Tag Archives: Greenwoman

Please Don’t Piss on the Petunias—a Memoir

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My memoir is coming out this month!

Yes, I know. I announced that it was coming out “soon” in JUNE (over six months ago). This baby is late, very late. As some of you know, I’m a self-taught publisher. Over the last eight years, I’ve published six issues of Greenwoman, a YA novel (Zera and the Green Man), a book of short stories (Fifty Shades of Green), a few e-books, and many articles and posts. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with many talented writers of fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. I’d published so many things, but I’d never published a memoir—so here, once again, was another huge learning curve.

I thought I had all the material, all the stories I’d written over the years, and it could be easily put together. Oh, ha ha—wishful thinking! Luckily, my daughters (thank the heavens for them, always bringing me back to reality and keeping the bar set high) told me that the first draft was too incomplete and too inconsistent.

Those were not words I was hoping to hear.

My daughters urged me to rewrite several of the stories in past tense. A significant undertaking.

Then I discovered that the book, about our menagerie of pets over the years (among other things), really needed a story about our dog Chancho.

More importantly, the book needed an “origin” story.

That story took another month of writing, but first I had to time-travel back twenty-five years. (And let me tell you, time-travel is not easy!) The process was difficult emotionally, reliving those days, the tough times back in the early days, before all the fun started with raising kids, chickens, and a garden. Andy and I were just starting out in business and in parenthood, paying student loans and the mortgage on two houses for an entire year, living paycheck to paycheck (having to borrow money at times from his brother Danny to keep the utilities on), as Andy worked seven days a week to fix up a beautiful yet humble home with (finally) a space to garden . . . Oh, and did I mention I was pregnant with Lily and we had no health insurance?

I wrote the origin story. We went over the manuscript, again. And then again, reading it aloud this time and making over 600 more editing changes.

Two days ago I received what I hope will be the final proof. One more fine-tooth comb reading and a only a few (I hope!) minor edits.

I was reminded: Anything worthwhile takes time and thought and care. More than you imagine!

But today, finally, a sneak peek! Here she is. Almost born!

(Consider this an invitation to the baby shower.)

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Now for the backstory on the title, because some of you might remember that it was going to be titled The Chicken Chronicles. A good friend alerted me (thank you, V. G.!) that there was already a memoir with that title, by the illustrious Alice Walker (the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Color Purple). Her book was also about chickens. So . . . I had to think of another title. Not easy, as that was my “working title” for years.

For a while I was stuck on Mother Hen . . .  but no one seemed thrilled about that one, and the only male beta reader (hello, Geno!) gave it a thumbs’ down in appeal to male readers. A clever friend (again, G. V.) , suggested a few alternatives. Her favorite was Chicken Scratches, which had its charms, but as I always prided myself on good penpersonship, it didn’t connect with me the way it needed to.

Sidenote: Wow, while writing this, I just thought of another title . . . Clucked Up. Ha ha! Maybe that will be the title of the sequel! Goodness knows there have been many more challenges and harrowing adventures this last decade— and especially these last two years!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand: One day I was rattling off title suggestions to Lily, including “Please Don’t Piss on the Penstemons,” the original title of one of the stories about our dog, Broonzy, and his destructive puppyhood. The back story on that title is that it’s a play on the old book/movie title Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, a work I’d never read, but I remembered vividly from childhood.

Lily said, “I like that one.”

Image result for please don't eat the daisies

I said, “I do too, especially the alliteration, but . . . I don’t know. It has a swear word. And I think there are a lot of people who don’t even know what penstemons are!”

Lily said that readers could look up penstemons—and that it wasn’t a big deal about “piss.”

I still thought it could be a dangerous move, a title with both “penstemons” and “piss,” so I decided to change penstemons to another “p” flower. What would sound best? We asked friends their preference: poppies, pansies, petunias or peonies?

“Petunias” won.

Now, to take a look at “piss” (ha). I researched: “book titles with swear words.” It seems that it can actually help sell a book these days!  Who knew? I brought it up to a media-savvy friend (hello, Mary Ellen!) a decade older than I am. She was, to my surprise, very enthusiastic. She said, “Our book club chose to read The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu  because of the title. Do it, Sandy!”

