Tag Archives: Relationships

The language of flowers

I have always had a general reluctance towards flowers. Not so much an aversion as a mistrust. Very possibly it comes from the fact that they purport to send one message, but oftentimes end up sending another. I mean, there are books on flowers and their meanings. A black locust, for example, means platonic love. A buttercup; wealth, a daisy; innocence; a rose; love, desire, passion.   But do you think people nowadays have any inkling what they are sending? Highly doubtful. In all likelihood it’s not so much that I dislike flowers as that I have always poorly  understood human nature to the point of knowing that someone may say one thing but mean another. Seriously. Most women know by a certain point in their life that a flower isn’t just a flower, but rather, a symbol with some message attached. And unfortunately, that message isn’t always the cute, flowery one that FTD would have you believe. Couple that with some pretty traumatizing associations to flowers and you have a recipe for dismay.

For starters, my grandmother died when I was 14. She was obsessed with flowers and so, prior to her death, she arranged to have a gazillion flowers at her funeral. There were daisies and tiger lilies and begonias and whatever else, and the whole funeral parlor was popping with yellow. I loved my grandmother dearly, but the smell of all those flowers paired with the smell of embalming fluid? Not good. For years every time I walked into a florist’s shop I thought of death.

Then there was high school. Every February there was a carnation sale. And depending on how much money your parents gave you, whom you were dating at the time and how many friends you had, you could buy carnations till all three ran out–friends, sweethearts and parent’s money. Then, on Valentine’s day, the teachers during homeroom would call out your name and you’d go up to the front desk, where everyone would see you, and you’d collect your carnation. Most of us received one, maybe two carnations with a little note attached that generally said something like “BFF,” and that would be the end of it. But then, there were the popular people. The cheerleaders. The football players. The jocks. The preps. They’d get some ridiculous amount of carnations, somewhere upward of twenty or so. And you’d have to watch them all day, carrying these carnations around, struggling down the hallway, fidgeting with them in class. Of course, they never put the damn things in their lockers. No. It wasn’t that easy. These people rubbed your nose in it. Literally. You didn’t just brush elbows with classmates in a crammed hallway on V-day. You had carnations smashed into your face. Oops. Sorry my forty-seven carnations just whacked you in the head. All this, to the point where you found yourself sneaking around the gym locker room or looking in trashcans for discarded carnations to claim as your own. Who can get over that level of trauma? I didn’t. To this day, any time I see someone giving out carnations on the side of the road or something, I want to ram my vehicle into their plastic bucket and drive off.

Thankfully, I was able to recover from my botanical complex, if only for a short while. But, it was only a matter of time before I too, hater of anything with a stem or a bud, fell victim to that ancient and perennial commercialism of love, which states that if you do not receive a flower from a man, you have no worth.  My life changed at this point. I suddenly adored flowers. Not so much for their beauty as their ability to define me. And most likely because I’d never received any. And by the time I hit my twenties I felt I was something of a freak. If society validated a woman by the flowers she received, I must have been an alien.

Until S.

I was 22 and dating this Air Force police officer named S when I lived in Greenland. We had fallen in love, and despite my leaving to return home, we remained in touch. For my birthday he sent a dozen yellow roses. They were stunning. Everything I had imaged they’d be. It was the first time I’d ever received flowers. And I probably have every petal saved in a box somewhere up in my attic, that’s how amazed I was at the idea of flowers.

He drifted into the past, of course, but his flowers were possibly the last I’d see in a really  long time.

Throughout my first marriage I only received one bouquet of roses from my ex-husband. He never bought me flowers for anything. Not Christmas. Not Mother’s day. Not any holiday whatsoever. Not even on the days I gave birth to either son, or the day I graduated with high honors from Rutgers University, after 16 years of trying. I don’t believe he even gave me flowers when my father died. Like I said, I only received one bouquet from him. Back in 1999, when I was about four months pregnant with my second child, I found out quite to my dismay, that he had sent some girl down in Georgia a dozen white roses. It would be the first of many more, ahem, awkward moments in our marriage. Truth be told, I was most annoyed that he sent a strange woman flowers and had never given me so much as a dandelion. Anyway, shortly after this, I came home one day to my own bouquet. Out of guilt or embarrassment, who knows, he had sent me the clichéd dozen red roses that I still affectionately refer to as the “I fucked up” bouquet. I can still remember throwing those things out long before they died on their own.

