Archive for the 'Garden' Category


IMA Holiday Open Greenhouse

Old Friends

A trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art Greenhouse as a Christmas tradition? Yep. The Greenhouse is open for business year round whenever the museum is, but two Thursday evenings in December the Greenhouse folks, like my friend Lynne above, roll out a therapeutically warm and life-filled holiday welcome. You can pop into the final Open House of the season next Thursday, December 20 (free, open till 8:00 p.m.). It makes a great date night venue.

Warm Greeting

I love the subtle details. This year simple candles burning in the snow were at the gates. In the past, it was red fabric lanterns with tea lights inside.

If you think an emphasis on nature limits your color palette to sage and brown, the Greenhouse staff is ready to blow your mind. I’m thinking about buying this metal tree and all of its ornaments for our house so I can make it through the February and March blahs.

Aviary Tree


If you look closely you can see the guitar player through the window.

IMA Greenhouse

I’ll always need a plant and a smiling-person-pick-me-up to brighten my spirits when winter is bearing down on me. Sue, Lynne, and the Greenhouse crowd always hook me up with both.


Oldfields, the IMA’s American Country Place era estate of which the Greenhouse is a part, is open for free that Thursday, too. The grounds are lit so that you can enjoy the gardens at night. Cold as it was outside, winding through the endless luminaria trails was a calming way to end a typically wild December day.

Oldfields Formal Garden

On the Grounds

On the Grounds



Pink Hawaiian Peonies

(The Peony border my friend Kris recommended we plant.) 

My mom’s first cousin Gary made a tidy bundle selling what I call truckstop ephemera- things like shot glasses and mesh hats with front panels that say things like “Old Fart” and “Official Hiney Inspector.”   

Pink Hawaiian Peony

(Peony, Pink Hawaiian)

Of course, he sold literature like “The Official Hillbilly Cookbook” and “How to Talk Southern”, too.  The latter is where the blog title above comes from (Flares– “Ooowee shug, them flares yur bruther sent you sho’ is perty.”)  Like a fool I’ve let my copy disappear.  I’d ask my cousin Gary to help me find a new one, but I’m not so inclined since two family reunions ago he made a point of standing up in the middle of lunch to declare his undying love for George Bush and his most ardent opposition to gay marriage.  This even though he has a gay son, Matt, who–irony alert!– spends his days riding the highways of America with his gay truckdriver partner.  I’ve never met my cousin’s partner.  I’d like to.  I’ve often wondered what his hat might say.    

Pink Hawaiian Peony

These days Gary couldn’t hook me up with the book anyway, since he has retired from the retail humor business and made the move to travel humor.  In addition to his talent for laying flat a family event, he also does a mean Gomer Pyle imitation that knocks folks old enough to remember the plucky private on their behinds.  (“Mean” here refers to quality, not bitterness.  Bitter Gomer would actually be funny.)  Frequent impromptu impersonations on airlines eventually landed him a gig doing his bit on a regular paid basis.  Where?  On a cruise ship, a place guaranteed to be chocked full of people old enough to remember Gomer.  Now that, folks, is a salesman.  


(Allium and Siberian Iris)

Mom tells me that Matt sometimes travels with his dad to catch his cruise act.  Despite his bravura pronouncements, I believe Gary is on the path to a better understanding and acceptance of who his son and I are.  I think he took the first steps down that path not on the day that his son came out, but on the day of the reunion when my mom threatened to walk out of her cousin’s home and not come back if he didn’t put a sock in it.  As I believe hope springs eternal, it is in honor of Gary that I post these flares from the spring garden of his happily hitched cousin.   

White Iris

(Iris, “Butter and Eggs” [I think])


A Store I Love: Country Friends

If you read this blog much, you’ll realize that while I’m crazy about all kinds of design, our own home tends towards the “not new” (I stopped using the word “traditional” during an episode of the Sopranos when Carmella used the term to describe the white leather and chrome-gilded mobster haven she and Tony called home.)

Outdoor Table and Chairs

(Outdoor table and four chairs I have my eye on. $199.00.)

I don’t know why I like what I do. I could try to figure out why old furniture, flowers, lots of color, gardens, cushy chairs, woodstoves, holidays, etc., appeal to me, but I don’t really care. I’m a big fan of metacognition, but over thinking design is one of the easiest ways I know to kill a good look.Fortunately though, there is a store made for people like me: Country Friends. Saying the name embarrasses me, but I’d be lying if I said it isn’t the first place in Indianapolis that I go when I need a perfect “something”—for a gift, to fill a floral container, for the front door, to help set the table.

Bird Bath

(A bronze birdbath we bought for John’s dad. I liked the forked base that makes it easy to relocate.)

Dave, another Friends-o-phile, and I typically make four official pilgrimages a year—Easter time (for spring and summer), early fall (Halloween and Thanksgiving), before Christmas and after Christmas. And then there are a few trips for random gifts or decorative dilemmas.Many people I know won’t go there. John refuses to darken the door. The place is PACKED with stuff, a look and shopping experience that a lot of people don’t enjoy. And there’s no shortage of kitsch, which doesn’t bother me. For whatever reason, I have a healthy respect for kitschy things as long as they’re sincere.

Michael and Sheila

(Michael and Sharon)

Plus the owner Michael, who started the business 22 years ago in Muncie, is a little manic and loud, but I love him. He buys fun stuff constantly and a lot of it, so if you are willing to spend some time you can usually find what you need. The staff is super friendly. They asked about my mom three months after she came to visit one time. I like that in a store.


Welcome Home

The Back Door

I wanted a place for us to toss around ideas about warm and friendly living spaces. Nothing too formal, mostly about comfort and hospitality. You are always welcome.