Still searching for a bit more reassurance (this was a big move!), I brought up the subject of swear words in book titles in Facebook-land. My mother immediately commented that she would never have a book with a swear word in the title on her coffee table! (Protecting the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you see. I didn’t even disclose what the colorful word would be, but she was against it.)

So “Piss” it was!

The book is very sweet (and only slightly pissy). More than anything, it is a love letter to our home and garden, our family, and Nature.

I hope you’ll make a note to buy a copy this month. I’ll let you know when she is born!

With much love and appreciation to all who have helped bring yet another dream to fruition,

— Sandy

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Monthly Museletter for the Merry Month of May 2018

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“Lunar Libration” by Tomruen, via Wikimedia Commons

 

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“Women Dancing with Veils at the May Day Pageant” (not dated or attributed), via Wikimedia Commons

 

Happy MAY DAY! This month we’re busy with spring planting, spring weeding, and spring everything-else so the newsletter’s, I mean Museletter’s, a little lighter. And so are our hearts! Hooray for spring! Thank you again, Karla, for sharing your gleanings with us. ❤ —SK

P. S. If you’re from Colorado Springs and would like Karla’s full newsletter that includes local events, you can write her at karlaann45 @ gmail.com.

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By Alias 0591 from the Netherlands, Honeybee, via Wikimedia Commons

“Honeybee”, by Alias 0591 from the Netherlands, via Wikimedia Commons

“BEES made my lunch. Bees made my lunch. Thank you Bees! Thanks a bunch for my salad, my HONEY, my milk and my munch, cuz Bees, you made my lunch!”
—new chorus for the song DIRT MADE MY LUNCH by the Banana Slug Band

Water conservation worked in Capetown!

A Vimeo Staff Pick: Thomas Blanchard’s DANCE DANCE—flowers freezing & dye- inundated!

“We know that the hidden crimes of slavery and environmental destruction are not just inextricably linked but mutually reinforcing and reach around the planet.”—Kevin Bales, Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide and the Secret to Saving the World (2017)

The best film I saw at the Native American film fest: PEOPLE OF THE STANDING STONE: the Oneida Nation, the war for independence, and the making of America (27 min., 2017) It’s now in our local library system, with 45 reserves already!

“Nobody gets addicted to Kale—we’re addicted to CHAOS!
—Karla

2351_-_München_-_Maibaum Maypole in Munich, by Andrew Bossi via Wikimedia Commons

“Maypole, Munich, Germany” by Andrew Bossi via Wikimedia Commons

Is that a maypole in your village square, or are you just happy to see me?
(I’m almost embarrassed to admit I did not know the symbolism of the Maypole. And now I’m almost embarrassed that I do.) —S.K.
“The Maypole is a popular and familiar image of May Day and Beltane. A phallic pole, often made from birch, was inserted into the Earth representing the potency of the God. The ring of flowers at the top of the Maypole represents the fertile Goddess. Its many coloured ribbons and the ensuing weaving dance symbolise the spiral of Life and the union of the Goddess and God, the union between Earth and Sky.”
For the Beltane-curious, you can read up on May Day here.

SOLAR CELLS GETTING THINNER THAN HUMAN HAIR! 

We Missed Karla’s Birthday! (Happy Belated Birthday, Karla! I love your little birthday poem!)
“Happy Birthday to me. I’m seventy-three. All systems are working! I’m grateful and FREE!”—Karla, April 18

Many animals in my Tribe—The Silver Hairs—are in danger of extinction because of global warming. This film shows why.

“…thank you for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and a blue dream of sky, and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is YES!” —e. e. cummings

By Temtem at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Honeybee Swarm”, by Temtem, via Wikimedia Commons

This photo reminded me that in Colorado April is “swarm season”. Seeing a swarm up close is one of the most amazing and exciting things ever! There is no need to fear a swarm. These bees are full of honey on their adventure to locate a new home and so are docile—the chance of being stung is very low. If you see a swarm, please contact your local beekeeping organization; they have a network of beekeepers who would love to give these honey-makers a good home. Act quickly, though, as they’ll probably only be around for a few hours!—S.K.

“Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child. Listen to the DON’TS. Listen to the SHOULDN’TS, the IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS. Listen to the NEVER HAVES, then listen close to me—Anything can happen child, ANYTHING can be.”
—from Shel Silverstein’s illustrated poetry book WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS

What if you could make money every time the wind blows? Matt Brown has an idea of how to make this happen for the people of Rhode Island!

Make a note of it: Full Moon on May 29th.

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I had to share this beautiful bone china dahlia that a friend gave me in April. (Thank you, Judy!) Every time I look at it I will think of the beauty of of friends and flowers.

Until next month . . . have a beautiful May!

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Crystal Light of Morning

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Pikesview Quarry, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo from The Gazette Telegraph archives, by Carol Lawrence.

 

Crystal Light of Morning

In the crystal light of morning I look to the mountains.
The earth has been cut open, it is bleeding red.
the snow is like a blanket covering the dread.

In this shimmering, frigid air I can see the veil between us and them.

This ancient earth and the ancient humans abhor the modern world that is now.

The earth is alive. The broken open skin of the earth cries because of these atrocities.

—Ginger Hipszky

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Photo of Ginger and Gretchen by Skee Hipszky.

Virginia (Ginger) A. Hipszky was born in 1960 in Franklin, Indiana. She relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado in December 1979. She has one daughter and two stepsons. Various interests include reading, collecting modern and ancient coins, amateur radio, book proofreading, and collecting rocks and fossils. Meteorology and astronomy are two of her favorite passions, and she also enjoys writing poems and prose.

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Note from the Editor: I met Ginger a couple of weeks ago at a mutual friend’s art sale. She told us of a poem that had come to her, inspired by that morning’s view of the first significant snow of the season on a mining site nearby. I found the poem captivating and asked her if I could publish it here. Ginger said yes, and then wrote a little about how it came about in an email: “When the sun first comes up, it turns the exposed granite pink. . . [The poem] just came to me. I felt anxious all day till the words got out and on paper.”

Everyone in Colorado Springs, Colorado is familiar with the mining scar of Queens Canyon Quarry, not far from the one in Ginger’s poem. During a little research I found an article that told how that quarry was mined for limestone, to be used in the concrete foundations of buildings at the Air Force Academy, the Colorado Springs Airport and NORAD (and, I’d add, tens of thousands of homes and businesses). The article stated that in 1966 when Stewart Udall, then Secretary of the Interior, visited here he dubbed our city as “the city with a scar”. For many decades people remarked on its ugliness and how it marred a landscape that held, so close by, geologic wonders like our Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. Here’s the link to that article if you’d like to read about how 20,000 hours of volunteer labor went into reclamation of that area below. The good news is that now you can actually see trees growing on this area.

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Queens Canyon Quary, Image from ImFromColorado.com. Another discovery I made is that it is very difficult to find images of the scars. Understandably, they are not something people enjoy photographing.

 

As the YA author John Green wrote, “The marks humans leave are too often scars.”

—S.K.K.

 

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“We are all interconnected.” The Story of Dr. Jagadish Chandra Bose – Part II

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This is my mini-bio about one of our world’s most fascinating (and unsung) scientists. I wrote it a few years ago and it first appeared in Greenwoman Volume 1. Last week I posted Part I in celebration of Dr. Bose’s birthday!

I hope you will find this man’s work, showing how close and connected we are to plants, and, indeed, to all matter, as enlightening as I did.

—Sandra Knauf

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Plant Sleep and “Death Spasms”

Dr. Bose showed that there is no physical response in the most highly organized animal tissue that does not also occur within the plant. His “Researches on Diurnal Sleep” showed that plants react with different intensity depending upon whether it is day or night, and that there is a periodic insensibility in both plants and animals that correspond to what we call sleep. Furthermore, plants’ responses matched animals’ in comparison to what time of day they become alert. By tracking reaction on an impulse through all hours of a day, Bose found that a plant “wakes up during morning slowly, becomes fully alert by noon, and becomes sleepy only after midnight, resembling man in a surprising manner.”
Dr. Bose also showed that plants undergo a “death spasm” at the time of death, that is the same as in animals’. He invented an instrument (Morograph) with which he recorded the critical point of death of a plant.

