Thursday, April 26, 2018

At the farm I've been watching natures clock. Specifically chemical, pervasive. Wound into everything; coded thick in April's thawing fields, deep in sheep, of course, with their new lambs. This clock, ticking also in the systems of our social structures. Our stirrings politically, our evolutions. Can you escape a clock? Eric says his superpower would be to stop time. Mine, teleportation. 

It occurs to me it’s time for a new aesthetic. But not the kind you can see.  So I won’t be able to photograph it. 

Things have been very different for me. I am essentially, retired. I worked this fall and winter to carefully organize my business in order to have enough freedom so that I could consider my next moves…Bryony runs Saipua, booking only a handful of weddings a season, and only ones that make the most sense for us - which is to say just flowers, and full artistic license. The Castle in Brooklyn is full relinquished to my friends at the Marlow empire who are turning it into a sort of creative playplace/event space. I walk around with this new found freedom, my hands clasped behind my back like a little monk. I study sidewalk nature. I look out the window a lot. I ride my bike to new parts of Brooklyn I’ve never seen. I've gotten very good at ordering books on the internet, and there are twenty or so I'm working on stashed in different reading locations around my lions den. I bully myself - you want to be the type who reads Rilke, or the type who talks about reading Rilke? And there that is again; the judgement. I watch myself slip in and out of old patterns of self flagellation. I am pro at this, have been for ages. The difference now is that can see it coming. I can sniff it in the wind. I stalk it down, throw a big net over it, and then sit around with it uncomfortably, studying it. This dreadful animal. I'm talking about self hatred. And this beast is inextricably tethered to the current state of feminism. Wound up in our clocks from the very beginning; that sense that we are never quite enough.

Spring has been a long time coming on the east coast.  Two inches of snow at the farm April 20th. We start lambing amidst this perpetual winter. One morning one of the smallest lambs is dying. Curled up in a dry water trough with her sister who was very much alive and full of vigor inside the 19 degree sunrise. April 4th. I want to tell you how unfair this felt… reconcile it, describe it. But nature has no language. No good or bad. I know this, intellectually, but I’ll still spend my life slipping in and out of desperate attempts to define some small truths, delineate some gentle curvature of absolute knowing. I keep coming back to see if she is still breathing, as if she deserves a witness.  This would have been harder for me last year or the year before. But still, some clinging, always. She finally dies. Eric throws the body in the big freezer to skin her for her tiny pelt later in the season when it’s warmer. At some point the softness fades and rage floods in. Two waters, commingling. I feel like the boy who swallowed the sea, frantically signaling that I have to let it out. Now I’m talking about permission. My ongoing struggle to grant it to myself. 
Or maybe really what I'm talking about is how to be alone. 

A dissipative structure is a physical system in which sudden, calculable structure appears out of disorder. Cyclones for example, or even the whirlpool that suddenly appears over the drain when you empty the bath. Scientists study dissipative structures to understand everything from the spark of organic life on earth to global economics; it is that glimmering threshold between chaos and order.
I happily adopt this science metaphor for myself, and am learning to patiently wait and observe all the feelings that bubble up in this weird in between state - the primordial soup of self. Being and not doing. I can’t force this clock to tick faster. 

Freedom in this sense is of course hard won, and there have been very dark times. I got too thin this winter, awash in my ennui, and sure, my identity crisis. If I'm not a florist anymore, not a boss, then what am I? All women want that power that is somehow tied to thinness and then we get it and, surprise! that’s not enough either. If you get too thin you start to look old and frail. For a time, I relished this fragile self and then grew bored of it. One day I brought some lamb home from the farm and made 100 meatballs. Started eating them through out the day. Almost choked on one jumping up onto my bed, balancing on the windowsill to pull the curtain. Bits of lamb fell into my sheets, delighting and disgusting me at the same time. Headline reads: Washed up florist chokes on meatball in bed. I laughed alone at this. 

