Monday, May 10, 2010

Extending Living Spaces to the Outdoors -- Revisited

On Saturday, May 9, the Washington Post ran a truncated version of a piece I wrote on trends in backyard patio design. It was explained that because of advertising in the issue, the piece would have had to "jump" twice, meaning it would occupy more than two pages. And that, I was told, "is fatal. Readers hate them." 
As a result, the words and works of several wonderful contributors were cut short or completely cut out. I've already posted the article as it ran in the paper. What follows is the piece as it was written: 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Homeowners still extending living spaces to the outdoors

By Stephanie Cavanaugh
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, May 8, 2010; E01

Jack Stein and Peter Meccariello had just finished renovating their narrow Victorian in Capitol Hill's Eastern Market neighborhood when they caught an episode of "Landscapers' Challenge" on HGTV.

On a whim, they applied to the show for a backyard overhaul and faster than you can say crabgrass, the show's producer called and the homeowners found themselves choosing among three garden designers to transform their jungle into an urban paradise.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

To See a Marvel

A few years ago, as part of a particularly happy assignment for the Washington Post, I interviewed Evelyn Nef  about the Chagall in her garden, the only Marc Chagall mosaic in a private home in the world.  

She was 95-years-old that summer and when I called for an appointment her secretary told me I could only come in the afternoon as "Mrs. Nef exercises in the mornings."

Her workouts apparently paid off since after greeting me at the front door she did a little soft shoe down the hallway saying, "Come into my back yard and see a marvel!"

And we went out and plopped ourselves down in the shade and I listened to her tell the story of how this mosaic arrived from France by ship in 10 panels. 

It was, she told me, a hostess gift.

Flap Flap Flap

We have baby birds. And of the nests, this--parked in the ivy covered wall behind one of the back porch sofas--is only one. There's another in the vast and twiggy and completely unscented (sigh) mock orange beside the porch steps and another -- oh foolish birds!-- above the unfish pond (a story of chaos, trauma and death not yet told).

Clearly this means Mr. Mosquito Rid has not yet arrived.

Last year, he and his toxic fumes chased every winged creature from the vicinity. Lucky for us, the neighbor that employs him was guzzling gelato in Italy, thereby giving the mamma and papa birds the opportunity to rush in with their nest building kits of cigarette papers, wadded Kleenex and shredded plastic bags.

I find myself wondering what country birds use for their pied a terres.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Bird of a Different Color

Just when you think you've had enough of flamingos, in my case the second or third coming of the flamingos. When they no longer had the power to all.  Something simple yet elegantly evocative like this pops up amid the ivy and you -- or I at least -- feel a giggle take hold.

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