A small confession on a Monday for you, readers:

I'm a witch who feels very little connection to the moon.

Arriving at college in the summer of 2008 gave me opportunity to meet other witchy people, and to join (and later be voted into office) a Pagan student group.  The exposure to new ways of practicing and celebrating brought many moments that felt comforting and "right" but also brought moments that I wasn't really sure how to interpret, or how to integrate into my own practice.  To be fair to my younger self, my own practices were fledgeling at best.  

The thing that nobody ever told me, and that I wish I had known, was that just because a practice is widely adopted by many people who share the same outlook as you, doesn't mean you also have to adopt the practice.

Even this year, I will be traveling twice to attend and assist with moon services with my community, and I am not yet sure how I want to experience these times. 

Feeling mostly ambivalent about the moon and moon cycles sometimes makes me feel as though I am not meeting a witchy pre-requisite.  That, because I don't necessarily measure life changes by the changing of the moon, I am somehow less of a practitioner, that my experiences and my practices are not as legitimate.

It seems to me that the moon (and "good vibes", and crystals, and essential oils, and mindfulness, and self-care, and blah blah blah) is the focus of many new-age-y salespeople on various platforms, and that doesn't jive with me, either.  The moon becomes a commodity that is eaten up Earthside.

My guess is that many people feel connected to the moon because it is viewable, it's markable, and it is indeed a measure of change.  I think that many people also feel connected to the moon because they have a menstrual cycle, and they can appreciate the connection of the cycle of their body being parallel to that of the celestial mirror.  I am on year two of a five-year Mirena IUD, and I do not bleed.  

Due to the nature of my work, I feel much more aware of change and the passage of time by what happens Earthside, in the growing season of flowers and trees outside.  And because of a sensitivity I have, resulting in migraines, I feel more attuned to the shifting of weather and of pressure systems and precipitation.  

And while I've known all of this for a long time, realizing that I didn't have to subscribe to a concept that feels sometimes like it's held by the majority of witchy folks around me was something of an epiphany.  It felt really good to give myself permission to not feel obliged to try to connect to something while I already feel connected elsewhere, and more than that, that I want to explore the current connections more deeply.

I write this from a café - perhaps predictable, but exactly where I want to be right now.

It's been hard to take care recently.  Or I should instead say, it's been difficult to communicate the pain of tragedy that is far from me.  That the helplessness of distance and inefficient circumstance is only uplifted by the fury with which the Descendants are fighting.  The Descendants I refer to are my almost-peers, the generation just after mine, that will change society for the better.  History bends towards the unexpected - but by whose metric?  If the decider in the assessment of history is someone farther from the Descendants than myself, and I do believe it is, then game on.

+ I have not forgotten my time as a teacher;  "On Back to School Night, I look out at the gazes of the parents in front of me as we silently make a pact. "I am giving you the most precious part of me with the knowledge that you will shield my child's body with your own when the need arises." They say this with their eyes. I agree to this responsibility and make a silent unbreakable oath before them. As I am telling them about the 20,000 years of global art history that I will be teaching their child, I am also agreeing to die."

+ Leadership tips that I've been reading.

+ Apparently, shadow work is something I do nearly daily.  

+ The Queering the Tarot series on the Little Red Tarot blog has been a great read, and I especially love the analysis of my favorite card.

+ Like I need another book.

Make today a good one, reader.

More about birds.

Currently: relaxing by finishing the movie Blood Diamond after achieving a new personal record time on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from PGH to PHL.  4.5 hours, I kid you not.

Never have I ever cared about professional sports, least of all football (or perhaps baseball?).  When team sports begin to affect greater social change, well, that'll be the day.  The catch is, you have to let them.  And when people have to rub their eyes of the distraction of a game for something more pithy, of course it's not as fun.  But I'm not here to be fun.  (I have said that I'm here to ruin fun to more than one person recently.  I don't really care.)  I like facts and I get jazzed about knowledge and statistics, and that's definitely not the same mentality that pervades a crowd of sports fans.

Let's get jazzed about what we like, but also look below the surface.

My mother turned 60 on Saturday, so my sister and I arranged to surprise her, and it was awesome.  She didn't expect it at all, and I can tell it made her really happy to have us there for her for the weekend.  We played Scrabble and talked about our upcoming family vacation, and I made fires in the fireplace on Saturday and Sunday nights for us to enjoy.

She is a really wonderful Mama bird.


The blue jay got away.

I think about corvids a lot.  They're remarkable intelligent, resourceful, exhibit self awareness, and have complex social systems.  They're not unlike humans.