I realize it was about two years ago I started reading science books. I started with cosmology, went back to biology, to human evolution. Particle physics, fractals, systems theory... recently, dissipative structures. This was around the same time that Eric and I split up. The science was an attempt to see some permanence, some truth in the world - as if I could stretch the tenuous fragmented garment of my personal life over some fixed coordinates. Eric and I were in a process of untangling. I have not known how to write about it here. And I realize I may never know how to write it; how to give it the weight it deserves in the story of Saipua, the story of me and him. Eric is singular. He knows things I can’t know. Different truths. He speaks of watching nature; and can describe the light on the sheep field at sunset using just a few words.  I ask for guidance and he can give me exactly what I need. He can also hurt me more than anyone; this is the complicated truth of love and friendship and trusting someone so completely with yourself. 
I want to be his partner forever at Worlds End. In part, because I  don't want to put my hand elbow deep inside a laboring ewe to rearrange twisted lamb limbs. I reconcile this in my mind, ever tallying; I have other talents.

I used to think I would change the world by teaching people about composting or spreading the word about sustainable flowers - but those are mere components of a bigger picture. I think we need revolutionary change in the way we think about the nature of work, how we relate to each other, how we learn, how we integrate creativity into our lives, how we live together in community. We tend to segment life — sort it all, compulsively. We schedule time for health, love, beauty, yoga, we set alarms on phones to meditate, as if there could be a schedule for breath. I look around at the uncanny way we have learned to see nature as other, as something to go to, to be in, as if we could then be ‘out’ of it when we return to our homes, our phones our work and lives. Nature is right here… it’s teeming here, even in my city bedroom. It is in you, it is you. 

I meet with lots of people in the city to talk through these ideas. Inevitably they ask how I’ll build a business around it all. I tell them it’s not going to be a business. Embedded in our genetics as Americans is the need to compete and consume. There’s nothing and everything wrong with capitalism but that’s not the conversation I want to have - what difference does it make to argue it now? Capitalism is merely part of our evolution as a species; and it is obviously not working anymore. 

Artists need money to live like everyone else, but that needing keeps them enslaved to a system that inherently stifles creativity. I want to make a place at Worlds End for art and education that can function outside the constraints of money. This is absolutely one thing that I know. Taxes, coffee, diesel - those things that we need that we cannot provide for ourselves at Worlds End will be paid for by the flowers made for smaller, simpler events through Saipua in the city - which after an long tedious winter, is finally set up now with close to zero overhead.  

I believe that freedom of self expression is something most people have lost touch with; I definitely lost touch with it building my business. And I know that the freedom and safety around self expression propels compassion in community. 
I don’t think the world needs more ‘beauty’ but instead more first hand experiences of beauty. And that is something that cannot be planned, scheduled, consumed on instagram or purchased with a ticket to a weekend workshop. That state that I am after develops - if one is lucky - slowly and organically outside the constraints of money and traditional notions surrounding work and pleasure. 

I’m off now to cultivate it - for the rest of my lifetime. Largely through my work at Worlds End. Wish me luck and join me when the time is right. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year in Review

Instead of diving into the year I want to just talk a little about coffee, to break the ice perhaps.

We talk a lot about the 'Saipua Method' which usually means the specific ways in which we source and arrange flowers but the method also pertains to the ways in which we've treated and  employed people, the way we eat, the ways we compost, etc.

Of course there is a Saipua Method for coffee making and drinking which I will now describe in high definition, should you and I ever be together and you are making me a coffee and you want to impress me.

At the castle it was almost always pour-overs; we tended to buy the recycled brown paper filters by the brand 'If you care' which made me whisper out loud "I DON'T" every time I pulled a box from the shelf.

Kettle boils. You pour a generous amount of boiling water through the empty filter to wet it... Maureen, an apprentice from 2015 taught me this - "Why would you want your coffee to taste like the filter?" and I think of her every single time I make coffee this way.  This step also accomplishes a vitally important part of the process -- it takes the chill off the ceramics so that the resulting coffee is hotter. Because in the Saipua Method of coffee preparation there are three important qualities: heat, strength and quantity. But I'm skipping ahead.

