Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Garden for Cats

Warning: Posting frequency has dramatically increased (this is my second post in two days and my third post in a week). I apologize for any shock and suggest you breathe into a paper bag or have a glass of water to settle your nerves before continuing. —The Management

Nan at Gardening Gone Wild asked us to discuss any design changes we'd made to our gardens to accommodate pets in her post Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop - Pets in the Garden. Well, back in 2003 I created a garden specifically for cats at a no-kill cat shelter in Lodi Township, Michigan. The organization is called for The Love of Cats (TLC) and still exists, though the property with the garden was sold in late 2005. Clio is already comfortable in the Valerian above (it is very calming), so let's all settle in for a trip down memory lane.

Before I started, there was a fenced-in section available.

And four cat-shaped stepping stones the owner wanted to incorporate.

I had to figure out what kinds of plants to plant, and in what design. As an avid gardener and cat companion, I had some ideas about the former, based on plants my own cats had liked over the years. I figured it would be a simple matter of Googling "cats and plants" to find more, but I was surprised that most information is about plants poisonous to cats, not attractive to cats. (And, as it turns out, a lot of plants listed as poisonous are not in fact poisonous to cats unless ingested in impracticably huge quantities. Others may be harmful to other creatures, but not to cats, and/or toxins are only present in part of the plant, which cats don't usually touch, like roots.) So I instead queried my friends who have cats and gardens and also got a lot of input from cat lovers on garden forums online. I narrowed plants down further based on the conditions of the garden (zone 5, full sun, and fairly dry as I couldn't rely on the daily cat-care volunteers, who already had their hands full with other tasks, to remember to water the plants, nor was I able or willing to stop by every few days to water). Fortiantely, as it turns out, cats tend to like plants we consider herbs, so those are a good fit to the conditions.

Some practical considerations led to the design. For example, I knew they needed a litter area and I knew how much my cats enjoy rolling on stepping stones, so those were included. Because the area was full sun and quite hot, with very little natural shade, I added a few plastic structures for shade. There were also water bowls out on the deck at all times; most of the cats were older and moved kind of slowly, so I wanted to make sure they had water on-hand. They could go in and out at will through two cat flaps year-round.

The first day's work: stepping stones laid, and many things planted. The pots indicate where the two heathers, which were still on order, would go.

The cat grass grew in quickly after planted. I got it as organic oat and wheat seeds from the local feed store. Here Onyx, Sebastian, and Simon take a nibble while Niko makes her away along the path. I didn't fill mulch all the way in the first year, figuring cats like the earth, but due to weeds, I mulched everywhere the second season. And, look! The two heathers arrived and were planted.

The catnip bloomed just fine the first year, being an annual and all. And cats weren't the only ones who got their jollies on it!

Although, of course, the cats did get their jollies as well! Nom nom.

Onyx and Simon find that soft alyssum smells and feels nice but rough wood and stones are good, too!

Sebastian says, "Uh huh, yeah. Sleeping in the sun on two kinds of rough surfaces so near the tantalizing scent of catmint is heaven. Ahhhh." And, yes, Sebby looked a lot like James. And not just because they are both orange tabbies, but their facial structure was similar as was their manner and how they walked, etc. Sebby passed away a few years ago, unfortunately.

By the second spring, plants had matured quite a bit and were filling in (excuse this washed out photo!).

The same day, looking the opposite direction.

I love this shot of Valerian just shy of its full glory. Can you see Robin in the photo?

Here's Robin in another part of the garden, in case you didn't find him in the previous photo. He gives the catnip, which grew a lot in a few weeks, a high-five!

Here's what it looked like in February, 2005, under a nice cover of snow. You can see the top mesh extending over the fence here, which prevented any escapees (they couldn't climb it or jump over it, though as far as I know, no cat ever tried to escape).

Onyx was not put off by snow, but other non-barn cats were. He thinks catmint is just as good dried as growing (I cut it back in spring). Ah, refreshing!

In late May of the third year, things are looking perkier still. Um, ignore the invasive dame's rocket in the background. I did not have control over that area!

I like how the catnip looks in buds, right before it explodes.

A view looking west towards the deck. Oat and wheat grass lines the sidewalk. Cats liked to tuck themselves next to the huge lamb's ears. The creeping thyme is HUGE because it's near the rain spout.

