Archive for February, 2010

I ♥ tulips

(Wide Open by Lori H. Photography @ Etsy)

In the garden
Tulips grow
Straight and golden
In a row.
Each one holds
Its empty cup
Drinking rain
And sunshine up.


Ah, spring….wait a second, it’s February!  It’s supposed to be winter here, but Mother Nature has been saying otherwise.  Contrary to what some folks believe, I do not live in an igloo, suck on maple syrup, go ice-fishing, nor live in a Narnia-ish winter landscape.  Nope.  Not I.  I do live on the westcoast and “winter” has been so mild that I haven’t had to take out my winter wool coat or my snow boots.  It’s been raining, yes, but the weather has been decidedly spring-like.  Which is why we’re seeing the (surely confused) spring flowers blooming in February—notably, cherry blossoms, crocuses, daffodils, jonquils, magnolias, azaleas, and tulips.


Ah tulips. The tulip exudes a simple elegance. Tapered stems and a petal-cup that—as the poem states—is drinking rain and sunshine up.  Although tulips conjure up stereotypical images of blonde Dutch girls in Volemdam and clogs, the flowers actually originated in the area spanning Persia to Turkey.  Traders brought tulips into Europe in the 16th century; there, tulips were named for the Turkish word for “gauze” (reflecting the gauze turbans worn by the traders).  Tulips reached The Netherlands in the 17th century, and eventually caused what some historians note as the first economic boom-and-bust cycle.  

Fascinatingly (gosh, is that even a word?), during the Dutch Golden Age, tulips were seen as a luxury item and a status symbol.  I find this interesting, considering I see tulips as an accessible “small indulgence” that makes me feel fantabulous.  A bunch sets me back a little less than a barista-made drink, yet the effects last a lot longer!  

And, of course, tulips are adorably pretty, so much so that I splurge a little extra on them, in remembrance that it’s our recognition of beauty around us that can open up our hearts to abundance and all those possibilities.  They do bring on the joy! 


I’m not a gardener, so what do I know about tulip bulbs?  Nothing. See, I’m more of a purveyor of the cut tulips that I can adorn in my living space.  Here some tips that I use to keep my cut tulips fresh for 8-10 days: 

1)    Buy tight-buds:  I beeline toward the tulips that show a little peep of color at the tips but are still green at the base.  Not the ones that are so green all the way to the tip that I have no idea what colour the tulips will turn out to be.  Trust, they start to unfurl their petals within the next day, slowly but surely.

2)    Cut the stems:  Cut about half an inch off the bottom of the stems immediately upon purchase; not on a slant, but a straight cut. Hey, you like cutting on a slight slant?  Do it.  Just ensure you don’t cut on a deep slant.  This little move allows the stem to suck up water more readily.

3)    Fill ‘er up! :  In a clean vase, place enough cold (not lukewarm) water inside for the tulip to suck up in one day.  This doesn’t mean all the up to the rim of the vase, aiya!  About 1/3 of the vase is fine.  Oh, it totally helps to have a tall, thin vase, as opposed to a wide vase.

4)    Change water daily:  I truly believe this works to keep my tulips lasting longer than usual, but sometimes it can be a pain in the arse to continually change out the water every single day.  But I look at the happy tulips, and break down, and find myself refilling the vase with a fresh, new batch of cold water.  I’m such a sucker.  But you don’t want the water to sit and let bacteria grow, right?  Right.

5)    Don’t get all fancy now:  Tulips like to keep things simple, so don’t go around adding those packets of flower food in the water.  Tulips only need fresh, cold water, nothing else.  That “food” makes them pass out!

6)    See a penny:  I simply use water alone, but if you swear by the folk remedy of placing a penny into the bottom of the vase (to keep flowers fresh) then by all means do it. 

7)    Grow, grow, grow! :  Wow, this is news to me!  Tulips continue to grow in the vase, even after they’ve been cut—up to an inch.  As they grow taller, they tend to bend toward sources of light.  Smartypants know this as phototropism.

8)    On a bender:  Since tulips continue to grow in the vase, you might need to re-trim the stems to avoid “the bends” – you know, when the tulip stems start to droop.  Now there’s an art to re-trimming, as you don’t want the petals to drop off.  Basically, you’ll want to remove the tulips from the vase, roll them up in newspaper so the paper extends above the flower cups but not covering the lower ends of the stems.  Carefully hold the wrapped bouquet, and cut off the bits at the end.   Oh, and if you want to un-droop (ha!) the stems, simply keep the tulips wrapped up this way after re-trimming, and place it upright in a vase holding fresh cold water.  Just leave in a cool place for a couple of hours; thereafter, gently unwrap and place in vase.

9)    Location, location, location:  Tulips are sensitive to temperature, so place your vase of tulips in a cool area of your living space, and keep them away from your TV and computer. 


