I have cherished many of the gifts I got as a young bride, and one of them is the classic glass vase by Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto. In all my purges of household items, I've never let it go, even though I must now confess that it always defeated me. I could never figure out how to make cut flowers work in it, they would fall out or crisscross or slump. But such a pretty vase, as a piece of sculpture. So I kept it at the back of the vase shelf in my pantry. Until last week, when, in my panic of houseguest preparation (which I was pleased to learn I do not suffer from alone as misery always appreciates company) I cut my hydrangeas short.