Regarding "Incredible Lightness," the July 31 cover article on a Venice house brightened by skylights, glass walls and glass flooring:
Several big problems come to mind with all those creative openings. They undoubtedly give the house an eerie look and feel at night and let in too much light for sleeping. All that sunshine fades the furniture and furnishings. The heating and air conditioning bill must be astronomical.
Enjoy your clever design.
Architect Dennis Gibbens responds: Actually, the amount of glass and skylights means that I don't have to have supplemental lighting during the daytime. There is enough natural light that I can do without artificial lighting except after dark. The concrete mass of the house and the orientation of the windows means that I rarely use either cooling or heating. I have never used the cooling or the heating on the second floor at all, and maybe a week out of the year on the third floor. It is a very efficient house in terms of energy use.
There's a reason for those zoning laws
Regarding "My House for Your Swim Lessons," the Aug. 14 article about homeowners who allow massage therapists, music teachers, gardening consultants and other service-providers to work from their property:
Imagine drivers late to a class in your quiet neighborhood. Imagine children playing outside. Seven out of 10 motorists exceed the posted speed limits in urban areas. Annually 600 kids die in pedestrian accidents and 38,500 kids are injured.
Zoning requires that no more than one client or one vehicle visit per hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays. Property insurance and income tax rules also need to be observed, especially with successful home businesses. Do you want a dangerous, well-intentioned nuisance living near you, attracting the general public as in a retail zone?
Im Jung Kwuon
On the hunt for Easter lily cactus
I just read a July 24 article on the Easter lily cactus and wanted to get one, but I can't find any searching on the Internet. Can you help?
Editor's note: Your best bet is to search for a cactus and succulent nursery in your area. A good nursery will special-order a plant if it's not in stock. We found the Easter lily cactus in stock at California Cactus Center in Pasadena, http://www.cactuscenter.com, and California Nursery Specialties' Cactus Ranch in Reseda, http://www.california-cactus-succulents.com, a grower that opens to the public on weekends.
For readers who live farther south, Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar, http://www.rogersgardens.com, occasionally stocks the plant and will special-order it upon request.
How to save tomato plant seeds
Jeff Spurrier's informative tomato pruning article July 31 inspired me to comment on the volunteer plant that appeared a couple of months ago, 75 feet away from where we had ever planted tomatoes. It spread laterally so that it now measures over 10 feet in diameter. It has thrived with practically no water and is yielding buckets of fruit. What is the best procedure for saving some seeds from it for use next year?
Editor's note: The July 10 installment of Emily Green's column, the Dry Garden, included this advice from Richard Chelat, director of the C.M. Rick Tomato Genetics Resource Center at UC Davis: Squish the seeds into a jar. Let them ferment on counter. Fungi will reduce the fruit pulp. After three to five days, rinse the seeds in a strainer and dry them on a screen or paper plate. Store seeds in a cool, dry place. For more detailed instructions, go to http://www.mastergardeners.org and under "garden help" click on "vegetables," then "tomatoes" in the left index.
An architect with vision
The July 17 article about Beverley Thorne, the last living Case Study architect, was wonderful.
I am fascinated by architects and architecture and wonder why, with people of such incredible talent around, we always face the same cookie-cutter homes. Hats off to Mr. Thorne, a man of vision and principle.
The devil is in the details
Great column, until the last 14 words.
In paraphrasing the lyrics of "America the Beautiful," you wrote "a god to mend our flaws." I'm sure the lowercase "god" was a typo, to be blamed on an overworked editor. Just as I'm sure Katharine Lee Bates, the lyricist, wrote, "God mend thine ev'ry flaw," "God shed His grace on thee," and "May God thy gold refine."
That would be the same Katharine Bates whose father was pastor of a Congregational Church on Cape Cod and whose mother was a graduate of Mount Holyoke Seminary. And the Katharine Bates who graduated from Wellesley College, the founder of which was Henry Fowle Durant, a lawyer, philanthropist and preacher in Massachusetts.
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