Publisher and author of Greenwoman, a zine about one woman's adventures living green in Colorado.
2008-2009 "Colorado Voices" featured guest columnist for The Denver Post
The 4th annual Author Fest of the Rockies is a two-day event that features over 50 published authors, editors, coaches, Internet marketing experts, illustrators, poets and publishers from throughout the state of Colorado.
I will be doing a class on zines (self-published magazines), "DIY--Make a Zine"
* * *
ZINE CLASSES AT
THE WEST CENTER- Oct. 09
Email me for details, or for information on other classes.
* * *
Greenwoman is available at:
My Etsy Store,
Microcosm Publishing, www.microcosmpublishing.com
Sweet Candy Distro
Crying Out Loud,
803 Manitou Ave.,
Manitou Springs, Colorado
Black Cat Books
720 Manitou Ave.,
Manitou Springs, Colorado
* * *
Freelance, Print Media Credits:
Humorous essays, including “Romancing the Seed” and “Green with Envy”, published nationally in GreenPrints (an Utne Reader award-nominated garden writing journal).
1990's through 2005: Feature articles in Springs Magazine, The Pikes Peak Journal, and Colorado Homes & Lifestyles Magazine, including, “Art in Architecture: The Story of Van Briggle Tile” and “Embodying the Spirits” (an interview with Colorado authors D’Arcy Fallon, Kathy Brandt and Andrea Herrera on their first books).
Denver Post“Colorado Voices” Chosen as one of 16 guest columnists for 2008-2009.
2005-2007. Regular (twice-monthly) guest commentator on Western Skies, the news show produced by Southern Colorado NPR affiliate, KRCC. Sometimes humorous, often nature-oriented, and sometimes political essays have included: “My Gender Bender Hen”, “Triops!”, “Homeland Invaders”, “Zen Doggie”, and “Big Box Sphinx”.
2002: First place in the Creative Nonfiction category of the Paul Gillette Memorial Writing Contest (Pikes Peak Writers Conference) for “The Chicken Chronicles”.
2003: First place in the Pikes Peak Library District’s All Pikes Peak Reads Competition for essay “Freak Show”.
Manitou Springs Garden Club member/officer from 1999-2005. Helped create, edited, and promoted a book of art, garden lore, essays and recipes for MSGC entitled A Taste for Gardening (2004). It is currently in its fourth printing.
Greenwoman Issue #5
Greenwoman Issue #5, the "Garden Goddess" issue, features "Garden Goddess for Hire", the diary of a working mom's adventure as a personal gardener in one of her city's more pampered neighborhoods. Trials, tribulations, joy, self-doubt, hilarity and discovery ensue as the author meets "Marquis de Sod", deals with the dog poop of the wealthy, watches the close up flight of the leaf-cutter bee and discovers that she might not be cut out for this line of work.
"Arbor Day" - a short-short story by author Bruce Holland Rogers about a man with a broken shovel and a tree to plant who doesn't quite want (for good reason) to borrow his neighbor's shovel.
"Apples are Ruling My Life" by Pat Cook Gulya. A Colorado woman moves out into the country after retirement and immediately discovers that her new mini-orchard is taking over her life. A story about surprises, abundance, and giving.
"Weedy Lives" by ES is a wise look at the parallel in tending our gardens and tending and growing our children and our lives.
"Herb Freak" details Sandra's favorite plants and her latest obsession with novelty mints (like Hillary's Sweet Lemon Mint--named after, you guessed it, Hillary Clinton).
"Veggie Comix" - a comic about the trials and triumphs of veggie love - starring Tommy Tomato and Lucy Lettuce.
AND . . . Issue #5 is the sexiest issue ever with an article on Sandra's "erotic" and shocking new discovery -- PETER peppers!
Greenwoman Issue #4 -
neighbor friend, Grandma Ruby, and after finding out the hen's eggs aren't viable (after a 21-day-wait), purchasing a half dozen chicks at a rural feedstore. We choose two Silkies, a black Rosecomb, a white Cochin and two Seabrights, and they join our "urban farm" along with our Dalmatian, Alice, our Black Lab, Cato & assorted friends. A summer of thrills, spills, tears, learning and happiness ensues----just from raising chickens in the city!
by Sandra Knauf
"A Chronicle of One Woman's Garden Adventures"
Greenwoman Issue #2
READ "The Audacity of Dirt"--an account of our westside Garden Tour Fundraiser for Barack Obama, below!
