Wednesday, November 5, 2014

end of autumn



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This is my haunted house, I live here with Eric and dogs and chickens and two feral cats and sheep.
I'll start from the beginning.

In the mornings now I wake up at 4:30am or 5am and slip to down to the kitchen, flip the coffee on. Thats when the thinking starts and the looking out the window. With ages to go before it's light enough to go outside. So I hit the computer. The fact that I have a computer here is strange to me. Nothing here is computed. Nothing here understands or speaks the language of computer. It's a one way relationship. All this goes uploaded into the ether and gets stamped WORLDS END

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It feels sometimes like a lonely odd job, ferrying all the things - all the moments up to their after life in the cloud. Keeping up appearances in instagram.

No, now I'm in the city. I'll start from the beginning, feeding myself...an act which I take serious as a heart attack and what keeps me motivated to never stop working. Ever. I'm food motivated.

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I eat alone a lot which I rather enjoy. Here are my major food groups:

coffee
kale
nuts and nut butter
kefir
steak

I eat so many nuts and nut butter. We make jokes about nuts that are appropriate for a 6th grade audience, I don't care. I rub coconut oil on my face everyday now, this is one of the self care acts I've installed to keep myself from the edge of self pity. (I nut myself) I carry a peanut butter sandwich in my bag about 30% of the time. If I'm on the traveling that increases to 100%. I paid $18.99 for a jar of nut butter recently on Martha's Vineyard.

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Things at Saipua have been so good but so complicated lately. Asheley retired, moving on to her own projects and I miss her so much. But I like the drama of change, the energy of things shifting and we're working with great new people.

We did the biggest wedding we've ever done in September. I watched that come and go like a dream. As we started doing bigger and bigger events these past 2 years we noticed our payrolls were harder and harder make on time. Doesn't make a lot of sense. Relied on our credit cards too much. So in September we stopped and switched gears, released ourselves from the high end only market and started picking up smaller weddings and generally just saying yes to everything. Which is really fun when you have a positive attitude about it. I was tired of being a flower snob; it got boring. And I miss the smaller budget brides because it's how we started, ball jars in the back of my pick up truck. Friends are all like don't dilute your brand!
Which gives me pause, but then I'm like fuck it. What brand? Us? I want to farm and have money to feed my pack of dogs, give my girls raises and finish the barn so I can start my next big project: SARAHS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF ASTROLOGY AND HIP HOP DANCE

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Through all this, Eric has held down the farm so artfully. I am back and forth like a nut (!) managing the flower fields (now finished) and helping with chores, trying to make plans, figure out how to move forward there. We lost a sheep, caught in the electric fence one night. Aster, our oldest ewe. I was in the city when it happened and Eric dealt with it alone. Relatively unfazed, I noticed him differently that week... if one becomes a farmer -- goes from playing at it to really being it then he crossed that line some time ago. He hauled her body out to the back 70 acres across the farm and left her for the coyotes. Days later I walked the dogs back there sort of timidly looking for her remains. I wanted her horns. The sheep was long gone. To greener pastures, obviously.

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On my drive between the farm and the city I get a lot of thinking done. I feel like I'm resting when I'm driving, listening to music. Stop at all my happy places for a coffee or to eat some kale out of an old yogurt container. This is an old abandoned house I pass on my way. Its a greek revival, similar to ours which was popular in the early 1800's before the war and the proliferation of victorian frills... before machines. Where we live in the mohawk valley - Central NY - you can throw a stone and find an abandoned greek revival. Built to look epic and substantial as new Americans forged their way, they are often very simple and modest on the inside. I think about the time when these houses were built. The bravery, the false bravado, the desperation. I laugh out loud. Because it's very Saipua.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014


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WORLDS END TREND REPORT: YELLOW, Nicotiana (varieties 'chocolate smoke' and n. Langsdorffii green'), Martagon Lilies, 'Seattle' dahlias, Champagne Currants, Honeysuckle (there's a variety -I forget now- that is immune to mildew that I love), Maremmas, striking layer hens, struggle, tantrums, grilling.