With the recent spike in temperature, we've seen our neighbor cat, Max, outside more frequently. On Tuesday morning, we noticed at least twenty scattered blue jay feathers in our driveway, as he sat on a lawn chair nearby, watching us walk to the car to make our morning commute.  I'm not sure how many feathers a blue jay has, but I'm choosing to imagine that the blue jay escaped from Max.  Perhaps it didn't, but there was no blood evidence in the area, and as adept a hunter as cats can be, I imagine a blue jay would put up a fight.

One day, I want to have a back porch where I can sit and drink coffee and watch blue jays.

Some links to browse through today;

+ The Female Price of Male Pleasure // "Women are supposed to perform comfort and pleasure they do not feel under conditions that make genuine comfort almost impossible."

+ My friend Amanda is a farmer in Philadelphia who is looking to invest in a greenhouse this year. She has a kickass farmstead and is so deserving of this expansion.  

+ Someone please buy me this sweater dress (or buy it for yourself and I can borrow it).

+ My new favorite wedding related blog is Over the Moon, and this post about wedding dates for 2018 had me cross-checking my booked wedding dates at the shop.  Of the top 10 listed, we have at least one wedding booked for each weekend, and most of those dates/weekends are actually completely booked (as in, we cannot take another client).  September and October are where it's at for weddings!  I'll be in hiding come November.  Send provisions so I can re-up my energy.

+ Though I'm not an avid Star Wars fan, I did enjoy reading this Vanity Fair story about the most recent film.  When we saw the movie with our friends, I wasn't aware that Carrie Fisher would be in it at all - I thought that she had passed before filming even began.  (This shows how out of the loop I am.)  I'd love to watch it again soon.

+ Dreaming of owning more art.  This daffodil scroll from Lucy Augé is on my list.  I'm vying for springtime right now.

I missed out on making a plum cake.

2017 was the year that I struggled.  I'm still struggling.  Some days are better than others (I say this quite often), and the struggle has changed from how it started.  I'm not sure how it started, and to attempt to denote a start seems to me like there would be one large incendiary event.  Struggle doesn't always begin with a cataclysm.  Struggle creeps up on you, it's stepping in gum and not realizing it was on your shoe until you walk through a freshly mowed grassy field, and now you have a heavy foot matted with sheddy clippings.

In 2017 I learned that my actions matter to more people than I thought they did, but only after they expressed their disappointment in things I had or hadn't done.  I learned that forgiveness can be difficult to earn, and that I'm capable of damage I've never done before.  I'm learning that my actions still matter and carry weight, and how to better wield that for good and harmony.

Sometime around the end of fall, a really wise friend told me that sometimes the problem isn't that you change as a person, but it's that other people aren't necessarily willing to accept that you have changed - that your growth is displeasing or uncomfortable or unsettling in some way, and that's it's nothing you've done wrong, but that it's a change that can be hard for others to deal with.  This colored the last six months of 2017 for me.

I feel ill-equipped frequently, but my brain knows this isn't the case.  The confidence in my head is there, I'd love for the outer wrapper of my being to reflect this as well.

And even though I've seen that discord can be a drug to some, I can try to believe we are better than our history.  (Is this a metaphor for the political climate of the US?!  Unintentional, but perhaps apt.)

I was spread thin in 2017.

It is the beginning of 2018 and I am optimistic in some ways, stubbornly lacking hope  in others.  Reminding myself that I enjoy feeling alive, like truly feeling ALIVE is helpful.  

Feeling alive in sadness is important to me.  I made at least four plum cakes in 2016, and zero in 2017.  I forgot to be excited and bake a (very simple) dessert that I love.  I only remembered this a few days ago, and the realization made me so sad.

I don't want to miss plum cake in 2018.

Seeing the Resistance in films like Star Wars, and reading about the Janes of Chicago, and being happy around my mother, and making flowers, and feeling cold wind on my face even when it hurts, this is feeling alive to me.  The necessity of taking change into my (our) hands and saying YES to doing things.

Thank you, reader, for listening.  I hope you feel alive today, and if you don't, on some level I understand.  You can do it, I can do it.  

I hope I see you feeling alive, because that'll make me feel alive, too.

Link up 11/3/17

And it's back - the Friday link-up!  Some things I've read recently that I think you might enjoy, too.

This is a close up of a bouquet that Sarah (another designer at V+V) made the other week and I seriously keep looking at it all the time.  That dahlia is absolutely bananas.

This is a close up of a bouquet that Sarah (another designer at V+V) made the other week and I seriously keep looking at it all the time.  That dahlia is absolutely bananas.

Yes, This is a Witch Hunt.  I'm a Witch and I'm Hunting You.

The magic of poison ivy as a protector and shelter.

