The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Maturity is similar to every other stage of life: some of it is fun, some of it is difficult, and most of it is unexpected.  Think about it.  While most of us mature folks have silver hair and like naps in the afternoon, and try to avoid chores we dislike, that description is similar to a young child, except for the color of the hair.  And I learned a long time ago from my grandmother that inside we don’t necessarily feel ‘old’.  I put ‘old’ in quotes because I dislike the term unless it is applied to antique cars, antique furniture - well, anything antique.

So, getting to the real subject at hand, recently we watched a new version of a film about ‘The Little Prince’, based on the book by Antoine de Saint Exupery.  The story is considered for children, but it is so much more than that.  Since I do not have the capability of expressing the full loveliness and enchantment of the story, I will tell about how I related to it at this mature time of life.  There is this fox.  He is clever and independent and observant, as most foxes are.  He is charming.  And he charmed me.

Then, while we were spending a bit of time in a local bookstore, sipping coffee and looking at magazines, I decided to stroll around.  I passed the children’s section, and there was a fox!  Actually, there were all sorts of creatures, but included was a fox!  Well, I wanted it, but really, it sounded absurd that what I wanted was essentially a toy.  But I did want it.  For several weeks, I thought about that fox, and then a coupon came along, very near my birthday, and I decided that someone who had achieved that level of ‘maturity’ could certainly have a fox if she wanted it.  So I got him.

Mister Fox, for that is his name, decided between him and me, has proven to be much more than a toy.  He has become a talisman evoking fun and laughter among myself and the two other household members.  Mister Fox really gets around.  He has appeared on the computer, in various chairs, in fact in places one would never expect a fox to visit, and every time, we laugh, we dismiss worries for a while, we just appreciate Mr. Fox and the inspiration he has brought to us to remember our hearts are young.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


So when our children were finally mostly self-sufficient and we were able to go away by ourselves for a weekend every once in a while, there were small towns not too far away where we would go and park the car, stay in a bed-and-breakfast overnight and explore the small shops in the small towns.  Many of those shops called themselves antique shops, but they were really old things shops.  We would look in the window and if the shop was either sparkly clean and fancy, or if it was pitifully unkempt, we walked on.  But if it was just a bit dusty and musty, in we would go, and we would find some sort of treasure.  For me it was old plates.  Sometimes I would find a plate, an actually having been used plate, with a lovely pattern in colors I was drawn to, and I would buy it, if it was inexpensive.  It was fun to take it back home and figure out where to display it, whether to hang it like a picture, or put it in a stand on a shelf.  A group of blue-and-white plates is in the dining room, and I enjoy looking at it every day.  Others are grouped in a wall in our bedroom.

The other thing I collected was old glass sugar bowls, mostly the ones which had lost their tops, and again only when the glass pattern interested me and these were usually less than a dollar.  Of course, someone in the family would always ask, “What are you going to do with those?”  To which I would reply, “Wait and see”.  But use them I did and still do, many times, when we have friends or family over for a meal and I want to serve jellies and jams or some other condiment.  Two-handled sugar bowls are easily passed from one to another.

Some of the plates that came from dishes we used every day but became cracked or broken, have been mended and now are used to act as plant saucers for favored house plants such as clivia and spathiphyllum and nephthytis, all of which I love.

Of course, I can no longer remember exactly where we found each plate or each sugar bowl, but I remember those which came to me from dear friends, all of them are used or displayed, and cherished as are the friends.  Each plate, to me, is a work of art; each sugar bowl has had a life, some adventures.  And I can still remember those lovely weekends when we were young.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


In taking a survey of what we call the garden, a smallish area with plants we love, I realize that I have, for too long, been gardening like the squirrels do – planting here and there, not marking anything, and ultimately not knowing at certain times where what is.

We really cannot complain about the garden, even now, this late in the year, because the temps have been mild (actually mild to hot), and we are finally getting rain, so that right now there is this one wonderful bearded iris blooming, a purple next to the gold of the Mexican mint marigold, some of the zinnias are still pleasing the butterflies, and there are a few marigolds and periwinkles and chrysanthemums.  And the spider lilies have finished blooming, as well as the rhodophiala, or fall amaryllis, and they are sending up their foliage, so I know where they are.  The Dutch iris are already sending up foliage too.

