How to Save a Drowning Orchid

I have never been very good with flowers. I even managed to kill a harmless, small “cannot kill” Ikea, cactus.  That takes quite a special kind of Killer talent. After ridding my house of any beautiful, living blossom, I actually felt relieved. I knew that there would be no little white bugs flitting about my house. No fear of anything being knocked over. No need to wonder if I had watered (or drowned) any plants. And surprisingly, my family did not die from lack of flora breath in the air. All was well.

Fastforward 10 years.  We had just completed a much dreamed about kitchen renovation.  Being an avid fan of makeover shows, I realized there was always a stunning arrangement of fresh flowers to accent and complete the transformation.   After years of plant freedom I decided that I was older and wiser and would somehow miraculously inherit Mother Nature’s whimsical and illustrious talents.  Whilst grocery shopping one day, I saw a magnificent white orchid that asked, nay, demanded: “TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER.”   Nope.  Overdramatizing (a little).  It looked really bright and happy and cheerful and appeared to say (if flowers could speak) “I’m yours.  Take me home”.  I was happy.  My new flowerage (?) was happy.  My newfound blossoms would reign over my new regal domain.

My orchid was astounding! I was amazed at the elegance and beauty of each petal and how it seemed to lord over my new dream room. What started as five blooms became six blooms and then seven and then eight. Amazing too, that the Curse of the Serial Plant Killer did not strike. For weeks I ensured that I followed the instructions: just a little warm water daily. I did well. Always just enough. And it always stood there beautiful and proud.

One day, while rushing about, I realized that my majestic orchid looked…well…droopy. When was the last time I had watered it? Two days? Three days?  How did I forget to add that ounce of warm water?  To compensate for my lack of care, I dispensed a whole waterfall of life giving liquid. That would do the trick. That decision was the beginning of the end. What was once beautiful, elegant, sturdy flowers became serial floral demise.  Whole blossoms began dropping. One at first, then two at a time. It was over. Serial Plant Killer struck again. Egad! “Waaaahhhhhh!!” I screamed out to the sky: “HOW DO YOU SAVE A DROWNING ORCHID?!” That death sentence actually made me suddenly ponder the similarities between plant life and human life.

How do you save a drowning orchid? How do you save a person that is drowning in fear or unhappiness and is having kneejerk reactions to life? How do you get them to search for that lifeline that will drag them out of their drowning fear or anger or hurt or regret that they feel? Oftentimes we forget about those around us and when we finally remember them we give a “quick fix” through gifts of sorts and then move on believing everything will be fine.

Love, like water, needs to be given daily. It doesn’t need to come showering down like a big party then leave you feeling hung over and alone for days after that. A nice, kind, gentle, daily dose is what keeps true love on the right path.

True love is about friendship, kindness, and understanding. It is always there, like a slow trickle of water that will never leave you feeling dried out or thirsting for love from others.

My dear orchid, I am sorry that I let you down as I now know that I let myself down. Tough lesson, but a lesson well learned. I need to take time to love myself. Don’t love myself only on some days and not others. I am always worthy of love and by loving myself and not expecting it from others, I will never thirst for it or hope that I am worthy to receive it. My water trough of love will always be full. And by having great love for myself, my love for others will be stronger and the love I receive will be even more appreciated.

Rest in peace, my dear orchid. Lesson learned.

 

Molto Bene !

About three years ago, I told Wiseguy that we should move to Venice.  No, I don’t speak Italian.  I don’t have any Italian friends.  (I do have some Italian relatives…but I non parlo Italian).  I think Vespas are just the coolest ride ever!  I love any and all pasta dishes.  I have an absolute addiction to pizza.  Your question is most likely, why Venice and not another Italian city? 

Back in 1989, I went on a gondola ride.  I was enamoured with the view of the old, tall buildings.  The gondolier talked about the history of the city.  He pointed out historical landmarks.  He spoke of the Venetians, past and present.  I loved the way we glided slowly through the water.  (Mind you, at that time it, it smelled more like a sewer than the sea.)  I loved how the gondoliers would sing when they got to an intersection to let other gondoliers know that they were approaching.  My mind began to wander.  I imagined myself sitting at one of the cafes sipping a glass of wine, watching all the tourists rush about.  I pictured myself living in one of the apartment buildings.  I dreamt of going out daily to get fresh baked bread.  I would learn the language and speak it fluently.  I would be a Venetian.  The ride ended, but my dream never did.  

Although we haven’t moved to Venice (yet), I never gave up on several of my wishes.  I wished that one day, Wiseguy and I would go on a gondola ride together.  Yes.  So sweet and romantic (and soooo corny…but that’s me)  This year, my wish came true. 

