Archive for the ‘Perfection’ Category

Service of Just So: Foibles That Are Right for You but Excessive to Others

Thursday, December 14th, 2017


Everyone has a foible they insist on or a process they prefer that others might find excessive, irritating or ridiculous.

I sat next to a woman at a luncheon recently who mentioned that she’d ironed the bills she was giving to building staff as the bank didn’t have crisp new ones for her holiday envelopes. She inspired today’s post. I’d heard of this before: My mother would also ask for new bills for this purpose however I never saw her iron any.

Before we go to the dump—aka transfer station–upstate, my husband reorganizes the paper garbage so it ends up looking like a gift or a perfectly packed suitcase. When there may be 35 other things to be done, the time it takes him to prep rubbish does exasperate me but to each his own.


My friend Bob can’t stand an unmade bed. I don’t like seeing the toilet seat left up. Some must grind their exotic coffee beans moments before brewing and others don’t want a bartender to bruise the gin. [I never understood how you could bruise liquid. I mix tonic with my gin in summer and it’s never turned black and blue.] I knew a woman who deemed the house ready for company as long as the wastebaskets were empty. The rest of the place could look as though a hurricane had just passed through.

I visited a home where the husband followed his wife around the kitchen and if she stirred something on the stove he’d take the spoon from where she’d rested it and wash it. He couldn’t stand a mess.

Are you known for habits that others might question or do you know others who like certain things just-so that you think may be overdoing it?


Service of Perfection

Monday, May 13th, 2013


Peter Van de Wetering’s nursery has for 50 years been responsible for the plantings along Park Avenue in Manhattan from 54th to 86th Streets. Constance Rosenblum, in her New York Times article, “A Gardener’s Stage: Park Avenue,” reported that in fall workers plant 70,000 bulbs to best control the results for spring enjoyment. They don’t use the same bulbs year after year because tulips, she explained, “can be temperamental.”

Deadhead tulipsThere would also be the back-breaking work of deadheading thousands of spent blossoms and the unsightly look of droopy green-leaves-turned-yellow before they can be cut, not before July 4th weekend: So not Park Avenue.

In spite of the goal—perfection—and every possible step and expense taken to achieve it, there are always some rogue blooms to delight. My father and I made a game of being the first to call out a yellow one among the 30 blocks of mostly red or vice versa.

Peppermint was the color of the tulips on our city street this year and an orange and red one snuck in, making me smile. [Photo above].

“You can plan every detail but something unexpected is bound to happen,” is a version of the advice my friend Liz Mayers’ father shared and I’ve held dear. Mr. Goldberg’s admonition is as true for fields of flowers as it is for work projects and life plans. Unfortunately imperfections are not always as charming as flower surprises such as when job loss, illness or reversals of fortune derail savings plans or home ownership or terrorists ply their trade. Hedging bets is not always possible as with tulip bulbs.

There are examples of foolproof perfection. Can you name some?

Perfect bear dive

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