He also demonstrated that there is an essential unity regarding the effects of drugs on plant and animal tissues and that the effects were determined by the individual plant or animal’s “constitution” (size, strength, health, etc.).

In 1903 Dr. Bose presented research papers to the Royal Society on “Investigation on Mechanical Response in Plants,” “On Polar Effects of Currents on the Stimulation of Plants,” and five other related topics.

These new contributions were seen as important by the Royal Society and the papers were recommended to be published in the Society’s Philosophical Transactions. However, opposition was once again raised and publication ultimately withheld. The Royal Society stated that while Dr. Bose’s discoveries were important they were also so unexpected and so contrary to existing theories that they made the choice to reserve judgment on the research until at some future time the plants themselves could be made to record their answers to questions put to them. This stipulation was interpreted by some as the final rejection of Dr. Bose’s theories, and, worse, the support which he was relying on for his research was in danger of being withdrawn.

Undeterred, Bose directed his attention to a single goal—how to reveal the plants’ reactions by means of their own “autographs.”

In Dr. Bose’s book, Comparative Electro-physiology: A Physico-Physiological Study, he stated that plants, like animals, were single organic wholes, all parts interconnected, their activities coordinated by “conducting strands” which we call in animals, nerves. Positive and negative responses, pleasure and pain, could be determined in all organisms.

Again, Dr. Bose was treading new ground. His view on the function of nerves was seen as alarming—“causing the dividing frontiers between Physics, Physiology, and Psychology to disappear.” At this time, nerves were universally regarded as typically non-motile (or incapable of movement) and theirs responses believed to be characteristically different from those of muscle. Bose showed that nerves were indeed motile and similar to muscle in their responses; through experiment he showed that the isolated vegetal nerve was indistinguishable from that of animal nerve.

It took years for Dr. Bose to design the supersensitive instruments and apparatus which would make it possible to show plant response by means of their own “autographs.” His ingenious “Resonant and Oscillating Recorders” gave a simple and direct method of obtaining a record. “The plant by its self-made records, showed exultation with alcohol, depression with chloroform, rapid transmission of a shock with the application of heat, and an abolition of the propagated impulse with the application of a deadly poison like potassium cyanide. This variation in the transmitted impulse, under physiological variations, showed that it was not a physical one.”

Royal Society

Dr. Bose had achieved what had seemed impossible, creating a mechanism that would enable a plant to tell its own story through records made by its reactions. Through the convincing character of the demonstrations he gave with his Resonant Recorder and other delicate instruments, leading Scientific Societies became convinced and Dr. Bose soon secured a world-wide acceptance of his theories and results. The Royal Society could no longer withhold recognition and his paper, “On an Automatic Method, for the Investigation of the Velocity of Transmission of Excitation in Mimosa,” was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1913.

In 1911 Dr. Bose was awarded the insignia of the Companion of the Order of the Star of India by His Majesty the King Emperor, and The Calcutta University conferred the honorary Doctor of Science degree to him. In 1913 he published the book Researches on Irritability of Plants and by 1915 he had received hundreds of invitations to speak throughout the United States. “The very convincing character of the demonstrations that he gave, before the leading Scientific Societies of the world, with his newly invented Resonant Recorder and other delicate instruments, secured a world-wide acceptance of his theories and results.

On January 1, 1917, in recognition of his important scientific work, the English government conferred on him a Knighthood. This was the first time that this honor had been given to an Indian.

Later that year, on his 60th birthday on the 30th of November, Sir Jagadish realized a dream that he’d had for many years. He founded the Bose Institute in India. Here students could study the inhabitants of a garden—plants, vines, trees, and more—in their natural environment. Here, according to the Presidency College Magazine, “the student would watch the panorama of life,” and “isolated from all distractions, would learn to attune himself with nature and to see how community throughout the great ocean of life outweighs apparent the dissimilarity.” Opening this institution of learning, which he dedicated to the Nation, for the progress of Science and for the Glory of India, took his entire life savings.

The aims of the Institute were clear. An article in Modern Review stated that there would be no academic limitation to the widest possible diffusion of knowledge. The facilities of the Institute would be available to workers from all countries and there would be no desecration of knowledge by its utilization for personal gain; in other words, no patents would be taken of the discoveries made there. This “great Seat of Learning” would be  maintained through those means and by presenting lectures that were not secondhand knowledge repeated, but lectures focused on new discoveries announced to the world for the first time. 

