dispatch from the moon

Marvin Gaye

We continue to arrive, with gross repetition, to this place of cultural disbelief. Another young man taken from us. An explosive outcry against oppression, violence and killing. Brothers and sisters march through the streets, and eye one another with suspicion. We are like wary foxes in open fields, ears lain flat against delicate skulls as the concuss of heavy footsteps - racial inequality, hate, social injustice - vibrate up our legs.

In the 400 years since the origins of slavery in America, there are wounds that have remained oozily open by the perpetuation of false truths and inherited fears. This insidious pathogen of hate has been carried in the bloodstream of the most outrageous of the Klan, and by the most submissive timidity of a nervous housewife. But as we stand at this place of economic wealth, intellectual acceleration and societal recognition; no longer can we lay blame on our past. The past is PAST. There is far to much damage long done, with scar tissue far to thick to allow for new beginnings. 

I am a white woman raised in an abundant household. I never went hungry, or kept awake by the danger of my situation. I have never been forced to choose between saving my life or bowing down to someone more powerful. The acute awareness of my fortuity can feel like shame. The lack of conviction and justice for the systemic, calculated killing of those who have not been allowed to move through life as I have been allowed is inconceivable. But it is our reality.

What must we do to heal? Whom do we look toward for leadership? How to break these patterns, and these chains that tether us to an existence that simmers with quiet rage?

The answer is not bloodletting, nor the hunting out of a created nightmare. We can no longer lay the blame on our past, or wait anxiously for others to simply hand over our future. It is time to create our present. Happiness, safety, health and peace. Believing in the deservedness of Loving Kindness for all our Brothers and Sisters. We must clearly see the struggle borne of economic destitution and the suppression of an entire people. It's not just the lifting up of a class - it's the recreation of an entire class system. Speaking up for social justice, carrying the flame for those who have been lost, taking on the burden of change. Do not rely solely on our civic leaders. The system is too broken, and the cataclysmic shift exists only in us.

Start small and be a warrior, in your own life, for love. Extend your hand towards others. Speak to your children and your contemporaries about acceptance, about equality, about race. About the ways we may seem different, but - at our core, are the same. BREAK THE PATTERN. This is no longer our story! Though we may stumble through this red, heated haze, on the other side is the opportunity for the truest change our world can know. Do not sit down and wait. Stand up, make the choice to speak out, listen hard and bear witness.

Misun

Hey! Hi! Damn - sorry about that. I want to pick-up where we left off with a long weekend that deployed the reset button.  

In quasi tradition, Jacob and I sprint out of the city for a backpacking trip after the Valentine's vortex subsides. 2015 was overnight kayaking on Tomales Bay, 2016 was a 20-mile hike-in to Ventana hot springs; with a few tangents.

We got a motherf*ckin van, y'all! Thank you thank you thank you for everyone who ever supported the Big Dreams campaign; you made our down payment dreams come true. Jacob found the bus in Portland and flew up to buy it sight un-seen. This is like a trust fall excercise with my business credit card. After a hostel slumber party, and an involvement at a drag show, (this is not my story to tell, unsurprisingly involves admiration for his hair), the bus carried him back to Oakland. We got another tank of gas, threw the futon in the back and headed to Big Sur.

For years, in our time spent up and down the 1, Jacob has pounded the steering wheel of the compact car with, "If we just had van, we could pull over and camp wherever we'd want!" Well, check that off the bucket list. After watching the sun fizzle out with a bottle of wine and a bag of chips from the most ideal cliffside money could never buy, we wanted to sleep for a few hours before a Night Soak at Esalen. A full moon coming up from the behind the cliffs, we passed a joint and settled in. 

This isn't true, Jacob settled in. I got it into my head that I wanted to honor the moon and this awesome journey, cranking the tiny camp speaker and dancing wildly by the highway until I was a sweaty mess, throwing myself to hide behind the van when a car came. Fairly certain I sprained my ankle on the first 8-count, and convincing myself that it would heal in the baths later on.

At 12:30pm we stumbled a half-mile to Esalen and I had one of the trippiest experiences of my ENTIRE LIFE, which had a lot to do with being naked with 23 strangers. This, paired with the miasmic heat of the spring-fed pools, the Pacific crashing underneath and hemetic light of the moon turning every surface to metal. Hard to articulate, and when we woke up we weren't entirely convinced we didn't dream the whole thing. 

We loaded two-days of bourgie existence into our packs, and headed into the forest.


Aquilegia formosa,  Western red columbine. Reminiscent of eagle talons and tiny spacecraft.

Aquilegia formosa, Western red columbine. Reminiscent of eagle talons and tiny spacecraft.

Clematis ligusticifolia,  Western White Clematis. The peppery leaves and stems were chewed by Native Americans to soothe sore throats and colds.

Clematis ligusticifolia, Western White Clematis. The peppery leaves and stems were chewed by Native Americans to soothe sore throats and colds.

Trillium ovatum,  Pacific wake-robin. Woodland perennials are a new obsession, and remind me of my parent's property which hosts an incredible population of Moccasin Flower ( Cypripedium acaule).

Trillium ovatum, Pacific wake-robin. Woodland perennials are a new obsession, and remind me of my parent's property which hosts an incredible population of Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule).


We walked through damp, shadowed redwoods, up shambling cliffs, through arid, sun-baked passes and through icy-cold creekbeds. We talked about our family, spooked at poison oak, crammed raw seeds into our mouths. Our minds shut-up, and there was a creeping wish we were staying out here longer than we'd planned. As we walked in, dozens of people were packing out. Every person we made room for to pass, we'd hiss and chant to each other "get em out, leave leave, all to ourselves!"

