A year older…

creativity, Floristry, PhD, Uncategorized

Yep.   Had a birthday.   I am now perilously close to fifty.

It was a good day.   I jumped on a bus and went to Sydney.   Interviewed a lady who was described to me when we were introduced as the Constance Spry of Australia.   So I’ve now found a postdoc project!

The following day I had my very first trip to flower market.   I thought I did very well to only come home with two bunches of double tulips, given I was navigating sydneys trains and the 3 1/2 hour bus trip back to Canberra.   Miraculously I didn’t break a single head.

The flower market was like nothing I have ever seen before.  A ginormous shed stuffed to the brim with flowers that made me cry with happiness.   Whole stalls just devoted to orchids.   The biggest tizziest disbud chrysanthemums in readiness for Mother’s Day,  and the sexiest purplely black callas.  Droooooooooooooooool.

I maybe perilously close to 50 now but it is deeply comforting to know that I finally found my thing.   It’s better that I found it now rather than in 10 or 15 years time, when I’m still relatively young and fit enough to do the work.   Course it would have been nice to have escaped the misery of the last 10 years,  but I can only hope there’s gonna be some unforeseen pay off from the sweat and tears that went into that PhD.

In the interim I’m going to practice being grateful for all the good things that I do have.  The Iron Paw, my lovely warm house, my own garden, delightful friends, loving family.   The luxury and the beauty of flowers, and being able to learn from them.

 

Bouquet bothers

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I got my first order for a bouquet.  I spent all week looking forward to what I could do with a brief of purple, orange and yellow.  I had leanings towards ranunculus, but it’s planting time for them here, not cutting.  Eventually I got my overactive brain to shut up enough and accept that whatever I found on Saturday would be it.  Zen enough.

one of the disadvantages of where I live is that there is no flower market.  There is one grower at our local farmers market, and otherwise I am reduced to a small number of retail outlets, of varying quality and price. I don’t know what happened yesterday but the selection was awful.

I nabbed the dahlias and the pompom gerberas from the market.  After that it was scratching the bottom of the barrel.  I ended. Up with kale.  Not that I have anything against kale at all, but…the only other purple choice available was purple chryssies and I’m pretty sure this client is not a chryssie type.  So it all got mixed up with some spray carnations that are more pink than purple, gum, correa and rosemary foliage and a few sprigs of aster.

You can see the quality control inspector checking out the result above.  It’s ok, but I just wish that for my first order I’d been able to put hand on heart and say that I was genuinely happy with it.  The vase is what I did with the remainders and the bunch of spray roses I bought to cheer myself up over this failure.

Recent work

Floristry, PhD, Uncategorized

Just a few pics of my recent work in class and out.  It’s wreath season here in Australia so we’ve been practicing.  For the bottom right, I’ve been trying to get over my fear of lilies.  Not a good thing to have if you want to be a florist.

On the top are two wired bridal bouquets, one contemporary and one traditional.  Challenging but very enjoyable.

Finally a flower crown I made for my friend to wear on the day she submitted her Phd. I wish I’d thought of that when I was submitting…

 

 

Defeat

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When I started this blog, it was for a rose related project.  A ‘meditation’ deck of cards.  On my list of possible cards was Defeat.

After recent experiences I am definitely leaving it in.

Austin’s rose Noble Antony is what I’d pick to illustrate it, but due to recent technological defeats I can’t include it right now.

i feel defeated on every level right now.  From the gardening contractor trying to extort double his quote to the impenetrability of computers, databases that are supposed to make life easier.  From my inability to manage my disease to trying to pull off a career change.  I’m so defeated that I just had to resign from my teaching job because I can’t cope.

Defeat.

Surviving Valentine’s Day as a trainee florist

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It’s been a long time between posts, and I’m afraid that the trend will continue. Life has bounced from one extreme to the other. Due to a substantial administrative cockup that was not of my own making, I had a much longer break between jobs than was ideal. My finances have fallen into a black hole, and so did my mental health. I had barely climbed out of that, when the situation reversed. I now have three jobs and I’m studying. This might have been more manageable if one of the employers had been truthful about the job. Suffice to say I am doing treble the work for the same amount of money. If I really were a rose, I would take my thorns and whip them mercilessly so they learnt not do bullshit like that to me again.

The only bright spot is that my floristry course starts this week. And I survived two days in a florist’s shop on 13 and 14 February. I figured if I threw myself in the deep end on the most idiotic and frantic day of the florist’s year that I would know from the outset if I could seriously do this for a living. I stripped thorns and foliage, cleaned and filled buckets, wrapped hundreds of single stems, and made various permutations of red rose bouquets and wired gerberas. I truly did not expect to be asked to do any bouquets, and I’m grateful for the extraordinary amount of practice I got for handtied bouquets.