Greenwoman Issue #2 continues the green tales of Colorado gardener/ humor writer Sandra Knauf. In "Blood & Roses, Sandra finds herself building a rustic arch and pruning roses in her backyard, all the while pondering the love relationship through the rose metaphor. In "The Audacity of Dirt" she helps put together a Barack Obama garden tour fundraiser in her historic--and politically divided--neighborhood. "Summer Lovers" is a scandalous tale of marital infidelity revealed. There is also an essay on the history of the Green Man (and Green Woman) and her own project featuring those archetypes, along with film reviews of The Rose Tattoo and The War of the Roses.
Greenwoman Issue #1
"HUMOR! LOL! The gardening and chickens are a point of departure for an author with wicked wit and insight."--Mary Ellen Davis
"Sandra is a gardening, Colorado mother of two who's new to zines and excited to write and share her stories. She writes all about her chicken's sudden gender change and her ensuing research. Sandra signs up for a master gardener program and discovers that her fellow horticultural students aren't the plant-loving witches she had hoped, but in reality bored housewives in polo shirts, re-landscaping their properties. She reviews a film, book, and CD called the GMO Trilogy, and presents us with a recipe for Asparagus Frittato which she whips up with fresh veggies from her garden. We're looking forward to more updates from Sandra's garden!"--Microcosm Publishing
Greenwoman #1 is currently available at Microcosm Publishing, www.microcosmpublishing.com
Distributors (updated Oct. 25, 2008)
As of today Issue #2 is out there. I'm sending an order to Microcosm on Monday (Oct. 27) and have sent copies to zine distributors Quimby's (Chicago) Atomic Books (Baltimore, MD -- which is also, weird but way cool, the place to send fan mail to John Waters!), and Carrot Row Distro (Moscow, ID). I'm working on an order now with Sweet Candy Distro (Dallas, GA) which I hope to send out this week.
I finally had a couple of hours to browse the sites and I loved seeing Sage Adderley's (Sweet Candy Distro) My Space site and finding Dan Murphy's blog. What sexy zinesters they are!
It's been a busy early fall. I have also sent copies to Denver Zine Library and Utne Reader's library and to Barnard College in NYU and Colorado College here in Colo. Springs! I stumbled upon the information that there are universities/colleges libraries that have started their own zine collections and have copies for circulation as well. This is FANTASTIC.
Greenwoman is also available at that great bohemian boutique, Crying Out Loud, in Manitou Springs, Colorado.
* * *
Also Working On:
My YA manuscript, Zera, The Toad, and the Green Man.
Thirteen-year-old Zera Green discovers her family’s supernatural connection to the plant world under the worst of circumstances--when her guardian, biotech scientist Uncle Theodore, sells out his ethics and the family legacy by joining the ranks of the gene-splicers at Void Chemical Corporation.
Zera learns that Void Corporation is creating genetic monstrosities, human/plant combinations, and the fate of the natural world rests in her hands. She learns to accept her destiny and sets out on a heroic journey into the green world--a world where plants can feel, talk, and act. With the help of an offbeat cast of characters and the Green Man, an ancient archetype come-to-life, Zera battles those who destroy nature in the name of profit.
* * *
From Greenwoman Issue #2
The Audacity of Dirt
I was in for a ride, and I knew it. Putting together a neighborhood fundraiser for Barack Obama (or, as we would dub it, a “Down to Earth Garden Tour”) was going to take more than a few hours of volunteering. It was going to take planning, hard work, and a good chunk of our summer.
A good plan, but not without glitches. A major one being that Andy was a lifelong Republican. (Just think of us as an older and flabbier Dharma and Greg.) It took some persuasion to get him to see that the point, for him, would be to use those bricks we worked so hard to salvage. It wasn’t for Obama, it was for us! Yeah, he wasn’t convinced either. It took patience, it took cajoling, and two weeks before the tour, when the paved area was only half finished, it took, I’m embarrassed to admit, a hissy fit. Before you think me a garden tyrant, let me say this. Andy and I love each other, we support each other, but on some projects, having a hissy fit as a last resort to get things done, is, sadly, sometimes how it rolls around here.
To his great credit, Andy also helped me when I became a dame in distress with the pond. Our small, 5’ x 8’ x 3’ deep, plastic-liner pond, had, for years, been a sweet little self-sufficient eco-system, containing escaped-from-their-pot-and-now-colonizing cattails, twenty-five cent pet store goldfish and hardy water lilies. This spring, when no goldfish flitted among the over-grown cattails or lily pads, I knew something had gone wrong. The fish had disappeared and it wasn’t because they were eaten by wildlife. The pond was overgrown and I had to deal with it.
Dealing began on Pond Cleaning Day. I tried to pull up a piece of the thick grass, thinking I could lift and saw out chunks with my pruning saw. No luck. I heaved, I ho’ed, I took a rake, wedged it underneath the roots and strained. No budging. The cattails had grown so thick and the roots so numerous over the last few years that what lived below most of the water’s surface was a many inches thick, spongy, yet nearly impenetrable, mass. (Reminding me, too much, of the mindset of many in the Republican party.) The spaghetti-like roots were the consistency of coir, the stiff and fibrous coconut fiber that some rugs are made from. It was going to take the strength of a man to help me on this.