A scintillating party that I might attend with a friend in Pittsburgh, to celebrate a new exhibit about lingerie.  Join us!

For high quality vintage clothing, 1919 Vintage on Etsy is my favorite shop.  I strongly recommend checking out Anne's wares when you're in need of something new for your closet.

An excellent read on the Kings of the tarot deck, "How to sort the courts part 4: Honing power with the kings."

A new favorite animal video.

My friend is participating in an art and zine fair this Sunday here in Philly, and I really want to try to make it out.  You should come, too!

The Punk Rock Flea Market in December at Bok is also calling my name (and my husbands, and my brother in law's, and my sister in law's).

Don't lose us in mourning.

Going to Four Quarters Farm this year was really different for me than it was last year for this holiday.  Samhain.  The holiday where we intentionally honor the Ancestors.

I realized something this year that I hadn't before, or at least, that I hadn't truly gripped on to.  We honor the Ancestors - this does not necessitate mourning.  The honoring will look different for everyone, but it can be honor in the spirit of joy rather than sadness.  We can remember and laugh and sing and dance, and also cry (it's not a real ritual if crying doesn't happen - but really).  

This year was different not only for that realization, but also because I kept myself fairly closed off during Saturday night's ritual.  

Arriving early on Friday instead of Saturday allowed me the opportunity to attend a Misa after the opening ritual for the weekend.  Having never attended a Misa before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it hit me a lot harder than I anticipated.

A Misa is a Santeria ceremony, where participants may serve as messengers for the Dead.  The Misa that took place at Four Quarters was more of an Interfaith Misa, with prayers and songs and recitations from many cultures and faith paths.

Messages were received by several attendees at the Misa, and relayed to the group in many ways. The hair on my arms stood on end at several points during the service.  Feeling a profound connection to many of the messages, I felt that I couldn't leave behind the world that I so desperately enjoy escaping when I go to the Farm.  The heaviness couldn't be escaped, but rather, it is the duty of the living to heed the Dead.  To not make the same mistakes, to do better.  To learn.  Those messages from the Departed were not joyful.  The messages were raw.


We set nine more stones into the walking labyrinth.  Dig crew below.


The Saturday night ritual was theatrical and participatory and though I didn't feel able to participate, and I didn't feel emotionally lighter at the time, I cannot get the song that I started this post with out of my head.  A Farm rendition of "Dance in the Graveyards" by Delta Rae was performed during that Saturday night ritual, and was something that nobody was expecting, but for me, completely made the weekend.

Here's to rediscovering how to do things.  Here's to regarding the past.  Watch and listen, because it does still speak.


In my dream I had to run errands parking in a big city

NYC is a real challenge when you just have to run into CVS to get foundation for someone else

of course they carried Fenty with 40 shades to match anyone

but as I applied the foundation for her to cover her face onto mine to test it out for quality

I don't want her to be mad

I found that it hurt my skin and was the wrong shade for me and would never cover my skin thoroughly enough to consider it a successful match for her

SO there was no point in trying and I wiped it all off 

it hurt my skin but it was easy to remove and it felt better afterwards

not to be covered for their benefit

The return on empowering your team.

I work somewhere really special, and I do mean special in the true sense of the word.  It is unique to find a workplace where you are able to do work that you only could dream about.  It is even more rare to be surrounded by people who want to support your ventures outside of work, even if they might take your mind away from work.  Being surrounded by dreamers who will dream alongside you - and even better, dreamers with motivation and passion.

What I have to say is brief, but what I'll say is evidence of what has changed my life and my outlook for over two years now.  And it's not all been easy or joyful change.  It's been hard and messy at times, and angry and self-centered.  But above that it's been full of grace and love, and for those reasons, it is why I am still in the game.

Allow those near to you to dream and stretch themselves aside from their involvement with you.  Support them where you can, and remember that everyone needs support sometimes.  Don't be afraid to lose someone to their opportunities, because if you love them and support them, you can't truly lose them.

Wait a little bit longer when others pause, because you never know what they might be trying to say.  To you!  Trusting you to care.

Give others the chance to grow (a real, true, empowering chance), and I really do think they'll help you grow, too.

Reading List Recently

One of my goals post-election was to become more knowledgeable, more attuned, more woke about marginalized communities.  And how do we learn?  We read.  I read.  Everything and anything I can get my hands on, sometimes too late at night when I should be sleeping.

When I started in Teach for America, we were given an extensive reading list prior to our training. Not only articles and interviews and chapters of books, but short videos and recommended movies were also on the list.  The reading list took me months to get through after I graduated, as I was working part-time and planning my move to Philadelphia (and didn't have wifi at my apartment since my lease was ending soon), so I spent a lot of time at the local library.  I completed the list in its entirety.