But my dilemma is that there are still tempting spaces and I want to plant something, such as a pansy or a dianthus, either of which will bloom all winter, but I fear digging into an area and damaging beloved bulbs. 

So I’ve started photographing certain areas so that perhaps at least in the spring I can know where to put what.  On the other hand, in the spring it always becomes a delightful surprise when something blooms that I had forgotten in the haste of life. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Facepalm, or 2016 - The Year When Common Sense Died

Hiya!  Remember me?  I once wrote a fairly popular blog called "The Newsosphere", basically a satire about politics and our culture in roughly the same vein as "The Borowitz Report" or "The Onion".
Can't remember me, huh?  Well, that's okay, because the other guys have been doing a fine job without me, commenting on our current political and social situation - such as it is.
But allow me to throw in my two cents...
Hillary Clinton is ahead in all of the major polls, which is a very good thing in my humble opinion.  She has shown in the three debates, interviews, etc. that she listens, answers questions, has definite plans, and is willing to work with everyone - regardless of party affiliation, race, etc. - to improve things for America.
And yet Donald Trump has supporters.  And in some polls, he's running neck in neck with Hillary.  And - wait for it - he believes that he will win.
Donald Trump has been accused of mistreating women, minorities, and anyone else on the planet Earth.  He continually lies, even when the great inventions of video and sound technology have proven him wrong time and time again.
People have expressed their disgust and disdain for Trump lately, shocked by his behavior in rallies, debates, and interviews.
Here's my two cents.  Ready?  Here it comes.
Why are some of you still so surprised at what's going on now?  To quote Ripley in the 1986 movie "Aliens" - "did IQs just drop sharply while I was away???"
Speaking of the '80's, that's when I grew up.  And in the '80's, there was this egomaniacal, sexist, greedy guy who was continually the butt of many a joke and considered to be one himself.
Guess who I'm talking about.
That's right people!  This is not a revelation for the twenty-first century.  Trump has been a bigoted, greedy, misogynistic bully for a long, long time.  This is not news, guys.  Thanks to the invention of the Internet, feel free to do your research.  Now.  Go on.  I'll be here when you get back.
See???  What did I tell you?  So here's the deal - Trump ain't gonna change his ways.  He has never been for anyone but himself.  Sorry supporters - he couldn't give one quarter of a millionth of a shit for you.
When you cast your vote, please think.  If you are choosing to vote against Trump, this is basically what you are saying.
Enough of women being thought of as inferior to men, and being treated badly.  Enough of minorities being discriminated against.  Enough of the bullying and just plain rudeness that has sadly become the norm in our society.  Enough of ignoring that - yes people - the world is getting warmer.  Here's a clue: Nature being what it is, it's just going to keep doing what it does, regardless of how we feel about it.  Remember kids, it's been around much longer than we ever have.
This is the twenty-first f**king century!!!  Why in God's name is there still racism, and misogyny, and just plain hate???
And for the love of God, Trump, ENOUGH with the fear mongering!  It's a cheap and senseless tactic.  If you truly have all of the answers, and you can solve our problems, you better damn well start coming up with solutions instead of incessantl y bragging about your empire - which is nonexistent - and your respect for, well, anyone - which let's face it - is nonexistent as well. 
So, in conclusion, here's what I have to say about who you decide to vote for as our next President...
Whaddaya kidding me???  This isn't an SNL sketch!  It's real life!  Your votes determine so much this year.   Let's start making some good decisions for a change, and maybe the momentum will spread.  Maybe when things start getting better, we won't consider women and minorities secondary anymore.  Maybe we will start taking care of our world; because let's face it, it's the only one we've got.
We live on a very small planet in a very big galaxy, and we live here for a very finite time.  Let's try to spend our time here with no more hatred or violence.  Let's be the best beings that we can be.
Let us begin.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


After many years of trying to learn about the world and we humans, I have come to the conclusion that among the many categories of humanity, one of the saddest types is the hollow person. 

