This weekend we caught a lady stealing flowers from our garden. I’d like to say red-handed, but they are purple irises so they don’t leave much residue. In primary school, when we had a spate of firebugs, the teachers would smell suspects’ hands to see if they had a smokey scent. Luckily I didn’t have to do any palm-sniffing for floral notes, as we saw her ruin an iris stem right in front of us. Snap! That’s the sound of a dream ending in the rush of slaughter.
I ran up to her and said “You’re welcome”, as it was the least confrontational opener I could conjure in my rage. She reflexively replied with a gaily “Thank you!”, then turned and froze when she saw me (I wish I could attribute this fear to my massive biceps. Perhaps in a few months…). She started bargaining and saying that they were for a relative who was unwell, and that she could offer money, and after all “I only took 3!”. She didn’t understand that they weren’t for sale. If she had knocked on our door and said that her Mum was sick, and really loved flowers, I would have dug some up for her and put them in a nice pot. It was weird that she cheapened the whole ordeal by saying she could pay – they weren’t for sale anyway. It made me doubt the story, and wonder if she could have bought some other flowers. I just replied “okay” to every new excuse, and waved goodbye. It was just so odd and disrespectful, as she had been furtively driving past in slow-motion, and left her car running as she leapt towards the bulbs.
The experience reminded me of a scene in Tritten’s Heidi’s children, where they return from berry-picking, but instead of refreshing berries, they have only the coins received from selling them. As the Alm-Uncle said about the taste/money transaction, “What can it buy as sweet as the berries you have sold?”. I’m happy to share the sweetness of our flowers, but not with those who have poor manners and even more questionable motives. At the very least, if her Mum really is sick, I hope they provide some cheer.
Margaret Olley would pick flowers on her walks (she called it pruning), to immortalise as paintings. But I’m sure she wouldn’t have taken all the flowers that were in one garden. I feel conflicted about my response, and wonder about the justification of my cynicism. The next morning, I realised that I haven’t enjoyed many of our flowers because they’re gone – leaving a scarred history on almost every plant. Cellular memories of a thieving (not thriving) history. It’s not a unique experience, as mentioned in Amy Stewart’s post, as well as in a thread on combative strategies.
On a happier note, the Sonia orchids in the image (sorry no irises left for enjoyment or photography!) are celebrating today’s wedding anniversary. They were expensive, and from a florist. These are inside so they are definitely safe!
Halfway through the year, reflecting on the rest of 2014 calendar year. In a Solstice article, Michelle Claire White noted the difference in Sydney’s winter – we haven’t experienced a proper frost in Canberra this year (that, or I’m sleeping in and missing it), and my geraniums are glad not to have an icy coat.
These geraniums were from my Grandma’s house, you can get lots of geraniums from “pruning” as Margaret Olley named the process of harvesting cuttings while out on a neighbourhood walk. I need to make gardening more of a priority, because I kind of forget about it during the day and it’s very cold at night. When I did a lot of housesitting, some homeowners would leave a “house guide” (if you’re getting a housesitter, definitely do this!), one suggested “spending time in the garden, watering with a hose and drinking a glass of wine”. I watered the garden but I feel like I’m not the kind of person that just hangs around outside all the time, there needs to be comfy chairs, sunscreen… too many logistics.
I’d like to spend more time with Mr. Sonja and the cats, finish a library course, learn to weave, find out about insects, eat more local food, improve at deadlifting, look at other volunteering opportunities and make progress towards an exhibition. And repot the geraniums.
A relaxed public holiday: walking, café drinks, Pictionary, tidying, bath and later on, a movie.
It would’ve been appropriate to help with the lego mosaic at MoAD for the Queen’s Birthday public holiday, I quite liked City News’ Canberra Confidential suggestion that “They haven’t confirmed it, but CC imagines republicans will be invited to the break up session.”
A garden theme for our Sketch/Pictionary game (and I actually mentioned this game in last year’s blogjune, too!).
After our garden drawings, we moved our neighbour’s dumped rubbish into the bin (they mustn’t realise that waste management is a thing). Mr. S has coined the “garbage water dance”, which is different to the famous Trash Dance (Allison’s comment in the trailer “There’s always a part in the process when I’m making something, when I’m terrified that it’s not going to work.” Ah, creative process!). When I hoisted some decayed carpet into the skip, chunks of grime splashed back at me and I shook my arms with an “urrrgh” noise and waggled my legs. I quite like bugs but when I’m being glittered with rotten green snails and carnivorous cockroaches (I’m almost certain!), it’s hard to love them without a recoil reflex. I’d rather admire their little ecosystem from a distance. I’m an avid dumpster diver but I somehow retain my aversion to germs.
There is a dress-up blog celebrating rubbish collection day, but it looks a lot more wholesome than our disposal items, so easier to look fancy. This weekend the SBS screened Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience program on Bin Men, which was a very challenging job – BBC also have a post on “What is the worst job in the world?” – I would say that the bin men featured in the program definitely rate. But nothing seems a worse fate than the toshers featured in the Smithsonian mag.
