Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Baby's Breath and Bleeding Fingers

I met Lauren this winter, when she interviewed me for this sweet story on the All Over Albany blog. We liked each other a lot, right away - I was a mess, in the middle of moving out of my lovely old studio, and I'd set up a false tableau of flowers as though my apartment was consistently full of blooms, when in fact absolutely everything the camera didn't reach was dust bunnies and boxes.

And Lauren was really kind and enthusiastic, allowing the interview to be super-loose. I didn't know what I was selling (I still don't?) or how, and I basically wanted to talk about the evolution and interest behind Flower Scout without committing myself to being any one kind of business. TERROR OF COMMITMENT.

. . . but that's for another post.

So when she asked if I'd help with her upcoming wedding, I was really pleased, in a pay-it-forwardy way. She was so organized - the perfect client - with a list of what was needed and printed photos for inspiration, but an attitude of general acceptance and flexibility. A kind of, "Here's what I love, but I love what you do; let's do this together." Which is perfect for me.

So last Friday she got married to George, who was my CSA member last summer and also so on top of everything on Friday morning, at Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont. It was a mindblowingly gorgeous day, but hot. Really hot. Flower-danger-hot.

The peonies I'd harvested and tucked in a fridge two weeks ago looked really good. But when you blew on them, or even looked at them, they shed their petals in a big dramatic heap. The blueberry branches I frantically harvested the day before the wedding were tough, but politely expressing their discomfort. And the hydrangeas, after a minute, were like NO f*cking way.

Part of Lauren's vision incorporated lots and lots of baby's breath, or gypsophilia. Which I don't grow and can't scavenge, no matter how much I thought about it, trying to approximate its fluffiness with wilder things. So I bought a ton from a distributor in Albany, which meant that it traveled a fairly great distance. Sometimes these things happen. And then, at the very last minute, a local farmer sold me something he didn't know the name of, which turned out to be a beautiful larger-flowered version of gypsophilia. !!! The universe points the way.

I don't have many photos of the set-up, so I'll share more when the professionals roll in. But suffice it to say that it took me a long time to fill these twelve hefty boxes with baby's breath - like hours - and that I learned something from that. And suffice it ALSO to say that I cut my fingers FOUR TIMES while doing so. Scissors, knife, wooden box: many things are sharp.

After the first slice, when I sheepishly asked the ladies at the farm store for a band-aid and they scowlingly shoved a first aid kit at me, I didn't dare ask again. So as I finished, with the wind blowing the tablecloths wildly and the sun threatening the hydrangeas and the clock ticking down on this beautiful wedding, I rotated between carrying boxes full of flowers, sucking my bleeding fingers, sweeping up fallen petals, worrying the peonies meant for the cake, and sucking my fingers again. When it was all over I crawled into bed like a baby. But first I made a list of what I'd learned. A very valuable list!

Thank you, thank you, Lauren & George!

photo stolen from their too-cute facebook

 sayonara peony season. until next year.

Monday, June 9, 2014


When I met Mary Elise six years ago, she was sitting by a bonfire, embroidering a replica of her friend's chest hair, plus detailed nipples, onto a white T-shirt. I knew immediately that she was my kind of girl.

A few years later, I got to step inside her bear yurt, a large dome filled with flannel, plush organs, thermoses of whiskey, and Mary Elise herself, donning a full red union suit, wielding an axe. 

When she moved to Seattle for a time, she sent me a set of paper dolls of herself: in her museum guard's uniform, or in a date-ready outfit, with her trusty dog Hawkeye in paper form beside.

But recently, all of that over-blossoming creative spark has been turned to one giant installation project: her own wedding. Get this:Mary Elise hand-embroidered every RSVP card. She made the beer herself, then hand-drew the labels. Walls and tables were covered with perfect little wood-and-paper arrows. There was a photobooth with a backdrop of a half-painted paint-by-numbers set, and handmade fox masks to wear in it. Marquee lighting (also made by hand) spelled out YOU & ME. The ceiling was covered with macrame and yarn; a giant woven rope backdrop made the altar; the tables were covered with antlers, moss, candles, and terrariums.

And I got to do the flowers.

This is by far the most fun project I've tackled yet. It's a great time of year for yellows, oranges, pale pinks and white, and Mary Elise gave me a pretty open hand to use whatever I thought might be beautiful.

So I collected flowers all week, trying to keep them cool and calm in the midst of a heat wave, put together the handheld bouquets on Friday night, and tucked them into the refrigerator to rest. Then, after some stops to steal ... ahem, florage ... roses and roadside daises on Saturday morning, I blanketed the barn with flowers.

And then I bought a dress, took a shower, and went to the most fun wedding ever.

This is a summer of weddings, and this was a very hard week for me. I can't tell you how redemptive and reconnecting and hopeful and f*cking magical it felt to play with flowers.

RIGHT TRACK, PEOPLE! I think I'm on the right track.
 Oh, and I got to meet that friend who's chest hair replica I met all those summers ago.

Total goodness.

*unbelievably glam photos courtesy of Bryer Photography

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Field Trip

To the Farm at World's End. This is Nea.

This is Sarah, and Blondie, and Poochie. Blondie did not like me. Sheep didn't care.

We planted some rows of foxglove, also known as digitalis, which I learned is useful for the heart. The soil is rocky; rain came the following day. It felt like a dream of the future.

. . .you know, I don't even want to tell you about this. This is like a little secret carved into my sort of sad Monday, and it was comforting and hopeful, so you can just look at the photos. And go see Sarah's farm blog, here.

See you soon,