The down sides? Well, I lost sensation in my toes. For a diabetic this is a really bad thing. I already have a problem with my lower back, and it was in fact, exactly the same way that this developed originally. I was a Christmas casual shop girl, in a place which had benches and monitors built for midgets. There’s only so long a spine can handle bent into an unnatural S before something goes wrong, and I have been paying for that organisation’s lack of consideration in the variability of the human frame since 2008.

Secondly, I was out the back making the stock bouquets, meaning I had no contact with customers and didn’t have to answer the phone. The senior florists were doing all that along with making the orders, which were much bigger and more elaborate. Plus almost everyone worked longer hours than me, without a break. In reality I had the easiest time of all. So I have some things to think about as my course starts next week, but I haven’t been put off entirely.

In conclusion, if you want to give your beloved flowers, Valentine’s Day is probably the worst day to do it. The day is SO FRANTIC that your florist will not be particularly discriminating. You will get better flowers and a better bouquet if you pick any other day of the year…except perhaps Mother’s Day.

Rage…

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Today is the anniversary of my Dad’s funeral, and it is also the anniversary of Mum and Dad’s wedding. I can still picture, as if I were trapped in the chapel still four years later, their wedding photo propped on the end of the coffin, and the blue and white delphinium sheaf behind it.

All I have done is rage at the world today. Raged at the traffic, at the inadequate menu descriptions and cafes that refuse to serve lunch after two, at the iniquitous parking system, at the intractability of supposedly helpful online systems, at being expected to work for free and at the casualization of labour, at the emotional time bombs that seem to keep going off when I least expect them, at the unending heat of summer and the dessication of my garden and at my own utter helplessness to change anything, anything at fucking all.

I’m tired of everything. And I am especially tired of pretending that everything is all right and that everything is going to be fine.

It’s not. I’m going to die, probably sooner rather than later now that I have diabetes. The question that’s bugging me is this. It’s not is there life after death. It’s whether there is a life before death.

Down time

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I am loving my extended holiday!  Marathon sleep ins, virtually no commitments, the ability to potter and pootle for extended periods of time.  Bliss.  How can I make my life more like this more of the time? This isn’t idle speculation.

There’s some substance to this question.  Firstly, let’s take the issue of the marathon sleep ins.  I’ve been off work since 23 December, and I’m still pulling ten hour stretches.  This reminds me that a) I have always needed a lot of sleep but more importantly b) I was way more exhausted than I thought I was.  Thinking back on 2016 from the vantage point of deep rest, I can see why.  Two bereavements, one attempted suicide and one life threatening health crisis within my inner circle.  Plus learning a new and quite difficult job which I didn’t enjoy all that much, even if it was in my field.  And, the background hum of baggage waiting to be dealt with.  Finally I realise I hadn’t had a holiday for at least two years.  This is one of the side effects of chronic short term contract hopping.  You never feel like you can say no when an offer comes along.

I desperately wanted to say no to the latest, but at least I got a delayed start.  And while I would rather have had a flop and drop holiday somewhere else, where I am not constantly looking around the house and thinking ‘Oh I should fix that’, it’s the best I can do.  And yet, I am still working.  I spent yesterday writing lecture material for the other job, and I will spend part of the today working on the thesis-to-book revision.

I am doing some sewing as well.  There’s lots of things I love about sewing, not the least of which is the texture and handle of fabric.  I’ve had to back off a little bit, because I was starting to treat it like work.  With a schedule and a plan and an imposed sense of ‘having to be good enough’ when actually, it’s supposed to be fun.  When I shouldn’t be getting all out of shape over the things that go inevitably wrong when you are a novice sewer like me.

So finally I turned to the project that I started this blog with, the rose based meditation deck.  One night when I was feeling a bit tired I managed to get some words out, but yesterday when I tried it felt so constrained and stilted.  You’d think that some short texts like that would be easy.  They so aren’t.

I found myself back in the old territory.  Who do you think you are? Telling others how to live?  You can’t… and you don’t…I froze.  Here are my thawing words.

I’m an ordinary human being who mostly finds the world baffling.  I write to make sense of life, to find a way to hang on and keep going through the confusion and the trouble.  I am not that different to others, although their troubles will take different shapes.  We are more alike than we are different so there is a mild possibility that my words will supply at the very least, a sense of recognition.  A sense of camaraderie.  I’d like my words to descend like a blanket of kindness, allowing my reader to soften in compassion.

If I had a wish for this year, that would be it.  May we all soften with compassion for ourselves and for others who are suffering.  Let there be more beauty, more kindness and more creativity in the world.

Last thoughts on the last bouquet of 2016

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mums-80thMy Mum would have turned eighty today, and here is the bouquet I made for her. I’d wanted to the roses to be a little more vibrantly peachy-orange, but the variety I ordered called Magma did not arrive.  This was the next best alternative.  Mum was a darked eyed beauty who positively glowed in those sorts of gold tones.