The brand of the coffee is not of particular importance as long as it is a dark roast. The grounds should look like compost (almost black). The light roast coffee that is so trendy now makes my heart beat too fast because it has more caffeine, and the third tenant in the menthod - quantity - means this isn't our first or last cup like this today.

I feel the rest is fairly obvious - a heaping of grounds (more than you think - probably 1/2 cup) in the primed filter. Remember to pour out the water from your pre-heat, lest you start dripping coffee into tepid filter-flavored water which I have done and hated life for.

Then, half & half. There was a joke going with staff that there should be a color swatch made and hung up in the kitchen of exactly the shade of brown I was looking for. This made me feel very loved. (It's the color of peanut butter).

I just love them all so much.

In September I watched two big rig trucks packed with furniture and rugs and stuff take off for a wedding (our largest ever) out west. Running post production weeks later we didn't even make that much money.  I've never been interested in money - but I had - by September, become interested in not panicking over making payroll, affording everyones health insurance, and maintaining the enormous expense of the castle. I was watching everyone work so hard and loosing parts of themselves in the process. Something was awry and miserably out of balance.

And then I realized; I don't want this. For me or for them.

It became clear to me that I had to let this version of Saipua die.
All of my beloved staff, have now moved on. Even after just a few weeks I see many of them thriving in new ways and many of our relationships feel different and better to me already.

The castle is coming down... I'm in the process of dismantling it and relinquishing the space. It has served it's purpose and it is complete.

I don't know what the next version of Saipua will look like yet; it may be an artisan co-operative space (by which I mean hippie commune), it may be a Bread & Puppet-type theatre company, or the Coyote Cafe. It may be a left-wing feminist bookstore with an emphasis on plants.

Our uncanny world is changing so fast. The personal is political for me in that only by paying close attention to my real wants and desires do I afford myself the self respect needed to bolster my energy and reserves in preparation for for the next chapter of my work and business -- which will undoubtedly be more focused on community and connection; more focused on learning and discussion, on reading and cooking and eating together, on making things together and coaxing even more beauty out of our every day lives. This is what Saipua was in the past and can be even more of in the future.

You know I'll continue to make flowers for weddings because I love witnessing the tradition of lovers standing up bravely in front of their families and communities, and I'll always be the weepy florist in the back pew trying to hide her despicable fingernails. 

And someday, when I have gathered myself up properly, I'll teach again.

I'm hungry for flowers again in all the simple ways that bring me the most joy. To be a florist, to be a reader and a writer, a gardener. To bounce around a little. To experiment with different things and stalk myself in the bushes a bit. And write the Saipua book which will give testament to all the beauty, growth and learning that all of the incredible people - my staff, apprentices and our community - have helped to create in the last 11 years.

There is a teaching I read, right after Ziggy died in May. A man spends close to a lifetime on the beach trying to capture waves going out and resisting the waves coming in. Finally one day in his old age he rests and lets each wave lap the shore in and out over his feet. How peaceful this is! he thinks.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Reading list et al...

I have been taking it easy back in Brooklyn spending half my time working on flowers and half my time staring out the window with Nea contemplating my next moves. Turning over all the rocks to see what's crawling around underneath. God I love that metaphor. 

I've started making headway on the book and have a practice of reading/writing from 3-5pm which feels like the most regular, steady way I've ever worked -- it feels new and really good. 

In a coffee shop today I was reading about peptides (the biochemical manifestations of emotions!) when I was distracted by a conversation unfolding behind the counter: a real christmas miracle was needed for the barista to find someone to watch her cat - who is HIV positive AND has herpes -- neither of which could be transmitted to humans she explained -- so she could board a bus and travel to Toledo for the holidays. So many lives in motion at the same time, worlds spinning at slightly different speeds, struggles; all real and all justly pertinent. To eavesdrop in on someone's cat plight reminds me that connection is all we have. Really.  Johnny Broadturn explained this to me years ago after dinner one March at Worlds End when I asked him how we should go about saving the world when we knew it couldn't be saved. He told me to focus on human connection. Then he sent me an old copy of the I Ching. 