A gratuitous shot of the lovely lamb's ear 'Helen Von Stein.' I've never grown lamb's ears as lush or large as those at TLC.

Even with all those plants, sometimes it's nice to nap on the rough sidewalk! If you're wondering about Onyx being in so many photos, it's because he was the cat most frequently outside and least likely to mind the bumbling Hoomin in the garden. In fact, he was with me during much of the initial planting and always continued to help me when I came to do some upkeep. He even came to live with me for a time after the property was sold, but Fiona never took to him. He now lives, as the rest of the cats at TLC, with its owner Kitty in a nice home. Purrs!

Emmy plays with alyssum and Onyx is busy in the catmint. And, look, the heather is doing fairly well. Frances, it's Calluna vulgaris 'Kerstin'!

Wait, what? Emmy's not just playing with alyssum! She can paw the life out of a blue fescue grass (look closely for the clump) and chew on mulch at the same time. She used to be a feral and is very outdoorsy!

The two huge mounds of baby's breath 'Pink' bloomed their hearts out in early June, 2005, white the white baby's breath ('Bristol fairy') in the background hasn't yet bloomed...

By early July, the 'Bristol fairy' baby's breath got pretty big, and Onyx liked it, much as my cat Penelope used to. It's not poisonous to cats, despite appearing on many lists to the contrary.

If you're wondering about a litter area, we created one using peat and compost, lined with fragrant creeping thyme.

Not every cat liked every plant, but every plant was liked by at least one cat! For example, some cats preferred catnip to catmint, and vice versa, and others liked both. Some liked cushy and/or fragrant plants, like the lamb's ears, creeping thyme, and alyssum, and, surprisingly, one cat just loved the prickly yucca, which I left in its original position in a corner. (The only other plant in the original site was a rose, which no cat took an interest in, but which the owner wanted me to leave.) Since planting the garden, I've discovered many cats also like lavender.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Faerie Fun

Note: If you are experiencing palpitations due to shock at the recent frequency of my blog updates, I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience and assure you normal service will resume shortly. —The Management

First off, I'd like to thank all of you for your wonderful comments on my Today I Leapt entry. I really appreciate all your well wishes and encouragement. Things have been a bit slow in the two weeks since I quit my job. I knew I would need time to decompress, and have been laying low, mostly on purpose. But I'd like to share my simple joys of these two weeks with you. I happened upon James and Fiona sitting tucked up right next to each other this morning. This is noteworthy enough. They do like each other more than any two cats I've ever had, but Fiona really likes her personal space. As in a lot. As in "It's mine, all mine." Ahem. But not only were they sitting so close, James was grooming Fiona, licking her forehead. That never happens, so I went to grab my camera, but by the time I got there, James was like "Huh? Wassup?" and I didn't get the shot. I do love what I captured, though, with James blurry while turning to look at me and Fiona crisp and composed. As usual.

And, in case you were wondering, one man's trash really is another woman's treasure. I'm an avid garage saler who has been getting really antsy by the lack of garage sales since before Thanksgiving (you think you're ready for spring? Try being an avid gardener and yard saler in Michigan. Bananas!). Anyhoo, I went to an estate sale in Ann Arbor this morning, and got the things on display on Sandy (my car; the vanity plate is Photoshopped). From the left, that's a retro-cool aluminum sled, complete with original leather handles and two holes for a rope to pull the sled. Only I'm going to use it (with the new twine resting on the sled) to pull heavy garden items (bags o' mulch and gravel, transplanted shrubs, etc.) easily across the lawn without using the wheelbarrow or tarp. Because my lot slopes and the grass is a bit bumpy (lots of tree roots), the wheelbarrow tends to tip when fully loaded. Plus, it's hard lifting heavy or bulky things into and out of the wheelbarrow. I had successfully dragged such items using a huge tarp, but I really like the idea of a sled, with an actual grip to pull. And I love retro things, so so much the better.

Next, we have a really cute frosted glass (with pour spout!) that has recipes for various mixed drinks and the words "To Your Health!" I absolutely love it. And I found this really cool holiday candelabra from the 60s or early 70s. Don't my retro pine cones and bells look perfect at the base?

