design tales by weena and spook
design tales by weena and spook

Keep Out the Ugly!

David and I relocated from NYC to the Cape in late 1991.  Soon after we returned, my grandfather passed away, and when I attended the funeral, sad though I was, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of truly beautiful floral arrangements amongst the typical funerial offerings.  They were such a stand out, and I can attest that I had never seen florals from a local designer that could touch these arrangements.  This was a new voice.

I asked my Aunt about them, and she shared the name of a woman, who was an old family friend to her, and was now creating florals here in Yarmouth Port.  Hmm.

As David and I settled into our new life on the Cape, we made a great friend of a glamourous yet hilarious woman.  She had style to spare, knew how to shop (if perhaps a bit too well in the end), dress, and entertain.  We adored her, and she became a huge part of our getting started in the interior design business in Osterville.  We started out by working for her, but then it segued in a friendship.  The first time we were her dinner guests, we were sitting in her beautifully appointed Living Room, gossiping and chatting about everything from fashion, to restaurants, to who’s zooming who, and I finally thought to ask, “And by the way, who the hell does your flowers?  They are always gorgeous!  It’s starting to piss me off!”  Who else, but the funeral lady.  That was it.  We were meeting this floral designer.

And so it came to pass that I entered the divine Florist Shop in Yarmouth Port on a late Friday afternoon in the Summer of ‘92, and was enchanted not only by the florals, but by the spectacular, forthright, and consummately entertaining person that was the proprietess.  Love at first sight can absolutely happen.  I sat for hours with her, commiserating about the pitfalls of the design business, especially on Cape Cod, and sharing a multitude of design ideas.  Looks we loved, looks we respected but didn’t love, and looks we just thought were garbage born of either laziness or criminal misdirection.  Fifteen minutes in, she picked up the bud vase in front of her, which had a bit of water in it, and swigged down the contents!  She looked at my surprised face and said, “Paul, what can I do?  You used to work with Brides, right?  Wine is essential.  Care to share?”  She had a bottle of wine in the flower fridge tucked behind the hydrangea.  Now I was officially hooked on this Sorceress.  She picked up another bud vase from the shelf above her head, and poured me a gracious portion of my own from the wine bottle.  We raised our vases and toasted to our health and survival!

That day was one of the most special days of my life.  I enjoyed a chance meeting that, in fact, felt more like it was preordained.  I had just met another member of my tribe, and she was fabulous!  

As we were winding up our visit, I shared with her that David and I had just found the most adorable cottage in Osterville that we were renting.  I also shared with her that we were furnishing our new nest from scratch.  We had sold every worldly possession to pay for our passage back from NYC.  I told her how nervous I was about this task of setting up a whole household.  I feared costly mistakes I would almost certainly make.  She, in response, reached out her hand, and patted the back of mine and said, “Don’t worry about it.  It’s simple. Don’t ever bring anything ugly into your home, and your home will never be ugly”.  

Easy as that.  

Perfectly wise advice, especially when you are setting up your first home.  So often in those early days your mixing bowl needs to arrive at the table as a serving bowl, a dish towel doubles as a napkin, a bud vase becomes your wine glass.  Never make a homely purchase, and your surroundings will only be beautiful, nurturing, and fortifying.  

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