Excavation

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Last week there was a knock on my door. It was my neighbor. “Hey could you come out here? There’s a sink hole forming next to your house.” It turned out to be our main sewer line. The 100 year old pipe was disintegrating, and our driveway would have to be dug up and the old pipe replaced. It would cost thousands of dollars and lots of inconvenience.

I kept thinking over the last couple of weeks, I wish I’d never gotten that knock on my door. 

Which was so silly because it was there with or without the knock. Right in my very foundation, creating fumes and backups for months on end. It was so obvious, but I wanted to ignore the work, the very raw gut wrenching work that was needed to clean out the deep recesses of my home.

A few years ago my sister started dating a woman. She took me on a walk with a view of the shining sea and told me she was in love. I hugged her and told her I was SO happy for her, and was genuinely overjoyed to see my little sister happy. I got to know her girlfriend bit by bit and adored her too. It’s gotten to the point that I am bummed when my sister hangs out with the family without her…bothered when they are apart. I want them together forever. My boys already call them aunties. When my sister asked her girlfriend to marry her it was exactly the right thing. They are family.

So when I found out that people wouldn’t come to the wedding because my sister is gay my heart sank. The best way to describe the feeling I had is like when you’re a little child and you get in trouble, but you didn’t know what you did was wrong. My heart pounded, I couldn’t breathe. These were some of the most loyal, loving aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.. People I had spent every holiday with, grown up going to church with every Sunday, loved ones who had driven miles to celebrate me when I had accomplished something, written me notes of encouragement or gifted me when I was going through hard times.  And they had come to my wedding. But they wouldn’t do the same for my baby sister.

I could write paragraphs telling you how much my sister deserves to be celebrated. A girl who has seriously done so much for others I don’t even know HOW. She would do ANYTHING for another person. And does! She’s chosen a life of service to the marginalized. She’s been a light to anyone who has crossed her path. And so have my parents! Whether hosting dinners, gifting money to those in need, or being an ear when friends are going through hard times. When they invited family to come to their daughter’s beautiful wedding I could not believe the answer could ever possibly be no.

And it was so hard to see the grief it caused.

It was like the knock on my door. I didn’t want to believe that my foundation, my roots, were disintegrating. I didn’t want to dig down and find that so much was broken. I’ve ignored the fact that I was raised in an environment that hates the other. In my head I can hear the responses to that last statement. “no, no…hate the sin, not the sinner. You can still love gays…be in the world, but not of it.” All the while never brushing shoulders with those they supposedly loved, causing damage by trying to convert them to something they weren’t born as, or being repulsed by gender fluidity.  This day and age’s Samaritans.

But all of this was hidden deep beneath niceties and passive comments. Nobody had to talk about their beliefs or make statements until my sister’s wedding invitation went out. And then the real work of understanding what love for another really meant came about. Everything backed up and my foundation was shaken.

There was a very clear moment in my youth when I thought, I don’t have to think about this because it’s not close to me…Then I said to myself, “I don’t want that to be the case. If I have a child that is gay, I want them to know that I will love them no matter what before they come out.” It ended up being my sister. But it could be one of my sons. It could be a grandchild. 10% of the population is gay. You do the math. Imagine being a teen who hasn’t come out. Imagine your grandparents decide not to go to your aunts wedding because she’s gay. Or your parents. Or a sibling. Would you feel comfortable being who you really are around them?

If you refuse to go to a gay wedding you’re making a statement not just to that couple, but to anybody close to you who might be gay.  “I love you…except not that part of you. I love you, but not enough to try to understand how hard the world is to your people, and how my lack of love is contributing to the problem. I love you, but I refuse to see you in a wedding dress walking down the aisle. I love you, but I want jewels in my heavenly crown and you’re not part of my heaven.” Do you really love them?

Heaven starts here and now.  Be present. And if it isn’t one of your own, help support those whose family are gay. They want to love their son or daughter and see them walk down the aisle without the shame and guilt of half their family and close friends shunning their child. Silence is hurtful.

Love is showing up. Whether your own personal beliefs are in alignment or not.  Religious people may say I don’t know wrong from right, but I do know what is right in front of me: I saw God in each dear, precious soul who DID come to my sister’s wedding.  Friends and family came even though siblings, parents, and spouses would not. My sister in law’s father wouldn’t come, so an entourage of friends walked her down the aisle. The beauty of that moment was like no other. They loved those girls with all their hearts. Not despite, but because love knows no judgement. It knows no bounds. It doesn’t even consider, “Hey what do I really think about this?” When it comes to two people pledging faithful love for one another, it shouldn’t matter what you think. It’s between them and God. And then my dad, who patiently took time to unravel his upbringing and understand and know my sister when she first came out, proudly walked his daughter down the aisle. With her long curly hair, fairy princess dress, and pink vans. He was a part of his little girl’s most special day.

