Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Three Things

Some experts are warning that unless we bail out wallstreet our economy will "go Argentina on us." That's news that has my Argentine Momma Mia planting more fruit trees. (Ok, she would have planted them regardless, but uncertainty about the economy is the current excuse...)

Anyway, for what it's worth here's three random things about Argentina for you!

1-This recent picture of Tio Chiro reminds me of good times playing cards and drinking our yerba mate and of how there are NO cob webs hiding in those plants because almost everyone in Argentina has a maid. Even maids have maids. And even if you don't have a maid all floors are mopped every single day. Other people cleaning other people's dirt...it's a brilliant concept! 2-Houses are made of brick all the way around. I think they'd find it "curious" that in the USA houses often have brick only in the front. This is a typical wood front door.
3- Dear Fragrance Department, Argentina has a distinct scent; one that you can revel in. Is there a perfume out there that smells like leather, citrus, paraiso trees, jasmine, and yerba mate with an underlying hint of moth balls? I'm not kidding, is there?

BONUS: Below are fotos of Parana, Entre Rios (where Momma Mia is from and a place I dearly love.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Up on the roof...

...planting strawberries. Growing space is at a premium and you can never have too many strawberries. Plus my LEED certified husband recommended it; plants and soil act as great insulation for the greenhouse.
The strawberries will send out tons of runners that will carpet the entire roof, holding the soil and gravel in place. Want to see pretty pics of roof planting around the world?

p.s. Props and a nod to this lady's mom who planted cantaloupe and corn on their shed's roof and no expert had to tell her if it was a good idea. =)

Monday, September 22, 2008

In a Different Light...

...Provo seems more mysterious. O'lover and I love walking at nightfall and passing dark houses with lit up windows. Everyone's having dinner or getting ready for bed. It's time to wind down after a busy day.

But the favorite part of our walk is coming home to the cottage and treehouse aglow.

Home feels like home.

Don't you love it that there's now a chill in the night air...and you look at the place where you live and know warmth and comforts are just inside?

Goodnight everyone! Pleasant dreams!


p.s. here's the ladder to the first floor of the treehouse.
and the ladder from the second floor to the sleeping loft.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

this post is dedicated to Mr. Hadley

very pretty booth by a local grower at Provo's Farmers Market

Check out this RadioWest show about The New Victory Garden. It explains the history of the victory garden movement as well as interviews Utah growers. One of the farmers moved here from Michigan and talks about how much easier it is to grow in Utah (provided you have water rights) than many places. I'll be writing a post about that soon. Thanks for bringing this awesome interview to my attention Susan KB! (and why didn't Doug call me to be on the show?)

Coincidentally, last Thursday I was at the city offices and ran into council member Cindy Richards. She stopped me and excitedly said that I would have loved the lecture the municipal council recently attended about the future of zoning. She said the expert speaker was urging new zoning regulations that would support green building and sustainable living practices by allowing victory gardens and city chickens. When I expressed interest Cindy then said that our city council is way too conservative to actually implement any of the suggestions.


When did allowing chickens and victory gardens become a liberal thing? I don't believe it! I was asking her more when someone pulled her attention away.

I'm starting to think it's all about the spin. Conservatives and Liberals like the same things when it's packaged in their own language. I really doubt that Mr. Hadley, my conservative neighbor thinks he's being progressive by having a garden in the vacant lot down the street from me.

Raising food is a way I've connected to people of all backgrounds. I don't want it to be used as another way to create divisiveness.

But food is political. It's a matter of national security, it's the physical health and spiritual well being of our country. How we grow it and ship it impacts the planet. Measures to curtail the destructive practices of the food industry are a source of political strife. People take sides as they define their priorities: to be regulated or not to be regulated, that is the question.

I think its urgent that we contemplate the ethics of food production. I want to find a way to live that I feel good about.

Do I need the government to tell me how to live? Not really. I guess that makes me conservative.

Do I want the government to incentivize good old-fashioned innovations through cap and trades to curtail pollution? A HOLY YES SIREE. I guess that would be progressive.

