Tag Archives: Flower arranging

The Midwife is Marvellous!

As the week has progressed the Spinster has been overwhelmed with the whiff of testosterone; all disturbing, albeit not entirely unwelcome, within the confines of Chez Moi. Cruella continues to display bored behaviour to the extent the Spinster wonders if the minx has ADHD; perhaps this is why I can corral i.e. temporarily control her with the brain enhancing pills purchased over the internet. I confess to not entirely understanding why a stimulant would help an already overactive brain; probably getting the neurons to all do the same thing rather than a million things simultaneously. Hmm frankly they help so the Spinster doesn’t care!

mixedAfter managing to cut through my left index finger tip whilst doing something with scissors; probably cutting the mass of flowers purchased from the reduced box in Morrisons. The Spinster adores cut flowers; the pink antirrhinums (snapdragons to me and you) 2 bunches 79p each went perfectly with the baby’s breath 1 bunch 59p creating a lovely cottage garden feel although every time the Spinster walks passed I am drawn to tweaking the blooms as the dinky white flowers seem to overwhelm and silence the usually chatty dragons!

rosesThe salmon pink roses 1 bunch 79p placed in the ‘study’ by the back door look OK but the ratio of the height of the stems to the height of the vase isn’t quite right! The Spinster has been chronically enabled (and disabled) by that evening class in flower arranging my ma did decades ago! Finally the lilies reduced to £1.99 (and yes they are something one would normally purchase); when the Spinster picked the lilies out I was struck by the fact the stems seem to have undergone some form of prolapsed! When the lilies were unwrapped; laid bare as it were the ‘kink’ half way up was obvious; but fear not I thought the solution is simple a shorter vase. Which is fine until the blessed things open when one expects to come down one morning to find floral civil war has erupted; a risk this Spinster is prepared to take!lillies

The bleeding finger tip was an ongoing challenge; Sunday the blood was soaked in left over dental gauze (the kind that makes a gal gag when stuffed in ones mouth when driving); Monday morning the plaster came off in the shower after swimming the blood just kept pouring out only to be stemmed by the donation (from me mate) of the odd sock she had been using on account of having forgotten her ‘puff’; and Tuesday morning the muslin cloth (leftover from the Liz Earle facial wash box set given to the Spinster by my big Godson!). How could one little cut cause so many problems?

Later on Sunday evening the Spinster found water standing in the bottom of the dishwasher; an essential appliance when one is a manually incompetent as I am! Why do you always find out these problems when you’ve just made food; hot food which by the time the problem is resolved is at best lukewarm  the least palliative temperature one finds? Having tackled the scum build up on the filter the Spinster stood and starred at the empty machine; and the pile of dirty dishes in the ceramic Belfast sink. Hmm what the ??? am I going to do now? Obviously one can’t go to bed with a sink of dirty dishes; someone might see (there is always the risk that Cruella has an aggressive fit of the vapours overnight rendering the Spinster bedridden requiring the assistance of a third party) and the last thing one wants to do is to give the impression one is not coping! Besides which dirty dishes look even dirtier in the 6am pre swim gloom.

So the Spinster did a spot of domestic juggling having squirted TOO much fairy into the sink; and now I know how those chips in the ceramic sink got there! The plastic washing up bowl having been used for compost months ago when the Spinster had a functioning dishwasher! And what is it about new tea towels; the cheap bundle variety that look so appealing but have the absorbency of seaweed? £5 for 12 is not a bargain at this point no matter how decorative they might be!!

Bugger this for a game of cards I think the dishes can dry themselves off in the cupboard; leaving them to dry on the worktop will simply result in the Spinster finding herself with a dust pan and brush at 3am – whilst one seldom falls when wandering in the early hours my spacial awareness seems to disappear altogether! But hey on the bright side the ‘sleep disturbance’ inducing drugs do mute the pain (some of the time)!

Next morning having arrived back from swimming with a soggy sock wrapped around the bleeding left hand – of course gripping a crutch handle sufficiently tight enough to balance just makes the bleeding more profuse! The Spinster prioritises finding someone to sort the dishwasher out; the web is wonderful I can highly recommend Assured Electrical Solutions: place phone number in box, within seconds phone rings and woman answers! OK it’s 930 am and the Spinster has apparently interrupted something as having answered the phone I hear ‘can you hang on a minute, have you got a pen and paper, OK let me take your details and someone will phone you back within an hour. I’m out at the moment’.  Oh lord I think who have I called. But within an hour a man calls back and within 2 ½ hours there a man at me door!