Few others in my TFA "class" did the same, and it was laughed off my senior staff as well as new recruits.  I was hurt and appalled by the lack of commitment to knowledge and to the work.

Knowledge is what makes us better.  So this is me doing better and continuing to stretch.  

So several months ago, I began with Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change by Senator John Lewis.  Senator Lewis was an integral member of the Civil Rights Movement.  He is integral today, his commitment and tenacity is inspiring.  I wonder how he, at age 21, felt as a Freedom Rider.  At 21 I was not so brave or noble and don't feel that I even could be now at age 27.  So I read, so I learn, so I try in my own way.  He also wrote a graphic novel series that I am dying to get my hands on from a friend who purchased it.

Some other books I have read recently (and I generally buy books for my Kindle or borrow them from the library, so sorry there are no pictures, but this post isn't about pictures):

When We Rise: My Life in the Movement by Cleve Jones If you've seen the movie Milk, you saw Emile Hirsch's portrayal of Jones' involvement in Harvey Milk's rise to local office.  After reading this book, I feel pulled to learn more about Jones' work relating to the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service We are not so far removed from the struggle of safe and legal abortion.  This account of the years before Roe brought up thoughts in my mind that I hadn't previously entertained.  What does it mean to care for others?  What happens when healthcare is provided by laypeople?  What can be provided without the medical institutions that be?

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance A look at poverty in coal country.  Ultimately an interesting book, but I want to expand my reading list in this area to learn more.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond Footnotes and references make up a quarter of this book, so imagine my surprise when I finished it so quickly.  Milwaukee is the subject of study in this book, but as I read I imagined Philadelphia as the setting, because it truly cannot be so different in the struggle of the residents and the barriers they face.

Reading is how I understand, and there is a world out there to understand beyond a book.  But books have plenty of power as incendiary devices.



Warding is a practice of creating protective shields or barriers around a space.  The space could be stationary, such as your apartment or house, or the space could be mobile, such as your car.  I would also venture to say that a protective barrier could be placed around yourself, or even a pet if you chose to do so.  When I envision a ward around myself, I often think of a personal space bubble that is also energetically charged to keep certain things away from me.

Force field/bubble/shield, a ward is a protective barrier that keeps something out or away.  Before warding, it is recommended to cleanse the space in order to ensure damaging or harmful elements aren't "trapped" or lingering within the ward you put up.  You can read more about cleansing in this post.

Warding can be done in a variety of ways: some people create sigils or use written words tophysically mark the perimeter of the ward, or to carry the intention of the ward in an artistic form.  Using a wand or other directive instrument is another option for warding, to direct and visualize the protection streaming from a powerful item.  I know of people who use incense or fragrant oil/water sprays to create wards, but I personally prefer this method for cleansing a space.

Some wards might last longer than others - it depends on the situation you're warding in.  If it feels like you need any extra protection, your ward may become less effective more quickly because it's under some strain.  Certain stressful situations may warrant a shield.  Other wards might be done at specific times on schedule, during a certain moon phase with certain significance or on the same date each month.  Everyone is different in their needs, and our needs can shift.

Happy warding!

We are more alike than we are different.

Generally speaking, I don't go out of my way to interact with people that I haven't met yet.  I can be a social person if the mood strikes, but socializing feels burdensome at times.  Surrounding myself with people that I already know won't broaden my circle, but it does provide comfort.

However, I'm also a very nosy person, and I like knowing why people behave in the ways that they do.  I'm a nerd for the "why".

Among floral designers, you'll find that each person's website touts that they do things differently.  That they are special because they treat clients in a certain way, that they only take a certain number of events per year, that they source their flowers locally, etc.  The problem is, these aren't things that we know for sure.  They're quantifiable, sure, but unless we know the numbers, percentages, expenditures to Farmer A, B, and C, then they're just terms and zingy phrases.  Words have meaning, but our interpretation of words is colored by how we perceive.  Numbers are objective in a thorough context.  I prefer numbers.

What anyone wants in their business (and certainly not only just floral designers) is to have happy, grateful, and trusting clients.  I'd venture to say that floral designers also relate in that we all want the most unique and excellent product to use when we make flowers, whether it's local or imported.  We all want to create beauty, and having people recognize our hard work is something I think we all desire, too.  In these ways, we are more alike than we are different.

So how do we show that we are distinctly different?  Meaning, how do we impart that swapping one floral designer out me for another floral designer will remarkably change the experience that the client will have.  This is something I'm wondering.  How do we prove it?  Do we have to prove anything?  (To ourselves, perhaps, in moments of doubt or when we feel inadequate.)  Is this where we let our work speak for itself, and let our clients and colleagues tell it like it is on our behalf?  When we write and show our process and our numbers, how do we ensure enough context is there, and that it is actually read?

