A desert garden in full bloom

The Desert Garden at the Huntington’s was in full bloom and I couldn’t resist sharing these beautiful images with you. First some gorgeous Echeveria succulents:

Succulent Echeveria michele roohani huntington desert garden

They have fleshy leaves with small delicate flowers like these:

Succulent Echeveria flowers michele roohani huntington desert garden

These are called black succulents and are truly magnificent:

black succulent michele roohani huntington desert garden

Agave (of the tequila fame) , Aloe and Cactus are all members of the succulent family—the cactus having more prickles than others. They are water-retaining plants. Just look at this gorgeous queen victoria agave:

Succulent queen victoria agave michele roohani huntington desert garden

and this pretty pink flower of another agave plant.

Succulent agave pink flower michele roohani huntington desert garden

This one had small blue and red blossoms.

Succulent agave blue and red flower michele roohani huntington desert garden

You all know this more common succulent: the creeping ice plant.

Succulent pink ice plant michele roohani huntington desert garden

This desert garden is nearly 100 years old and has more than 3,000 species of desert plants. Let’s go to the thorny cacti now; you don’t want to get lost on this road on a dark night!

golden barrel cactus michele roohani huntington desert garden

I loved these peach hued blossoms on this prickly pear cactus,

cactus peach blossoms huntington desert garden michele roohani

they turn yellow when they open.

cactus yellow blossoms huntington desert garden michele roohani

This is a more dramatic version of the same plant—it almost looked like under water coral…

wavy prickly pear cactii huntington desert garden michele roohani

Cactus is an oxymoron to me. How can a plant with fleshy leaves and prickles that repel you have such brilliant and intensely colored flowers? It rejects you and invites you at the same time…

prickly pear cactus yellow flower huntington desert garden michele roohani

A closer look,

prickly pear cactus yellow blossom huntington desert garden michele roohani

and the piece de resistance: the red flower cactus.

red cactus flower huntington desert garden michele roohani

This young gardener was busy the whole time that I was visiting the gardens.

straw hat huntington gardner michele roohani

Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.”  Lou Erickson

huntington library gardener michele roohani

Red suede shoes

It’s been a busy tough week so that’s all I have to share:

red suede shoes michele roohani

The card is from yet another under-represented French artist: Cécile Veilhan. This particular work of hers is called un printemps abricot or an apricot spring. I have most of her work but she’s still a second to my favorite, Gaelle Boissonnard

Exploration of the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty.

Warm, sunny nights – cool, cloudy days

I love California’s warm summer nights and winter days. If I could have a custom made climate, I would ask for warm summer nights of Los Angeles infused with the scent of jasmine and orange blossoms and cool, cloudy winter days.

hotel window michele roohani

In other words I would take the best of both seasons. With the way the “custom made” world is progressing, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days my wish comes true.

hotel window shadow michele roohani

I took these pictures in a small hotel in Paris with these typical windows with fake Parisian balconies and cheap curtains. It was magical though – something in the quiet of a curtain’s movement in the breeze reminds us of less noisy times, less hurried lives, less superficial connections…

Marie-ancolie Romanet’s angel

It’s highly unusual for me to add something to a post once it’s been published but Marie-ancolie romanet, my photographer friend, asked me to add this picture of hers that goes with her comments. Check out her site, she has superb images…

The lost art of Conversation in the 21st century

Sadly many new technologies have contributed to increasing our isolation (TV, iPods, etc.) but it doesn’t have to be that way.

connect email internet micheleroohani

As children, we start the conversation by playing together, as young adults our conversations become intense but something strange happens in midlife: all those ideals sediment in our heads and we get comfortable in our somehow more quiet and prosaic lives – we sink gradually to the bottom of our minds.

children playing micheleroohani

Unfortunately for many of us, by the time we get to old age, the conversation has died down completely or has diminished to a competition about who’s more sick and who’s children are more ungrateful – Man dies in solitude and silence…

ocean alone micheleroohani

To fight the loneliness of it all, we compromise our standards/principles and settle with a wide array of less than par exchange of ideas.

pacific beach micheleroohani

Sharing opinions, ideas and images is my motivation for blogging. Ideally a post can be the start of a conversation; the Internet equivalent of sitting down in front of a cup of coffee (make it tea) to relax and shoot the breeze. The conversation is at the root of creativity and it can help change our mindsets.

To make the conversation flow easier, it’s now possible to be notified by e-mail when someone makes a comment on the same post you have. All you have to do is check the little box labeled “Notify me of follow up comments via e-mail”, which appears below your comment.

There have been so many great comments and I can’t mention them all, but here are some of my favorites:

One of my favorite thinkers, Theodore Zeldin believes that “conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits – it doesn’t just reshuffle the cards it creates new cards.” I agree with him when he says “we are increasingly leading bubble lives in which we insulate ourselves from everyone apart from an ever diminishing circle of friends and acquaintances.”

