Friday, November 18, 2011

Jane Austen and the Marines

With Dr. Motes having been Dr. Motes at the World Orchid Conference and now hunting orchids in Borneo, left alone at home I've pretty much gone to the dogs. I not only watched Fast and Dangerous(Pt III or IV?)) but actually recorded it, as though it were the History of Prohibition. (Note: Ladies, it's fun and there's no torture.)
But then came Netflix with Jane Eyre and we were off on the Heritage trail, land of my fathers. The great house, the starched aprons: the Bronte sisters like Jane Austen, always hit the spot. Their heroines fascinate us, like the military does. Most are basically an army of one: Honor, Duty, Sacrifice, and, unlike the fate of many in the military, it all works out wonderfully in the end.
Back in the mists of time when I was at school, we all stood up, silent when a teacher came into the class room. We all stood up, silent, when the Head Girl came in. (One year, that was me - there's a blog right there.) If we were seen in the street without our hats or berets we served a detention. We wore uniforms and ties. In fact, when Duska and Mirka, my Yugoslav penpals, came one summer term and attended assembly, as they surveyed the uniforms, the po-faced ranks belting out martial hymns, they asked: "Then you learn like us first aid and the rifle?"

So I don't think we are glorifying the military, as some fear (though can't we get rid of that creepy word Homeland?) I think it's a nostalgia for the lost world of order and formality, the world of make your bed and shine your shoes, elbows off the table and, for goodness sake, child, stand up straight.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orchid Wifery

It seemed a good idea: three boxes under the blog: Did you find this: Interesting, Funny, Useful? Feed back! But they mostly remain empty. Apparently I am NOT Funny, NOT interesting and NOT useful. Oh really? Then you can all just blog off!

But that's not the mood that leads to Funny, Interesting or Useful blogs. "Vanda Motesiana -Who's your Daddy?" seemed popular. But that was a tricky one: Dr. Motes, orchid breeder/scholar, serious stuff. Problem is I want to be funny. Writing Orchid Territory was OK- Fiction! Though too many people seemed to think that I was hard-drinking, mean old Aunt Charlotte.
Right now, Dr. Motes is preparing to leave for Singapore, the next World Orchid Conference - invited speaker. So no joke material there, at least we hope not.

Maybe I could try a Do's and Don'ts of being an Orchid Wife? ( Note:These Don'ts in fact only apply to me.)
When accompanying the visiting speaker to San Diego, Chicago etc. DO NOT reveal as I once did that Dr. Motes' elegant suede jacket cost 50 cents at the Florida City Swap Meet. Ditto when complimented on one's necklace, silk shirt or Hermes silk scarf ("Only 25 cents but see? A little blurry. Obviously someone washed it in hot water!")
As Dr Motes reminds me, the whole point of bargains is that they don't LOOK like bargains:i e. they don't elicit the reaction: "Aha, that's a great fifty cents worth, right there on Dr Motes!"
(Though as I like to point out, especially to Dr. Motes, it was the 25 and 50 cent spending sprees of yore, that enabled Motes Orchids to spend hundreds of dollars on PVC pipe and other essentials. Back then, if that jacket had been two dollars I would probably have left it in the pile.)

DO NOT critique sleeping arrangements. These orchid-loving hosts open their houses, hearts and bedrooms to us and it is unseemly to exclaim: "Call THAT a double bed?" Once, trying to hold on to my side of a narrow, sloping mattress, I gave up and tiptoed into the neighboring room with a large crib set up for visiting grandchildren, big enough for me to curl up in desperate, 2 AM mode -but almost entangled myself in the warning device alerting parents to crib catastrophes. I pulled wires free in the dark but the next morning could not find out how to reset them. For a long time, quite a few days, I could see the next visiting grandchild getting their head caught unheeded in the bars....How could I explain why I de-activated a crib's early warning system? I didn't call. When I'm lined up outside the pearly gates that will definitely be one point I don't have a good answer for.

Of course, it's usually quite the opposite. Shown to a spacious bedroom with gleaming, antique furniture, door leading to own bathroom, fluffy towels... when the gracious hostess asks Will this do? DO NOT catch Dr. Motes' eye and laugh, while describing our little old wooden house with no AC. Just exclaim merrily, "No mint on the pillow so only three stars for you!"

Well, this may not be very Interesting, Useful or Funny, but go on, just this once, pretend.