The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Sometimes, at the end of the year, the holidays occur with busy times and fun and the pleasures of making cookies and decorating with old ornaments from many years ago and getting together with friends and family for renewal of old memories and the making of new ones. 

In other Decembers, the weather persists in being dark and cold and gray, and too many times it seems, this is exactly when all sorts of stresses and difficulties and worries appear, and the two together, the dark cold and the worry, conspire to make shadows that even decorations and all the other holiday traditions cannot banish.

This is when I find that I am helped once again by our garden.  The garden is, of course, a mess at this time of year, strewn with leaves and the tops of dried summer flowers, and at the same time the bright green of winter weeds which apparently thrive with the same conditions that cause other plants to die back.  On the other hand, there is now blooming an early jonquil that found itself in just the right sheltered place to send up its bloom stalk and give us delight.  And other bulbs are sending up their leaves; the Dutch iris always come up in the late fall, at least around here.  And newly transplanted iris are sending up tentative new leaves.  The blueberry bushes, which gave little to nothing in the way of berries this last year, are nevertheless giving us some garden color, with yellow and gold leaves.

It is all a perfect definition of the cycle of rest and renewal that is simply the design of life and seeing all those renewals in the midst of the winter garden are so welcome and so very needed.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


It’s raining leaves today, our annual festival of falling color.  Out every window we can see vivid fall colors, across the road, down the street, beyond the next door neighbors.  Because it has been a different weather pattern year, the crape myrtles, which are usually glorious this time of year with red and yellow and gold leaves, mostly just dried up and dropped after an early freeze.  But the oaks and the sweetgums and the Bradford pears and many others, whose names I do not know, are more beautiful every day.  
We have a kind of love-hate relationship with the leaves.  When the trees are green and it is hot weather, they give us wonderful shade and shelter and make all the difference to our comfort inside and out.  When the leaves turn, they make a kind of visual poem to autumn and simply lift our hearts with their beauty.  When they are raked and chopped and composted, the leaves turn into mulch and eventually compost, a type of home-grown plant food for the garden.   But in between the time the leaves start turning and the time they are all raked and chopped and stacked, the leaves become rather difficult playmates, because they ride wind currents right into our garden room, if we sweep them off the patio they simply seem to blow right back toward us, they hitch a ride on our cat’s fur, and they create for us a lot of work. 
Today I vacuumed up all the leaves on the patio, then I raked some that were damp into a pile too wet to vacuum and pushed and pulled the pile around the corner to the south side of the house, because today we have a south wind and they would just come back.  Tonight we are due what is called a cold spell and the wind will change around to the north.  Either way, hopefully that leaf pile will  not come back toward our back door, and either way our cat will likely make a joyful nest there.

Monday, October 27, 2014


It occurred to me, as I was driving down the road this morning and thinking about our much-beloved granddaughter, who recently got a ticket for driving through a red light, that getting that ticket was a good preparation for life for her, because of all the amazing considerations one must deal with in simply going through an intersection, even in a quiet neighborhood.
For instance, as we approach an intersection, are we in the correct lane; are we turning here or going forward; if turning, which way and are we in the proper lane for that turn?  Is there a traffic light, and if so, at what position is it:  is it green or red or yellow – go or stop or wait?  Is our approaching speed appropriate or not?  How far away are the people behind us?  In front of us?  To either side of us?  And are there any pedestrians?  If there is a stop sign, is it four-way or two-way, and what is the order of process – who goes next?  Because stop signs really require attention as to taking turns.

An automobile is a very powerful machine, even a very ordinary model such as we drive.  It is bigger than a bread box, very heavy, very capable of being a problem if we put it in the wrong place, particularly if we are going at the wrong speed for the situation.

Almost every element from our position to speed to where everyone else is has to be assessed and re-assessed constantly and it is simply not easy.  And if we are not careful, we could suffer injury to ourselves or we could cause injury to someone else. 

And if all of that doesn’t also apply to all our other activities in navigating through life, what would?


My mother used to say, when some problem or ‘challenge’ came along, that “If it’s not one thing, it’s twenty-four.”  Meaning, at least to my understanding, that something was just always going to come along, and sometimes lots of ‘somethings’.