From my parents, I learned about flowers, their names, how to care of each kind of flower, and how to appreciate their beauty.  My mother is a student of ikebana, the Japanese art of flower-arranging, and always brought flowers home; my grandmother paints florals using watercolors and sumi-e (black ink); and my father has a green-thumb that has designed a Japanese-garden in their backyard, complete with the Western styling of a gazebo covered in wisteria.

In this regard, the language of flowers (floriogaphy) has always piqued my interest.  Apparently during the British Victorian era — a very close-lipped period it seems — floriography became a means for individuals to express their feelings through flowers.  No,  no, love letters weren’t stuck in bouquets, rather each flower was given a universal meaning (coded message), so, for example, the orchid signified “I await your favors,” and the yellow carnation meant “You have disappointed me.”  Very neat.  The language of flowers continues today in the art form called Tussie-Mussies, as well as in Hanakotoba, the traditional Japanese language of flowers.


According to floriography, the tulip symbolizes “imagination, dreaminess, and/or perfect love.”  (However, in Hanakotoba, sadly the tulip symbolizes “one-sided love.”).  The tulip is also the 11th wedding anniversary flower, and the tulip’s soft black center is said to represent a lover’s heart, darkened by the heat of passion.  Oh la!  Who knew the simple tulip could be so saucy? (more…)

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(Letterpressed Golden Retriever Card by Rigel Stuhmiller @ Etsy)



I believe in signs.  I do.  In my life, I’ve had signs reveal themselves to advise me to:  STOP.  SIT DOWN.  AND REFLECT.

Once, a couple of years ago, during an especially hectic day that turned into a hectic week, my temper was constantly simmering, on the cusp of boiling over.   I had to consistently swallow my irritation and annoyance with everyone.  I was stewing in my own negative vibes.  

Then, while driving home late at night, I saw a dog in my headlights at the edge of the sidewalk.  Don’t cross, I prayed.   I slowed down.  As I got closer, I thought the dog would see the headlights of my car, and pause.  Instead, the dog walked (not ran) in front of my car to cross the street!   I was already slowing down, and put my foot on the brake in a panicked hurry to stop.

Clearly, I took this as a sign to slow down.  To remind myself to slow down and breathe.  I know this because there were cars way up in front of me…and there were cars way back behind me.  But there were no cars around me for a few minutes.  If I had put on my brakes and stopped with cars around, they definitely would’ve hit me.  You know, I would have rather been rear-ended than hit that dog.

As right as rain, I received a sign — the universe demanded me to pause, reflect, and breathe.  I definitely slowed down at that moment…and am continuing to slow down to this day.  

I can still see that dog clearly.  He was trying to save me from myself.  He was truly a harbinger of truth.  It was truly a sign.  Lesson learned learning.


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♡ Stop, sit, reflect

(Gocco Print by Argyle Whale | Buy @ Etsy)


The moment when something major is accomplished, we are so relieved to finally be done with it that we are already rushing, at least mentally, into The Future.   

Wisdom, however, requests a pause.  If we cannot give ourselves a pause, the Universe will likely give it to us.  In the form of an illness, a massive Mercury in retrograde, our car breaking down.  

And we find ourselves required to stop, to sit down, to reflect.

Alice Walker in We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For

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(photo credit @ gcmaxwell flickr)

FLUMMOX [fluhm-uh ks] (verb):  to bewilder; confound; confuse; to be a mystery to.  

  • “OMG, too much information…”   (insert *oh-no-you-di’int eye-roll* move).  
  • “Lalalalalalala — I can’t hear you!”   (insert *hands over ears* move).  
  • “Did I really need to know that?”   (insert *scrunched up face* move).  
  • “Filter, people, filter!”   (insert *talk-to-the-hand* move).  
  • “I…I don’t know what to say…”   (insert  *mouth-agape* move).   
  • “Huh?”    (insert *tilted head* move).   
  • “Oh-kaaaay…”  (insert *gingerly moving backwards* move).  
  • “Um, that was random.”    (insert *under the breath* move).   
  • “Talk about verbal diarrhea! ” (insert *yikes! face* move).   
  • “Is she off her meds today?”   (insert *furrowed brow face* move).  
  • “Do I have confessional written on my forehead or something? ”   (insert *why me? face*). 

Yes — *shameface* — I have had these thoughts….often in my head and sometimes under my breath.  Especially when someone decides to disclose too much information about themselves or their opinion of someone, something, anything.  Our world has decidely come to enjoy saying too much.  Present company included.  Ha!  Yet, understandably, I try to err on the good side of the (fine) line between being tasteful or crass in the art of disclosure.  


And this got me thinking of one of my former roommates who was so discrete, she left me flummoxed whenever she decided I was worthy of finding out a new tidbit about her life.  

A model of prudence, my former roommate M pretty much nailed the art of discretion to a capital “D”.  We were roommates, along with another colleague K, for a few months on an assignment.  It was quite a length a time to be working, living, and traveling with someone.  Assumptions don’t get you anywhere, I’m telling ya.  

