Saturday, February 7, 2009

Veep's Dinner Party Challenge

For those readers of the Bicycle Garden that don't know about it, there is this simply amazing directory of garden bloggery called "Blotanical." The challenge of the blogosphere, of course, is that you could waddle along forever posting your polished little gems, without ever having anyone but your mother and best friend finding your site. Oh, maybe you'll pick up the odd neighbor or two (not that my neighbors are "odd," meaning "peculiar," though that could be the case, too...), but really, with all the stuff on the internets, the chances are that you could spend most of your days spinning your trails of wisdom out there into the vast emptiness of ether-ness with nary a connection to another living being. Or something like that.

So one day, shortly after I started on this dubious enterprise myself, I managed to find another garden blog. Over on the sidebar it had this little button with the name "Blotanical" on it, and out of curiosity I clicked it. Faithful Readers, shall I tell you that it was much like going through a portal to an alternate universe? There were garden blogs all the heck over the place, talking to each other. I signed up in a heartbeat and suddenly my little blog had a readership. (Well, it was not quite so easy as that. I had a little password problem, and for awhile nothing seemed to happen. Then Kate, over at The Manic Gardener, took pity and contacted me to alert me to the fact that I was not getting the full Blotanical Effect. I in turn contacted Stuart, the creator of all this bloggery goodness and he got me all straightened out...I am indebted to both. Truly.)

But the best part about the Blotanical thing is not that other blogs found me, but that I found other blogs. My goodness, Fair Reader, if you have never clicked on the little Blotanical button on my sidebar to check it out, hie yourself over there right away. There you will find multitudes of garden blogs so much better than my meager offering. Go ahead, do it now. I'll wait.

Hmm, hmm-hmm, mmm, hmm, I'll al-waaays love something something hair, dumm da dum, something something moooons and dah dah dah along the chicken wall, hmmm mmmhhhhm...

Are you back? Good. Anyway, one of the reasons I bring all of this up is that one of the many blogs I found through Blotanical was a British site called Veg Plotting, run by an energetic woman we know as "Veep." Earlier this week, in a fit of inspiration surely brought on by too much snow in the garden, Veep put out a dinner party challenge to her fellow bloggers on Blotanical. If you could invite three to five gardeners to dinner, she asked, who would they be? We were all supposed to think about this for a few days and post our guest list today.

Well, it was indeed a challenge, but I've finally finished my cogitation, and so without further ado, here is mine:

Sue Hubbell tops my list. For many years, SH was a professional bee-keeper on a small farm in the Ozarks. She has written two books about this experience that have become all-time favorites of mine, A Country Year, and A Book of Bees. Can I say that even before this challenge, every time I read one of those books (and since one of them is on a book list for one of the courses I teach, I read it often), I think I'd like to have SH as a neighbor. She is full of curiosity about the natural world, dryly funny, and down-to-earth. We could talk chickens and bees.

Michael Pollan is on the list, too. Yes, we all know MP from his writing about food, but he's also written two more of my favorite books, Second Nature and A Place of My Own (which is about building a writing hut from scratch, so you know that's going to appeal to me). However, where I think I'd have no trouble at all talking to Sue Hubble, I confess that I think I'd be too intimidated to talk to MP. I just get all tongue-tied when I'm around people I don't really know, and when they are famous people I don't know, the problem is surely compounded. Sorry, MP, I'm sure you're a nice guy and all, but I'm shy. So to take up the slack, I'll invite another big-name author to talk to MP for me,

Diane Ackerman, a poet and author who wrote a charming book about gardening called, Cultivating Delight. From her writing, I can say that DA seems like a very intelligent, interesting, and kind person, and I'm convinced that the conversation between SH, DA, and MP would be enriching and more than a little fun. And a shy person wouldn't have to make a peep.

But there's a bit of a problem left with which I must grapple, and that is who will do the cooking. In truth, I love to cook, and I think I'm pretty good at it. But I am absolutely phobic about cooking for people other than myself and my husband. Seriously. I hyperventilate and everything. I just can't handle the pressure.

So to help me in the kitchen I'd like to invite Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the host of The Splendid Table, a radio show that is all about food and cooking. I love this show. And I listen to it on podcasts when I'm out in the garden, so I'm thinking that qualifies LRK as a guest, even if it turns out that she is not a gardener herself (I have no idea about her status in this department, since I can't recall if she's ever mentioned it). I'm being a little devious here, since my impression of LRK is that she enjoys cooking so much, she wouldn't be able to stay out of the kitchen. And I could use the help in there.

She can pick the menu. And the wine.

Well, there you have it, my little dinner party. I think I'd like to have it during late summer, after I've started harvesting my tomatoes and peppers. We could grill outside. In the summer evenings here, after the sun finally sets, the air cools down marvelously in this dry air. I'll fire up the twinkly patio lights that circle the back garden and we'll sit around on the flagstone drinking wine and supping--it'll be like magic.


  1. You'd better believe it, Tina! All my fellow bloggers are invited. :-D

  2. Susan - I am going to love getting to know your guests! I have several of Michael Pollan's books, but the rest are new to me. That's what I like about these memes, lots of fresh thought and things to learn :)

    And your setting for the evening is just magical. Don't worry about being shy, the most wonderful thing about this blogland dinner party is you'll always have just the right words to say and questions to ask :)

    Thanks for inviting us all along and enjoy your weekend :D

  3. PS WV - is telling me to mingl - so that's just what I'm going to do ;)

  4. Wow, you've introduced me to an interesting group of people. The only one with which I'm familiar is Michael Pollan. I laughed my way through his book "Second Nature."