Andy provided the open-minded (and hearted) Republican muscle, but as I was the one with the bright idea to get us into this garden renovating/political fundraising nonsense, it was only fitting that I became the one to get into the muck. In the drained pond, I wrestled in my grassroots effort, hauling out thick, black-slime covered, stinking, sawed cattails. I then dragged the water-logged pieces across the yard with a rake. Getting up close and personal with the beige root masses was a horror show--I kept thinking about the missing goldfish. Dead, no doubt, suffocated and then eaten by . . . roots. I kept expecting to find a fish with roots growing through it, its dead eyes staring right at me, terrified and accusing. I was only slightly off on that expectation, happening on a single perfect skeleton, several inches long, wedged in a section of root. Queasy but curious, I took one good, long look.
It was sickening, literally and spiritually, about the fish (I shouldn’t have let the pond go for so long--but how could I have known?). I paid for my sins, though, getting down into the filth for penance and then having to smell reeking chunks of pond brew for a few days, until they had dried out and we could haul them off to a yard waste recycling center.
After conquering the pond, we focused on the final brickwork and making trips to the recyclers with truckloads of debris--tree branches, weeds, leaves and pruned rose canes. Andy returned with loads of mulch, then sand and road base for the brick laying, and I, along with our daughter Zora (who was earning money for tickets to a Nine Inch Nails concert), hauled numerous wheelbarrows of the same. The highlight of the garden’s transformation, for me, was when Andy became enthusiastic a week or so before the tour, surprising me with pink sandstone gravel for garden paths.
In the meantime, I struggled with harder parts of the tour, like finding other gardens to participate. Beatrice thought we should keep it in our neighborhood, and feature gardens designed, planted and maintained by their working class owners. I agreed. She convinced her next-door neighbor, a retired art teacher, to join us. I corralled two generous friends, both whom were landscape professionals/genius garden goddesses. One of these ladies suggested a woman I didn’t know, and she agreed to be on the tour as well. That made six gardens, including Beatrice’s mini-garden, but I felt we still needed one or two more.
I decided to write a note to three neighbors. “Hi, I’ve admired your garden for years . . . We’re doing a fundraiser for Barack Obama . . . ” I figured a sweet, well-worded note would not put them on a spot, but I also found out that it didn’t exactly compel them to join us. Out of three queries, one replied with “Thanks, but we haven’t made up our mind on a candidate yet”; the second, to a mixed couple (one for Hillary/one for Obama), didn’t favor me with a response, and the third (I later found out) turned out to be a hard-nosed Republican. She firmly yet politely turned down the offer.
We’d have to make do with what we had. That became worrisome when one gardener became nearly impossible to get in touch with. My frustrations mounted as I had to leave multiple phone messages each time I needed to contact her. Only at three weeks before the tour (and after I became snippy when she off-handedly said she probably couldn’t attend our single group meeting), did we discover that she was a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter. Oh, yeah, she said, she was still in, but she probably wouldn’t need any Obama volunteers to help her on tour day. At first, my heart sank; then anger took over. The pre-vious weeks seemed to be nothing but passive-aggressive acting up. I hashed the problem out with Beatrice, and we decided to, like Obama, stay cool and try and work it out.Beatrice, an artist who designed the flyer for the tour, was working with the Obama office and dealing with her own huge to-do list--finding volunteers to help us on the day of the tour, getting the proper donation paperwork (she wound up making a 130 mile roundtrip to Denver the week of the tour), and getting a lawyer friend create a waiver that we all hated but felt we had to have. (Just in case someone got stung by a honey bee & dropped dead in the petunias, you know.)
Beatrice also contacted the two local newspapers and I contacted our neighborhood paper. Even though this little enterprise was obviously partisan (a picture of Bush graced their office wall--yes, I know, ewww!), I once did some work for them for very little compensation, and I thought they would be good enough return a favor. Besides, this was an important neighborhood event. I wrote them a flattering e-mail, they sent one back agreeing to help us out, and then . . . they left us out. Not even a single line in the calendar section. When I contacted them, they said that on deadline night they “couldn’t find” our information.
The next day, Beatrice and I took to the streets. We visited a twelve block stretch of Colorado Avenue--our circa 1880’s Old Colorado City historic business area--in hopes of hanging a few flyers. I had the south side of the street (historically known in cowboy days as the “bad” side, where Old West prostitutes and saloons proliferated) and Beatrice chose the reputable north side. Both sides are almost exactly the same now, boutiques, restaurants and other enterprises housed in quaint brick buildings, but I still jealously wondered if she had chosen the better route. Halfway through, I called to see how she was doing.
