The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We are haunted by leaves at this time of year.  They are simply everywhere.  Some leaves are still on the trees, because two of our oaks are the sort which drop their leaves one by one until the last one falls as the new buds push it off at the beginning of spring, but some leaves have been forced to leave the trees because of winds; on windy days it is literally a rain of leaves everywhere around us. 

Our front lawn and back garden are covered with leaves, although we’ve already mounted two thorough rakings, and particularly the leaves accumulate at our front door and on the terrace at the entrance to the garden room.

Those leaves which are piled at the doors follow us in.  They come in unbeknownst on our shoes, they cling to the fur of our beloved cat, they blow into the garden room where we leave the door a cat-width open, to allow Max to come and go.  Max doesn’t go far, just to the nearest neighbors to inspect what he must regard as his domain, but he seems to want and need that freedom to go out when the whim dictates.  A very cat attitude.   So we must allow that door slightly open, and the leaves seem to always find the opening.

We actually like the leaves, for the most part.  When the leaves turn colors, a branch is as lovely as any bouquet of flowers.  Where leaves land in the flower beds, they give kind  shelter to tender plants when the temperatures drop, and occasionally one finds a leaf that has dropped but still has brilliant colorings and is quite a work of art in itself.  And we like the sense of drama when the leaves fall in showers because a breeze suddenly accelerates.    Finally, we like the leaves for what they become when they are chopped and piled and left to metamorphosis into lovely mulch and eventually good garden earth. 

But nevertheless there are times when we feel a very strong wish that a very strong north  wind would come along, and take those leaves south.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Speak, love

The season of loss can occur at any time, and sometimes occurs at this time of year, when we are already dealing with mostly cloudy, dreary days, and with the demands of approaching holidays that mandate we infuse ourselves and our surroundings with great cheer.  Of course, historically those requirements of cheer are the device humankind has adopted for the purpose of dealing with the dreary days.  And then, we hear the news that someone we know has gone.  And even when one of those friends had achieved the estate of ninety-nine years, and when the other friend has been released from the darkness and pain of dementia, we think of times gone by and shared memories, and go through the prescribed motions of saying goodbye.

Yesterday, as part of the goodbye for one friend, the one who had suffered so from dementia, a daughter stood and shared memories and then, in closing, reminded us all to tell those we love that we love them, as much and as often as possible.  And she was right to do so.  Because illness and accident and loss can occur at any time, and it is foolish beyond measure to leave those words unspoken, presuming that they are taken for granted, presuming that there will always be another chance to speak.

A writer by the name of George Eliot wrote these words:  “I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved …; the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave … and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.”    Goodbye, Augusta; goodbye, Louise.

Monday, December 19, 2011

On a Monday in December

Today is our usual day for volunteer shelving at our local library.  My mate was nursing a set of sprung back muscles after injudiciously handling wet soil with a shovel, while we were finally planting the last of the daffodils.  Yep, I had succumbed, again, to catalogs, and while I had ordered only a few bulbs to plant, everything had conspired to keep us from planting.  First the temps remained way too warm, then we finally got some rain (no complaint there), and then other commitments took up time and energy and opportunity.  So there we were, planting the daffodils and jonquils along with a handful of alliums, and oops, a spring got sprung in the poor back.   This was Saturday; yesterday, knowing we were possibly in for a dramatic change of weather and perhaps heavy rain today, I pressed our kind son into service, and figured out a more efficient way of planting (with a bulb digger – what an idea!) and we finally got the last of the bulbs tucked.  Next spring, we’ll have forgotten the pain and the push, we’ll just be enjoying the fragrance of jonquils such as Suzy and Stratosphere, and narcissi such as Flower Record and Fortune, and Merlin. And since our garden is small, there is little room for planting more bulbs to plant in other years.  These, along with the bulbs already established, will make our garden glorious for several weeks, if, of course, the weather is decent.   With spring, or any other season in Texas, one never knows. 

Anyway, I drove alone to the library to keep up the family commitment, and as I did, the wind was making dry leaves skitter across the road, sometimes making a circle or swirl, and more leaves were falling from trees; it was magical.  In Clement Moore’s "‘Twas The Night Before Christmas," he describes ‘dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly.’  Many writers describe the leaves as ‘dancing’, and actually I have seen them appear to do that, like a country square dance, changing partners.  But today the leaves were just following wind currents, down from the trees, across the road, making it clear that autumn is nearly over, and winter is closer.  There’s a band of bad weather further north of us and some folks further north will get snow and possibly a blizzard of it; here it is cloudy and dreary and promising rain, in other words, perfectly expected weather behavior for this time of year. 

But when the last of the bulbs are tucked, and the weather looks this dreary, and the leaves are falling like, well, snow, what comes to my mind is daffodils.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Obliviosity, that’s my new word (I create a new word from time to time - just ask my family!).   What does it mean, you say?    Well, let me define it thusly.  Obliviosity is the condition with which those are stricken who are totally unaware of their surroundings and those who share their surroundings. 

The oblivious stop in the middle of aisles at the grocery store, even when they’re not talking on their cell phone (but especially when on the phone).   Or they drive right through red traffic lights.  Or they cross right in front of people who are walking in a mall or down a street or in the produce aisle, or they walk directly at you while chatting, which makes one want to, oh so very much, simply stand still and let them walk right into you (but you simply move out of the way with a shake of your head and they never know).  Or they push through a doorway, crowding out those who were there first, who simply and politely move out of their way. 

The oblivious don’t say ‘Thank you’ to the checker at the store or to someone who holds a door for them.  They drive fast through a parking lot as if it were a through road; oh, are there others around?   They don’t bother to park correctly and frequently use two spaces; after all the spaces are there solely for them. 

If we’re talking about the management of a shop, said management doesn’t bother to notice or care that the building temperature is way too hot for comfort, or way too cold; of course, then they are surprised that customers don’t linger.

If the oblivious are possibly interested in political events, they base their opinions and judgments on whatever headline is screaming or whatever inane e-mail has arrived; they do not bother to verify, because they’ve already made up their minds, based on headlines and e-mails.  Which perhaps is an odd balance to those elected officials who are unaware and/or uncaring of what their constituents need/want/expect.

“Who are all these folks stricken with obliviosity,” you ask?  Why, they are all around us.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

We remember

Watching a small nature segment on one of our favorite Sunday Morning magazine programs, which featured penguins, I was reminded of one of our favorite family stories.