It is a sad thing to see when we encounter an individual who seems to have all sorts of abilities and successes, and yet who can quickly be perceived as without real concern or awareness of others.  Oh, they can repeat all the words they hear and realize what they are supposed to say, they can even react to events appropriately upon occasion, but the awareness is all about themselves.

It is eerie sometimes to hear them speak of themselves in the third person, praising themselves, and speaking their name as if the praise is coming from another source.

It is horrible to realize that to the hollow person, everyone else is either a possession or a tool or both.


And it is very, very scary when we see a truly hollow man propose their self to become the most powerful, and therefore most responsible individual in the world; to place their self in the position of being responsible for the safety and well-being not only of our own country, but of much of our planet.  Because no matter how much they have acquired of the world’s goods, ultimately a hollow person has nothing to give; they are empty.

Sunday, July 31, 2016


There was a time when I was younger, that I would look at a person and if they seemed unkempt or indifferent to their behavior, if they were rude at the grocery store checkout or rushed through a door  in front of me, or even on the road, driving foolishly and seemingly unaware, when I would see such things I would immediately categorize the individual as rude or uncaring or irresponsible.  But no longer.

The effects of time and experience, and particularly recent situations of having one loved one battling through an horrific disease without a happy ending and another loved one battling problems with mental health – these have brought me to grasping the real truth, that we do not know what other people are dealing with.  Just as I used to prejudge people without knowing them, people have probably looked at me, and at my companions at times, and thought what I used to think.  Strangers would not know that I was dealing with the heartbreak of losing a beloved brother, nor would they be aware of the many years of battling severe anxiety and depression that a beloved family member has experienced.  We none of us wear signs that say what our hopes and worries of the day are. 

And then there are all the other concerns that can turn we humans inward.  I have realized that some people I encounter are possibly dealing with financial difficulties, or time constraints for all kinds of reasons.  Mothers or fathers may be hurrying home to children or just anxious to get home to feed their family after a day’s work. 

I am not naive enough to think that everyone we encounter is dealing with a terrible heartache or a difficult worry; there are, of course, many rude and oblivious folks out here in the world.

But here’s the thing:  how do we know which is which?  We cannot know.  So why not simply give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Now I try, and encourage my family to try to give that benefit of doubt.  It costs us nothing, it makes us feel better about our fellow humans, and after all, it gives us the right to ask for that benefit of doubt right back.  Because none of us can really know.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


When I was a child, I enjoyed the ‘obliviousity’ of most children and my world centered entirely around myself.  So much of the world was background noise; what was important was me, my now, my future, my hopes and dreams.  But little by little, the world encroached and made my reality the real reality.  Even then, though, my world was small and local and the passage of time seemed  slow. 

And then, and then, I became an adult somewhere along the way, with loves and responsibilities and all that such  life demands:  spouse, children, parents. 

Eventually I became an amateur gardener, planting, harvesting, losing plants at times, learning, aware of the seasons but only as they affected my hobby.

Now, a sort of visceral awareness has been given to me, so that as the seasons arrive, and as they change, I can feel those changes and it is wonderful to me.  For instance, in early spring the days grow longer, just a little at a time, until we are at mid-summer; now we are past that, and now, just a little at a time, the days are growing short again.  I can sense that particularly in the late afternoon and early evening.  I can feel it.  And at my stage of maturity I sometimes wonder, how many more changes of season are there for me.  But when I have those thoughts, I shake them off as one would a dried leaf that fell, or a flower petal or an errant snowflake, depending on the season.  Because it should and must be enough to relish these changes of daylight and dark and to realize that long after my existence they will continue.


Everyone has many wishes they make, most wishes with little to no chance of being realized.  Some wish for beauty or restored youth or wealth and leisure.  Some wish to travel the world.  Some even wish to go to Mars.  Most of us wish for peace and for the word ‘war’ to disappear from headlines.

But I have a deep and abiding wish about the end of tobacco addiction.  For it is indeed an addiction and a terrible one at that.  I couldn’t possibly present all the statistics and information that is already out there about the effects of tobacco addiction.  But I can describe the effects on our family.  Oh, I won’t go into the grim description of what each beloved family member suffered.  Everyone already knows  about that.  Those effects have been graphically depicted in photographs.  But those photos are about ‘other’ people.  Not ourselves.  Not a loved one.