I washed my hands a million times and felt much better after a bath and shower. Not a great water-use day, but I just felt so unclean! I’ve included the Iris from our garden because I’d rather think about flowers than rotten floor coverings. Now I might see a movie that hopefully doesn’t involve germs.
I am in a club – you might also be a member – it is the Guild of Cutlery Thieves. Not very exclusive, and it could be said that once you’ve used cutlery, it’s been in your body so there is some level of attachment and relationship. That actually provides incentive for a personal spoon set. Truly a tragedy of the work kitchen commons, with the silverware snugly safe in the drawer until they are taken home like so many stolen wildflowers. The flowers in the photo are Viola tricolor/tricolour, or heart’s ease. Well-designed cutlery eases my heart and tummy.
My shame revealed – today I smuggled 5 teaspoons, 1 big spoon and a fork back into the work drawers. I’m sad to give up an Alex Liddy teaspoon, which had the perfect shape and weight. I loved that teaspoon more than anyone. However, I must resist this urge to acquire cutlery – which is largely out of laziness, because I don’t want to wash my container and cutlery till I get home, so they both go on a mini-break with me. My parents say that airlines used to encourage passengers to take the metal cutlery home “to increase brand awareness” (I think this is a bit sketchy). We have some SAS spoons from 10 or 20 years ago!
One of my colleagues calls dessert/soup spoons “mother spoons” and teaspoons “babies”. Sometimes we have to hide the mothers in the baby compartment so that there is one available for lunchtime – kind of a band-aid solution, like when we couldn’t reserve library books in primary school, so we would hide our favourite ones in the wall bar-heaters. I remember this now and am impressed that the whole place didn’t burn down.
During our holiday on Hawai’i Island, seeing hibiscus in context has really improved my attitude towards tropical plants. I think I confuse them with frangipani flowers, whose dubious reputation stems from car stickers which tarnish all flowers’ “particular style of beauty” (this phrase used with thanks to author Zenda Vecchio, who uses it to describe clothes or accessories not suiting someone’s particular style of beauty).
A few years ago the infestation of adhesive frangipani gave rise to the responding trend: “Frangipani stickers: Australia says no.”
We visited the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens showroom (Volcano, Hawaii). It would be a lovely project to make a scented maze with all their plants, but I have a weird feeling that keeping flowers inside seems like a plant version of veal calves.
My favourite orchid was Onc. Sharry Baby “Sweet Fragrance”. It has a wafting chocolate fragrance, it would be fun if it came with piped music like The Four Seasons’ Sherry playing on a loop, out where the bright moon shines. I have absolute immunity to that song because I used to hear it ten times a day when I worked as a seamstress undergoing aural torture. I have similar experience with Mariah Carey’s Christmas album.
A wistful plant I’ve learnt about is the Naupaka, which grows on the coast and in the mountains. Both types appear as a half flower, but you can put two together to make a whole – an opposite of the floral rhyme: loves me, loves me not.
There are different stories around the two types of the flower, one is that two lovers were forcibly separated and went to these different parts of the landscape. They either distributed the flowers in their respective areas, or the flowers bloomed from each person’s sadness. Putting the flowers together reunites the lovers, McDonald’s book mentions the naupaka kahakai ‘auwai completion ceremony (which I think is the same thing), but I haven’t yet found more information on this topic.
The story has also been developed into an award-winning book by Nona Beamer, illustrated by Caren Loebel-Fried, and the legend is in more detail on Hale Moana B&B’s post and within Hawai’i Volcanoes & Haleakala National Parks’ Nature Notes. It’s so beautiful, I wonder if it would have positive floriography for my bouquet, but today we chose the Sonia orchids for our wedding leis instead.
Say yes to all the flowers, say no to flower stickers.
Today I re-learnt how to use a cassette tape player, discovered the term “bridal brain” (thanks to a colleague!) and got some impromptu yoga tuition in the work hallway.
I also started to organise a soiree for the Canberra Library Tribe (Save the date! It’s 6pm, Friday 30 August) which will remain mysterious until we release the invitation into the wild.
Then I read about flower language for my bouquet “research”. I found a lovely little book from 1891, “The Language of Australian Flowers” in which the editor notes:
“In the present edition it has been thought advisable to include a selection from the Flora of Australia and New Zealand, and it is confidently believed that the “LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS” will play no mean or unimportant part in promoting the federation of the Australian colonies.”
Sounds like tall poppies! I was pleased to see that dandelions (our courtyard’s featured flower of choice) means “Permission to call.”
I will be installing some little telephone boxes for the local flora and fauna to endlessly phone the beguiling and genuinely interested Podolepis acuminata.
…they might put a hold on calls if they read Sandy Griswold’s ode to The Lowly Dandelion with its “lovely golden blossoms” and “pretty topaz diadem”. Permission to call!