Going back to the car photo, there's an older wooden box that once held grapes that will soon serve as my elevated salad box (to grow lettuce up and away from groundhogs) and four very sturdy metal poles that will stake some of my tomatoes. The poles even have one end cut diagonally to make them go into the ground more easily. And all that for just over $10, which is what the sled alone would have cost, had I found a new one. Yippee!

The other day, one of the two seed swap envelopes I sent off back in January came back to me. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! It was so exciting getting new seeds in the mail, plus the nice swappers got me a card that they all signed (so sweet!) and which was addressed to "magical, marvelous Monica" (the wording of which I ate right up!). And the eagle-eyed among you (or those who figured out you can click on this image to make it bigger) may notice Fiona's rear-end in the photo. She had hopped right onto the table and headed for the cat grass seeds, but was out of position when I was ready to take the photo. She's definitely her own cat! I picked out some seeds for myself, and it was fun Googling some plants I didn't know (Texas mountain laurel, Texas star hibiscus, Mexican mint marigold, etc.). I will donate what I can't use to a local community gardening group. The swap was so much fun, I'll do it again next year, so remember to save your seeds!

My first amaryllis bloom, which was just a bud for GBBD, is starting to open. Cool!

And, here's a gratuitous photo of the leaves of love in a mist. Marnie had asked about growing it and I explained how much I liked it, how it was ridiculously easy to start from seed by direct sowing (I don't even cover the seeds with soil, I just throw them down!), and how it sometimes blooms twice for me in a season. Once in very early summer from last fall's seedlings, and a bit later on from the seeds of the earlier plants. And even though it's an annual, its leaves are evergreen, as seen today in my garden (the snow has just melted due to lots of rain). Noogie! The only bad thing about love in a mist is that I tend to start singing "love in a mist" to the tune of "Love is in the Air," which isn't even a song I like, only in a more lounge singer-y way. "Love in a mist, everywhere I look around (round round round). Love in a mist, every sight and every sound (sound sound sound)..."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Growing Interest in Growing Food

I just took part in the Garden Writers Association's spring web teleconference. The topic was "The Impact of Home and Community Gardening in America" and I was able to jot down some interesting tidbits!*

  • This year, 43 million households in the U.S. plan to grow some kind of food (fruit, veggies, herbs, and/or berries).
  • This number is up 19 percent from last year.
  • Nearly half of these households plan to grow food in containers.
  • Only 33 percent are citing economic reasons for growing their own food. Other reasons include wanting better tasting/safer/organic/locally-gown food, wanting to spend more time outdoors, and wanting to spend time with family.
  • It costs about $1.80 per pound to buy food and about 35 cents per pound to grow your own.

I personally plan to grow more veggies this year, primarily for health reasons (I need to eat more veggies!). I don't have too much sunny space, so in the past I've grown tomatoes in my flower beds. Last year I made a veggie bed out front, which had primarily tomatoes. This year I plan to add leeks, beets, garlic, onions, and green onions. And in a very raised salad box (kind of like this, using my potting bench as the table, due to the groundhog) I plan to grow lettuce, parsley, and Swiss chard. How about you?

*Presented by Bruce Butterfield, market research director at the National Gardening Association, and Craig Humphries, director of marketing research at Scotts Miracle-Gro.

Added 2/27: The presentation is now online, and the survey itself (The Impact of Home and Community Gardening in America) will be available in early March at the National Gardening Association.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

GBBD - At last!

Hooray! I finally have both blooms to show and the wherewithal to post on the 15th of a month for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. So say hello to my African violet, who's greeting you in blooms and who is the only living plant inside or outside my house in bloom. I've gotten at least half a dozen of them from people who couldn't get them to bloom, handed over in part disgust and part challenge ("You're a master gardener, see if you can get it to bloom"). Despite not being that attentive to house plants, and doing nothing special with the African violets, they do bloom.

Moving on to real blooms of non-living flowers, here is a nice colorful bouquet I got at my leaving do at work.

Next we have an almost-bloom. I got this amaryllis on sale after Christmas (OK, hands up anyone who doesn't yet know I'm cheap!), and it's almost ready to bloom. I just love the red lines on the bud!