The rest of the bouquet is made up of two types of chrysanthemum, yellow daisy and green button, and my long time favourite, limonium. The mint, cerinthe purpurea, parsley and stokesia were all from my garden.  It’s also the solstice tomorrow, so these golden tones paired with blues speak to me of Australian colours at the beginning of summer.

For many people and for many reasons, this time of year can be particularly difficult. I am one of them.  It’s no secret amongst friends that I didn’t have the best of relationships with my Mum, and that my marriage failed at this time too.  I find the rammed-down-the-throat family togetherness messages only adds to the discomfort of the time.  I am thinking also of all those who have lost people in the last year and who are facing the first Christmas with their absence looming over them.  There have been two deaths recently in my world, and I am particularly thinking of my aunt and cousins, and my friend’s daughters right now.

This is not easy to handle. Nor do I have any particularly good advice on how to weather it.  I took plenty of walks in the cool of the day, had a few trusted friends on standby and avoided large crowds and noisy places.  That’s what worked for me, a classic introvert whose heart sinks when the door bell rings.  You’ll have to figure out your own sanity preserving strategies.

Frankly Christmas is mystifying to me. For actively committed Christians it is obviously central to them.  But for the rest of us?  It’s a crazy making, financially draining, calorie laden marketing ploy which relies on cheap foreign labour to make goods that we don’t really need and which probably won’t last the distance.

Sorry to be a downer there folks.

I’ll be going home, shutting the door and getting some much needed rest, no decorations, no special cooking, and a bunch of rented DVDs until all the Christmas specials, movies and advertising finishes.

However you chose to spend this time, I hope it works for you. Thanks for reading and may all your good wishes for yourself, your family, friends and the world come true.

Namaste.

Small (and scrounged) arrangements

employment, Floristry, Uncategorized

Having just lost my job, I have to review my approach to flower arrangement. Small arrangements with minimal purchased flowers and plenty of scrounging in my now abundant spare time would seem to be the order of the day.  This is my first experiment.

nut-dish

The vessel is one of those odd party dishes that only come out at Christmas. Never figured out what people use them for.  Nuts perhaps?  I selected this two dollar bargain from the opshop for its length (about 30cm) and shallow depth (about 4cm) and its fluted edges giving greater scope for keeping the material in place.

I bought one bunch of pure white chrysanthemums, because they are so long lasting, and everything else comes from my garden. I planted the pinks last year and they are still going strong.  The sea holly was planted in winter and the white one here has flowered.  I am still waiting for the blue.  The foliage is mostly herbs, springs of rosemary and oregano with its flowers, along the flower buds of the cotoneaster that hangs over the fence from the neighbours.

This is a very pretty pastel arrangement, dictated by the fact that after our odd weather of late there’s almost nothing in flower in my garden, beyond the trusty pinks, at the moment. Actually, there was one bloom on the radicchio that has gone to seed.  It’s the most exquisite blue colour and this year I will try to use it and see if it lasts.

The point is that with the white and green base, it’s infinitely variable. If you wanted zing you could try green chyrssies with orange calendulas, or bold red dahlias with scarlet perlargoniums.

The long slender shape makes it suitable for window sills and, I realise as I sit in front of my computer, it could replace the usual paraphernalia that clutters the desk.  Wouldn’t this little nut dish of flowers be a better sight?

computer-clutter

Year’s end

creativity, Floristry, PhD, Publishing, Uncategorized

I feel like I have a very great deal to catch up on!

It’s been a very busy spring. Between a major garden expansion, the continuation of my floristry night classes and getting my thesis accepted for publication, I have barely written a thing.  I also got my first floristry client too, and her reaction to the flower crowns I made for her gave me sufficient internal fortitude to enrol in professional floristry training.

My main priority between now and when classes start next year has to be revising the thesis in order to meet my publication deadline. This is a strange process.  I haven’t picked up my PhD since I submitted it and reading it again now in depth is highly illuminating.

Part of me is still astonished that I passed. I feel like I am falling into a tunnel as I read it, and that’s exactly what it felt like to write it.  I was in an ever shrinking world.  It is true what they say about specialisation. You get to know more and more about less and less.  I see how, as I leap from one highly esoteric point to another, how far gone I was.  Stress will do that to a girl.

It feels good to be making something more beautiful and accessible out of that raw material. But I still have to wonder.  Why does this process have to be so punishing.  I am currently watching two women friends walk this same path, and it’s not right.  Learning should not be this stressful and this painful.

Processes of learning are significant right now given that I am a student again. I went back to look at all the photos I have taken of what I made in classes this year and what I have practiced on my own.  Quite apart from realising that it was indeed a busy year, I also realised that for the VERY FIRST TIME EVER I kept my new year’s resolution.  I wanted 2016 to be a year of creativity.  It sure was.  And here’s a few photos to prove it.

Thanks to everyone who has followed my adventures this year, have a wonderful rest of the year and joyful start to 2017.  May all your dreams come true.