In our family, a beloved aunt was the first victim, taken by congestive heart failure after smoking all her life.  Then there was a beloved father, who stopped smoking twenty-four years before his addiction took him.  And a sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who each lived horrible existences before they passed.  And a dear friend, who was the ultimate southern gentleman, funny and kind, and still sorely missed. 

And now a very beloved brother, a good and kind and gentle man, very caring and giving.  His heart was sound, so even though he tried desperately over the years to stop smoking, he figured he might be a lucky one and escape the side effects.  But he didn’t. 

Emotion prevents describing the terrible surgeries and the effects of those surgeries and of his disease. Because of that sound heart, his dying was long and painful and difficult, not just to him but to all who love him.  And they are many. 

Monday, July 4, 2016


Sometimes someone else says just what we feel: 

“I'm not quite sure why, but July 4th had become much more meaningful to me as a holiday the older I've gotten. I absolutely *loved* going to see fireworks as a kid, and I can still conjure the feeling of sitting on my dad's shoulders wading through the crowd at South Street Seaport, being awestruck and delighted by the sheer number of people packed into a little space.
Maybe part of it is having kids myself, and having the chance to see the delight in their eyes as they watch fireworks, and walking through a small town parade with Kate and her family, waving flags and singing songs and enjoying everyone in their red, white and blue. But I also think that in the same way, as you age, you come to appreciate the power of familial love more and more, as I've gotten older I've come to appreciate the same for love of country. You love your family because it's yours. Not because it's objectively the greatest family ever in history. Not because it's the greatest collection of humans who ever inhabited the planet. No, because you belong to them and they belong to you and you'd do anything for them.
Happy birthday, America. Let's try to be as good to each other as we possibly can be." 

By Chris Hayes of MSNBC on All In, July 4, 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Every gardener has something that pulls and pushes them, that they cannot have too much of, that fills them with delight.  For me that plant is the daylily.  For every plant that a gardener loves, there will be some or even many who do not see the pleasure.  Many gardeners say, “but the flowers only last one day”.  And that is true.  Unlike zinnias and marigolds and roses and so many other wonderful plants, the daylily flower lasts one day, hence its name.

But let me make a case for daylilies.  First of all, they are tough and frequently fragrant and come in a rainbow of colors and sizes and every bit of them is edible from flower to root to leaf (a fact I have not yet decided to try out personally).  And yes that makes them salad for deer and bunnies and thus they must be defended.  But here’s the true wonder of them.  After one has been taught a bit of patience by waiting a season or two for the daylily to get established, which is true of all perennials, the daylily will send up stem after stem after stem, each stem with a cluster of buds.  And day after day after day, those buds will open and bloom.  And when a gardener has lost their judgement (not mentioning any names here) and has filled every possible space with daylilies, then day after day after day there is a riot of color.  Oranges and yellows and reds and golds and creamy whites and a purple here and there.  And there are early and midseason and late blooming daylilies so that there can be blooms for months, from spring to fall.

And even after the daylilies quieten down and zinnias and marigolds and roses and so many other wonderful plants are still bringing us their colors, the lesson of the daylilies remains.  For me, they remind that beauty of every form and source is fleeting and all the more a reminder that we must cherish beauty for however long it lasts.  And each other.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


There was a time when I was a very uncertain wanna-be-a-gardener, convinced that I could not successfully grow anything.  This came partly from the fact that a beloved grandmother gave me a potted hyacinth in bloom and no one told me that it would go dormant.  So I thought it died.  It was mine and it died, therefore it was my fault, obviously.

As the years went by, the ‘wanna-be’ part of me overcame the defeatist part of me, and then after I learned to grow fairly simple plants such as zinnias and marigolds, I became so confident, so very over-confident, and over time I launched into acquiring so many exotic, and sometimes difficult to grow, plants and bulbs.  And sometimes I would have a modest success, which unfortunately encouraged me even more.

