Ruth Stout's Garden

I started a Permaculture class last week in the Oakland hills (OH YEAH!). Working outside in this glorious summer weather has been quite the treat. After planting and adding new drip irrigation lines this morning we settled into our classroom to watch Ruth Stout's Garden.

Ruth gardened conventionally for 15 years then...

"One morning in early April I went out to the garden, I couldn't do anything, just went out to shed a tear because I couldn't begin to plant, the plow man hadn't come. I walked over to the asparagus and I said 'we don't have to plow for you, why do we have to plow for the other vegetables?' and the asparagus said 'you don't, go ahead and plant'. If the asparagus had said that to anybody with any sense they wouldn't have paid any attention, they would have said, 'well you are a perennial' because asparagus like a tree or like a rosebush just comes up every year. But anyways, since I wasn't very smart, I just ran and got my seeds. And that's been going on for 35 years. I never had a plow man again."

No digging, no watering, no weeding, no fertilizing, and no spraying. She just plants and picks. Her secret is MULCH!! MAGICAL MULCH! She covers her garden floor with straw that protects the soil, regulates temperature, and keeps the soil moist while it rots and fertilizes the ground. SUPER COOL!

"I suppose it does more or less give me a feeling of importance when I come across an article mentioning the Stout System, yet I am cheated out of the full value of that sensation because I've never been able really to identify the whole thing with that little girl who was certainly going to be great and famous some day. What a disgusted look she would have given anyone who would have offered her the title of Renowned Mulcher!

And it borders on the unenthralling to have the conversation at social gatherings turn to slugs and cabbageworms the minute I show up. And if some professor of psychology, giving an association-of-ideas test to a bunch of gardeners, should say "moldy hay" or "garbage," I'm afraid that some of them would come out with "Ruth Stout." Would anyone like that?"

Ruth lived to be 96. She was a quaker who always did things her own way (which included gardening in the nude). 


Heavenly, For Sure

Do you remember Talulah Gosh? After Talulah Gosh there was Heavenly. They sing love songs! Twirling around in your long skirt songs! Jumping up and down and flailing your arms songs! Twee, for sure and sweet, for real.

Punks, kittens and manatees are sure to set any girl's heart aflutter.

On a side note, is anyone planning a trip to Florida? May I tag along? I'd really like to pet a manatee. 


Joan Didion

I finished Play It As It Lays, a delightful Didion novel, while in Montauk last week and picked up another one yesterday when I got back to California (The Last Thing He Wanted). I love her fiction. Bare with me while I admit this next truth about where my tastes lie, I am extremely partial to female authors and woman in general.  I bet this isn't a surprise, but I rarely hear this and I really like saying it loudly in the giddiest of voices. I LOVE reading books written by WOMEN

Back to Ms. Joan Didion, a year or two ago I picked up one of her novels from Counterpoint Books in LA (my favorite). I have heard that her style and subjects can be a bit bourgeois and off-putting to some, but I can't get enough of her slightly lost and depressed characters who have been through so much. They are pretty, eccentric, slightly horrible and I love them. 

Joan is such a babe. She is so smart and slight. She grew up in Sacramento, went to school at Berkeley and lived in LA (sound familiar?). She writes about places I know.

By the way, the photo of her blowing smoke outside of her car IS totally Maria (mar-eye-ah) from Play It As It Lays.


Baby Ballerina

Irina Baronova was born in Petrograd, Russia in 1919 and made her stage debut at the Paris Opera  when she was eleven years old! 
 These three were known as the BABY BALLERINAS.
 She starred in Swan Lake at fourteen.
 Work it, girl. 
 She retired from dancing professionally at 27 and began an acting career in the forties in HOLLYWOOD. 
I adore this clip of her showing dancers how to mime. 
What a life!

P.S. Irina's daughter Victoria is an English actress and was married to Steve Martin for 8 years. She is also the goddaughter of Laurence Olivier (WHO I DESPISE).