A Shout Out to the Angels

There are few things about Green Hope Farm that have generated more controversy as the fact we do not take credit cards. While I can ramble on ’til the cows come home about what I believe the Angels reasons are for this overarching financial structure, I never have felt I had a full grasp on the whys of this guidance.

Yes, it has led to much more of a direct relationship with the folks getting our Flower Essences. It is a straightforward exchange without middlemen. Yes, it has created an atmosphere of goodwill and trust that I am deeply grateful for. Yes, I have liked many things about this oddly old fashioned financial set-up. But the truth is, I really have no full understanding of why the Angels continue to ask us to run Green Hope Farm in this way. All I know is that the Angels reasons must be good since this is a considerable inconvenience to some of you, especially to our international customers.

The reason why I am thinking about this today is because of this year’s Red Shiso crop. The main “vegetable” garden was planted 1/4 in vegetables, 1/4 in Flower and 1/2 in Red Shiso going out in rows from the center of the garden like rays from the sun.


Here is what the Flower part of the garden looks like right now though I never think distant shots do justice to the Flowers.

There are an especially large number of Zinnias both the large ones in the first photo and the wonderful profusion series in shades of pink, apricot, copper, orange and gold. The Flowers section is a triangle opening to the east towards Ben’s new house. It feels like a welcome aboard celebratory garden to me.

And here below is a look at part of the Red Shiso section.

The Red Shiso germinated well this year, and because I had removed all mulch from the gardens, the snails and slugs were more manageable than some years. We seemed poised for a growing season without too much controversy, heartbreak or head scratching.

However, soon the Red Shiso was competing with volunteer Calendulas, and my guidance from the Angels was to remove a minimal amount of Calendula plants and leave them to generously fill in between all the Red Shiso rows.

I dearly love Calendulas, but no one can accuse them of being polite in their presence in a garden. They will take up all the space given them and then twice as much besides. So this summer has seen me trying to push back the Calendulas so that the Red Shiso can get taller than these Flowers, thus paving the way for both plants to thrive. I have checked in a lot about this guidance to leave the Calendulas, much as I check in about things like credit cards frequently because this really matters a lot. We can lose any crop in the gardens and go on about our business EXCEPT the Red Shiso crop.

Late last week another person who grows Red Shiso emailed me that her Red Shiso crop was completely overrun with a virus and that she would have no Red Shiso this year. Calendula is a very grounded protective crop with incredible Elemental energy. Once she emailed me, I could feel how this year, the Calendula was protecting the health of the Red Shiso. This was my first heads up as to one reason for the Angels’ advice.

Then we had a big hail storm.

The hail was up to a quarter in size and did more damage than any hail storm I can remember. Many plants were shredded beyond recognition like the lily pads and the leaves on the Sunflowers. Crops like lettuce and bean plants were chopped right there in the gardens. But in the wind of the storm. the Calendula plants flopped over on the Red Shiso and protected most of it from damage. The Red Shiso where there were no Calendulas had severely damaged leaves. The rest was fine.

There is such grace in the Angelic nudges and prods we all receive. As I surveyed the limited damage done to the Red Shiso by the hail, I could only be glad for my willingness to listen to the Angels’ guidance and follow through even when their advice makes no sense to me. But mostly I was just grateful for all the support we get from our tireless and patient Angels that don’t take too seriously all our sputtering and head scratching when we don’t understand their advice, but just keep on gently providing course corrections to see us on our way with minimal bumps and maximum growth.

It’s My Birthday!

It’s my birthday! I am two!

My plan for the day was to live the life of Riley. Liver for breakfast then the rest of the day resting.


But no, the people insisted on a birthday photo shoot…… in the rain.



I was not terribly cooperative.


but when all is said and done, I do make a rather attractive birthday girl.


Every April when Jim goes to Georgia for the Masters golf tournament, there is always some moment when I have a pity party for myself I too wish I was somewhere warm.

