This was my first idea for what the cover of my garden book should look like:
But of course the art department at Bloomsbury had other ideas:
Don’t get me wrong: I like this cover very much (after all, I painted it) and it’s a view of London that has had a special place in my heart for neigh on 15 years (see: page 140 for the whole story). It’s just that for my first two books, the art department at Bloomsbury told me that I could never take an image from the inside of the book and put it on the cover because that’s not how they did things, and so I had to come up with a whole new idea for the cover. And then, for my garden book, the art department insisted on taking an image from inside the book (this image) and put it on the cover. I didn’t argue, I didn’t ask WTF??, I went home from the meeting and had a big stonking G&T.
Any hoo, it seems that the cover did the trick, the trick being to make everybody in the world want to buy my book, and win me heaps of awards and the love of everyone who was ever mean to me.
Because I just won an award from The Garden Writers of America!
The award came as quite a surprise; it was an ordinary day and I was at home, as usual, catching up on some housework and doing what I have to do in order to get myself in the frame of mind to write my heart out for one more day . . .
. . . when the prize committee and marching band showed up at the front door and presented me with my Silver Medal:
Actually, the GWA mailed me a certificate, but still.
I did win a silver medal and I can now legitimately call myself a prize-wining garden writer, thank you very much. Pretty good for someone who has never, and will never, garden in the verbal sense of the word. Weeding and getting my hands dirty and stuff: Ew.
The only other prize I’ve ever won was in 1994 when I entered an art work into a contest sponsored by the historical society that preserves the oldest house in Westchester, New York (The Timothy Knapp House in Rye) and I won Best in Show:
It’s an embroidery, of course, and it shows four seasons at the oldest house in Westchester, NY. It’s big, about 30″ on its longest side. The society liked it so much that they asked if I would donate it to their collection. Naturally, me being the sweetheart that I am, I gave it to them, happily.
Not long after becoming a prize-wining artist I quit the lucrative business of free-lance fine-art embroidery and entered the field of free-lance writing, where they just throw money at you. Those pennies hurt when lobbed from across an editor’s desk, let me tell you.
While working a glamorous day job in the office administration field (they only throw paper money at you in Corporate America, whew) , I managed to write my first book When Wanderers Cease to Roam, which came out in 2008. I contacted the historical society and reminded them who I was and asked if they would let me hold a book signing in their cute historical building (not the Timothy Knapp House) because the book was all about my life in Westchester and so were they (all about Westchester), and they said no. Me and elephants: we never forget.
So any way, here I am, a prize-wining garden writer of all things, and my most recent book, Gardens of Awe and Folly , is an award-wining travelogue of my adventures in nine of the world’s most thought-provoking gardens. The London chapter sees me in the Chelsea Physic Garden, and not all that happy about it:
Come to think of it, I wasn’t all that thrilled with the Japanese garden either:
In spite of my misgivings about some of the garden experiences I wrote about, nobody has ever mentioned to me that they detect any melancholy in any of the chapters, which I am grateful for because there were parts of this book that I had to write during the very hard time that I was dealing with the death of my DoG and I was very sad.
Boogie Girl: my sweet 17-year old cocker spaniel who I adopted three years ago this month, and was my heart and soul for nine months, two weeks, and a day:
Thank you, Boogie Girl, for being my First, and Only, and Best DoG.
Normally, this would be a good place to end a blog post but you know that I can’t let my Dear Readers go without a cat story. And here it is:
Taffy: This folded up cotton sheet is the most beautiful and comfortable place in all the world, for there is no other place as beautiful and necessary as this, even though there is the whole rest of the couch that no kitty is using. :
Lickety: I too think that this folded up cotton sheet is the most beautiful and wonderful place in the world and I would like to take a nap here, and not anywhere else on this empty couch for I am Lickety and there is no other place in all the galaxy that I can nap as peacefully and wondrously as here. RIGHT HERE. :
Taffy: I don’t know, Lickety; it doesn’t seem to me that there is enough of this wondrous and beautiful sheet for two kitties to nap upon and have their fabulous and magical dreams, which is surely what kitties will have, if they rest upon this most beautiful sheet in all the universe. :
Lickety : But there must be room enough for us two here, for there is no other sheet in all the world as beautiful and wondrous as this sheet upon which I have tucked my little kitty feet. :
Taffy: That’s not upon the sheet most magical and mystical (in all down realms of reality or fantasy) upon which you are tucked, Lickety; that’s my feets.:
Lickety: Let me show you how, in the World of Lickety . . .
. . . two kitties can occupy the same space . . .
. . . especially if that space is the space . . .
. . . upon the most wondrous and fantastical sheet in all the Not-Lickety World. :
Have a Happy Thanksgiving Day weekend, everyone. Thank you for being the Dear Readers that you are — May all your nap times be tucked in with sweet dreams most wondrous and magical. See you back here next Friday.
And Thank You, Karen Fonseca of Fort Bend, Texas, for proving that not all Texans are Drumpf-loving pukes :