Witchcraft doesn't care about the aesthetic.

The times that I have felt most powerful in my personal practice of witchcraft have been when it's dark outside and I can feel the energy of the people around me.  Also in the times where I've sat silently at the kitchen table, completely alone.  I've felt extremely powerful when I've been angry, and sad and lonely. 

My witchcraft doesn't need crystals, candles, an altar, anything.  Those are bells and whistles.  Bells and whistles are fun and can create ambiance and beauty, and if you know me, you must know that I certainly love beauty.  I'm a fan of a good chunk of kyanite, and I've had my primary tarot deck for years.  I love the ephemeral, barely-contained brimming of feeling that comes with observing the truly special and beautiful.  But I can also feel those feelings without the equipment.  

Feelings are intangible, and you don't need the tangible to feel.

The equipment isn't absolutely necessary in order for magic to be made.  It's not what you have, but how you use what's already around you.  And the wonderful thing about magic is that you can have absolutely nothing and still do a hell of a lot.

The scowl will not make you a witch, and neither will an ornamental skull.  You don't need to wear black velvet.  Your irreverence and ignorance of the history will not make you more powerful or impactful.  The aesthetic is worth nothing.

The thing that matters is what you do and what you make.  Your intention and your strength are the power here, not the look, not the aesthetic.  I hate the fad of the mystic, of the good vibes, of the "witchy" aesthetic.  It's a trope and I'm tired of seeing it - I'm immensely irritated that what is now accepted marked me as a freak for my formative years.


Electricity moving through the air, perhaps guided by the wind or something more, in a pitch-black field with strangers.  Using nothing more than words and focus, humming intention into our sphere.  Sharing a familiar look with people I've never met, knowing we're there for the same reason.  Creating something palpable from absolutely nothing.  Writing sigils on scraps of paper or in the air.  Whispers to a bridal bouquet for well-wishes.  Infusing my cooking with warmth and love for those who eat it.  Casual blessings and some casual curses.  Warding.

This is my witchcraft, this is my magic.

I am learning.

I can do difficult things.  Some difficult things must be taken on alone, even if that wasn't the plan, and other difficult things become fun and wonderful things when your team carries the weight.


I am one of (currently) 7 employees at Falls Flowers.  Only two of us, excluding my boss Peicha, are full-timers.  We're small, and even when we grow, we'll still be small - intentionally so.  

What a lot of clients don't realize about our shop and our wedding intake process, is that I am currently the only person who handles wedding clients.  This can bring some stress onto me, because the perspective of understanding how we work is not easy to communicate, especially if they don't know us in some way before inquiring.  I want clients to know who we are, but it's not easy to explain in one email.  They don't necessarily know that I'll be the one person who fields, thinks about, and responds to every single email they send, and if they don't see the shop, they don't know how warm and kind we can be.  They might not even know that all of our work is personal and custom - there are no formulas for us, there are no guarantees on any flower variety ever, and there is a reverence for supply chain ethics.  They don't know that I rarely schedule meetings past 3pm - not because I want to be inaccessible, but because I leave as promptly as possible at 5pm to pick up my husband at work on my way home, and by the time I roll to UPenn, he's waited long enough already.  

And explaining the cost of local flowers is another topic entirely, and it deserves a post all its own.

Difficult things arise every day, every week.  A snowstorm cancels your planned day off for a doctor's appointment that gets rescheduled for Thursday.  Down for the count two days before a two wedding Saturday.  Worrying that the IUD placement will take me out of commission for more than a day - thank goodness it didn't.  Feeling stressed with all of the pieces on Saturday coming together.  Managing teams of people is not a skill I've ever had to practice, so I'm learning.  But learning is made easier when the team knows this and is ready to support in any way they can.  And they did.  And it was perfect.

I am grateful for learning with this team, and I am grateful for the many hats I wear.  I'm grateful for the gracious clients who trust us implicitly, even though it makes me nervous and surprised every time (responsibility and autonomy are welcome, but are consequently something large to shoulder).  

My amazing team: Peicha, Morgan, Katy, Andy, Sarah, Jess, Erica, Andrew.  If I were to try to include everyone else who made Saturday a success, there would be at least a dozen more names - photographers, planners, coordinators, assistants, and more.  It takes a village (and even though that's cheesy, it's true), and my village is powerful.  I am grateful.

Women's Health - Resource Share

First comes the disclaimer: I'm not a doctor (in case you weren't aware).   I'm not dispensing medical advice.  Everything in this blog post is free to find on the internet, through common search engines or specific websites, such as Amazon.  I've merely collected and compiled these links and resources into one convenient location.  If you think you need medical attention, please seek appropriate medical attention.  

