

 Struycken, who 
lives in Southern California, 
is an actor who 
played Lurch in the Addam’s 
Family, as well as 
roles in Star Trek, Men in 
Black, Witches of Eastwick, 
and others. He was 
born in Holland, and grew up in Curacao in the 
Caribbean, and moved back to Holland at age 
15. We met at his home to discuss home food 
production and permaculture.

 He shows me the Bible of Permaculture, 
Bill Mollison’s “Permaculture: A Designers 
Manual” which details a way in which we can 
grow food and live with the land in accord with 
nature’s principles. (“Permaculture” is a coined 
term meaning “permanent agriculture.”) 

 “The whole idea of permaculture is to put 
in as little work as possible, and allow nature to 
find its balance,” says Strucken, who produced 
all the vegetables for a family of 5 for many years 
using these principles.

 “I’m also a big fan of Fukuoka, author of 
‘The One Straw Revolution.’ If I had the time, I’d 
love to go to Japan and work on his natural farm, 
and work there and learn about his methods,” 
says Struycken.

 Both Mollison and Fukuoka are advocates 
of natural farming, which means planting what 
is appropriate for the area, tilling as little as possible, 
letting all the leaves and old plants serve as 
fertilizer for the new plants, and using natural 
methods for bug control. 

 Using permaculture methods, Struycken 
grew lots of Asian greens, mostly those members 
of the mustard family that had the highest 
nutritional value. He grew herbs, tomatoes, 
yard-long beans, and 14 fruit trees.

 His yard is terraced with cement rubble, 
pieces of old cement walkways that have been 
neatly stacked to form impressive and long-lasting 
walls using a material that is normally discarded. 
He also experimented with raised beds 
because the soil in his garden area was so bad. 

 The smaller the plot, the harder it is to practice 
permaculture methods. Still, Struycken never 
raked up and discarded leaves. Under his avocado 
tree, he allowed the leaves to accumulate 
into a thick layer of mulch. “The layer of avocado 
leaves is well over a foot thick, and when you 
look into the bottom of the pile, it is all naturally 
producing rich soil,” he explains. 

 All the kitchen scraps are recycled in many 
compost heaps, and he worked at cultivating the 
earthworms that naturally occurred in his yard 
so that they would do the tilling that farmers ordinarily 

 “I didn’t go out and purchase those redworms 
that many gardeners use, but rather I worked at 
cultivating the natural earthworms and keeping 
them happy. Sometimes, I would use this device 
with long tines that I would step on and it aerates 
the soil without actually tilling,” he explains.

 He purchased ladybugs years ago since 
they eat the “bad” insects, and he found that the 
ladybugs like the fennel plants. So the secret to 
keeping ladybugs around is to grow fennel, explained 

 Permaculture does not involve raking 
away leaves or garden scraps, but using them 
for the next generation of fertilizer. Although 
Struycken has tried to produce all of his needed 
fertilizer from his own back yard, he has found 
the need to occasionally bring in chicken and 
horse manure for his crops. “I stopped using the 
horse manure, though,” he says, “since I found 
that it produced too many weeds.”

 “I was always amazed that I never had 
to do anything to my lettuce, and it was always 
perfect. The ecosystem took care of itself,” explained 
Struycken. He said that though there 
were many spiders and bugs in the garden, 
whatever bugs that ate his lettuce got eaten by 
some other bug. This is one of the basic principles 
of permaculture – that nature, largely left 
alone, will find its own balance. In this case, 
rather than use insecticides (which would kill all 
the bugs), mulching and providing a home for 
all life forms means that the desirable bugs will 
deal with the undesirable bugs, and Struycken 
will still have food.

 Struycken advises beginning gardeners to 
start small, and to select plants that are appropriate 
to their environment. He explains that 
there are sustainable agricultural communities 
throughout the world which can be emulated. 
For example, he gives the example of the traditional 
Hopi garden where the “three sisters” 
are planted. Blue corn is first planted, and then 
squash planted. The squash shades the ground 
so less water is evaporated. Then after the corn 
is a foot or two tall, desert beans are planted at 
the base of the corn. The corn serves as a pole 
for the beans, and the beans add nitrogen to the 
soil via their roots. 

