The new oasis.

I call this one, “Nancy and a friend watch the World Cup.”


Sorry no post last night. Up late writing (not this), then slept badly, then blah blah blah excuses excuses blah blah. It seems a fitting day for a photo post, so I can get back to work. This will be it for the week, because it hath been a long one. But a big chunk of it is behind me, and will remain there for a while.

So. How’s the back yard looking? Goooood.


I wish I’d been more diligent about taking a full set of “before” pictures, because the difference really is amazing. As I think I’ve mentioned, two or three owners ago, in search of an obscene amount of parking, they picked up the garage, rotated it 90 degrees and stuck it smack in the middle of the lot. Then they built a deck and paved everything else. While you could comfortably park five cars in the driveway, and it was a great place to skateboard, it wasn’t good for much else. Since we’ve been here, the deck has only gotten crummier, so last fall, we tore it out, opened a HELOC and hired a concrete guy and a fence guy.

The concrete guy tore out two big sections and poured us a new walkway, and the fence guy fenced it. Alan built the patio and added a shit-ton of topsoil. We got it covered with leaf mulch just in time for the winter.

This year we went to the nursery and became big spenders. Cute dog sold separately:



Look, there’s Kate, taking my car away for another day. Good thing I’m a cyclist.

It’s still a work in progress, but already I can feel that oak tree sighing in relief; the deck was cramping its growth.


The furniture was expensive, but it’s year-round, because we thought it might be nice to sit outside and enjoy a fire in the warmer spells of winter.


I’m so happy with it, and we’re not done yet. (You’re never done.) Once we get the garage repainted, we’re erecting trellises along the full side, for a green wall.

In the meantime, no more places for raccoons and possums to hide with the deck gone, and Wendy has her green space. Sometimes I let her out and check on her later, only to find her lying on her side in the sunshine, absorbing solar energy.

So that’s the changes at the homestead. Tips and criticisms welcome. Let’s all enjoy our weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

Posted at 12:15 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

68 responses to “The new oasis.”

  1. beb said on June 19, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Nice looking backyard. enjoy the entra long weekend. I’m sure you’ve earned it.

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  2. alex said on June 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm


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  3. Dorothy said on June 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    It’s all exquisite and kudos on such great work! We spent big bucks to get a shed built this spring and the guy just completed it a day or two ago. We stained the main building (a cedar color) about two weeks ago, before the doors were added. Now that the door is in place, Mike went out to do some more stain application and a huge storm blew in. No worries – it’s going to be a great place to store his beekeeping supplies and the lawn mower and who knows what else, ’cause we can hang things up high, it’s a spacious unit! We also paid a landscaper to lift all the vinca that was freakin’ everywhere and now we have lots of open space where we can plant. Last weekend we put in hostas, rose bushes, hydrangeas, astilbe, cone flowers, cushion spurge, gaura and coral bells. Just a few of each, but it’s making such a difference. Best of all was hearing praise from a neighbor who lives on the south side of our Court. I didn’t even think she knew where I lived, let alone was paying attention to the work we’re doing.

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  4. Dexter said on June 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Oh Alex! I am here looking for a 20-part dissection of nance’s outdoor area from you and just one word? 😉

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  5. paddyo' said on June 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Mighty fine, Nance’ … tasty lemonade out of parking-lot lemons.
    This serves also to remind me how badly my own yard has gone to seed. Three weeks ago yesterday I had my right hip replaced (I’m collecting the whole osteoarthritis set; two knees in 2008, the other hip someday eventually). Thanks to my crack surgeon (we have a lot of good ones here in Colorado, with all the skiing and Boomers and such), I’m now ready to get back out there. Need to clear out weeds (and rescue the Adirondack chairs), cut back the mint, mow that 6-inch growth of grass (which I’ll tear out altogether one of these days when I get really motivated), etc. Normally I’d have 10-20 flower pots all over the front porch and steps by now, sprouting nasturtiums and a mess of other stuff. But the hip thing came smack in the middle of spring planting. Maybe next year (or maybe just a couple of late pots’ worth this weekend).
    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration …

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  6. Judybusy said on June 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    As everyone knows, I also did a big garden re-do this year. I’ll play Alex, since he didn’t: Nancy, I love how you’ve divided the space, and the fencing is so pretty. It’s very lush and inviting. The larger plants provide privacy. The view from the bay window must be very nice. I’d like to see a little more variety in foliage, and maybe more flowers. But it’s young, so those may be yet to come. I have also discovered the joys of highly colored/different shaped pots, and grouping them instead of just lining them up. I bet you appreciate how small it is–very usable space without hours of maintenance. That’s one thing I always tell beginners: start small so you can do a good job and enjoy the space. A garden is never done, which for me is the joy. Once our fence is installed in August (and hopefully the beat-up-by-construction lawn is rehabbed) I will post a link to Flickr. Like Nancy and Alan’s, it was a total transformation.

    Not that we’re using the patio much the last couple days. Lots of rain, including new-to-us water in the basement. Which is being finished. We gotta get those gutters installed! One of our credit cards was hacked, ($1,066 at Macy’s Tuesday morning? Uh, no I don’t think so!) so a big order for materials didn’t go through, had to call it in again today, but that went smoothly.

    I’m doing an event today for my non-profit–a structured tour followed by a social gathering with cheese, fruit, rosemary shortbread and wine. I invited a mix of strangers, friends, and aquaintances to introduce them to the agency.

    The shortbread is easy and soooo good: Mix together 2 C flour and 1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary. In a separate bowl, mix together till creamy 1/2 C brown sugar and 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened. Gradually add the flour mixture, blending well. Press into an ungreased 8 X 8 pan. Bake at 300 for about 43 minutes, depending on your oven, till the top is nicely browned. Cool, cut into squares. Divine with red wine.

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  7. MarkH said on June 19, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    NICE job, Nancy, kudos. Looks like a great place for me to come by and talk car journalism with Alan. I’ll let you school me on Michigan politics as well. I’ll bring beer and a promise to clean up.

    Now you’ve made me feel properly guilty about my own deck and patio…:)

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  8. MichaelG said on June 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Alan did that beautiful brickwork? Wow! My hat’s off. Vary comfortable looking yard. I like it.

    Dexter, I once lived in Half Moon Bay. Years ago when I was still married to my first wife. It’s right on the ocean and has the saltiest air you could imagine. A popular amusement was to sit on the curb with a beer and watch your car rust before your very eyes.

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  9. Deborah said on June 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Very nice! Love the outdoor rooms, and the furniture is fantastic.

    Our side yard is coming along nicely, we’re trying to divide it up into outdoor rooms because I like more intimate garden spaces. And we’re trying to screen a really ugly metal garden shed. Our plan for next year is to make the backyard a meditation garden, with a stone “rug” area in the center, surrounded by some kind of plants that will all be the same in a staggered grid that will end up being 3 or 4 feet high. The problem is that it’s very shady back there and all the plants we like need a lot of sun. Plus we have to find a species that takes hardly any watering.

    It turns out our Russian sage is getting too much water, who would have thought that.

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  10. Sherri said on June 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I’m about to sign a contract to replace/rework our deck. The previous owners did a substantial addition to the original deck, but in talking to contractors, I’ve discovered that they didn’t do it to code. So, I’m doing a redesign as well as replacing, and the resulting deck will be less multilevel. The levels of the current deck looked kind of cool, but weren’t really all that practical; none of the levels were big enough to do much with. I guess that’s how the previous owners thought they could get by without a permit, by leveling the deck to the sloping ground, but technically, they needed a permit anyway, and the problem is, they extended the deck too far towards the property line in one direction.

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  11. Joe Kobiela said on June 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Very nice, looks like a great place to unwind.
    Pilot Joe

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  12. Scout said on June 19, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    It’s beautiful. I really love the intimacy of the seating arrangement and all the green. We have been undertaking a major curb appeal project that is in its second year. All the hardscape and the gabion walls are in and now we just need to do some more planting, paint the trim and put up the new house numbers. I wish we had a function here in comments to drop in images without linking to a website.

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  13. Julie Robinson said on June 19, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Mmm, inviting oasis is right. I want to unwind there every evening, and the brick work is impressive. And hardly any mowing to do! Our huge yard was great when there were kids around, but now it’s just a burden, so I’m secretly envious.

