2008.06.25 Stop and smell the dead flowers

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

My brother Kevin who lives in Alaska called tonight to see how plans were proceeding with Rozee’s wedding and to give an update on whether he would be able to attend the wedding in a couple weeks. He not only has a strange infection in his brain, but slipped disks and other deterioration in his back.

I told him it was highly unlikely the downstairs bathroom would be wallpapered before he arrived, but most wedding related stuff was under control.

“Well, you don’t have to worry about getting anything done for us,” he laughed.

Kevin’s homemaking standards are about like mine: none too high; a sight better than our mother’s, but not of major importance in our lives.

Our living conditions growing up were meager at best; while raising five kids by herself in the Bronx on switchboard operator’s wages, my mother’s forays into decorating were slim to none.

Her priority was keeping a dry roof over our heads and food in our bellies; both were daily battles. We had our share of emptying buckets of rainwater that dropped from the living room ceiling of our top floor apartment, and eating mustard sandwiches.

 Kevin and I are both living pretty high on the hog in comparison to our early days, but neither of us requires a well-decorated home for happiness.

The thought of Rozee’s upcoming wedding, however, alternately puts me in a Martha Stewart induced panic to strip every room of its extraneous contents and somehow recreate them into House Beautiful—or, and I favor this reaction more—a chocolate induced state of oblivious harmony.

Besides the uncompleted projects at my house, it’s probably the wedding flowers that account for most of my stress. For a peace and social justice class, Rozee researched and wrote a paper about the flower industry.

Based on what she learned, she knew she didn’t want her wedding flowers to come from some South American country where mostly women are paid low wages for spending long hours in the field while being subjected to dangerous levels of pesticides.

“That’s what happens when you send kids to college,” my brother said when I explained why Rozee wasn’t following the usual route for flower acquisition. “They start to get all these ideas.”

I thought it was a very noble idea and we set upon making it work.  We consulted several flower-knowledgeable friends who figured we could supply enough flowers from our gardens and those of other friends to decorate the tables at the reception hall and the church.

We planned to buy lisianthus flowers if necessary from a highly recommended grower at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market to make into bridal bouquets and would purchase additional flowers for table arrangements and the church if necessary as a back-up.

There’s been one mishap after another in the flower department. Lisianthus wasn’t widely available and it’s not likely to be in bloom by July 5. Larkspur plants couldn’t be found.

I planted lots of pink and purple flowers, the colors Rozee likes—only I unwittingly bought miniature versions. My dianthus is barely four inches high. My lisianthus plants haven’t reached eight inches. My larkspur seed never grew. My cleome looks like it shrunk in the dryer.

But we knew we had our back-up plan with the Farmer’s Market grower....until she mentioned that she wasn’t going to be in town over the Fourth of July weekend.

And then, Saturday, in the middle of Rozee’s bridal shower, the Great Hail Storm hit.

As the hail pummeled down, I called David from the church when I remembered I had some potted plants we might use for wedding decorations sitting outside on the front steps.

“I’ll get injured if I go out there!” he yelled, but he managed to rescue the most beautiful of the pots.

The hail shredded most of the hostas that line our driveway—hostas that would potentially provide greenery for table bouquets and church arrangements. My delphinium are flat out dead and everything but the hollylocks looks beaten down and depressing.

Rozee just laughs. I follow suit. What else can you do?

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