Week Eighteen: Fresh Pike Place Market Flowers in Waterlogue

Week Eighteen: The Bouquet-a-Week Project

Week Eighteen of the Bouquet-a-Week Project began under a cloud since it also marked the date for my five-year routine colonoscopy procedure.

For anyone who has ever undergone this experience, you know that the preparation is worse than the actual procedure, which takes just half an hour and is performed under “twilight sedation,” which essentially means strong knock-out drugs.

Preparation begins about a week before you go into the hospital, when you are strongly advised to go off any vitamins or supplements that contain Vitamin E, fish oil, or anything else that keeps your blood from clotting. Alive and Ibuprofen are also verboten for the same reason; Tylenol is okay if needed.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Three days before the procedure, you have to stop eating nuts, seeds, and popcorn. Fiber supplements are also off the table (or, more correctly, out of your system). Going off fiber supplements certainly wasn’t a problem, but the other three forbidden items were more problematic, especially since I practically live on nuts and nut butters.

Twenty-four hours before the big procedure, I had to stop eating solid foods entirely. So on Wednesday morning, the 13th of June (aptly named, since it was definitely not my lucky day) I ate my last bite of Dannon Oui Vanilla Yogurt. I had chosen this particular brand of yogurt since it comes in an old-timey glass cup (civilized!) and is especially thick and pleasant-tasting.

I ate the cool, creamy yogurt with a small spoon in tiny bites over 1 1/2 hours. I wanted to make my final tastes of solid food last as long as possible.

From then on, until 7:30 on Thursday morning (two hours before the procedure), I was allowed to consume only a clear liquid diet, things like bouillon, Popsicles, Jell-o, and fruit juices. Caveats included no milk or dairy products and no red or blue-hued liquids, since those colors could mimic blood, confuse the doctor, and negate the test results.

From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., I had to drink two (yes, two!) liters of what I rather derisively refer to as “the solution.”

Said “solution” is officially called Golytely or GaviLyte–a polyethylene glycol and sodium solution. You mix the fine white powder with four liters of water plus a packet of Crystal Light drink mix, shake well, and refrigerate.

“The solution” tastes strongly, and strangely, of salt, rather like diluted Thai fish sauce. The packet of Crystal Light is supposed to mask the bad taste. Trust me, it doesn’t.

From the first cup of “the solution,” the stomach begins to roil and rumble, rife with cramps and spasms. And then the bowel movements begin.

The more you drink, the more you go to the bathroom. And go, and go, and go.

I went to bed that night around 11:30, after my daily dose of the Trevor Noah show. But sleep came slowly as I focused on my turbulent tummy, deciding whether I needed to jump up and run to the bathroom one more time, or whether I could catch a few hours of shut-eye.

My alarm clock was set for 4:15 so I could stumble out of bed and begin drinking the final two liters of “the solution.” Strangely, although I was sleep-deprived and starving, I was almost looking forward to drinking the last two liters of “the solution,” more than ready to finish cleaning out my bowels and head to the hospital to undergo the actual procedure.

I wrote this blog while drinking the final two liters of “the solution.” My writing flowed quickly, as if an invisible hand was guiding my fingers over the keyboard. I stopped briefly every fifteen minutes to drink a cup of  “the solution” until finally. . .mercifully. . .thankfully. . .the giant jug was empty and I could place it in the recycling bin. Victory!

My dear husband drove me to the hospital. I felt dizzy and had a splitting headache, a combination of low blood sugar and dehydration. I felt as though I had been reduced to a bag of blood and bones, a mind and body that  just wanted to get “the procedure” over and done with.

I checked in without incident–thankfully all the paperwork was in order–and the receptionist encircled my left wrist with my patient ID. My husband got his marching orders as well, told to stay in the waiting room and monitor my progress on a color-coded overhead monitor using my secret patient number.

A male nurse prepped me for the procedure. I stripped down to my bra, put a cotton robe over my head, and arranged myself over the sheet-draped gurney with a warm blanket over my body.

The nurse inserted an IV drip into my arm and taped it down. My husband and I waited an hour, making small talk and gazing out the window, before I was wheeled into the operating room.

The doctor introduced herself and we discussed the impending procedure. The nurse attached the monitors and the anesthesiologist began the job of sending me off to dreamland.

The next thing I knew, I was being gently shaken awake by a nurse. I had survived. I was awake. I was alive.

My husband looked as relieved outwardly as I felt inwardly. Soon, the doctor arrived and informed us that my bowels looked normal and I didn’t have to have another colonoscopy for five more years. In addition to that most welcome news, she said I could go home and eat a simple meal.

The point of all of this way-too-graphic reporting on my colonoscopy is that the one bright spot during that otherwise horrible week was when my dear husband brought home a fresh Pike Place Market bouquet for me to play with.

The beautiful blossoms filled my senses and brightened my outlook. For at least a few hours, while arranging the beautiful blossoms, my mind was happy and free.

Afterwards, as I admired the resulting bouquets, I was relieved from the ugliness of sitting in the bathroom, drinking copious amounts of a gag-inducing liquid, and worrying about going to the hospital.

In short–flowers saved me.

Here is that beautiful bouquet–a medley of oranges and purples–that cost my husband all of $15.

Week Eighteen: Fresh Pike Place Market Flowers
Week Eighteen: Fresh Pike Place Market Flowers

And here is the bouquet “painted” in Waterlogue.

Week Eighteen: Fresh Pike Place Market Flowers in Waterlogue
Week Eighteen: Fresh Pike Place Market Flowers in Waterlogue

I knew that a handful of deep-pink peonies, and a single white one, would look scrumptious in one of my favorite vases.