Change, the one thing we can know with absolute certainty. 

I smile at strangers now. I've been dabbling at this for a few years, but now it's pretty close to full on. This morning a Mr. Rogers meets Miami Beach stepped up on the sidewalk in front of me and smiled at me first which really took me by surprise (I usually initiate!) but it felt like a real gift. I was carried for a while by this gentle delight.

A few of you have written to me asking for a reading list. Below is a list with a few notes. 

The Web of Life, Fritjof Capra
An excellent primer on systems theory with good refresher of basic chemistry/physics/biology to boot

The Courage to Create, Rollo May
A classic. A short easy read every creative needs to reread time and again. Page 86 has a tittilating sexual metaphor that stopped me in my tracks.

The Embodied Mind; Cognitive Science and Human Experience, Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson and Elanor Rosch
Helped me understand the concept of emergent qualities and interelatedness. New ways of thinking non-linearly about science and consciousness

Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard
I've struggled with this text and will continue to. It's on faith. "No person who has learned that to exist as the individual is the most terrifying thing of all will be afraid of saying it is the greatest."

Matter and Desire, An Erotic Ecology, Andreas Weber
You'll want to run outside and roll down hills of leaves with children, rub your bare face in the dirt except it's winter and you live in the city so..

The Pregnant Virgin; A Process of Psychological Transformation, Marion Woodman
As my friend Mindy remarked, an odd book to read on the subway. But worth it. 

Women Who Run with Wolves; Myths and Stories the Wild Woman Archetype, Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Helped me immensely reconsider what intuition is and how we get it back when we've lost it.

The Dancing Wu Li Masters; An Overview of the New Physics, Gary Zukav
Entropy, the Arrow of Time (it's an illusion) and all things quantum. 

Sacred Economics, Charles Eisenstein
Made me think hard on the commerce conundrum (how do we sell what we think everyone has a right to; i.e. beauty, health, wellbeing) and introduced me to the concept of the 'gift economy'

Sphinx, Anne Garreta
A love story written in the 80s but only recently translated from the french - you never know the gender of the beloved. So good. So impossibly sad. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

on science, love and not knowing.

I waited on an older couple last night in the restaurant. Early birds, they ordered tea. Used their phones to light up the menu navigating choices together: grilled cheese, a shaved brussels sprout salad with pecorino and walnuts. I polished glasses at the bar, studying their intimacy as they rattled on about where the bathroom might be and if it was occupied or vacant. The likelihood of us accepting credit cards. They ordered dessert, of course. Later he helped her on with her coat. As she buttoned it up he gently pulled her very long brown and grey ponytail carefully out from under her collar and smoothed it down her back. I fell in love again with the world yet again.

Your heart is a muscle as big as your fist. My heart, in my chest skips a beat every day or so. I had this diagnosed years ago as some sort of murmur after too many tests in dark rooms with electrodes and green lines on screens. They may as well have told me I’d always suffer from longing. I go to acupuncture now. My first session he asked me 100 questions. What is my favorite flavor. Bitter. Ah! That is the flavor of the heart, he tells me. Later that evening I rendezvous with Nicolette, who, after months of traveling has landed miraculously in Hudson to see me. We can do our own acupuncture I tell her. Lets start. What is your favorite color? What is your favorite flower? She has some boutonniere pins lying on the floor of her car somewhere and I dig in my pocket for a lighter to sterilize them. Stay still!

Upstairs from the restaurant is a beautiful apartment where I stay. I sit in the windowsill, it is a good place to watch birds fly south and the sunset. One afternoon I find a displaced ladybug and we spend some time with each other. She opened me right up and I cried because there were no other lady bugs or aphids for her to eat in this apartment, she might as well have been crawling around on mars. I coax her onto a bit of dried leaf with some effort and walk her outside. Displaced bugs always tap a wellspring of emotion in me. When I used to drive from the farm to the city - the prius packed with buckets of flowers from the field - the car would become increasingly alive with bugs as they worked up the courage to emerge. By the time I hit Manhattan the car was a cyclone, a wild party confetti-ed with a host of pollinators, a handful of anthropods…the occasional arachnid sidestepping nervously across the steering wheel. The party ends when I pull up outside the castle. I would apologize, and try to offer something amidst the dusty street - a section of sidewalk with a tree and some weeds. Go there. 