We have two grandchildren, a boy and a girl; they are, of course, both wonderful.  And like all children, when they were small, they loved going to the zoo.  Once when our granddaughter was about eighteen months or so and our grandson was about three years older than that, the whole family went to the zoo to see a special exhibition of penguins.  It was wonderful.  There were all kinds of penguins and all sizes.  One of the most wonderful aspects of the exhibit was that it was set in a sort of aquarium, so that the visitors could see the penguins pattering around in their awkward way along the edge of a pool, and then we could see, when the penguins were in the water, what grace and strength they had as swimmers. 

Let me set the stage for the rest of the story.  Our granddaughter, at that time, was safely ensconced in a stroller (or so we thought).  The area where visitors passed through had, for ambiance, stone walls and a small fish pond or two against the opposite wall from the penguins.  While all the rest of us were watching the penguins and watching our grandson’s excitement, our granddaughter was otherwise occupied.  Some movement caught the corners of our eyes and we all turned to see that this amazing little girl had reached in the nearest pond from her stroller and actually caught a fish!  This required, obviously, amazing dexterity and a lightning reflex.  It also required the nearest adult, which was her father as we recall, to immediately free the fish back into the water and move that stroller to a safer place – safer, that is, for the fish.  Then we all instinctively moved to the far side of the exhibit area as if to disclaim any responsibility for any trauma the fish may have experienced.  Then we laughed and admired this dexterous child and promptly decided she should have been named “Bear”, since she could catch fish as well as any … well, you get the idea.

Now our granddaughter is a lovely teen in high school and plays the French horn, and plays it very well.  Which is a wonderful way to enjoy the dexterity that once caught a fish.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ah, now I understand

Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure out certain realities.  Like many folks who like to write their thoughts down, sometimes my thoughts and writings keep on stirring around in my brain, particularly during the sleeping hours.  And then I awake with a full-grown awareness of something within what I’ve thought or written.

I’ve thought and written and talked about concerns about Republican pledges against taxes for quite some time, but only in the wee hours of this morning did my conscious mind fully realize what has been going on for years, in full view of us all, and what it means.

It sounds good, the idea of low taxes.  It sounds good, the idea of smaller government.  But, in effect, an organization funded by undisclosed donors with a lot of money (generally believed to be certain very large corporations and the very wealthy) controls all the Republican Senators and Representatives who have taken a pledge and who continue to honor that pledge of ‘no tax increases under any circumstances.’  By that one fact we are dominated.   By that one fact, there will be no budgets resolved, no deficits resolved, nothing done regarding our children’s education and our health programs and immigration policies – nothing will be resolved.

Think of it:  there is an organization with unknown donors with unlimited funds which holds the pledges and controls the votes in Congress.  We have lost control of our country and Congress has lost control of themselves.

So now we know

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My goodness, oh my goodness

Well, our illustrious and peerless Congress has done it again.    Just think of it.  There was the Simpson-Bowles bi-partisan commission, which suggested, in late 2010, that the financial ills of our country could be tamed by a combination of judicious cuts and increased revenue, but Congress refused.  Then Mr. Obama proposed just such a combination during the debacle concerning managing our debt ceiling crisis in July 2011, but no, Congress refused.  Then, after the U.S’s credit rating was lowered, there was the Gang of Six, another bi-partisan committee, but they failed to agree, leading to the appointment of a – ta-dah! – Super Committee, with a November 23 deadline, and guess what, it failed!  If this were a baseball game, Congress would have been out after the third strike, right?

But this is not a game.  Because, you see, there is an individual named Grover Norquist who has entrapped almost the entire Republican Party by their voluntary pledge to refuse to raise taxes, except of course, on the poor and the elderly and the disabled; for what else are steep cuts in benefits except a type of tax.  But there will be absolutely no increase in taxes for the wealthiest among us, who, interestingly enough, are understood to fund the organization Mr. Norquist operates to entangle and monitor all elected Republicans everywhere and which is dedicated to preventing the re-election of anyone who breaks their pledge of no tax increases.  Yes, that’s right.  If the reader doubts this, look up the 60 Minutes Program on the CBS website, for the date November 20, 2011.  There, in Mr. Norquist’s own words from his own mouth, he explains his ‘system’ and seems quite proud of it.  It is quite terrifying.

So here’s the way I see it:  a conspiracy of staunch Republicans have voluntarily taken an oath that supersedes their oath to their country and their constituents, and they are not only willing but determined to block any viable means of meeting our country’s obligations to both its debt holders and its people, by refusing to raise revenues from the top corporations and the top CEO’s and all other millionaires and billionaires.  They will happily preside over the lowering of America’s prestige in the world, over drastic cuts in Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid benefits, in VA benefits for our returning injured,  and in unemployment benefits and help for our returning military.  And somehow they think that the American people will overlook their intransigence, one might say disloyalty, and they’ll be re-elected, which for Congress is the true purpose of that blasted no-tax oath, to begin with.  (For Mr. Norquist and his masters, there are obviously other reasons.)

So the title of this piece is a misnomer.  Because goodness has nothing to do with it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

There are berries on the possum haw

This is the message I gave my son when he answered our cell phone, as he and his dad were on the way to the home improvement store.  His response:  “The pelican crows at dawn.”  As you see, he thought I was joking and came right back with nonsense.  That’s our boy.     But he did pass the message on to his dad, who was driving and his dad explained that this was not only wonderful news, it was no joke to us.

Possum haw, for the uninitiated, is a Texas native holly, deciduous, which produces glorious red berries in the fall.  Where the name came from is anyone’s guess; it is as unique as the plant.   If, of course, the plant is a female, it bears berries; if it is a male holly, no berries.  We planted the shrub in the spring of last year, and last fall it produced no berries, nor did we detect any blooms during this last summer.  So we came to the conclusion that we had a male holly, and while it would be a lovely shrub, it would be berry-less.  Until today, when I was raking the first crop of leaves of the season, and a shaft of sunlight reached over our house and lit up the possum haw at the moment I glanced up, and there those lovely berries were. 

So all our fretting and sending strong thoughts of encouragement toward the possum haw paid off, as well as the careful watering we gave it during this interminable period of drought. 