After the dissolution of my marriage, flowers sent to me took a continued downward spiral. In fact, they became downright insulting. There were the occasional carnations wrapped in plastic from Wawa that my dad or boyfriend G would pick up out of obligation on days like Valentine’s day or my birthday. No card attached. There was the “I’ve been neglecting you to go party with friends” flower from S. It was a lily (isn’t that the flower of DEATH?). I planted it in my front yard and the squirrels ate it. And finally, there was the “we just started fucking and I want to move out of my parents house and in with you” roses from M, which, admittedly, were quite beautiful. Yet, they came with such onus that every time I looked at them I couldn’t help but wonder if they were an omen of impending doom.

The truth is, my history with flowers (and men) had been grim. Until D.

I won’t go into detail but I fell in love with D in winter. When I was the most alone I had ever been and yet, strangely, the happiest. A time in my life when, for the first time ever,  I wasn’t looking for hidden messages in flowers nor having (unrealistic) expectations about the men giving them. In fact, I very specifically told D a month into our relationship, “Don’t bother with flowers. I don’t like them.” And so, when our first Valentine’s day rolled around, a holiday I typically try to ignore, I played it off and made other plans.   OK, well, it was easy. It was a week day and he was working. At any rate, I went into the city by myself and walked and walked and walked down Pine and Spruce and then over to Walnut to revisit a few of my favorite antique shops. I bought a little vintage tin sign for the bathroom.  I had tabouli at Sahara’s. And I strolled around looking at windows and doors, which I love to do. I thought of virtually nothing all day except maybe the temperature and how cold it got after a few days of unseasonably warm weather. And, when I got home, sitting on my front porch step, there were flowers.

There were twelve red roses (no, not long stem. These babies were cut), encircling a spray of extraordinarily green tiny buds, which rested upon the lip of a cylindrical glass vase with smooth, black pond stones at the bottom.  I brought them inside and sat them on my countertop and I stared at them for a good 10 minutes. I breathed them in.  I walked around them. I determined that I liked them. A lot.

And then, I actually found them to be quite beautiful.

I opened the notecard. Of course they were from D. And he had scribbled—in his own handwriting—this little “xo” on the card. Just that. Nothing more. No “I’m sorry,” or “Last night was great,” or “I’m giving these to you because if I don’t, you’ll think I’m lazy and cheap.”  Just “xo.” It was possibly the purest, plainest, most direct language of affection I had ever received from a flower, or a man, in a lifetime. A bouquet that actually came with the message it intended.

How rare.

I can’t say me and flowers will ever have the kind of relationship that say, Georgia O’Keeffe has with flowers, but I can say, I’m no longer opposed to them. D and I have been together 9 years this January, and while he doesn’t buy me flowers as much anymore, his steadfast love and the memories of those early bouquets mean far more than the actual flowers of which they were made. Real love, I’ve learned, isn’t complicated. It doesn’t die on the vine or send unintended messages. It just is.  Umberto Eco wrote, “the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meanings that by now it hardly has any meaning left.” And I suppose that’s true. But like I said, it’s what’s behind the flower; both in the giver and the receiver. It is this that speaks more loudly than anything. It is the underlying current of love, or lack thereof that can wilt a daisy, or make it bloom eternally.

Take it personally!

Need a great gift idea? How about dinner for two prepared in your home by a personal chef.

As some of you may know (despite my public displays of affection for my lovely boyfriend, D) I am not very romantic. I hate the idea of Valentine’s day, I think celebrating anniversaries is kinda lame, and I rarely make any requests for candlelight dinners, flowers or chocolate. But I do love giving and receiving  unique gifts.

And so, the other week, I was trying to come up with a gift for D– whether we celebrate or not, I still wanted to do something special for our three-year anniversary. That’s when Fran Davis popped up on my Facebook newsfeed with the idea of hiring a personal chef to prepare dinner for two. Bingo. I hate cooking, but love to eat healthy so I chose my menu items (she had a few to choose from) and I hired her.

Personal Chef Fran Davis, of The Flavorful Fork

On Friday, she arrived at 4ish with all her cooking supplies, including her own pans, knives, spices,  and towels for clean up. I think she even brought her own sponge! Anyway, as she cooked (in my kitchen), I was able to finish up some work and then pad around the house, doing virtually nothing. Actually, I kinda felt like a lazy, pampered (spoiled) bourgeois housewife. But we chatted and laughed and I was amazed at how well she was able to not only cook this amazing meal, but socialize as well. I think if I had her job, I would have been more like, “OK, don’t talk to me, and get out of the kitchen!” Who knows, maybe inside that’s how she felt. Truth is, she seemed very at home and comfortable.