How do we put it all together? Two weeks ago I toss out my jungian-heavy reading list and go back to science. I am now reading about systems theory; which aims to describe matter and reality by observing patterns and relationships instead of particles. A systems view is qualitative as opposed to quantitative. It is nonlinear. Systems theory (and the complex math that accompanies it - think the butterfly effect or chaos theory) can be applied to water molecules brought to boil in the lab (thermodynamics) or the ways in which differing socioeconomic groups cohabitate in a section of Brooklyn. A systems view can unite science and social welfare. This reading has my heart beating faster.

When we talk about classical science - the physics say of Newtown or Descarte or Galileo - we are talking about a rigid, reductionist approach. A description of the world as a sum of it’s parts. An approach that assumes a universal truth and absolute knowledge. But quantum discoveries in the early part of the 20th century baffled us with the realization that at the subatomic level nature gets spooky. Light is both a particle and a wave, particles can be in seemingly multiple places at the same time, and - my favorite physics bit - they know when they are being observed and then behave differently. This strange science - which baffled even Einstein - is what gives you the Apple product that you are likely reading this on. But we don’t understand fully the ‘nature’ of this science despite our rush to invest billions of dollars in cracking the code. The Hadron Collider - with its 17 miles of subterranean tunnel - is the largest single machine ever constructed. After years of false starts and troublesome superconductor magnets; it finally succeeded in colliding two beams of particles at close to the speed of light. And we collected more spooky data. More strange sub-atomic particles showed up with names like ‘muons’ and ‘charm quarks.’  

We sort of already know that we won’t ever know. 
And this is impossibly complicated for us humans who seem to always need to know. 

In the 1960’s the Gaia Theory was born out of  the study of self-organizing systems and the concept that life occurs not as a collection of matter but rather as pattern. When something dies, it’s matter doesn’t become ‘dead’ but rather it’s pattern of organization evaporates. Death is an arrangement that dissolves. It’s poetic and applicable to so many cycles and changes we experience. Gaia theory considers the earth as a macro-organism which regulates itself - it’s temperature, it’s homeostasis, etc - similar to the way our own cells and bodies do. This idea was the brain child of James Lovelock, an atmospheric chemist who was invited to NASA’s jet propulsion lab in Pasadena California to help NASA - riding high from the moon landing - look for life on Mars. After studying the chemical composition of the martian atmosphere using relatively simple telescopic techniques here on earth, Lovelock advised NASA to call off the mission. His analysis showed that the chemical interactions in the Martian atmosphere had all been exhausted sometime in the planet’s distant past - the Martian air was in a state of complete equilibrium and therefor could bear no life. NASA proceeded anyway, loaded viking with various life detection instruments, only to find Lovelock was of course right. 

Men are from Mars…? It’s easy to see the masculine and feminine at work here, easy to see the space race and our attempt to know (and dominate) the natural world as infinitely masculine. Which is not to say it’s gender specific; it is not men who do this but our culture which is oriented to favor limitless expansion, domination, competition and linear problem solving.  

I like to imagine a world, perhaps not in my lifetime, in which we have softened those impulses with our more feminine desires for beauty and intuition; one in which we can trust more in the interrelatedness of nature and our place in it. So I find myself asking how can my work aim to reduce our alienation in this world and provide more opportunity for connection.

Two months off has felt like two epochs. Wildly uncomfortable at times, exhilarating at others. It is a good place for observation. Everyone should take a drift through the cosmos now and again. 
What is to say of smoothing ponytails and experiences with bugs. Of subatomic particles and being open to seeing patterns. 

I don’t know
And I'm laughing with myself at this.

