I did not plant the bright pink petunias that I found growing out of a pot of climbing mandevilla late this summer. Yes, I had noticed some unplanned greenery starting to sprout up in that pot on my deck. I assumed they were weeds and being only 3-4 inches tall, they fell low on my weed removal priority list, somewhere behind the thistles bigger than the dog, and the mystery weeds that were taller than me and had already gone to seed. Why would I crawl on my deck on my hands and knees to tweek out some little green shoots when I clearly had much bigger horticultural projects to tackle?
So I forgot about those little shoots and was surprised to discover some weeks later these petunias that were thriving unlike any I had ever planted before, tumbling over the edge of the deck in a riot of ridiculous pinkness. It took a minute to stop congratulating myself on the improvement in my container gardening skills when I remembered that I had never planted those petunias.
They were a spontaneous eruption for which I take no credit, unless you count not keeping my containers tidy as an accomplishment. I am left to just enjoy their bright color and envy their gumption and wonder how many things I pull out actually have so much potential and how many things I keep are weeds in disguise.
I have often heard and seen the phrase ‘bloom where you are planted,” on greeting cards and magnets and notepads. Mary Englebreit tells us that this is a good idea, and it is. Of course, she also tells us that life is a chair of bowlies, so we take her advice with a grain of salt.
Yes, I can keep working to bloom where I am planted. Or I can make like a petunia and plant myself where I want to bloom.
(Perhaps this is a good place to note that the petunias I did plant this summer, a proper and rather conservative white variety, all shriveled in the heat in a matter of days, even though I watered them. Hmmm.)
Tonight is a hard freeze, so these beauties will be gone. I am glad they stopped by for a visit.
Every fall, a new spider sets up her last camp on our deck. Every year, I name her Charlotte and watch her go about her business with fascination.
Here is Charlotte 10.
She is not as large, nor did she last as long as some of her predecessors. But she kept a tidy web and was a good companion for a while. (Outside spiders = good companions when viewed through window. Inside spiders, not so much. Not at all, really.)
One morning before school, as the Little One and I were marveling at the intricacies and symmetry of her web, a bug flew into it and mild-mannered Charlotte transformed instantly into a killing machine. I think the swift and violent death of the bug was of more interest to the boy than the beauty of the web in the morning dew, but that is just a hunch.
And then, the next morning, she was gone. I felt a little lonely until I saw one of my Walking Stick buddies on the kitchen screen, so I said good morning to her instead.
This, my friends, is one of the primo benefits of calling myself a writer. Writers can talk to insects, or plants, or seasons, or themselves, and it is considered normal behavior, creative and charmingly eccentric. Before? Not so much normal. Not at all, really.
I like my job.
Well, I did not burst into flames, the weather did cool down, autumn did arrive… although I suspect that Summer’s reluctant departure was only because she is required to follow the rules, and if it had been up to Summer alone, I would still be facing an imminent threat of internal combustion.
So, here we are and all is well.
(If you don’t count that I am personifying a season and harboring resentment against it. Other than that, it’s all good.)
I took Latin in high school. It was part of my master plan to start with Latin, as the basis for learning several of the Romance languages. You know — Italian, French, Spanish… because I would use all of those someday. Because at age 14, everything seemed possible and there was so much time coming down the pike that throwing in a few extra languages should not be a problem as I launched my brilliant career.
It’s only been a little over thirty years, and I have not gotten around to that little romance language project yet, but no worries. I still have the podcast Italian language course on my ipod, and if I get right on that, I’ll be caught up in no time.
But, back to Latin. Sure, it was considered a “dead language”. It did not have any applicability to what would turn out to be a career in marketing management and the food industry, which made Latin a nonsensical curriculum choice in the 1980’s. But at the time, it represented endless possibilities.
Here we are decades later, and the trip to Rome brought me back to those Latin classes over and over. Not that I could read most of the Latin inscriptions on the monuments and the art. My conversational Latin had been limited to phrases such as “The girl is standing by the aqueduct”, which does not come up much. Because we did not go see the aqueduct. Otherwise I would have been set.
We did see the Tiber River, and that always figured prominently in the lessons: “Romulus and Remus sat by the Tiber River…”, that kind of thing. The Tiber looked just as I had pictured. A no-nonsense kind of river. That’s why I took a picture of a bridge instead of the brown water.
And this little guy has been watching over the river since before high school Latin classes were invented.
Romulus and Remus are popular figures in the art and lore of Rome. Their likenesses grace many postcards and are sold at most souvenir stands, along with their “mother”. According to Roman mythology, they are the traditional founders of Rome. In addition, they hold the distinction of being “pre-eminent among the famous feral children in mythology and fiction”, or so says wikipedia. And that is saying something, because those feral children can get quite famous. Which all just serves to remind me that when they say truth is stranger than fiction? Sometimes it is true, but not always.
And the Latin? It turns out it is not dead yet. More on that later.
I was cleaning out my in-boxes (the email one and the one with papers overflowing), when I found something I’d like to share.
Wait, that is just a picture of my in-box, along with a reminder to remember the important things in life. Here is what I really want to share — a video that reminds me of someone special.
Now, there are harmonica players, and then there are harmonica players. I have my favorite harmonica musician, but this guy isn’t bad either. Enjoy the music! (Doesn’t it make you want to take a deep breath?)
Kids — you can try this at home. Grandpas — make sure you have an oxygen tank handy first.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Why is a cat on top of thee?
O Christmas tree, O Christmas Tree,
why do the ornaments go * “wheeeeee!” * ???
The top does sway, the star did fall,
That’s why it’s tied right to the wall…
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
A kitten treehouse you will be.
Happy Holidays to all!
Perhaps it was a function of the pace of our recent vacation; perhaps I was just randomly delirious — but I kept seeing faces in unexpected places. I’ve noticed before that, particularly when I travel, I will suddenly recognize a face in a crowd, then realize it is just someone who looks like someone I know, but not really. I guess my pesky brain tries so hard to put the familiar back into the unfamiliar when I am out of my comfort zone. Those, however, are actually faces.
Turns out I am making stuff up all the time. According to an article from Learnhub, “Sensor vs. Eye – What’s the Difference?, when we think about “seeing” something, we are actually talking about the “eye-brain” system that adds lots of post-processing to what actually comes in the eye.
“Outside that very narrow range, our brain fills in a lot of the details that we think we see from moment to moment, but is actually not being “seen” in the same sense as what’s in the center of view. (Of course, this comment will inevitably beget the philosophical discussion: what does it mean to “see,” exactly?)”
The article goes on to make interesting comparisons to what a camera “sees” and how a photographic image differs from the picture we take in our brain. (Wow! This is almost as interesting as the Quantum Physics Theory of Missing Socks!)
Apparently I have a busy post-processor, because it fills in lots of details. If only my memory was as detail-oriented. The good news is that I saw more smiley faces in inanimate objects than I saw frowns. I think that is a good sign.
Nature is the ultimate artist.
Even if the art is evolutionary camouflage, it is still impressive in design.
This little guy also has a spiffy design — but from now on, every time I hear the phrase “it could come back to bite you in the butt”, I will think of him: