Plaid & Garden

By Anita Garner

Years ago I moved into  a cottage in Mill Valley with a lush backyard garden planted by the person who lived there before me.  I was grateful every season for the gardener who created the magical retreat.  Every time I looked out a window something new was blooming and that first year I had no idea what would appear next.

My one and only Grand lived in Woodland Hills.  Mill Valley to Woodland Hills on California’s I-5 was a regular road trip every few months.  Between visits, they sent me photos of The Grand and and I sent them photos of whatever grew in the garden.   On my phone are hundreds of pictures of The Grand and many, many photos of flowers.  Am I the only person who saves pictures of tiny bouquets for years?

In these photos, the coffee tables change, the vases change, the blossoms  change, but the one constant is the plaid couch.  I loved that couch.  It was already vintage when I bought it and even more nicely worn in after I had it a while. Finally, the couch sighed its last. That’s when I realized that in all these pictures, lovely as the flowers are, the couch still draws me in. I miss it.

A plaid fan knows it’s not just for fall and winter, and once in love with plaid, you don’t break up.  You might date a few other patterns, but you’ll always go back. Someday another plaid couch will come knocking at my door and I’ll invite it in and take pictures to show you.

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Welcome home.

By Anita Garner

This is my favorite welcome home from anyplace I’ve lived.  It’s Mexican Sage gone wild at the edge of my driveway in Mill Valley, CA.   The sage loved that spot and I loved the sage.

I wonder if I’m the only person who keeps photos of favorite bits and pieces of houses on my phone. Not in a sad way.  I’m just strongly attracted to gates, mailboxes, driveways, front doors, entryways.

Mailboxes.  Old tin ones on a wood post like this one.  Or old wood formed into a little house on a post. I like to visit neighborhoods in any town and soak up all the ways houses say hello.

I’m working on a new  novel and as the chapters unfold, the house details become more important.  While I’ve been telling the story, an old house has become almost the main character, requiring me to learn things about home repair in order to add realistic conversations about what needs fixing.

I have a friend, a music producer by trade, and a builder of everything his home needs.  Last week I drew him a sketch of a repair needed in my fictional home.  Took a picture, texted it to him in Nashville, asking for some HGTV talk, what a construction person might say about the repair.  Back came some sentences that fit perfectly.

I’m now so attached to my fictional house, I want to live in it. By the time the manuscript becomes a book, the front door will be yellow and the driveway will be trimmed in Mexican Sage to match my favorite welcome home above.

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