I was thanking one of our closest friends from childhood during the reception, who I know has different beliefs, saying how much it meant to me personally that he came to my sisters’ wedding and he said, “Hey…It’s family, right?”

That’s. my. family. 

The waters have never run more clear.

**This post is for people considering whether or not to go to a gay wedding when it is against their moral beliefs. This is the point of view of a big sister who had some serious mama bear feelings when her sister was shunned by half her family. This story is mine. It is not meant to hurt those who did not come, but to enlighten those who might not understand the ramifications of their choice. Please keep your religious opinion comments and bullying to yourself. (We’ve seen them all)

My new book: The Art of Flora Forager!

My new book comes out on September 26th!

I’m letting people know about it early becuase pre-ordering is always a killer deal. It’s available on Amazon for $13.49! tinyurl.com/florasbook

The Art of Flora Forager has 108 images of my floral artworks encompassing animals, faces, fantasy, characters, fantasy, and my memories of places I love. It’s pretty much the end-all, best of, piece de resistance book for anyone who loves my Flora Forager Instagram account.

And it’s GORGEOUS. The team at Sasquatch did an incredible job of making a book that will become a beloved keepsake. It will look beautiful being unwrapped at Christmas, on a coffee table, or on a shelf. The title is metallic gold, it has the prettiest peach background, and my firebird was chosen for the cover because it was a favorite when Instagram posted it, receiving over 1 million likes.

I hope you love it!

(I also love that it’s pink and orange because that combo always makes me think of my cousin Deena <3 )

 

 

Yellow Rose

Yellow rose,
Eternal womb.

I planted her in your roots.
“Wrap her in your earthen arms, yellow rose.
Cradle her forever.”

But now you taunt me with your tiny buds,
year after year.

The pain creeps slowly,
Like the orange at the base of your petals.

And I try to ignore you at first.
There are other blossoms; bigger, more boisterous than you.
Heady aromas, frills and bright colors.
Children grown and strong and ready to be cherished.

You are delicate. Barely any thorns, hardly any fuss.
Easy to forget.

But as the garden fades into summer,
I pick out your familiar sugar-lemon scent.
And with it the memory returns.

Webbed fingers, blue eyes.
A still red heart sheathed in translucent skin.
She fit in the palm of my hand.

Peach and yellow burgeon across your blooms like a sunrise.
Your brightness calls me to you.
I can’t help but come.
Your petals fold around my face.

I breathe you in.

I am the translucent one now.

I am the one you still cradle.

I have lost.
but because of you, yellow rose,
I never will be.

Anne

I watched the Netflix version of Anne of Green Gables (Anne with an E) this week. I have no comments, except for that I am SO glad that I got to grow up with Meghan Follows in the Kevin Sullivan version of Anne. I just love it so SO much. Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 10.35.59 AMNothing can really compare for me. Lucy Maude Montgomery spent so much time describing everything in bloom, and the color of the sky in all its forms, and the beauty of the world…I loved how that version stayed so true to it with its cinematography. That being said, though, I am very excited to see how the Netflix series progresses, because I would love to see the Royal Gardener vs Gilbert Blythe romance story from the books. (The Sullivan version broke from the books quite a bit in Anne of Avonlea and the continuing story).

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 10.37.23 AMScreen Shot 2017-05-26 at 10.38.04 AMScreen Shot 2017-05-26 at 10.45.11 AMScreen Shot 2017-05-26 at 10.36.14 AMScreen Shot 2017-05-26 at 10.40.16 AMI don’t think I’ve ever seen a couple with more chemistry than these two. Sigh.

Inspiration: True Moroccan style

One of the things I love doing is going online and looking at holiday lets. I made a collage of a bunch of screenshots I took of airbnbs in Morocco today. I love how you can get a glimpse into other lands and traditions by doing this. There have been a lot of Moroccan inspired styles in stores here in America, but I want to see how someone actually lives and decorates from a place in the world. Collages215I LOVE all the different patterns and colors in these pictures. Somehow they managed to have method and cohesion in what would frighten me in my home. I’m inspired to love the parts of my home that I don’t love (ie tilework in my kitchen and bathroom), and to reimagine some of the areas of my home that are a little drab.

