Questions for you about Flower Essence Racks

I posted these two photos on Facebook yesterday but also want to put them up here, because I want as much input as possible on this project.

We have a carpenter friend, Jay Waldner, who is interested in making wooden Flower Essence racks for shops and practices. He is a marvelous craftsman and problem solver. Our inventory sits in beautiful wooden stands of his creation. When he built these floor to ceiling stands for us, he thought through the issues we confronted including how the Flower Essence bottles could slide smoothly as inventory was pulled. His stands manage our inventory in a way that is both functionally flawless as well as extremely elegant. That is really the hallmark of his work: issues of form and function are both addressed beautifully!

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This is Jay’s first prototype.

It a two piece affair that will hold 6 bottles of 24 different Essences. The two pieces don’t have to be sold together, but together they would be perfect for the Animal Wellness Collection as they would hold the 22 remedies of this collection while also offering space for the frequent additional Essences, Golden Armor and the Arbor Garden.

In this prototype, the dividers are made from pine although Jay says they could also be made from cherry. Jay thinks he would finish the pieces with a mix of tung oil and varnish. In their protoype stage, they are not varnished. The angle of the surface the bottles sit on is 20 degrees, but Jay could shift this easily so that the bottles slide more easily when the bottom bottle is removed.

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This second prototype uses dowels for dividers. It would probably be easier to clean. Jay said he would be happy to build a second unit to go behind this one, but I suggested we post these photos and get your input before he builds this. The angle of this prototype is much steeper, about 45 degrees.

I can take more photos if people want them. I can also given you exact measurements of the units. We have received a lot of requests for this kind of rack over the years. Now that we have someone willing to provide them, we need more data from you before he goes into any kind of production.

Is this the size unit you would like? Would you rather have racks that held fewer bottles of more Essences for example a rack that holds three bottles each of 36 or 48 Essences? Would you rather have much smaller units that could work as building blocks? How much would you be willing to pay for one of these? Would you rather not have the sample bottles set on top of the units? What are the concerns you would like us to address with these racks?

Email your thoughts, suggestions, feedback, ideas to us at green.hope.farm@valley.net or post your thoughts on our Facebook page! THANK YOU!

Sorting the Stories

On and off for the last few months, I have been working on the next edition of our Guide to Green Hope Farm Flower Essences.

Earlier in the fall, a lot earlier actually, I re-organzied the Essence lists in the Guide to include all the new Essences made since the last edition was printed. This is, like, step one in a eight thousand step process. I don’t know exactly what I was planning to do next- I always take a meeting with the Angels and Elementals of each Flower to go over our definition to revise them, and these meetings take time. Perhaps I was planning on starting that part of the project- but before I did so, I decided to compile the sweet letters and lovely feedback you have sent us in the last few years into one document. As I have mentioned here before, my hope was to post this document on the website as well use many new quotes in the next Guide. It is still my hope.

When Jim does a project, he always has a pretty good idea of how long something will take. I am notorious for saying, “Let’s slap up a new tool shed this weekend.” Jim is notorious for bursting my fantasies about what exactly can be “slapped up” during a weekend. This sums up the plot line of our life together. I suggest wildly ambitious projects to be done in ridiculously short amounts of time. He tells me it will actually take ten thousand hours, then we both roll up our sleeves and get started.

Without Jim involved, I had no idea compiling this document would take so long. The nice thing is that it is fun to read all your letters again and revisit with you and your stories. The challenging thing is that the project is like that fairy story about the endlessly refilling pot of porridge. Every time I think I am on my last pile of saved stories, I find another one.

While some piles grow, others diminish. Each week I go out to the barn where the last of the Guides are in storage and count boxes. How long until I absolutely have to finish this re-write and get it to the printers? I play games with myself about this. I don’t ask for any hard numbers from Thembi about how many boxes of Guides she actually brings into the office each week. I gloss over how many boxes are left, forgetting the number between when I count them in the barn and when I get back to my pile of unsorted stories.

This week, as I worked through more piles, I could see Angels signaling me that it was time to wrap up this portion of the re-write project and get to the other stuff. I tried not to pay any attention! After all, there was still more of your mail to re-read!!!!!

Their gestures grew more animated in the last few days. As I told myself,”Just a few more inches of this pile!” I could see them doing the “WRAP IT UP NOW.” signal.

