The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Sunday, August 26, 2012


The first election in which I was eligible to vote was in 1960, when I paid a required poll tax in Texas in order to vote, a sacrifice since my income was very, very small.  As a woman, it was particularly meaningful, as women were ‘granted’ the right to vote only twenty years before I was born.  After that first, very exciting opportunity, there have been very few elections in which I have not participated, from city council to county commissioner to president, even voting by absentee ballot if necessary.  I come from a family of ordinary people of very low income, but it was instilled into me by example that one always voted, one tried to learn about the candidates, and one never told another how to vote nor asked how they voted.  Those behaviors were as much a part of our family values as saying “thank you,” and “please.”

So it is not surprising that voting became a type of sacrament as important to me as my basic citizenship.  And it is then surprising, as well as actually shocking, that in this, the twenty-first century, there are actual efforts to prevent fellow citizens from voting.  Now I would never support fraudulent votes for any reason, but we all know, from news reports, that the incidence of fraudulent voting is almost non-existent, and we know this from a study done by the very political party that is working overtly and apparently without qualms or hesitancy, to suppress voting rights.  Certain states, such as Pennsylvania and our own Texas, are changing rules, requiring hard-to-obtain voter ID’s (in addition to voter registration forms), changing voting hours and days, and actually bragging about it on camera (see any references to Mike Turzai, Republican state representative in Pennsylvania).  Furthermore, in several states with large rural areas such as Texas, as many as one-third of counties have no location where voter ID’s can be obtained.

So here are my questions:  First of all, why?  Why try to suppress voting rights when some of those voters may be of the same party as those doing the suppressing?  And then, why is there no outrage from the national candidates of the Republican Party, Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan?  By their silence are they giving consent?  And if so, how can that in any way be acceptable in any candidates, much less national ones?

And finally, the thought occurs:  over and over, we are able, as citizens, at least once we pass the eligibility hurdles, to vote directly for United States senators and representatives.  But there is another huge hurdle between us and our votes to elect a president and vice president, the hurdle being the Electoral College.  So my final question is, “When are we going to do something about that?”

Friday, August 24, 2012


Right now, across this country, very weary folks are working two or three minimum wage jobs to support themselves and perhaps a family.

Right now, across this country, folks who are out of work are wearily reading classified ads, making phone calls, sending resumes, trying to support themselves and perhaps a family.

Right now, across this country, elderly people, who have been retired or who should be retired, are working at Walmart or Target or a grocery store or a department store, trying to support themselves and perhaps pay for expensive medicines.  Yesterday we found out that Norma, one of our favorite people at the grocery store, had passed away, and it made us so very sad that this very mature, hard-working, kind woman had had to work right up to her death, with never a bit of respite.  And Norma is certainly not an exception.

Neither we nor any of these people are impressed with the lifestyle of that often-named one percent, the ones who have forty percent of the wealth of the country.  The ones who have forty percent of the wealth of the country not because they have earned it "by the sweat of their brows", but because it has come to them through all the weary folks who are working minimum wage jobs, through the folks who have had their jobs taken away to ‘stream-line productivity’ because business can do that, or who have had their medicine costs soar out of proportion because the drug companies can do that.

And right now a whole political party is committed not only to clearing our national debt by draconian slashing of benefits from Medicare to education to food stamp programs, they are at the same time intent on drastically cutting the taxes of that same top one percent.  Does our national debt need to be dealt with?   Absolutely.  Are these the right methods to use to deal with our national debt?   Well, right now, those who think that are either the members of one political party, or that famous one percent, or the sadly misinformed.

So what just may be going on right now is a genuine epic battle for the future of our country. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


It is simply impossible for me to believe in a political philosophy which holds the following concepts:

That there should be no birth control except abstinence, but

That there should never be a termination of an unwanted pregnancy, even in the case of rape or to prevent the death of the mother, the mother's life apparently having no value;

That all pregnancies should be protected, but

That once a child is born, society has no responsibility, if there is need, to help feed, shelter, or educate that child, nor any responsibility for seeing that the child has medical care;

And if a child is born to illegal immigrants or brought to this country by illegal immigrants, that child has no rights.

This philosophy actively tries to prevent women’s reproductive rights, including the right to birth control and medical care; it wants to slash food stamps and breakfast and lunch programs for poor children; it wants to slash public education funds; it wants to slash Medicaid and prevent a national health care initiative; it wants to extradite children of illegals who have proved to be good citizens, who have been going to college and/or who have served in our military, protecting our country.

