Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, June 8, 2019

MVNews this week:  Page 12



Mountain Views-News Saturday, June 1, 2019 



A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder


No matter how well you think you know your loved ones, 
it’s impossible to predict exactly how they’ll behave when 
you die or if you become incapacitated. Of course, no one 
wants to believe their family would ever end up battling one 
another in court over inheritance issues or a loved one’s life-
saving medical treatment, but the fact is, we see it all the 


Family dynamics are extremely complicated and prone 
to conflict during even the best of times. And when 
tragedy strikes a key member of the household, even 
minor tensions and disagreements can explode into 
bitter conflict. When access to money is on the line, 
the potential for discord is exponentially increased. 

The good news is you can drastically reduce the odds 
of such conflict through estate planning with the support of a lawyer who understands and can anticipate 
these dynamics. It’s so important to work with an experienced lawyer when creating your estate plan and 
never rely on generic, do-it-yourself planning documents found online. Unfortunately, even the best set of 
documents will be unable to anticipate and navigate complex emotional matters like this, but a good lawyer can. 
By becoming aware of some of the leading causes of such disputes, you’re in a better position to prevent those 
situations through effective planning. Though it’s impossible to predict what issues might arise around your 
plan, the following is one of the most common catalysts for conflict. 

Poor fiduciary selection

Many estate planning disputes occur when a person you’ve chosen to handle your affairs following your death 
or incapacity fails to carry out his or her responsibilities properly. Whether it’s as your power of attorney agent, 
executor, or trustee, these roles can entail a variety of different duties, some of which can last for years. 

The individual you select, known as a fiduciary, is legally required to execute those duties and act in the best 
interests of the beneficiaries named in your plan. The failure to do either of those things is referred to as a breach 
of fiduciary duty. 

The breach can be the result of the person’s deliberate action, or it could be something he or she does 
unintentionally, by mistake. Either way, a breach—or even the perception of one—can cause serious conflict 
among your loved ones. This is especially true if the fiduciary attempts to use the position for personal gain, or 
if the improper actions negatively impact the beneficiaries. 


Common breaches include failing to provide required accounting and tax information to beneficiaries, 
improperly using estate or trust assets for the fiduciary’s personal benefit, making improper distributions, and 
failing to pay taxes, debts, and/or expenses owed by the estate or trust.

If a suspected breach occurs, beneficiaries can sue to have the fiduciary removed, recover any damages they 
incurred, and even recover punitive damages if the breach was committed out of malice or fraud.

Solution: Given the potentially immense responsibilities involved, you need to be extremely careful when 
selecting your fiduciaries, and make sure everyone in your family knows why you chose the fiduciary you did. 
You should only choose the most honest, trustworthy, and diligent individuals, and be careful not to select those 
who might have potential conflicts of interest with beneficiaries. 

Moreover, it’s vital that your planning documents contain clear terms spelling out a fiduciary’s responsibilities 
and duties, so the individual understands exactly what’s expected of him or her. And should things go awry, you 
can add terms to your plan that allow beneficiaries to remove and replace a fiduciary without going to court.

Find an attorney who’s focus is on assisting you with selecting the most qualified fiduciaries; drafting the most 
precise, explicit, and understandable terms in all of your planning documents; as well as ensuring that your 
family understands your choices, so they do not end up in conflict when it’s too late. In this way, the individuals 
you select to carry out your wishes will have the best chances of doing so successfully—and with as little conflict 
as possible. 

Dedicated to empowering your family, building your wealth and defining your legacy,

A local attorney and father, Marc Garlett is on a mission to help parents protect what 
they love most. His office is located at 55 Auburn Avenue, Sierra Madre, CA 91024. 
Schedule an appointment to sit down and talk about ensuring a legacy of love and 
financial security for your family by calling 626.355.4000 or visit 
for more information.

The Gracious Mistress of 
the Parsonage and I arrived 
home from our vacation 
late Tuesday afternoon.