Which pretty well applies to today’s many difficult situations.  We say that we not only have the Enterovirus, Ebola, terrorists in the middle east and problematic weather patterns, we also have Republicans!  Republicans would probably rephrase the statement a bit.

But here’s the thing we must all keep in mind:  times have never been easy.  Oh, there have been intervals of peace and prosperity, of course, over the long history of mankind, but interspersed among those intervals have been so many wars, so many plagues, so many periods of poverty and suffering.  And yet, mankind has, so far at least, as a species and as individuals, managed to find ways to deal with whatever comes along. 
Maybe, sooner or later, we’ll get really serious about looking out for each other, such as making sure that there are decent basic living conditions in areas such as West Africa, where Ebola comes from and where it gets out of hand so quickly in part because of lack of clean water and practical toilet facilities.  Maybe we’ll work as hard at helping the impoverished as we do in following the latest technical trends and the latest celebrities. 

Oh, even then, there would be problems to come along, but maybe they would come along one at a time, instead of ‘twenty-four.’

Thursday, September 18, 2014


We have, behind our house, what some folks call a garden and others would call a backyard.  In that area, our garden, we grow fruit and flowers and vegetables, and we also welcome birds.  There is a regular bird feeder for the bigger birds such as cardinals and finches and titmice and such, and a hummingbird feeder for, of course, the hummers.

Well, we don’t always get to spend much time in the garden chairs, watching birds and butterflies and the resident squirrels, so the hummingbirds have not become accustomed to us and are very shy and skittish.

But if we are out there and a hummer or two approach, and if we be still, they will alight at their feeder and sip and sip, sometimes for a bit of time.

And it occurred to me one time while we were sitting there, almost holding our breaths to keep from startling the hummingbird away, that there are perhaps many such moments in life when there is something special occurring, such as a dazzling moon or a glorious sunset or a small child observing the world around them, and if we be still, we will savor it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


The most recent lesson I have learned while gardening, and in many ways perhaps the most important for me personally, is that when I go out just to do ‘walkies’ around the garden to see what is blooming and bend over to pull a weed or two (and there are always weeds), I begin to feel the soreness and stiffness of the aches and pains that greet me in the morning, the ordinary aches and pains that find us all if we are blessed to have maturing years but a bit miserable nevertheless.  By the time I’ve made a circuit of the garden, which is fairly small when compared to other gardens but which seems large when there is so much to do, after that circuit and the accompanying weeding and peering at blooms, I’m much improved and ready to do the day’s work.

Next lesson:  when one hears a bit of extraordinary birdsong, it should be a personal rule to stop for at least a moment and listen, really listen.  Right at that moment.   Birds are busy and many times they are not singing but rather chattering among themselves, but on occasion they can really produce lovely riffs and if one doesn’t listen, one may miss one of the most important points of a garden and of a day.

Then there is the situation this year, where even after an horrendously hot and dry summer last year, continuing with little rain over the winter along with an ice storm, snow storms and a bitter, really harsh late freeze after things had started growing and leafing out, we can walk around and be amazed at how so many plants seem to say “we’re still here!”  So the plants in my garden teach me to be tough. 


And still another lesson:  most plants, such as tulips and daffodils and wild phlox and chrysanthemums, have a peak bloom season.  Then they are quiet for another year.  Annuals have a shining hour and then go away.  Certain flowers such as those on daylilies, last only for a day and then are gone.  Life is like that, too. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nancy Giles: Let's sue Congress!

In this web-exclusive commentary, "Sunday Morning on CBS" contributor Nancy Giles says House Speaker John Boehner's planned lawsuit against President Obama because "the president has not faithfully executed the laws" deserves an appropriate response:

I have issues with John Boehner. I don't mind that he cries easily; in fact, it's kind of sweet, though I wish his tears led to some kind of action.  Any kind of action.
When he took the gavel after Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker in our history, he received a ton of attention: interviews, write-ups, even magazine covers -- way more than Pelosi, who (whether you liked her policies or not) was a way more effective Speaker.

