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    Stealing flowers

    Posted in Lifestyle
    September 29th, 2014

    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.

    Sonia orchids

    Sonia orchids (not irises)

    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!

    Woodland zweiheit

    Posted in Lifestyle
    November 24th, 2013


    During our Hawai’i ceremony, I felt breathless like the Cure’s Love Song, the sun shone through the leafy canopy and the forest so kindly bore witness.


    I walked towards him at the waterfall, the celebrant said the words, and my partner gave the most wonderful and thoughtful vows. We exchanged leis which were made with an orchid called “Sonia” (purely a coincidence!).


    Wedding shoes Hawai'i

    Pink podophilia


    Thank you to Frieda Gayle, such a wonderful and thoughtful celebrant, who even hiked to several areas to find the perfect place and really did organise everything!


    Many thanks to Shawna Lee for taking us to the rainforest and the beach, and for your heartfelt hula and beautiful photographs. We couldn’t have asked for a more magical ceremony, and we are so grateful for all your assistance.


    Wedding hair by Rhubarb & me, flowers by The Snail and Petal

    Mother Barfoed with roses


    Yesterday we had a family celebration at a rural property in a Canberra valley, with thanks to Leonie for letting us picnic and croquet on her lawns. It was lovely to share a quasi-wedding experience with my family, as our Hawai’i ceremony was really an announced elopement.


    My dodgy photos won’t do justice to the beautiful flowers and food, so I’ll link to Leonie’s professional photos when they’re available. I’m looking forward to seeing the family photos, but I’m a bit worried about the couple ones, as being photographed is one of our areas for improvement.


    Quiche by Veganarchy

    Quiche by Veganarchy


    It was a very relaxed affair, but I think that’s because everyone contributed towards the day – there was even a gift of a hand-built deck in our backyard, so we’ll always remember this moment in time when we play on it. We also had a nice moment opening cards from overseas family, who also sent a traditional Norwegian spoon for sharing porridge. I’m sad that I didn’t take a picture of the food before it started being demolished (a good testament for vegan catering!) and melting in the sun –it was also amazing that the layered cake survived the trip in the bouncy Terraplane.


    Mum organised all the details – making the cardboard table pad, stamping the cutlery napkins, finding tableware and furniture, even down to hand-quilting a hot pink rug. Intense! I think it stems from her project management expertise. I am so thankful for her caring and organised nature and to spend this special moment together.


    Wedding cake by The Cake Cabinet

    Wedding cake by The Cake Cabinet


    We forgot to bring our board games (carcassonne and dominion), but my father and brothers had set up a croquet lawn, so we enjoyed pretending to be in Wonderland. Somehow one of the brothers Barfoed managed to break one of the mallets, I didn’t realise it was such a violent sport.


    Sonja with croquet mallets

    Mallets with unknown collective noun


    It was nice to see all the furry cows and hear the kookaburras’ songs. There was a spot in the forest that reminded us of our ceremony spot in Hawai’i, a funny connection between such different landscapes.


    Sleeping groom with boutonniere by The Snail and Petal

    How to plant a flower


    You can see below, Mr. Cat on my veil (made by Effie Dee), and the largest earring contains one of my Grandma’s gallstones. She always said they should be made into earrings (my previous post provides context), so artists Lan Nguyen-Hoan and Tarn Smith have been transforming them with silver. When the series is complete I’ll share better pictures. It was really gratifying to fulfil my Grandma’s wishes and feel like she attended, in a way.


    Sonja with Effie Dee veil and gallstone earrings by Lan Nguyen-Hoan and Tarn Smith

    The gallstone wish


    We had a wonderful experience at the ceremony and the picnic, and I am so glad that we both decided to speed-date on that fateful night so many years ago.