I’m not one for vacations, 
but this one was special. Our grandson who lives 
in Ohio was graduating from high school and 
then this summer he would be heading off to London 
for some soccer group. He loves soccer.

This is the second of our grandchildren to graduate 
from high school. I would not say this to everybody 
but, this year is the 50th anniversary of 
my graduation from high school. I cannot believe 
it has been that long. I must have fallen asleep for 
several years without waking up.

To see a grandson graduate from high school and 
then look at my graduation picture 50 years ago I 
was amazed. How can he be as old as I was? What 
he does not understand is that one day he will be 
as old as I am. I will not be the one to tell him that.

We spent the whole week with the family there 
that we have not seen for several years. It was such 
a wonderful time.

My ambitions in life have never included vacations. 
A vacation is where you go, but don’t do 
anything. I don't like that. It is not that I’m a 
workaholic; I like to work all the time. When on 
vacation, I lose time because I’m not working. I 
like to organize my day around my work projects.

There are no work projects on vacation. At least, 
that’s what my wife says, and she would never lie 
to me.

I like to keep track of my time as much as possible. 
When home and working at the office, I 
am in control of my time. That is when I am the 

Now, when on vacation, I have no control of my 
time. The word vacation means to vacate and I 
am not quite sure what I am vacating. I guess one 
thing I am vacating is time.

When I was home working I noticed there are 
seven days of the week. One week equals seven 
days, every week, of every month, of every year. 
Yet, when on vacation, particularly the one I was 
just on, there seems to be only three days in that 
week. What is the story behind all that?

It takes two days to drive there and then two days 
to drive back home. In the middle are only three 
days left! How can you enjoy a week's vacation in 
only three days? Something is wrong here.

I believe that when you take a week's vacation the 
travel time should not be included.

I would like to know who in the world come up 
with this idea of a “week’s vacation” time. How 
can I enjoy vacationing when four days out of that 
week I have to sit in the car driving? It does not 
sound fair to me.

So many things wrong with that idea that I do not 
know where to start. However, I do know where 
to stop. That would be, stop having vacations. That 
would solve that problem.

 I have noticed that whenever you solve one problem 
another problem that you did not expect pops 

 I made the mistake of expressing my thoughts 
audibly, while the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage 
was present. I thought I was just thinking 
to myself, but it turned out my lips were moving. 
Oh, how I hate it when my lips move like that.

“What do you mean,” my wife said rather seriously, 
“stop having vacations?”

See what I mean. You solve one problem and another 
problem, were dangerous in the first problem, 
pops up. How do I answer that question?

After all, my wife lives for vacations. As soon as 
one vacation is over, she has the next vacation already 
planned. If it was not for her and her meticulous 
planning, I would never see a vacation. So, 
it is to her credit that I actually go on any vacation.

“Stop having vacations,” is something that I have 
had to retract at least audibly. So I had to explain 
to her, “My dear, I didn’t say stop having vacations, 
I meant to say stop hating vacations.” Then I 
flashed a smile in her direction.

“That is much better,” she said with an infectious 
giggle. “You know how much I really love these 

One thing I have learned as a veteran husband is 
that if you love what your wife loves your life will 
be wonderful. I really do not have to love what she 
loves, but if I love her, it does not matter what she 

Driving back from our vacation, which my wife 
did all the driving, I said one thing that made the 
drive worth driving. “Don’t we have wonderful 

She is still smiling over that one. So am I.

In the silence of our drive home, I began to 
think of what our Lord said. “But I say unto 
you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse 
you, do good to them that hate you, and pray 
for them which despitefully use you, and persecute 
you” (Matthew 5:44).

Love is a very important thing, from Jesus’ perspective. 
You can tell a lot about a person by 
what and how they love. I’m going to take Jesus’ 
advice and just love whatever is in front of me.

