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.


Unknown said...

Burnout is real and hard and I am sure you made the right choice. I had several beautiful moments at your store, but my favorite was in July when I had just gotten engaged in Valentino park and we stopped by your store and we bought the most perfect bouquet of flowers, and a perfect set of ceramic bowls that I store my engagement ring in every night. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Thank you, and good luck on Your next adventure.

Erika said...

Thanks for all, Saipua. xo

Annie said...

Oh gosh. I have followed for a long time, and been impressed by — and made tired just reading about — your work ethic. I am also impressed by your ability to say 'enough!" and make a change. At my old age (61) still figuring out how to do that. How to simplify my life. How to step away from political news Just Enough that it doesn't cause panic and nightmares. How to breath while mortality tiptoes a wee bit closer each day.

Keep writing. You do it so well. And thank you for all you have shared about flowers and beauty. As for the coffee, I have almost the exact routine!

Wishing you peace and grace in the new year.

Shelly said...

Dearest Sarah, what the caterpillar perceives as the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.
May your wisdom and acceptance guide you always. And may you know them as you yourself.

Pat Furey said...

I cannot wait to buy your book.

Anonymous said...

So happy to have experienced the shop/studio feel you and your team created. With love from Vancouver. xo

Wendy said...

Love your honesty.and bravery.

Kim said...

At first I was selfishly shocked - but then I read your goals for the future and said: YES! YES! YES!
Let us all coax even more beauty out of each day.
Thank you and good luck sweet girl. We all look forward to your book.

Unknown said...

Stay on your path Sarah, it all has been beautiful and inspiring to watch unfold. You are the realist. I will continue to follow your journey. Not only are your flowers and photographs hauntingly beautiful but your eloquent writing is just as inspiring. As a florist of over 30 years I can tell you you have given a shot in the arm to the flower community and the younger generation of florists. I hope you know that.

count buckula said...

Exiting the Saturn square indeed...

Anonymous said...

I came back to read this again, and I found new ideas, things I missed the first time. So good.

Canoe said...

Always inspired by your honesty and prose. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Laura said...

I'm so happy for you. That might sound strange, but I felt it coming as I read your posts over the last year or so, not just about the business but about your life and I suspected that path couldn't fulfill you for long. In time, it would only distract you from what you're really after. Because I'm a fan (of your flowers yes, but even more so of your wish to deconstruct and understand the world around you and your place in it), I hoped you would make this choice so you can feed the deeper parts of yourself and selfishly, so we can all benefit from the fruits of that labor if you continue writing. I've been down a similar path, made a similar decision to walk away from what others might define as success in order to look deeper, ask harder questions of myself, and then patiently wait for the answers. It's not for the faint of heart, but I get the feeling that's never been a problem for you. Thanks for all you've shared and I'd wish you luck in this next step, but you don't need it. You've already done the hardest part.