Moving on to fake flowers, look at the nice bouquet on this retro Valentine my friend Aunita sent me. I love, love, love older Valentines. And check it out, the kitten is actually wearing mittens!

And now some plastic flowers in this cute Playmobil set my friend Julia got me. It's a garden faerie, just like me! Note the wings are removable, which is handy as it does get tiring lugging them around when working in the garden. Note also that the wheelbarrow is shaped like a leaf. There's enough detail in the pruners (though they don't open) to tell they're bypass, not anvil! And the rabbits are just darling (thank goodness they're not groundhogs!).

Fiona (who's 8 pounds on a good day) wants to give you a size reference (everybody, say "Thanks, Fiona!"). Well, that's all that's blooming here at Garden Faerie's Musings. Cheers!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Today I Leapt

No, no, no. Not out of an airplane. (That's my friend Mindy and her husband Jim in the photo, not me! Good Lord, I have enough trouble with nerves inside an airplane!) I'm speaking metaphorically. You see, I made a big personal leap of faith, jumping feet first into the unknown. I resigned from my full-time job to pursue my gardening dreams!

For the last six years, I've been fitting teaching, presenting, and writing about gardening, as well as garden coaching and hands-on client gardening, around my day job. It hasn't been easy, but it was the only way to pursue my life's passion. I've been plotting and scheming, saving and planning, a long while now.

So 2009 is my personal year of change, as well as that of a nation, and I look forward to my new life. It's scary (oh yes!) but exciting but frightening but invigorating... a roller coaster of emotions daily (or hourly, depending).

So how did I get here? How did a risk-averse, practical, not 21-year-old single woman decide to give herself a year's "sabbatical" (or "gap year" if you like) to follow her own dreams?

The short answer is, it took a long time. In two major ways, my journey is about loss, but in a hundred little ways it's so much about what I've gained. The long answer is below. I hope you will indulge my thoughts today, as I both look to the future and reminisce about my journey.

I've been earning my living as a marketing and technical communications professional my entire adult life. And I've been thinking about work and life and happiness, and how sometimes earning a living conflicts with getting to follow one's true passion, since April, 1997. That's when my dad died. He was 59 and never got to retire. A lifelong hard-worker, he moved from his homeland of Austria to Switzerland to Australia to Germany to the U.S., always seeking the next and better job. We never talked about it directly, but I know his career wasn't everything he had hoped it might be, and I know he spent his life searching. I don't know what he was looking for exactly, and I'm not sure he did either, but I don't think he ever did find it. I am very much my father's daughter. I too had been searching, without even realizing it, and I didn't know exactly what for, either. I did know I wanted to retire some day, and I knew I wanted to not only find my "something" but to grab it with both hands, pinch its cheeks, and give it a big kiss like I was its Aunt Mabel! I also knew there are no guarantees.

Things went on normally for years, but I spent a lot of time thinking about how my life might be different. As time passed, I became stronger and found the courage to accept things I knew were true even though I didn't want them to be, and to admit things were false even though I wanted to keep pretending. I became divorced in late 2001.

In spring of 2002, when I was working part-time based on another life plan that didn't pan out, I needed to supplement my income. On a whim, I designed some flyers for my gardening services and distributed them in the higher-income neighborhoods in town. I was overwhelmed by responses, eventually getting referrals from clients of clients and so on. I enjoyed the work, everything from mucky one-time spring cleanups to weekly upkeep to designing small garden beds. The ironic thing is, I know I never would have started a gardening business had I remained married. Not only wouldn't I have needed the money, but it never would have occurred to me that I knew enough to work for others. It turned out to be both a wonderful learning experience and an unexpected reinforcement of my abilities.

In 2003, I decided to volunteer at "for The Love of Cats" (TLC), a no-kill cat shelter/cat retirement community operating out of a barn and restored farmhouse. My intention was to help with cat care, but it turned out shifts were specific hours on specific days, and my schedule didn't allow that. I did notice the backyard had a nice deck and a fenced in area, complete with sidewalk and resplendent in weeds. So I volunteered in another way. I researched, designed, planted, and maintained a garden for the cats to enjoy, with plants especially attractive to them. The thing is, I never would have felt comfortable designing a garden of this size had I not "gotten my feet wet" with my gardening client work.