  5. I always find when gardeners get together "shy" just doesn't seem to matter. Talking goes on non-stop.

    I just might have to crash this dinner party!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  6. Yes, like you I'm not expecting to do any talking (lol). All your guests are new to me so I'll be doing some googling.
    Enjoy your party!

  7. I love Diane Ackerman! Her book, Cultivating Delight" is amazing. I read a few years ago and can still see in my mind the images that she created for me. Her story telling is so vivid you can actually see her garden. I need to read it again. Its been awhile.

    If we are all invited then i will see you there!

  8. I've got Michael Pollan on my guest list too! I agree that February isn't the best time for this party - there isn't much of last summer's produce left! Hope they all like pumpkin and spaghetti squash is all I can say...

  9. Hi Susan :) I am a recent arrival to Blotanical, and indeed as you say the best part is discovering new blogs as well as meeting new to me bloggers. I must confess that I have not come across any of your dinner guests before except for Michael Pollan. They do sound as if they will be great company though and I will be back to find out more about them soon. Your dinner party setting sounds idyllic . I love homegrown tomatoes and peppers :)

  10. Hi there Susan:-)

    Oh… I’m sure your guests would put you at ease especially as you have enabled them all to meet up. I am unfamiliar with all but Pollan who I’ve just heard about in other blogs. It sounds like he has a busy evening ahead! Yep.. you’ve a great mix of guests so relax and enjoy your evening :-D

    Oh yes... do spread the word about Blotanical :-D

  11. Such an interesting list! What a great idea to have a beekeeper as a neighbour!

  12. Wow, I've got some reading to do before I crash the party! I'm only familiar with Michael Pollan's books. And I don't think I've visited Veg Plotting either. This is what I love about Blotanical.

  13. Susan, it sounds like a wonderful dinner party! Your guests are intriguing.

  14. It does sound like a delightful evening and the food will be perfect! gail

  15. Goodness, gracious, I want to come too. All those great naturalists and gardeners. I've always wanted bees (but I hate getting stung), and I've had chickens several different times over the years. Like I said, I'll give you most anything if I can come. (Pant, pant, sigh)~~Dee

  16. VP--well I didn't realize that part of the challenge actually took care of the problem of shyness! That's a whole different story now. ;-) Thanks for setting all this up.

    Mr MCD--that was a great book, wasn't it? I read it when I was first starting out as gardener and found so much to relate to.

    Carol--Come on down!

    EG--It can be really fun to just sit back and listen, isn't it?

    FG1--I'm so glad to know that you've read that book! It gets overlooked, I think, and it's charming.

    Amanda--I'd come for pumpkin and spaghetti squash! I'm not sure I'd want to sit out in the back garden in the cold, though...

    Anna--Welcome to Blotanical--it's a terrific community of gardeners.

    Shirl--I've enjoyed your blog so much this year; it would be fun to trade birds in the garden for a day or two.

    TIG--think of the honey...You should really read her books.

    Michelle--get on over there to VP's plot. You'd really enjoy talking veggies with her.

    Nancy and Gail--thanks!

    Dee--you can come without bringing anything a'tall. However, if you should just happen to have a couple of hens...

  17. Delightful post, Susan. Wasn't this fun? I do believe I have a piece of Deep Dark Chocolate Cheesecake left if you choose to join me (and a guest or 2 still lingering that you might enjoy)!

  18. Susan, this sounds like a wonderful group. And, being somewhat of a gardening novice, I'm especially happy because you've mentioned some famous people I've actually heard of! Inviting a guest cook--now why didn't I think of that! Cooking for others, other than my family, makes me a little nervous, too.

  19. Hi .. I'm a blotanist, too. Funny I met you through someone else's blog. Anyway, is it too late to say welcome to blotanical? I'll find you at blotanical later.

  20. That's one hot guest list. Maybe I could wait tables? I'm the same, fine to cook for family but for anyone else, I practically get hives. You can be the first honorary SAGBUTT member, by the way. And it looks like next month will feature a guest blogger from the UK (don't want to spill the beans since I'm not the planner next go-round). So, guests always welcome! Plus I put it out there about maybe hosting Spring Fling next year. We weren't organized yet to do it this time.

  21. What a great list! For a change, I know all of them, and they're all still alive, so they'll probably really enjoy that delicious food. Let me get on my bike and start peddling (I do hope I'm invited). Should be there in about 6 months...

  22. Joey--I believe I've heard about that chocolate cheesecake! I'll be right over.

    Rose--I'm glad to hear I'm not the only shy about cooking for others!

    Blossom--I've justbeen over to your blog and it looks delightful. Malaysia is so diffeent from where I live!

    Karen--I am pleased and honored to be an Honorary Memeber of Sagbutt!

    TM--I'll save a bit of whatever LRK cooks! (I'll put it in the freezer, though, since it might not keep for 6 mos., otherwise. ;-)

  23. What a pleasant dinner gathering! Can I join you guys? I'll bring a bouquet of camellias for the table!


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