A good conversation starter would be this very funny NY Times article about the books that end love stories.

No Ruz, Norouz, haft-seen, haft-sheen, etc…

Happy New Year to all of you hamvatans! These are some pictures of the ghost of Nowruz past and present. I remember new shoes, the intoxicating scent of hyacinths, the goldfish and the mint bills – and of course the sound of naghareh when the year changes.

norooz 1387 micheleroohani 2008

No Ruz is the day when life’s glory is celebrated; it usually occurs on March 21st or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. It’s a feast of renewal and freshness – No (new) Ruz (day).

norooz hyacinth micheleroohani

It has often been suggested that the famous Persepolis Complex, or at least the palace of Apadana and Hundred Columns Hall, were built for the specific purpose of celebrating Noruz by Darius the Great (522 -485 BC). It is celebrated in other countries as well as Iran. Tajikistan is one of them.

norooz sofreh micheleroohani

In spite of trying hard, the islamic republic of Iran has not been able to erase this semi-pagan spring festival; they have tried to replace Zarathustra‘s spring equinox celebration with the muslim eyds to no avail.

norooz goldfish micheleroohani

The original haft sheen or seven sh‘s were: Sharab (wine), Shekar (sugar), Sham (Candle), Shir (milk), Sharbat (Sherbet), Shaneh (comb), Shahd (nectar) but they were replaced by seven S’s to eliminate sharab (wine) after the arab conquest.

norooz sweets micheleroohani

The haft seen is made of:
Sabzeh – wheat or lentil sprouts growing in a dish symbolizing rebirth
Samanu – pudding made of wheat symbolizing wealth
Senjed – dried fruit of Jujube tree symbolizing love
Seer – garlic symbolizing medicine
Seeb – apples symbolizing beauty and health
Somaq – sumac berries symbolizing the sun
Serkeh – vinegar symbolizing age
Sonbol – hyacinth flower symbolizing the arrival of spring
Sekkeh – gold coins symbolizing prosperity and wealth

norooz coins micheleroohani

Too much information, wouldn’t you say?

norooz sabzeh micheleroohani

“Pourquoi les hommes ne savent-ils pas
Que la capucine n’est pas un hasard…” Sepehri

norooz ayneh micheleroohani


آمد بهار ای دوستان منزل سوی بستان کنیم
گرد غریبان چمن خیزید تا جولان کنیم

امروز چون زنبورها پران شویم از گل به گل
تا در عسل خان جهان شش گوشه آبادان کنیم

آمد رسولی از چمن کاین طبل را پنهان مزن
ما طبل خان عشق را از نعره ها ویران کنیم

بشنو سماع آسمان خیزید ای دیوانگان
جانم فدای عاشقان امروز جان افشان کنیم

آتش در این عالم زنیم وین چرخ را برهم زنیم
وین عقل پابرجای را چون خویش سرگردان کنیم

کوبیم ما بی پا و سر گه پای میدان گاه سر
ما کی به فرمان خودیم تا این کنیم و آن کنیم

نی نی چو چوگانیم ما در دست شه گردان شده
تا صد هزاران گوی را در پای شه غلطان کنیم

خامش کنیم و خامشی هم مایه دیوانگیست
این عقل باشد کآتشی در پنبه پنهان کنیم


To hear my good friend (Houri)’s voice accompanying the preparation of haft-seen, click on the view here.

About the seven sh’s, somebody mentioned the omnipresent SHAHNAMEH on the Norouz spread and I have to agree – the Great Book‘s almost always been on mine even now that it’s become the tame haft-seen. For some comic book version (for the heavy readers) check this site out.

My Nowruz 1390 (2011) here

For Nowruz 1389 (2010) go here

for Nowruz 1388 (2009)  go here

Feast for the eyes

Is there anything in the world more effortlessly beautiful than a flower (in this case a cabbage)? We can’t stop marveling at their generous beauty.

ornamental cabbage flower micheleroohani

This ornamental cabbage was exquisite in the morning sun.

pink and orange micheleroohani

I am not a “nature person”; I need the big cities’ concrete to be happy but it is often the quiet elegance of trees and flowers that reconciles me to the countryside.

gazebo malibu micheleroohani

These gorgeous carps – Koi Fish – were the best companion for the flora of this morning stroll. They are symbols of love and friendship.

carp koi fish micheleroohani

I have decided to go easy on this post – no links, no major earth-shattering opinions, nothing but beautiful images and maybe this poem by e.e.cummings:

“i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)”

stream malibu shrine micheleroohani


Matters of the heart

Just watched Charlie Brown agonizing over the girl with red hair in a peanuts valentine specialSnoopy of course gets all the girls as usual.

valentine 2008 micheleroohani women

I would like to share the work of an artist that I admire greatly. Having been in the greeting card industry for years, I seldom get impressed by new art in this business. Gaelle Boissonnard is an artist living in the Loire Valley region of France. Her work is exquisite and I have been collecting it since that fateful day I fell in love with her images in a small shop in Mont St. Michel.