Over the weekend on Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:30am.  I ate oatmeal, put leggings on under my jeans, layered up with a hat, scarf, gloves and big coat, and hit the road at 6:15am.  My destination was the Planned Parenthood surgical center in the Far Northeast of Philadelphia.  I had signed up for my first shift as a clinic escort and was on my way to meet volunteers and staff.

Patient escorts serve one purpose.  You are a human shield of calm between the patient and any opposition.  In the case of my volunteer shift, the opposition was on average 65 years old, carried signs touting anti-choice rhetoric, and jeered unpleasant lies about very safe and normal (and legal, how 'bout it) surgical procedures.

I escorted with three other women who volunteered that day.  Two of them were in their mid-50's, and the other in her eighties.  She, in particular, has been a volunteer with Planned Parenthood for over 40 years.

Please let that sink in.  This woman who I had the privilege of meeting on Saturday has been a clinic escort, making patients feel safe and reassured and distracted from protestors, for over 40 years.  This means that she saw the tide turn when Roe v. Wade affected law.  She has seen stark opposition to medically accepted science.  It's likely that she remembers the days before Roe, and the horror of unsafe abortions.  And she still volunteers.  Because there is still a need, forty years later.

If you're a person who wants choice and options, and wants some information regarding reproductive health, this is a list for you.  It is by no means complete, and some of it is not for everyone.  There is nothing wrong with reading and becoming educated about options.

Nurx is for people who want hormonal birth control through the mail.  They have a promotion going right now for a $45 credit towards your purchase with the code tiny hands.

For my NYC residents (or visitors to the city), Expert Gyn offers gynecological care ranging from well-woman exams to ultrasounds to walk-in testing.  You don't necessarily need insurance to go see them.

How to choose which IUD is right for you.  Two days ago, my OBGYN office called me to inform me that my insurance just approved my IUD.  No copay, no cost for the visit, nothing.  Truly, thank you President Obama.  Do not hesitate.  Get yourself an IUD for long-term birth control, now.  

These doors stay open.  Not only does Planned Parenthood provide birth control and family planning services, but it provides a ton of other services as well.  Including but not limited to cholesterol screenings, tetanus vaccines, physical exams, testicular cancer screenings, pap smears, breast cancer screenings...I could go on.  Just check their website.

The Herbal Medic is not a book about reproductive health, but more an emergency first aid guide.  It's on my wish list at the moment.

More books.  Natural Liberty is radical and informative.  Herbal Healing for Women is less radical in content, which makes the content more applicable and relevant to regular use.

I might post another list or amend this list as it grows, so if you're interested in adding to it, please reach out via email or my contact form.  Let's help one another.

Two Months

I've taken some time away from this space.  Intentionally, but somewhat more unintentionally.  The results of the election have hit me hard.  Self care is the name of the game.  This included purchasing lots of plants when I felt sad.  I anticipate that things will be difficult to witness for the foreseeable future, and though I'm not resigned to that (deep down, I'm a fighter), I'm also not a naturally optimistic person.  And I'm not sure anyone comes here to read what might be considered the thoughts of a downer.

Even when I'm able to blog consistently, it's hard to know what everyone wants to read.  

In two months' time, several new developments have happened.  I've taken up archery as an activity, and can now kind of understand the appeal of sports in general.  I think the appeal in archery to me is that I can compete with myself, and that I can do it alone or with others if I want to.  Chris has also embraced archery with me, and we're hoping to attend Schutzenfest at Four Quarters in October.

My arrangement from Thanksgiving for my mother-in-law.

My arrangement from Thanksgiving for my mother-in-law.

I've taken several herbalism courses with Kelly of Attic Apothecary.  Having enjoyed classes on tinctures, salves, and herbal bitters, I have enrolled in her 8-month course "Building Your Home Apothecary," beginning March through October.  There's a herbalism conference that I'm dying to attend in June, but it's far from Philadelphia, and I haven't decided if I can make the commitment yet.  But I'm committed to studying, making, and learning more.  I might even have a product or two in the works to sell.

Infusing the oil with vanilla beans.

Infusing the oil with vanilla beans.

To combat feelings of helplessness, aside from learning about archery and herbalism, I am now a volunteer for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania.  I am able to attend trainings on different volunteer opportunities now that I've made it through a first session, and I'm proud to say that I'm able to volunteer as a clinic escort, having completed the training on that position specifically.  

More developments to come.


Yesterday's Facebook status

Ok folks. I'm going to get personal.

