Category Archives: flowers

Sunflower People

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Sunflowers can be beautiful.  They are the State flower of the State of Kansas.  They are also weeds.  I know this because as a teenager I had to walk up and down beanfield rows in Iowa and pull them out of the ground by the roots.  They were slightly harder to be rid of than the hated button weeds and cockleburrs that made up the bulk of farm boy plant war enemies.

To be clear, a weed is a plant that grows where you really wish it wouldn’t.  Weeds can aggressively take over in places that are outside their natural environment.  They can, like sunflowers, be volunteer crops that come up amongst the desired plants, aggressively and with malice, to take away the moisture and the nutrients from the plants you are trying to cultivate.

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A picture from Holmes Seed Company… some people pay for sunflowers.

But sunflowers can be a useful plant in their own right.  As a farm product they can produce edible seeds, and sunflower oil, like soybean oil, has a multitude of food and industrial applications.  Plus, as flowers, sunflowers have a certain hardy and steady beauty that metaphorically symbolize happiness and hope.  It is probably the reason Kansas chose it as a State flower, more than the fact that Iowans hate it as a pernicious weed.

People can be sunflowers.  I know at this point you expect a little Trump bashing, as both Trump himself and Iowa Congressman Steve King are examples of sunflower people.  They thrive where you really don’t want them, and they are very hard to remove from your beloved country crop field.  But hopefully, the system will pull the racist weeds out of the soil by the roots so they don’t grow back right away.  Robert Mueller as special counsel has his farmer gloves on and he is already going up and down the rows.

So, enough about the weeds.

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Let’s talk about the sunflower people we all know and love.  They can be weeds, at times, too, but the most important things about them have to do with their basic flower-ness.  Just because they tend to vote Republican does not make them weeds.  They are all about a primary color.  Yellow.  That is the color of warmth and sunshine.  One thing that always holds true about sunflower people is that they definitely love the people they love, and while living in rural farming communities full of sunflower people, you will be warm in the embrace of a culture that knows how to keep you fed and happy.  Yellow is also the color of happiness.  Sunflower people know how to celebrate.  They get together in large family reunions with lots of grilling and lots of potato salad.  They can sing country western songs, and often play the guitar.  The women get together in quilt-making clubs that produce beautiful works of blanket art that makes you happy on cold winter nights.

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And sunflower people have smiles that radiate who they are in the same way a sunflower does, mirroring the firey orb in the sky the flower is named after.

But make no mistake either.

Sunflower people can burn you with the force of their angry fire if you don’t do the right thing.  Their frowns and displeasure can wilt you under righteous heat.  And they can do it with just a disgusted look, leaving you as sunburned as a day at the nude beach without sunscreen.  They can take root in your life and take hold in a way that eventually takes over, like the sunflowers dominating the flower garden.  You had better pay heed, or your other blossoms are lost to you.

Well, that being said, I’ve already written too many words about it for today.  I know many sunflower people.  I live with some and was raised by others.  And you are probably surrounded by similar blooms yourself.

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Filed under artwork, flowers, humor, insight, metaphor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Evolution of the Sunflower

Apparently the seed was in the soil the demolition company used to fill the hole when the pool was removed.  It grew in the corner of the flower patch where I planted zinnias, and I decided to leave it, rather than treat it as a weed like I did with the other 14 sunflower plants that grew in the plot where the pool used to be.

You don’t even notice it in the first picture because it was in the back corner of the flower patch and only green.   But it began to stand out more as the yellow petals began to appear and it grew taller even than the gardener.

There is a certain metaphorical truth here that applies to being a teacher as well as it does to being the gardener in the flower garden.  Sometimes in the classroom you have to nurture the student other teachers have identified as the weed in the garden.  And don’t get me wrong when I say this, I pulled enough sunflowers out of the bean fields as a farm boy to know how aggressively obnoxious they are in their weediness.  But sometimes the classroom weed becomes the tallest, brightest, most beautiful flower in the patch.  It shows you clearly what a little patience, a little love, and accepting a lot of risk can accomplish.

I have begun to think of the sunflower as Clarissa, the valedictorian of the flower patch.

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Zinnias Are Blooming

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My flower adventure for this summer was planting Texas wildflowers and zinnias in the space where the swimming pool was last year at this time.

We had to go from a yard full of bare dirt to a better, greener space with colorful things growing in it.