So many great stories and wonderful insights! Does it really have to be today that I put the rest of the mail back in a new folder for the Guide AFTER this one? Jim would say yes. And he is not alone. In fact, I hear an Angel right this moment telling me, YOU NEED TO DO THIS NOW!

Just a few more stories? Please?

Hope Springs Eternal, 2012

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Despite the wrinkled, withered and apparently lifeless appearance of these pea seeds, I am banking on them to do their usual miraculous stunt of shooting new roots down into the earth and tender green tendrils up into the sky sometime in early April. My contribution will be poking them into the cold spring earth.

Given CNN and the Mayan calendar, I find the sure thing of peas very comforting. I hope you do too!

Homemade Holiday #2

Two years ago, Ben suggested we partake in homemade gift giving for the holidays-

It sounded like a refreshingly simple concept- All of us would frollick around the hearth, making wee crafts while sipping hot mulled cider-

As it turned out, Ben was really the only person who truly captured any carefree moments that holiday. While he dabbled in song writing, poetry recitation, fine dining, oil painting and rendering Hafiz in arabic script, the rest of us scrambled.

You may recall my heartfelt post after I worked many weeks on a braided rug for Ben, one that ended up being the size of a tea cozy. Had others in the family had their own blogs, you also would have read about their angst at receiving half baked crafts from me while Ben got a real present.

In my own defense, we all knew Ben would be the one to reckon with during Homemade Holiday. After all, his idea of a moroccan feast requires the growing of lemon trees to make one’s own preserved lemons. I had no choice but to gear up with him as my numero uno craft target.

Predictably, he blew all of us out of the water with his full throttle renaissance man behavior. And again, in my own defense, I started with his present first but really didn’t think this would mean his present would also be the last one I worked on.

Those of us who lost our sense of life purpose, our confidence in our time management skills and our self identity as crafty (ie everyone else in this high drama except Ben) were relieved to get a reprieve from battle when we went camping last December and gave Homemade Holiday a miss.

But as 2011 rolled towards a close at a shockingly swift pace, we found ourselves in Homemade Holiday territory way too soon with Ben yelling a silent cry of CHICKEN when anyone suggested backing away from a second simpler kinder Homemade Holiday kind of season.

This week, when Ben (rested and on vacation from his teaching job since last Thursday) drops in on us to check on how we are doing- He finds:

Elizabeth has fled the region and gone to Austin, TX until 2012.

Emily is receiving a wide berth from all of us as we fear she may use her knitting needles as weapons.

In a stroke of brilliance, Will is negotiating our expectations in a downward direction. Slumped in a chair watching ESPN while simultaneously keeping track of Facebook on his laptop, he grunts when we ask him if he wants support with any craft projects. In a few days, our expectations will be so low that we will be grateful and amazed if he bakes us all a pan of brownies to share or even eats a brownie WITH us.

Every night for the last week, Jim has disappeared upstairs to his office to do “paperwork”. I find it very convivial to see one’s spouse five minutes a day.

Trying to outlast, outplay and outknit myself this year, I began my craft projects at Thanksgiving with Will’s present my first goal. After all, he is the youngest and has had the least number of normal materialistic holidays. I figure tackling his present could save us on therapy bills later.

Good plan… but there have been some unexpected snafus (As one learns, snafus are Homemade Holiday’s defining characteristic).

The first problem occurred when I discovered some nameless child of mine had misplaced the electric cord of the sewing machine. When I took it to the store to get a replacement, the owner of the shop had me leave the machine so “his girls” could pick out the right replacement cord. Then in some typical Homemade Holiday freak of nature, the store did not re-open for TEN DAYS as “his girls” never seemed to arrive for work and neither did he. Finally, on my eighth return trip to the store, the place was open but “his girls” hadn’t arrived yet to make a decision about my cord. I took my cordless sewing machine and ran.

Plan B required the retooling of a vintage sewing machine that had fallen into our hands a number of years ago- It was the only piece of equipment left in the house down the road which we had to tear down. Many would say the reason it was abandoned was that it too was beyond repair.

Despite the naysayers, I managed to get old Bessie going and together we punched out Will’s present, a t-shirt quilt. ( I say this without any fear Will will read this information leak. What self respecting sixteen year old would keep track of his mother’s blog?)