I'm hurting just like a lot of you are. I'm fluctuating between feeling empty and hollow, and then full of rage. I wish I could feel something else, maybe something like love for the people I know who are with me and will support causes of equality. But I'm still having trouble feeling love. It'll come back, but I'm not there yet.

I'm fearful for those who will suffer. I don't want people to lose their health insurance, or be denied due to "pre-existing conditions" if the ACA is messed with. I feel the pain and invalidation of women, where we see a woman who is arguably the most qualified candidate for President EVER, lose to a man who spews garbage. I don't even know what to say to people of color at this point. "I'm sorry" just doesn't cut it. Never did. I stand in solidarity with those who find themselves on the margins of what this regime will accept. And I barely know what to say to myself.

In about 3-3.5 years from now, my projected plans will have allowed me to successfully pay off all of my student loans. Granted, this is without saving for much else, but this is how I'm handling it. Chris and I want children one day. But in good conscience, knowing the reality that is women's health care and child care affordability, I refuse to bear children before I personally am debt-free.

And now that plan must change. I can not subject myself to the indignity of seeking prenatal medical care under this presidency. As it stands now, it is possible that any pregnancy I carry would be a risk, due to surgery I have had in the past. And to risk my life in their regime where a woman would be secondary to a clump of fucking cells would be lunacy. 

I don't want to get an IUD - I'm a nervous patient under the most routine circumstances, but it's looking like that is my option right now. In this time more than ever, I hear myself wishing that I couldn't have children, or that we simply don't want children. This is the first step to my choices being inadvertently made for me.

I think I'm writing this because I'm trying to process. But I'm also writing this because this is the first way that they will come for me, and many of you. And I'm scared. And I'm processing. And it'll take awhile. 

I will rally. I will fight. I will use my privilege to aid others. I'll certainly cry a lot, with anyone else who needs to. I'll hold your hand when you're scared. And we'll heal together by taking care of each other.

Orange Ranunculus at a Premium

I realized that this post has been saved in my drafts for even longer than a year.  In honor of their one year anniversary (Congratulations, Katie and Will, who likely do not read this blog), I am posting it now.  The heart of this story still applies, and the littlest things are still the biggest things.  It is the people who have our backs that make our work great.  I can attest to that this year as well.  I'm thankful and grateful.  

he lucky part, about writing about a wedding a year after it happens, is that I'm fortunate to have some beautiful photos from the big day, courtesy of The Wiebners.  

In October I was fortunate to be the lead designer on a wedding that just screamed autumnal happiness.  The bride, Katie, was one of the first consultations that I conducted independently, and I enjoyed getting to know her a bit through the months approaching her wedding.  I know that my scope of getting to know her was only within the context of her wedding and the flowers, but I still love those little connections that happen sporadically, in seemingly insignificant conversations.  

We shared a love for the tiny details that can go into a celebration.  She is a pediatrician, and collects vintage medicine bottles.  We ended up using those as the main component of her centerpieces.  She provided hurricane candles that were used at her sister's wedding just eight weeks before her own.  She wore a lace gown and threw on a cardigan at the end of the night, as she made her rounds personally thanking all of the venue staff for their service.  Her bridesmaids offered to carry all of the bouquets up 72 stairs to their third floor apartment (I politely declined the offer, but afterwards, almost wished that I had not.  That's a lot of steep stairs!).  

Katie's antique bottle collection on display for guests as centerpieces.

Katie's antique bottle collection on display for guests as centerpieces.

Apart from using a rich color palette of reds, oranges, yellows, and warm tones, Katie and her fiancé, Will, made no specific requests, save for one: to please include in Will's boutonniere an orange ranunculus.  He loves them.  Their shape, how cheerful they are, all the layers of petals.  And when a groom has a specific request, and they seldom do, I think it's so important to honor it.  In any situation, really.  If the couple is overall flexible and wonderfully trusting, you want to just blow them away with their flowers.  

The time came to order their flowers.  I had a lot of fun doing this, with a beautifully organized list, stem counts neatly totaled up, pricing estimated within my spending budget, anticipation building for the time to design it all.  It's an interesting method, and everyone is different in this regard.  

But none of our wholesalers had orange ranunculus in stock.  Nobody.  We couldn't even order them in from California.  They weren't on any availability lists, but every other color was.  Red, yellow, cream, white, the whole Crayola box, was available.  But no orange.

I panicked (internally).  I called every Whole Foods in Philadelphia and the outlying suburbs.  No orange ranunculus.  I called florists in the city, and only one of them could maybe get them in for me, at way too much per stem.  A day or two went past.  And the availability online from our wholesalers hadn't changed.  But one of our sources for flowers did have but ONE BUNCH of orange ranunculus.  Ten stems only.