It is my understanding that philosophy is much a matter of trying to understand the logic and logistics of human existence, and I just don’t believe in a philosophy, the Republican philosophy, which neither deals with human logistics nor is it logical.  In any way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Rain lilies, also known as zephyranthes, are real treasures of the garden, because they multiply but are not invasive, require little to no care, and furthermore, are very smart.   Oh, rain lilies will often bloom after a good sprinkler watering, but when it rains, they are ready and out they pop in the summer garden, another wonderful effect of rain.  Garden zephyranthes are either species that also appear in the wild but can be found commercially or hybrids of those same species.  

There are several varieties of zephyranthes, and also a related group called habranthus.  Don’t be impressed by my flinging around the word ‘habranthus.’  One time we were at a wonderful place called The Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas, and they had some rain lilies for sale as well as something called ‘habranthus’ that looked very much the same, foliage-wise, so of course I had to try them.  And I’m so glad I did.

Now we have those wonderful plants, habranthus Russell Manning, and zephranthes Labuffarosa, as well as zephranthes Prairie Sunset (peachy-apricot colored), zephyranthes rosea grandiflora (big and pink), some small yellow species, some small white species, and some gold ones with copper color on the outside of the petals; the latter ones I begged a few of from a neighbor of our daughter’s.

Now these yellow and copper ones, and also the peachy-apricot ones, are popping up in other areas of the garden, and they are so welcome everywhere.  We will transplant the ones which appear in the lawn to a safer haven and I plan to collect some seeds and drop them in other areas so we can see them from the dining room.  When we find something we love, and which is reliable as well, such as zephyranthes and periwinkles, I just seem to want them everywhere.  And what, I ask, is wrong with that? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


In meteorology, a cold snap is a period of intensely cold and dry weather; sometimes meteorologists call it a cold wave.

Well!  A few years ago, trying to keep from total despair at our weather patterns, particularly in the summer (definition – a too long, too hot, too dry period), I noticed that in August of some years we would have a period when we would get a brief relief from 100-plus days and little or no rain.  Now that relief would perhaps be nothing more than a drop from 100-plus to temps in the nineties, and maybe with only a brief summer shower, but that would be enough to encourage weary plants and weary people that better times, weather-wise, were coming.  And I call it the August snap.  Not cold, not even cool, but a definite change.

Night before last we finally got some relief after two months of bitter, record-setting heat and a total for the two-month period of 4 tenths of an inch.  And this relief is sweet.  Almost two inches of rain right where we are, cooler temperatures (not cool, mind, but cooler), and a lovely breeze and cloud cover that make all the difference.  Overnight, the trees and grass and plants look like they feel better.  And I know we sure do.

Now I know full well that this respite won’t last.  We’ll go back to periods of too-high temps and we’ll probably not get any significant rain for several more weeks, but this snap is just wonderful for now and a little bit of encouragement that better weather times are coming, a little bit of relief when we surely need it.

And I know that next year about this time, I’ll be complaining and saying, “Come on, it's August, where’s that snap?”

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Frankly, I don’t care that Mitt Romney ‘botched’ his introduction of his vice-presidential running mate by introducing him as “the next President of the United States.”  A goof under pressure.

I don’t much care that Romney managed to alienate the Brits and the Palestinians during his recent trip abroad; he’s obviously not much of a diplomat and at least he wasn’t speaking for our country, just himself.

I also don’t care that Romney’s aide had a brief rude interaction with reporters at a WWII monument in Poland.   It would be irrational to expect anyone to control or vet all their aides’ actions.

I don’t care that when they were on vacation, Romney rode on a Sea-do behind his wife rather than doing the driving.  Their vacation, their business.

I don’t care that his campaign invited reporters to follow Romney doing daily tasks such as going to the hardware and grocery stores, at which time he proved stilted and awkward and refused to interact with those same reporters.  Hey, it’s Romney we’re talking about.

I don’t care that Romney had that awkward interchange with Rick Perry during the Republican primaries, where he offered a $10,000 wager.  What’s $10,000 to a millionaire or billionaire?

I don’t care that Romney thinks that corporations are people.  What does he know?

I don’t care that Romney presided over a public health insurance program in Massachusetts, only to deny it now.  How can he know that was his finest hour?

I’ve even gotten to the point where I don’t much care that Romney won’t release more of his prior-year tax returns (heck, he hasn’t even released a version of his 2011 tax return).  When someone has that many homes and that much money, I’d be embarrassed, too.