We all, gardeners or not, have situations where there is something we hope for very much, and which we despair of happening.  And in the scheme of the world’s problems, a tiny frustration about a small plant is irrelevant.  But in the small personal world we each experience on our own, it is the small despairs we must deal with every day, and it is the small joys that light up our lives like the sunlight lit up our possum haw.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What it was, was football

So there’s this amazing football stadium in Texas, built expressly for this storied football team in Texas, and owned by a fellow that many in Texas revere, but that a lot of other Texans find creepy.  But the stadium is still amazing, no matter what the team’s season is like, or the guy who owns the team.

And on this particular Saturday, we find ourselves there through a simple chain of events.  We have a beloved grandchild, the grandchild plays a horn in a high school marching band, the high school’s football team manages to make its way into the playoffs, the playoffs are held at the amazing stadium, and there we were. 

And there was this huge screen suspended from the ceiling where we could watch close-ups and instant replays of our very own kids.  Just our kids from our ordinary families who attend an ordinary high school in a very ordinary area of the Metroplex we all call home, and there they were, up there, just like the big guys.

And as we sat there, watching the drill teams from both schools, the bands in the stands, the family and friends and interested spectators in the stands, all the colors of modern high school football life, I realized what a rich and privileged life everyone in that stadium was experiencing at that moment, regardless of the price of the homes they would return to.  What a special collection of moments we were sharing.  And when the ROTC officers marched out with the American flag and the state flag, when in this instance our band’s trumpet section played the national anthem beautifully, when everyone stood and honored the flag, our country, and our children there, I found it to be almost more moving and beautiful than I could bear. 

Not being a particular fan of football, and definitely not being a fan of the owner of the storied team for whom the stadium was built, never would I have thought we’d be sitting there, eyes wide, mouths open, loving the spectacle, but grandchildren (and children before them) lead you places you never expected to go. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

It is increasingly fascinating to watch politics this season.  For instance, the lowest-rated Republican candidate, according to one poll, with only a one-percent rating, is far and above the most articulate and moderate candidate.  He's the one who said he thought 9-9-9 was the cost of a pizza!  At the front in this ever-changing competition are folks who simply change their position on concerns according to the audience they are addressing at any one time.  As a staunch and unwavering Obama supporter, I frankly don’t much care that the ones with the higher percentages in polls keep shooting their own feet off, but as a lover of my country it is awfully disheartening to watch presumably serious candidates, able to spend millions of dollars to seek the presidency, keep presenting foolishness after foolishness as their positions.  Such as 9-9-9 or 20-20.  And here’s the equally disheartening thought:  they all seem to have so many supporters, who obviously aren’t thinking things through. 

Now, time has taught me that politics is not a dirty word.  Heck, we decide what to have for lunch many times by negotiation and compromise, and that, dear friends, is politics.  But there’s another aspect to life and politics that I have learned as a gardener, particularly a gardener with a strong bulb addition:  the best results I get are from the best bulbs from the best sources.  Stay away from damaged bulbs.

The point is that when we vote, when we make that important choice, when we exercise that all-important privilege of citizenship, it’s that much more important that we are careful in our support, that we make good choices.  Because like so many other ‘ships’, a citizen ship can sink.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What freedom is for

So today my husband and I went to the grocery store to buy a few necessities.  This is a very nice neighborhood grocery and the staff are pleasant, and so, for the most part, are the fellow shoppers.  Folks say ‘excuse me’, and ‘thank you’, folks like that.

However, and you knew there would be a ‘however’, just as we were leaving, there were two people getting bags of ice from an outside location by the exit door.  One was a man in perhaps his mid to late forties, somewhere in that age range, and the other person was a young man in very late teens or very early twenties.  The younger man had a black hoodie that caught my husband’s eye.  On the front of the hoodie were the words “Camp Auschwitz” and a skull and cross bones and under that the words “Work Will Make You Free”; on the back was the word “Staff”.  Just repeating this description is nauseating.  After we went on to the car and unloaded our groceries from the cart, my husband was gone longer than expected to return the cart.  When he returned to the car he was very upset, actually trembling with disgust, and he described the hoodie and that he, a very non-confrontational man, had confronted that young man.  He asked the young man if he really thought the shirt was cute; he also asked the young man if he realized that people were roasted in ovens in Auschwitz.  The only reply given was a mumble.   When the situation and the hoodie were described to me, I wept.  I wept for my husband’s pain, I wept for all the suffering that the one word, “Auschwitz” represents, and I wept for the appalling ignorance of that young man and the venality of whoever created such a garment.

There was nothing illegal about the shirt.  We live in a country where freedom of speech is one of our many rights.  Where disgusting statements such as what is described can be made.  Perhaps these two men consider themselves white supremacists and felt pleasure in my husband’s being upset.  I decided to be very grateful for three things:  that we have a country where even something such as that disgusting shirt can be displayed with impunity; that they didn’t pull some sort of weapon and hurt my husband for confronting them; and finally, that I share a life with a man who expressed so decently his horror and revulsion.

And finally I thought of the terrible, terrible price paid by those who lived and died in Auschwitz and the other camps, because unlike the young man wearing that hoodie, all of those people, all of the people caught up in the Middle East ‘Arab spring’, all of our military, and so many others, all of these know what freedom is for.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


While rambling in the garden this morning, I was enjoying the fall amaryllis (Rhodophiala) that are blooming in red and pink.  The pink, particularly, are fairly unusual and striking.  The summer has been so horrific and the garden looks so poorly that anything that is blooming is so very welcome.  I recalled seeing some for sale on one of my favorite bulb web-sites, and considered maybe ordering some more, even though the few I started out with are multiplying readily, and even though my planting spaces are starting to fill up.  But that old acquisition gene that most of us humans and some of the so-called lower species share tried to kick in (more about squirrels later).  OK, so I have these, but maybe I could/should/would get more!  I reined in the thought in time to prevent myself from getting more!  At least this time.

“But,” I tell myself, “I do love bulbs so.”   “Yes,” I remind myself, “but you already have some bulbs ordered to plant this fall.”  “Ok,” the dialog continues, “but these would be more pink ones.   And those are extra special.”  “Aren’t they all,” I retort to me.  And so it goes. 

The internet has made it so simple to order clothing or household items or books or music or movies or bulbs, all of which are my particular weaknesses.  But I have plenty of clothes just now, nothing fancy, but enough.  And as to household items, the cabinets and closets are full, thank you very much.  Ditto the shelves which hold books and CD’s and movies.  And those bulbs already on order?  I made myself plan exactly where they could be placed before I ordered them.  Well, mostly.