Again, I feel like there's so much more to say but for now I trust you'll take these pictures from August. It's 5:45 am I'm drinking coffee in bed camped out at an inn in Marthas Vinyard waiting for the sun to come up so I can go finish decorating the wedding for one of my dearest ex-interns. The color palette? Yellow! To hell with soft peach and blush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To hell with Dusty Miller!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Goodbye hot house grown 'Juliet' Roses ... FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lastly, consider marking your calendars for our first BULB SALE at the studio November 1st... We're trying to raise money to put in our Martagon Lily order, which - oops! is $10,000. My dealer was like 'yeah, you picked some fancy lilies' and I was like "yeah' and threw up the Worlds End gang sign.
Over the phone.
Nevermind.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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I feel like I owe you something.
These photos are from the farm in July.
I can't seem to write lately. When I sit down to write something I end up fucking around on spotify listening to music and making playlists instead.
If you want to explore my procrastination and hear various combinations of cocteau twins and emmylou harris you can go on there and search 'spotify:user:sarahryhanen' since I'm not linked through face book it can be tricky to find me.
When I emerge from this drought I'll have lots to say, Trust.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

hashtag flowers hashtag wedding hashtag brooklyn


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We fired up the SAIPUA wedding machine in Brooklyn last week again and let me tell you how smooth that shit runs. Purrs like a big kitten...

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I spend a lot of my time working on Worlds End stuff; when I come back to pull together the flowers for an event I'm always surprised by the professional tactics the girls have up their sleeves. Like pre-ironed linens or a 16 foot refridgerated truck. To buy flowers they have one of our crew pick me up and drive me to the market. There was a time I would bus-to-train it to market. Which was fun in it's own way - ever ridden the subway with armloads of flowers? Great way to meet people.

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IMG_0982We never have to work late anymore. The arrangements are tucked in and the studio swept (!) by 6pm.

We're finally able to cut some serious flowers from the farm at Worlds End and I brought down foxgloves, clematis, currants, yarrow, ninebark and astilbe...I bought the most gorgeous sweet peas from Ariella's Zonnderfeld Farm.

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I started writing this from the apartment. It's around the corner from the studio in Red Hook. It's dingy in that way that old city buildings are, the corners, the windowsills can never be clean. The dust builds up and solidifies and then you just paint over it. Every time I come back I pick up pieces of the ceiling that have fallen. It's filled with all of our old stuff. A random gaggle of house plants that we miraculously keep watered between visits. It is where our record collection lives. When I met Eric he was 25 and I was 19. I bragged to all my friends about how I was dating an older man. He had a room in a house that was filled with obscure magazines and jazz records. The posters on his wall were vintage and framed. I had never heard of Charles Mingus or Thelonious Monk.

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After the wedding on Friday I came home and threw around half a dozen records trying to find the right one.
Ella; no
Bonnie Rait; no
Grace Jones; def no
Neil Diamond; no
Judee Sill; no

Albert King, I'm in a Phone Booth, Baby ...
I prepared a very large, considerably undercooked steak which I devoured leaning at the counter half dressed. It is hotter than hell in the apartment. I have an old shitty fan called The Hawaian Breeze; it was kicking in the corner blowing dust around. My feelings for red meat after weddings are vampiric.

Cocteau Twins; no.
Boards of Canada.

You know who knows a lot about music? Deanna/aka/SoundsDisatrous. She has a radio show on Tuesday nights from 9-10 pm you can live stream it and prank call her here: http://bel-air.org/

She's gonna play some Vandross, you gonna take your pants off.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

tonight

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[The beautiful end to ranunculus trials at Peterkort Roses in Portland, Oregon.]

My least favorite season has descended like a hot damp cloud.
Here's a list of things I hate about summer:

1. people talking about pie
2. days over 85 degrees. no, 80 degrees
3. cookouts. (considering the state of affairs at the farm I am pretty much over cookouts forever)
4. the smell of axe body spray on the subway
5. people not working normal work day hours and not answering phones (europeans you are especially guilty of this)
6. rest areas on the thruway
7. trying to keep flowers from wilting
8. white wine
9. the hamptons
10. thinking about air conditioners and energy consumption

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[Primrose in Ray Schreiner's garden]

Granted now that we have a farm and are trying to grow flowers, summer holds a few allures; I can throw myself into weeding and spraying fish fertilizer for hours in the field. This is as close as I come to meditation and it seems good for me.