Week Eighteen: White and Deep Pink Peonies in a Purple Terracotta Vase
Week Eighteen: White and Deep Pink Peonies in a Purple Ceramic Vase

I have never used this rustic clay vase, but orange Asiatic lilies and purple-and-yellow irises fit it perfectly.

Week Eighteen: White and Deep-Pink Peonies in a Terracotta Vase
Week Eighteen: White and Deep-Pink Peonies in a Terracotta Vase

This may be my favorite creation from Week Eighteen–pale-pink sweet peas, a single purple sweet pea, and a Perennial Cornflower. I have to admit I was unfamiliar with the latter, but figured out its correct name thanks to the amazing SnapPlant app. If you’re not familiar with this useful tool, you should be. Simply snap a photo of the plant in question and several possibilities pop up on your iPhone or iPad. Choose the correct one, then archive it in your Recent Snaps gallery for future reference.

Week Eighteen: Sweet Peas in a Clear Green Vase
Week Eighteen: Sweet Peas in a Clear Green Vase

An ikebana-inspired design using my favorite “jelly-bean” vase features deep-pink peonies and the above-mentioned Perennial Cornflowers.

Week Eighteen: Deep Pink Peonies and Perennial Cornflowers in the Jelly-Bean Vase
Week Eighteen: Deep Pink Peonies and Perennial Cornflowers in the Jelly-Bean Vase

More of the spiky blue cornflowers look gorgeous in a clear cylindrical vase with gray-glass decorative filler. The vase is lighted from behind with blue candle lights.

Week Eighteen: Spindly Periwinkle-Blue Flowers in a Back-Lighted Clear Vase
Week Eighteen: Spindly Periwinkle-Blue Cornflowers in a Back-Lighted Clear Vase

Here are three small bouquets I made using Shrubby Yellow Crest and irises. I love the color play between the yellow and deep purple flowers.

Week Eighteen: Three Small Bouquets
Week Eighteen: Three Small Bouquets
Week Thirteen: Blue-and-White Striped Vase with Yellow and Orange Tulips

The Bouquet-a-Week Project: Week Thirteen

Week Thirteen was full of firsts–the first time I had worked with Asian lilies during this spring season and the first time I had used two new vases to create my floral bouquets.

It was also the first time I had blown my normal $20-a-week budget. But I couldn’t resist four Asian lilies that cost $4 apiece for a total of $16.

Then I needed a half dozen tulips for additional smaller bouquets. The hand-lettered paper sign above the flower farmer’s stand said that a dozen tulips cost $10, so I figured that if I got half a dozen, I’d just be $1 over budget.

But naughty me. I chose six “double” tulips. So when I handed the farmer a ten-spot, she thanked me and turned her attention back to a bouquet she had been arranging.

When questioned, she explained that the “double” tulips cost twice as much as “regular” tulips. In any case, I knew I would enjoy them and that they would photograph beautifully, then “Waterlogue” well.

Here are the ten stems I purchased that day.

Week Thirteen: Fresh Pike Place Market Flowers
Week Thirteen: Fresh Pike Place Market Flowers

And here are the fresh flowers “painted” in Waterlogue.

Week Thirteen: Fresh Pike Place Market Flowers in Waterlogue
Week Thirteen: Fresh Pike Place Market Flowers in Waterlogue

I got greedy and used all four Asian lilies in the first of two major bouquets I created during Week Thirteen. You’ll note that this is one of the new vases. . .an extremely tall bamboo rectangle with a clear glass cone hidden inside to keep the flowers watered. It worked perfectly with the four long-stemmed orange and pink Asian lilies that I set in opposing corners. Some tall red branches created a dramatic finishing touch.

Week Thirteen: Tall Bamboo Vase with Four Asian Lilies and Red Branches
Week Thirteen: Tall Bamboo Vase with Four Asian Lilies and Red Branches

Here is the other new vase that I admired in a Target advertisement and bought for $9.99. Hand-painted in China, each container is a bit different. I like the way the navy paint drips down through the white stripes. With the addition of three tulips, it almost has a Dutch-painterly, Vermeer-like vibe.

Week Thirteen: Blue-and-White Striped Vase with Yellow and Orange Tulips
Week Thirteen: Blue-and-White Striped Vase with Yellow and Orange Tulips

Here are the three smaller bouquets I designed during Week Thirteen using the remaining three “double” tulips in reddish-orange and bright yellow colors.

Week Thirteen: Three Small Vases with Fiery Reddish-Orange and Yellow Tulips
Week Thirteen: Three Small Vases with Fiery Reddish-Orange and Yellow Tulips

A few days later, after the Asian lilies had opened into their full glory, I reshot them in the bamboo vase.

Week Thirteen: Four Lilies in a Bamboo Vase Version 2
Week Thirteen: Four Lilies in a Bamboo Vase Version 2

Then I removed the bamboo exterior and pulled out the glass conical vase inside and rearranged three of the blossoms.

Week Thirteen: Three Lilies in a Clear Glass Vase with a Red Branch
Week Thirteen: Three Lilies in a Clear Glass Vase with a Red Branch

I positioned the remaining pale-pink lily, which was positively bursting with blooms, in my favorite robin’s-egg blue curving vase along with a trio of pussy willows and greenery. Here’s that gorgeous shot in Waterlogue.

Week Thirteen: One Pink Lily in a Curved Pale Blue Vase
Week Thirteen: One Pink Lily in a Curved Pale Blue Vase