There’s not a thing wrong with acquiring items we need.  Or even really, really, really want.  And there are those of us in true need for whom anything would be useful and fill a need.  But for those of us who have enough, or maybe too much already, of baubles, bangles, beads and bulbs, surely a good way to proceed is to be thankful for what we have.   And, wild idea, use the resources for helping those without, instead of getting ‘more’ for ourselves.

I don’t know the sources for these two wonderful quotations but they pretty well sum it up:  “It’s not having less but wanting more that makes us feel poor;” and “Gratitude makes what we have enough.”  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Along main avenues in many parts of our country, where the streets are wide and divided, local communities plant whatever is local and therefore usually tough and reliable, in the median areas which divide the lanes. 

Today while we were running errands in an area unfamiliar to us, I was particularly impressed and delighted to see, thriving in the median, several small mesquite trees.  Now for those unfamiliar with these plants, mesquite trees don’t grow exceptionally large, anyway.  And many who are familiar with mesquite trees quite despise them.  They have thorns that probably inspired cowboys to wear chaps to protect their legs from being raked when chasing a cow out of a mesquite patch (I always wondered what protected the poor horses).  Mesquites survive because they put down deep tap roots, which some think dry out the land too much (although this isn't proven).  On the other hand, it is said that just about every part of a mesquite tree can be used:  the leaves and bean pods have been used in past times for medicine and food; where there is nothing else around, the mesquites provide a bit of shade; the flowers attract bees and their nectar is said to make very special honey; and the wood is beautiful and tough enough to give woodworkers' chain saws a run for their money.  I read somewhere that mesquite thorns were used by early Native Americans as needles.  And after all that, mesquite wood is considered gourmet for grilling meats.

And while all that is nice, I like mesquites because I think they are lovely.  Even in the summer, and in stupefying heat, the lacy green leaves are deceptively delicate and fresh-looking.  Yet as we have driven around our area I have seen whole stands of mesquite paved over for parking lots or housing developments or all the other elements of progress in our world today.  I have often fantasized about becoming magically wealthy and buying an area containing mesquite and just keeping it all natural.  So it is understandable that when I saw those mesquite trees, preserved in the median for now, as if they were precious ornamentals, I thought, “Well, it’s about time.”

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How many massacres will we need?

It really seems that every day, or at least way too frequently, someone in this country becomes distraught, or angry, or tips over the edge into mental illness, and picks up one or more guns, and does something really terrible.

We’ve had children do so such at Columbine and several other schools across the country.  We’ve had parents kill their children and vice versa, or spouse to spouse destruction.  We’ve had people fire into vehicles full of strangers on freeways.  We’ve had snipers fire from bridges and buildings and probably trees onto freeways.  And then there was a shopping center in Tucson.  And now a hair salon in a small town in California.  The list just goes on and on and on.

And every time this happens the gun lovers get defensive and quote amendment rights and choose to disregard certain facts.  Certain facts such as that assault weapons are hardly necessary for shooting game.  Facts such as that there is little or no provision for checking eligibility for purchases at gun shows.  Facts such as that there is no valid need for an AK-47 in ordinary lives, hunting or otherwise.  Facts such as that handguns are designed for one thing only:  killing humans.  Facts such as that the true danger of guns is not when guns are in the hands of the police or in the hands of careful, sensible citizens, but when they are so easily acquired by criminals, the angry and the ill.

Every political season or so, it is hoped by many of us that the President and/or Congress will ‘do something’; pass meaningful and serious laws designed to allow lawful gun ownership and protect our society from those who should not possess such weapons of mass destruction.  But we never seem to remember that the President has no vote in Congress, and Congress itself is dysfunctional and incapable of its most basic tasks at this point in time.  So eventually we are going to have to realize, as a society, that it is up to us as individuals to see that local and state laws are put into place that will prevent or at least minimize these events.  Or we are going to have to resign ourselves to wearing combat armor in everyday life, being fearful of danger when we go to get a haircut or buy groceries, and prepare ourselves to attend many, many funerals, one of which may be our own.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Small beauties

There’s a lot to be said about trees and shrubs in a garden.  I’ve seen many where shades of green and contrasting textures of leaves have created beauty and harmony and an atmosphere of peace.

On the other hand, there are those of us who are enamored of flowering plants and the more the merrier.  Alas, I am one of those.  And while there are many (some would say too many) flowering plants that I must have around me, such as hemerocallis and chrysanthemums and pansies, some of the most amazing plants to which I am addicted are bulbs:  daffodils, amaryllis, grape hyacinths and Dutch hyacinths, Dutch iris, sternbergia, rhodophiala,  and even tulips, although tulips seldom repeat in my part of the world. 

And here is one of the most wonderful aspects of bulbs, to me.  One holds a bulb that usually has not a bit of a sign of life, with a few dried roots at the bottom and dry onion-looking skin, and with the only encouragement a sense of weight and firmness, if one is lucky.  One plants it in the earth, gives it a bit of a drink, and depending on the variety, will not see anything of it for months.   It will be buried under earth, mulch, and sometimes snow or ice, and then when the time is right, when warmth and rain and length of days all meet, shoots will emerge and buds and then flowers, all out of that dried-looking lump.  And oh, the colors and scents and variety of size and type.

And it’s no use to say that one has no flower bed and can’t grow bulbs.  Hah!  Because most bulbs, certainly hyacinths, daffodils and tulips and amaryllis, are very easily grown in pots.  So all one needs is a suitably sized pot, some store-bought potting soil, and a suitable bulb, and one can plant according to directions, put the pot away in the dark of a closet for awhile, and then in a sunny window or doorway for awhile, and voila, there is beauty.  Or if one is simply too intimidated to do that, buy a potted, about to bloom, bulb, at the grocery store.  Enjoy it every day.  Learn about what happens when it fades and goes dormant.  And remember the old Persian proverb, “If I had two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, and they would feed my soul.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

How's that government working for ya?

That’s a variation on a popular TV doctor’s question and this particular question keeps running through my mind.

This blog is entitled ‘Flowers and Philosophy’, because I’m both intensely interested and still learning about both subjects.  But it has occurred to me, during this political season, that philosophy covers a really wide area of exploration.  And politics as a subject surely comes within that area of exploration.  So we are reading and studying and trying to understand.