Times are tougher for Mr. Boehner these days. He's consistently bullied and challenged by members of his own party, and as Speaker of the House, it turns out he's really a good follower.
And who does he end up following? The squeakiest, looniest, "fringe-iest" Members of the House. What's with that?

And then there was the phone call incident: in case you missed it, on Election Night 2012, after President Obama was declared the winner and Mitt Romney conceded the election, the President put in two calls: one to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the other to Speaker John Boehner. We'll never know what the President would have said to the two top Republicans in Congress, because he was told that both McConnell and Boehner were asleep. It was past their bedtime.
Call me crazy, but if the leader of the free world calls, don't you think it might be important enough to get out of bed? What's with that?

Now, after almost four years "leading" the House Republicans to a record number of blocked votes, subcommittees and hearings, 54 votes to repeal, amend, or just somehow get their hands around the Affordable Care Act, and a government shutdown that cost the economy an estimated $24 billion (according to the financial ratings agency Standard & Poors), Speaker Boehner has topped himself. He wants the House of Representatives to sue President Obama for his use of executive actions.
According to Speaker Boehner:  "The Constitution makes it clear that a president's job is to faithfully execute the laws; in my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws."  Now that's funny. Article 2 of that same Constitution says that among the President's other powers, he "shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session."

And speaking of not faithfully executing the laws, let's talk about Congress.   Congress has many duties; a key one is to represent we, the people in what are basically the biggest town hall meetings in the U.S.A. But the main job of Congress, according to Section 8 of the Constitution? "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution..."   Make all laws. That's part of their job description! But if you're not willing to debate, if you consistently block votes from coming to the floor, if you've tried 54 times to meddle with an existing law that the majority of this country is in favor of, if instead of passing laws that help those most hurting you funnel money to top income earners, if you shout about being "fiscally responsible" while spending millions of dollars on Congressional hearings, if you legislate with double standards depending on who is President, and if the 112th Congress was the least productive one since World War II, then you're not doing your job.

That tactic, by the way, of accusing someone else of what you yourself are doing, is called "projective identification." (I knew that Psych 101 class would come in handy some day!)   So I'm wondering: Can the president counter-sue John Boehner? Or the entire House of Representatives?
Can we sue? And can Judge Judy officiate? Please?

Sunday, June 22, 2014


About these children coming in from Central America, on the one hand we can understand our agencies being overwhelmed by the sheer and perhaps unexpected numbers.  On the other hand, if this country does not have the capabilities developed to respond to this sort of emergency, what about other emergencies that may occur in the future? 

We have easily compiled a list of possible immediate emergency assistance:  government agencies such as FEMA, which could act as both provider and coordinator; clothing manufacturer donations; food company donations; camp equipment manufacturers; volunteer medical groups such as Doctors without Borders; toy manufacturers for such simple things as coloring books and crayons; book sellers for books in Spanish; private donors (you know, the ones who also spend millions for political causes); religious groups (we know many are doing so but certainly not all); finally, elected members of our state and federal Congresses (both houses) as well as folks like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.  And how about all those groups who rightly responded to Haiti, etcetera.  If these possibilities occur to us, why not to those in power? 

We know this is a complex and difficult situation, but we also know that America has a strong self-image of being a decent, compassionate nation.  And these are children.  Yes, they need to be evaluated for possible asylum and then either returned to their countries or welcomed here, but first of all, they need to be cared for kindly.  Because these are children.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


It is said that we are a divided country, and how can one disagree with that?  We have a supposed American self-image:  of being passionate about rights for everyone, of opportunities for everyone, of neighborliness, of kindness and decency, of caring for the weak and vulnerable.  Then we have the images of reality:  of individuals waving guns around in public and frightening people, of manufacturers and their agents wanting to sell their products so badly that they are not only willing but actively supporting the allowing of what is a real and basic right to own guns to morph into chaos and death and lawlessness.

With seventy four (74) separate school shootings in the last year and a half since Newtown, with countless young people killed or injured or traumatized by terror in what should be a safe place, with other shootings in offices and theaters and stores and homes and houses of religion and streets and freeways, we in America have become a nation at war.  Not at war in Afghanistan or Iraq.  Not like the other war-torn countries such as Syria and Libya and Somalia and Nigeria.  But here in America, here in the nation often described as the world’s last best hope.