Am I glad that my wonderful neighbor Mr. Hadley opens the back door to our kitchen (without knocking!) and leaves a pile of eggplant and peppers on our counter? YES! I guess that makes me human.

Thanks Mr. Hadley.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Picking a Pail of Produce

O'lover made a new enchanting gate to the back garden. I bought a new dress sewn by the daughter of one of our farmers market vendors. Life is pretty sahweeeeeeet - on a personal level. On a government level things are so screwy, don't you think? Every time I turn on the radio or tv news I cringe. O'lover has actually banned me from watching because I get so twisted up about it. And I don't understand how my dear kind wonderful neighbors and I disagree so much politically. How do we interpret things so differently? It makes me feel lonely.

But don't you LOVE Ollie's gate?


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Serving Time Garden

*In the next few weeks i'll be blogging about beautiful local gardens and the people who tend them. If you would like to suggest a garden to visit please comment!

Gardeners: Utah County Jail inmates
Size: 5.25 acres
Location: Utah County Justice Garden

I met Adrian Hinton, Horticulture Agent and jail garden guide, in his downtown Provo office. When he asked what kind of info I was after I said, "Just tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly."
And he protested "There is no ugly in gardening!"
I countered, "What about really rank compost?"
Adrian insisted "Compost is always beautiful!"
"What about slug infestations?" I pressed.
"Slugs are beautiful!"
I thought it humorous that his words weren't coming out of my mouth. Because when have I ever thought there was anything ugly about gardening? Hmmm?

Well...by the end of this post you will see that there is indeed "ugly" in gardening.

When we arrived I was...surprised. I thought we'd have to be searched, turn our pockets inside out, stick out our tongues to make sure we weren't doing the old smuggling-contraband-in-the-gullet trick...I don't know, I thought I would be "checked", you know, like last time I went to jail.*for the full incarceration story see me. oh and never give your child a legal name that they forget they have because they've never gone by it and their good friends don't even know it so when a pal goes to pay your seat belt ticket that you got in their ill equipped truck and they can't find a ticket under your name so you think you got off easy-freezy but really there is a warrant out for your arrest, well, just give your kids a name they're actually called. p.s.Momma Mia I really like my legal name just fine. bygones. Remember how this post was about gardening?


But we drove up and it was just fields of gardens, not a barbed wire fence in sight. Not a weed in sight either. With 6,000 people hours looking after this garden, it's breathtakingly perfect.

Adrian was showing me the flowers that edge the crops and explaining the generosity of local nurseries that donate seeds when...i was embraced by an inmate.

i was so startled.
so was Adrian
and the deputy.

But it was my young friend PF. And after I got over my delight at seeing him and asking him his story, I was suddenly nervous that maybe it would be thought I was faking an interview for mischief's sake.

(but I wasn't.)

YOU GUYS, the justice garden is a great thing. It started when some of the inmates complained about the jail food, and a wonderful visionary named Lieutenant Dennis Hart had an idea. Let's turn those fields into a garden and use the fresh produce in the kitchen. The gardens became part of the Utah County Jail's Job Industry Program which is now the #1 job industries program in the entire nation.

Did you read that? #1 in the country.

Last year the garden produced 82,000 lbs of food. They use it in the jail kitchen, and donate the rest to the Food & Care Coalition; the Share the Harvest program (in Orem where they sprayed for the japanese beetle and residents couldn't grow gardens); Meals on Wheels for senior citizens; and to others in need. They also stocked me up.
I would have invited them to be part of Provo's Farmers Market but they're not allowed to compete with local growers. This garden is not for money, as Deputy Baldwin said, "Its for good organic food, service to the community, for therapeutic time in the sun and fresh air, and for getting your hands in the dirt." Deputy Barney said she used to hate cantaloupe but now that she's had properly ripe cantaloupe from the garden she eats is all the time and can't believe the taste difference between these and the grocery store. She also eats the ambrosia corn and says its delicious raw. Deputy Barney said that some of the inmates start out having no idea what a weed looks like but every day they learn more about plant identification and all the other things you need to learn to grow food.