Ah, but now I have finally, after decades, realized a basic truth for myself:  the exotic plants and the tropical plants and the finicky plants are never really happy and all want more of me than I now wish to give.  Lacking a greenhouse or a garden helper except for my long-suffering husband, and both of us now well and truly exhausted from years of sheltering delicate plants from the wild weather swings here in our so-called temperate zone, I am, I think, finally becoming a wiser gardener.  Because I have finally realized how wonderfully rewarding the ordinary, easily available, faithfully tough plants are that thrive around here:  violas in the fall and winter and very early spring, marigolds and zinnias and daylilies and phlox for the summer, along with hardy bulbs such as jonquils and bearded iris, the miniature gladiolas and the fall amaryllis (rhodophiala) and spider lilies and chrysanthemums – all of these are quite enough, give wonderful color, sometimes for months, requiring only reasonable amounts of food and water.

Now when the tempting catalogs come, I look through them and then recycle them and go out back to enjoy what we already have.  Thank goodness for old friends.  Thank goodness for a small garden.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


So because of various reasons, including an occasional attack of lethargy and/or just plain forgetting, we still have a Christmas wreath on our front porch.  Now, it isn’t a glitzy type of wreath, it really is more of a winter wreath than a Christmas one, with a ring of cardinals over a ring of greenery.  But when we finally got around to paying attention to the wreath, we found that a house wren had started stuffing leaves and grasses and, in short, making a nest right in that wreath. 

Well, house wrens are not as colorful as cardinals, jays, and finches, but they have a lovely song and are small and not bothersome, unless of course they decide to inhabit something you thought was yours.  Once, years ago in another house, we had two beautiful baskets of ivy geraniums on a deck outside a big window, and house wrens took those over, to the detriment of the plants.  But it was fun watching the eggs hatch and the babies grow.

So today I tip-toed over to see if I could see anything like an egg in the nest.  What I couldn’t see, because a house wren is very much the color of its nest, is that the mama bird was in the nest and when I got too close, she flew out and scared a scream out of me.  So I went and got the camera and took a photo of the wreath/nest from as far away as I could get, and I don’t plan to get close to that nest again for quite awhile.

Monday, February 29, 2016


No, I’m not talking about a bird, I’m talking about a plant that appears this time of year.  Henbit is either a pernicious weed or a lovely wild flower, depending on one’s point of view.  Perhaps the henbit seeds do fly in with wind, perhaps it comes in on the feet of little birds, perhaps it just resides in the soil until the soil is disturbed by a hole dug for planting.  All I know is that it is indefatigable, springing up everywhere, appearing with the first mild days of late winter and early spring.  There are a couple of good aspects to henbit:  in a natural area, a swath of henbit, with its tiny purple blooms, is rather lovely; also, it is shallow-rooted and easy to pull.  It’s wonderful that henbit is easy to pull up, because it simply grows everywhere.  Besides indefatigable, another word would be ‘ubiquitous’.

An internet article says that henbit is also edible.  The article mentions that uncooked, it tastes like raw kale.  Kale is a currently popular leafy green vegetable that we have not yet acquired a taste for, so we have no plans to dine on henbit at this time.

Although henbit is not easy to deal with in the garden, it has its uses and its value. 

Rather like some fellow humans that we often encounter:  difficult to know how to deal with, sometimes, but nevertheless of value.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


One of our favorite, do-not-miss television programs is ‘CBS Sunday Morning’.  It is a magazine-type program, with segments on so many things, of which some are funny, some are informative, and some are poignant.  Back on August 30,2015, the program featured a piece on the Katrina aftermath.  There have been many articles on television and in the newspapers and magazines about last year being the tenth anniversary of the hurricane called Katrina and the aftermath of failed levees in New Orleans that caused an old and storied American city to be devastated.

But one story in particular was extra special.  Special because a military veteran and his wife have invested all of their savings, everything they had, to open and run a grocery store in a very low-income area, the Ninth Ward, the place that suffered the worst after Katrina.  And the place that is still suffering ten years afterward.  For instance, without this one grocery store, there would simply be no place for a great distance to buy food.  Not only that, but the next plan of this couple is to open a washateria, and they have other plans and dreams as well.  Why?  Because they are determined to be part of the solution for an area so terribly devastated and trying so hard to recover.