And is there anything that ordinary, everyday Americans can do to save our country?  Why, yes, there are many things we ordinary folk can do.  First of all, we can replace, with votes, all the failed members of Congress, both houses, who have sold their souls to the gun manufacturer lobby and refused to write and pass and enforce sensible gun safety laws, to include the removal of military weapons from easy availability.  Secondly, we can demand loud, constant, and non-stop national debate so that the Second Amendment can be honored without this constant flaunting of guns, concealed or unconcealed, in public.  And finally, we can properly celebrate the Affordable Care Act, and make certain that mentally ill people get the help they need, instead of the guns they should not have.

These things are doable.  These things are right.  Doing these things will give us an America we honor and celebrate.  Not doing these things is unthinkable.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


On one of the television programs this morning, there was an interesting article about transgender children and young people, and how they felt about being, for instance, a girl in a boy’s biological body.  Now like many people, we don’t quite understand that, nor actually the entire spectrum of the lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender world.  We just do not have a frame of reference, with the two exceptions that we have had the acquaintance of two very fine young men who were gay and of whom we are very fond.  But being fond of them is not at all the same thing as understanding their feelings and the situations in which they find themselves.

But it occurred to us today that those two young men and their fellow members of the LGBT community probably do not understand our feelings and situations, just as they might not understand my personal passion for gardening, another’s passion for automobiles, or another’s passion for animé.  Then there’s that whole other area of the mysteries of religion or no-religion.

So in the point of time where we watched this program, and seeing these very fine young children and teenagers dealing with where they  find themselves in this world, it occurred to us that maybe these are a situation that simply does not require understanding.  Maybe, instead, it requires simple acceptance.

Friday, June 6, 2014


On this particular day, the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion in World War II, there’s a lot of talk about heroes.  No one disagrees that the unbelievably courageous folks who participated in that move toward ending an horrific war were heroes, except perhaps for some of those same remarkable people still living, who often say, “Well, I’m no hero.”  We just saw such a person on TV.  He joined the military as a very young man from a small town in Texas, did his training, and jumped out of a plane in France on D-Day.  He did what he had to do, but refuses to regard himself as a hero, which, of course, he is.

So let’s talk about the definition of the word “hero”.  A hero can be defined as a very brave person, who shows great courage or character, or as somebody admired for special achievements, and those are valid definitions.  But courage can be defined as being very frightened and still doing what is needed.  So what about the very ordinary people from many parts of the world who gathered together and did their assigned jobs during WWII.  What about the ordinary people who are still doing their jobs in war zones during our current conflicts.  What about the ordinary people, many of them mothers, who are working two or three jobs to meet their responsibilities.   What about the brave folks in other parts of the world who are standing up for their beliefs against political systems they know are unfair.

What if the definition of “hero” is simply someone who knows what they need to do and shows up to do it.  If that’s the case, there are a lot more heroes around than we may realize. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Top Ten Signs of Global Warming (Sorry, ‘Climate Change’)

New post on The Newsosphere

Top Ten Signs of Global Warming (Sorry, ‘Climate Change’)

by clavius42
10. "Can't see the forest for the trees" doesn't make any sense anymore.

9. Hurricanes in Kuwait.

8. You can't read your thermometer because it has melted.

7. Nevada becomes West Coast.

6. You need to "catch a wave" to get to work.

5. The Eiffel Tower becomes "that short, pointy thing in the water".

4. Your husband no longer says, "fish for dinner again???"

3. Monopoly money becomes actual currency.

2. Dust masks start trending.

And the Number One Sign of Global Warming...

1. Hell has actually frozen over.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Finally there is public outcry all around this country and all around the world about these precious children who have been brutally kidnapped in Nigeria by another of the groups in this world who not only have extreme views of life in this world but want to impose those views on everyone else.  The signs and demonstrations say “Bring Back Our Girls,” but they might as well say “Bring Back Our Children,” for these young girls are just that - children. 