Dr. James L. Snyder, pastor of the Family of God 
Fellowship, lives with the Gracious Mistress of 
the Parsonage in Ocala, FL. Call him at 352-
687-4240 or e-mail The 
church web site is



Jeff’s Book Pics By Jeff Brown



THE LACUNA: by Barbara Kingsolver 

In The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver, the acclaimed bestselling author, 
tells the story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two 
worlds—an unforgettable protagonist whose search for identity will take 
readers to the heart of the twentieth century’s most tumultuous events. His 
parents are separated so he lives back and forth between the United States 
with his father and Mexico with his mother. During his time in Mexico he 
works as a plaster mixer for the mural artist Diego Rivera then as a cook for 
both him and his artist wife Frida Kahlo, with whom Shepherd develops a 
lifelong friendship. While living with and working for them, he also begins 
working as a secretary for Leon Trotsky who is hiding there, exiled by Stalin. 
Later in life, living in Asheville, North Carolina, Shepherd becomes a novelist 
and is subsequently investigated by the House Un-American Activities 
Committee. He instructs his secretary, Violet Brown, to burn his papers and 
returns to Mexico. However, she saves his diaries and letters and it is these 
papers that form the bulk of the novel.

a novel by Gail Honeyman

“Beautifully written and incredibly funny, the book is about the importance 
of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric 
and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter 
with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!” —Reese Witherspoon.
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. Meet Eleanor 
Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly 
what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life 
of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen 
pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when 
Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from 
her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman 
who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends 
who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been 
living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find 
the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. Soon to be a motion 
picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, the book is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-
the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as 
she realizes. . . The only way to survive is to open your heart. 

TALKING TO THE GROUND by Douglas Preston

From the author of The Lost City of the Monkey God comes an entrancing, eloquent, 
and entertaining account of the author’s adventurous journey on horseback 
through the Southwest in the heart of Navajo desert country. In 1992 author 
Douglas Preston and his wife and daughter rode horseback across 400 miles of 
desert in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. They were retracing the route of a Navajo 
deity, the Slayer of Alien Gods, on his quest to restore beauty and balance to 
the Earth. More than a travelogue, Preston’s account of their “one tough journey, 
luminously remembered” (Kirkus Reviews) is a tale of two cultures meeting in a 
sacred land and is “like traveling across unknown territory with Lewis and Clark 
to the Pacific” (Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee).

[Nyerges is a teacher, and author 
of “How to Survive Anywhere,” 
“Self-Sufficient Home,” “Extreme 
Simplicity: Homesteading 
in the City,” and other books. He 
can be reached at www.SchoolofSelf-]

Shawn Maestretti’s 6-Step Solution

Shawn Maestretti, a landscape architect, arborist, and 
contractor, shares data on climate change in his lecture 
series, as well as how these changes can affect 
our landscape. I recently attended his lecture at Eaton 
Canyon Nature Center.

Though his engaging program focuses on how an 
individual can be a part of the solution and make a 
positive effect in their own garden, his presentation 
begins with the “big picture.” We are shown earth 
from space, and Maestretti explains how the first 
Earth Day began when we realized that it wasn’t a 
good idea to use our atmosphere as an open sewer 
for unwanted gases. “Currently, 110 million 
tons of manmade pollution goes into this thin 
shell of our atmosphere, our space,” he told 
the audience.

He pointed out that though agriculture is a 
contributor of C02 into space, agriculture can 
also be a solution, through regenerative agriculture. 
The main source of C02 in space is 
the burning of fossil fuels.

To put this in historical perspective, he points 
out that there has always been a contraction 
and expansion of C02 in the environment, 
over long periods of time, but it has never 
gone over 300 ppm annually. “We did that as 
of 2013,” he explains.

“We must make dramatic changes during 
the next 40 years,” says Maestretti. “If the increase 
of C02 emissions continues to steadily 
increase, it will be hard to be outside.”

Maestretti explains that we have solutions, but we 
need to choose to implement them. He says that we 
need to have zero waste, reduce C02 emissions, and 
look to nature for solutions.

