Tag Archives: Sandra Knauf

Happy Halloween!

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Late last week I had the wild, last minute idea of creating a postcard to give out for Halloween. (We always get over 100 trick o’ treaters on our street, and I haven’t missed a Halloween since we moved here in 1993!)

I found an image on the Internet (by searching “chick in witch hat”) and tracked down the wonderful artist on Etsy. She had sold the painting but offered to let me buy a license for a very reasonable cost to print a few hundred postcards with the image. I did that (all at the last minute, through Vistaprint), and received the cards yesterday, just in the nick of time for All Hallow’s Eve!

Actually, these cards are for the parents we’ll meet, a little advertising gimmick, but a cute one I think! The kids will get organic lollipops and Halloween stickers, and “oohs” and “ahhs” on their costumes.

I discovered that the artist (a gardener!) has sold a few licenses of her artwork to Trader Joe’s, for cards. That thrilled me because my family knows how much I LOVE Trader Joe’s greeting cards; I buy them all the time. Far too many of them.

The Etsy store. 4WitsEnd, with the artist’s other lovely work.

Here’s the back of the card:

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I hope you’re having a creative and fun Halloween!

With loving thoughts to all,

Sandra

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Free “Petunias” Sept. 4th and 5th!

Hello beautiful gardeners,

My memoir is FREE today and tomorrow on Amazon (downloadable ebook)!
Take a look, tell your friends.

Thanks!

With LOVE and gratitude,
Sandra

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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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The Chicken Chronicles book is About to Hatch!


(One mock-up of a cover design—not the final version!)

 

Big Announcement: I’ve nearly finished a project I started on two years ago!

It feels great to finally get to this place. And, as this project is a memoir of our family’s “country in the city” experiment over nearly two decades, I’m happy that these adventures are soon to be in book form.

For those of you who haven’t read stories from the collection that have appeared in Greenwoman Magazine  or on this blog, here’s the book description:

THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES is a collection of essays and stories written by an unapologetically quirky plant and animal lover who dives deep into creating a “country living in the city” experience for her family. Engaging, erudite, and often hilarious, THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES follows Colorado author Sandra Knauf as:

She and her young daughters meet neighbor Grandma Ruby, an 80-something-year-old cottage gardener/chicken raiser, who inspires Sandra to start her own backyard flock of exotic breed bantam chickens.

She confesses and explores her shocking and insatiable lust — for seed catalogs.

She becomes involved in a garden tour fundraiser for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and gets a close look at her city’s partisan politics — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

She examines 21st century lawns, “the biggest waste of water in suburbia,” and shares her experiences — from working as a teenager at a lawn care company in the 1980s to becoming an ecology-minded gardener hell-bent on getting rid of the bluegrass.

She introduces us to unforgettable animals: an ill-fated Neatherlands dwarf bunny, Puff; an out-of-control black Labrador puppy, Broonzy; a coop full of exotic breed bantams with the names of Greek goddesses, and more.

She gives the lowdown on her city’s green fringe through other adventures that include: capturing a swarm of bees, joining a garden club, and becoming a gardener-for-hire in her city’s richest neighborhood.

She ponders life and discovers that the most important lesson is to love it, participate in it, and live it exactly how you want to.


A picture taken during The Chicken Chronicles era: Daughters Zora (with chick “Kayley”) and Lily with “Jessica.” As we bought unsexed chicks, the girls were hoping for egg-laying hens and named them accordingly. Their two favorite “hens” turned out to be roosters.

 

While I’m writing today to announce this upcoming collection, I’m also here to ask: Would any of you be interested in being beta (test) readers? I have a PDF ready and I would LOVE to hear what you think of this book!

If you’re interested, just send me a note at maefayne(at)msn.com. I would need your comments by the end of the month and I’ll include a list of questions to guide your critique with the PDF.

I hope you can participate; I would love for you to be a part of this project!

Sandy

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Happy Thanksgiving!

This is the first thing I read when opening up The Gardeners’ Community Cookbook this morning. They seemed like the perfect words to share this Thanksgiving.

With much love to all,

Sandra

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From Smith & Hawken The Gardeners’ Community Cookbook, published by Workman Publishing Company in 1999, compiled and written by Victoria Wise.

 

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Thank You for Your Patience!

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A bear coming out of her den. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Flora’s Forum has been taking a break since Dec. 21st because, well, I really needed one. I think many will agree that 2016 might have been one of the most trying years (collectively, as a nation) in recent memory. Like many, I was emotionally exhausted. I needed time to heal and regain my strength. I needed time to rethink a few things, time to delve into other projects, time to get some kind of plan of action together for the future.

But now that spring is starting to stir, I’m getting out of hibernation!

I think I’ll be able to offer you a lot of great poetry again, soon. I don’t know for sure; I haven’t communicated with Tricia in a little while, or the other poets, but I think they’re up for it. Are you Tricia? Virginia?

I also hope to offer more prose! And other artwork that fits the Flora’s Forum art-in-nature/inspiration theme!

So, if you’re a writer or artist with work to share, I’d love to see it. Send me an email at maefayne(at)msn.com. As some of you know, I don’t bring in any money from this site, so I, sadly and regrettably, cannot offer payment for publication. (Full disclosure: I did receive $50 in the Tip Jar way back in 2015, and it went toward the $99/year it costs just to keep the site free from ads that I do not approve of. Remember that time that fracking ad appeared out of nowhere?? UGH! I could not let that ever happen again!).

Thanks for sticking around, I love you all!

—Sandra Knauf

 

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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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