Anyways……When I mentioned my t-shirt quilt to one of you in an email- perhaps a bit smugly- you sent me several photos of t-shirt quilts you had made. They were stunning- gorgeous- intricate- well quilted- colorful in a zesty but coordinated way- everything my quilt was not. This was very good for my ego which until then had thought my quilt was quite acceptable.

I continue to console myself with the knowledge that once the quilt is in Will’s hands, I will never see it again underneath his bedroom piles of gear and miscellaneous clothing.

Anyways, I don’t have much time to fret about craft standards. I am determined to finish at least one other present this year, and I have a stocking I am knitting which I have told Jim is for Emily and told Emily is for Jim. Maybe they can share it……..

In Which We Discuss the Toilet

Here’s to Lynn Tidman, Teddy Grobe, Susan Dam, Lauren Sherman, Adrienne Cedeno, Sarah Ireland, Ashley Dwinell, Liz Taylor, Jayn Bier, Catherine Barritt, David Jonas, Catherine Boorady, Cindy Brady, Pat Laurin, Kathy Skolem, Deborah Cardew, Sophie Cardew, Patricia Wiltse, Yessenia Araya-Mesen, Vicki Ramos-Glew, Masaki Schuette, Jane Taupier, Jessica Miller, Katherine Bernier, Olivia Fauver, Lauren Lenz, Thembi Muhlauri, Sarah Callaway, Caitlin Glasgo and all the Sheehans who have been and/or continue to be Green Hope Farm Staff Gods and Goddesses!

While there are millions of things I thank each and every one of you for and so many gifts, talents, insights, humorous world views and general sass that I am grateful that you brought to Green Hope Farm….. today I focus on your patience with the Green Hope Farm bathroom….

So here is an official shout out to you, honoring the fact that you put up with a small miniature substandard windowless pit the worst bathroom in North America- some of you for a brief flurry of months but some of you (and you know who you are, dear ones!) for MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS!

Q: How bad was this bathroom?
A: It was so small I frequently thought I was going to crack my teeth on the sink when rising from the toilet. It was so small that not even the smallest bathroom throw rug fit the space. It was so small that it needed a half sized door of just over two feet wide for entering and exiting.

Q: Why on earth was this bathroom so small?
A: When we built this house, I appeared to think that my children would always be in diapers and never need an actual toilet.

Q: Didn’t you think that you might have guests in your home?
A: Apparently I expected only hobbits.

Q: What was the least pleasant thing about this bathroom?
A: It was smack dab in the middle of the house but had absolutely no sound proofing. Anyone in the living room or kitchen could hear way too much. You could recognize the Green Hope Farm old salts because when there were other people in the living room or kitchen, they knew enough to run the water when using the facility ( and I use the word facility lightly- it was the kind of bathroom that made an outhouse seem appealing).

Q: How did you try and make this bathroom a better place?
A: We made an enormous wall sized collage of your cards so that while there was really no way to use the bathroom, it was always an artistically inspiring and colorful ordeal.

Q: What made you decide to do something about this bathroom problem child travesty of a space?
We realized we could take a portion of our living room and make it a bathroom entered from the Green Hope Farm bottling room and simply rip out the existing bathroom.

Q: How’s the project going?
A: This time round, hind sight being literally hind sight and of course 20/20, there has been more of a focus on the fact that people need bathrooms and perhaps deserve not to have the entire office hear all about it.

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Yes, it really was smaller than a coat closet.
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All gone!
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New toilet about to be set in place by Jay this morning. Jay Waldner is the wonderful carpenter/craftsman who framed our house in 1987. The past few weeks, he has had the pleasure of undoing his own work, ripping out the original “bathroom” he framed out for us when we were young and green in judgement.

I am particularly grateful for Jay’s presence right now as it represents the first time since Jay left us that Jim has been willing to have help with a project!

Upgrades include:
Big window with view of beehives, oak, pines and lilacs.
Real sized mirror replacing tiny antique one that was heavy on charm and light on function.
Crap industrial tiles replaced by real ones.
Sound proofing.
Space large enough for humans.

As a community of Flowers, Angels, Nature Spirits, Dogs, Cats and even some People, Green Hope Farm can be a funny place……and I love telling you all about it!