Archive for the ‘books’ Category

reading at Drake’s 7 Dees

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Holy moly, I am so stoked to be doing a reading from BeBop Garden at Drake’s Seven Dees in Raleigh Hills. Their presence at the Yard, Garden and Patio Show last week was nothing short of inspirational. Their store at 5645 SW Scholls Ferry Road, PDX 97225 is well worth a visit. I was there to hear Ann, The Amateur Bot-ann-ist talk about starting seeds. It was a blustery day, but the rain beating on the greenhouse just added to the cozy atmosphere and they had all the goods on hand to go home and put Ann’s excellent advice right to work.

BeBop Garden cover

So if you already have one of my books, bring it for me to sign. I’ll also have books available. I’d love to see you there Saturday, March 8 at 3pm. If you can’t make it, here’s a promise: I will take pictures of the nursery and do a post to lure you to this delightful nursery on one of your next plant-seeking expeditions.

Lawn Gone! is a good read

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Lawn Gone! by Pam Penick

Pam is well know in blogging circles for her blog, Digging, and for hosting the monthly meme, Foliage Follow-Up, where the non-flowers in our gardens are given their just due. The idea of turning the American obsession with grass into an earth-friendlier approach has been gathering steam for some time. Here we have a practical guide to the whys and hows of the grassless revolution.

Many of Pam’s followers have already sung the praises of the book’s fine photography, supporting the ideas for alternatives to traditional lawns. They note that the book breaks down the planning and execution of lawn replacement into easily identifiable choices and steps. I second all that. Where I diverge, and feel that I have something to add to the conversation, is this: Pam is a wordsmith. She is highly readable. Scattered throughout the text are gems like this:

‘Devil’s Shoestring’ (Nolina lindenhameriana) puddles on the ground like a shrugged-off party dress.

So by all means, read this book for the useful information it contains, but do not fail to revel in the language. It will deliver every bit as much literary satisfaction as the novel on your bedstand.

get in on the give-away

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Have you read my book? If not, and if you own a tablet, there is a give-away on Amazon through the rest of the day today.

BeBop Garden Cover

Here’s what the cover looks like. The back cover includes blurbs from blogging buddies Grace and that dangerous icon Loree. If you opt for the tablet version and would like to see these quotes, shoot me an email at ricklet@wilblue.net with BeBop as the subject and I will send them to you. In the meantime, here’s what Nancy had to say about it: Thrilled that Dymaxicon author Ricki Grady’s book was #1 Kindle gardening book yesterday on Amazon! Giveaway through today. If you’re thinking, well, I don’t really garden, know that my dad, 100% NY city boy who would probably fling a bulb like a grenade it you handed it to him, really enjoyed “Bebop Garden,” because, as he said, “It’s really about how to live.”

Now, in the interest of shameless promotion, I would beg a boon from you. If you read the book and find it worthy, would you take a few moments to rate and/or review it on Amazon? These things make a world of difference in the world of e-commerce. Thank you, dear friends.

the good, the bad & the “oops!”

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I will start with the very, very good:

Stewartia rostrata, Eryngium agavifolium, Linaria purpurea & ??? with open gardens book

That would be HPSO (Hardy Plant Society of Oregon). Last week I received the Open Gardens book, 132 pages filled with descriptions and directions for members’ gardens and a schedule of dates when they will be thrown open for us to visit. Lots of new gardens this time, and several must-revisits. All gardens evolve, so going back to favorites is always a new experience. Then, on Sunday, the annual meeting featured Marietta O’Bryne showing slides and talking about the fabulous gardens she and Ernie have developed in Eugene OR. I found myself scribbling furiously in the dark, but the main attraction was Marietta herself, whose infectious personality and love for her subject, “The Vocation is the Garden: Our Life in Our Garden” put us all on a “just friends” basis. We have hosted many famous gardeners (the likes of Christopher Lloyd), but none would outshine the O’Brynes.

