A Love of the West: What Angelica Huston and I Have in Common

Check out the style statement, ladies.

Nah. Not the movie star, the great boots and fabulous hat.

I’m talking about the collection of Flow Blue plates you can see through the window.

Just kidding. But I bet if you’re the kind of antique dishware lover that I am, the plates jumped out at you.

However, I really am talking about the chic Western look. Gotta love it.

Note to self: Next time I’m in Santa Fe, I’m buying some turquoise boots at Back at the Ranch. Very, very cool, especially with that little snakeskin touch at the toes.

I suppose you could wander around NYC looking like this and no one would bat an eye, but then you could probably do anything in NYC and expect the same reaction. The San Francisco Bay Area not so much. A little too Texan, if you know what I mean. Here, though, it’s the perfect party outfit.

Anyway, I love the red-hot cowgirlness of this get up. It just shouts “Life is a Blast!”

Ms. Huston’s ranch is a little over an hour’s drive down the mountain, through a valley and back up a pass from my place. As the crow flies not so far.

Architectural Digest did a spread on her digs the exact month I moved up here. In the evenings, I’d find myself turning the magazine’s glossy pages, staring longingly at her fixed up buildings and landscaping, wondering if I’d ever get all this done.

Guess I did.

If you’ve been following my progress all along, you know how much work it’s been. I think I deserve the damn boots, don’t you?

Here are a bunch of photos of Huston’s ranch from the Architectural Digest shoot . . .

It feels like the “old California” up here— a mixture of cowboys and Indians and the old Mexican Californios. They say the Mexican ranches were so vast, and their inhabitants rather lonely, that the arrival of a visitor was the cause of week long celebrations called Fandangos. They say you could travel from rancho to rancho for months and be feted this way.

Think Gone With the Wind and the barbecue at Twelve Oaks only way more fantastic.

Anyway, it’s springtime here and time to take a drive though the back roads over to the Mineral King area, around where Angelica Huston lives.

I’ve got an idea for a story set around there. It came to me when I was sitting in that endless County Planning Commission meeting about that stupid Cemex strip mine. My large animal vet got up to speak and pleaded with the Commission to come up with a general plan for mines in the county. “The way you’re going about it now,” he said ” you’re dividing families and neighbors. You’re pitting them against each other.”


A place. A bunch of people. A plot.

As Tolstoy said, ” . . .unhappy families are unhappy each in their own way.”

So, I started to think about these families, who they might be and the ranches and orchards they live on. I thought of movie stars like Ms. Huston, about her father—the great film director John Huston whose family was from around here. I thought about how he made the stunning movie Chinatown about water resources, about corruption, about unhappy families, and about the west.

Look, it was a long, long meeting. I had a lot of time to ruminate.

Well, the families in my story are unhappy, and they are unhappy “each in their own way”, but it’s in a western way.

It’s all about the land and what you’d do to hold onto it even though its rugged and wild.

Then again maybe that’s just the point. You hold onto it for just that reason.

2 responses to “A Love of the West: What Angelica Huston and I Have in Common”

  1. Dear Jane,
    I love your verbal and visual portraits of the western world where you live. Here in the Finger Lakes, I walk out the door of my 200 year old farm house and follow the trails to the best sunset views overlooking Seneca Lake. I forget about time and deadlines when I’m in the gardens and on forest paths. Living close to nature gives me the quiet inner and outer space I need for writing.
    Thank you for reminding me why I’m still here on my land.
    Best to you and David,