A Wise Man’s View of “Failure”:

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose saw failure as an “antecedent power which lies dormant for the long subsequent dynamic expression in what we call success.”

“And if my life,” he said, “in any way came to be fruitful, then that came through the realization of this lesson.” (From ‘History of a Failure that was Great,’ Modern Review.)

References:

 Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose – His Life and Speeches. Filiquarian Publishing. Madras: The      Cambridge Press, Print.
“The Man who Found a Plant’s Heart.” Literary Digest. 2 Oct. 1926 : 46,50. Print.

Note: Sir Bose’s name is spelled in various ways in different publications.

 

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Sandra Knauf is the one-woman-show behind Greenwoman Publishing. Her books include the six-volume series Greenwoman, (a literary digest), her young adult fantasy novel, Zera and the Green Man, and an anthology of sexy gardening stories that she says is the feminist gardener answer to Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades of Green. She was a 2008-09 featured “Colorado Voices” columnist for The Denver Post and her humorous essays have appeared nationally in GreenPrints and MaryJanesFarm. Sandra lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her family, dogs, huge urban garden, and lots of books.

 

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Clothing My Toes

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Tricia sent me a fabulous poem about the beginning of fall, Clothing My Toes. I couldn’t find just the right image, so she offered this one yesterday, with this note:

Here’s the withered pumpkin vine. Note that the gardener got inventive with fencing material for climbing up the pie pumpkins. It worked well except for this pumpkin that decided to grow in the middle of the fence.  Oh, that gardener was me.

I had to laugh, even while feeling just a little bit sorry for that pumpkin and her tight corset. Tricia said it’d all be fine; soon she’d be harvested and made into a beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving pie.

—Sandra Knauf

Clothing My Toes

When leaves begin to fall at the beginning of August,
I turn my face aside, thinking them weak.

Sure, I collect black lupine seeds
to sow near the creek next spring.

When the furnace man comes two weeks later
to service the fan, I hand him two brandywine tomatoes

to say we are so far from winter, aren’t we good caretakers
even if the green bean vines are withery and the beans go fat.

When the pumpkins ripen on a mildewed vine,
I look forward to thanksgiving pies and soups.

The rainstorm that blew in after a half day of thickening clouds
made me glad the asters would get more water.

The hummingbird has so much in the garden to taste test
that I have not had to refill the feeder this week.

It wasn’t until today, the first of September
when I pulled out a pair of socks

for the first time in months
that I switched on fall.

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Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with two books in print – Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press 2016) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press 2014). Website: triciaknoll.com

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The Whole Ruth (and nothin’ but the Ruth) Ruth Stout Mini-Bio FREE through Sept. 10th

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My sultry garden mentor, Ruth Stout. Another fun fact: she enjoyed gardening in the nude!

I’ve been enamored with garden writer Ruth Stout since I started reading her books in the early ’90s. I didn’t even have a garden yet, but I knew I would one day – and I wanted to learn it ALL. Ruth was at the forefront of organic garden writing in the 1960s. She had a column in Organic Gardening and Farming magazine after her book on straw mulch gardening, How to have a Green Thumb without an Aching Back: A New Method of Mulch Gardening, became a big hit.

I fell in love with her voice maybe more than her message. Ruth Stout was plain-spoken, smart, incredibly funny, and a little naughty at times (my favorite trait). She told about how she communicated with the plants – that’s how she came upon her famous “straw mulch method.”

Her personal story is fascinating. She was a true American rebel, a feminist (she said she didn’t know how to be anything but one), an original. She grew up in a Quaker household with lots of kids and lots of books, was one of the first to bob her hair in the early 1920s, took off for New York City at an early age, had many adventures in her youth (including a trip to Russia), and then she settled down and got married in her mid-forties. She published her first book in her late 50s. This was a woman who lived life to the FULLEST.

But, why tell about her here, when you can read all about it here. I think you will fall in love, too.

Tell your friends; FREE through Saturday, September 10th, The Whole Ruth: A Biography of Ruth Stout!

—Sandra Knauf

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