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And, of course, the weeds took to filling the space in the yard like maniacs on steroids.  For every flower that bloomed, twenty to fifty weeds were thriving.  And I, suffering from arthritis have a hard time pulling the weeds out by hand.  And I will not use herbicide.  We, as a people, have spread enough poison in the world as it is.  It has always been my intention to grow things that consume the carbon dioxide and spew out things like oxygen and nitrogen, the things we can actually breath.  I mean to help life grow, not prune it or kill it.

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Even the weeds like thistles can have beautiful blossoms to share with butterflies and bees.

I have to do a better job of weeding the flower plot.  Weeds can take the sunlight and nutrients away from the plants you want to thrive.  One of the workers who removed the pool was a sunflower seed chewer.  It is not mere coincidence that we have more than twenty sunflower plants growing as weeds in the yard.

 

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But the point of this whole flower-petal essay is that the zinnias are blooming, bright, and loud, and beauteous, at a time when I need the color… need the beauty… to balance against the darkness.

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Filed under flowers, healing, humor, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Seizing Sunday

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Sundays have always been a day for rest.  And yet, I have always gotten more work done on Sunday than any other day of the week.  It was always in the past a day for grading papers and reading student essays.  It was also a day for housework; washing dishes, mowing the lawn, painting the house, and paying bills.

And today, I have paid bills and fully intend to do more meal deliveries through Uber to raise money for paying even more bills.  I have no shortage of bills.

But I also need to “Carpe Diem” a little bit and do some of the things that are most important in life.  And here I intend to confess a few of those things that I consider important.

My wife has gone to California for a week to a religious convention.  I took her to the airplane early yesterday morning.  So I am alone with the kids for a while.  I intend to take them out to eat today, maybe at Braums.  Later, the movie Ready Player One is playing at the dollar movie in Plano.

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You can also see by the initial picture of this piece that the flower garden has zinnias blooming, but desperately needs weeding.  I don’t wish to horrify you too much, so I will not post a picture of me working on the flowers because I have resolved to do it in the nude.  Seriously, have you ever heard of the oriental practice of Forest Bathing?  Spending time in nature, like the time we visited the redwoods in California, really does cleanse the soul.  And because we have a privacy fence in the back yard, and because wifey is gone to California where she can’t make fun of me for it, I intend to get a little bit of that feeling by practicing nudism a wee bit in the back yard.  I know it sounds like the idiot pronouncements of a fool entering his second childhood, but it is really a refreshing thing to be out in the light of the sun bathing in the growing greenness and yellow sunshine.  And I can get a few weeds pulled out of both the flower garden and my soul.

So I vow to get important things done today.  I will seize the day.  And while the things I do can’t all be called work, necessarily, they will be accomplishments.  And I will have done something worthwhile.

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Rain Is Supposed To Make Flowers Grow…

I am a pessimist by choice.  I always expect and prepare for the worst.  It is possible that this has become a self-fulfilling prophecy as I seem to be the butt of a series of never-ending cosmic jokes and misfortunes.    Last night the rain came down hard in Texas.  We got over 4 inches of rain in a little over two hours.  It came in the house as the river of runoff found enough cracks and crevices in the south wall of the house to soak the carpets in the family room and the Princess’s bedroom.

We had to get electronics off the floor.  My son had to rescue computer equipment and game machines.  The wooden feet of furniture got soaked, and the carpet became spotted and squishy.  I was feeling ill already, and a wet carpet will swiftly become a mold farm… mold I am highly allergic to.  I have some carpet cleaning to do today.  In fact, the carpet will have to be removed before too long.

But even though we got way too much rain in too short a time, and it did damage, rain does make the flowers grow.  I will end up doing the carpet removal myself, as I have done twice before.  The exercise will be good for my heart, my diabetes, and my arthritis.  Exercise, though hard and painful, is a flower of goodness.  I will also be able to control how we reshape and restore the floors.  Tile is better for allergies than carpet anyway.

I have no money and I’m in poor health.  Misfortune continues to rain down upon me relentlessly like raindrops in a thunderstorm.  But I am prepared.  I have know-how and a will to respond to misfortune.  I needed another challenge about now.  Eleventy-eleven bad things happening yearly is more or less the way it goes now.  And rain does eventually result in flowers.