So, D came home around 5:30.  Fran had also brought over a bottle of Spanish red for us, so we started drinking that. I set the table, lit a candle (why not) and by 5:45 dinner was served.

Our first course was a mango and avocado salad with mango dressing (I still have the dressing in my fridge and keep putting it on everything), after that she served Parmesan-Herb Crusted Tilapia, served with mashed yams (I believe she threw a little sage into the yams too). This main course was so amazingly good that it made me believe I was eating at Le Bec Fin. Tres gourmet. To think that something that delicious can be made in my kitchen is a bit of a shocker. That was always my excuse as to why I never cooked. I didn’t think my kitchen was capable of it. Then again, there was that time that Natalie made that amazing risotto. Now, I guess, I have no excuse.

But back to Fran, our final course was a pear-cranberry fruit crumble for dessert with a scoop of coconut ice cream. Dear Lord! I think I gained 10 pounds in two hours. But it was completely worth it. By that point, D and I were both in our respective food comas and I don’t even remember Fran cleaning up. The next thing I remember was hugging her goodbye and dreaming up a future event where her services could again, be put to good use. Maybe a tapas party in the new house? Just to make sure the new kitchen is capable of serving up fabulous faire? Definitely food for thought.

As for my lack of enthusiasm for romance, I guess I’m not entirely averse to it. But I would still not say that the night was romantic. It’s kind of hard to be all shmoopy in the presence of a friend who’s cooking in your kitchen. But it was definitely a positive, unique experience. And that’s what I liked about it. I could feel pampered for the night and in my book, any time I don’t have to cook, it’s a good thing! I will definitely be calling Fran again. And I hope this inspires others to do the same! She can be reached at The Flavorful Fork dot com.

Life goes on…

It’s been a while since I’ve written, why with all the changes that have occurred recently and all, I simply haven’t had the time or the inclination to sit down and write. I have also been putting a lot more focus on my other blogs, and so this one has somewhat fallen by the wayside.

But aside from the big news in my life that D and I now live together, the bigger news is that the world didn’t end on May 21st and…better yet… we’re still not paying the price for our unraptured souls.

In fact, D and I have been  celebrating. Not the end of the world, but the beginning of ours. We finally went out last night (sans kids) into the city. We talked about sex and confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Mine, of course, always a little deeper and darker. We ate tuna tartar, halibut and octopus, margaritas and martinis. And stared up at the high domed ceiling of the Ritz Carlton which was glowing pink with lights from the bar. Nothing compares to a warm night in Philly, dinner and a pear martini  at 10Arts, and then hobbling along tipsily on heels across Broad, down Walnut, and zooming back over the bridge towards home with the top down…

On the way home we  talked about a trip to Sedona for his birthday. There’s a spa out there to die for called Enchantment Resort. It’s booked and we simply cannot wait. Oh the desert. It’s calling me. In fact, I hope our desert adventure reawakens my desire to write. I’ve been so lazy lately!

The day after we actually went back into the city to have lunch at Beau Monde for some stuffed crepes and champagne. Walked around. Got coffee at a little indie place off South Street and then headed home. End of fantasy; back to reality. And reality lately has been a little tough on me, why with all the newness of my new life. All the new dynamics in my household. I can only hope that I adapt to the change as easily as I used to. With weekends like this, all things are possible. I have hope. I am excited about the future.

This is the thing about the end of the world. Despite there being a future, we die every day. And every day  we are reborn. It’s a solo journey, despite having someone along for the ride.

Sexy Montreal-Updated

Photo of old Montreal

The last time I was in Montreal I was 20. I went to visit five of my favorite guy friends whom I’d met the previous summer in Wildwood working at the T-shirt shops that lined the boardwalk– they were guys who lived in Montreal, but worked during the summer at the Jersey shore. When they invited me, in the fall of ’88,  I couldn’t say no. I booked a Greyhound bus, cut all my classes and fled the country.  Once there, I was entertained daily– all expenses paid– shopping, meals out, sexy hook-ups, and every night a new, trendy disco or bar like the Metropolis, Pow-Wow or Peel Pub. We hung out at McGill University, smoked Cuban cigars (real ones) and drank ourselves silly.

So, when D mentioned a long weekend in Montreal, I was game.

But this time, things would be a little different. Instead of crazy, twentysomething drunken fun with five guy friends, this time it would be sophistication and love with one man. Add a spa, a Russian restaurant and maybe even a little something fringe, and well…You get the idea.