    If the Downton Abbey family was watching World Cup:

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  14. Deborah said on June 19, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Judy Busy, that short bread sounds scrumptious, will have to try that some time.

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  15. Heather said on June 19, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Lovely! I really miss having a backyard. I have two small private outdoor spaces and then our condo has a paved patio, but the yard is the thing. It looks like you didn’t go overboard with the plants, which is good. A friend of mine transformed her backyard, and it was gorgeous, but five years later you feel a bit like you are trying to reach Sleeping Beauty through a dark forest of thorns and thickets.

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  16. Jolene said on June 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Very nice, indeed. Where does the grill go?

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  17. alex said on June 19, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    No 20-part dissection here. I’ll just say that the idea of more trellises and greenery on the side of the garage would enhance the already lush, welcoming feeling; I’m always in favor of trellises with vines as screens. The curved sidewalk and round patio add interest to what might otherwise be a very conventional and boring space if it were all rectangular. The new fence/gate and plantings alongside the fence are also very well done. I’m assuming the grill is outside the fence in the interest of maximizing space and avoiding clutter. I concur with that too. All in all a splendid makeover. The former owners had it set up very utilitarian for their own idiosyncratic purposes and it was not a friendly space.

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  18. Deborah said on June 19, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Our umbrella over the patio table broke last weekend (it didn’t even last 2 years, from Lowes) so we got a new one at World Market, it’s a solid bright orange. The old umbrella had a black and white swirly design, I like the new orange one much better. The picnic table and chairs are black iron and I’d love to find a chaise to go with them that doesn’t cost a lot. We have a hammock, that’s natural colored woven rope. I love hammocks. We got an orange pillow that matches the umbrella to use when you’re on the hammock. It can be pretty windy in Santa Fe, so I guess umbrella’s are hard to maintain.

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  19. Charlotte said on June 19, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    For those of you who are fans, happy to report that I ran into Jim Harrison this afternoon, sitting on a bench, having a smoke and watching the flooded Yellowstone flash past. He’d just come from physical therapy, and is looking good. We swapped dog stories.

    And Nancy, your yard looks great! Both of my boys spent much of their last few years flopped gratefully in the yard, soaking up some sun on the grass. And I’m a huge fan of a fire pit — so nice to sit outside with a little fire, chatting.

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  20. Kim said on June 19, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    Beautiful space for all weather!

    Re: the World Cup – I know many here disagree but I find soccer to be a beautiful game, as advertised. I have a kid who plays a lot and well, which means I watch a lot of soccer because he’s either playing it or watching it at home. I love the pace, the athleticism, the endurance, the precision, the strategy, how it starts and ends (almost always) right on time. I love how there is no break, not even for the almighty commercials, for 45 minutes! It’s definitely not an American game, although I am enjoying the relentless American style of play.

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  21. basset said on June 19, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I could never do a yard that nice… most impressive. Our post-flood replacement deck is already warping in places; finally got the flood rebuild paid off a couple months ago and immediately had the house and shed roofed and the shed resided.

    Now if the plants I put in to screen off the new greenway thirty-three yards from our back door would just grow to full size, I could start peeing off the porch again.

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  22. MichaelG said on June 19, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    So the Administration is going to send advisors to Iraq. That’s how Vietnam started. We sent advisors who were called “Military Assistance Command, Vietnam” or MACV. Pronounced “Mack Vee”. At one point in ’66 I had a gig that required me to visit a lot of MACV compounds. I wouldn’t have wanted to be at one when the shit hit the fan.

    First they needed just a little logistical support. Then they needed some air support. Then a few artillery tubes. Then just a few troops to help out. Next thing you know . . .

    Remember MACV, Dexter?

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  23. Sherri said on June 19, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Kim, I agree, soccer is a beautiful game, and so far, the World Cup has been very good. The Brazil-Mexico game the other day was amazing. Brazil are always fun to watch, but the Mexican goalkeeper was unbelievable.

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  24. Dexter said on June 20, 2014 at 4:54 am

    MichaelG, sure, MACV was everywhere. And if you watched the movie “Apocalypse Now” , you heard Martin Sheen’s character voicing his orders from IFFV in Nha Trang. Here it is as I saw it 44 years ago. It was probably a mile and a half from our compound. “First Field Forces, Vietnam”

    I knew Obama was not going to abandon that giant US embassy in Baghdad…way too much going on there in that monstrosity to let warfare interfere.

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  25. alex said on June 20, 2014 at 7:57 am

    More shameless plug for my rental. They finally added some exterior shots. The site has been down for much of this week and the calls have slowed noticeably in that time frame. Here’s hoping it picks up again.

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  26. alex said on June 20, 2014 at 8:14 am

    Here’s my agent’s marketing efforts aimed at business transferees and people relocating who don’t want to buy right away.

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  27. Deborah said on June 20, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Nice house, Alex. Who wouldn’t want to live there. It would look great with mid mod furniture.

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  28. Dorothy said on June 20, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Alex thank you on two fronts – first for the tip about being down. Out of the blue yesterday I got it in my head to see if our next door neighbors in Mount Vernon put their house up for sale with a realtor yet. Another neighbor told me they’d been trying to sell it on their own, and I could not figure out why wouldn’t load.

    And also you gave me a splendid idea for our yard that we are making changes to. The previous owners had this line of plants/ground cover that sort of split the property in half. My husband suggested doing hedges for a privacy fence of sort, but I don’t see the necessity of it. We won’t do much entertaining because we don’t know many people here. But if neighbors want to eyeball what we have going on (when we have company over), I don’t give a whit. But instead of just removing the ground cover there and putting flowers in, I do love the idea of using trellises to have a kind of row there. We have trellises we brought from Mount Vernon, and I could put three or four of them there and get some viny yellow flowers to climb them. (We already have two clematis out front so I don’t want to do them again.) So it would not exactly be a privacy fence but it would give visual interest to the spot, and much better than just ground cover in that line. Thanks for the idea!

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  29. Tim said on June 20, 2014 at 9:44 am

    It’s puzzling why people who enjoy watching sports — especially hockey, with its continuous action — can’t (and often don’t seem to want to) enjoy watching soccer. Kim expressed perfectly what many people like about soccer. What made a difference to me was seeing a professional game in a stadium full of fans — Brazilians, mostly — who were really into the game and having fun.

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  30. Bitter Scribe said on June 20, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Ditto Kim, Tim and Sherri about soccer. I especially enjoy watching Memo Ochoa, the Mexican goalkeeper, because I’d been a fan of his when he played for Club America (the Mexico City soccer team). I lost track of him when he left to play in Europe–specifically, Corsica (!).

    What’s especially cool for me about watching Ochoa in the WC is that, because I don’t know more than a few words of Spanish, this is the first time I’m hearing announcers praise him in a way I can understand.

    If you’re still reading and you care about why I like Ochoa, here’s a highlight reel of his Club America days.

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  31. alex said on June 20, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Thanks Dorothy! I started doing trellises with vines as a screen when I lost a big spruce tree and suddenly found one of my outdoor lounging areas exposed; it had shielded me from some particularly nosy, pesky neighbors who would come over to bother me whenever they’d see me outside. So I did trellises in place of the spruce and have tried all sorts of vines: Passionflower, morning glory, mandevilla, black-eyed susan vine. The former two are my favorites now and that’s what I plant every year. I have come to like it a lot better than the tree because there’s much more sun and the soil is much less acidic, allowing for a much nicer bed of flowers and ground cover plants in addition to the screen of vines. When Nancy saw it she commented on how it looked like an English cottage garden. I was going to plant another tree there, or hedges of some sort, but it would have taken years to achieve what I accomplished in an instant.

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  32. Sue said on June 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

    This is on my list of things I would like my husband to make for me. I love the idea of a portable trellis and as I get more comfortable with the idea of garden rooms I can see myself ‘moving walls’ from year to year by using these.
    It’s hard to tell from the small photo, but this design is very simple and classy looking.

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  33. Dorothy said on June 20, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I had a mandavilla for the first time in Cincinnati. I did not plant it outside but kept it in a large pot. I think it did fine the first winter indoors, and then came back to flower in the second summer I had it. However I seem to remember it died (lack of attention from me) the second winter, so I pitched it out. How do yours do if you plant them outside? I thought they needed to be kept in a more southern growing zone in order to plant them outdoors. I’m all about buying perennials so if a mandavilla is an annual, I might have to rethink my preference for perennials only. I sure do love them!

    My favorite gardens are English cottage ones. I have some books on them and that’s what I was striving for in Mount Vernon. I think of gardening as a life-long learning experience. I’ve had no training, just trial and error. I didn’t know there were black eyed Susan climbers! I’ll keep an eye out (ha – EYE – ha ha) for some.

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  34. Judybusy said on June 20, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Dorothy and others, I also prefer the English cottage garden style. It’s somewhat out of favor, because natives and prairie restoration is very trendy here. But those gardens look like untidy, frowsy messes to me. I do try to plant some things for the bees and pollinators, especially various herbs that I let go to flower a bit.

    I haven’t been able to watch any WC, although I’d really like to with a group of friends. But, none of my good buddies are into it, anyway. When I was 17, I got to spend two months in Brazil as an exchange sutdent. It was during the 1982 WC and it was so much fun having parties for every game with all the other kids, and going dancing in the streets afterwards, especially when Brazil won that year!

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  35. Julie Robinson said on June 20, 2014 at 11:27 am

    English cottage gardens are so relaxing and cozy, aren’t they? I love the portable trellis idea for areas where you don’t have a wall for staking. Alex, how do you keep your morning glory from taking over the whole yard?

    Another old fashioned climber is sweet pea. The ones we used to have would reseed themselves every year, even though I think they’re considered annuals. We haven’t made many changes in our yard for a few years but I’m getting inspired again by this discussion.

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  36. Deborah said on June 20, 2014 at 11:46 am

    What is so hard about growing rosemary? This is the 4th plant I’ve killed. I’m either watering it too much or not enough. Maybe it’s because all of the plants I’ve bought are either from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and not a reputable nursery? We’ve got mint, marjoram, basil, oregano, lemon thyme and chives that are doing fine. We’ll the basil gets droopy but then I water it more and it’s fine.

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  37. Sue said on June 20, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Another good thing about the classic cottage garden style is how it minimizes weeding. Since the plants are packed in so tightly it’s a matter of just reaching in and grabbing the occasional weed. I have an area in my front garden that has some kind of creeping growth but even that is hidden by the mass of plants. I just pull out what peeks out.
    And, weirdly enough with a cottage garden you get to break one of the big rules of gardening – the one about not crowding plants. The variety of plants in any cottage garden ensures you won’t have a mass fail if an infestation occurs, you just pull out the diseased/infected plant and tuck something else in. Because there’s always something else.
    Judybusy, my husband has his native (prairie) garden across the walkway from my front-yard cottage garden. I keep expecting to get a weed letter from the City. But some of the grasses make gorgeous filler for bouquets, and he has been finding new non-grass plants that meet his criteria for inclusion. I particularly like that he is growing prairie roses from seed.

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  38. Deborah said on June 20, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I’m going to the rodeo tonight and it’s not my first. I went to one as a teenager once. Mostly all I remember about it was watching all the spectators dressed up in cowboy outfits, I had never seen that before. This time I’m wearing my own cowboy boots. But they’re simple boots, no stitching on them. I’m going with Little Bird and her friend who’s a horse person.

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  39. alex said on June 20, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    We’ve got sweet pea too Julie, but enough yard for plenty of climbers. For whatever reason, the morning glories haven’t been re-seeding themselves in their current spot and I plant new ones every spring; I like to buy starts that are already of good size.

    Dorothy, mandevilla is an annual outdoors in this region. I hadn’t bothered to winter mine inside because we do that already with so many plants that it’s impossible to save them all. Passion vine can come back as a perennial, even though it’s a tropical plant, if you place it close to your home’s foundation or under enough protection in winter to keep the roots warm. I was amazed at a mandevilla I planted last year — when the cold weather finally hit, it was hardier than the other outdoor vine plants and outlasted them.

    I used to grow morning glories out of pots onto the railing of my hi-rise balcony in Chicago. It looked like a Chia-Porch. It really stood out. Other than someone living below me who was pissed at the dripping when I’d water my plants, nobody ever complained or ordered it taken down. A friend from out of town who came to a Cubs game on a charter bus proudly pointed out my condo to the other passengers who were taking in the sights on their way to Wrigley Field.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on June 20, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Deborah, we’ve never grown herbs before but our son is really into cooking now so he went out and bought a bunch of them. The rosemary died almost immediately while everything else is going gangbusters. He bought a replacement plant about a week ago and it doesn’t look great. I guess we’ll see.

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  41. Sue said on June 20, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I think rosemary needs heat and sun and doesn’t respond well to overwatering. I’ve kept my plants on an outdoor balcony all summer but can’t get them to overwinter inside past about February, they always die. Mine have never survived long enough to grow big and lush. I love rosemary but don’t waste money on buying plants anymore.

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  42. Scout said on June 20, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Rosemary grows like a weed in Phoenix, which tells you everything you need to know about it. 😉

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  43. LAMary said on June 20, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve got that solid orange umbrella from World Market. It’s very nice and it made through last summer, a dry winter, and this summer so far so it must be sturdy.
    Rosemary grows like hedges here. I have a harder time with stuff like tarragon or dill. They can’t take the dry heat.

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  44. LAMary said on June 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I have rosemary and lavendar as ground cover on the slopes in my yard. It smells great when it’s watered. I was going to say when it rains but it doesn’t seem to rain here anymore.

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  45. MichaelG said on June 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I bought a rosemary Christmas tree once. After new years I stuck it in the back yard. It’s a huge bush now and I never water it. That’s here in Sacramento where it’s hot and dry so (esp after seeing Mary and Scout’s comments) I’m guessing it likes lots of sun and heat and not a lot of water.

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  46. Judybusy said on June 20, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Deborah, is the rosemary in a pot in in the ground? I grow mine in a pot, and keep it pretty moist. (Well, with the spring we’ve had, no choice. We’ve had 10″ of rain in June, 4 of them happening Wednesday-Thursday.) I bring it inside during the winter, and I found out the hard way, you really need to keep this plant watered. I killed a few before I caught on.

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  47. brian stouder said on June 20, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Dexter – an interesting photograph.

    The big tip-off is that it’s a nice enough (although colonial- looking!) building (probably built by the French) –

    …and then they go and jam window air conditioners all across the front of the building!

    It might as well have screamed “privileged Westerners are working in here: Fire rpg’s at will”

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  48. Sherri said on June 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Well, it’s not very hot and dry here, but my rosemary grows just fine despite my benign neglect.

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  49. brian stouder said on June 20, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Chloe, our gonna-be-a-4th-grader, brought home what her teacher called a “seed bomb” in a ziplock bag. It looked like a hunk of dung, but we thought ‘what the heck’ – and planted it next to the impatiens that we plant each spring up by the front porch… and nothing happened for a week.

    And then – a sprout.

    And now – I think the thing is growing a couple inches a week; Jack-and-the-beanstalk style.

    Aside from that, and speaking of cow dung, there’s this from today’s news:

    “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that – and I look at the homosexual issue the same way,” he said during that event, immediately sparking backlash from Democrats and gay rights organizations.

    Rick Perry’s not actually drunk (although he may have that desire) – he just acts like he is in front of television cameras

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  50. Dorothy said on June 20, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Do any of you follow “Humans of New York” on Instagram or Facebook? There are some pretty great stories told in just a few sentences there. Like many things I found out about on the web, I follow it because my kids did. I don’t piggyback on all of their interests, but some of them are pretty cool.

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  51. Deborah said on June 20, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I’ve only tried rosemary in pots because they wouldn’t make it through a winter here. For the last two years we’ve gotten rosemary Christmas trees because our place is pretty small. Each one of those plants died inside before Spring. Then I got one last summer and it died in no time, then about 2 weeks ago I got another one and it’s already about dead. I should clarify that the only plants I bought at TJs or Whole Foods have been herbs. The other plants I’ve bought elsewhere.

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  52. Dexter said on June 20, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Now for some good old nitty-gritty. Becky Carroll , who is married to my nephew Jon Friend in Chicago, has worked for Rahmn Emanuel for a dozen years or so. She has organized a super-PAC to build up Rahn’s war chest. President Clinton is coming in for a fundraiser, lots of cash will be directed to Rahm’s coffers.

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  53. Dexter said on June 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    When nephew Jon worked for Mayor Richie Daley, Jon had Mayor Daley inscribe and sign a nice 8 x 10 for me…that was cool. Now Jon also works for the mayor’s office.

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  54. MichaelG said on June 20, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    I was in Nha Trang several times during the fall of 1966 and spent Thanksgiving there in a very nice restaurant. I don’t specifically remember that 1FFV building. Nha Trang was a beautiful city built on the water with a lovely corniche curving along the waterfront and hills in back of the town. There was a huge Buddha on the hills above the town. I’d love to go back and visit it today.

    I bought my rosemary Christmas tree at Safeway.

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  55. Dexter said on June 20, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    MichaelG…hundreds of beautiful color photos of the “Big Buddha” as we called it are available on Google Images and many other places, but the one I treasure is sitting on my office desk here at home, a black and white 3 x 5 I took with my PX -bought Yashica 35 mm camera using good old Tri-X-Pan film at 400 ASA. I have it framed alongside a little picture of Jesus Christ that was in my late mother-in-law’s Bible. Oh yeah…I know…trying to cover all the bases. 🙂

    We were warned to eat nothing from the restaurants, and not to drink the bottled Coca-Cola that was imported from Paris…yes it really was, because I drank a few, what the hell…all the little writing was in French. I guess some soldiers were poisoned or else just got some parasitic infestation , whatever…we were warned. Of course we ignored the scare. The best damn dish I had my whole time there was from a little tin and wood shack along a road south of town somewhere…we had a long way to go and there it was…I had what was called “Chinese soup”, and it was actually pho, but it was to die for. I never forgot that place, but we never went that way again. Just out in the middle of bungfuct nowhere.

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  56. Deborah said on June 21, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Had a positively fabulous evening at the rodeo. It encompassed the best and worst in this country. A very diverse crowd of Anglos, Hispanics and Native Americans, including performers. They started the event with a smarmy “invocation” that included shameless pandering to religion and the military. But the events kept me on the edge of my seat and they didn’t seem in humane regarding the treatment of the animals. I will definitely go back next year.

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  57. Deborah said on June 21, 2014 at 12:52 am


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  58. beb said on June 21, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Chicago… you voted for him:

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  59. Heather said on June 21, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I have a rosemary plant that has lasted a few years now but it’s not doing so well–the branches are pretty short and it doesn’t seem to grow much. But it was a cold winter and cool spring, so maybe this summer it will perk up.

    I just bought a ground cover called “Dragon’s Blood” for some planters in our condo. I’ll be humming the “Game of Thrones” song while I put it in. Da da DUM dum, da da DUM dum . . .

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  60. Heather said on June 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Also, beb, count me as one Chicagoan who definitely voted against Rahm.

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  61. Deborah said on June 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Is today national yard sale day or something? I had to drive somewhere this morning and there were a jillion of them going on in Santa Fe. I even bought a couple of things and I’m not a yard sale buyer. Sometimes I like to look, but I hardly ever buy. The items I got are decorative, and that’s even more rare for me. Both items are hand made, one is a small, simple framed cross-stitch of a linear Picasso-like bull. The other is six individual carrots made of paper mâché. Both look great in our kitchen.

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  62. Jolene said on June 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Here is an amusing little video in which TN Coates describes his plans to spend the summer studying French. His reaction, when he is asked to describe–in French–the topic of his last piece for The Atlantic (the reparations article) cracked me up.

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  63. Sherri said on June 21, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Don’t slap the possum; it may not be what you think it is!

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  64. David C. said on June 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    We had a gun fetishist bring his assault rifle to our farmer’s market this morning. This crap is going to end one way or another, but if a school full of dead first graders won’t do it I shudder to think what will.

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  65. alex said on June 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Supposedly your whole hand dries up and falls off if you spank your monkey.

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  66. Deborah said on June 21, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    David C, that just sends me into a frenzy. I sort of expect that kind of thing to surface in Santa Fe. There is cognitive dissonance here though, on the one hand gun culture and the other hand a lot of touchy feels-ness. I think if some turned up at the fabulous farmer’s market they have here with an open carry weapon there would be hell to pay. There are so many adorable children with their parents at the market, it would be such a wrong message to them. Someone walking around with a gun sends a message of violence, hate and fear. So sad.

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  67. Deborah said on June 21, 2014 at 5:09 pm


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  68. Sherri said on June 22, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    This is really true:

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