See those little glassine packets next to the book? Those represent another great feature of any HPSO event: 50 cent packets of seed gathered from members’ gardens. I picked up Stewartia rostrata, Eryngium agavifolium, Linaria purpurea and a mystery package whose label got lost along the way.

seed starting trays

I even picked up some seed-starting set-ups to give them a fighting chance. My success rate with seeds has been spotty, but it is a thrill to add something new to the garden this way.

pots on windowsill

My usual method is to use little clay pots set on gravel in these long, narrow trays that just fit on the windowsill in my studio. This works just fine for easy starters like zinnias and sunflowers. This year I’m trying out some Love Lies Bleeding and some Bells of Ireland this way. Many of these things are said to do well sown directly in the ground, but I think the birds get them or something, cuz you couldn’t prove it by me. I’ll probably mix up the leftovers (that windowsill fills up fast) and strew them around just to see what happens.

sunflower seed sprouting

Inside the Botanical Interest packets, it says that a sunny window will not be adequate to get things going, but the zinnias and sunflowers that I started a week ago are beginning to put in an appearance even though sunshine has been in short supply around here.

Aeonium ‘Voodoo’

Now here’s another good thing. We succulent lovers have long bemoaned the paucity of labeling. Most sellers will offer a collection of varied plants referred to en masse merely as “succulents”. The above tiny pot came from Home Depot, fully identified as Aeonium ‘Voodoo’ A.undulatum x arboreum ‘Zwartkop’ followed by instructions for its care. I went to the provider’s web site and found all sorts of info in a clean, attractive, easy to navigate format.

fallen bird’s nest

A fallen bird’s nest with smooth pebbles to simulate eggs makes a nice centerpiece for our outdoor table.

agaveoops.jpg

I did everything I could to give this Agave neomexicana a home to its liking: raised berm, lots of grit in the soil mix, gravel mulch, planted high, sunniest spot (Loree…did I forget something critical?). Can’t blame the poor thing, with the kind of weather we’ve been having. It looks like there may be some life left in the central, upright part. Should I cut away all those distressed leaves and see if summer will cure what ails it?

Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies

See those dried up flower scapes on my Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’? Those were plump and promising before the snow and plunging temps hit. The rest of the plant is in prime condition, but I do have bouts of envy when I see photos of the glorious blooms others have experienced. This seems to happen every year. Maybe I should put a sock over the buds next time?

the deer’s Italian cypress

When it isn’t the weather, it’s the wildlife. On the bright side, the deer seem to have singled out this one Italian cypress to nuzzle when they feel the need. They like ‘em young and supple, so I guess if it lives long enough they will leave it alone. When the deer turn their liquid gaze on you, it is hard to deny them anything.

rhododendron sinogrande

Our Rhododendron sinogrande emerged from winter wraps (perhaps prematurely) looking a lot better than it did last year. I’m still waiting for evidence that we have gained a zone.

good rhody leaf

We have many Rhodys (R’s passion), some of which are looking glorious,

rhody with thrips

while others have that rusty look that comes with thrip attacks. I will use a dormant oil spray as directed to see if that fixes this particular problem.

nibbled rhody

Still others seem to have been nibbled by something bigger than a thrip. Maybe that spray will make them less appetizing.

new bed? oops!

This one qualifies as an “oops!”, meaning I brought it on myself. I wanted to extend an existing bed, but because of all the gopher activity, I wanted to excavate and line the bottom with wire mesh. I got about halfway there when the rain set in, turning everything into a loblolly. R’s sister and her husband were visiting for the holidays. Kath noted that water was gushing in that area. Sure enough, a water pipe had sprung a leak. What a way to entertain guests: R and John were up to their shoulders digging a trench and repairing the leak. I won’t be able to set this eyesore to rights until the muck dries out. Would you believe that no one laid a guilt trip on me for this misadventure? Guess they knew I could do that all by myself.

see my Q&A on the Herman Miller blog

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Lots of stars aligned to make this happen. The famous furniture purveyor just released an outdoor collection based upon the classic Eames Aluminum Group Lounge Chair of 1958. That put them in a frame of mind to be considering garden-related subjects. One of their primary bloggers does a series based on music and the play lists of their interviewees “Where Life and Work Meet”. So the title of my book, BeBop Garden, got their attention and they sent me a few questions. It was fun to take off in a new direction, following someone else’s interpretation of “riffing and jiving in the plant kingdom”. If you click on the link to the collection in the introduction to the interview, you will be reminded of the genesis for so much of the outdoor furniture (cheap copies, all) that pop up next to the BBQ’s in every one-stop shopping center this time of year. Oh, to have the means to pop for the real thing! Chic elegance, thy name is Herman Miller, and I thank you for the opportunity to latch onto your coat-tails for a brief moment.

