I’ve learned to expect that things will be harder to do than they seem. Even with that expectation, I can be surprised. Preparations for my part of our 28th anniversary have provided me with such a surprise.

Listening carefully was a lesson learned long ago. The longer you let people talk the more they will tell you. It has been a tool used effectively by spies; I have oft used it to find out what my bride might want for a gift. Unfortunately, not every gift is appropriate for every occasion so years ago, when I found that someone in the celebration business had come up with a socially accepted list of gift categories to match wedding anniversaries, I felt the Anniversary Gods had favored me with a gift for buying gifts.

I breezed through the years content to know that each anniversary I would have an acceptable base from which to begin my hunt for the proper present. Then came the shock. At 20 the list jumps to five year intervals. I was on my own.

But, thanks be to Google, I found another list. It did have a disclaimer that the blanks it was about to fill in for me were “good ideas,” but did not carry with them the historical acceptance of that first list. Caveat emptor. For 28 on the gift from Olympus it said nothing. The suggestion list said “Orchid.”

Because I guess the author knew that Orchids were a pain in the ass to keep a live, the suggestion list went on to say things of orchid color and/or jewelry of purple stones were acceptable. Given the budget of a retiree, I knew immediately stones were going to be a challenge. Then things began to fall into place. For the hell-of-it, I googled orchid and found a service I had never heard of but of course everyone younger than 30 down to my 8 year old grand daughter probably had. It sells the rights to pictures and sure enough I found a beautiful picture of an orchid spray with a beautiful inscription on it by Confucius. I was tickled purple…until I tried to get it off the web and found myself turning purple with frustration.

So I called and while it took three shots, I did find someone whose accent I could understand and who had the gift of simple explanation. I was so thrilled when my picture showed up I sent her boss a thank you letter about her skills. 

Having tasted success, and being an Amazon junkie, I decided to see what my “Prime” options were. They were plentiful–too plentiful. Somehow though, through dumb luck I found a poem written by some love-struck Middle Easterner using an orchid metaphor to extol his wife.

“Wow! Would that be great if I could frame the photo with the poem?!?” I went to my long-time friendly framer who said, “Great but…..”Do you really want this pretty picture printed on plain paper? (I heard “dummy!” in there somewhere, but it was unspoken…). Let me run it off on shiny Kodak photo paper. And that idea of cutting the poem up and putting three graphs on top and two below the picture…. ?She went on, “…..nah…..” I thought I heard “dummy” in there again. So I said, “Look, you’re the artist. If I could do this I wouldn’t be standing here. You know us both and our taste.  Do it. All I ask is that it be done by Saturday.” Deal.

But then doubt set in. For 28 years is a picture and poem enough? Shouldn’t I check out purple jewelry. So I did.  What I could afford would have looked great in the ears of a 3 year old. What I couldn’t afford would have looked great in the ears of Melania Trump. Ixnay on that idea. I learned early in my marriage, and not just from my wife, that it isn’t that its jewelry that counts, its appropriate looking jewelry and a three year old’s earrings on a 28th anniversary set of ears…bad idea.

In the interim, I had contacted our daughter. She thought her photographer might have some frame-able orchid pictures. She did. For the hell of it I said, “Price’m out.” They were more expensive than the ear rings that would have looked good on Melania. And the ear rings I could afford? She ever so gently indicated that she “didn’t think they were for mom.” Sweet kid.

Every Friday, the Jewish Shabbat, I buy my wife flowers. So during this treasure hunt, I go in for my weekly roses and what do I see hanging from posts? These incredible wild orchid plants with roots hanging down. I learn that if you hang them on a tree the roots bond with the tree trunk and the tree takes over  the annoying job of trying to keep them alive. Hmmmmmmmmm….how neat would that be? But would Florida’s loathsome lizards eat them? I still wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be on the gift package.

Off to the mall I go in search of the fancy stationary store that had been there for years. Surely it would have note cards or such with Orchids on them. It might have had it still be there. Soooooooooooo….

Back to Amazon I go to find the store but not the cards. However I did find this mom and pop company that produces limited edition note paper and stationary and, thank you lord, they had two different kinds that featured orchids. I hit “order with one click” and was very happy–until they didn’t arrive.

Or so I thought. I was panicky so I emailed the company. They told me that had strict orders from Amazon. Customers must call Amazon. So I called customer service who immediately sent me two more boxes that did arrive–the day before my wife pointed out this thick envelope had arrived that she had put aside to ask me about. Then she came down with a wicked intestinal virus and took to bed and bathroom for four days… Ethical I am, so I contact Amazon which had lickty-split sent out two more boxes and what do they tell me? “Keep’em with our thanks!” So now she’s getting four boxes of orchid note cards….probably two too many but what the hell. Free is free.

Yesterday I went into the frame shop to get the picture. I was nervous as a cat because the owner hadn’t returned any of my “is it ready?” calls. My worst fears were confirmed when she said to me, “I need to talk to you about your picture….” I replied, “I think it is a little too late for that….” As I turned pale and looked like I was going to need help from the EMS, she burst out laughing (fortunately I was unarmed…) and produced a wonder of art and artistry. I was happy as a lark. But….

I wanted yet one more thing. Don’t ask me why. Maybe I was determined to get 28 on the God’s list so no one ever had to go through this again. Back to Amazon to find that there were on the one hand some five star rated books of orchid themed poetry and also some five star novels that were similarly themed, all of which had on their covers one or another of the myriad shapes and colors that orchids come in. I had now crossed the line from obsessed to overwhelmed. So here’s what’s gonna happen.

At dinner, instead of the usual loving anniversary card, she will get the wrapped picture and poem. She will also get the gift cards. Then she will get a little anniversary menu from which she can pick: ___hanging orchid (picture provided)___book of poetry___orchid themed novel. And for a “just because….” I changed the color of our computer wall paper to……what else?……orchid!

I’ll let you know what happens and about this time next year, “the good Lord willin’ and the crik don’t rise,” I’ll share with you what 29 will bring. (30 we’ve already got covered. Whew!)

And so ends the saga of “28” but for the giving tonight. I did get an early “atta-boy.” As I left the shop I overheard the framer’s partner say, “I wish my husband would give me an orchid. He’d probably give me a poison-ivy plant….” Nice.

Oh yes, and if you are ever in Deerfield Beach, Fl. with a picture in hand or the hankering to buy some art, look up Future Art and Frame on Hillsborough Blvd. Ask for Ruthanne. She’s salvation through framing.


If you like the ramblings and occasional rumblings of At Least From My Perspective leave a comment, won’t you? And remember, stories like these and more can be found in, “Mirth Wind and Fire” http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/692523 or either on your Kindle or Nook.





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