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.