488 BeBop downloads later

Friday, January 27th, 2012

I’m sending out a big “Thank You!” to all who helped broadcast the special Amazon free download. 488 seems like a pretty big number to me. It means that many people have the book that didn’t before and it can sink or swim on its own merit.

Our book club is reading Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and I marked this passage to share with my gardening friends: “He liked the clover, evidence of the country always pressing in close, quietly sabotaging anyone who tried to manicure nature into suburban submission.” The book was written by Helen Simonson. I hear echoes of Remains of the Day in the staid, buttoned-up British “stiff upper lip”, but the Major’s humanity wins out as clashes of generations, cultures and religions buffet him, nudging him ever farther away from his comfort zone. Our group trends toward gentle fiction, though we have veered into the likes of Choke by Chuck Palahniuk and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larssen. Simonson’s book is filled with lyric passages that create the atmosphere of an English village on the cusp of an invasion of modernity: bittersweet, thought-provoking stuff.

BeBop giveaway!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Dymaxicon (publisher) is conspiring with Amazon to do a promotional event for my book on Tuesday, January 24 and Wednesday, January 25. During those two days, anyone can download BeBop Garden to kindle or computer for free.

front cover of BeBop Garden

We are hoping that it will help to spread the word and “kindle” interest far and wide. Of course, on Kindle one would be missing the beautiful cover. Any person who leaves a comment on my blog with their email address will receive a downloadable version of the cover that they can then print out for themselves. All of my blogging friends have been super-supportive, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now if you will let your vast readership in on our ‘Limited Time Offer’ (HA HA) you will be helping us to…Bop On!

Now HERE is the link that will take you directly to the Amazon order page.

jam today • a book review

Monday, November 21st, 2011

jam today

“…melt some butter in a skillet and cook the carrots, with a little salt, until they’re not raw anymore…” That’s about as exact as things get in Jam Today, a Diary of Cooking With What You’ve Got. Author Tod Davies invites us into her world. It’s a cozy world in the mountains of Oregon, where she writes…and, as chronicled here, cooks: for friends, for her dogs, and most especially for her “Beloved Vegetarian Husband.” This she does without a hint of rancor (she is an omnivore) and without depriving herself of any of the joys of the table.

One is apt to come away thinking that cooking delicious meals is more attitude than recipe and that it extends into every crevice of one’s life and world view. I was especially taken with a section involving the purchase of one marble-sized Oregon truffle: the care and attention lavished upon its ripening; the sensitivity to its developing attributes; and finally, the three meals evolving from this one small nugget of flavor. Yes, she admits to one misstep by adding too much parsley to a pasta dish and overpowering the shaved quarter-truffle’s subtlety (I was reassured to find her judgment fallible).

Davies clearly loves everything about food and has absorbed quantities of cookbooks and recipes to arrive at the easy-going, seat-of-the-pants approach you will find in these pages. My great-grandmother was a sublime cook. Her “oh, a handful of flour and a pinch of salt” responses to those seeking to emulate her results were highly frustrating. Ms Davies is more forthcoming than that, but even if you fail to be converted to her way of doing things, I think you will enjoy her company.

The book is available on Amazon, and if you would like to sample some of her food and food writing, you can do so on her blog.

Bon Apetit!

Portland Homestead Supply Co

Monday, November 7th, 2011

storefront

Tucked way in the Sellwood-Moreland district, just a little north of Tacoma on 13th Ave., all ye home cooks and gardeners (not to mention candle makers, home brewers. etc. etc.) will find a treasure in Portland Homestead Supply Co.

merchandise display

As soon as I stepped through the door, I was struck by the quality of the goods on display. They steer away from electronic gadgets in favor of the tried and true (note the bright red hand-crank meat grinder on the nearest table). These are items that can pass for artifacts. Indeed, they raise the homely arts of home making to an art form. All of the standard jars for canning and pickling are here, but for just a little bit extra, you can buy jars that will turn your kitchen’s yummy output into gourmet gift items to make you proud. I was drawn to some stainless steel pie pans…anticipating the delight they would bring to turning out pies and quiches.

how-to library

Need a little help getting started? Many subjects are covered in their book section.

classroom

On a mezzanine overlooking the main room is a large table where classes are held. Be sure to check out the class schedule on their website if you would like to try something new with a little hands-on help. See that “fresh eggs” sign on the mantle? It is not just for show. I was there on a Friday, when fresh farm eggs had just been delivered. There were duck eggs as well as huge chickens eggs and teeny tiny ones. Once you have tried eggs straight from the farm you will never go back.

