Tuesday, December 30, 2014

on Blondie, sweatpants, and competition

The inevitable chatter of holiday plans started to crescendo amidst casual banter with friends and colleagues around the second week of December at which point it occurred to me that I was going to have three weeks at the farm with very little to guide my days and unreliable internet. Time off scares the shit out of me. I don't like to relax, I don't like vacations, and I don't like pajamas or the word 'lounging' or, for that matter, sleeping. But I do some of these things, obviously.


For example, I take baths. I can sit in the bath for hours. My bathroom at the farm (which doubles as a flower studio) has a phenomenal antique cast iron tub ($200! never buy a new tub!) that keeps the water really hot for extended periods. I like the water so hot it's like I'm cooking a lobster. Some of my friends have expressed a certain bath boredom; an inability to sit in the bath for more than 15 minutes without getting bored. "What the hell? - You just went in there!" I said to my friend Sarah once when she emerged before I had time to finish secret smoking on the back porch...

Eric barges in a few days before Christmas half way through my soak. Carrying sweatpants. Big thick grey sweatpants Hanes or something without elastic at the bottom - sort of open ended; designed possibly to resemble trousers, as if one might consider wearing such things out in public. Try these on! he said, fucking with me.

I've been walking the dogs a lot everyday, getting to know our woods better, marking off trails in my head so visitors don't get lost out there and have to send me a dropped pin (!) to locate them and lead them out. One day before Christmas Eric joined me in the woods. We walked slower than usual, I noticed how much he notices. More than me. He wonders out loud "If a florist makes an impromptu holiday wreath in the forest and no one instagrams it, did it really happen?

I'm building a bird watching station out in the swamp lands and a deep woods fort for coffee drinking. I need a good thermos I realize. My dream is to have a coffee kiosk in the middle of the woods staffed by a well trained intern who maybe has worked at Blue Bottle and wants to learn about flowers in exchange for keeping the kiosk (solar powered) open everyday from 2-4pm which is when I like a coffee break. I'm serious about this, interested persons please send me your resume.


I've been spending lots of time with Blondie, one our sheep-guarding Maremmas. When I get bored or sad I go out an hold hands with her. She's my favorite dog. People say they don't have favorite children, that's a fucking lie.

She was hard to break in. We took her in about a year ago from another sheep farm. She spent the first two weeks chained up in the barn while she got used to us. She'd bark and growl whenever I went out to feed her. She's a 110 pounds, I was timid with her. I'd sit on the hay stack and watch her watch me. And then one day she didn't growl at me. And then a couple of days after that Blondie gave me her paw and just stared at me. (I'm waiting for ang lee or steven speilberg to call...)

Weathered, a little washed up, she's an aging beauty queen; a single mom working the night shift. (Maremmas are nocturnal and patrol the sheep field dusk to dawn.) A teenage mother, she'd been bred 2 or 3 times when we got her. After we had her spayed she refused to swallow the pain meds they give you at the vet. Of course.


I've been at the farm now for one week. Time really moves slowly here, which should be a good thing. In the back of my head I keep a running list of things I can do if I get really bored or anxious...replace the a string on my cello, repot my houseplants, paint my office, work on my star charts, order seeds for next spring, look for a one-eyed elderly black male pomeranian on petfinder...

Someone said to me once it was going to be important to learn to be alone at the farm. It's different than being alone in the city where I'm lulled constantly by the chaos and other people's busyness as they walk by on the street downstairs. We feed off distractions don't we. Or I do. A couple fighting on the street on their way to work. How charming this is to me! Down with O.P.P.

citrus_kitchen table

I've been thinking a lot about the nature of competition, and my competitive nature...it fuels me like nothing else. In a yoga class the other day I found myself competing with the girls next to me; completely against all the tenants of the practice!...but there I was congratulating my handstand as they struggled through it.

Over the years of on again off again yoga I've been through all the things; devout practitioner, chanter, stabs at meditation (can you imagine me meditating?!)... There was one class I went to for a while in Brooklyn where all the women were like goddesses and during the class -- one of those hot rooms kept at 95 degrees - they all moan and sigh like a bunch of preening snakes. I was into that for a while.