Although there are obviously certain unifying themes that bind our two large parties into their respective groups, it also seems that each party, Democratic or Republican, has a number of factions, so that one could also say that each party has conservative, moderate and liberal strata, and that makes a count of six.  Then there is the Libertarian Party, and probably a number of others of which I am blissfully unaware.  I can’t seem to count the Tea Party as a fully-formed entity, since it appears, at least to me, to be a group encapsulated within the Republican Party, and containing the very most extreme right elements of that party.  It’s interesting that the Libertarian Party seems, at least on the surface, to contain many of the same elements.  Down with government and all that.

But here’s the thing:  parties and platforms and slogans and signs are all well and good, but what, if anything, do they have to do with government?   To which one could also respond, “What government?”  Is all of this folderol all that’s left?   Is the lawmaking body of our government going to forever be preoccupied with election and then re-election and vilifying the opposition, while our economy and we who live within that economy dwindle and dwindle until there is no more optimism, no more invention and innovation, no more good old American pushiness?   On the one hand, one reads that small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economic machine.  On the other hand, one hears that large corporations are vital for growth, so that large corporations are being protected at the expense of small businesses.  Or we hear that corporations are people.  I always thought people were people.

Surely the major programs which have stabilized our country, including Social Security and Medicare and student loans and unemployment and such, have evolved since they were introduced.  Surely introducing new programs such as the Jobs Act and other proposals that create a triumvirate between educational institutions and government and the private sector could be tried and then perhaps adjusted to maximize their benefits.   And surely, if we never try, we’ll never know.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An Open Letter to Congress

We beg, plead and implore you to support the President’s Jobs Bill, and to try to persuade your colleagues that this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it.

Every problem America is facing right now can be attributed to one single factor:  Americans need jobs.  To think that in this country, in this century, Americans are begging for jobs is almost unbelievable.  Except that it is happening.  And happening all across our country.

It is simply no use to blame the president or indeed to blame anyone except the members of Congress, both houses, both parties.  It is no use to blame the people who find it important to demonstrate.  They are actually crying to their government:  “Help us.”

We won’t go further into causes or blame or anything else.   What good would that do?   What we hope to direct your attention to is what can be done.

It would be shameful beyond any power to describe if the Congress (both houses, both parties) failed to support this bill, and give some encouragement and some forward momentum, in the mistaken belief that Mr. Obama is the problem and that it is an appropriate tactic to allow our country to suffer in an effort to oust him or to further any other agenda.

We are not worried about Mr. Obama’s re-election; he has many supporters.  We are not worried about ourselves; we are retired.  We are worried about our country and all our fellow Americans:  all the young people who cannot find employment, all the middle-aged people who have lost their jobs and cannot find replacements.  All the families who are losing their homes, not because they got a stupidly excessive mortgage from a stupidly excessive industry, but because they have lost their jobs and have children to support and perhaps parents to assist and are desperate.

Desperation is a terrible thing and leads to terrible events.  Please, please, please help our country.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Personal Political Story

The most recent issue of TIME magazine has the following quotation from Elizabeth Warren:  “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.”   This is the most simple, most coherent and succinct clarification I’ve ever read of why and how people get rich and what they then owe to those who helped them to do so.  Think of it.  Sam Walton had a great idea for his Walmarts, but it was the banks who helped him with financing and the customers who shopped with him who made him successful.  Henry Ford jump-started the American auto industry, but it was those workers on the assembly line who made it work.   Neither Warren Buffett nor Bill Gates nor any of the other incredibly successful entrepreneurs of our country did anything by themselves.  Not a one.

In fact, if you get right down to it, none of us really does anything on our own.  We all need support and encouragement, or even, in one of those worst-case scenarios, where nothing is available but doubt and discouragement, achievers use those negatives as catalysts for moving forward, for success.

Elizabeth Warren is a Harvard professor, a wife and mother, and for awhile, the nominee by Mr. Obama to head the new Consumer Protection Agency that would prevent the kind of garbage in Wall Street that contributed to the financial mess our whole country is in.   But she is so intelligent AND so independent of lobbyists that the GOP worked tooth and nail and blocked her from the position.  Indeed the GOP have completely blocked any funding for the CPA, can you guess why?

Now Elizabeth Warren is running for the Senate from Massachusetts.  Why are we, deeply planted Texas residents, interested in a senate seat from Massachusetts?  Look Elizabeth Warren up on Wikipedia.  And then if you would so kindly go to and check out the website, you would see why.   We just think it would be a great idea to have as many members of Congress as possible, House and Senate, who know the difference between good government and bad government, and what to do about problems.

We have heard this woman speak, we have read her writings, and we admire her a lot. But because she is intelligent, articulate, and not attached to millionaires and billionaires, she'll have a time of it.  And that's all of the story for now!

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Good Fork

Because I like to cook (which in my case is not the same as being a good cook), and because I therefore love to thumb through catalogs of cooking utensils that appear in my mail, I am always picking out, mentally, all sorts of neat and handy stuff.  Expensive pots and pans I have no space or need for, serving dishes I do not need but that are lovely, and gadgets galore, again that would have to compete with all the handy, dandy devices I already have and use, and the others.  But there was one ad in the Williams Sonoma catalog (W-S being a guilty pleasure), for a cooking fork, and frankly anyone who cooks even plain food really needs one of those.  It was just in the price range I could justify, obviously not cheap but well-made, and nothing that would break the piggy bank or be embarrassing in its cost.  So day after day I picked up that catalog and flipped to that page and had just made up my mind to get one. 

Then one night my subconscious must have gone to work on me, because during the night, the thought popped into my relative conscious that I already had a cooking fork.  It came with an old knife set I am incapable of discarding, but do not use on an every-day basis, and was safely tucked in one of the kitchen drawers where I keep old items I have, just in case.  The next morning, I went to the drawer, extricated the fork, and it has been busy ever since.  It turns meats I’m browning or sautéing, it helps break up frozen foods I’m microwaving, it can even double as a serving fork for everyday use.

What it is, is a valuable cooking tool.  I learned about having the right tools years ago, when we were young, poor early-marrieds, and my husband needed a drill.  Just an everyday common electric drill, to install hinges on some shutters he had stained.   (To this day, he’s not crazy about shutters.)  Anyway, he broached the subject of a drill, and I really cross-examined him about whether the drill would have limited uses and all that.  This illustrates how ignorant I was about tools and how tight our budget was.  He ended up getting that drill, and needless to say it labored long in the service of our home and then was passed along to our daughter when it was replaced with a more heavy-duty one, and I learned to be quiet when he says he needs a tool.  Because we all need the right tool for the job.

