Category Archives: flowers

Withering Heat and Naked Truth

The Texas heat is putting stress on me in more ways than one. Economically, I can’t make ends meet if I don’t earn extra money each month. And it is too hot for me to survive driving in the heat with passengers and food deliveries for Uber. My household air conditioning is laboring hard to keep the house livable. It could give out from old age. And if the electricity goes out during peak electrical usage hours, that could bring about the end for me.

I have, in the past, found some relief by being a nudist inside the house and behind drawn window curtains. But it is illegal to go outside that way. And if I do get a job at either the school district as a substitute, or at Walmart, I will most likely have to put on clothes to go to work and earn money. Unless, of course, the whole society decides to go clothing-free due to the oppressive heat effects of climate change in Texas. It could happen.

But when I joke about naked truth, I am not merely punning around about physical nakedness. I am talking about exposing what’s underneath, revealing the truth that was previously cloaked under something artificial. That’s why the truth underlying my 1990’s monster-movie poster above reveals a hidden thing that is truth about me as an artist and a writer. I am not only the mad scientist (admittedly a much younger version of me) creating a robot girl in my evil castle laboratory, but I am figuratively also showing you how I write or draw a character, using an underlying mechanical structure to give a semblance of life to an un-living thing, namely, a fictional character.

Unfortunately, there are others in this world who have used their own technical expertise to create the heat-extinction scenario we now have to live in. And that is not merely a figurative exaggeration of a very real truth.

Fossil-fuel profiteers like the Koch Brothers and Exxon Corporation have known what the consequences of their unbridled exploitation of a natural resource were going to be since studies were done by their own researchers back in the 1970’s. They made the conscious decision to take maximum profits from their non-renewable resource knowing that their own grandchildren would have to face the fire-breathing dragon they created after their own lives of obscene wealth and comfort were already over. (I do hope those evil people’s grandchildren at least taste good when the poor and deceived people eat them.) So, we face a world of flooded lowlands, intense heat, fires like the one burning out of control in the Amazon today, crop failures, food shortages, and societal.collapse a few short years from right now. Thank you, Charles and David Koch.

The naked truth is, like my backyard sunflower, we are all soon going to be collapsing in the unrelenting heat. But I have lovingly watered the root every other day since I got back from Iowa. And it has yielded far more blossoms than any other single sunflower I have ever seen. It grows and thrives horizontally instead of growing upwards. Just like when a nudist wears ugly clothes to work. He can take the clothes off again at the end of the work day. When the day is ending, there is beauty underneath. And that is also a naked truth.

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Filed under angry rant, feeling sorry for myself, flowers, humor, nudes, Paffooney

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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Filed under flowers, humor, inspiration, metaphor, photo paffoonies, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching

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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Filed under autobiography, feeling sorry for myself, flowers, grumpiness, humor, irony, pessimism, philosophy

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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A Night at the Symphony

Last night my wife took us to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Gustav Mahler’s Das Klagende Lied (The Song of Lamentation).  So, you can bet we were in for a happy night just based on the title of the piece.  As you might’ve detected from the post title’s similarity to the Marx Brother’s movie A Night at the Opera, I took along my wacky mental versions of the Marx Brothers… whom I call the Snarcks Brothers.  They are Scarpigo, Cinco, and Zero Snarcks. Think Groucho, Chico, and Harpo, and then my mental fartgas won’t prevent you from understanding quite as easily.

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Jaap Van Zweden, conductor of the DSO, and aspiring impersonator of Grumpy from the Seven Dwarfs

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Scarpigo, Cinco, and Zero Snarcs… so to speak…

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love classical music and I like Mahler okay.  But his music tends to be depressing and sad.  I don’t mean merely depressing and sad, but deep down at the bottom of the canyon with hill giants tossing boulders at your head in the midst of a thunderstorm symphonic sort of depressing and sad.  It could really bum me out, so I was prepared to have Scarpigo lean over the balcony rail numerous times to shout “Booga-booga!” at the concert goers.  And the Blues lost to the Sharks in the Stanley Cup playoffs already this past week.