It's a small glimpse of the orange ranunculus, but it is there!

It's a small glimpse of the orange ranunculus, but it is there!

The man who saved the day, and my conscience, was Ted of the Cut Flower Exchange in Conshohocken.  He's a longtime friend of my boss', and was actually the person who referred me to contact her seeking a job.  And he was the one who came through in a big way with ten flowers for my first wedding as a design lead.

The littlest things are sometimes the biggest things.  

But more on that in an upcoming blog post.

I lucked out with this couple as my first full-service client at the shop.

I lucked out with this couple as my first full-service client at the shop.

The Turning

Under the leaves, insects are taking shelter and mushrooms are growing.  And decaying, and spending spores, and growing.  Salvaging more catmint from the garden before a hard frost.  Watching several flower farmers experience a frost, while others do not.  Getting a few more weeks of dahlias.  Bringing the herbs inside, and hoping that they get enough sun.  The urge to make wreaths with all the amazing dried plant material abounding.  Peeling pomegranates.  The urge to stay underneath the blanket just a little bit longer.  Feeling ahead while feeling behind.  Crowns of lunaria (not unlike a wreath).  Root vegetables as the best comfort food.  Thanking the ancestors.  

And then, there is Four Quarters.

Happy at the Farm.

Happy at the Farm.

Traveling to ritual; to several types of ritual.  The labyrinth.  Measuring the path where we dig to put stones in the ground.  Re-measuring.  Taking the stones out.  Precision.  Measuring again.  Finally putting the stones in the ground.  Eleven in the ground, completing the fifth ring.  Three rings to go.  This is the work for our descendants.  

Coffee dragons.  A Croning celebration.  Bunking in the dorms.  Viewing the changes to the land after six years, and hearing the history of change in people and structure.  A hayride to view the new land acquired and feeling just as at home as the first time I set foot in the Farm's office as a freshman in college.

Dumb Supper.  Offering tobacco.  Approaching the Ancestors cautiously.  

Elemancy as ritual.  Walking into the circle, second participant, at that.  Being sent to the North when your Aries husband is sent to the South.  Asking, and being told "Balance."  Chuckling a bit (I'm a Libra, don't you know) and knowing that this means to go slowly.  

Always wanting more answers.

Drinking mead.  Smoking clove cigarettes.  Attending the Dead Poet's Society, and enjoying the performances and recitations of the writers, poets, musicians, and bards who have left this world.  Already thinking about what to read aloud and share next year.

Watching one of your dearest friends become a Member of the Church.  Crying.  Feeling really proud of her.  Really proud of her.

Participating in closing ritual.  Serious grounding.  Being challenged in the circle, and taking the challenge to the world outside of the Farm, the family.  Being unsure if you have enough love in your heart to carry out the work.  Hugging strangers that you've seen all weekend.  It makes you feel a little stronger.

Gratitude.  Clichés about it taking a village.  Learning to sit with clichés that feel right.

Merry Samhain.

Peace on the Rocks

My mother in law lives on a really wonderful piece of land.  For those local to the Philadelphia region, it's off the beaten path once you get off of 422-West.  She and her husband, Tom, live in a house that was once the office for those who operated and worked at the quarry down their driveway.  If you get to digging on their land (and people have trespassed to do so), you'll find calcite, pyrite, chalcopyrite, and other minerals.

There are lots of interesting structures on the land, including a few outbuildings and a smelting tower.  The property is large, and there are garden vignettes tucked in all corners.  My mother in law, Kelly, always buys plants in the "adopt-a-plant" section of nurseries, and fits them into the land in the hopes that they'll grow strong.  Tom has fruit trees lining the left edge of the lawn, near the vegetable garden.  I can see him becoming an obsessive dahlia grower, he marvels at the blooms when I bring them over as a gift.

The space pictured above is a wide, cleared path that drops off steeply at the end.  If you look down over the edge, you can see more land that hasn't really been explored, but probably has a lot of great minerals.

Chris and I visited on Sunday, after I attended an herbalism workshop on all-purpose healing salves.  Similar to when I drink enough water and eat healthy food, I always feel more motivated and clear-headed when I work with herbs.  And it was a wonderful head space to be in to visit the land.  And I couldn't stop thinking of things I want to do there, people I want to bring there, and things I want to find and make.  In the spring, I harvested wild violet blossoms.  That has to be just the tip of the iceberg there.

Perhaps one day I will bring friends to this land.  I want to have a tent village and a campfire, and I want to eat food with friends here.  It doesn't hurt that Kelly and Tom (and Chris and I, for that matter) are all good cooks.  There are mushrooms to look at and paths in the forest to walk.