He lays out a six-part program of regenerative practices 
that anyone can practice in their own yard. 
Here is the bare-bones overview of Maestretti’s six 
points which he expands upon in his programs.


Maestretti explains that all life starts with the soil, 
and we have to work harder to regenerate the soil. 
Tilling destroys topsoil where the organic matter resides, 
andreleases carbon into the atmosphere. He 
spends significant time describing the makeup of 
soil, and how everything should be done to avoid 
erosion, and the destruction of such life forms as the 
fungi in the soil which help to increase soil fertility. 
Unfortunately, modern agricultural and urbanization 
practices are turning the land into deserts. By 
poor agricultural practices, about a third of arable 
land on earth has been lost in the last 30 years.

“It’s not drought that causes bare ground,” says Maestretti. 
quoting Allan Savory “It’s bare ground that 
causes drought.” Thus, he’s a proponent of protecting 
the topsoil through mulching and other methods.


In the urban setting, most people are able to capture 
rain water into drums or cisterns, by capturing it off 
their roofs. That water should be used in the yard, 
and not sent to the ocean down the storm drains. 
Water should also be optimized by planting appropriate 
natives which don’t require as much water.


Maestretti recommends that people build berms and 
swales so the water that does flow through your land 
actually stays there and soaks in. This is the principle 
behind the settling ponds that you see in the Arroyo 
Seco, for example, which allows the water to soak 
into the local water table rather than quickly flowing 
to the ocean.

Prunings and, especially old wood, can be buried 
into the berms, capture and store moisture, and they 
gradually decompose and add nutrients to the soil 
– a technique known as “hügelkultur.” This allows 
the carbon from those wood and leaf prunings to go 
back into the soil, adding moisture and nutrients.


Maestretti encourages the removal of, and reduction 
of, unnecessary blacktop or cement. There are 
currently numerous products that allow the water to 
soak into the soil, such as blocks that can actually be 
driven on that has holes where grass can be grown 
and water can soak in. 

There are, for example, cement blocks with decorative 
holes that can be laid down in place of solid cement. 
A car could drive on this, but water would still soak 
into the ground. This has become so “mainstream” 
that you can find products of this type at most home-
improvement “big box” stores.


According to Maestretti, plants are the key to our salvation. 
They draw carbon out of the atmosphere, and 
without the trees and plants, there would be much 
more evaporation of water, compaction of the soil, 
and run-off. In both farming and backyard landscaping, 
he encourages both green and brown mulch. 
Brown mulch is temporary, such things as wood 
chips and ground compost which keeps moisture in 
the soil. Green mulch refers to growing such plants 
as clover and other groundcovers, which impact the 
small water cycle by slowing evaporation and continually 
enriching the soil.

“Remember,” exclaims Maestretti, “that plants allow 
us to eat sunlight.” There was a bit of silence in the 
room as the audience pondered this fact.


In the complex web of life, insects are the link between 
plants and all higher creatures in the food 
chain, and we should keep that in mind when we 
plan and implement our gardens. We need not focus 
on killing off all insects. Diversity builds strength 
into the garden.

Maestretti’s goal is to encourage everyone to play 
a role in being the solution the global change we’re 
experiencing. This can be done somewhat painlessly, 
by the way we work with the land under our control. 
His vision is that any average lot can be a solution 
with wild and cultivated plants, where all the rain 
that falls there is captured, where all the prunings 
and wood from the plants there are returned to that 
land’s soil. Not only does he conduct workshops to 
show homeowners how to accomplish these regenerative 
tasks, but he also practices what he preaches 
in his own yard.

“Besides all the obvious benefits of a garden, remember 
that such a garden cools the environment. 
In fact,” added Maestretti, “plants actually cool our 

Shawn Mestretti is a landscaper landscape architect, arborist, contractor, 
Kiss the Ground Soil Advocate and a member of the Climate Reality 
Leadership Corp. He can be reached at shawn@smgarchitecture.
com,, or 323) 632-7844.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: