Do You KNOW What Is Going On Out There?

MOOD UPDATE: Greatly Improved.

I turned right instead of left at the end of my street and headed for the garden center instead of the Corningware Outlet and it did my soul much good. I touched all the cobalt blue flower pots of every size and shape and finally settled on just the right one for the stoopscape. The stoopscape is becoming a bit crowded (in my head.  Most of the stuff is not yet purchased or painted.)  now and I might have to jettison some ideas to the deck in the back. But before I do, I must tell you what else I bought at the garden center.

As you know, I bought the talavera chicken for the express purpose of filling it with Hen and Chicks plants. Of which, isn’t that funny? YES. It’s funny because it’s a chicken filled with a hen and some bonus chicks and I have been waiting for years for just the right moment to display my gardening sense of humor via this arrangement. So I did buy a single little H&C plant and right next to is was a little pot of Creeping Thyme.

they’re not planted yet but I couldn’t wait to tell you about this

So of course I bought it for my talavera turtle. Do you get it? DO YOU? It’s a turtle. Like a tortoise. That won a race over time by steadily creeping along. Plus the little flower tips match the purple collar on the turtle. I am greatly pleased with myself.

Flower pot puns. It’s my new thing. I’m like the W.H. Auden of Mexican animal planters.

In re: the title of this post. My beautiful beloved  freshly washed sparkly white Santa Fe was the only commoner car in the parking lot of the garden center. Everything else was a Mercedes, an Escalade or a Lexus. Coiffured women with Louis Vuitton bags hanging on their forearms were strolling ahead of carts pushed by garden center employees as they chose two of these and two of those. I have been to this garden center many times, usually on the weekend – in fact, it is the home of the déclassé meerkat family water fountain – and I have never seen this crowd here before.

Full disclosure: I did have a garden center employee help me get a giant flower pot down from a high shelf, but I had to shout across three aisles to get his attention. (I subsequently abandoned that pot for a smaller one that I could reach myself.) (I don’t know why I said that. It makes me look like a bad, inconsiderate customer. Which I am not. I’m just a Gemini.)


Everybody can enhance their life by taking on a hobby and mine is collecting images of smallpox vaccination scars on celebrities. Joining Elizabeth Taylor and World Famous Fashion Icon and Busy Mom Michelle Obama, here is everybody’s favorite mom Joan Crawford making gaga eyes at a Samantha Stevens’ father in a 1934 movie. The luxurious  loops  of her satin cocktail dress really showcase the scar. Everybody had one then so it wasn’t remarkable but you don’t see them around so much now.

I doubt very much if an older and more powerful JC would have let this be seen by her adoring public.

In other hobbyish news, I cooked the best pot of chili con carne ever. You know that I cook as a hobbyist rather than a sustenance provider and the mood struck me yesterday.  The secret – which I will share with you now – is to add a can of Lime & Cilantro Rotel  and a bit of chopped up prosciutto. Hey look at this recipe for prosciutto cups with radish salad and mustard seed caviar. That looks easy enough.  Considering the fact that I now have 4 pounds of teeny black Beluga lentils in my possession, I might just go with that on top instead of the mustard seeds. Or maybe a mix. It’s going to take a lot of hors d’oeuvres to use up 4 pounds of lentils.


Also, who feels spring stirring in their breast today? I do.


Department of Homeland Chickens

bienvenido a la hora feliz. also here is the edge of the old bench i’m going to paint bright red

My very important Janet Napolitano- lookalike Mexican chicken planter arrived yesterday.

I have to tell you that I have been plotting this for years. For years! In the late 90s, I had a big colorful wall calendar that featured a lush backyard garden. The garden design was mostly inground perennials but there were pots and other decorative items stuck in among them. I really can’t remember any of the plants but one feature that was repeated in more then one month was a set of stairs made out of railroad ties. And on these stairs were various pots and other objects, moved around in each picture.

I have no time sense of when railroad ties were no longer “in” as landscaping design but the calendar was printed in Canada so who knows what goes on up there? I hope I’m not confusing these details with the time I had a big colorful wall calendar that featured rustic outhouses.

Anyway … On each side of those steps was lush overflowing plant growth – lavender, woolly lamb’s ears, sedum, etc. Texture yes but not much color. The color came from flower filled pots arranged at the ends of the steps including a few Talavera chicken planters filled with Hen & Chick plants.

The calendar hung on a  wall at my workplace and I would look at it 5 days a week. Sometimes  I’d be writing a progress note or a message for the medical office and I’d stop to look up and ponder a lifestyle that included those chickens planters. I did that for a year and when the next January rolled around, I threw the calendar away and hung up something else.

I don’t know why I didn’t save the pictures. I think it was because I felt it an unattainable dream for me. How could I ever get my hands on a Mexican chicken planter? A few years later, I was making my monthly sweep through the local TJ Maxx to see what was what and I found 2 large Talavera chicken planters on the shelf. They were right there in front of me for only $25.00 each. I pulled one down and inspected it and put it back. I don’t know. It ws too much to handle. My life had more self-imposed rules then and it had no room for the reality of a non-conforming chicken planter. But I never stopped thinking about it.

You can tell, I think, how important this was to me because even when I finally cooked up a reason to  construct a stoopscape design theme of Happy Hour In a Mexican Restaurant on 2nd Avenue, I had to edge up on the chicken of my dreams by first warming up with a Talavera turtle planter. Like I couldn’t just go right to the chicken. But the chicken was always the goal. Even so, I almost got a Talavera frog planter instead because I couldn’t just shift gears so fast and go from unworthy to worthy of it.

Anyway, it’s here now. Prepare yourself for a summer full of Hen & Chicks photos! And its not even strictly a Talavera chicken planter. This is a Talavera Chicken planter. Believe me, I scrutinized every single one the internet could churn up for me and none of them were quite right. But this one fits my overall stoopscape plan and I’m pleased with it. I’m actually glad that it’s not a Talavera chicken because this little chicken has a secret.

Those of delicate sensibilities or who want to maintain the notion that I am ladylike and dignified should stop reading here.

Continue reading “Department of Homeland Chickens”


I’m sitting in my kitchen wondering how it happened that I moved away from surrounding myself with the cool calmness of pale greens and sedate black to the fireball of blistering reds and yellows.


It wasn’t a conscious decision – it just happened. So far my wardrobe is unchanged but if I should meet you one evening wearing a serape, don’t hesitate to point it out to me. I might not have realized.

Also, the turtle has landed! It is exquisite.

who among us does not love that little turtle tail?

It’s Winter! Let’s Dream About Sitting Outside In The Sun

See this? I’d like to call this a front porch but it’s just a stoop, as seen from the second floor window.


Tomorrow believe it or not – and I half do not believe it because it’s been a long wearying  battle and this is not the first railing company we hired to do this and the other half I do not believe is that the snow will be all gone so they can work – we’re having a railing installed around the perimeter and down the single step.

The railing is purely functional – it’s so I can hang onto it and get up and down that step with some degree of confidence that I will actually make it. Alternately, it’s for something to grab for if I slip on the very hard-to-see ice. But people does it not just cry out to be colorfully decorated? Two words: Talavera turtle:

Sami said no when I started talking ab out the Talavera Turtle but that’s because he is non-visionary. Me I have an overstuffed folder called “Stoopscape” into which I put links to the things I think will go well together out there. It will be tasteful and simple – just wildly colorfull. I see a shiny blue flower pot with something red planted in it, the turtle might peek around it carrying some thyme. On the other side, a bland wicker chair with an orange chair pad and a small yellow side table. Maybe a well-placed chicken. That orange chair pad is how I’m going to ensnare him in my plan – because we already have it and he’s been saving it in case we need it.


Plenty of room for the UPS guy to sling the boxes onto the stoop, no impediment to foot traffic. Just a charming place to sit down and scowl at the creek workers if they ever come back to fix the muddy mess they left for us.

The answer to your unspoken question is yes, I probably should be thinking about work.


UPDATE Tuesday 2:00 pm. Hot, fresh railing – just installed.

new railing

Doesn’t it look so Mexican? Here – let me help:

mex rail

How you like me now?