There are too many children in this world that are at terrible risk and there is simply not enough acknowledgment of responsibility for these children by those in our so-called ‘civilized’ world.  Personally, we worry about the children here in this country, but also the children in the Ukraine, in Russia, in Pakistan and Iraq and Afghanistan, in Syria, in Somalia, in all the areas where too much violence exists, where children must endure hunger and fear and insecurity of the most simple basics of life such as shelter and food. 

It is said that Nigeria is a wealthy, oil-rich country, but one would never know it by the acceptance of its government of the terrible behavior of terrorist groups in its outlying countryside.  The same can be said of even our own country, where there is indescribable wealth, and at the same time terrible need, where children can be homeless.

Here is what we believe:  all children belong to us all.  We must care about every child, whether it is a child from a poor family who attends an elementary school down the street and who needs a winter coat, or a child in any part of the world who is at risk from violent thugs who do terrible acts against innocent people in the name of values they pretend are superior.  We who know that children are the future, who know that they need care and safety and protection, must unite at least in this one thing:  we must help to stop the tolerance of attacks on children – on OUR children.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Awhile back, I wrote a bit entitled No More Crying Over Crinums, because I was thrilled that a particular clump of crinum had finally bloomed after a few years’ wait.  And indeed that particular crinum was, and is, lovely.   And we still love it.

However, to balance all that out, another variety that we grow, variety powellii album, Powell’s white for you and me, is one of the most vigorous plants we have ever grown, and we put two in an area where the conditions were very welcoming for it, perhaps too welcoming, and first thing you know, we had a Problem.  Yes, with a capital ‘P’!  The two bulbs between them took up a huge area, and one of them threatened our flowering quince.  Now flowering quince is a glorious plant that we have (almost) always had with us wherever we were and why we planted one of those crinum bulbs so near the quince we shall never know.  What we do know is that it took us four days of digging, and three of us and a six-foot pry bar to dig that clump up, and three of us with rope to remove it from the bed, and quite a bit of time to find a home (actually homes) for it.  The remaining clump of this variety is still in place and will remain there until possibly the end of time, because it would take a backhoe to remove it, so we have simply arranged to accommodate it.   To be fair, this powellii album is pure white and fragrant and blooms freely.

The last bit of accommodation came day before yesterday, when I took a spade and dug around the smaller variety, the one that inspired my previous article.  This variety is smaller, less aggressive/strong, and it has white blooms, also fragrant, but with a scarlet center that is just gorgeous in its own right.    Knowing that the big clump was going to completely overshadow this smaller variety, yesterday two of us completed the removal process, a much simpler one than the other experience, and potted it up, and now have a measure of control.

The point of all these words is that while crinums are incredibly wonderful plants, some of them are bigger than a small garden area will comfortably accommodate, and so I urge everyone to be aware, and beware!

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Thanks to two different friends we have these lovelies blooming right now.  The flowers on the left are Japanese roof iris; when we moved plants back to Texas from Arkansas, we forgot a start of these and Micki, a dear former neighbor there sent me some plant divisions.  We cherish both the friend and the flowers very much.  The other flowers, Louisiana wild phlox, came as a start from our friend Julie.  They are beautiful and resilient, much like our friend, and she is always in our thoughts but particularly when these are blooming.  They say a gardener spends three years acquiring plants and the rest of their life giving them away.  We just know that the best plants are those that come from friends.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


In the world there are many ‘Souths’; there is the south of France, South Africa, the South Pole.  In this country, there are also many ‘Souths’.  There is the mythologized antebellum South, of plantations and so-called ‘genteel’ society and slavery. 

There is the South we grew up in, of home gardens lush with tomatoes and melons and other wonderful vegetables and fruits, of home-made jams and jellies, of peach pies, and fried chicken with gravy.  The South with warm summer nights filled with chasing fireflies (we called them lightening bugs).  The South with hot summer nights filled with lying on old quilts on the grass, seeing the millions of stars now invisible because of street lights and all the other ambient lights of modern life.  The South of clean sheets drying to sweet-scented freshness on clotheslines.  The South of crape myrtle trees of amazing fragrance and vivid colors that bloomed all summer long.  The South where the mothers made up a magic potion of sugar and fresh eggs and milk and cream and vanilla and sometimes peaches or strawberries, and the fathers chopped ice from big blocks from the ice company and layered that ice with rock salt in ice cream churns and then turned the handles to make frozen magic.  The South of porches and rockers and great aunts and uncles and grandparents, everybody keeping an eye on the children while they played hide and seek to the last possible glimmer of day falling into night.

