Tag Archives: Sandra Knauf

Creating the Greenwoman Doll – Part III

I didn’t have to wait long to see if Bee could make our girl’s somber expression brighter.

Two days later, on May 7th, Bee wrote:


“Great article Sandy, love how it’s all coming along.

I’ve shaded two more layers and nearly finished the face; she has a smile now and looks much happier. I will be doing at least another 6-7 more layers of shading to the body, so a ways to go. I use Pan Pastels for the shading, fixing each layer with a non toxic UV Matt varnish spray which needs at least 30 mins of drying time in between.

Here’s a couple of pics of the progress so far . . .

I’ll be adding more and more green to the tattoos. This is the base shade and her eyes need more green too.”

She’s smiling! And looking so close to what I imagined!

I was thrilled!

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Zora and Lily loved her too. Both commented: “Who does she look like?” Lily (who has a film degree) said a combination of Angelina Jolie and Faye Dunaway. I just think she looks like herself. 😉

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Superhero power stance! (Notice Bee’s cute bee-themed fabric/ doll styling center wallpaper.)

Now I was holding my breath. We were at the final stages. I was happy, but what would the final doll look like? What would her hair be like styled? Would the tattoos look awesome? I was shocked to hear that it took so many layers of coloring. A truly labor-intensive project! A labor of love. I told Bee how happy and grateful I was. I also mentioned that I’d researched the USPS (United States Postal Service) site after seeing one Etsy artist comment on international mail experiencing big delays. On the USPS site I read that some deliveries to Europe were now taking as much as 4-6 weeks as there were fewer air carriers and much of the mail was being transported by ship! I told Bee I wasn’t worried; that this pandemic has been a lesson in cultivating patience.

Bee wrote back:

“My dolls are actually getting to their owners with in 2-3 weeks because I send them via International ‘track and sign’ post. They are also insured so I think that it’s just Standard shipping you’re looking at maybe for the long delays?

I’ll be finishing your doll over the next few days and will send it to you on Tuesday the 12th, after our bank holiday. I’ll send you pics for your blog after it’s all completed.

Have a good weekend.” ^.^ 

Two to three weeks would be fantastic!

And then . . . four days later (May 11th), the final photos.

Bee wrote:

“Here she is all finished, apart from glossing the eyes and lips. I think she looks amazing, especially up close, so much detail. Hope you can see it all in these photos. I’ll wrap her up and send her to you on either Tues. or Weds. next week.”

 

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The back design was all Bee’s creation. Again, excellent!

 

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I love these garden photos!

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Gorgeous.

And, last but not least, the creator’s hand at work . . .

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My response? I was a tad excited:

“OMG. SHE LOOKS SO EFFING COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’m over the moon!
Thank you so much!!!!
I know it’s evening there, so I will write and gush some more tomorrow.
She’s really beautiful and it just looks fantastic.
I cannot wait to show her off to the world!”

Our Greenwoman is now on her way. We just have to wait for her to cross the Atlantic Ocean, go halfway across the United States, and arrive, safe and sound, in Colorado!

Then the real adventures begin!

Stay tuned for the naming contest!

Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

—S. K.

P. S. Thank you again, Bee. You have made a dream come true. There’s still magic in Cornwall and throughout the world. You’ve proved it. ❤

 

 

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The Goddess Flora as Crone

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The Goddess Flora as Crone by Lisa Lister

Several weeks (at the beginning of our Stay at Home Orders in Colorado) I “met” Lisa Lister, Flora as Crone’s creator, via email. This happened through friend/poet/mother/ librarian/more Jessy Randall. (Thank you, Jessy, for, as you put it, introducing one “green woman” to another!) Lisa and I corresponded, got to know one another. Aside from being taken with her painting of Flora (a perfect fit for a Flora’s Forum post!) I learned we had connections as far as our vision for the future of gardens. We were both at a place where we were more attracted to “re-wilding” than gardening! More on that later; for now, enjoy Lisa’s creation of a broader and wiser vision of Flora!—S.K.K.

The Goddess Flora as Crone

Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers and fertility is overwhelmingly depicted in imagery as a youthful, innocent-looking, yet voluptuous maiden. (Hmmm…I wonder how many of those artists were men?) As she represents spring, it is, perhaps, understandable that Flora has been primarily represented as young. But why, I wondered, shouldn’t she be seen as growing old, a natural part of life? Shouldn’t we uplift not only the radiance and energy of a youthful woman, but also the seasoned and vibrant being of the same woman, but aged . . . an elder, a crone?

I envisioned the woman in my painting “The Goddess Flora as Crone” as sage, with many decades of experience. She helps usher in and oversees spring, protecting blossoms and assuring the seasonal abundance of flowers. I wanted her to exude the confidence of a woman in her full power, yet with a slightly impish and all-knowing glint in her eyes.

In this context, I have also reclaimed the word “crone” which, unfortunately, has degenerated to mean a disagreeable and ugly hag with malicious supernatural powers. Not so! I choose to define a crone as a wise woman, ordinary and yet extraordinary, one who has absorbed the energy of the green and growing earth, season after season, and who uses that abundant energy for good.
—Lisa Lister

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Lisa with elf ear one Halloween

Lisa Fay Lister spent her childhood in Kansas, where vast open skies and wild thunderstorms soothed her soul, even as a young girl. In her gypsy-like twenties, her vision was to live in a peaceful, inclusive and egalitarian world. Her life journey has been joyfully circuitous, but she still holds fast to that utopian vision. Lisa is a retired academic librarian, and now paints in her backyard studio, surrounded by a yard that is slowly rewilding.

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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.”

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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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