 Struycken, who has been in the movie business 
for about 30 years, wants to do a series of 
documentaries where he shows sustainable 
communities throughout the world so that the 
principles can be preserved for others to learn 

 “The Amish are the most successful sustainable 
farmers and they are using early 18th Century 
technologies,” he says with a smile.

 Struycken pauses to explain the difference between 
paleolithic and neolithic in order to make 
a point. 

 “Humanoids have been around for at least 
a million years,” he explains, “and modern humans 
have been here maybe 500,000 years. 
The paleolithics were the hunter/gatherers, 
and the neolithics were those who were settled 
in one place and who began agriculture,” says 

 “When we settled, we had to make the effort 
to force ourselves into the new mindset, but our 
true nature is paleolithic,” Struycken explains. 
He then shares a few comparisons to make his 

 The paleolithics lived in the here and now, they 
were more primitive by our standards, but they 
controlled their populations, had fewer taboos 
and laws, had less possessions, and managed to 
live on what the forest provided. He cites the 
Bushmen of the Kalahari as an example. 

 “Now, when you had agricultural and cow-raising 
people who lived adjacent to the primitive 
people, the Bushmen would rarely die of hunger, 
though the agricultural people would die of 
hunger. This is because the agricultural people 
learned to rely on, and expect, much more. 
When cattle died, due to drought, for example, 
the agricultural people suffered far more than 
the Bushmen. The farmers also had to work a 
lot harder, usually 7 days a week, whereas hunter/
gatherers worked maybe 3 days a week.”

 Struycken cites the Bushmen and many others 
to illustrate that one of our “problems” is that 
we are so advanced that we have lost our primal 
paleolithic nature. Today, systems for gardening, 
farming, commerce, building, etc., are all essentially 
neolithic and therefore unsustainable into 
the future, according to Struycken.

 In this sense, Struycken believes that the details 
of our very survival can be gleaned by looking 
to the past at the details of sustainable societies. 

 Struycken mentions a great essay that he read, 
“Agriculture is the Engine of Destruction” by 
John Zurzon, as an example of what’s wrong 
with the path our society is taking. Struycken is 
optimistic, idealistic, and believes that the solution 
to our problems is to properly understand 
the living principles of (so-called) primitive 

Workman House


THE BEST SPORTS PHOTO OF 2012 - In Our Opinion 

Horses train for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park. (October 31, 2012, Jae C. Hong/AP)

OPENING DAY AT SANTA ANITA.... Excerpts From the Santa Anita Press Box


ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 26, 2012)—Although The 
Lumber Guy disappointed as the heavy 4-5 favorite 
in the day’s main event, the weatherman cooperated 
as skies cleared by mid-morning and Santa Anita was 
every bit it’s majestically iconic self as The Great Race 
Place opened Wednesday for the 76th time and treated 
fans to a graded stakes triple header headed by the 
60th running of the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes, 
for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.

 The Malibu provided fans with a near record-setting 
performance as longshot Jimmy Creed powered home 
under Garrett Gomez to win by three quarters of a 
length in a rapid 1:20.36—less than two fifths of a second 
off Spectacular Bid’s 1:20 flat Malibu clocking in 
1980, a track and stakes record that stood for 30 years.

 Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by B. Wayne 
Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, Jimmy Creed had trained 
well since running an even ninth in the Breeders’ 
Cup Sprint on Nov. 3, a race in which The 
Lumber Guy had run second. Ridden for the 
sixth consecutive time by Gomez, the son of 
Distorted Humor tackled pacesetter Private 
Zone and Martin Pedroza at the top of the 
stretch, gradually wearing him down in game 

 “Garrett gave him a great ride, kept him out of 
the dirt as best he could,” said Mandella. “The 
horse doesn’t like dirt in his face and that’s basically 
what bothered him in the Breeders’ Cup. 
We trained him behind horses and schooled 
him as much as we could, so I just told Garrett 
it was up to him to do what he thinks best…
We’ll probably look at the Strub (Feb. 2) and the 
Santa Anita Handicap (March 2), all that kind 
of stuff.”

 Although significant rain fell overnight and into 
early morning, the main track was listed as fast for the 
Malibu, with splits of 22.74, 44.77 and 1:08.27 serving 
as ready indicators of a glib surface.

 Jimmy Creed more than doubled his career earnings, 
picking up $180,000, which ran his bankroll to 
$313,000. His record stands at 7-3-2-1.