Here are some of mine and D’s plans…

1. First things first— the hotel. A Suite with French doors separating bedroom from living area and view of the street. D chose Le Saint Sulpice, whose name coincidentally is the same as a little Parisian cafe I used to frequent on my way to school.

UPDATE: Le Saint Sulpice was everything I hoped it would be. Service was friendly, room was big and cozy. We even lit a fire and candles. Shower was huge. Everything was immaculate. And decor was pure five-star.

2. The spa— We’re booked at Scandinave, Les Bains for hot stone massages. But too bad we’ll have to pass on this one. Studio Beaute du Monde is Montreal’s only traditional Hamman. Maybe next time.

UPDATE: I’m glad we didn’t pass on this place. But I need to make a clarification. This was more of a bath house or thermal spa than a traditional spa as there are no extended beauty treatments. You merely use the pools, sauna and steam room as relaxation and energy therapy; and then after, you can choose from a hot stone massage or a swedish massage. By accident, I got the hot stone and D got the swedish (it should have been reversed). I didn’t think a hot stone massage was anything more than clever marketing, and for the most part, I still believe that. But Brigitte was an incredible masseuse and I ended up falling asleep on the table.

3. Food— There’s a nice little oyster bar and bistro on the St. Lawrence River called Narcisse. We’ve made reservation there. But for some strange reason, I have a craving for Russian. Could it be because of my old friend Vladimir Ostrovski who was from Russia, moved to Montreal, then became a masseuse in Isreal? Who knows. But check out Troika. Looks very Dostoevsky. IzyskannyǏ

UPDATE: We never made it to Narcisse. They had too many eccentric menu items and I was really in the mood for something a little more down to earth. Besides, the atmosphere was cold and contemporary and we were up for warm and cozy. So, we chose Galianos instead. Atmosphere was great, service was outstanding, but the food was only OK. Rustic, Italian pasta dishes and heavy meals like chicken parm made it seem more like an Olive Garden instead. Then again, I think we’re both kinda burnt out on Italian.

As for Troika, it was not what I expected, and yet, it wasn’t half bad. The experience turned out to be something uniquely quirky. There was only one small, no frills dining room with Greek diner-style mirrored paneling. Red velvet booths around the perimeter. And a disco ball hanging loosely from the ceiling, throwing out light dots on all our faces. We sat next to an old Yiddish  family  who were drinking vodkas and wine and singing along with the violinist who played Russian and, I’m assuming, Baltic tunes from the old days; music these folks probably grew up with. At any rate, we waiting a very long time for the food. It almost seemed as if we were dining along with everyone else and had to wait for the others to finish their appetizers before they’d serve us our main plates. D had chicken and I had some pasta dish with salmon and caviar. I washed it down with a vodka and felt satisfied with my Russian experience.

4. Fun— What better way to experience sexy Montreal than stopping by (Don’t click this link with the kids aroundChez Parée with a few dollar bills in our hand?

UPDATE: Chez Paree was a big disappointment. All the girls looked like something from Jersey Shore; our drinks were watered down too. We bailed out early and went back to the hotel for some of our own sexiness. Ahhh…much better!

5. Shopping— As if all that weren’t enough…there’s shopping.  Sexy lingerie at Deuxième Peau. market shopping at Le Faubourg. And, of course, designer apparel on Ste-Catherine and Saint Laurent Streets. This place might just force me to start using my credit cards.

UPDATE: Never made it to the lingerie shops, but walked down St. Catherine’s Street (under construction) and into Eaton shopping mall. As I had feared there was nothing more than typical American mall stores– DKNY, Fossil, GAP, Marc Jacob, Zara, etc. etc. The most interesting shops were those on the opposite side of the street with kitchy tourist crap from Canada’s Inuit country. But sadly you had to weed through the furry Alpaca sweaters with airbrushed wolves and Indians on them to get to the good stuff. Who buys those things anyway?

Confession Mondays: Sex obsessed

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with sex. Based on my last post it seems I shift from one extreme to the other. It’s got to be the beach and the fact that I see D all day long but can’t touch him (too many kids around, too many adults around, etc.). What an unappeasable temptation. Not to mention the fact that I’m probably on the hormonally insatiable side this week (was that a paralypsis?)

