Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Twittering in the Garden

Recently, my sister and I catered our very first Tweetup.  What is a Tweetup?  It's basically an informal gathering of people who share a common Twitter interest.   This particular group of Tweeters were a savvy yet diversified flock of landscape designers from around the country gathering in the Bay Area to attend the 2010 annual San Francisco Garden Show (SFGS to the gardening elite). In fact, the Tweetup was a pre-party for the SFGS and for many it was the first time to actually meet face-to-face and interact with one other without a keyboard.  It had all the same mystery and excitement as the movie, "You've Got Mail".  Ahhh,  the rush of adrenaline when Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks finally meet after months of writing.

It is my dear friend who hosted the pre-party in her magical garden, which in my opinion is above and beyond anything one would see at the show.  Am I biased?  Yes,  mind you I am not a gardener, but I know what I like – just like my wine.  Also, pre-parties are the best sort of parties to attend.  If there is red carpet event for gardeners, then a Twitter pre-party, in my humble opinion, is it!  Everyone has their nails cleaned and buffed, there is  swirling chatter all around, the anticipation about seeing each other and, of course, the excitement of  attending the SFGS (The Academy Awards of the composting crowd).

After a very wet winter, and months of prepping her garden, home, dog and husband, the Tweetup was threatening to be rained out. Puxatawny Phil declared 6 more weeks of winter, and by golly that is what we got. As luck would have it, the weather gods shined on my friend and her Twitter-kins, the sun poked out that particular day and her garden was in glorious bloom. Her Tweeting friends arrived and everyone enjoyed the fruits (literally) of her hard work.  Seriously,  her garden is so finely tuned all year long,  I could easily, without even looking at my calendar, know when to flip my mattress.

I have known my friend for the better part of 9 years.  I have seen her life change and evolve just like her garden.  The funny part is, it is not just about the plants and the carefully placed garden charms.  It is the sublime feeling I experience whenever I step in to her garden. It is not a surprise that her garden has been the prize of gardening magazines, newspapers and various Tweets everywhere.  For me, her garden encourages me to imagine the impossible. It is a place to remember the past, to be in the moment with your child, laugh with your spouse and dream of things to come.  It is simply beautiful. In fact, it reminds me  of  being in my sister's kitchen and  pantry.  It is a place of discovery, smells, colors, texture, sounds and taste.  I know the second I step into my sister's kitchen I am someplace where I am safe and loved.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my friend's husband who is incredibly clever with a hammer and nail.  His ability to transform her childhood cottage into a rustic but functional office is the envy of all who step inside.  It's also his construction of a beautiful aviary and chicken coop  which are one-of-a-kind structures that unassumingly  grace the garden.  Whenever I leave her garden I  am inspired and empowered to achieve the impossible.  It is the love of tradition, family and friends that motivate her to excel at her craft like none other I know.  I remember as a child running around playing the game of "tag" with my siblings and in the game  there is a designated "free space" where a person could run and stand and no one could touch you. This is exactly how I feel in her garden.  So, when she was talking to me about her Tweetup garden party, I asked her what are you doing about food?  She said she was going to serve sausages.  Really?  I love my friend, and I know she loves sausages but, really?  I have nothing against sausages. They are nice tidy little meat packages, savory and spiced to perfection. They are a no fuss, no muss kind of food.   Just like the next carnivore, I love how they crunch and spew hot sausage juice all over my white shirts. Imagining her designer friends, in the back drop of her blooming garden, eating meat sticks, well, that was like having caviar with potato chips.

So, my sister and I prepared a menu that would complement her garden and friends.  Just as my friend has her clever husband,  I have my sister who is clever with cleaver and grater.  She has an uncanny ability to anticipate spices in a dish, make syrups and condiments that create a one-of-a-kind melding of flavors that blossom on your taste buds.  As for me, I am the artistic one, the quality control gal, the big picture ( I cook too) but my sister is the chef and the wizard around the pot. Whoa!  When I mentioned my friend's party, she started her whirling dervish routine.  It was back to the market and out with all her potions.  I am very happy to have been able to help my friend. I know what she does to achieve what she does, and secretly I know,  that she knows, that my sister and I do as she does.  This makes us all very knowing. HA!

If you are curious as to who my friend is and I know you can tweet her here: or better her blog here: or check our her landscaping design work here:
If you want to know more about my sister, you have to stick with me... here.


rebecca Sweet said...

Okay - in my defense I wasn't going to put the sausages ON the sticks, but I would've sliced them (diagonally, for added glamour), and arranged them in pretty concentric circles on a plate. Hahaha....okay, who am I kidding. That would've been just SO lame now that I saw what you and Sue can create.

Thanks for such a beautiful write-up, Julie. The Meg Ryan analogy is perfect, the tension was truly magical when we all met for the first time!

You were a huge part of the success of this party, and I think we ALL know that. I truly couldn't have done this without you.

You're welcome to run to my 'free space' any time someone is chasing you. The door is always open...

Tom Urban said...

You should write a book! What a great writing style. Not sure if you heard ALL of the comments about how fantastic ALL the food was. But, it definitely made this one event that can never be topped (unless of course, we are lucky enough to enlist your help again).
I really enjoyed being the 'master taster' for you and your sister

Julie and Sister said...

Rebecca and Tom, if you decide to throw another party, my sister and I will be there. It will be even better now that we know your Twitter-kins! It was a fun time for everyone. I guess it should come as no surprise that Gardening types like to get down and get dirty (oops I mean party)

kim said...

Amazing Blog Julie! You are truly a fabulous writer...comedian....cook...and best of all, friend!
Love you a ton! xoxo Kim