The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The here and now

Today is the first day of fall, the autumnal equinox, an expression I love.  There are two equinoxes each year, I have learned:  the vernal or spring equinox and this one.  The fascinating thing I see, in growing things is that sometimes the equinoxes affect plants the same way in both seasons.  For instance, flowering quince blooms magnificently in the spring, but we get a few random blooms in the fall, too, when the hours of sunlight are the same.  Spring days get longer, fall days get shorter, but there is that point of balance at these two times when they are just about the same.  We saw a few white spirea blooms the other day.   Magical.

 First thing this morning, or at least almost first thing, as soon as I had fed the hungry Max cat, I walked around the garden (or really just the back yard, but we like to call it the garden), and relished the relative coolth and enjoyed how relieved all the plants look. The red fall amaryllis are blooming several places as well as the rain lilies, we just had one golden sternbergia and several spider lilies bloom but expect more, the chrysanthemums are preparing to pop out, the geraniums and periwinkles and marigolds and crape myrtles are still flourishing, and one can just see the boost that the daylilies have achieved with the rain and the cooler temps. And simply nothing discourages the lantana, bless it. I try to enjoy being in the moment when I have these strolls, but it's also hard not to be making mental notes of what needs to be done next and changes and all that. A gardener's mind is apparently always plotting and planning even while enjoying the here and now.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


First of all, it is important to remember that the word “Congress” refers to both the House and the Senate, and I find it constantly lamentable that “Congress” is used to refer only to the House of Representatives.  Oh, well, modern language is lamentable in so many ways.

Then let’s make a list of all the political toxicities that are being inflicted on our country just now (and these are not necessarily in order of importance, since importance keeps changing):

Forty (make that 42) votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the House alone, even though both houses of Congress approved this legislation, and it has been upheld by the Supreme Court, a dubious entity nowadays but nevertheless they have spoken on this.  The ACA is designed to provide insurance to as many as 30,000,000 uninsured Americans; it is by no means perfect but probably could be improved if only Congress would do so.

The recurrent threat to shut down our government in order to achieve whatever the current hostage is – previously it was the debt ceiling, now it’s the ACA, next it may be the debt ceiling again.

And during those 42 votes, here’s what the Congress was not working on: 

the sequester, which possibly led to cuts in Naval budgets that reduced security at the DC Naval Yard, thus helping to enable another mass murder episode;

which leads us to gun safety legislation, which Congress (both houses, remember) will not act on because the gun manufacturers have too many members in their pockets, even though 30,000 Americans are killed or injured every year in gun-related events;

the debt ceiling threat, in which the Congress appears to be determined to undermine world economy, again, as well as our US economy, in order to extort defunding of the ACA.  

Meanwhile we have an immigration problem which could be addressed by a reasonable policy, which has been proposed but not voted on.  We have a deteriorating infrastructure, including bridges that those same members of Congress and their families must surely use at times, but which they will not address.  We need the proposed American Jobs Act put into play, we need monstrous disparity between the very wealthy and the very poor balanced with comprehensive tax reform, and we need immediate attention to an absurdly low minimum wage, but no luck there.

Besides voting against the ACA 42 times to date, what the House has also done is vote to drastically reduce food stamp benefits, as if more hungry children would solve any problem.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Scary Sunday Morning Talk Shows

For years we have carefully recorded what we regard as the two major Sunday morning talk shows, on NBC and CBS, to catch up on opinions and acquaint ourselves with issues and those who hold them.   In other words, we wanted to be informed.

But a few months ago we started realizing a few things about those shows.  The moderators on both programs were frequently interrupting their interviewees, apparently trying to limit the speakers to very short responses when sometimes another sentence or two would be interesting and illuminating; this was annoying.  Another thing was that both programs tended to have the same guests over and over and over, and some of those guests, particularly one certain senator, were too busy grinding axes, as the old expression goes, rather than providing insight or useful opinion; this was boring.

Finally, and the worst element of these programs for us, was that both the moderators and the guests were all trying to tell us what would happen, what for instance the President was thinking, what the President was going to do, what Congress was going to do, what various heads of state were going to do.  Perhaps we’re wrong, but we got weary of repeated hypotheticals, mostly the same hypotheticals, and the hypothetical effects of the hypothetical events.  And we found this worrying, as if the moderators and the guests were really telling the viewer what to think and feel.

So now we record those two talk shows, sometimes we may watch them for a bit, but mostly, if nothing has happened over the previous Saturday night that means there might be significant programs, we just delete them.  Because we want to know what is happening, not what might be, and we want to form our own opinions, not be told what to think.   But we have a terrible suspicion that the majority of the watchers of these two programs, and other programs on other networks, simply accept hypotheticals and opinions and never take the trouble to form their own.   How very terrifying.

Monday, September 2, 2013


The full sentence would be, ‘Detroit, Detroit, what a wonderful town it could be.  The photographs we see on television and the internet are heartbreaking, the discussions we hear about not honoring the contracts for public workers’ pensions and health care is terrifying, the precedent of an American city being allowed to become bankrupt and essentially destroyed sound like something out of a weird, futuristic sci-fi novel.  But all these things are reality.  And they don’t have to be, and shouldn’t be.

Just my own simple brain can see all sorts of possibilities and there are many folks with much better brains and much better educations and experiences, so why aren’t there more discussions about possibilities?

What if, for instance, a group of philanthropists came in and bought up a lot of the residential areas, at bargain-basement prices of course, and developed median priced housing in those wonderful types of village communities with homes and apartments and restaurants and businesses, and touted the areas as ideal for the types of folks who can earn their livings away from offices and in an area that is pivotal for commute to either coast for conferences and where lakes abound.  That way the unfortunate folks who own those terribly distressed properties would get at least some compensation for them, and maybe even be able to participate in building new communities and in the businesses and restaurants that would support such communities.

And as far as the art museum there, full of masterpieces owned by the city, why don’t museums all over the country form a group and buy those same masterpieces and leave them on loan there in Detroit, because a community needs arts as well as everything else.

And why doesn’t Congress find funds to stabilize those pension plans just as was done for the Wall Street banks and the auto industry? 


Sunday, September 1, 2013

They Came by the Thousands

They came by the thousands and they were there for me, a white child.  I just didn’t know it at the time.  However, it would be almost impossible to have missed, this last week, the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech, even for those who were unaware of the significance of that speech, even for those who are diametrically opposed to everything that Martin Luther King and his followers stood and stand for.

As our president, Barack Obama, summed it up:

"They came by the thousands, from every corner of our country, Men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom, and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others."

I’ve heard about that speech, seen clips from it, found my own position on the subject, acquired my own memories from that time, and yet.  And yet, in watching the 50-year-old images of the crowds who gathered that day, in really looking at them, I saw something amazing.  I saw women in their summer dresses and hats, I saw men in white shirts and ties, I saw smiling faces, I saw different ages and races, I saw innocence.  I saw the innocence and trust of people who loved their country and believed they would not be attacked just for being there.  They came because they had been invited, because they wanted to stand up not just for themselves, not just for a single thought, but because they knew that until the burdens of racial injustice and hatred and abuse and all the terrible wrongs of racism and bigotry and inequality had been lifted, even those who hated them would suffer.  The courage represented in those gentle yet determined walkers I cannot imagine or worse, find within myself.

Taking the opportunity to listen to that speech, only seventeen minutes long but it changed the world, Dr. King laid out concerns and remedies for black and white, for poor and rich, for young and old, and yes, even for gay and straight.  And it is still true today.  We just still need to listen.