K and I would chit and chat and chew about our past, present, future…maybe not daily, but more than on occasion.  And there would be mysterious M, tucked in her corner, immersed in a book, napping with glasses askew, nary paying attention to us.  I hardly ever saw her, even when we were both in the same place.  She didn’t say much, yes…but now I recognize that she did indeed listen exceptionally well.  Her talent was listening.  Observing.  And listening.  It was an art for her.  I admire it so much now.  


At the time, though?  Not so much.  What was with her?  I would muse in my thoughts when I bothered to notice.  Me?  I was saying too much — yapping, yapping, yapping, squawking, squawking, squawking (thanks Lainey!).  Sometimes disgruntled, sometimes boastful, sometimes whiny, sometimes hungry (re: whiny AND disgruntled).  There would be M — saying nothing.  Offering nothing….so I assumed.  But then, these potent messages would spring forth from her lips like a cure…and make everything chaotic seem calm again.  She made things seem right again.  


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(Can You Imagine by Trey Speegle @ 20×200)


So beautiful…this never gets old.  I first heard it — yes I’m admitting it — while watching the Samuel L. Jackson film Coach Carter on TV a few years back.  It reverberated in my heart, because it kinda scared the daylights outta me.  Can you imagine?  It’s like finding out you have superpowers, when all this time you thought you were average.  What a magnificent boost of energy to climb up your spine than to realize you have the strength within yourself to be all that you wish to be! 


Of course, it comes with a warning.  That is, do not mistake this gift as an excuse to empower your ego, selfishly.  It does not give you the right to be cruel, to be unkind, to be manipulative, to be destructive to get your way, to be overindulgent, to always be right, to treat others with contempt, to be indignant, to be ignorant, to be ruthless, to be treacherous, nor to be a self-centered biyatch.  


Rather it reminds you that you are full of goodness, positivity, kindness, generosity, empathy, joy, strength, passion, virtue, tenacity, gumption, compassion, integrity, guile, love, reflection, peace, resilience, and potential.  But remember, like Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”


Here it is (paraphrased so it’s closer to how it was said in the film), by Marianne Williamson.  Although sometimes it’s mistakenly credited to Nelson Mandela, because he used it in one of his powerful speeches.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?   Your playing small does not serve the world.   There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.   It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

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♡ Do all the good you can…

(Along the River 2 print by Naoko Stoop @ Etsy)

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.


– John Wesley 

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Drip drop, drip drop, the raining is falling down,
Drip, drop, drip, drop, splashing all around.
Let’s put on our gumboots, our raincoats and our hats,
And jump in the puddles with a splish, splosh, splash!

I live in a very rainy part of the world, which is why I invested in a pair of Original Hunter Wellies to keep my tootsies dry. Quite an investment for a pair of rubber boots, but, hey, they’re hardy, tall (withstands splashes!), and stylish too.  There’s a myriad of colours to choose from original black, green, navy, chocolate, to fun colours like  pea green, aubergine, fuschia, silver, yellow, violet, and so on…I originally planned on purchasing the Aubergine Originals (a dark, rich purple), but decided on the, well, hunter green. I love my Hunters because they keep my socks and feet dry, and are quite slimming on my legs.  Yippee, bonus!   And they happen to be practical and stylish.  Extra bonus!

TAKING CARE OF YOUR HUNTERS…and that damn white bloom!

After a few wears, Hunters often develop a chalky, white dusting all over them.  According to the Hunter website, the white marks are created through a process called “blooming” in rubber — its protective measure to shield against environmental damage. Ha, I just personified a pair of wellies!  The white marks can appear quite readily in hot or humid weather.

All Hunters are made from 100% natural ingredients and a small amount of wax in the rubber compound.  When the boots are exposed to certain environmental factors (like snow), this wax “blooms” to the surface and appears as the white dust marks.


Try one of these following techniques (personally, I’m partial to using the olive oil):

1.  Wipe “bloom” marks with a clean, warm, damp cloth (1.5 cups of vinegar to 1 cup water).  It’ll be even more effective if you add some white vinegar in it.

2. Use UV Tech, a boot cleaner and conditioner that can be found online (it used to be manufactured by Hunter).

3.  Wipe with warm, soapy water and cloth.

4. Use McNett UV tech cleaner, a boat cleaner. That’s right, BOAT.

5. Put some olive oil on a cloth, and wipe away. (This works for me…but do not get it on the soles, read below for why).

6. Wipe with Armor All products original protectant wipes.

7. Use an oil-based furniture polish.

8.  Use Goo Gone Products.

Try whatever works for your boots…although I’d try to use the chemical-based ones as the last resort!


I’m not sure it’s because of this preventative trick, yet even after a couple years my green Hunter Wellies have yet to bloom (*knock on wood*).  Okay, well, they have had tiny blooms only along those grooves (that look like seams), but I was able to wipe them off with olive-oil.

What I have done and continue to do is spray my boots with a vinegar-water solution after they dry from the outside elements. That’s it. No signs of a bloom attack….yet.


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