Dreams of the desert

When I was young I read the book Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver, and ever since I’ve wanted to one day visit a real desert with my partner, enveloping ourselves in the dreamy landscape so opposite from the lush green one I’ve always known. Knowing this, Beau proposed to me at the Grand Canyon, flying me down for just one day! But we still had never really taken the time to immerse ourselves in a desert. A couple weekends ago I got my wish when we flew down to California for the super bloom! We hiked in the Anza Borrego desert and visited Joshua Tree Park and it fulfilled my romantic idea of what a desert could be. I think my favorite thing was unexpected color. The arid landscape had some of the brightest blooms I’ve seen…if you could find them. The hills would turn to shades of lavender, purple and pink as the sun got low. We would drive past whole valleys filled with yellow daisy bushes, and on our last sunset we walked through one of them. It was a dry, earthy magic I’d never experienced…one who’s flavor I need to taste again.

We stayed in Korakia Pensione, a Moroccan and Mediterranean inspired villa in Palm Springs. It was like taking a step back in time or entering a dream. We both said that if we did it again we’d probably spend a couple days camping as well. Things in Palm Springs we enjoyed: Cheeky’s Cafe, the Art Museum, Moorten’s Botanical Garden and Cactarium, and walking through mid century mod neighborhoods.

Balance

A tiny translucent snail prodded the quince blossoms. I weighed my love for those peachy profiterole shaped flowers and for nature as a whole. It wasn’t my garden. If it was, the darling snail would be toast. I left him alone, leaving the job of snail expulsion to this garden’s owner.

I’ve been trying to take a respite from work. I finished my Flora Forager books a couple weeks ago and since then I’ve been trying to not take any commissions, not get caught up in sales performance, and stop looking at flowers as potential profit. I’ve been doing things like baking bread, taking my kids to the beach, and taking more walks through the neighborhood. I love smelling the fresh budding magnolias and cherry trees, talking to my dog as he makes odd little discoveries, and leaving my brain open for what thoughts may come.

I often weigh the Now with the Eternal. Living in the present, cherishing and enjoying my current circumstances, against my innate desire to put a positive, beautiful stamp on this world for generations to come. Which is more soul fulfilling?

A woman I know once said even though she hated being a mom, she felt like she was doing God’s work and therefore it was eternal and good. The whole jewels in your heavenly crown concept. I found that fascinating. I LOVE being a mom, and therefore often feel guilty for enjoying it so much, and feel like I ought to do something more productive with my life than watching wolf documentaries with Oliver, hatching dragon eggs with Harry on my phone, and playing Zelda with Finn. (Ok…maybe my guilt has more to do with their screen time) But still. Why are we so pulled to make ourselves do things we think we SHOULD do instead of living into the things we were meant for?

Why do I wonder at my purpose at all? Sometimes I wish I had less internal thought. It’s exhausting being philosophical.

I always come back to the balance. The “middle path” as they say in Buddhism. When I came home from my walk I noticed a big snail making his way into my primroses. I picked him up and broke his shell between my fingers without a second thought.

Painting

I’ve had my paints out a lot more recently. Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 4.29.21 PM

After a few months working on floral artworks for my next two books I suddenly longed for the fluidity and inventiveness of watercolor.  I set up a card table with a white board on top in my office and set out all of my paints and brushes. Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 4.29.46 PM

I didn’t use it for anything but storage and printing when we first moved in because I needed to be in the same space as my babies. Then the other day it suddenly occurred to me…I can actually use my office! It’s like our house grew a new limb. I’m so excited to find a perfect painting desk and make the room a little more homey. It’s already cute because it’s an attic, but it feels cluttered and a little drab to me. I saw a faux bamboo BRIGHT green lacquered desk the other day and I may just go back for it. It reminded me of the Moon Maiden. Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 4.30.12 PM

Best of all, I think taking a break from my painting may have made me a little better at it. Or perhaps it was learning to paint with petals and figuring out what works with color and form. I don’t know. It’s as if the painting part of my brain needed some farrow ground or needed to “sleep on it.” I mean I’ll be honest I’m not, like, the best painter in the world or anything, but there are less and less absolute wrecks in between the good ones :)Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 4.30.31 PM

My dream has always been to paint some pretty scenes for my chapter book. Will that thing ever see the light of day? Time will only tell. But I feel just that much closer.Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 4.30.49 PM

 

 

Specimens

The other day I gathered a few natural items for the boys to look at more closely. Oliver was the most excited about the butterfly wings. He quickly found which ones they were in our field guide.Harry declared the whole thing was BORING because he wanted his turn.Finn was most fascinated with the magnifying glass itself.when Harry got his turn he was finally happy!

Oliver showed me something I had never noticed before: the delicate purple zigzags on the sea urchin. There’s always more to see and discover! Now I need to get my macro lens out and get some pictures!