Fortunately the DSO often adopts the old movie theater tactic of cartoon shorts before the feature film… the same way Pixar does for Disney now.  They chose Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto as the cartoon short.  Now this is also supposed to be sad music, a single clarinet, a single harp, and a single piano… surrounded by violins, the gushing tears of every symphony orchestra.  But it is Copland, my fourth favorite composer of all time, behind only DeBussy, Motzart, and Beethoven.  As a synesthete, I can tell you that Copland’s music is always no bluer than silver, and tends to be more vermilion, rosy pink, yellow-orange and carmine red… more happy and passionate than depressing.  Then too, Cinco Snarcks whispered in my ear that since I have this Van Zweden/ Grumpy thing going on already in my head, I should look carefully at the clarinet soloist.  Yep, bald head, white hair and slight white beard and glasses… Doc!  And the pianist, bald head and big ears… Dopey!  The night would be Gustav Mahler and the Seven Dwarfs.  Zero Snarcks was thinking about squeezing off a toot or three from his little horn and maybe using light cords hanging from the ceiling for an impromptu trapeze act, but he took one look at the elegant, swan-like harpist  and fell too much in love to interrupt.

The main show, however, was everything I thought it was going to be, and worse.  They had a translator screen hung from the cords Zero wanted to go for a swing on, that took all the incomprehensible choir-crooned lyrics and translated them from German into English.  The story of Das Klagende Lied is taken from the Grimm Fairy Tale, The Bone Flute.  It tells the tale of two knightly brothers, one good and one evil, who set out to win the hand of a very self-centered but beautiful queen.  She can only be won by the finding of a special red flower that grows under a willow tree.  The knights agree to split up and search the enchanted forest for the flower.  Naturally, the good knight finds it and plucks it, putting it in the band of his hat.  And just as naturally, the good knight flops down stupidly under the willow tree to take a nap.  The evil brother finds his brother sleeping and sees the flower in his hat.  So, like any evil knight would, he kills his brother and takes the flower.

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Scarpigo’s comment on this particular story.

The evil brother then rushes off to the queen’s castle.  A minstrel wanders past the willow tree, finds a gleaming leg bone, and immediately thinks, “I have to make that into a flute!”  And when he does, the only song the flute will play is the lament about how the evil brother made meat pie out of his good brother and stole the flower.  Then, naturally enough, the flute forces the minstrel to go play at the wedding.

I’m sure you know how it goes from there.  The queen hears the bone flute’s enchanted song and flops down dead, apparently a heart-attack from shock.  And if the queen dies, then the castle has to magically fall down on the new king, the minstrel. and all the wedding guests.  A gruesome, terrible time is had by all.

So, I had a good time after all.  Scarpigo leans over to whisper to me, “That was more fun than a barrel of monkeys smoking crack, wasn’t it?”  Yes, purple, blue, blue-violet, and indigo music, and I am left depressed as hell. But when my wife asked how I liked it, I put on a happy face and said, “That’s the silliest thing I ever heard!”

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Filed under commentary, Depression, flowers, foolishness, goofy thoughts, humor, music, review of music

April Showers

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I have always believed the point of April showers was to bring May flowers.  But the showers this April are merely making the flowers wet, since they are already here.

Last night was like that.  Drippy rain followed by thundershowers… quaking in safety as the world gets wet.

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I worry about global warming and the possible end of life on Earth.  But flowers each spring are a hopeful sign.  The world is renewing itself after the winter of our discontent.  In fact, a couple of years ago, the daffodils came out in February and got frozen to death in the week following their bold attempt to bloom early.  It just goes to prove that daffodils are the dumbest of all flowers.  I drew a portrait of one of them.  Daffy O’Dill posed for this shortly before his fateful encounter with the weed whacker.

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But pictures of the flowers in our yard are like the pictures of sunrises that I collect.  As I get older and enter the late winter months of my little life, they give me hope and consolation.  I hate to think that when my life ends the rest of humanity will soon follow.  Pessimists like me have good reason to think such things might be the case.  But there is also reason for hope.  Flowers are a sign of hope.  Flowers are a sign that life renews itself.  Flowers bloom, and the bees come, and seeds develop, and everything continues to grow.  Flowers make God smile.

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So, the rain came down, and in spite of possible hail and thunderstorms, wind and possible tornadoes, there are flowers.  In fact, look at this humongous rose growing in our neighbor’s tree.  If it actually came from outer space, it may be very well looking to eat us… eat our evil dentist at the very least.  And I found a novel way to get another good post out of my flower pictures.

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