aprons and linens

Several small rooms off the classroom hold different categories of merchandise. This one had aprons and various linens, all with that homey feel executed with a modern twist. While I was there, a woman came in with oven mitts she had made using flour sacks handed down in her family. I’m not sure any of that batch will make it to the showroom floor, the way employees were snatching them up. Don’t worry: she will be back with more.

drying rack

This drying rack folds flush to the wall when it is not in service.

candle making

All the makings for candles, including an interesting array of molds (bottom shelves), and an instructional book. I think taking the class would be a fun way to get into this.

Just as I was about to pay up and take my leave, someone mentioned that there were garden related items out the side door.

Nigerian dwarf goat

Have you ever seen a sweeter looking goat? It was unclear to me if this was Wendell or Belle, but the pair of Nigerian dwarf goats provide endless entertainment, keep the grounds clear of blackberry vine and, if all goes according to plan, will provide some frolicking kids come spring.

chicken

They share the yard with chickens and ducks, all roaming freely…

alley fence

the only restraints being good looking fencing treatments that block off the alleys on both sides of the shop.

supplements and tools

As with everything else, the room holding soil amendments and tools is spick and span, and the displays are as attractive as they are utilitarian. Those galvanized bins hold all sorts of soil amendments, even hard-to-find things like Jersey Greensand…all available in bulk or in 5# bags. Now it really was time to shove off, and I found myself chomping at the bit to get back to my kitchen and garden.

Wordstock recap & a visit to E Burnside

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Dymaxicon writers

All of Dymaxicon’s writers were there: from left to right, Chris, Hillary, me, Larry, Nancy and Lilly. Over the course of two days, we got to know one another and it began to feel like a family.

the Dymaxicon booth at Wordstock

By backing up a little bit, you can see our booth, with all of our books on display. With seven stages all going at once, featuring readings, panel discussions and conversations, plus an exhibit hall full of booths, no two people attending Wordstock were apt to have the same experience. Portland is a very bookish place, so there were plenty of local writers. More surprising was the number of big names like Pulitzer winners Isabel Wilkerson and Jennifer Egan and best selling author of The English Patient Michael Ondaatje. Lesser luminaries and stars of the future rubbed elbows with students, publishers…basically anyone engaging in a love affair with words. Saturday evening, we all trooped over to the Aladdin Theater to watch the Live Wire radio show being taped. My favorite part of their manifesto reads: “We believe that ‘funny’ and ‘culturally relevant’ aren’t mutually exclusive.” They put that into practice by incorporating many of Wordstock’s authors into a highly entertaining evening. The shows, taped in Portland, can be heard on public broadcasting stations around the country.

the Jupiter Hotel

Not far from the convention center, on East Burnside, is the Jupiter Hotel. A funky old motel from the ’50’s has been remodeled into a stylish place to lay your head, or, in our case, to gather to rehash the weekend, tipple and tell stories in the bar/restaurant, the Doug Fir.

Doug Fir outdoor dining

I had been scoping out E Burnside the week before, so when the question “where shall we go after?” arose, I actually had an answer. It was late, and a bit rainy to enjoy the wonderful outdoor space, but gathering around the fireplace in the lounge served us well. Roll-around tables and seating could be reconfigured to our liking. Now, since this is purported to be more of a garden-centric blog, I will leave the word stuff and take you back a week to my prowl around Burnside.

Burnside swale

Formerly a down-at-the-heels area, considerable work has gone into upgrading. These bioswales occupy several corners between traffic and pedestrians.

Burnside drain dome

I especially like the metal domes protecting the drains.

shops on Burnside

Formerly derelict buildings have been reclaimed to house little boutiques, vintage resale, galleries and restaurants.

another block of shops

…and in the next block, more of the same. Across the street from these is the Jupiter.

bicycle shop mural

I went around the block to get headed in the right direction and came across this bicycle shop with personality.

KBOO mural

In the next block, this radio station was not to be outdone.

outdoor dining

I parked the car to get pictures of the murals, and that was when I spied the back alley of the Jupiter, where guests can enjoy bamboo-lined patios.

umbrellas out back

Or lunch on a fine day, far from the traffic and noise of busy streets.