But there was also that other South back then, the one where restrooms and water fountains separated black from white, where some folks had to ride in the back of the bus and some did not, where some folks had to live in a different part of town.

After years of hope, now again we have a South that is hard for some of us to see, where old wrong ways seem to be coming back.  Where guns are brandished and voters are tricked and women are diminished and education is no longer valued as it once was and bigotry runs rampant.  We have a South where industries such as coal and oil companies are damaging the land and the air, where heat and drought have replaced rain and warmth.  There is a sense of meanness now where once there was friendliness and neighborliness.   Oh how we miss the kindness of the South we knew as children.  Oh how we wished we knew how to get it back.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Over fifteen years ago, maybe more, I went through a phase of finding and planting amaryllis.   There were several varieties which caught my fancy:  Apple Blossom, pink and white, Scarlet Baby, smaller and a vivid red, Amoretta, medium-sized and pink and white but different from Apple Blossom, and the most exquisite rose-colored Amaryllis, Laforest Morton.  Both the name and the color of Laforest Morton fascinated me.  I dutifully planted and grew and admired all of these, then family demands plus work demands overtook me, and I simply planted them out in the flower garden to fend for their selves.  A few years later, when we moved, I went out and found the bulbs, potted them up, and took them with us.  A few years after that, we moved again, and this time, still in pots, along came these faithful plants again. 

Having had more time eventually to learn more about growing amaryllis, and having continued a passion for different varieties, we now have several different kinds, including the butterfly amaryllis and one of the exotic type that looks nothing like the others, and we simply enjoy them all.  One of the most recent discoveries I have made is that while the butterfly amaryllis is evergreen and does not need the procedure of putting them into a rest period before starting them up again, it seems that all of the other amaryllis we grow are modern hybrids and also do not need the rest period.  This has simplified growing these plants so much.  From early spring through fall, these plants all spend their time in their pots outside in a sheltered flower bed, getting plenty of water and food; in the winter they are moved into our garden room, which is unheated except for enough from an electric space heater to make the room habitable for the plants and our cat during bitter winter nights.  This prevents our being able to time the amaryllis blooms for specific events such as Christmas, but we were never much good at that anyway, and as long as we can count on blooms appearing somewhere along the way in spring, we are content.  The butterfly amaryllis have just finished; within four pots of bulbs they produced twenty-two scapes.  Fabulous.


All this leads up to the fact that today Laforest Morton (and no, I do not know where that lovely name came from) opened its glorious rose-colored blooms and lifted our hearts again, just as all the other varieties will do in time.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


So from the far-away state of Texas, we have been following, somewhat, the many stories about Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, particularly the George Washington Bridge closure story, and the questions about Sandy money story.  We have followed these stories for several reasons:  the Hurricane Sandy money went to New Jersey from tax monies we contributed to as tax payers, we have seen several videos where Governor Christie has been rude, arrogant and dismissive to his constituents in public and on camera, and finally, Governor Christie may actually manage to be a candidate for the Presidency in 2016.

And here, for what they are worth, are some of our conclusions.  As regards the GW Bridge closure, we figure that either Governor Christie was totally inept at choosing his staff and instructing them and being aware of their performances and in addition totally unaware of critical events within his state (the actual closure, which went on for days), or he was totally involved in the mean-spirited, perhaps illegal events and is now being ruthless in his distancing himself from his staff and associates in the effort to maintain his political aspirations.  Either way, there’s nothing there to respect.

As to the Hurricane Sandy money and all the accusations of poor administration, we find it absolutely unacceptable that those funds have not been handled in a transparent, efficient and timely manner, and that Governor Christie and his administration have not yet disbursed those funds to the people who need them and for whom they were given.  It appears that it will now take a federal investigation, involving more taxpayer money, to find out where the money went and where any remaining funds are.  Unbelievable and definitely not Presidential.

