On Vandas & Vacuums & Welcoming in a New Year!

This post is about hope and letting go of some of the drama. Oh, and most importantly, wishing everyone a happy new year.

First, the hope part.

My Grams Cooper always had Lady Slipper orchids in her small garden next to the Cottage, but I don’t remember her having any orchids in the house. My mom’s cousins Susie and Carol (especially Susie) were really into orchids for years, attending orchid shows and filling their homes with these beautiful plants. Susie helped my Grams Cooper order and send me my first orchid when I had my mastectomy 8 years ago (December 27th actually marked that cancerversary) and that memory of receiving my orchid from Grams is an extremely special one for me. However, I had no clue how to best tend to orchids, and while that first special orchid didn’t survive long enough to move back to Chicago with us, I have kept at growing orchids and learning how to care for them.

Every spring, the Chicago Botanic Gardens has a huge orchid show and in 2017, my sister and one of our besties, Kerry, came in to Chicago for a girls weekend and we went, all of us for the first time. It was such a cool weekend and the orchid show was amazing!

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We each got a tiny orchid to remember the event and mine has bloomed twice so far, in the spring of 2018 and 2019. I have also re-potted mine…into a favorite tea cup of my Grams.

As of Monday, when I watered my orchids, which I tend to do in bulk, I counted 10 orchids in the condo (plus there are two more in my classroom) contributing to our ever expanding indoor plant collection, which is starting to look like a jungle–especially with the annual addition of our Christmas tree! But back to the orchids. Most of mine are of the popular, here in the States anyway, Phalaenopsis genus. They are the ones found at drug stores, Costco and Home Depot. But 2 years ago, in the spring of 2018, I made it to the big orchid sale at the Chicago Botanical Gardens and broadened my collection. On the last day of the nearly 2 months long orchid show, a considerable number of plants from the show are sold to the CBG members and the public. On the day of the sale, members are allowed first dibs and then the public is given a chance at the scraps. I arrived a little later than I had hoped, but there were still a few varieties left–in particular Oncidiums and Vandas. I assumed I could figure out how to take care of the Oncidiums because they were a typical indoor plant size, but the Vandas??? I didn’t take a picture, but I remember they were spread out on a big long table laying flat, like you find wreaths at a store and they were much bigger than I was used to. I asked a volunteer what I would do with them and thought our hallway bathroom might actually be a good spot for this crazy type of orchid and so I bought two Vandas and a couple of Oncidiums and I was on my way.

I got them home and Terry thought I had lost my mind. The Vandas had been raised so they fanned out and they were like big fans with these roots dangling down. Very strange looking. I did my research, ordered wood baskets and filler, and when they arrived, I put these two plants in their baskets and took full advantage of that hall bathroom window of ours, hanging them from an adjustable rod that I was able to install without too much fuss. I read that my Vandas could bloom twice a year and so I was optimistic that they would bloom for me sooner or later. Granted I assumed it would be sooner. Not so. Last winter, the healthiest looking of the 2 had a negative reaction to all of the cold weather we were experiencing and died, but the other one held on and I continued to tend it. Finally, it started to have buds around the time of the Strike. I tried to keep my excitement in check, but by the first of December my Vanda was in full bloom!!!!!

According to the Urban Dictionary, ‘Vandas are a flower that blooms in the midst of adversity’. While 2019 was a year of stabilization on certain fronts of my life, there was also plenty of drama and struggles and challenges. The idea that in the midst of my adversity, I was able to support a plant like my Vanda growing such vibrant flowers–to cultivate that kind of beauty–is profound.

But what about the vacuum???

So, I have never been a big fan of vacuuming. At 16, almost as soon as I got my drivers license, I took over our family’s grocery shopping in exchange for not having to do household cleaning chores like vacuuming. When Terry and I were in New Orleans, he criticized my floor cleaning skills a time too many and ended up with all of the vacuuming responsibilities. I’ve taken on some of the vacuuming and sweeping responsibilities since we have been back in Chicago, but with Terry’s mom’s special Rainbow vacuum cleaner breaking down a couple of months ago, the vacuuming has fallen under my ‘to do’ list since the back-up vacuum is mine. Since I had to get a new one last month, I at least have a little bit of ‘new toy’ feeling when I vacuum and so when I was doing some New Years vacuuming this morning, I ended up feeling reflective.

The past few months have been a handful. Not the deep, painful type of months that I have had plenty of this past decade, but just challenging. I went immediately from a summer spent teaching full time (alternative school schedule), while looking for a new job back in a Chicago Public School, to a new high school (traditional school schedule), teaching all new curriculum, with almost all new staff and all new students to meet and get to know. Then there was the Strike and 8 weekend trips back to Michigan and my mom’s knee surgery and… Needless to say, there was a reason my last post was about being on the struggle bus! To round out the end of 2019–end of year, end of decade–Terry had an allergic reaction on Saturday morning (12/28) while back in Michigan that had me running him to urgent care and his being out of it the rest of the day, followed by a horrid cold swooping in Monday morning and wiping him out for the rest of the year! Chills, painful joints, awful cough, sneezing, no appetite, some nausea, and cranky attitude had him in bed for 2 days.

So, this morning he finally started feeling better and I could do some cleaning away of the ickiness, which included vacuuming. I felt as if I was vacuuming up the final dirt of 2019–the final challenges of the year–and tossing the dirt, grime and nasty germs out in the trash.

Good riddance!

So, I want to end this post by wishing everyone a new year where you are able to bloom in the midst of adversity and (at least some of) your drama can be vacuumed up and thrown out in the trash, gone and no longer your problem.

Happy New Year!



10 thoughts on “On Vandas & Vacuums & Welcoming in a New Year!

  1. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up: The New Year Edition | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  2. Omg, those vandas are gorgeous!!!! I kill every orchid I ever had , so have none now….but I do have a vacuum fetish—2 roombas, 2 dysons, but no pets. Issues!


  3. Pingback: Blooming in the Midst of Adversity | Searching for EMWA

  4. Pingback: Keep on Blooming in the New Year! | Searching for EMWA

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