Thanks for always reading. Excited to make more beautiful pictures of flowers to share with you here next month. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

notes from sabbatical

September was red in the garden with dahlias and 'empress of india' nasturtium. Overripe tomatoes hanging on the vine stabbed at by chickens. Elsewhere in my life a latent red simmering. The color of tongues and the backs of throats, making words. Courage, perhaps. 

I watch red now, months later. It is softer and faded, my favorite abandoned train car. Bittersweet vine cracks its shell on cue...November...gaggles of tangled red beaded necklaces of it, cheap and plenty, strewn up in trees up and down the Taconic State parkway. Our own mardi gras in the Berkshires. I suddenly remember to breathe at a red light coming home from picking up laundry. 

I am living in Hudson. I wake up here at 5 or so. When it starts to get light out, I go walking. I’m writing a lot,  collecting information and resting. I practice my cello and watch myself struggle with the frustration of fretwork but also how achingly beautiful the sound is and how it coaxes me away from my thinking brain. The best gift for myself right now. Stripped of most of my identity, gone here are many of my familiar tricks. A lot can happen in this space. I wait tables on weekends downstairs at my friends Monica and Leisah’s new restaurant

My first introduction to melancholy occurred in autumn as a little girl, hustling (always?) to collect maple seed pods, fine twigs and clumps of moss around the yard. The last bits separated into disposable tin pie pans stashed in my hideout under the rhododendron. I built myself an easy bake oven with discarded patio bricks and made pies with mud and acorns. Always building, making, always with a sense of urgency. Someone had to prepare for a hard winter in the suburbs.

Red is the opposite color of loons. A family of four paddling silently in mid July in Acadia; another time altogether. Tourists traipsing by on a raised waterside wood walkway, too fast to notice. The birds opened their throats and sang to those in earshot of their own loon-ness. This color is cloudy blue. It is taught between a great weight and the air. I wanted to watch them forever, follow them out of the frame that was fixing itself in my permanent memory. I wanted to be a loon. How can a moment be so sad and happy? The ineffable tension that natures asks us to notice. 

You mix red and blue and you get purple like pokeweed stains on my cheeks for a long battle of beauty and various betrayals, my bed sheets at the castle where I camped out for a year and half. Everything is different now. It is the season, mine - autumn, always - for consideration and finally I took the time. A two month sabbatical. October was a whirlwind, half spent in England. Fifteen hundred miles in a ridiculous black jaguar loaned to me on a whim late one night in a email to their corporate headquarters. Typed out weeks before when I might have already known that things would unravel and the woman-child in me would need to speed across the moors and immerse myself in dying gardens, gothic myth and endless tea and cigarettes. 

On the second day standing at the edge of the moat at Bodiam Castle, dark eyed and cloaked, alone and again avoiding tourists, I thought that perhaps I would become a witch. I encountered a white horse days later, on the top of Dorset’s highest moor, I talked to him to get answers. He whinnied. All year I’ve waited for some sort of  radical shift - I half expected it to drop out of the sky at dawn or in the gloaming. I wanted to crack the code on art and commerce - it always seemed just around the corner. I was frantic, dancing like in the myth of the red shoes, depleting myself. I started fantasizing about being tied by the ankles and dragged behind a pickup truck along a dirt road. Bruised, plummeted. When you are black and blue you really are purple. I know this color well. 

I meet a wise woman one morning at the brunch counter, we sit down a few days later and I tell her my story. She observes that Saipua is intended to nourish people with beauty and yet all it does is deplete those at its core. She also mentioned that I don’t breathe. How can you tell? I asked her. 
She replied; ‘Because I’m having a hard time breathing sitting here with you.’

I look back on this last phase of my work at Saipua and see a large hole. A big sadness. I built it too big without thinking about what I wanted from it or what made me happiest in it. All of my desires for building community or my love for all my employees --instead of nurturing these things, I strained them. They became frantic with me, working 70 hour weeks, their lives also bruised and battered in the process. I was miserable and I just kept working harder, building more programs -frantically to avoid my own dissatisfaction. I don't have any regrets; I learned so much. Invaluable information collected, noted and stored up in tin pie pans. Here on sabbatical, with so much free time, I wander back through all of it. And see that it's all ok. 