TLC's owner, Kitty Zimmer, was always supportive of my efforts and the experience remains my favorite volunteer activity. Kitty also wanted others to know about what I was doing in the garden, and asked me to give a talk to the rest of the volunteers. Um, what? Oh, I knew my way around PowerPoint no problem, and I enjoy organizing information and photos. But let's just say I didn't do particularly well in my college speech class and had never expected to have to speak publicly again! But I did it anyway as I didn't want to let Kitty down. I was nervous and shaky and sweaty, but to my surprise the talk wasn't a complete disaster. The two subsequent talks Kitty asked me to give went a little better each time. And I no longer equated public speaking with torture. The thing is, I never would have started speaking if I hadn't volunteered at TLC.

In 2004, I applied to the Washtenaw County master gardener program. I had investigated the program in 2000 but couldn't get time off work to attend. My part-time schedule allowed it now. My county's MG program is very popular and about twice as many people apply as are accepted. My friend Aunita, who I had met through another volunteer organization, urged me to stress my volunteer experience in my application because the MG program is all about volunteering. I did and I was accepted. I loved the class sessions and I also met another close friend, Carole, through the program.

In fact, I've met many wonderful people and worked on many wonderful projects through my participation as a master gardener. Most notably, I was selected to speak at the 2005 International Master Gardener Conference in Saskatoon, Canada. That was my first official presentation. That talk led to others. Soon I was putting together and presenting classes on a wider range of topics. I actually started actively enjoying speaking, and I also began teaching very part-time through Washtenaw Community College's Lifelong Learning program. It was an unexpected joy, and an unexpected skill. It feels very good to end up being good at something you once hated and feared! The thing is, I never would have continued speaking, or made some of my closest friends (What can I say? Gardeners are such wonderful people!), had I not become a master gardener.

In 2006, I presented a program on winter seed sowing at the Michigan MG Conference. My two proctors were so excited about my talk, and a group of gardeners wanted their photo taken with me. (ME! Did they think I was Paul James or something?!?!) One of the proctors suggested I write a book on the topic. I brushed this off. For a while. Then it dawned on me (you'll excuse me but I'm a bit slow sometimes) that I'd been making a living as a writer for such a long time in the corporate world, so why couldn't I write about gardening? To pysch myself up, I phoned Pat Lanza, author of several books on lasagna gardening, who had been the keynote at that conference and who had given out her phone number to would-be authors. She was great to talk with, very encouraging, very practical, very savvy, and very funny. I was enthused. But I got distracted. I started working full-time at the beginning of 2007 and my attention wavered. I thought of 1,000,006 (approximately) reasons why not to write the book. I mumbled a lot about working on it after getting home from work and on weekends, when I imagined (entirely unreasonably of course) my friends to be sipping margaritas and partying without me. Then I wrote the book. It took a long time for a short book, but I finished it. The thing is, I never would have written that book if I hadn't given that talk.

Since 2007, I realized I had enough experience, services, products, and almost Pollyanna-like dogged determination to maybe one day pursue gardening full-time, at least for a while, to see where it might lead me. I started saving large amounts of my salary that year. Having barely gotten by on part-time income for a few years, it was not hard to save the extra I was making now.

By late last year, I had enough money to get me by, whatever else happens, for a year. Still I hemmed and hawed and hesitated because, as I'm sure you've noticed, the economy has taken a nose dive. And I've never not worked a "real" job. I've always earned enough money to support myself. I was scared. For about a month, I had little panic attacks daily. So I looked at things on paper, doing the math. I did the math again. I added contingencies. I added emergencies. Surprisingly, the numbers still held. I did them yet again just to be sure, what with being a writer and all (we're not so great with numbers!). They held. So I packed my parachute, put on my rig, and, heart beating terribly, I handed in my notice on groundhog day. My last day was today, Friday the 13th.

All week I've had a sense of calm and quiet resolve. This is something I've wanted to do, and knew I had to do, for a very long time. And now that I've jumped, it feels calmingly right. I'm just hoping my parachute will open! Please send good thoughts my direction, and if you have any quotes or pithy thoughts, please let me know!