boissonnard1 micheleroohani

There is something otherworldly about her work – it’s fresh, whimsical, happy yet somehow profound (let’s not forget that these are commercial works being sold in small shops). They don’t scream at you, they share their beauty quietly.

boissonnard2 micheleroohani

I did get in touch with her and am still waiting for her distributors to start doing something in the U.S. It’s easy to find her in the card shops in France now but she’s difficult to catch in the internet.

boissonnard 6 micheleroohani

Just found out that she has a book out too.

boissonnard micheleroohani

I wished somebody would start putting words/poetry to these gorgeous paintings of hers – something like Prévert‘s Immense et Rouge:

“Immense et rouge
Au-dessus du Grand Palais
Le soleil d’hiver apparaît
Et disparaît
Comme lui mon coeur va disparaître
Et tout mon sang va s’en aller
S’en aller à ta recherche
Mon amour
Ma beauté
Et te trouver
Là où tu es.”

boissonnard micheleroohani home

or Tagore‘s great piece:

“I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.”

or better yet, Rumi who keeps bewitching people after 800 years…

rumi micheleroohani

I believe Rumi should not be translated (I’ve read soooo many bad/mediocre translations) – his work loses its magic – Happy Valentine’s Day people.

Giacometti – a post from Montparnasse

Ok people, brace yourselves – this is going to be an image heavy post! I will take you through a couple of days in Paris – the way I like it: hitting the streets early in the morning to catch the blue hour of this great city; Montparnasse is a very busy neighborhood at 8:30 am.

montparnasse early morning 1

This was my first time witnessing the changing of the ads:

montparnasse advertising

I walked to a favorite café that reminds me of my twenties, La Rotonde.

la rotonde

I don’t like them anymore (remember the whipped cream out of a can?) but nostalgia and Balzac take me to them every year.

balzac rodin rotonde

the cafés are changing in Paris – here is the old generation Select and the trendy Lotus.

select montparnasse

cafe lotus montparnasse

Of course anything that remotely reminds me of Los Angeles while I am in Europe is not welcome so this kind of restaurant/café just makes me wince but the worst offender is Starbucks and its paper cups.

starbucks in paris

I bought a pariscope from this news stand,

news stand montparnasse

and had a coffee while looking for the hottest exhibition in Paris.

pariscope montparnasse

I decided to see Giacometti in Centre Pompidou .It was never my intention to paint only with gray. But in the course of my work I have eliminated one color after another, and what has remained is gray, gray, gray!

giacometti man

What a great show it was – complete with the artist being filmed while painting and sculpting.

giacometti hands

His drawings (included some fabulous small notebooks), paintings and sculptures made a large window into the soul of this great creature…

giacometti square man

giacometti woman

Even though I am not a big fan of the Centre Pompidou, I have to admit that the view is breathtaking…

paris roof eiffel

I visited the Maillol museum a couple of days before this and liked its architecture as much as the collections:

maillol stairs

Maillol is very different in his style from Rodin – they were good friends.

maillol bronze

The picture bellow shows the plaster versions of the bronze sculptures above.

maillol plaster

On a more colorful note, living in Los Angeles, I am deprived of pretty store windows – abundant in New York, Paris and London.

fornasertti paris

I am ending this post with two images of my loyal laptop that’s getting very old but gets the job done.

mac cafe paris

tulips mac shokoufeh

Café crème or Petite Arvine, a good post I hope.

I met Arcimboldo and some Germans in Paris

I am sitting in this cute café which happens to have wifi! The world is changing and Paris with it.

cafe du metro michele roohani paris

I’ve been very busy since I am here; three interesting exhibitions in 2 days: Arcimboldo has never been so complete as in this exhibition in the Luxembourg museum.

michele roohani arcimboldo luxembourg

A way more somber show was Germany, the black years at the Maillol museum. Otto Dix, Beckmann and Grosz were the most impressing but i have to admit that the German propaganda posters with Hitler’s name on them were the most striking/chilling to me.

michele roohani german war poster 11

This one can give you nightmares:

michele roohani war poster german

this next one takes me back to all of my dear Professor Ungvari’s battlefields (Somme, etc…)

michele roohani somme

of course Paris can erase these nightmares with a winter sunshine after the rain.

michele roohani pont des arts

Happy New Year 2008!

I wish there was a global new year’s resolution for a more peaceful, greener, bluer, less sanguinary year than 2007 – I like this image I made based on the work of Hunt Rettig – it’s quietly cheerful.

michele roohani 2008 card
This is my sister showing her affection in the first moments of the new year!

michele roohani sisters 2008

My Alma Mater, USC won the Rose Bowl today (again)

usc rose bowl Robert Gauthier LA Times

Now on a more sober note:

michele roohani happy new year 2008

Putin (the quasi-tsar) really scares me – China scares everybody.