Friday, April 27, 2018

Growing, gathering and enjoying

The tulips have arrived along Park Avenue. 11:00 AM. Photo: JH.
Friday, April 27, 2018. It was a beautiful, sunny day in New York yesterday, with temperatures in the mid-60s and Sun shining bright. More fair weather predicted for the next few days.
Tulips decorate midtown, too.
Last night I went over to the Ralph Lauren women’s store on 72nd and Madison where Martha Stewart and Kevin Sharkey — her longtime aide-de-camp — were having a booksigning for her latest book “Martha’s Flowers; A practical guide to growing, gathering and enjoying.” This book was written “with” Mr. Sharkey — which means he was a full collaborator.

I got there at 6 before anyone else so I could get a photo of the authors as well as with Martha holding her book (for you to click on if you want to buy it now). Knowing Martha had published other books, I asked her which “number” this was.

Martha Stewart with her longtime aide-de-camp, Kevin Sharkey.
“Ninety,” she replied.

90!! It astounds, the number itself.

Although, Martha is possibly the most productive professional person I’ve ever known or heard of. She’s literally indefatigable. She has that vast reserve supply of energy mixed with curiosity and the need to be doing. I know a lot of ambitious, artistic people but Martha takes the cake if you’ll pardon the pun.

I’ve known her and covered her professional activities for a long time although you don’t get much of that personality when socializing with her. She’s friendly but with a quiet reserve, underneath it all. It could be that she’s a little on the shy side. That may sound absurd but very often these high energy, high profile people are just that, and sharply focused on their work.

She’s friendly in a reserved sort of way. Always wearing her smile, and often curious about something. We share a mutual friend – a woman who, like Martha, is a mother and grandmother and an active (and successful) professional. She knows Martha in the way women can know each other – the life behind the life – the home, the family, the personalities, the needs.

I had dinner with them one Saturday night a year or so ago at Sette Mezzo. Martha had driven in from East Hampton to join us. She’d spent the day weeding her gardens, either getting them ready for Spring or putting them to bed for winter. It was a labor-intensive affair because she has a lot of “garden” around her property out there.

In the course of our conversation, she happened to tell me that she had begun her day at her house in Bedford/Katonah, and was driven out East (a good two to three hour drive), worked all day, and was driven into Manhattan for a 7:30 dinner. After dinner she was driven back to her house in Westchester. Oh, and the traveling didn’t bother her because it gave her time to do a lot of paper work riding to and from her destinations.

Martha with a copy of “Martha’s Flowers; A practical guide to growing, gathering and enjoying.” Click to order.
These were the thoughts passing through my mind when seeing her last night. Afterwards back at my desk I got a call from Blair Sabol about a piece she’s preparing for us. I told her where I’d been. She loved hearing about it.

“When people ask me who had the biggest effect on me as a woman — and I grew up with Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, Germaine Greer and Shirley Chisholm, all of whom I interviewed back in the '70s when I doing my Outside Fashion column in the Voice — I realized that in the end nobody had the effect on me that Martha did.”

Somewhat surprised by Blair’s revelation, I asked her why. “First of all, she’s an incredible businesswoman. She got me to be aware of my Life Style and that meant, not just clothes. And I read the magazine and I followed her.

“Martha wasn’t political. That’s why she got to me. I don’t cook and I don’t garden, but a lot of women read her and also don’t. She went in on another level of living that was not political but which had to do with style and manners. Doing the right thing, a good thing. Don’t forget, that was her slogan. It’s a Good Thing.

“Her magazine in the very beginning was the biggest influence on women of that time. People took her in on a core-style level. I don’t know a woman who didn’t watch her on TV. This was before Oprah — because Oprah patterned her mag on Martha.

“And then when she served time, she really won me over. She was a hero to me. It moved her into an area that wasn’t funny – a lady talking about coming from the kitchen. (And by the way, NO other women have served time like this ... and she served it beautifully.) She had classes. She was amazing. So Martha is my hero.

“With me, I’ll never forget it. She once advised putting green apples in a white bowl. Forever thereafter, I’ve had a white bowl with green apples in my kitchen.”

After talking to Blair, I went back and opened the new book. I’m not a gardener either, although I love flowers for their beauty and fragrances, and during the warmer months I have my own little “garden” on my terrace. Alas, the new book is its own kind of inspiration. A thing of beauty, to keep in mind even if you are unable to grow it around you.
The display in Ralph Lauren for Martha's book signing.
And while we’re on the subject: this past Tuesday night at the Pierre, The Horticultural Society of New York hosted its 21st Annual Flower Show Dinner Dance honoring Sharon Casdin and Gil Schafer.

At the annual celebration of floral arts which presented 20 different designers, guests enjoyed a festive cocktail hour — generously sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Fresh — and a preview of the exquisite and ethereal designs.
The annual celebration of floral arts presented 20 different designers.
Jared Goss, Vice Chair and Secretary, presented The Award of Excellence to Vice Chairman of the Board, Sharon Casdin, for her dedication to promoting horticulture, for her dedication to The Hort; and to architect Gil Schafer, for his traditional approach to architecture, in which nature plays a very important role.

The benefit raised vital funds for The Hort’s programs that provide education, horticultural therapy, job training, and urban greening in communities around our city.
Adam Casdin, Blair Casdin, Sharon Casdin, and Alex Casdin
Jared Goss, Gil Schafer, Sharon Casdin, Sara Hobel, and George Pisegna
Fred Steinberg and Sharon Casdin
Susan Gutfreund, Cece Cord, Frances Schultz, and Nina Griscom
Melanie Chisholm, Kristen Genovese, and Rhonda Quan Kristen Krusen and Kristen Swenson
Wayne Nordberg, Michele Ateyeh, Bunny Williams, and John Roselli
Jared Goss, Michael Kovner, and Jean Doyen de Montaillou
Jared Goss, Susan Gutfreund, Cece Cord, and Mark Gilbertson
Martha Glass and Roy Kean Mary van Pelt and Mark Watson
Gloria and Carey Fieldcamp
Esmeralda Spinola, Mark Watson, and Ana Paula Watson
Duncan Sahner, Molly Colehower, Allie Choi, and Brian Choi Bryan and Jessica Cho
Randall Gianopulos and Victor Geraci
Mary Snow, Philipp Triebel, Kristen Krusen, and Charlie Krusen Kristen and Charlie Krusen
Wibby Sevener, Jennifer Argenti, John Argenti, and Georgina Schaeffer
PJ Pascual and Brent Winston Sheila and George Stephenson
Mary Snow, Philipp Triebel, Kristen Krusen, and Charlie Krusen
Mark Gilbertson, Angela Tassoni, and Schuyler Thompson
Jared Goss, Huguette Schlesinger, and George Pisegna
Robert Lindgren and Frances Schulton
Bunny Williams and Gil Schafer
Rhonda Quan and Kristen Genovese
Gloria Fieldcamp, Jared Goss, and Christian Duvernois
Michael Foster, Mario Nievera, and Travis Howe
Eleni Gianopulos and Melanie Chisholm
PS. Good News Express. Jilly Stephens, the Executive Director of City Harvest sent a note to all who attended the 35th anniversary dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street on Tuesday night, to share that “through the generosity of everyone in the room, we raised over $4.6 million, enough to help feed nearly 17,000 New York City families for a year and more than we’ve ever raised before this event.”

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