Things I like about summer:

1. tomato sandwiches
2. weeding
3. when I go to the city it feels empty (and I don't have to wait in line at the mr. softie truck)

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[Schrieners Iris farm in Oregon]

It's been a busy spring, and it's gone by too fast. Our baby girl Asheley got married. I met Asheley sometime around 2007 I think. She was our first intern. Years later she came back, all grown up. Within days of working as a freelancer I knew we needed her on staff. She's transformed the flower stuff at Saipua from my chaotic brainchild mess of a business to a well oiled machine. A machine that gets paid on time, and one with a much friendlier interface (Apparently I frighten clients by saying weird shit at inappropriate times, or hanging up on them).

Needless to say, employees become like family and so it was a special weekend for us at Saipua. Ben cut us some very special wisteria and azalea. Flowers are just on fire in May. Everyone should get married mid May.

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Between the four special weddings we made and the trips for Flower School to Portland and the UK not to mention the special wedding we did in Italy I'm feeling like a gutted fish but the kind that keeps flapping after it's been gutted. In other words, I'm not stopping. And I'm happier than I've been in a while which is really nice.

There's this meditation guru who says "If you are breathing, there's actually more right with you than wrong with you."

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I am in the city now. It's 5:30 pm and I'm sitting in the back of the studio sweating. I started the day 12 hours ago at 5:30 am with the dogs the chickens the sheep the chaos of the flower field at the farm.

Its been so hot that it's best to work in the field very early and very late. The field is a wreck and I came in around 8 to express my concern to Eric that maybe we're making too many mistakes. Maybe we bit off too much. We're dumping our precious resources into a project that should have been planned better. Then I left. Just like that I threw a pair of panties and my camera in a bag and drove away. I have a meeting with a client tomorrow. Two worlds.

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[Columbines at our farm]

This evening I had a phone meeting with the mother of a bride who was considering hiring us. It seemed harmless, but once on the phone she talked without letting me say a word for 25 minutes about how wrong our proposal process was, how we didn't do enough research on the venue, how our business doesn't make any sense.

She made me feel really insulted and just bad. I wanted to hang up 5 minutes in, but then I thought that everyone deserves to be heard. When she finally relented I didn't know what the hell to say. When I started to tell her about how important flowers are to us and how we're trying to grow them to make our flowers even better I started crying. Which is oddly out of character for me at work. She told me that as a female business owner I should learn to separate my emotions from my business.
I told her keeping my emotions involved made me better at business.
Then I hung up on her.

I think about the sheep in the field far away right now. There's no question what they are thinking about. Grass. And eating more of it.

Things are shifting and it feels good. Hard but good.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

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On my last day in London I took our rental car due west 2.5 hours to the border of England and Wales. Before I got to the bridge to cross over the river Severn I stopped at a rest area which had a Starbucks and I was - in that moment - with an american coffee in a to-go cup, free time alone and a tank full of gas; the happiest I've been in a long while.

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For two weeks Nicolette and I were flower tourists and then teachers...if there was a garden, a spectacular clematis or a medieval castle between Amsterdam and London, we saw it. I hope I absorbed somethings that will stay with me and help me make beautiful gardens and fake ruins at my farm. We certainly have enough rocks here to fake the ruins.

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I've been eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches lately. I'm telling you this because I don't have much else to say. I am sort of funny about never being hungry, probably since in the 4th grade I was 'diagnosed' with hypoglycemia after lots of headaches, the doctor just told me to keep some peanuts in my locker. For a hypochondriac over-thinker like myself, this diagnosis was a boon to my inner dialog.

Unfortunately peanuts were not great social currency -- back then, it was tootsie roll pops and jolly ranchers. The unpopular kids are always more interesting adults. I tell myself.