“Not too well,” Beatrice said. “I’m not getting too many flyers up. Three I think. One place even told me that this is the Republican side of the street!”
I had to laugh. My side, the notorious side, was proving to be very positive about Obama, even though Clinton was still in the race. Almost everyone I had spoken to had either taken a flyer or agreed to hang one up in their window.
I commiserated with Beatrice and we went on to finish our routes. It was good to get out there, visit the people, and do some campaigning. I met a business owner who said he’d been a lifelong Republican but was now backing Obama. He’d been happy to put up a flyer. I also dished with some ladies, sharing with them the comment Beatrice heard about the “Republican side of the street.”
“Oh, really,” one of them said, looking out the window in that direction. “I wonder if it was the polyester Nazi.” (Polyester in referring to her wares.) The comment was Limbaugh-esque, it was derisive, but I had to laugh, a rather bitter laugh, as I had recently suffered a partisan wound myself. Before I met these ladies I visited a business in which two men and one woman, sitting around a table, had looked me up and down with smirks on their faces as I presented my Obama Garden Tour spiel. I’m not sure if their smirks were about Obama, or the way I was dressed; Levis, a big butterfly print T-shirt under a hot pink cardigan and leopard print Converse--probably both--but they seemed barely able to contain their mirth. Worse, I knew as soon as I left the flyer was going straight into the trash can.
Yes, colorful experiences galore on the Garden Tour Campaign Trail, all the while plugging away at the work list for my own garden. The physical work was more extensive than I imagined, as is the price of neglect. The blood, sweat and tears adage became real as all of those, and more (bruising, splinters, sore muscles, etc.) materialized during those eight weeks.
Then, finally, tour day! I wanted to dance, I wanted to sing! Oh yes . . . I was all fired up and ready to go. The garden looked good, really good, and within hours I’d be released from this responsibility. I could say goodbye to my worries over whether we would be able to pull all the details together, whether anyone would show up. Instead of major renovation in my garden, after today I could get by with mere maintenance!
Everything went great. The supporters were appreciative of our efforts, happy to see our gardens, inquisitive about our cultivars. I got to gab about the new projects, keeping a garden alive through drought, which plants did well with little water, and the presidential qualities of Barack Obama.
Beatrice later told me she had a few people come by to purchase tickets who weren’t aware it was an Obama fundraiser (the daily paper’s bad, not ours).
“One Republican couple said, ‘Heck, we don’t care, we just like gardens!’ ” Beatrice said. Another stormed off in a huff, no doubt imagining a liberal conspiracy.
At our house, my friend Yolanda Roberts, Obama volunteer extraordinaire, and my daughter Zora reported that one woman drove up, got out of her car and looked over our picket fence.
“Is this one of the gardens on tour?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Yolanda.
“Well,” said the woman, nose in the air, “I thought it was going to be much more . . . spectacular.”
Then she turned around, got in her car and left.
Oww, that hurt . . . (Just kidding.) It’s a “Down to Earth” Garden Tour, lady! So much for the audacity of real life. Now, there was no proof she was a Republican, but . .
My daughter Lily, on the porch looking after the tickets, got to witness a truckload of Colorado Springs’ finest young men. They drove by, saw the Obama sign on my clematis-covered arbor, and one yelled, “Obama SUCKS!”
When she told me about it, I found it funny, but it was almost as funny to see how worked up she was. “I wanted to throw a water bottle at them!” she said. I thanked her for her restraint. In a town where, just four years ago, people were having John Kerry signs stolen out of their front yards and even tires on their cars slashed for a Kerry bumper sticker (my friend Lucy Bell, a retired 3rd grade teacher), limiting yourself to a rude comment is great progress indeed.
For all this hard work we wound up making six hundred dollars for the campaign. Not a bonanza, but not too bad for humble work-a-day folks either. We had owned it, and we had accomplished something for the campaign, for ourselves. Everyone who mattered came through, in-cluding, I’m happy to report, the Hillary Clinton supporter.
Throughout this project I kept thinking about how, for me, bringing back our garden compared to the task America would face after this election. Our country needs a resurrection, and it’s going to be damned hard, harder than you can imagine, to bring it back into shape. We’re going to have to wade through the dirty and the ugly, we are going to have to be willing to get scratched, to sweat, to bleed. It’s going to require rolling up our sleeves, making sacrifices, working through conflict, and it’s going to require all of us coming together.
I have no doubt that it’ll be well worth it. My family enjoys our restored garden every single day. And, more than a thing of beauty, this new garden is better and stronger, and has more promise, than any I have had before.
* * *