Construction Blues

Since moving the bathroom, the only calm place in the building IS the new bathroom.

Every other space in the house is torn up…. because with the removal of the old bathroom:

A) old walls were torn down then new walls were built
B) the wood stove had to be moved because of the new walls
C)the old hearth for the wood stove had to be taken out and a new hearth built where the woodstove now sits
D) the old floor where the old bathroom was had to be torn up and then replaced
E) the place where the old hearth was needed a new floor
F) you get the picture…

Its like cascading dominoes around- One little project catapulted us into about twenty other necessary fixes…… PLUS we decided as long as we were doing construction we “might as well rebuild all our bookshelves.” I must have breathed a bit too much plaster dust the night I had THAT thought.

What lunacy it was to compound the situation with this add on! Right now all our books are packed up in boxes and stacked in various bedrooms upstairs which means everyone trips over boxes on their way to bed and of course none of us can find any book we want.

Downstairs, sawdust is everywhere, and standards are getting lower and lower by the minute as dust covers everything in the house.

A Green Hope friend emailed me today and asked me to write a blog about watering plants. I did water all the plants in the greenhouse today, but it was bedlam out there as they too are covered in sawdust. I hosed some of them down and then felt that only meant they’d gather dust better. I am sure they too are feeling that water is the least of their problems right now- If they could, they would probably FIRE ME!

But to briefly and inadequately cover the topic of watering, I think watering plants is symbolic of self care. Watering takes time and it matters a lot – much like self care. A beloved gardener friend whom I learned a particular lot from lavished water on all seedlings and took watering extremely seriously. She also took really good care of herself. I try to follow her example, but sometimes I get bogged down and both me and my plants get a bit wilted.

Today was like that. The greenhouse plants looked bedraggled and so did I. At first, during this spurt of construction projects, I thought I was sailing along just great. I congratulated myself on being soooooooooo flexible. I did Christmas without any of my cookbooks and “loved it!” I had a livingroom/kitchen in which there was really no place to sit down except the floor and it was CHARMING!. La di di! I was CHILL.

I (sort of) managed this light hearted attitude for a number of weeks, but now I feel a bit growly!

Ten weeks in and I really don’t care if I have floors or hearths or a working wood stove, I just want it to be over- Its a little bit like labor really. At some point you lose all track of a baby coming or there being any point to the pain and I AM AT THAT POINT.

Jim tells me by next Friday we will turn the corner (I think this means all floors will be in place).

How exciting! I will be able to pull up a chair and look at the walls and ceiling that now need to be painted and also note that every thing in the whole house, including all the greenhouse plants, need to be washed. PLUS all those new bookshelves will need three coats of varnish!

Should be a wonderful moment!

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!


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.


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 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


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……..

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!