Friday, April 4, 2014


There are a lot of ‘truisms’ in gardening, but first and foremost is the reality that once a leaf has turned brown, either through neglect or change of season into winter or lack of water or absurd heat – whatever the reason, that leaf is history.  Now, it doesn’t mean that the plant itself is gone.  The plant may be dormant or may be in temporary distress, depending on the situation and the total number of brown leaves.  But sometimes it seems as though we find a brown leaf, don’t bother to figure out the cause and just keep waiting for that brown leaf or those brown leaves to miraculously ‘heal’, to resume their normal color (green or grey or whatever).

This is true in gardening but also a kind of metaphor for other areas of our lives.   And on a larger scale, it is also true for our planet.  We can neglect this wonderful sphere we call home, expecting it to absorb the excesses and toxins that we are dumping into the air and the oceans and onto the soil, and expecting damaged areas to heal and revert to health, but sooner or later, just as with an individual plant, with an individual leaf, the damage is permanent.

It’s simple enough to find another plant, but another planet, at least another comfortable planet, might be another story.

Friday, March 7, 2014


It's almost time for Daylight Savings Time, only one of the silliest customs our culture endures.  We all, whether we know it or not, miss that hour from March until November, or whenever they let us have it back this year.   

And as if we needed more divisiveness between humans in this world, as if religion and politics and personalities and money and gender and personal preferences were not enough, there is Daylight Savings Time to frazzle harmonies, real or possible.

I looked it up on Wikipedia and it is an amazing list:  the countries which participate in Daylight Savings Time, and the countries which do not.  Here in the not-so-United States, not all states participate.  Some simply decline. 

Well, I have to participate, because my state does, but I don’t like it.  And I will likely grumble from now until I get that hour back sometime this fall.  Because the hour they take is an hour of my sleep.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


There is an old saying that at the end of our lives, it isn’t necessarily the things we have done that we might regret, but the things we did not do.  Now we all have instances of stupid or foolish things we have done, that we regret, that we wish we hadn’t done.  But most of those are not terrible things, simply regrettable acts that happen to us as humans, because of immaturity or inexperience or ignorance or a combination of any of the three.

On the other hand, it is an unfortunate aspect of human nature that so many times we postpone and postpone even the simplest things.  A wise writer, Erma Bombeck, wrote a wonderful essay years ago urging us all to use our candles, our ‘good dishes’, our most cherished items rather than putting them away for ‘special occasions’.  In other words, she urged us to try to make every day a ‘special occasion’.   

Now I cannot sit here, even after all these decades after I first read that good advice, and state that I have followed it.  I can plead the rush and distractions and demands of everyday life, or just plain old laziness, or any of a number of excuses and reasons, but, I can also, by writing these words, remind my own self of this advice, and I can start, right now, to follow it.


Right now in the faraway lands of Russia and the Ukraine, events are unfolding that will make problems for those areas and the rest of the world as well.  From where we live, it would be ridiculously presumptuous for us to comment on what we think should, or should not, happen.  We have far too much to be concerned about right on our own home turf.

But it occurred to me that one wonderful way the rest of the world could help these troubled areas while things are escalating, would be to invoke the old Amish method of witnessing.  I remember so vividly the wonderful Harrison Ford film, ‘Witness’, when, at the end, the villain was determined to remove witnesses to his crimes, and the witnesses were vulnerable, and a group of nearby Amish farmers simply appeared, with no intent to interfere or to participate, to simply witness what might happen.  It was an incredibly powerful scene.  What more powerful weapon than for someone to say, “I see you.”

So wouldn’t it be possibly wonderful if all or most of the most powerful countries in the world each sent one or two representatives to a gathering, say at the city of Kiev, not to take sides, not to interfere, but simply to witness events, so that if another country decided to seriously invade that country, they would be there, just be there.

There is just so much strife and misery and suffering in this world, and what I would really love to witness, from my faraway vantage point, is more outcome of peace, of communication, of understanding.  And wouldn’t it be possibly wonderful if solutions could be found and violence and anger could be avoided, and futures could be built, without outside interference, by the simple means of polite witness? 