PF told me that as soon as he's out of jail he's going to start his own garden.

This year the jail started an orchard. Deputy Barney opened a peach and handed me half. Yum.

I agree with Deputy Baldwin when he said there's "Something so rewarding about planting a seed and watching it grow." They grow everything at the jail. Including this beautiful broccoli.

And all this.
Adrian is demonstrating that this is good organic stuff. Straight from the field into the mouth.

A very useful tip from Adrian about zuchs.

And the ugly thing about gardening? Adrian took back what he said about there being no ugly when he mournfully remembered the damage a recent hailstorm did to the squash.

Special thanks to Sheriff James O. Tracy, Director Jo Murphy, Deputies Baldwin and Barney, and to Adrian Hinton. What a wonderful garden! Thanks also goes to Carpenter Seeds and other local nurseries who generously support the garden!

Are you inspired and want to help? Donations of packing tape are requested. The jail is in need of packing tape to reinforce the boxes that they load with food donations. You can drop off the tape at the Utah County Jail.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Well-Tended Garden*

*In the next few weeks i'll be blogging about beautiful local gardens and the people who tend them. If you would like to suggest a garden to visit please comment!

Gardener: Momma Mia
Size: .34 acres
Location: north of the Provo LDS Temple

Momma Mia's garden gets a lot of lovin'. She prays over and kisses her plants frequently. Her large yard has been made to look like a regular Italian villa garden, pruned and preened with arbors, trellises, grow boxes, and winding paths. She's laying more brick walkways as I write this.
Momma Mia grows tropical plants such as pomegranates (see below), persimmons, tangerines, valencia oranges, and a bay tree. She hauls them outside for the summer and carefully hauls them back into her enormous sun room for the winter. She grows a variety of kiwis that are winter hardy.Momma Mia has my Tia Isabel send zapallito seeds from Argentina. Zapallitos are more tender and meaty than other squash varieties.
MM's garden is a direct contrast to my self-seeding wild garden, I've never met anyone so vigilant about pulling weeds. And when a crop has surpassed its peak it's immediately ripped out and replaced with new seeds. If you see any bare spots in her garden it's not laying fallow. The soil has already been amended and new seeds planted.
Momma Mia and I planted our heirloom raspberries at the same time. Hers are 7-8 feet tall while mine are hip height. Geesh Mom! What is your secret?! I think it's becase she is ruthless about clearing out contending plants so the raspberries get plenty of sun and air.

Did you know...about potato berries?
Potato flowers turn into potato berries which have tiny little potato seeds in them. Don't eat them.

When I asked Momma Mia about the cost effectiveness of growing your own food and if it was worth it she said that after the initial investment (which can be expensive or inexpensive depending on how resourseful you are) "its just seeds and water and it saves a lot of money if you're watering something that will feed you rather than grass." When I asked if she would consider scaling back she said, "Quitting gardening would be like quitting life."
Momma Mia said they don't really have any problems with bug infestations other than aphids which she washes off with a hose.

One of Momma Mia's favorite things about gardening is the excitement and joy her grandkids express from picking fruit and plopping it in their mouths. "They love it and it makes them want to eat healthy food."

Momma Mia's Roasted Vegetables- a family staple.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Chop eggplant, onions, peppers, zuchs, yellow squash, and carrots (and whatever else your garden gives you!). Toss the vegetables with some olive oil. Add thyme, oregano, and marjoram. Put the veggies on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stir, then put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.


Jail Time!

I'm going to jail tomorrow morning with Adrian Hinton, the Horticulture Agent for Utah County. He's granted me an interview at Utah County Jail gardens! The inmates grow vegetables! I think this is a very cool program. Stay tuned...