You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. — Dove Promises

You only get one shot, do not miss your chance... This opportunity comes once in a lifetime. — Eminem

The world is full of hopeful analogies and handsome, dubious eggs, called possibilities. — George Eliot

Freedom was waiting... all I had to do was make up my mind. — Leann Rimes

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bag Lady Serves Dinner

I'm going to participate in VP's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner meme, but first I want to share some photos from a class I taught on Saturday at Project Grow, a local community gardening group. "Fun with Winter Seed Sowing" is my favorite class and I'm always excited to present it. This time, I also included a hands-on sowing session. This meant a little extra prep work sorting out supplies and tools (soil mix, plant labels, seeds, milk jugs, peat pots, spray bottles, pencils, spoons, scissors, and the handyman's secret weapon, duct tape). The night before class, I drilled about 250 holes into milk jugs (~10 holes each on 25 milk jugs) and pre-soaked some 75 peat pots (3 per person). Because we're really living the high life here at Garden Faerie's Musings, I can tell you.

Here's what Sandy looked like all loaded up. The trunk was full holding the milk jugs (big black plastic bag and two paper grocery bags) and visual aids (peach plastic bag).

The front passenger seat held the container of the moistened soil mix for the pots, while the floor held a bucket of dry soil mix (for topping the sown seeds), plus some extra soil mix just in case. (As an instructor, you learn to be prepared for contingencies!)

In the back seat you can see my wheeled three-drawer plastic cart which held supplies, another bucket of soil mix...

... and a huge bucket containing the pre-moistened peat pots.

I really wanted to take photos while people were sowing, but my attention ended up being needed to assist here and reassure there, demonstrate techniques, answer questions, engage in friendly banter, and "approve" the duct tape seals around the jugs.

People seemed excited about the idea of winter sowing in general and about their seeds in specific, so that was very gratifying. And on the way home it was so WARM (48F y'all!), I drove with the windows down!!!

And for those of you interested in my own winter-sown flats, I added two more the previous weekend during balmy temps of 42F! I only wore cotton pajamas and a fleece robe outside and I felt overly warm! The snow has melted off the earlier trays, but is still on the ground in the background.

Now, on to VP's meme. As usual, timing is not my strong suit. I believe my dinner should have taken place on February 7, but no matter. My table is set for February 9. And fear not. This slight delay just means reduced traffic congestion and slightly warmer temperatures.

And, I must stress, this shan't be a dinner as I'm not that great a cook. It will be more of an afternoon tea or Kaffee und Kuchen, similar to what I hosted in early December. In case anyone is a bit peckish for non-sweet treats, I'll also make hummus and triangle flatbread chips. (If those were the only food of mine you'd ever tasted, you would swear I were Martha Stewart!)

I would also use retro cool dishes, if I had a complete set, something along the lines of these (which I photographed in an antiques mall)!

Now, guests. Paul James is first and foremost. Not only does he know a lot about gardening, so it would be fun to have a good natter about plants, but he's also funny, practical, and irreverent, and he loves talking about food. (Hey! I said I don't like cooking, not that I don't like food!) I've sung his praises in an earlier post, so I won't babble on again.

Next, Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932), a pioneer in garden design, and a woman who earned her own living at a time when that was unusual. She was also a writer, painter, and plant aficionado. I just know she would have a blog, if she were alive today. I'd like to find out more about how she grew up, and what compelled her in her work. And, I must pose an admittedly pointed question: what was her beef with the color fuchsia? You see, one of my favorite heirloom annuals, love lies bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus), went out of style in the early 1900s after Jekyll declared her distaste for fuchsia flowers and banned them from her own gardens. She was such a trend-setter, people followed her lead in their own gardens, and love lies bleeding fell out of fashion.

And finally, Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986), a painter and lover of the natural world who captured the beauty of the landscape on canvas. Also an avid traveler and independent thinker, with whom I'm proud to share a birthday. I was unfamiliar with most of her work beyond the red poppies until I surreptitiously attended an exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum while visiting friends some 10 years ago. I loved her landscapes, especially the abstract. The "From the Lake" series is my favorite, though the scenes of Lake George also speak to me, as do the series of leaves and of cottonwoods. I'd love to talk to her about her travels, especially in the southwest, but also of her time in NYC and Chicago, and most of all, I want to talk to her about her own life journey. She is clearly someone who followed her own muse, and I admire her for it.

So cheers and guten Appetit!