And reclaiming my cooking fork from its drawer and putting it into service reminded me that many, many times we think we need or want something that we already have.  We just need to look around.  Real good. 

Friday, September 23, 2011


Full disclosure here:  considering ourselves independent moderates, we have voted on both sides of the political spectrum, until of course the Republicans themselves, by their own mouths, made it impossible for us to consider them seriously.  We can mention former Republican congressmen, such as former senator Chuck Hagel, as an example of intelligent, balanced thinking.  But note that he is no longer in Congress, by his own choice.

And unfortunately, as far as the current crop of presidential candidates, there’s not a one we’d have to dinner, much less vote for, particularly our own governor, Rick Perry.  As some would describe Mr. Perry in Texas, “he’s all hat, no cattle.”  It has been an amazement to us that he has been elected and re-elected, until we consider the sources of his support:  real big money.  The poor man has done terrible things to our cherished state.   His programs have ‘borrowed’ funds from Teacher Retirement, cut resources by as much as 75% for volunteer firemen, pushed through all sorts of cuts that severely disadvantage the state, and worst of all, claimed credit for jobs which in many cases he did not create, and in others, are so low-paying that, as one person stated, “Governor Perry has created jobs; I know, I work three of them!”

But!  Oh, how we dislike defending the fellow on anything.  But!  The thing that Perry is being ragged on just now, education at state resident rates for illegal immigrants, is, in our opinions, his one saving grace.  First of all, when folks check out the details, as we understand them, young people must have lived in the state for three years, have graduated from a Texas high school, and must promise to begin the procedure to become citizens.  Now what is wrong with any of that, when you consider that they are already here, and education at residence rates is so much cheaper than what it would cost to incarcerate them when they are uneducated and jobless and get into gangs and mischief or worse.

Another Texas fellow we didn’t always agree with, but who went on to do wonderful things such as support the Civil Rights Act, and you know who I mean, Lyndon Johnson, well, Lyndon Johnson said, “Education will not cure all the problems of society, but without it no cure for any problem is possible."

So there you have it.  Good ideas and good actions can come from those we perceive as flawed or plain old wrong.  It might benefit us all to listen to us all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Geckos all around

Having made our homes with planted areas, small or large, around us, we have found ourselves being hosts to geckos often.  Now, this is not referring to Gordon Gekko, the fictional Wall Street pest, or even the rather charming animated gecko in the insurance advertisements, but the little creatures that seem to appear around the garden, in the mail box, and even, sometimes, the house.

We definitely have a resident gecko or two in our mailbox and I’m pretty sure I inadvertently chopped off the tail of one when I closed the mailbox door and only then spotted the gecko when it moved quickly away.  I was filled with remorse, but what could one do?  Since there has been appearance of a gecko in and around the mail box since, I cling to the belief that it did in fact survive and simply grew a new tail.  Maybe a better one.

The other day, I noticed a very small one in our bathtub.  Now I need to explain that the tub is not in use since we prefer showers, but it came with the house and is large and marble, albeit cultured marble, so we just dust it from time to time and use the shelf behind it, a large marble shelf below the window there, for plants.   Recently I had a plant crisis that required that I move some cherished plants from the garden room where they were literally cooking in our bitter summer heat, and to make space, I moved the porcelain pot of philodendron (ah, those alliterations) out to the garden room.  Thinking about it later, I must presume that a wandering gecko moved into the philodendron and then got a trip when I moved the philodendron back to the tub shelf.  Then the same adventurous gecko must have emerged and dropped (surprise!) into the tub.  I saw it, greeted it, and went on my way, but a day or so later, noticed it was still there and realized that even geckos can’t always deal with cultured marble when it is that steep a slope and that it would starve there.  So we very carefully tricked the gecko into wiggling into a small envelope, carefully folded the top over and transported the envelope outside to a nice freshly rained-on flower bed and released it.  Which is a much better environment for any critter than that big old tub.

Why so much trouble for a little lizard-type critter?   Well, geckos eat bugs, and while I would be a bit skittish about living very intimately with a gecko or a lizard or a frog, etc., I’m way more skittish about bugs.  Way.

What we want from our government

We want our national honor at least partly salvaged by taking complete care of all the 9/11 first responders and their colleagues who are ill; no questions about when a cancer or other illness began, just take care of them.  NOW.  For America’s sake.  For America’s honor.  For America’s gratitude.

We want the President to be supported and encouraged in his efforts to provide jobs and reduce the deficit, and NOW, please.  If the plan is tried and doesn’t succeed, at least we tried.  If it does succeed, glory be.   If we don’t try, there is no chance of succeeding.  Is that really what we want?  We're talking to Democrats and Republicans all.

We want a balanced approach to fixing the deficit problem, including roll back of the Bush Tax Cuts for the very wealthy, plus a stop to unneeded subsidies to the oil companies, etc.  And NOW would be good.  Or do we really want to tax the elderly and the ill while protecting corporate interests?    Really?

And speaking of reforming Social Security, why is it never considered to simply apply the Social Security payroll tax to ALL earned income, up to and including the CEO salaries in the stratosphere?  AND how about a law to keep the sticky fingers of Congress from using Social Security Funds for general operating expenses?  Hmmmm?

We want the so-called Obama health care plan, approved by Congress, given a chance.   Come on, most of us know it hasn’t been implemented yet, but it is being blamed for anything and everything from unemployment to the weather.

We want financial reform, NOW.  Shame on Congress for not funding the Consumer Protection Agency.  Let the big banks deal with the same realities we are.  Prevent another cascade of financial greed while we still can.

We want real support for our military AND our veterans, NOW.  How dare we not?

We want real support for education, NOW.  Again, how dare we not?  Lack of support has helped exacerbate the current unemployment crisis; there are openings for skilled workers and not enough skilled workers.  Duh!

We want members of Congress to stop being rude and obstructive, and to be civil and constructive, and remember their oaths to our country, NOT to lobbyists and special interests.  Is that too much to ask?

We want campaign finance reform, NOW.   Corporations are NOT people.  They are businesses.  And right now they own this country, not the real people.

We want reasonable immigration reform as soon as possible; this is a real and current danger and Congress is being irrational and irresponsible.