    Our excellent (and of course highly recommended) facilitators:




    Celebrant: Frieda Gayle, first listing on Kauai directory

    Driver, photographer, hula dancer: Shawna Lee

    Hair & make-up: Chelle at Koloa Town Salon & Day Spa

    Marriage paperwork and local advice: Ellen at The Wine Shop Kauai

    Pizzas: Merriman’s Gourmet Pizza & Burgers

    Post-ceremony art exhibition enjoyment: Galerie 103




    For both events:


    Dress: Claire at Nocturne Design

    Veil and brooch: Effie dee and her shop with custom made pet portrait brooches

    Tux t-shirt: Millie at T-Bar Canberra Centre

    Gloves: inherited from Grandma

    Shoes: second-hand online


    For Canberra picnic:


    Gallstone jewellery: Lan Nguyen-Hoan & Tarn Smith

    Hair & make-up: Jess and Anne at Rhubarb & me

    Flowers: Anna at The Snail & Petal

    Wedding cake: Nie-kiewa at The Cake Cabinet

    Vegan picnic catering: Gabby at Veganarchy

    Photography (beautiful pictures to come, the ones above are my dodgy ones) and venue: Leonie at Snowgum Studio



    Tusen takk! xxx

    Blooms on the Big Island

    Posted in Lifestyle, Travel
    September 24th, 2013


    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.”


    Onc. Sharry Baby "Sweet Fragrance"

    Sharry Baby orchid


    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.


    Naupaka flowers

    Naupaka flowers


    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.



    Veiled kitty

    Posted in Lifestyle
    September 15th, 2013


    I’m not sure, but I think our cats know of our Hawaii elopement plans. We are leaving today and they are treating us with suspicion and disdain. More than usual. I do hope they like our housesitter.


    I’m relieved that things are mostly organised for our Canberra wedding picnic, even though it’s a few months away. This is in contrast to our “plan when we get there” Hawaii ceremony in a couple of days. I have the dress, shoes, veil, jewellery and gloves. I inherited the gloves (as well as a jar of gallstones) from my Grandma a few years ago, it was quite emotional to go through the bag of gloves and think that we were holding hands through time. I miss her a lot.


    I found a hot pink remote controlled helicopter, but didn’t find a good spy camera (as an attachment) to undertake the wedding photography. So I might find a real life spy but this could be too derivative of Sophie Calles’ The Shadow (1981).


    Cats with veil by Effie Dee

    Cats with veil by Effie Dee


    Effie Dee, a splendid (and very patient) artist, made my wonderful veil with spare fabric from my dress, with a clay portrait of Mr Cat. I wanted to have a photo of one of my cats wearing the veil so they felt more included before we abandon them, but they were uncooperative. So impetuous. Im-PET-uous. Ms Cat is trying to charm for attention in the background, and Mr Cat is being unimpressed with me, or sniffing the netting? Or it is a two-headed cat.


    Pineapple drawing by Vicki

    Pineapple drawing by Vicki


    This week, my work team sent me off with a great surprise morning tea resplendent with inflatable palm tree. Vicki drew this pineapple on the whiteboard and everyone was wearing very kitsch grass skirts and leis, and the table was covered in vegan food (everywhere you looked, it was themed, even the printer wore a skirt. They would be great wedding planners). I had been told it was a “mandatory work meeting” so of course I was freaking out that it was something bad, and then I saw the team dancing in Hawaiian shirts. Quite unexpected!  My social awkwardness in being surprised (but of course, very grateful and touched!) reinforced to me that our plans for private ceremonies are the absolute best thing to do.



    I’ve been looking forward to the holiday, but it’s like a time lapse video of a plant growing, it’s mainly just shaky and I will feel happier when it blooms into the actual holiday. I hope to see the Bishop Museum’s Lego exhibition and the Hawaiian Hall, and to gaze at the stars at Mauna Kea. I will send the cats a postcard so they don’t feel excluded.



    Bridethulu progress

    Posted in Lifestyle
    August 18th, 2013


    I had a busy weekend containing my bridethulu-ness, stemming the flow so it doesn’t ooze out as bridezilla interactions. We’re organising our Hawaii elopement, as well as a performance art reenactment when we return, as a scaled-back way for family to be involved. But this does create two tiers of tasks for the different events (like different tiers of a cake, perhaps).


    To prepare for the Canberra reenactment ceremony, we met Anna at her shop, The Snail + Petal (named after what you find in the garden). She showed us some amazing vines to use as a cake wreath, and grey leaves and pink roses for corsages. Trying to rearrange the flowers when I got back home reminded me that floristry is not one of my core strengths, as reflected by the image below.