Here’s what I do care about:  the education of our children; developing green energy before it’s too late; focusing on the vulnerable in our society – the poor, the ill, the elderly; solving our fiscal problems with jobs programs so people get educations and jobs and pay taxes and heal our economy; and finally, recognizing that either corporations are people and therefore must pay their share of taxes, or corporations are not people, and our political campaigns should go back to being boring and stupid, instead of boring, stupid, and embarrassingly costly.  $2,500,000,000 (that’s two-and-a-half billion) is a lot of bread.   Really, that’s a lot of bread.  And cheese, too.


The first words that came into my thoughts when Paul Ryan was announced as a vice-presidential candidate by Mitt Romney were “collateral damage.”  What exactly is collateral damage?  By definition, collateral damage is damage aside from that which was intended.  And that so aptly describes the effect that would occur if the Romney-Ryan team won the presidency.   Why?  Because between the Ryan budget plan and the Romney budget plan, which could also be described as cut and slash finance, extreme reductions would be made to the very institutions that keep our country afloat during difficult times:  Medicare, Social Security, education, infrastructure.

Congressman Paul Ryan is best known as the author of a budget so radical The New York Times called it "the most extreme budget plan passed by a House of Congress in modern times." With Mitt Romney's support, Ryan would end Medicare as we know it and slash the investments we need to keep our economy growing -- all while cutting taxes for those at the very top.

So who would benefit from this duo?  The largest corporations and the wealthiest individuals would find their taxes reduced.  The middle class and the poor would find their taxes increased.  This information is provided by the Congressional Budget Office evaluation of these plans. 

And who would lose from this duo?  The nation’s poor would lose the possibility of medical insurance and care, they would lose or face drastic reductions in food programs, poor school children would lose their breakfasts and lunches, the elderly would face drastic cuts in both Medicare and Social Security.  The students who will become our future will face greatly reduced educational benefits and opportunities.  Investments in infrastructure and energy grid development would be curtailed or cut completely. There is not a federal program which would not benefit from improvement, but there is a difference between improvement and destruction.

And what would be the ultimate goal of all this terrible cut-and-slash?  Theoretically, the national debt, the debt incurred by the previous Republican philosophy of unpaid-for  tax cuts, unpaid-for wars, unpaid-for prescription drug programs, all that debt would now be magically cleared away, unless a Republican administration decided that another war was required.  Because this particular Republican duo of Romney and Ryan do not operate on plans to nurture our country, either as a country or as individuals.  They operate on a statistical theory that looks beautiful to them:  take this money from here and just apply it there.

But the true nature of governing, in the true definition of the word, would be to care about the effects of decisions, to understand that social programs are investments in the governed, and above all, to avoid ‘perfecting’ financial theories at the expense of collateral damage.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Summer, if you’ll pardon the slang, a’int what it used to be, if it ever was.

Time was that it was always hot, in the summer.  But it wasn’t as hot as it is now, in the spring, summer and fall.  Time was that it was hot in the summer, but street lamps didn’t melt, as they are reportedly doing in Oklahoma, and street paving didn’t buckle, as also has been reported.

When we were young, lo these many years ago, we didn’t have home air conditioning.  We had open windows and small oscillating fans in the southern summers.  The open windows let in what air there was, and the fans moved it around, without much lowering of temperature.  When we needed to get some respite from the heat, we either ate cold watermelon or found some place to swim, or went to the movies or tried to sleep outside in the backyard (because we didn’t have a sleeping porch).  One of my strongest childhood memories was playing outside in the shade of a clump of crape myrtles, because it was still cooler there than in an uninsulated house.  It wasn’t an old house at that time, but it was built by postwar builders and no thought was given to insulation, so it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, unless one hugged the gas space heater we had (yep, only one, and we didn’t have that on at night for fear of a gas leak).

I don’t know what is causing this second year in a row of record heat and drought and crop damage.  I do know we still have watermelon and fans and crape myrtles and movies for comfort.  But the heat and drought now covering most of our country is not manageable with open windows and oscillating fans.  The heat we are having just now, 105 degrees (45.6 celcius), 107 degrees (41.7 celcius) would not be safely manageable in a tree-shaded, well-insulated house.  It is horrendous and often fatal for homeless folks or those who cannot obtain air conditioning. 

And it’s obviously not too comfortable for streets and street lamps.