We had always believed that once someone became a member of the U.S. Congress, they represented the U.S. people.  Not a political party.  Not a few square miles.  The whole country.  We are so heartbroken, frustrated, disgusted, AND ashamed just now about our government, about the failure of our government to take care of its people.  Remember that word:  failure.   If our country is failed in these important initiatives, every member of both houses of Congress will be a signatory.  The President can propose, but if Congress does not take responsible action to stop playing petty, petty politics and do their jobs, it will be on Congress’s heads.   Both Houses of Congress will own a failure none of us want to imagine.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No more crying over crinums

As I’ve remarked before, I had to wait a long, long time for my crinums to bloom, particularly the one designated as ‘milk and wine’.  For the uninitiated, crinums are wonderfully tough, long-lived bulbs, not true lilies, but with beautiful flowers of many shapes and shades.   Looking back, it is obvious that my crinum bulbs went through a lot:  planted in pots, hauled from one home to another, parked for keeping at our daughter’s house during a winter, hauled again to our current home, but not planted out for quite awhile until beds could be prepared.  And all of that in addition to some bitter winters and burning summers.  And most bulbs, regardless of variety, take a bit of time to settle in when they are moved, just like all other perennials. 

So!  The white crinums, crinum powellii album, have bloomed some, but they apparently prefer mid-summer for blooming, and this having been the hottest summer for any state in the country in recorded weather time, it was obviously more remarkable that they bloomed at all.  It’s just that crinums enjoy (or suffer from) a very hyped reputation as the toughest bulbs ever, and that just doesn’t seem to be always true.  Labeling anything as ‘can’t fail’ is just setting everyone up for disappointment.  Although the variety of crinum called Ellen Bonsanquet sure is amazing.  Planted it last spring, it perked right up and bloomed and bloomed last year, then this year there it went again.  And a gorgeous rose color to boot.

Which brings me to the ‘milk and wine’ lilies.   If you ever have the chance for one, take it.  The wait is worth it, and it might not even be that much of a wait if you don’t have to haul it from pillar to post as we did.  The milk-and-wine bloomed here awhile back, and I didn’t spot it in time to see it fresh and pretty, just said ‘oh, hello’, because it was too **** hot.  Ah, but the other day, we were outside moving compost around, and I smelled this lovely fragrance and looked around and there was a whole bouquet on one stem and it was perfuming the garden.  So the next morning I cut the stem and brought it in and being fresh it has these lovely streaks of rosy red along the petals and the stamens match that color, and it stands in the vase a bouquet all in itself.  And … there’s another stem coming up.   Ahhhhh – it’s payback time, at last.  Now if I can just get this other new crinum bulb to get going; it’s called Stars and Stripes and I can hardly wait!  Again!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A possible solution

It occurred to me that our flailing Congress might, just might have a solution within itself as to how to put an end to this miserable gridlock problem that has so dismayed the citizenry and prevented Congress from being the least bit useful and productive.

I just kept thinking about pledges and then when we were watching the Republican debate this last Wednesday night (yes, we watch the debates; how else are we going to know how to disagree?), former Ambassador Jon Huntsman said something we thought was very well put:  he said he wished he could persuade everyone to take a pledge to take no pledges.  He said he made a pledge to his wife and a pledge of allegiance to his country, but that he felt that taking further pledges such as, for example to not raise taxes, “diminishes political discussion and jeopardizes the ability to lead.”

Well!  Here’s my idea.  Thinking about all that, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, those wretched Tea Party members in Congress, having taken their oaths of office, pledging their allegiance to the Constitution, and then taking a pledge about taxes with a lobbyist, of all people, they might have pre-empted their oath of office.   Wouldn’t that be grand?  We could say, “OK, you don’t want to even consider raising taxes, you want to hold to your pledge about that, then you’re out.  O-U-T.  Not a member of Congress.  There could be a scramble to replace them, but whoever the replacements were, they’d have to promise to really, really mean their oaths of office.  They could then, depending on the replacements, vote to the best of their judgment, and that might very well lead to not raising taxes, but it would be because of their informed choices and decision, not one imposed on them by someone who had no moral right to do so. 

Oh, I know, I know, it’s a lovely fantasy.  But it’s based on something very ugly and very dangerous for our country:  that someone, anyone, could persuade a member of Congress to make a pledge such as this.   Ambassador Huntsman is not my candidate, nor even my party, but he is really right on this.

Hey, maybe Mr. Huntsman is not a Republican after all!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Our 9-11 Shame

The events of September 11, 2001, are a subject which is much on the minds of everyone just at this time.

And we are ashamed that neither members of Congress nor we ourselves have not stood up and taken the right and proper position of respect.
We can proclaim that everyone involved in that day, firemen, policemen, civilians, everyone, were true heroes.  We can create a memorial with the names inscribed of the people who were lost. 

It seems that we can do everything except provide what would honor the fallen most:  make sure that all the first responders and the second responders and so on, all the ones who rushed to all the scenes and risked their lives and health and futures by doing so, that these people receive the kind of health care they so desperately need and so richly deserve.  Period.  We suddenly realized:  it simply doesn’t matter if they developed diseases that might or might not have been triggered by that event.  They were there.  They did what they did.  They did what was asked and so very much more.  Now in front of the whole world and especially our children and youth, we are being unbelievably uncaring, unbelievably un-American and unbelievably hypocritical.  And worst of all:  unbelievably indifferent to their suffering.

We have written our representative and senators in Washington, begging them to right this wrong.  And sooner, rather than later.  If you agree, join us.  And hurry.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I can’t seem to remember

No, I don’t seem to be suffering from dementia, yet.  And I can clearly remember the period of time when I began loving to garden and grow things.  But I can’t seem to remember exactly when I got interested in the political process.  Interested, that is, as a reserved participant rather than being oblivious.  I do clearly recall when, in my early twenties, I ended up with a Barry Goldwater sticker on my car bumper as the result of attending a rally out of curiosity, only to have my father insist that I park it in the garage when I came to visit; he was a staunch Democrat always, and didn’t want the neighbors to see that bumper sticker at his home.  And my dad was a very gentle, mild-mannered fellow.  I do know that my first presidential vote was cast for John F. Kennedy.  I’m not Catholic so it was more than anything what he said that made me support him and I never changed my mind.  Disappointed, yes, when in later years the extent of his infidelities surfaced, but I thought and still think he was a good president for the time he was allowed.

But over the years, voting for both Democratic and Republican candidates, I developed a position as an independent moderate.  I also developed the philosophy that in our country we have at least six, perhaps seven, political parties:  liberal and conservative Democrats, liberal and conservative Republicans, both categories for Independents, and then there is the Tea Party which is, for me, a political movement similar to what rap music is to music:  extreme and not very well thought out.