It’s not that I really want to be at a golf tournament, but after eight months of winter, the thought of being outside without wearing fourteen layers of reconstituted plastic winter wear is appealing. So…… a couple days into his trip, I usually splurge on something to make myself feel better. We could call it Visa Card spending parity or we could call it what it is……IMPULSE BUYING. Perhaps Jim calls it his May Visa Card bill surprise.

This year my impulse thoughtful purchase was garden furniture. On April 6th I found a white cedar garden furniture company online, a company we will call SNAFU Inc. SNAFU Inc was having an online sale that seemed too good to be true was too good to be true. Apparently I could buy three garden benches, six garden chairs, and two garden tables for the price of one garden bench from Smith & Hawkin.

And so I ordered three garden benches, six garden chairs and two garden tables with thoughts of how special it would be to have places to sit down in the gardens, as opposed to what is available for sitting right now which is a) several rotten garden benches set out in fields where people can look at them but not be in danger of actually sitting on them and b) two garden benches from Smith & Hawken bought in 1993 that have migrated to Ben’s new porch.

At first, I waited patiently for my garden furniture. There were so many lovely thoughts of nestling a bench here or a chair there in this or that garden that I almost didn’t notice that it had been eight weeks and still no delivery. But then it occurred to me that eight weeks was a long time to wait. After all, the snow was actually gone and we could really use the furniture….. and so I made my second contact with SNAFU Inc. I emailed to ask when I might expect my benches. For a few weeks I stuck to sending pleasant inquiries by email even though no one answered my polite missives.

Ben was having a big housewarming at his house called Sheestock in the end of June- He expected a hundred people, and I imagined the benches coming just in time to seat a few of his crowd. It was my new SNAFU Inc fantasy.

At Sheestock, they sat on the grass or danced on the front porch with the two Smith & Hawken benches pushed out of the way- which is perhaps the way one should expect things to be at a party called Sheestock.

Next I began a polite phone assault. To begin with, I just wanted to know that my order would arrive someday, but when I began to make contact with the folks at SNAFU Inc, I grew more concerned. Every person on the phone had a different story about why my order had not been shipped. Their phone menu was still pushing the sales, but everyone I talked to mentioned new problems as to why my order was not ready. Basically there seemed to be no white cedar in the continental US.

As we entered the month of July, my order was 12 weeks out. The woman I spoke with on the phone several times told me each time I called that my order was shipping that day. During our last conversation she had a choking fit and could not talk. I felt very sorry for her having to handle the customer wrath that I knew must be her daily bread.

My daily bread was the laughter of everyone here. Our office and home was filled with jokes about when the SNAFU order was coming. Each knock on the door, each truck up the hill and someone would call out that it was the SNAFU benches.

Simple pleasures for simple people….. and the family and staff were enjoying my impulse purchase, perhaps more than if the benches had actually materialized.

The third week in July and this is where the story takes a sad sexist turn. Having logged a good dozen calls to SNAFU, I was ready to wash my hands of the whole thing and I asked Jim to try his luck.

And so, Jim called the people at SNAFU Inc to ask where the benches were. He wasn’t cross or demanding. He was as nice as I had been but HE WAS A MAN. And suddenly the people at SNAFU were throwing in a FREE TABLE and promising that the order was being shipped that day-

AND LO AND BEHOLD….it WAS shipped that day and now lucky Will is laughing no more as he has three benches, six garden chairs, and THREE tables to assemble.


I am Needed

The people in my family seem to have this great need to go west to places named after St. James.

First, my main person took off for Spain and a town called Santiago. Now another key member of my staff pack, Emily, has gone west to San Diego.

All this makes me wonder…. What am I? Chopped Liver?

I entertain. I sing. I look gorgeous. Isn’t this enough?

Moving on…. I bravely put aside my angst to answer the clarion call of those still in the office. It was, indeed, music to my ears: I am needed!

This morning, a crash course with Will prepared me to answer all your phone questions and generally fill in for the missing Sheehan women on email, at the computers, on the phones and at the shipping stations.


Bring on the calls. I am ready.