Now it seems prudent for the Spinster to answer the door on two crutches; OK I don’t have much choice at the moment and one to anxious not to give the wrong impression by inadvertently toppling into the arms of random male callers! The Assured engineer doesn’t exactly reassure the Spinster as he has a noticeable absence of tools and the fresh faced appearance of an apprentice! But no no no one mustn’t judge and the Spinster metaphorically slaps herself whilst simultaneously (albeit silently) shouting ‘don’t behave like Auntie!’

So having ascertained the problem he returns to his van (complete with logo so seems official). Diagnosis not having been assisted by the fact that the Spinster had spent 20 minutes on me hands and knees decanting the scummy water out of the dishwasher with a small jug i.e. there is no longer any water standing in the appliance. Don’t even think of asking when this frankly pointless task seemed a good idea; but one is pleased that this strange man does not have to see the scum on the filter – please one doesn’t actually want the world to know ones inner appliance hygiene is someone lacking!

Deciding it was a good idea to locate myself in a position where discrete surveillance was possible i.e. so the Spinster can watch him to see what he’s doing I sit checking emails in the study. For study read the tiny space at the back of the kitchen where a desk has been built into the alcove; excellent use of limited space!

After about 20 minutes during which the Spinster ‘bombards’ the guy with enquiries I look into the kitchen. Curiously he is lying on the floor blowing into one of the hoses at the back of the machine! Swallowing a snigger – how often can I gal say for £55 she got her pipes blown in her own kitchen; cheap joke I admit! As the Spinster ends up coughing – swallowing a laugh seems to constitute multitasking these days god Cruella is such a kill joy!!

Poor bloke renders himself breathless and red in the face; please don’t pass out the Spinster thinks whilst momentarily panicking! Sitting himself up he says ‘that should have got rid of the blockage’; bless you young man you have absolutely NO idea how reassuringly understated those words are!!

Yesterday the Midwife came; another young man with the power to raise the Spinster’s spirits! For some reason a friend of mine thinks the guy who cuts my hair looks like a midwife; a profession he has never considered he told me when I passed on this random observation. This morning impatient to be in a state of readiness for the Rat Man who is coming sometime between 830 and 1 pm to check the black box he put in the garden a week ago; at 1025 am the Spinster is still in a state of unfulfilled readiness!

ratThe question is do I ask to see the contents of the black box or not? Given that last night’s Fentanyl induced ‘sleep disturbance’ involved the Spinster encountering a rodent nibbling away at VERY CLOSE quarters I should probably decline the offer should it be made. The disturbing part about the ‘dream’ was this Spinster wasn’t frightened until I looked at its teeth; the rodent dentition was annoying clean and robust unlike my own choppers!!!

Ha just been lulled into almost throwing meself into the arms of a man wanting to tell me about the relevance of the bible; please don’t be offended but right now unless it can offer tips of rodent control or how to make the printer work this Spinster is BUSY! It was on the tip of me tongue to tell them that the door they had just been knocking on over the road belong to the eccentric lady who sadly died two days ago but thought I’d keep my counsel on this occasion; it made me smile reflecting on how the late Mrs H would have loved to give them the run around and then write a pithy little letter to the Barry Gem (she had a double barrelled name used for just this purpose).

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Floral Arrangements

Beginning the weekend (Friday evening) doing an audit of the contents of the fridge and cupboards (after shopping) does not bode well; what am I avoiding I wonder? In Morrisons I decide my financial situation is currently healthy enough to buy cut flowers; the presence of lilies and tulips in particular raise my spirits a kin to a non alcoholic tonic. As a child I watched my mother arranging flowers, something shehad attended evening classes to learn and it is from this observation my overly precise approach comes. Frankly it’s more of a curse because if the relationship between the height of the vase and the length of the stems isn’t just right I can’t look at them! There are preparatory steps that must be attended to before one starts snipping (at an angle) the base of the stems. Bear with me as I share the trials and tribulations of creating the perfect floral ensemble.

Before enthusiastically rummaging through the buckets of plastic coned flowers one should consider where the flowers will reside. Ideally this decision should be considered before leaving the house; there will be a range of options depending on the lifestyle one leads, the presence of children and pets. The additional occupiers are important especially if they have less than sympathetic habits where flowers are concerned; you will be familiar with the tendency to nibble the foliage or worry the blooms in an overly intrusive manner. Four legged friends are often the accomplices of small persons whose exuberant unco-ordinated dashing about can render ones crystal vase airborne! If this is your challenge I recommend regular visits to Ikea where a range of simple inexpensive glass vessels can be purchased (as frequently as your patience allows).

