I’ve been spending a lot of time on the phone with Bermudian customer service representatives and government officials lately. One thing I’ve learned from all this interaction with local is if you don’t wish them good morning or good afternoon and allow them to do the same, you’re not getting anywhere. In fact, last week when I was one of five people waiting in the Customs office, a man walked in and greeted each one of us individually.
The common greeting when you see someone you know here is “Are you alright?” which often gets sort of mushed together into one word (“y’alright?”). I haven’t quite adopted the phrase yet, but I’ve started to fall in love with the idea of slowing down, saying “hi” and checking in with those you encounter. As someone who has admitted to a personal mantra of ‘efficiency’ in times past, slowing down—”wasting” time—is quite the challenge.
One of my goals for my time here is to practice mindfulness with more intention. So my first mindfulness challenge—for me and you both—is to adopt a little island attitude into daily interactions. Ask your coworker how they are before launching into whatever you need to get done. Easier yet—put down your phone/book/mental to-do list while walking down the street and smile at a stranger!
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a sprout! While an actual tree may be a while off, these little guys are already defying my dubious expectations (chronicled here). So, as promised, here’s what I did:
Make guacamole, duh!
Remove any remaining flesh. Let the pit sit out for about a day to dry a bit.
Peel the thin, dark brown skin from the tan flesh of the pit.
Stick 3 wooden skewers 1/4″ or so into the pit so as to suspend it about halfway in water.
Place stem-side down in a container filled with water, set on a sunny window sill and wait! You’ll need to refill the water regularly.
I noticed the pits starting to split down the middle about a week in. Another week in, and one of my pits has a visible root growing from the bottom of it, while the other’s root is still in the crack. My friend Kaia left hers to grow in water for several months, until the stem that will (hopefully) eventually come out of the top of the pit was more than 8 inches tall.
A few months ago, I got an email out of the blue from a woman named Diane who wrote to say she had had a letterpress in the 90’s but sold everything except a few special cuts years ago. She had discovered my blog and loved what I was up to—right down to my paper, which only another artist would notice!
She asked if I wanted the remaining cuts but didn’t mention a price, so I sent her my address and wasn’t sure what would happen. A week later, a box of preciously wrapped vintage printing plates arrived with the loveliest letter.
I’ve printed a few—starfish coasters? Yes, please!—with many more to come once Bess is up and running again. There is something so wonderful about old plates: Their heft, their patina and the crispness of the way they print. I’m so thankful that Diane decided to share them with a perfect stranger/fellow printer!
Once we get through the standard rounds of Bermuda questions, there’s a quick pause while my conversation partner processes it all, and then their eyebrows raise as they ask, “Oh! What are you going to do with your press?”
The answer is… bring her along for the ride! I realize shipping a 400-pound antique printing press to another country maybe isn’t the most practical course of action, but I look at it as an investment in my personal happiness. I considered leaving her at my parents’ house and just printing when I go home to visit, but had I left her for a few months previously and it’s just not something I want to do for the next 3-5 years, or however long we’re here.
A few weeks before the big move, my dad and I took her apart into two main pieces, the fly wheel and lots of smaller bits, above. I spent a Saturday rubbing wax over every inch of her to protect from any water and humidity—which also had the added benefit of cleaning more of the 100-year-old gunk from her frame than I thought possible. Then we packed her up along with all my studio supplies, securing everything to a pallet and built a wooden crate around it all. We then shipped it to a facility in New Jersey.
She’s currently on a container ship on her way to the island. I’m not exactly sure what happens now—some people have said that since I just moved here, my crate will breeze through customs. Others have said it will probably sit on the dock for 2-3 weeks and cost me several hundred dollars in duty to release. Who knows! Either way, I can’t wait for her to arrive—and don’t worry, I’ll share more pics as soon as my studio/office here is set up!