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This clematis Montana is everywhere in London right now. We're planting lots of this at the farm this spring. This season has been cold and wet; everything is about 3 weeks behind normal...daffodils have just started to bloom and our fields are still waterlogged. We're in a bit of a holding pattern. Already making lots of mistakes, like the sweet peas that got drawn out to around 10 inches of stem stretching for more light in our living room. I've been expertly advised to scrap them and start over. Eric, who cared for them in my absence (and thus feels a sort of paternal connection to the things) is angry and not ready to let go. We have a good little fight about this, and I agree to give them a shot under a low tunnel where they'll get more light.

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I stopped in the city to check in with the girls at Saipua on my way back from London. I had a few hours to play with what was around and made this arrangement. I am reminded why flowers are so satisfying to me; they are so immediate. You put them together and right away you make something. It's such an obvious contrast to my work at the farm. Eric says I want a farm right out of the box. And he's right. 

It feels like the more we accomplish here, the more work is uncovered. I'm coming to terms with this as a lifelong project. Which is uncomfortable for me when I really think on it. 
It's frightening because it makes my life seem very short. 


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It took 32 years to build Tintern Abbey in the late 13th century. By the mid 16th century it had been largely abandoned and for the next two hundred years it was ignored. In the mid 18th century it became very popular for people to 'explore the wilder parts of the country' and the ivy ensconced ruins of Tintern were suddenly a popular tourist destination. There are many beautiful etchings and paintings of the Abbey from this period. Swathed in overgrowth. Epically romantic.

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Scientists generally agree that we've entered a new epoch on earth and they've dubbed it the 'Anthropocene' a word that infers the effect that humans have had on the surface of the earth and it's atmosphere. Most agree this epoch started around the industrial revolution, though some argue it should begin even earlier, with the rise of agriculture. 

What makes sense to me is that this shift coincides with the dawn of our self awareness. When we began to see ourselves as separate from nature. Something apart from it. 

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Ironically we seem to miss nature, we want to go back to it, hike through it, commune with it, feel like we belong to it. Even if just for a day and under highly mitigated circumstances. I personally spend a lot of time trying to get back into it. I'd like to crawl inside the ivy covered ruins and make my bed. I want plants growing inside my house through the windows, along the baseboards. When I am outside in it I wait to feel some connection or rhythm. Like waiting for acceptance.

big urn flowerschool_2When I was in college and angry at the world, at coorporations, at starbucks (!) at everyone...I used to fantasize about moving to the Northwest Territories of Canada or Montana to be a rancher. To be completely alone in nature. But I'm not sure I'd have found what I was looking for there. I'm not sure that there is this difference between our lives and nature. This inside and outside. I have come to think that more likely our modern lives; our jetplanes, our iphone, our nitrogen fertilizers are all nature too. 

It's all cut from the same cloth, really. I'm not sure what I'm getting at but I've been thinking on this for a few days and will keep knocking it around.

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Note: I set off writing this post to inform you about mothers day flowers, and fill you in a bit on my trip. Instead I divuldged into yet another rambling on the human condition. Whoops. In one of my classes in England we talked a little about branding and marketing your business. We talked about how you have to show what it is you want to do, demonstrate what you are first and then the right clients will find you and hire you. I believe this truly. Unfortunately for me, in a time when I really need some more clients at Saipua all I seem to be able to do is write about anxiety and global warming and post dark creepy photos of flowers and dirty sheep. Hey girls want to talk about your wedding? This makes me smile, sitting here in the dark at 5:45 am watching the sun come up.

Also my comments on nature encompassing our technology and the burning of fossil fuels are not mean to be read as a friendly excuse to continue our thoughtlessness on the planet. Quite the opposite. More on this someday soon I hope.


The shop Saipua in Brooklyn will be open Saturday and Sunday (likely the last weekend for a little bit) selling our soaps, candles and flowers. The girls are taking orders for mothers day. You can order a bouquet or ball jar for pick up starting at $35 or order something fancier for delivery (Manhattan/Brooklyn) for $250 on Sunday.