song of the Lady Slipper


I enter the forest under the burgundy canopy of Japanese Maple. Slowly, I bend to my shoes, leave them at the trunk, three steps and I am enclosed in the filtered shadow.


The earth is saturated from last night’s thunderstorms and, behind my eyes, I see the lavender bracts of that witnessed lavender lightning. “1onethousand…2onethousand…3onethousand…” breath held till the crack, distance signaled. Raindrops are a percussion high above my head, tapping from leaf to broad leaf of Beech. Occasionally the cymbal crash as Gray Squirrel leaps to land, heavily, onto the next. Breaking their community are forthright Holly, boughs of bristled leaves splattered in tiny, star-shaped flowers that fall to the ground in drifts. Backward flying ivory petals, four hair-width stamens, topped with a pollen granule no bigger than grain of sand. Their’s a fragrance I’ve never named. The soles of my feet tread lightly over this cosmic duff carefully, evenly.

Nine steps and I encounter the first clumps of Lady Slipper. Oblong, juicy green leaves are a platform for ramrod straight stalks, topped with the bobbing vulgarity of their flower. A triangulation of sword-shaped, plummy upper petals, deepening murkiness towards the parted lips of the center. The falls below a balloon of flush pink veined with violet. Curved out and around and towards one another, a pillowy sack that begs fondling. Uncomfortable yet? Yeah. Bizarre, overtly sexual, this temporal treasure erupts from dank soil for a week, maybe less, before brittling and fading away.

Fifteen steps and feet touch old planks of a creek crossover. Running mostly underground, a hint of the creek’s movement is made known by a wet divot winding through the trees towards a freshwater pond to the west. It’s heavily feathered with Southern Lady Fern, Cinnamon Fern. Fluttering, delicate, glo-stick green in the gloaming. I drop low, stock-still, to get eye-level with the black angels that abide here. Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly, whose four-part wings as black and tissue-thin as a mourning veil lift them into the air for moments before dropping back to the ferns. Iridescent turquoise abdomens, straight as a carpenter’s nail and about as long, angle upward to catch glints of light as their wings erratically expand and gather back together like a gasp.

I move deeper, the trees taller, up a small hill padded with velvety emerald patches of moss. I stick to their lily-pad pattern under the Southern Red and Water Oak, Coastal and Eastern White Pine, Chinese Tulip Tree; bird communities wing back and forth in their day’s work. I reach a forked Pond Pine that leans over the water and encircle it with an arm, resting my face against it’s bark facets, tears leaking from the corners of my eyes. Remembering a long ago time when I sat at this bank and weeped like the world was lost. Couldn’t tell you over what now; a boy? A slight of a friend? My father’s words? That press of loneliness?

I had carried on like this until, without much fanfare, a family of beavers swam up by my feet. I had been there, been still, for so long that they neglected to notice me at all. They paddled back and forth, efficiently pushing sticks up the marshy threshold into piles. Wiggling out of the water to hold up their bounty and gnaw with long, sharp, yellowed incisors, sopping wet bodies leaning back on rudder tails. I had the irrational urge to scoop them up and towel them off.

Turning from this memory, I look up to the canopy. Birdsong has been echoing back and forth from the branches all along. Tiny tuks of Chickadee, vibrational trill of Woodtit, churlish resounds of Cardinal. The bright scarlet male and his drab wife wing into my eye line; he pauses a moment before careening into deeper woods. She does not follow as long as I watch.

Back across the creek, up a steep climb, toes curling into decaying leaves in sure steps. On the rise, I am much closer to the house again and there is far more light. Space created by my father, who clears trees as methodically as mowing grass, craving order, control, over his surroundings. I pivot westward, towards the water, under Pine and Oak he allows to remain. Water Iris line the shoreline, canary yellow, deep violet, steel blue. This season pride, did I see them? Did I see the special purple ones? Aren’t the yellow spectacular? Asked again the next day, day following, assurance, validation, affirmation.

I aim for the little dock but stop short of it when I catch the flit of yellow and black streaked wings. Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly. One, two, now a third, grounded but fluttering over some glory unseen. Is this community? Communication? Reproduction? A fourth arrives, jostles in, dusted paper shoulders touching one another like a whisper against an ear, like the heavy gaze of a lover, like the pulse at your neck.


The Weather Station


1. There may be a NINTH planet, 10x the mass of Earth and 5000x the mass of Pluto.

2. We don't actually know why zebras have stripes.

3. The tiniest hummingbird built the tiniest nest, and it's incubating an egg. Right outside my window. 

4. I'm more than 2/3 the way towards reaching my goal. If you've graciously taken the time to look at the Big Dreams Campaign, firstly - thank you. And secondly, asking for help and then receiving it; even when you are pointedly working for it in exchange, is a bizarre, heart-stretching, humbling experience.

While 4. is major, and I contain gratitude to the extent that it feels awkward and stilted to express, I am consumed by 3.

