Tuesday, April 27, 2010

DIY and flower arranging

click photo to enlarge
I've aways considered myself to be reasonably "handy", in the sense that I can turn my hand to a variety of household chores and DIY tasks. Over the years I've replaced floors, taken out walls, installed rolled-steel joists, laid paths and paving, made furniture, decorated rooms, tiled floors and walls, cut down trees, and much else. On the whole I've enjoyed doing these tasks: they made a break from my day job that involved managing an organisation and people, talking, writing, making decisions, and dealing with problems of my own and others' making. However, there are two jobs that I have never become acceptably competent at doing: plastering and brick-laying. I never set myself much of this kind of work, but that which I did undertake was not completed to a standard that pleased me. I'd like to think that my under-achievement was due to my not having done enough to learn the skills well enough. Perhaps, but perhaps not.

But then, when I think a little more on this subject, there are quite a few things that I wish I could do better. Take flower arranging. I'm never going to do a great deal of it when my wife is so much better at it than me. But, I would like to be able to put flowers in a vase so that they didn't look like they'd been yanked out of the garden and stuffed in by someone wearing welders' gloves! (Writing that line reminds me that the few times I tried welding I wasn't particularly competent either).

The other day, visiting a church, I came upon the flowers featured in today's photograph. It was placed in a recess in the nave, and the attractiveness of the pot and arrangement against the stark background, immediately caught my eye. Someone - and it was surely a woman - had selected the red tulips and narcissi, and by the judicious addition of euonymus, grass and some dark leaves, turned them into a very attractive display. There is no sense that these flowers and foliage have been casually rammed into their container: the grasses are designed to be above the blooms, their silhouettes offering a delicate note, the greens are intensifying the reds of the tulips, the narcissi "stars" contrast with the tulip "cups", and the dark leaves are placed lower to add further silhouettes and give a more globular overall shape. It would take me a long time and much practice to do this sort of thing, so I think I'll continue to deploy one of my managerial skills and carry on delegating the task to someone who does it better.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/125
ISO: 160
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On