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This gorgeous garden was set up for the annual Chelsea Flower Show a few years back, and it is exactly the sort of rustic English garden charm that I have always wanted (and never gotten) out of my yard.  And yet, I keep trying year after year for that elusive messy yet structured feel, with little to no weeds and lots of bloom.  Everyone needs a hobby, I suppose, especially considering how crappy the news has been lately. 

One of my nerdiest hobbies is my devotion to all things Gertrude Jekyll.  And my eternal sadness at never, ever being able to come remotely close to her gardening brilliance.  But is is awfully fun to try.  And I have the gardening library to prove it.  One of my very favorite things to do in the dead of winter is pull out a landscaping book and flip through the full-color photos, balancing a cup of hot tea in one hand and the book on the opposite knee, and dreaming of spring. 

My flowers never quite match what I plan in my mind…but there is always next spring, and the one after that, if things don’t work out this year.

I’ve also got quite the cookbook collection.  One of my favorite series is one by Martha Rose Shulman — Mediterranean Light and Provencal Light.  I’ve been pouring over them lately, not so much for the recipes, which are fantastic, but to soak in the atmosphere and stories about the region as well.  It’s one of those areas of the world that I’ve always wanted to visit, but have never gotten a chance as yet.  Some day…

At least with some lovely flowers to tend — and a three year old lugging a big watering can for comic relief — you can forget for a little while that the Middle East is about to explode, if not already doing so, and a pissed off madman in North Korea is one button away from starting yet another pissing match with George Bush.  (Oh yeah, just what we need.)  Gas prices?  UpAgain.  Polar ice caps?  Still melting.  Poverty?  Still a huge problem, and getting bigger every year of the Bush Administration.  And so it goes.

Some days you wake up, start the coffee maker and sit down to read the news…only to wish you’d stayed in bed, dreaming of something far more joyful.

So, for a little while this morning, lets all settle in with our coffee or tea (or whatever it is you are having at the moment, including the hair of the dog that bit ya’ crowd), and talk about what we’ve been doing to take our minds off all those weighty things that have been on our minds of late.

I need some good news.  What yummy dish has your family been savoring this summer?  Tried anything new lately that made your taste buds happy?  Have a cookbook or magazine that’s been driving you and your tastebuds wild?  If so, do share.  (By the way, I’ve lost nine pounds on my diet.  On a short person such as myself, that’s a whole size.  Woo hoo!)

How’s your garden doing — your tomatoes getting ripe yet?  How about your flowers?  Mine are thriving from all the rain we’ve gotten lately but, unfortunately, so are all my weeds.

Pour yourself another cuppa and pull up a chair…