Coffee, wine & sex

I told D he was not allowed over for at least two days. I really need to recuperate. I have once again started up with my coffee binge (that’s two espressos a day instead of my usual one). That’s not good in itself as it leads to dizziness. But then when I go and add alcohol and sex to the mix (and lack of sleep) it becomes lethal. It’s only a matter of time before I run myself into the ground. I actually left Kelly’s class twice this morning because of dizziness. I thought I was going to pass out or die.

She talked about “balance” in class today, about the importance of balance and how your mind, not just your physical body, needs to work extremely hard to achieve physical balance. When I start eating junk and drinking excessive amounts of coffee, I am truly upsetting the balance. Mind, body, spirit; all of them are affected. I need to pull back, rest, and reset my mind to focus on balance.

I’m currently reading: “Buddhism for the West.” It’s a rather old book and smells horribly old too. But it’s good. It talks about clasping your hands together to pray or bow. How that symbolizes the “coexistence of two inseparable worlds…two aspects of one Cosmic life.” I liked that. It leads me to believe that the strife, imbalance and addiction, at times, inside me, belongs there, but can be quelled and coexist with the more peaceful side of who I am.

From Spain to Morocco…

So…my little dream may come true after all. The one I’ve had since 1991. D and I have been tossing around the idea of going to Morocco next summer. I’ll fly to Madrid with my kids to stay with my in-laws for a few weeks. D will fly over at a later date and together, we will take the trek down to Granada by train and then over into Morocco. There’s still a few holes in the plan, missing hotels etc. But basically, this is the beginning of a great adventure. Check back for updates and added plans:

Madrid – Granada – Algeciras– Tanger – Fes – Merzouga – Marrakech – Tangers – Algeciras– Madrid

Day 1
• August 18, 2010

Day 2
Madrid to Granada (5.5 hours, train)
• August 19, 2010 

Hotel Casa Morisca Cuesta de la Victoria, 9
18010 – Granada España
tel. +34 958 221100 / -609 817859
fax +34 958 215796
info@hotelcasamorisca.com  — 1 double bed with sitting room and 15th. century coloured wooden ceiling and jacuzzi-bath. [Price: 198 € – 150€ ]
• Los Baños Arabes
• Flamenco show

Day 3
Granada to Algeciras (3.5 hours, bus) –
Algeciras to Tangiers (30 minutes, ferry) –
Tangiers to Fes (5 hours, train)
• August 20, 2010
Ryad Laaroussa (Green Room, 220 Euros), 3 Derb Bechara, Fes-Medina, Morocco. Tel.: +212 6 74 18 76 39

Day 4
Fes to Merzouga (10 hours, 4×4)
• August 21, 2010
Hôtel Kasbah Kanz Erremal | Adresse : B.P:12 Merzouga 52202- Maroc 
Tel: (00212)35578482 | Fax: (00212)35577265 | GSM: (00212)66039178 | Email: info@kanzerremal.com,

Day 5
• August 22, 2010
Hôtel Kasbah Kanz Erremal | Adresse : B.P:12 Merzouga 52202- Maroc 
Tel: (00212)35578482 | Fax: (00212)35577265 | GSM: (00212)66039178 | Email: info@kanzerremal.com
• Camel rides
• Pool
• Hike to desert

Day 6
Merzouga to Marrakech (12 hours, 4×4)
• August 23, 2010
Hotel Riyad el Cadi, 86/87 Derb Moulay Abdelkader
B.P. 101
40000 Marrakech-MédinaTel.: +212 524 378 655
Tel.: +212 524 378 098
Fax: +212 524 378 478 INFO@RIYADELCADI.COM

Day 7
• August 24, 2010
Hotel Riyad el Cadi, 86/87 Derb Moulay Abdelkader
B.P. 101
40000 Marrakech-MédinaTel.: +212 524 378 655
Tel.: +212 524 378 098
Fax: +212 524 378 478 INFO@RIYADELCADI.COM. You cannot reach this riad by car. You need to get there via a ten minute walk. Here’s a cute video on the arrival.
• Medina
• Majorelle Garden (Jardin Majorelle)
• Jemaa el Fna
• Les Bains de Marrakech
• Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret

Day 8
Marrakech to Tangiers (11 hours, train)
• August 25, 2010

• Hotel –or-
• Tangiers to Algeciras (30 minutes, ferry)
• Hotel

Day 9
Algeciras to Madrid (5.5 hours, train)
• August 26, 2010

Day 10
• August 27, 2010

• Plaza Mayor
• Puerta del Sol

Day 11
Madrid to Philadelphia
• August 28, 2010

• Home