In September a giant snake appeared one day in the pond at Worlds End. Five feet long. Two inches at her thickest. It ended everyone swimming for a while. I was so sad because I loved swimming there. One night I had a dream that I was in the water and the snake came up and gently coiled herself around me and took me down to the mud at the bottom. In the dream this occurred in a soft way -quiet, like a nice journey. After this dream,  I swam again.  The last week of September in the freezing mornings through the mist on the surface, the water still warm from summer. And in the evenings. I was by myself on the farm, and I wanted the snake now. But of course you can't rush these things. Everything with it's own timing. 
It was the edge before the beginning.

This morning I woke up and realized I don’t want to be a business woman. That is the purple, the radical. Instead, I really only want to make the most beautiful flowers in the world and share them. I want to let myself go back to the place where ecstasy and aching are knit together - a creative place that fills me up so much that it overflows - then only can I really begin.

I think as success oriented women, we so easily slide away from knowing or listening to what is really calling us, what we really want. We turn our creativity into commodity - make an armor of personal dogma and sell the shit out of it. Sacrifice our essence for the sterile image of perfection as so easily witnessed on social media these days.  I’m thinking so much lately about how to earn a living doing what I love and staying close to what I really want. Excuses about money or fear of failure sort of fade when you are living at the bottom of a pond. I remind myself to stay present with what matters most. I can, after all, always wait tables. 

There is a certain relief that comes in realizing I had a lot of it all wrong. I don’t have to fight for it anymore. Perhaps, I can just be it. Me and my pickup truck again? What I’ve secretly wanted for a long time. I’m smiling as I write this. How uncanny to stand here and look back and laugh gently with myself. The frantic tap dancing Sarah. I say with full conviction: I love her so dearly. 

In a few weeks I go back the castle, and trust I will know how to begin. 

Monday, August 14, 2017


Worlds End flowers photographed at the end of July. 


Reports to: Founding Director (Sarah Ryhanen), Deputy Director (Gina Pham), Events Director (Bryony Mattes-Harris)

The Creative Assistant is a new position aimed to provide full time support for our central office in Red Hook, Brooklyn. This person will assist the Founding Director, Deputy Director and Events Director with a variety of tasks including administrative support, marketing and outreach, floral design and photography.

This is primarily an office job. Organizational skills, ability to prioritize efficiently, sharp wits, high level of computer literacy, ability to work autonomously, direct and transparent communication style and an eye for color and design are necessary attributes. Some floral work will be required. No prior floral experience is necessary. 


Sort and respond to all SAIPUA inquires 
Provide the Directors with correspondence support; communicating with clients, press, vendors, etc
Assist with floral design for events and photoshoots
Manage all rental orders for events 
Organize travel plans for staff
Act as stenographer at weekly staff meetings
Research various flowers, plants, gardens, design as needed
Help to create design decks for clients using Adobe Illustrator
Provide general office support
Create and maintain the SAIPUA image archive
Create content and manage a monthly SAIPUA newsletter

Required skills: Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop and Illustrator), Drivers license

Salary commensurate with experience
Full Health Benefits
4 weeks paid vacation

TO APPLY: Send letter of interest and CV to with the subject line CREATIVE ASSISTANT

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When I start to write this it is a little past 4:30 in the morning and I've just come in from the dark field to see about sheep births. I don't like birth, by the way.

The two dogs go with me, a long walk for such a dark hour. Ziggy, the herding dog goes all the way up to the sheep and starts to run her circles around the fence. Nea gets distracted or lazy halfway up -- disappearing into the peepers and the mist around the stream. 

This morning there are no lambs, no laboring ewes. I trudge back to the house through the field with my flashlight and a particularly buoyant Ziggy. My boots sink 2 inches into the mud with each step. Inside the dark house I peel off various layers of sweaters and rain gear..  should I start the coffee or go back to sleep for a few hours? This debate is the same every morning and is loaded with my own distorted sense of achievement. A toxic, irrational link between hardship and integrity. Bullshit really. 