There are many wealthy people in this world who could have done this sort of thing, but they did not.  They could have at least contributed to the area, but they did not.  What the wealthy do not realize or remember:  they became wealthy because of the society and the economy, and they can be destroyed by that same economy if they do not encourage society and the economy by doing their fair share.


On the first full day of winter, the sun was shining, the temp was mild, we spent a bit of time that morning, what else, chopping some leaves.  Blooming in the garden were:  our one rose bush, violas and pansies, a few yellow marigolds, the orange species zinnias, the two pots of impatiens, dill, purple chrysanthemums and a pot of white pentas.  The marigolds have been remarkable; they reseeded themselves from a plant the year before, so I have collected some dry seed pods and will cast them out next spring and hope for more of this excellent variety, although I have very indifferent luck with growing things from seeds.  The little orange zinna has never died back.  Our back yard, what we call the garden, is sheltered by trees and fences, and what with the mild temps, it is still a haven for plants.

Lest it be thought that color is was rife throughout the garden, in actuality leaves are everywhere and many plants such as the dayliles are on their way back from winter rest. 

Now, we still have several weeks before official winter ends but days are very mild.  The flowering quince, which has bloomed all winter, is just amazing.  So many daffodils and jonquils are up and obviously planning to bloom. 

Every year I promise myself (and my husband) that we are done with planting bulbs, that there’s no more space, blah, blah, blah.  And every year, I really mean that.  But then a possibility occurs, I am left too long alone with a catalog, and, as I write this, I know that an order, a very small order, of only eleven bulbs is coming, five tuberoses, five crocosmias, and only one gladiola, but ah, what an exciting one. 

There is no particular superiority about being a gardener, but there is this one virtue:  we can have all sorts of failures and still believe in possibilities.  Now if we gardeners could just unite and do something about world peace!


So much keeps being said about ‘political correctness’ and I started to wonder what exactly political correctness is.  Particularly as so many presidential candidates keep speaking of political correctness dirisively, as if it is something to be avoided at all costs.

Well, I found a definition that political correctness is “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against. “  It is also described as “courtesy, the showing of politeness in one's attitude and behavior toward others” and “good manners,  polite or well-bred social behavior.”

And further, a civilized society or country has a well developed system of government, culture, and way of life and that treats the people who live there fairly;  a fair justice system is a fundamental part of a civilized society.”

All of these descriptions of political correctness sound like the kinds of things most mothers try to teach their children:  good manners, not being rude, everyone being treated fairly.  Don’t all of these behaviors sound like what we need to do?  Doesn’t that make political correctness a good thing?

And that makes very confusing what so many people, including prominent presidential candidates are saying, that political correctness is a bad thing. 

Why do we suppose that prominent, important men, in the world’s spotlight while running for one of the most important and powerful jobs in the world, are telling us that we should be discourteous, unkind, unfair, in short uncivilized?

Do you suppose it is they who do not understand the meaning of political correctness?

Friday, January 29, 2016


This is the time of year, when winter is two months gone, with one more month to come on the calendar, when everything becomes strange.  One day we will have mild temps.  In two days we can expect it to be in the mid-seventies, two days after that there is expected a hard freeze.

Walking around the garden, so many things are coming and going.  The Minor Monarque jonquils are blooming away near the quince, other jonquil and daffodils are making their way out, some daylilies are coming up, other daylilies never died back, and some can only be located by a collection of their dead leaves.

Since we have had only light freezes, the cestrum bush, really a small tree taller than the storage building, is going great and all its leaves are green, where last winter it died back to the ground and we didn’t even know if it was lost.

The great possibility is that sometime between now and true spring, the one that nature decides rather than the calendar, everything will leaf out and bloom out and then one of those polar vortexes, which sounds like something from a movie, will come along and interrupt everything.  The important thing to remember is that if that happens, it will still be only an interruption, a loss of some things, a benefit of some sort to others.

And, as usual, when a walk around the garden causes thoughts such as these, immediately the thought occurs that all of these events are another perfect metaphor for real life:  we set our plans, life happens mostly outside our control, and then we find that some situations are more difficult than we expected, but just like the plants, we deal with what we have, and try to go on with life.