I'm so excited!!

i just gave O'lover a heart attack when i instant messaged him that i was going to jail. one of our first dates was him bailing me out of the very facility i'll be visiting tomorrow. sorry Ollie!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

All in a Day's Play

While some people are earth plastering the inside of the greenhouse,
some people are installing windows in the treehouse,and i'm in the kitchen turning this harvest
into this meal.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

be scene

good times & good people. thank you to the proprietors of coal umbrella & to everyone who came to my opening!

hundreds of people filed through. gallery stroll records may have been broken. i thought i was camera badgering people (lo siento!) but now i realize i didn't capture a tenth of the evening.

and my paintings? they were dripping wet. i painted 12 pieces in less than two weeks. the special high gloss medium i used (for the first time) was a polymerized linseed oil called stand oil, a misnomer if i've heard one! when we hung the show those oils did not stand, they ran...nay they cavorted...across my paintings in big sloppy drips. O'lover came to the rescue when he offered to play fortune teller by providing spectators psychic readings of the drips (much like reading tea leaves).

I like my paintings, even when they misbehave. Yet i reserve the right to never ever ever ever show wet work ever again. Never! ever. NEVER.

Have you ever had a disaster while everyone was looking? i offer you empathy.

p.s. this is a link to the mandatorily cool gallery stroll blog (add it to your subscriptions!) ryan & beccy neely will have september's photos up soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


detail of "winter creeps in"

the exhibit represents a departure from my normal subject matter (people) and media (mixed).

this time around i was thinking about the built, the cultivated, and the wild and used oils (almost strictly.)

more risky business

does this photo look strangely familiar? well it's not the same pic as yesterdays but still applies as i've been wearing the same painting outfit for the last five days and the painting you see me working on is the problematic one that i'm still working out.


the day i'd like to be hanging the show.

the show which you're invited to. the exhibit opens tomorrow from 6-9 at 157 north university ave, provo. don't touch the paintings. they're wet. i'll be the girl huffing and puffing and blowing the art dry. and i'd love to meet you.


The other day someone had left a stack of zucchini at our front door.

i was in utter disbelief at the rudeness.

and was complaining to my mum-in-law when she told me. that's your zucchini. i picked it for you.

oh. haha.

well, maybe i won't plant so many zuchs next year.

what i did plant this year- 3 dwarf peach trees, a chinese sweet pit apricot, 2 plums, 2 walnuts that we will keep pruned short, and we'd ordered pears but they never came in and the nursery finally sent us an explanation & apology. we also planted a fig tree which O'lover will be transplanting to a spot in our greenhouse along with a banana tree and dwarf lime.

see the fruit on the dwarf peach? i plucked most of the blossoms off so the tree could concentrate on its roots.

the ladies are happy in their pen eating their daily allotment of watermelon from their gracious fairy god mother of high quality kitchen scraps (mum-in-law).

the sweet potatoes are flourishing but need a long season...hopefully they'll get it.fall crop of detroit beets, rainbow chard, golden chard, etc are coming in and need to be thinned into our salads.
when the bugs eat we call it paying tithing. some of the garden needs to go back to the creatures that live there, besides us. and this chinese cabbage has paid tithing.
For next year: the biggest realization this year has been how shady our yard is. We've opened up a lot of our garden by cutting down a wall of tall junipers and pruning Hagrid but it's still so shady. Also, it's been a short season with a long cool spring which delayed soil temps, stunting the eggplants and slowing down everything else. next year i'll pull out most of the volunteer sunflowers as they create way too much shade. We're also considering getting that permeable black fabric to help heat up the soil.

Anyone have any other ideas?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

risky business

Painting Update:

the paintings are still underway but there's a clear theme: transition, possibilities...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Winning Bid!

The stay at the treehouse goes to Steve U for $75! Thanks Steve!
Congrats! Thanks to all the bidders!
Plus generous Susan Krueger Barber had offered to top off the winning bid with $20!

So $95 for NieNie! YAY!

Steve, please e-mail your paypal receipt to grittyprettyatgmaildotcom and I'll e-mail you your voucher. I look forward to meeting you and introducing you to the treehouse!

Many thanks,