    Rose and vine

    Rose and vine


    I went to Goldcreek to find the Extravagant Bra Solutions shop, hopeful of an extravagant bra for our modest do, but apparently the store closed 2 years ago, which was disappointing because I’d hoped to support a small business. The Darling Central Boutique is there instead, and a very kind lady with beautiful skin and perfect purple eyebrows gently and calmly let me know that I was searching for the invisible bra shop, it was like being a Discworld character. I was feeling borderline bridezilla because I had walked up and down the Gold Creek strip hunting for this nonexistent place. At least I found Darling Central! Here is a Gold Creek magpie looking as puzzled as I felt.


    Gold Creek magpie

    Gold Creek magpie


    I trudged over to the Canberra Centre which has had so many changes and finally had bra success, despite changerooms definitely not being the place to discuss asymmetry. Bra shops would also be an entrepreneurial place to have mole checking and pap smears because it feels quite intimate and invasive, better to get it all done in one go. This jewellery store sign caught my eye – I think they forgot the “You love him, he loves you” combo. There is a ring I would like for our ceremony, but I think we’ll be using lollipop rings so that we don’t have to travel with something so small and valuable. The main reason is that we haven’t bought them yet – we don’t have engagement rings either so the jewellers really are missing out.


    You love her

    Forever contract


    After all that fuss, I had to postpone my dressmaker appointment with Claire (Nocturne Design) because of not having the bra ready in time. It will be sewn into the dress like a secret supportive amulet, so I had needed it ready for the appointment. This image is from before, Claire had made a very tiny toile, it’s also a nice way to advertise dress options or have a Barbie commitment ceremony. Or practice ballet poses.


    Wedding dress toile

    Ballerina bride


    The corset is indicative only, the main focus was on the handkerchief skirt which has different panels for more movement in line with the fairy theme. I think it was also so that she wasn’t a topless bride, but I had also suggested to my Mum that pasties would be a good option for a warm environment. She was not receptive to this idea, but I might bring some as backup – what if I’m driven to lose so much weight (by WIC and comments like this) that the corset doesn’t fit? I’ll need to have something to act as camouflage, because my pink bits won’t match the hot pink of my shoes, and it might make the photographer uncomfortable.


    I’m glad to have made some progress towards both ceremonies – we have also gotten our shoes and started to arrange a little hat for me. We just need an outfit for Mr. S, decide cake fillings, and find a spy camera so that we can save money on wedding photography, and buy pink glitter mushrooms to scatter in the Hawaiian forest. I’m stopping listing our things to do because it’s making me feel like more of a bridethulu, so I will go and relax by eating home-made garlic bread in the bath. It might not get the bridal body that others have suggested, but it will prevent me from going over the edge and taking over a seaside town.



    Edible bride

    Posted in Event
    July 30th, 2013


    The fantasy of a perfect wedding is infectious, a spindrift dream of puffy skirts, relaxed but efficient event management, and best of all, the bride’s perfect body – forever preserved as a replica cake-topper (see the image echoing Atwood’s Edible Woman) and of course, the photos and videos.



    Novel wedding cake. (1935, May 29). Examiner(Launceston, Tas. : 1900 ? 1954), p. 8 Edition: Daily.

    Replica bride cake


    She can’t eat any of the cake, though! With all this pressure, it’s no wonder that feeding tube diets have become quite popular to help the crash diet bride (she probably crashes at the end, too). It’s very confusing that a ceremony about a beginning is viewed as the end point – crystallising your body at that moment in time, rather than maybe “We both decided to be healthy as an investment in ourselves and our future together”.


    Someone asked me recently, “So will you be losing weight for your wedding, then?”. I was too shocked to answer, but I spent the rest of the day spiralling into quick diet plans and fixating on how fat I looked, and trying to contradict myself by remembering that I can probably deadlift the commenter’s body weight. Not only is it rude to assume that someone is unhappy with their body (ahh, thanks for telling me I had a problem! I didn’t realise!), it is also dangerous to comment without context, given the high incidence of a history of eating disorders across a range of age groups. We are doing everything else outside of the norm, so it would be nice to skip these interactions as well.


    I comfort myself with the fact that I’m not marrying a contortionist and adopting their diet of coffee and a small meal a day (1940), or parting with someone because of stale bread (1908), or a weight cruelty contract (1930). Thank heavens for the anti-divorce diet (1938). The perfect wedding is one where people care about you beyond your body.


    Image from: Novel wedding cake. (1935, May 29). Examiner(Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), p. 8 Edition: Daily.