On our trip to Europe, I got to celebrate my birthday in style.  A trip to Venice and a gondola ride.  Molto bene!  I had told Wiseguy many times that he would enjoy the gondola ride.  He had heard that the ride was big bucks and that you floated through stinky, sewer water.  I informed him that,over the past few years, they had been cleaning up the waterways.  I hinted that we wouldn’t know how good or bad it was until we got there and checked it out.  The debate continued.  In the end, birthday wishes (or maybe his curiosity) won out. 

After the long drive from Croatia to Venice, Wiseguy recommended a wee bit of rest away from the crowds.  And there it was.  Wish number two.  We found a little cafe on one of the side streets.  It was away from the din of the tourists.  We had a glass of wine and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.  Our senses also got to enjoy the wonderfully, aromatic smell of fresh pasta sauce as large plates of spaghetti floated by us via waitress.  Even better, the smell of fresh baked pizza wafting through the air.  What a beautiful moment it was.  But I digress.  Time to find us a gondolier!

We wandered back to the centre of the square and saw three gondoliers.  How did we know?  Well, they each had on black pants, a striped blue and white shirt and a lovely straw gondolier hat with a blue ribbon on it.  We picked the middle man and followed him down a side street.  His knowledge of the English language was excellent!  Better still, it had that little lilt of the Italian accent as he spoke.  Melodica voce!  We wound through the little side streets, passing little cafes as we walked.  We got to an opening and there it was.  A shiny, black gondola.  It had metal horses on the sides and large fancy tassles.  There were two velvet covered chairs and a velvet bench seat with a colourful blanket draped casually on it.  We boarded, got comfy, and then we were off! 

Our gondolier, Sebastian, has been a gondolier for 17 years.  His father retired and the horses and pictures and chairs on the gondola were originally from his dad’s gondola.  How wonderful.  He sang out little songs as we neared corners.  He waved happily to his fellow gondoliers,  “Ciao Mario!”  We heard about how Venice is slowly sinking.  We heard about Don Juan and Marco Polo and were shown where they lived.  We heard about how the rich Venetians built churches on every island in Venice.  We heard about the one rich Venetian that wanted to be king.  “Well”, the others said, “off with his head!”  Yikes.  Don’t upset a Venetian!  After about 50 minutes, our cruise was over, but thanks to Sebastian, our memories will last forever. 

Wiseguy really enjoyed the ride.  He told the kids all about his experience and how one day, they must go on gondola ride.  Now THAT should tell you something.

Sebastian, if you are reading this, we purchased a little memento of our visit to Venice.  We named the gondolier Sebastian.

Grazie Sebastian

Mommy Mom Mama Ma

Mother’s Day.  I’m a little late, but just thought I’d share my thoughts and feelings about this day.

Remember, in grade school, when the teacher would have arts and crafts supplies so that we could create wonderful gifts for our mom’s for Mother’s Day?  Macaroni art?  Tissue paper flowers?  Not to mention all the handmade cards (most of the time, the misspelled words were left alone to make it authentic).  Those were the cherished gifts for Mom.

As we children grew up, we couldn’t wait to get money and go BUY a real fancy gift for Mom with a real preprinted card to go with it.  So proud we were of our purchases.  Something had changed.  The happy gleam in her eyes of past gifts just didn’t seem to be there.  We tried different store-bought gifts every year.  We couldn’t figure out what we were doing wrong.  Time passed.  We gave up on the gifts.  We gave up on the cards.  I still call her on Mother’s Day and I can hear the joy in her voice.  No gift required.  

Then I became a stepmom to three wonderful children.  I received the homemade gifts and, believe me, nothing could make me feel more warm inside than that.  The homemade cards, including the wonderfully misspelled words, were the most beautiful things I had ever received.  I remember the dollar store plastic flowers that were given to me.  They were so excited with their purchase that they had to explain to me that, “we got you these because they will last forever!”  Yup, after 16 years, I still have those plastic pink flowers.  The kids don’t remember giving them to me, but that’s ok.  I will always remember the joy and pride they had when they were presented to me.

Even now, with everyone’s busy schedules, the kids find time to call or email or text.   They find some time to come and hang out.  I love all the hugs.  I am enamoured with the fragrant flowers.  I love the preprinted cards with the personalized essay of love inside them.  The older I get, the more the waterworks turn on, but that’s ok.  They are tears of love.

It’s really nice now as well because The Artist and The Baker call me mom.  Truly special for me, as I never had children of my own but married into the family plan.  I love the kids.  I love being with them.  I love seeing them.  I love seeing how well their lives are progressing and how they are excited about all their future plans.

I am proud of all of them.   I worry about each of them.  I love them all.  I think about them everyday.  I truly believe that being a Mom is a privilege.  It’s earned with lots of love, kindness, and especially hugs. 

Thanks for letting me be Mom on Mother’s Day (and every other day).