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Stardusters… Canto 29

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Canto Twenty-Nine – In the Bio-Dome

Being naked was almost more than an Iowa Boy who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s could take.  It was immoral, wasn’t it?  And those feelings that boys get when they are around even the idea of naked girls?  They were back with such force that it practically knocked him on his behind with the sheer power of desire.  Alden Morrell was lost and afraid.  As he stood in the arboretum amongst dying alien trees and dying alien field crops, he tried to hug himself calm.  It really wasn’t an inappropriate desire, was it?  He did not feel urges towards the lizard girl or the naked Telleron girls.  He knew, they weren’t human, after all.  Sure they were pretty, but… and the only girl he really desired so strongly was, after all, his wife… by law.

“Alden?  I was looking for you in the living area?  Why are you here in the greenhouse?  What’s wrong?”

Gracie walked toward him, comfortable with her own nudity in ways that Alden simply wasn’t ready to comprehend.  He loved her… but she was a child.   The size and shape of a child.  Wanting her was wrong… wasn’t it?  He was, after all, a child himself.  At least, in this new body he had been given he was.

“I don’t know.  I can’t stand being naked so much.”

“You look good, and I love you for it.”

“But, I…”

“Alden, we are farming folk.  We know about soil and plants.  Can’t we help Sizzahl save her planet?  And those lovely zhar-does?”

Alden looked about him at the withering undergrowth and the soil beneath it.  He was a farmer, wasn’t he.  He picked up a handful of moist black dirt and held it to his nose.

“The soil smells rich with nitrogen, like it had a soybean crop planted in it last season to fix nitrogen in the soil.”

“Do lizard men know about crop rotation?”

“They must to have soil this rich and fertile.  If only we had some good corn and beans.”

“Could we get some on the Telleron space ship?”

“Most of the plants they grow on board the mother ship are ferns and fungus.  They prefer swamp plants mostly.”

“Rice, you suppose?”

“Maybe.  We can ask Xiar if we live long enough to ever see him again.”

“Alden, we are here by a miracle of God.  I was old and dying, and now I’m young and alive again.  You’re younger and more energetic than I’ve ever seen you.  I wish we had grown up together so I could’ve known you when you were like this before.  I would have loved you from the very first time we met and known you for so much longer.”

Alden stopped thinking so much about himself.  It made things easier.  He focused on the problems of Sizzahl and the tadpoles.  Yes, he was a farmer, and this was a farming problem.

“Maybe we can help Sizzahl and all the rest,” he said.  “Maybe we could find leaves and stems among the plant samples that don’t have the disease and try growing some small cuttings into whole plants.  I don’t see any place here where they’ve tried that.  And we can ask the tadpoles about what seeds they have from Telleri.”

“And maybe even Earth,” added Gracie.

“Yeah.  Maybe even Earth.”

*****

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The Green World

It has been shown in a new study that there are actually more green leaves out there now as a result of industrial emissions of CO2.  The world is becoming greener.  This is not just Mickey telling stories.  You can find a corroborating article from the BBC Here!  So my war to keep my wife’s love of flowering plants from eating our house is not all in my head… mostly, but not ALL.

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This rake-eating wisteria had climbed, entwined, and imprisoned one of our rakes. I rescued it from being eaten when the other rake broke during my endless battles with live oak leaves.

Texas weather in the month of May has been almost exclusively water from the sky.  It has rained more days than it has been sunny.   In fact, rainy days have been more than half the days in May.  This is a distinct change from the year-after-year drought pattern that we experienced every year we have lived in North Texas up until two years ago.

The ground under our house after shriveling up with drought for eight years is now swelling and moving with the flow of mud and clay.  That means the pool is cracked and unusable.  The foundation is also cracked and shifting.  If the plants don’t eat the house, the wet ground and the fracking earthquakes are going to knock it down.

The greening of our world is not entirely a good thing.  It is true that plants turn the carbon dioxide into breathable air.  And flowers are wonderful, even though the pollen they produce often makes my COPD chest pains ache and makes it harder to draw breath.  But it is also evidence that the whole pollute-for-profit thing that industrialists do without conscience, is destroying our world and making it possible for the planet to pull down our structures and buildings with storms and erosion and earthquakes and general entropy.

Being an Iowa farm boy, I am in favor or the world being green.  Even though, as Kermit always sings to us, it ain’t easy being green, if we can do it properly, being green will make our lives better.  But we need to do it intentionally.  We should not simply rely on the good graces of industrialists who make higher profits from not having regulations about how much green-house gas they can pump into the atmosphere per hour.  Let’s see if we can make green a good thing.

 

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