Thursday, February 20, 2014


It's well known that we love all sorts of stories and history and quotations, and this is something about all three that we found just today: "What is history if not stories? And what are stories if not the way we remind ourselves that our lives are not the only ones that matter?" (Allison Glock)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


After an early December ice storm and all sorts of snow and cold temperatures, but nothing whatsoever like our middle and northern states have been having, we’ve  started having either cool or very mild days.  Time to start the pre-spring stuff.  The other day, we raked and pulled leaves from the flower beds where they were clinging to foliage and stems, to pull them away from the spring bulbs coming up all over.  In one of the beds, where we had grown large pots of tomatoes last year, while I was raking, I uncovered a small green cherry tomato which had to have fallen when we picked all the green tomatoes last November before the first frost on November 12.  This tomato was pristine green, having lain under a cover of leaves, for three months, all through the freezes, the ice storm, and the snow.  Of course I brought the little tomato inside, to show it to the rest of the family.  Once exposed to light and warmth, it started having streaks of red, as if it were ripening, but because it was already a pretty old little tomato, within a couple of days it was ready to go into the compost bucket.  Nature is so fascinating.  It can be so destructive and yet in so many ways it can nurture.  And never underestimate the shelter power of a leaf, multiplied.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ted Cruz Thinks We're All Stupid

We learned awhile back, that someone can be intelligent, well-educated, and still not have either judgment or stability of personality. Sound like anyone in the following article?  

The following link is to an excellent summary of the behavior we have been noting in any news about Ted Cruz.  As Texans, we are particularly disgusted that this individual (Cruz) purports to represent our state; as Americans, we’re ashamed of him and the damage his behavior has done to our country - $24 billion lost in the shutdown and counting.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


So this morning as we sat down to breakfast, we heard a cacophony of jaybird cries, and they kept going on.  And then we saw shadows of birds behind the blind at the window and it looked as if they were trying to get to the window.  Mystified, we opened the blind at what is rather a large window facing south and a bit east, so that we get a lot of morning sun glare, which is why the blind was still closed.  On the small brick windowsill, in the corner on the right, was a small grey owl – we think a screech owl, only 4 inches tall as it hunkered down, and the jays were doing everything they could to reach the owl or to at least annoy it.  Since owls are famous predators, we thought either the owl was injured or the jays felt safety in numbers, but soon the jays abandoned their efforts, either because they became aware of our presence or because they simply decided to do something else.   When we approached that area of the window, the owl did one of those owl things and swiveled its head toward us and opened its eyes a bit, although when it faced outwardly, it kept its eyes closed against the sunlight.

We made some phone calls and found someone who could give us advice and who offered to receive the owl and release it to a wild area if we put it in some sort of carrier and brought it to her.  We figured out that our cat carrier with a towel in it would be as good as anything else we had on hand, so my tender-hearted husband and my tender-hearted son made a plan.

Owls are such fascinating creatures.  Another adventure I had with an owl, that is either a memory or simply a family story, is that when I was not quite two, we were visiting my aunt and uncle and grandmother on their farm.  We had gone for a little walk along a path, perhaps to see their garden.  Anyway, it must have been late afternoon because we heard an owl hoot, probably a barn owl much larger than the visitor we had this morning.  Well, the unfamiliar sound frightened my very young self, and I left my parents behind and headed back at a run to my grandmother and sanctuary.  When I got to the gate of the yard fence, I was really in a hurry.  The gate was closed although Grandmother was just on the other side, but the ground beneath the gate was hollowed out from many goings and comings and I simply lay down and rolled under the gate, providing a lot of laughter for the family and proving that even very small children can figure out sometimes what is possible and what is not, at least if they’re scared enough.

As to the small screech owl this morning, when my husband and our son approached the creature to try to help it, it waited until our son was perhaps two feet away, and then flew over to a small crape myrtle tree nearby.  Still fascinated, they then approached the owl, now with his back to the sun and his eyes very large and careful.  When they got too close for the owl’s pleasure, off he simply went to what we hope was the safety of a nearby wild area.    It seems the owl could fly away after all.