I can thank the Tea Party for one thing though:  our family’s personal revulsion for Tea Party or any other members of Congress who make pledges that apparently supersede their vows as members of Congress, and our revulsion for the entire Republican Party’s affinity for making assertions about a sitting president that are simply not true and blaming the President for their own choices and actions, as well as the current Republican candidates introducing ‘plans’ as their own that copy what the President has tried and tried to introduce and get at least debated, pretty well assures me that we will all, in our family, be supporting Mr. Obama much more vigorously than we have supported previous elections, with contributions and with personal effort.   Because we used to think that if our own candidate didn’t win office, the one who did would do his best for the country too.  And I can remember really well when we stopped believing that:  November 2000.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Well, we’re at it again

So now the power companies are in the cross-hairs of the discontented.  Well, that’s what they deserve for taking on the job.  Trying to keep us folks supplied continuously with power for our TV’s, 360’s, phone chargers, not to mention computers, is a full-time job, and they took it on.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  There are many, many dissatisfactions that even I have with power companies.  First of all, there’s erratic pricing:  you never know what the price is going to jump to, and if you lock into a contract (whee!), you know costs will go down until just before you need to renew said contract.  There’s supposed to be competition, but it’s hard to see.  Then it seems when the weather gets hottest or coldest, alarms go out to expect possible outages as if it has never been really hot or really cold before.

But here’s one dissatisfaction I can’t see as reasonable:  expecting immediate return of power after a brutal storm such as Irene.  Expecting linemen to work 24-hour-a-day shifts, 7 days a week, to straighten up power poles or install new ones across a terrain where the geography has literally been rearranged.  Where rivers have been moved, where houses have been removed, where roads and bridges are somewhere downstream from their original sites.  Sure, I understand the fear of losing all the food in the freezer, of not having light at night in a landscape that has turned unfamiliar and scary.  But can I just suggest that frozen food can be cooked on the grill or turned over to emergency shelter locations that might have a generator, and candles and flashlights can persuade children that camping out at home is fun.  I expect a lot of neighborhoods have managed to put their resources together and ‘make do’ with what they have, that wonderful pioneer expression.  At least, unlike the pioneers, we know that eventually, perhaps soon, electricity is coming, and we’ll lose our family’s attention back to their electronics.  And it will be time to put the board games and cards and checkers away in the dark.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

You’re Welcome

In the now-aftermath of Hurricane Irene, which almost immediately followed the rare East Coast earthquake, it has been interesting to see a number of comments of complaint – that’s right, complaint – from the unscathed about what they consider the excess caution of local and Federal government entities concerning evacuations and transportation shut-downs.   According to some of the beach-front vendors in some areas, it wasn’t necessary to evacuate the beach, although you can just hear what they would have said if everything had been blown away, including all their gewgaws.  According to some commuters, it wasn’t necessary to shut down the New York subway system, although you can just hear what they would have said if the flooding had been worse and the subways had filled with water and the electrical systems had been permanently damaged and it had taken months and years to restore them to service.  What if everyone in the path of that storm had found themselves in the same situation as many in New Jersey and New England, who seem to be experiencing the longest duration of flooding and power outages?  And does anyone stop and think:  what if that earthquake and that hurricane had occurred simultaneously.  Think of that!

Where is the gratitude for the storm-chasers and meteorologists, for the governors and mayors, for the National Guard and the firemen and police who did their best to minimize the damages and are out there, still?  Where is the understanding that storm predictions are just that, predictions done to the best of their ability by dedicated, informed people trying to help us stay one step ahead of Nature.  Are we as a society so Hollywood-ized that we aren’t satisfied with less than Armageddon?  Well, we had better hope that total disasters happen only in the movies, because several events this year alone have come way too close.

We totally sympathize with the losses by all the folks who make their living along the East Coast (and all coasts) helping to make the beach experience a fun one for the visitors and everyone is very sorry about the damage to their livelihoods, but as for those who gripe about “over-hype” about the storm coverage:  “You’re welcome, would you like cheese with that whine?”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Peggy’s Purple Periwinkles

It’s perhaps strange that even though I tend to be drawn to fairly unique plants, one of my favorite plants is an ordinary periwinkle variety given to me by a neighbor several years ago.  I call it ‘Peggy’s Purple Periwinkle’ because while she didn’t develop it, she has certainly done her share to populate the world with it.  And her name is Peggy.  And I like alliteration.  These particular  periwinkles would reseed vigorously and escape from the areas she wanted them to inhabit, so she would simply reach down and pull out a handful while we were visiting and hand them to me.  I would think to myself that that’s what I do with weeds, but I would take them home and pot them up, and you know, they would just thrive.  I started thinking, “Hmmm, this is a plant I need in my life.”  It is a lovely shade of purple, which I love.  It often compensated for the flower failures I had, mostly due to either choosing a variety unsuited to my climate area, or unsuited to the uneven, shallow-soiled, shady area I had for planting.

Anyway, when we moved away from there, I made certain I had potted up some plants of that periwinkle to take with us, and then the following spring seedlings also emerged from pots I had brought with me.  We spent that spring and summer installing flower beds in the new place, so the periwinkles had to stay in pots that year, but just in case no seedlings reappeared the next spring, I took cuttings because while periwinkle is an annual in our area and in most of the country, it’s actually a tender perennial, and so I thought, “why not try?”  Those cuttings did well, for the most part, and I have planted new plants in several areas, hoping for a plant generosity such as Peggy experienced.  Well, what with weather conditions and other factors, I’ve only been moderately successful so far.  I only ended up with two seedling plants this summer, but the plant started from a cutting last fall bloomed all winter in a cool garden room, unheated except by a simple electric heater to prevent a freeze, and now that plant is blooming and growing in 100+ heat and so I hope for many progeny from it next spring.  I always hope.

But I won’t take any chances.  I’ll be taking several cuttings and potting them up and visiting them all winter with encouragement.  If I knew what specific variety this plant was, of course I’d be glad to buy some new plants each spring, or several packets of seeds, but while there are wonderful offerings of periwinkles every spring in the nurseries, I’ve never seen anything to compare.  Besides, I kind of enjoy the experience.  I’ve learned a lot about appreciating a plant which is very ordinary (except of course for its stamina), and also about trying experiments, such as rooting a cutting of a plant to see if I can.   And doesn’t that pretty well sum up gardening?  Appreciating all plants for their qualities, and asking one’s self ‘what if I tried …’?