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Archive for July, 2007

Lei Lady

Monday, July 30th, 2007

I have a friend—let’s call her Jeannie. Now Jeannie, like many of us, has a hobby. No, she doesn’t collect stamps or write poetry. Jeannie’s hobby is David Cassidy. Cassidy, you may or may not recall, is the former teen heartthrob and member of the 1970’s television singing group The Partridge Family.

Today David Cassidy is 57 years old and appears periodically in performance venues around the country. The songs Cassidy sings may change, as does the location of the concerts, but one thing remains constant: Jeannie is always there for the show. And so is her lei.

About ten years ago Jeannie decided that she would present a flower lei to David Cassidy during each of his performances. And we’re not talking about some inexpensive ring of dried carnations or, heaven forbid, a string of plastic flowers. No, for each concert Jeannie orders a fresh lei made up of the most beautiful and fragrant orchids flown in directly from Hawaii. She first bestowed a lei on Cassidy over ten years ago, and recently traveled across the country to give him #38.

Jeannie always gets excellent seats for these concerts, and so is only a few steps from the stage when it comes time to give her gift. Cassidy for his part is always obliging, bending down so Jeannie can place the lei around his neck. The rewards vary: sometimes Jeannie receives a smile from her idol, while other times she shares a hug or even a kiss with the performer.

Over the years others have tried to imitate Jeannie by coming up with unique items to give to Cassidy. Some have given him an item they knitted or a specific stuffed animal. But so far nothing has caught on except for Jeannie’s leis and she has become something of a minor celebrity, at least among the David Cassidy crowd.

Jeannie has photographs of David Cassidy wearing each of the leis she has given him. She has met with him several times and is on a first name basis with most of his band. She has traveled extensively in order to attend the concerts, which has allowed her to broaden her horizons by seeing parts of the country and meeting people that she would never have known existed. All this because she one day decided to give a necklace of fresh flowers to her musical hero David Cassidy.

Now that’s Flower Power!

floral lei

Scents and sensibility Part 2

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

If you want to make a lasting impression with your gift of flowers, it’s a good idea to follow your nose. Scent is the oldest and most primitive of the senses, directly and inextricably connected to memory in the most basic part of the brain. This explains why the smell of gardenias instantly transports you to your favorite aunt’s house (she always had one or two floating in a bowl) or why a whiff of lavender zips you to that lovely little hotel in Provence. Make a few memories of your own with these beauties:

Lilies: Say “lily” and you’ve said a mouthful. These heady blooms may be trumpet- or star-shaped, demurely scented or knock-out powerful, and appear in a range of colors from purest white to rather lurid purple. In this broad field, a serious standout is the big, white Casablanca. A luscious diva of a lily, it sports star-shaped, hand-span blossoms and while it looks chaste, it packs a positively lascivious perfume. Musky and deep with a whiff of dead-ripe plum, it conjures odalisques and opium dreams. These blooms make a perfect boudoir bouquet – on their own or paired with something suggestive [note: like a Black Magic rose? Another dark, voluptuous bloom? Voluptuous peonies or slinky, sultry, long-legged French tulips – or cleaned up a bit with early spring’s blooming branches! ] they define sultry.

Magnolias: Found among the fossil remains of prehuman history, these enormous blooms are the oldest living flower on earth. The giant alabaster flowers grow quite slowly, so it is unusual to find them in arrangements. More often the glossy, dark-green leaves are used, a florist’s favorite for their dramatic color and shine. The blooms themselves are pungently scented, delivering a powerful wallop of citrus and honey; with these, a single blossom will fill the largest of rooms. But this heady southern belle is only one of many forms of this species. We’ll reveal more about other members of this fragrant family in a later posting.

Scents and Sensibility

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

In the plant world, blossoms get their pollinating done by being the showiest posies around. Bees and other buggy propagators are drawn to the most visible blooms. In the human realm, a bright, striking arrangement is a good way to make a splashy first impression. But if you want your gift to leave a lasting memory, it’s just as wise to follow your nose. Scented flowers give another dimension to floral arrangements, the subtle (or not so), subliminal power of perfume. Don’t know where to start? Sniff these…

Garden roses: While long-stemmed roses are too often called upon to do Cupid’s work, most of these hot-house blooms are as leggy and insipid as a super model. From faintly fragranced to positively scentless, their beauty is merely stem-deep. Meanwhile, their less-flashy and often short-lived cousins – the full-bodied garden roses, are as sweetly perfumed and old-fashioned as the girl next door. These heavy, drowsy blooms waft truly heavenly scents, their fragrances rich with tea and spice and “rose” to the tenth power. A bedside bouquet of these will definitely bring sweet dreams.

Tuberose: These long stems of small, creamy blooms carry a perfume that packs all the charm of a grass-skirted Tahitian maiden. Their scent is heavy, honeyed, tropical – with a vague, curious note of zinc oxide at the end. Potent and delicious, it only takes a couple of stems in an arrangement to perfume an entire room.

Freesia: Freesias come in a delightful array of shades from bridal white to deep, rusty orange and magenta. Growing in delicate sprays of small, tulip-like blossoms, they bring a bright, citrus and honey scent to mixed bouquets – they’re gorgeous paired with roses and lavender. Beware of the mass grown grocery store varieties though – often these have no scent and if they do it might be of sneezie pepper.

More scents and sensibility to come.

The Art of Gift Giving

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

On my list of “Most Romantic Gifts, Ever” the top contender is a small bunch of peach-colored roses, still in their convenience-store plastic sleeve.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly a cheap date – I enjoy luxe goodies as much as the next girl. But this little bunch of flowers had me weak in the knees; not for their value, but for the thought behind this particular bouquet. The roses, a gift from a visiting Italian, were presented to me on the third day of a week-long visit from this fellow. We had met at a friend’s party the year before, and had chatted only briefly.

The following year, Carlo found himself on his way to California and asked if he could see me. I was interested, but I wasn’t sure how much. He wined and dined me on those first two days, and I chalked up his avid attention to generic Italian-male behavior. That is, until day three and the aforementioned posies.

We met before dinner that evening and he presented me with the roses. As we sat sipping our wine, I had a sudden realization -“These roses are the same color as the one I was wearing in my hair when we met”. Carlo looked me right in the eye and said simply, “I know”. And with that, the lightning bolt struck. From that moment, I was totally gaga, a mushy, smitten puddle of goo. This simple act told me that this man had noticed me, really noticed me, and a year later still held our first meeting clearly in his mind.

And that, dear reader, is the first crucial step in the art of gift giving. A good gift tells the recipient that you know them. The ideal present is anything but generic; it reflects the true tastes and interests of the giftee. And in order to find that gift, all you need to do is pay attention. That, or do some expert sleuthing…

To be continued