An Ode to Monty Don

I’ve got Spring Fever, and I blame Monty Don, otherwise known as Britain’s Favorite Gardener. After discovering a season of Big Dreams, Small Spaces on Netflix that I hadn’t already seen, I spent a couple of weekend mornings watching intently as people across England transform their backyards with the help of Monty. When I came to the end of the unwatched season I wasn’t satisfied. I started watching Monty Don’s French Gardens, and Monty Don’s Italian Gardens. All of this is on Netflix, ready to be binged. And while you might be saying, “I don’t care about gardening, that show isn’t for me,” I’m going to make a case for why you should all be watching Monty Don.

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Happy Sunday: Just Fine

Brandi Carlile wowed people on The Grammy’s. Unfortunately, I missed that performance–at least the live broadcast–but her newest album has been in heavy rotation at my house for months. Then, recently, I saw that this song made President Obama’s playlist last year. I thought that was a good reason to share.

The Best Way to “Reread” Your Favorite Books

When I was 14 years old, I wandered into my local Barnes and Nobles with the summer reading list my high school had given me. There were hundreds of options on it that I could hardly make sense of. So I handed it to an employee and she quickly zeroed in on John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. She told me that if it wasn’t the best book I’d ever read, I could come back to the store and throw it at her.

I never threw the book at her, because it’s still my all-time favorite. If she’s out there, I’d love to thank her.

I’m not one for rereading books. There are just too many new stories to discover, but when I found myself with a few Audible credits to use, I thought, this might be a good way to revisit some old favorites. It can be hard to follow an audiobook for 20 hours or more (though I’m getting better at it), so rather than trying to follow a new story–and incessantly having to rewind–I downloaded my old pal Owen.

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Happy Sunday: Free Thinkers

Over the past month or so, I have wasted an inordinate amount of time watching two guys watch and react to music videos. It started–as so many of my YouTube rabbit holes do–with Jason Isbell. But it quickly led to Chris Stapleton and Amanda Lambert…and even some Alanis Morrissette.

Here’s the premise: Ryan and George, two black men , listen to music you might not expect them to like (based on stereotypes), and they react. I don’t think I have ever wanted to be friends with two people as much as I want to be friends with Ryan and George. Continue reading

Happy Sunday: Live from The Stone Church

IMG_3025A couple of weeks ago we finally made it to The Stone Church in Brattleboro. If you like live music, it doesn’t get much better than this place. It’s literally an old church with great acoustics, beautiful stained glass, and a giant organ. And boy is it intimate…

Brian and I were there see our friends Ashley Storrow and Putnam Smith. They were opening for a band we hadn’t heard of. They were great, just like we knew they would be.

The big surprise of the night, though, was Town Meeting. It was the best live show I’ve seen in a long time. At one point Brian turned to me and said, “I saw The Dropkick Murphys on the small stage at a Warped Tour back in the ’90s… and I feel like I just had the same kind of experience. We’re never going to be able to see these guys in a setting like this again.”  Continue reading

Happy Sunday: Ode to Dan Conner

My boyfriend once told me that, before meeting me for one of our first dates, he asked some friends if the shirt he was wearing made him look like Dan Conner and then changed his shirt. I then told him that Dan Conner is basically the perfect man… (or, at least he was until Coach Taylor came along).

This scene gets me every time.

Anxiously Awaiting Roseanne

I’m almost always the first one up on Saturday mornings–if you don’t count the dog and cat, who are the ones who wake me up–and I spend my alone-time with Roseanne. I make a cup of tea and I cozy up on the couch with the TV Land marathon of one of my all-time favorite shows.

I loved Roseanne from the beginning. It was the first TV show I ever saw where the people were recognizable to me–who behaved, dressed, talked, and just plain lived like the people I knew. I didn’t grow up in a nuclear family where one parent was a therapist and one was a news anchor. (Shout out to the Seavers!) Nor were they architects (the Keatons!) or doctors or lawyers (the Huxtables). My mom waited tables, my grandmother watched me and my cousin, and my grandfather worked shift-work at the paper mill. If there was ever a family that I could imagine living next door to, it was the Conners.  Continue reading

One Woman Book Club: The Stand

“She reminded me of a warning I was fond of repeating: do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.”  – Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran

These words appear on the first page of Reading Lolita in Tehran, which I took down off the shelf today after finally finishing The Stand by Stephen King. I found both books in the donated piles at the Welles Turner Memorial Library Book Sale–the kind of lovely town event where kids show up towing red wagons and you see spouses barking at each other about who is supposed to cover which table. But after spending the better part of three months with the lone survivors of the super flu (aka Captain Trips), I was on the hunt for something very, very different. Little did I know that the first page of Nafisi’s book would send me back to the often bleak world of The Stand. Continue reading

Happy Sunday: Weird Kid

Bon Iver is usually just a little too chill for me. But Bonnie Raitt’s Nick of Time was probably my favorite album when I was in, like, second grade. (I was a weird kid.) I even did my Gym Show routine to “Have a Heart.” So, this one caught my attention.