Then there are the persons (I include myself in this category) with poor spacial awareness; the people with an invisible exclusion zone around them leading to an uncanny ability to draw water filled vessel magnetically towards them. You may also know this category as clumsy or a clutz as our American relations refer to them. The urban dictionary handily defines a clutz as ‘Someone who is extremely careless, stupid and a hazard to be around. Trips over shoes constantly, breaks anything he touches, should not be allowed around heavy machinery or anything that might put other’s lives in danger.’ (Note to self this is a description of practically every man I’ve been unwise enough to allow to linger in my company). One may review the displaying of flowers until these persons are no longer in residence on account of the spiral of stress that is created in their wake!

So having assessed the locational options suitable for floral display it’s useful to check the current availability of vases or other appropriate vessels to stick the stems in. I’m especially fond of jam jars – Hartleys are particular pleasing and the Red Cherry jam is rather nice too! With my special skill of shaking not being a great combination with a ceramic kitchen floor the recycling of jars is a pragmatically prudent compromise. Of course a stumpy mustard jar is a tad limiting unless on has a penchant for dandelions or daisies (of the lawn variety).

So with these two lists in one’s head (the locations and the vessels) you are good to go! The colour scheme is a potential issue but darlings if you are of an anxious disposition to the extent you are inclined to attempt matching nature with the decor there are other ways to soothe yourself! A bouquet of red roses may be flexible enough to cover both Valentine’s Day and a funeral but the memories conjured may simply be too painful; my advice is to avoid anything that risks plucking the heart strings. If in doubt select any white bloom – you can’t go wrong (as long as the ratio of height of flowers; height of the vase is right of course).

Sophistication is simplicity; nothing too busy and absolutely nothing artificially enhanced. The flowers on display in some supermarkets are the plant equivalent of genetic modification – in fact that’s precisely what it is; however in this case the outcome is decidedly not an improvement! Garish gaudy blues and mauves clash with violent Sunny Delight orange finished off with a nasty lime green. I shudder just thinking of these crimes – there is no place beyond the garage forecourt for such ‘bouquets’; so suitable they are for this location it is a crime to remove them from it!

In a nutshell less is more; give the individual faces the space to shine i.e. avoid overstuffing the vase to vomiting proportions reminiscent of the voluptuous cleavage spilling from a size too small lingerie. It’s a fine balance between a hint and a big fat clue! We’re aiming for a discrete tip off; a pleasantly full vase with hints of daylight. An Albert Hall audience not a Glastonbury crowd. If you’ve inherited an elaborate crystal horror, that on occasions you feel it politic to employ, choose a single colour and or a single flower thereby complementing without drawing attention to something you have a strong suspicion was ‘purchased’ with greenshield stamps. Don’t you just hate the emotional bond with memory laden tack? (And believe me these goodies are immune to my poor spacial awareness; I swear one in particular has the capacity to leap out of the way!)

The proportions issue is more problematic with tall lilies or Gladioli (should you for some unfathomable reason be drawn to this curiously intrusive species that only comes in ‘mother of the bride’ pastels). The flowers should be at least as high as the vase if not 1 ½ times, whilst it is a matter of one’s personal aesthetic, aiming for balance usually results in happiness.

I personally favour a single species in the vessel as I don’t have the eye for detail that nature has; wild flowers look perfect without arrangement. Elaborate pick ‘n’ mixing is a high risk strategy; one I prefer not to employ myself- again it’s a personal choice but for heaven sake don’t assume that the self assembled bundle is going to work once released from the plastic wrapping. How many times have you received ‘flowers in a box’ on a special occasion only to find someone has been conned on your behalf when the package has been discarded and you find yourself wondering if there’s space in the dolls house for the minuscule offering!

And finally my secret weapon; the dried flower. Not the everlasting ones your mother used to buy but the ones that dry out gradually as the water evaporates. I discovered this by forgetting to top up the water in roses; the colour fades gradually, the heads bow and a certain elegance is revealed.  Unfortunately I haven’t managed to convey this habit to the woman who helps me in the house; on a Friday if there is even a hint of decay they are swiftly dispatched to the green bag without drawing breath! OK I admit my eccentricities are particularly Edwardian spinster but then said lady seems to have an affinity for cobwebs and dust. We two collide where the dried hydrangea flower heads gather dust forming a perfect resting place for the web spinning spider.

If one finds oneself on a limit budget a modest bunch of tulips (£1.75 in Morrisons), displayed in a drinking glass by the kitchen sink is a little bit of heaven.

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