I start the coffee on this particular morning, flip the switch and then things are off running in a specific direction. A janus point, after which two realities exist: the Sarah making coffee, the Sarah that goes back to sleep. Nea is still out on the farm somewhere, enlivened to the dark by now, investigating a field mouse nest or rolling in something dead. Likely she's gone up past the towering compost piles to where there is half a deer carcass; only bones remaining. This deer has been Nea's spring project, and most afternoons she can be found diligently working on the bones or rolling around on her back in them. I consider for a minute the particles, the atoms of a dead stinking thing now on the thick fur of Nea's broad back. Moving on to their next adventure through the cosmos. 

I take my coffee up to my office and read about extinctions. I'm reading about the Ordovician extinction; it marked the end of the Trilobites and about 85% of marine life. The earth was mostly water. There were no polar ice caps. All land was south of the equator in a continent called Gondwana.  In some research I've been doing it seems that climate change deniers use the Ordovician extinction event as evidence of natural climate change. I spend more time that I'd like to admit reading these climate change deniers blogs and comments on the internet. I need to stop.

Things moving around, things changing. We can all agree on that. The world is changing no matter how we try to understand it. A lot of physicists now think that time is merely a human perception. It's how we experience change in the world, it's the projection of change in our reality. The mathematics of  Quantum theory and the General Theory of Relativity do not require time. When I think about the larger outer areas of the cosmos, and then the inner smallest working of the atom it makes me feel stuck in the middle and confused. But that feels better than trying to figure out how to feel about a coal-burning, national-park-destroying, human-rights denying Trump world. 

There are around 50 Quintillion atoms in a grain of sand. Thats more than there are grains of sand on the whole earth.

On my second cup of coffee I go outside and call the dog again. She trots casually in from the darkness. Smelling fine.

The birdsong has started now, and the world seems safer. The sky lightens.

In the city my bedroom view is of nondescript concrete buildings, asphalt and a pair of big dick dildos someone strung up on a wire. I miss nature when I am there but like the restaurants.

I woke up one morning to a loud sound in the city and I was for sure it was a nuclear warhead sent by North Korea descending through the atmosphere. When I was safe to know it wasn't, I let myself think of Kim Jong Il. Maybe lying in his bed to go to sleep on the other side of the world. So evil and also so undeniably human. Also made of atoms. Around 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of them.

Atoms are rather indifferent to politics, which I find comforting.

I was, for a few weeks, reading Breitbart every morning, just to make sure my blood pressure was up before I started the day.

I would click the most ridiculous article on the main page, scan it, and then go straight for the comments section. I learned a lot about the other side this way. I found a comment on a coal/EPA story that says 'we should burn Mexicans for electricity.' I close the window on the screen so suddenly, so as to minimize the amount of (perceived) time that idea is exposed to the air in my room. 

I think about all the hate in the world and the people who are so full of rage. I am full of rage sometimes (often even?) and I see my own anger more clearly now than I have in the past. It's uncomfortable but arguably empowering. I stalk my own anger,  like a spy in the bushes I watch it. Right under the surface of my skin like a hot liquid about to boil.

I go downstairs for my third cup of coffee and it's fully light out now. I look in the front yard, a true country ramshackle of broken chairs, piles of wood, plastic 5 gallon buckets. I love it this way. A work in progress. I silently swear to never polish it, never finish it.

I look out the back of the house and can see beyond the stream up to the field, small specs of grey and black starting to mull about inside the sheep pens. The stream is running high, from recent rain and the last of spring's snowmelt. It flows so surely, so exuberantly - the water if full of exclamation points!! Just another small tributary dubbed Fly Creek in this wild and weird ever changing country of ours.

It's hard wired in us, to see beauty in nature. Me and the commenters on Brietbart - each with our own unique set of man made angers and hatreds would see a teeming springtime stream and be momentarily calmed by it. Nature is full of things that we can all agree on and I trust the power of that more than anything these days.