At the end, we were one of 4 other sites - each far enough from the other to feel alone. Of the three pools, we stayed in one that positioned us nearly in the treetops, melting into the sulphuric 100degree water until the sun had long dissolved to moonlight again.

We met a woman from Sacramento who had hiked in with her Standard Poodle - a deer-like white q-tip that folded her legs resignedly beside the pool we inhabited. For a short while we were joined by a boy my age who was on hour 63 of quitting a 25 yr old smoking habit. He had hiked out to leave that old identity behind, and had no qualms saying he was trying to not look back, but knowing he would probably fail. I don't know either of their names.

When we clambored down, we forged a stream 40degrees colder than what we'd left. Dressed in every layer we packed, we ate ramen cups and slept by the stream - turning over every hour in the small tent. At 6am, we got back in the pools. No sound besides the push of the water and small animals breaking their fasts. 

#1 Dads

I get hyper-obsessed with sounds, songs, vocal artists. I may very well think of them more than I think about flowers.

This is the truth, we need to meet this head-on.

It's also the selfish reason why this blog tab is lined with emotional riffs and subconscious word vom rather than my opines on Stargazer Lilies, (non-committal), or porn shots of Ranunculus, (I'll still hand that out). 

I like to wallow in soundscapes with strange voices and oboes. I like to read all the music periodical, wikipedia and album review articles. I like to watch ALL the music videos. I especially like to imagine myself IN these music videos. I like to dance wildly in the living room when Jacob's at soccer. I like to have a little too much wine and lie flat on the hardwood floor with a single on repeat. I like to send links, mp3s and album covers to my friends, crowing how they CANNOT NOT LISTEN to this band.

Music is dually a communal / individual experience. We trip subjectively into a different dimension of our senses. We experience something together apart. I had a long stretch of years loving a man that shared the same kind of vocalized, vibrational headiness. He hasn't returned 1:37am texts since 2014. So mostly, I travel alone - stacking playlists, creating icons and style-plotting my eventual album cover. There will be all the filters, my head will be tipped back, a windfan will blow.

Back to what I said earlier about the line between my work and my muse. The experience of sensory art, in whatever form, is what makes us Human. We don't need it to breathe, but we need it to realize an exceptional, inherent system of percussive synapses, cones and rods, gravitational pull towards something bigger. Put me in a room with flowers or music, I'll react the same. I'll want to study it, move around it, talk thru the composition, level of saturation, requirements of production. All within the same luxurious language!

And I get to speak it with you.

The Weather Station

Mind-blown:

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. 

G f. Genevieve (BIG DREAMS CAMPAIGN)

THE TOPLINE: Eothen is a woman-owned, small-business focusing on bringing conscious, mindful beauty to others by the way of dreamy flowers and open hearts. We are creating financial momentum by offering our flowers and services for pre-purchase at substantial discount, to be used at any time by the patron. Your support allows us to grow our business, and make our dreams come true.


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THE STORY: This may look like a fully established place of commerce, but if we're looking hard at the calendar - Eothen was founded Nov 1 2015.

disclaimer: I've been politely standing on tiptoes, edging on the outskirts and peering over much taller people at this thing since I was nine-yrs-old making flower stew in Lincolnton, NC backyard. But, as far as the IRS is concerned, Nov 1 2015.

Believe me when I say that we are incredibly grateful for the love and support sent our way, and now we're ready to get serious. And dangerous! Within REASON. The lease on our studio turns over to us on Feb 29 2016. We have so much to do, and this is where BIG DREAMS come in.


THE MOVEMENT: We are raising $15,000 by Feb 28 2016 to support a renewal of our studio space, build a strong foundation for our business and fund the purchase of amazing infrastructure from which Studio Choo, our mentor, is offering to part ways. BIG DREAMS makes for a long list, a start of which are below:

- overhaul our cutting garden to grow heirloom and antique varieties of flowers and plants

- install a drip irrigation system and lift a retaining wall 

- create a Shade House with a misting wall for ferns and mosses

- continue studio improvements, such as studio repairs and utility sink installation

- refresh our gardening and flowering supplies

- install a community space on our back patio for fellow creatives to enjoy

- purchase a delivery van to drive up and down the California coast for weddings and events

- pay our people! expand our staff!

- support our current infrastructure of supplies and equipment

- invest in a new mulching and compost system to support an environmentally mindful business practice

- a big beautiful mirror to use for bridal bouquet making, and to make sure we don't look totally crazy before leaving the studio

- create a successful, long-lasting internship curriculum

- continue our work connecting local farmers and growers with the Bay Area floral industry


THE CATALYST: Your purchase of the BIG DREAMS gift card is at a substantially discounted value, (up to 25%)  - never to expire and to be used towards any Eothen service at any time our calendar permits. What this value could go towards for you and/or your lovers and friends:

- wedding or civil ceremony flower total - this is huge if you have a wedding already booked with Eothen for next year!

- a gift flower order for delivery - VDAY 2016, do it right!

- workshops and classes

- private workshops

- studio rental for your next event

- towards delivery and/or installation service

- creative consultation

- last minute winter holiday gift idea!!

The horizon is wide open, beautiful people. Upon purchase, you will receive a digital gift card via email, or you can select to receive a hardcopy mailed free of charge. Each gift card will have unique ID number we'll keep in our records for reference and for always.


THE OTHER SIDE: Questions? Email me, katie[at]eothenfloral[dot]com. I'd be thrilled to talk about how much I want us to do, and how badly I want to do it.


THE ALTERNATIVE: If you are ready and willing, but a gift card isn't your thing, there is the option to donate and make me feel even luckier, and more fortunate, than I already am.

Donate