The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Sunday, September 30, 2012


When things don’t go our way, when we are tired or frustrated or disappointed or even frightened, the human instinct is to lash out.  To respond with angry words and sometimes, particularly if we are children or just childish, with angry deeds.    The rash of bullying being brought to the public consciousness now is nothing new.  It is, as they say, as old as the hills.

We tell our children to say no to sex, to drugs, to smoking, to alcohol, to not talk to strangers. 

We tell them not to lie, not to eat too much candy, not to jump on beds.  And to look both ways before crossing the street.

 Why don’t we also tell them to ‘just say no’ to being mean?  More than that, why don’t we also tell them to just be nice.  One of my favorite lines from a play and movie is from that wonderful work, “Harvey”, by Mary Chase, when that lovely man, Elwood P. Down says, “…my mother used to say to me, ‘In this world, Elwood … you must be oh, so smart or oh, so pleasant.’  For years I was smart.  I recommend pleasant.  You may quote me.”

We can tell our children all these things.  And we can just try as best we can to set an example.  For another lovely man, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, is quoted as saying:  “Example is not the main thing in influencing others.   It is the only thing.”

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Here's the thing

There are certain watershed moments in the history of our country, when a singular event begins other singular events that affect us all, whether we acknowledge those effects or not.

The singular event that has our entire country in thrall just now is the Supreme Court’s  upholding of the Citizen United position that “corporations are people.”  This is such an obvious physical impossibility that no matter how one tries to accept it, no reasonable thought can be wrapped around it.  Corporations are made up of people, certainly, but corporations are an entity, not a human individual, and so the law of our land has been compromised in a terrible way.  This event has then led to the infusion of unfathomable amounts of money being channeled by corporations into our political process, for the only explainable purpose:  to control our country politically.  When all the sums of money spent on television ads and billboards and all the other forms of political advertising are added together, that total would have made an incredible difference to the people of this country suffering from unemployment, homelessness, and the aftermath of violent weather episodes.

And of course the next singular event which has occurred, in part or in total because of these two other events, is the insight we have all gained into what a political candidate will say to members of his base in candor, for example, the infamous “47 percent” speech of Mitt Romney.

Another sad fact seems to be that we have a large portion of our citizenry who live in a bubble created by Fox News and its subsidiaries, who listen to the pronouncements of commentators such as Rush Limbaugh as if those pronouncements were true, and who never question the methods or purposes of what is said and shown.

Put this series of events together with the control of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, which has subverted the majority of Republican members of Congress, and we seem to have a perfect storm of events which are testing the political will of our citizenry as has not happened in a very long time, if ever.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lessons from the Avengers

Because the younger members of our family keep current on cultural events, they manage to keep us current as well, as best they can.  So when the super-hero movies such as Ironman, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers appear, the young ones make sure we have an opportunity to see them.

Of course we loved the humor and imagination and visual imagery in all the movies, and really each one had underlying messages or lessons or thought-provoking passages, whatever you want to call them.

But last night we older ones watched The Avengers for the first time, and its underlying story struck me as perhaps the most topical of all right now.  Topical?  Really?  Yep.  Because for me, the super-heroes also were like the various factions in our country right now.  For the most part, those factions are decent and well-intentioned, but so caught up in their own personas that just like the Avengers, they tend to work against each other rather than together.

 Yet at the end, when presented with truly horrific opponents, they came together, supported each other, and saved themselves and The World.  Our world.  The world that right now is dealing with horrific opponents in the form of violent climate events, immigration worries, huge economic concerns, terrorist plots, well, everyone knows the litany. 

So wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the members of government, legislative, judicial, administrative, actually watched The Avengers movie, actually got the message there, and actually decided, at least in the majority, to roll up their sleeves and work together to save the world? Now, that would make a really great movie!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


It has been said that in our part of the world, Texas, we, too, have four seasons:  cold and wet, real hot and dry, or one day of spring or one day of fall. 

Well, that’s not entirely true.  At this state in the evolution of the world’s weather cycles, we still have a time of mild temps in the spring and another time in the fall, during the wonderful periods called ‘equinoxes’, when the balance of length of days is perfect.  And sometimes because of this, spring bloomers bloom in the fall, hence our quince blooming lightly now, and fall bloomers bloom in the spring as when we’ve seen our fall asters bloom lightly.

Right now at the end of September, on the first full day of fall for this year of 2012, there are spider lilies and sternbergia blooming red and yellow, a very beloved old daylily named Raspberry Rapture has sent up another bloom scape, the purple chrysanthemums are setting buds vigorously.  And the rhodophiala, the wonderful fall amaryllis, is wonderful as always.  It is ridiculously hot, in the nineties today, we haven’t had rain for weeks, and yet these wonderful plants are valiantly responding to the slightest respite from heat and drought.

Somewhere other than here there are flaming maple trees, Japanese anemones are blooming gorgeously, and the air is crisp.  Here we have only the suggestion of fall and some wonderful old friends blooming.

Friday, September 14, 2012


When our children were very young and asking the millions of questions that young children ask, there were, of course, times when we just didn’t know the answer.  So, once my husband overheard me saying that I didn’t know that answer.  “Hey,” he said, “we can’t tell them we don’t know or they won’t respect our authority.”  To which I replied that if we had to go through life pretending we knew everything, the kids were going to find us out pretty quickly.  We both agreed that when we didn’t know, we could just say that we didn’t know, but that we would find out.  And that set a tone in our family relationship for honesty, which is a value we hold very dear. 

Now we seem to have candidates for national office who not only feel free to distort facts and truth in commercials and in their statements (“It’s only politics,” they say), but they are now stating that they anticipate that the President will not be truthful during the upcoming debates.  Think of that.  What an amazing accusation. 

We just cannot agree with such attitudes and behavior.  We think people should always, always, always be as honest as possible.  There is no need to state unkind truths.  One needs to use discretion.  If a beloved daughter asks if you like her new hair style, you can say, “Well, I really liked it best the other way,” not “That looks terrible, dear.”  See what I mean?

But the more important the issue, the more important it becomes to be as honest as possible, to admit candidly when we err or misspeak, and to deal with situations openly.

Because honesty makes its own authority.