Other popular attributes commonly at play in my internal repertoire?  Guilt and self flagellation.
On my drive home from this ho-hum Albany basement class instead of beating myself up for being a competitive bitch I found myself laughing at myself in a kinder, more accepting way.

sunny flowers

In the city someone has been tagging around our neighborhood this dumb stencil that says SELF LOVE IS THE ANSWER. Every time I see it I roll my eyes. A few months back it showed up on the door at Saipua. Deanna had it scrubbed off in two days and I haven't thought about it again until now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

more thoughts on the fall



Autumn is my favorite season. I guess I'm still talking about it.
I wait all year for it and when it gets here I try so hard to make it stay.
I watch it like a hawk

The flowers were the best right before the end; when the temperature dips the flowers get brighter, rusty some; hearty and boisterous.  At some point I gave up on the field and would go out there in the mornings just to watch the dogs hunt for field mice under the straw mulch. I left all sorts of tomato volunteer plants in the dahlia beds this year and I would walk around eating them; chewing around the rotten bits and the worm holes - looking at the half-spoiled garden. A beautiful riot. When things in October were so hectic in the Saipua realm this was a calm in the eye of the storm. Just watching the last ditch efforts of plants hang on before the end.


It felt like I grew dahlias just for myself this year, leaving most of them in the field instead of selling them. At times it felt indulgent, but I'm still figuring it all out - the growing part, of course - but also the being both florist and farmer. Saipua has developed a huge appetite for anything Worlds End grows, our two businesses now so inextricably linked.

Now that the farm is frozen I see how lucky we are at Saipua to have this resource. Making flowers in the city this week with only market flowers feels relatively cold and lifeless.

We have been making progress on the barn, which I hope to be finished before I die. It's been painfully slow and expensive. The floor is finished now, and has an incredible sound to it when you walk across it. We made a wedding in it at the end of October for a bride in Hudson, NY. Even without doors or lights or a dope sound system we managed to make it work.


Once the barn studio/greenhouse is finished, the next big renovation project at Worlds End will be to renovate the other half of the barn; another 2000 square feet of bunkhouses and living space where people can stay when they visit. You know, for my dance classes and astrological exploration weekends.

Integrating our city work with our upstate work is the key to better flowers and business but we need the infastructure to make it happen. Only so many people can sleep on air mattresses on the floor of our house. It's so exciting to me; I just have to be patient and keep my head down in the thick of the work we're doing to make it happen.



Something must be said of Genevieve Rainsburger who joined the Saipua coven a few months back. She was one of our summer interns and at first I didn't think about her too much; I've met hundreds of enthusiastic girls. She's basically my polar opposite; she's warm, full of positive energy, she likes people and talking to people. She uses the work 'magical' A LOT. She smiles A LOT and it's the most beautiful, genuine thing you'll ever see. And it makes me smile, which is not something I do. She literally shines from inside and I'm kind of grossing myself out as I type this but it's got to be said because it's so true. I hope to god you get the chance to meet this woman. I fall for her more everyday.



I haven't mentioned it here but we have a new dog - Zelda - calling her Ziggy. She's a border collie and will be our herding dog. She will hopefully help us move the sheep from field to field and also round them up when they decide to  go to town...literally. Zelda is a nut and after a long bit of not being sure about her (face it, she's not Nea) I can say now that I love her.



Autumn feels like a race, doesn't it? In the city and in nature. The scurrying, the preparations. We all have to get our nuts and store them. But the season also brings a certain weighted sadness with it. It's a particular aesthetic, timeless and placeless. It's time running out. There were not enough afternoons for walking with the dogs. (There won't ever be)

I revel in the melancholy of autumn. The romance of the end is so much more interesting than the flightyness of the beginning. Like when being broken hearted feels kind of good because you're feeling something so much instead of nothing at all. This time of year I just want to drive around listening to nick cave and smoke cigarettes in graveyards. What the hell? i say to myself. snap out of it. But you know I don't really want to.

Thinking of spring I think of innocent new yorkers walking by on an unseasonably warm 70 degree day in March and maybe you're carrying a huge bale of dogwood down the block and people stop with gigantic grins and pronouce "OMG cherry blossoms! IT's SPRING!!!" and you want to be like; "yo this is DOGWOOD and was actually cut in February and forced open in a humid rat infested basement on 28th street." But so it goes.



Time marches on. 34 falls. The meaning of life? Sheep help with those fucked up contemplations because when you hang out with them you realize they are just as alive as you are and all they care about is grass (and avoiding the ram we got to breed them).

I wanted to be an astronaut but I'm a florist. I'm mildly claustrophobic so I'm probably better off.