The obsession started a few weeks ago. We live on the first floor in a 70's-era five-story apartment building in Oakland. The apartment's fine; I've loved many spaces I've lived in - I like this one. But the south-east wall is nearly all glass, and the view is down and in to the neighbor's backyard. It's a little Rear Window, and if I ever met the neighbor directly they'd probably exclaim, "oh, YOU'RE the lady that never closes the blinds and that I've seen naked close to three dozen times in two years WTF, you have blinds I know you do." Well, your three dogs are yappy and one barks like it has emphysema, so we're even.

The backyard has a massive Tulip Magnolia, Valencia Orange and some twiney shrub I can't ID. Hummingbirds buzzing in are no stranger; it causes an immense amount of predatory posturing and gang-sign throwing from the otherwise laconic cats. If I was a hummingbird, I'd be sipping magnolias and giving the finger to glass-contained cats all day.

Cataracts post-El Niño

Cataracts post-El Niño

January was introspective, and I was at home a fair amount. I moved to CA at the beginning of the drought, and hadn't experienced a true "winter" here before. Days and days of grey and rain. Mild cabin fever with little escape. Flowers were painfully slow, infrastructure-anxiety high, but my sway to distraction slightly higher. Not much to do but puzzle over the Big Picture, (enter temporary paralysis).

Starting a business after working for and around other people for decades dredges up a lot of shit for me. Re-identity, new patterns, constant questioning. Am I working hard enough? Do I have to work this hard? Why have I been sitting in my goddamn robe for six-hours, and what is there to eat in the kitchen? Am I making any money to be able to eat something from the kitchen??  

One morning when I was moving around, (in my robe), trying to get an idea of spreadsheets or checklists that would assuage my under-productive malaise - I noticed a hummingbird was repeatedly diving to a place of full stop. There it was, the teeniest perfect nest, as small as the circle of your thumb to forefinger, built securely into a wishbone lateral of that twiney mystery shrub. Far enough off the ground from the yappy dogs, far enough from the thicker tree where a squirrel could shimmy in, and reaching towards my window.

EVERY DAY, I watched. I'd run straight to the window in the morning. I'd miss it when I was at the studio. I'd come into the apartment the back way so I could stand underneath to stare up at the wishbone branch. I'd will it to not be cold at night, or for the wind not to blow too hard. I became convinced that, if this hummingbird could nest this one tiny egg and make this one big thing happen - and I got to see it! Then all the rest of this temporal, surface-level shit would be put in perspective and I'd have some answers. 

Look for the harpoon silhouette.

Look for the harpoon silhouette.

It's a sunny, warm February 5th. Business is beginning to pick-up, and I spent the entirety of yesterday in the studio with piles of flowers. January's general malaise and the crawly feelings I had with it have faded. I feel surprisingly grounded. We're booking out summer weekends with weddings. We're so close to signing a new lease on the studio. The hummingbird is gone.

You know because there's a new vacancy to the perfect, forefinger-to-thumb nest. It makes me feel a little hollow, disappointed, and embarrassed that I correlated a natural phenomenon to the barometer of my own self-expectation. But. I saw it - I really SAW it.

Jacob in Mt. Diablo, Jan 2, 2016.

Jacob in Mt. Diablo, Jan 2, 2016.

As ego-consumed and unaware as we're helpless to in this culture, we completely miss happenings, interactions or emotions; almost as a relief-valve function. How can we answer all the emails, found a million dollar venture, work on our six-pack and be too busy/successful/dedicated to take a proper vacation if we're overcome to FEEL SOMETHING - and perhaps not akin to validation or public adoration when we cross into triple-digit likes on our social feeds?

None of this is new information. David Brooks has likely written three far more eloquent and concise books on the subject.  But, this bassline thrum is what I wanted in founding Eothen. What happens when you can deeply receive something, and let it be just that?  What happens when you witness a microcosm of a Life - and are ok when it's over? What happens when we stop posturing and play-acting to look around? What if it's not just about our created genius, or how far we're launching ourselves from the place we learned from?

What if the wonder and magic and awesomeness that many of us grasp for isn't something for the zenned-out, inspired or innocent? What if it's just a matter of teaching ourselves to see it again?

I have no answers, and no sense where I'm at on the sliding scale of finding them. But I know that I'm hitting on something I haven't been capable of before, which feels a little fathomless. It's also the reason why Eothen's three-months in, and there is no f*cking way I'm stopping now. 

Fly Golden Eagle


Biggest wedding of the year for Choo this weekend. A dozen of v import things that need to go down before Saturday at 5pm. I'm dickin around on my playlists/photoshop/Tumblr at 11:41PM. Who's looking at Tumblr? Did anyone see where I put down my library card?

I made this arrangement last Friday for a lovely man who sends flowers to his lovely fianceé from all over the world, depending on where he/she happens to be. Fillies, (Clematis worth more than the denim I'm wearing), and weeds, (Velvetleaf that may very well do to freeway meridians as kudzu hath done to meridians of highways). Pairing them makes me a little nervous and a bit of a charlatan, but I keep getting told I need to push my own look, my own style. Develop something that isn't out there, because we're all looking at the same shit and we're all beyond bored. I better go look on Tumblr for some inspo.

For the record - I am NOT. BORED.

It's a New Moon. The Valley is burning, and it smells like rain.