lapin lapin, no lapins in my garden

Happy September! Fall is just around the corner … le sigh. Fall already?

Lately I’ve just been work work working. Sometimes it’s a little unnerving how settled I’ve become. I mean, I’m still young … shouldn’t I be having more fun, exploring and experiencing? I always joke that I’m like a grandmother with my cooking and crocheting and container gardening, but then again, there’s nothing really wrong with that. My plants are amazing. They don’t talk and they’re actually growing! For someone like me, who used to kill everything, my little urban balcony has become a magical urban jungle.

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I have three large cherry tomato plants that rely on a lot of dowels and the balcony railings for support. They’re named A, B, and C. Then there’s a lemon tree named Elle (I used to have two—Elle and Emme—but I gave Emme to my mother). I also have some bok coy, sweet pepper plants, crookneck squash, green onion, and basil. Oh, and there’s Ollie, my olive tree. He usually lives indoors, but is spending the summer outdoors with his friends.

Unfortunately so far the only things I’ve been able to harvest are cherry tomatoes (a lot of cherry tomatoes), green onion, and bok choy. The basil is doing well, but I actually don’t use basil my my cooking. Why I didn’t decide to plant rosemary is a question for the ages.

In summary, I’ve turned into a plant lady. But ya know what? I’m okay with it. It might be all that extra oxygen in my life from all my plants, but for now, I’m pretty content with my boring life.

what’s in a name?

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II.2.47-48)

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I’ve been working at an art gallery here in Shanghai for the past few months, and in that time I have been [job untitled], curatorial assistant, art director, and now curator. My friends on LinkedIn and Facebook are probably as confused as I am. Well, my main responsibility is organizing the exhibitions – coming up with exhibition themes, writing press releases, and deciding on titles. And you know what? Titles are hard! It’s nerve-wracking to try encapsulating a whole idea (of someone else’s work) in a few words. Thank goodness there are nifty sites like this generator to help.

Because I’ve switched from architecture to the art field, I’m discovering a whole different way of looking at and talking about the world. I still consider myself an architect in many ways, but I’m trying to learn the lingo, this so-called International Art English (of which there was a big hulabaloo about), referred to elsewhere as artspeak or “The Joke That Forgot It Was Funny.” Oh gosh. Architects are known for having their own jargon and sometimes talking in a pompous holier-than-thou manner (quoting Foucault with wild abandon for instance), but in general are much more down to earth because they have real things to deal with, like gravity.

But art? Well that’s a whole different ballgame. Oy. I barely followed the Foucault crap. Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Lantern Festival! The picture is of roses from the Queens Botanical Garden when I went last summer with my grandmother. You know, back when times were simple and a rose was just a rose ….

united states botanic garden

The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is located in DC on the Mall by the Capitol. It’s a good walk … and it’s free! … and hot! Ya know, because I’m poor. And, ya know, because it’s chilly outside. Apparently there are three parts: the Conservatory, the National Garden, and Bartholdi Park. Saw the first two, but didn’t venture to the park because I didn’t know it existed until I checked Wikipedia later. Whups.

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The Conservatory (the enclosed building aka greenhouse aka what you probably think of when you picture the USBG) was built in 1933 by Lord & Burnham, and I gotta say I love the keystones on the entrance façade. Each keystone has a different face and I just love those little flourishes of detailed ornament on solid Neoclassical architecture. It’s the little things that get me.

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The main central space (which is called the Jungle) has an upper-level walkway, which provides a nice change of perspective … but be prepared to get a bit misted when they spray the plants. Oh, and if you have a coat, scarf, hat, and mittens (as you should if you’re in DC in the winter), be prepared to carry them through the gardens – because it’s a bit steamy in there!

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To be honest, I don’t know much about plants and I don’t really care all that much about learning about plants. But it sure is fun to look at ’em (well, some of them – some are just boring to look at). The USBG is much bigger than I thought it would be when I approached, since the Conservatory is fairly deep and has many different sections, and there’s also the entire outdoor garden (National Garden) adjacent to the conservatory. Unfortunately the National Garden isn’t heated and a lot of the plants looked a bit … lacking life. Nice way to kill some time and be reminded that the world isn’t all concrete and steel. Plants – THEY’RE ALIVE!

rainy starts

It’s rained for the past few days, which is kind of nice in that it has been keeping the temperatures down. It’s still warm, but thankfully not stifling hot like it probably will be in the next week or two. Earlier today I went to Yuyuan Garden and walked around. Nothing terribly special, but it was still a good while. It rained the entire time, which is probably why the place wasn’t ridiculously crowded, but it also meant that I had to walk around holding an umbrella and my feet got really nasty because I was wearing sandals.

I feel like time is moving a bit faster these days. The end of my stay in China is getting closer and closer and it’s kind of nerve-wracking. This Saturday will be my one-year anniversary of being in Shanghai and I can hardly believe it. One year in Shanghai. Wow. I’m kind of proud of myself for that. I’m excited to go home, but I really have gotten used to living here and there will be quite a few things I’ll miss. Days like today, just wandering around a rock and water garden, splashing around in the rain … that’s the kind of thing I’ll miss.

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