May Garden

I guess I spoke too soon when I said that we were going to keep our garden limited to the front bed and a bunch of containers out back. We meant to, but we kept getting more plants and seeds—too many to fit into pots and the already full front bed—and also we just got hooked.

So Drew built two raised beds, and we made some hippie trellises inspired by the ones on the British gardening shows that I’m still obsessed with. After re-watching Alys Fowler’s show I moved onto Monty Don’s and Carol Klein’s vegetable gardening programs. They’re not nearly as good, at least to me. The hosts are a little too excitable, the music can be random and bizarre, and the gardens are huge and overwhelming, but I still love watching them and learning from them. And like Alys’ show, they’re beautiful and completely escapist for me.

Gardening is escapist for me too, but I think I like it most because it’s all so new to me. There’s so much I have to learn still. I can read lots of books and watch lots of shows/Youtube videos and still have no idea what I’m doing. At this point our garden is kind of a gamble; some of it’s working and some of it isn’t, and it will probably take us years to get a good handle on it. Which is fine by me.

So far we’ve been getting enough lettuce and spinach to eat every day. We cheated a little and bought 6 red lettuce plants from Gardens of Babylon, halfway grown, but the spinach and lettuce mixes were grown from seed and are big enough to eat. We have kales and bunching onions and sugar peas that should be ready in a month, some cherry tomato plants germinated months ago under lights that are amazingly still making it, and the herbs survived the winters and have grown back much bigger. We planted a few patches of wildflowers that are growing faster than anything else in our garden. Plants that aren’t doing so well: the broccoli (I planted it too late or too early; it’s small and faded and bug-eaten and doesn’t want to grow any bigger), carrots (they were slow and I ripped them out of the pot and replaced them with something else, which I kind of regret now), and the strawberries (the birds get to them before we do). We just planted cucumber seeds and zucchinis and yellow squashes, which should hopefully start producing in the summer, around the same time the sunflowers start popping up over the fence (sorry in advance, Lauren!).

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Willy Somma

These photos by Willy Somma make me want to travel out West more than I usually do, which is a lot. Honestly I think Drew and I plan out hypothetical California/Arizona/New Mexico trips once a week; one day we’ll get back out there. I’m not sure where these photos were taken, but the hippie desert landscapes are beautiful, and the Rachel Comey clothes aren’t so bad to look at, either . . .

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Auraria at Fiber:Shop

I’ve mentioned Hey Rooster General Store before, I think. It’s a little shop in East Nashville that sells mostly locally made things: home goods and jewelry, food kits and chocolate . . . Occasionally it has themed pop-up shops, like last winter’s wood:shop, which sold cutting boards and handmade wooden spoons from Nashville woodworkers.

This spring, the pop-up shop is called fiber:shop, and it features all things textile: clothing from local designers, wall hangings, woven blankets and hand-dyed napkins . . . There are pieces from many talented local makers, and I’m exciting to be selling along with them. Since last year I’ve been making crocheted air plant holders to hang in windows. I originally made them to sell at Porter Flea back in December, but since then I’ve been working on them, adding vintage beads to make them a little more ’70s hippie. I’ll probably be listing a few in the Auraria shop soon.

But if you’re in Nashville, you can find them right now at Hey Rooster, along with a lot of really beautiful pieces. My favorites: that Sally England wall hanging, blouses by local label Jamie and the Jones, and any of the amazing weavings by Shutters & Shuttles. There’s seriously so much good stuff there.

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Books I Like: The Long Goodbye

I’m not sure why it took me this long to pick up a Raymond Chandler novel, but now that I’ve started I can’t stop. I’ve read three so far: The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, and Farewell, My Lovely. I’d already seen film adaptations of them first, and maybe that’s why it took me so long to read Raymond Chandler’s books. I figured that they were just mystery novels, and didn’t see the point of reading them them if I already knew the endings.

But they’re really so much more than the plots, and, besides, the movie adaptation scramble up the plots anyway. The ’40s film noir versions especially, having to follow the way too strict rules of the Production Code, turn shady femme fatales into heroines and clean up scandalous story lines. It’s not the same thing at all.

When I watched those Humphrey Bogart/Dick Powell film versions I saw very good movies with Philip Marlowes who were a little too old. What I didn’t get out of the movies was Raymond Chandler’s writing: sharp and to the point, honest and funny. His Marlowe says things that they couldn’t say in ’40s films, and his Los Angeles is colorful and slightly on edge.

So far The Long Goodbye is my favorite Chandler book, and Robert Altman’s film version is my favorite Chandler adaptation. I saw the movie before reading the book, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect the way I read. I could never really picture Humphrey Bogart (too old) or Dick Powell (too Busby Berkeley, though surprisingly good) as Philip Marlowe, but Elliot Gould seemed just about the right age and just enough of a smart-ass to be convincing. Plus, by the time Altman made his adaptation in 1973, Raymond Chandler’s dialogue and plots were no longer too racy for the movies. It all made more sense.

Photo: by Noah Albert of the Hightower Apartments, used as the setting for Philip Marlowe’s home in Robert Altman’s film adaptation.

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