“The family requests no flowers….”

I like flowers and potted plants, but funeral flowers and potted plants are a burden I’d rather not have.

There’s a china doll plant in my apartment that started out as a healthy, bushy potted plant given the family at the time of my Mom’s February 2013 memorial service. Since I’m the only family member who lives in the state, let alone this town, all funeral plants come to me.

Everything I found on the china doll’s care says you shouldn’t move it once you put it in the ideal spot. The spot I put it after the memorial service was an available spot, not an ideal one. Ideal spots for plants are rare when you have two cats. The plant’s response – its decline – tells me the spot isn’t ideal.

I’ve watched it lose ground, not responding to my care. Each dropped leaf reminds me of how I watched my Mom slowly spiral down to her death, the feeling of hopelessness and pending loss I felt, and the recognition that this wasn’t a time she’d pull out of the decline because she was at life’s end.

Telling you that, I’m foretelling the fate of the china doll plant, too, I fear.

Of all the flowers and potted plants received from well-meaning friends when my Dad died in November 2008 and, now, my Mom’s death this year, only a Philodendron is alive and well. Of course, a Philodendron is a resilient plant even a person with a black thumb can grow to enviable size. The china doll is alive, for now.

Unlike for my Mom, I have no happy attachment to the plant. I almost wish I could toss it now and spare myself its slow decline. I won’t of course, but past results with funeral plants suggests that plant is doomed. It makes me sad because it is a funeral plant, one given by dear friends instead of a memorial gift to the American Red Cross, or the Presbyterian Women group at our church, or because I specifically noted in Mom’s obituary that the family requested no flowers.

If I could do it again, I’d re-word the obituary: “The family requests no flowers or potted plants.”

kitten toys

Is there a pet or child alive that doesn’t love the box the toy came in better than the toy? Or just any box for that matter?

The kitten brothers are no exception. The photo shows a three-box construction that got the boys through their early kittenhood. They play outside it now since they are too big to enter it comfortably, but there was a time…!

Yeah! The kittens defended this fort to the death many a time, much kitten fur was lost, but I think this eyesore is just about ready for the trash bin.

“Just about ready for the trash bin” means it was trash weeks ago, but I couldn’t bring myself to toss part of the kitten brothers’ kittenhood! How ridiculous! They are boxes that are trash, having served a purpose or two.

That’s Andy, above. You can see those characteristics of a smoke Persian that makes them such a pretty cat: the silver hair in the black, the black points and band across the shoulders. Dougy’s pelage shows something of this Persian variation, but he is darker overall.

Speaking of pleasure, here’s another favorite Kat of mine, Kathleen Battle, singing a favorite Handel aria of mine.


Assumptions are made about people who identify themselves as Christian, which I am. Or, at least, try to be.

Christians are judgemental. Christians are “holier than thou”…and dang sure to let you know it! If you are a sinner, Christians would rather not have anything to do with you. Christians think God punishes America because it tolerates homosexuals. All Christians are pro-life, even if it means killing the abortionists! Christians are stiff-lipped, unfriendly, even unhappy people. Christians believe families should be as many as the wife can deliver. (“Bare foot and pregnant”!) Christians believe women are fundamentally inferior to men. And you can’t be Christian and accept the geologic, evolutionary trail left in the stones: Darwin went straight to Hell!

I’m Christian, and I don’t admit to anything but I am a sinner, a sinner with a wicked sense of humor, and appreciation for people clever enough to create videos such as the one that’s attached below! Enjoy! Laugh even. Hug a Christian and tell him (or her) you don’t hold him (or her) personally accountable for the Inquisition, let alone the excesses of it. Lighten up, folks! We’re all in this together!

weggieboy takes on weggieboy


  1. Why didn’t you post something in June, you slug?! Family visits aren’t sufficient justification to stop posting. Slug. SLUG!
    How do the texters put it? U r a slug.
    | \                   o o
    \ \________\/
    \_________/< SluG!
    • Edit Comment

    By: weggieboy on July 5, 2009
    at 4:10 pm



    • Dear weggieboy-

      I feel your pain, literally. I am both your best friend and your worst enemy. I know your strengths and your weaknesses. We are related to the same people. I’m surprised and hurt you call me a “SluG” . That was a lame effort on your part to create, typographically, a slug to further point out what you feel is a great oversight or failure on my part: slugishness. On the contrary, mon ami, mon frere, mon- erm!- moi! Familial visits are the source of great amusements, mutual ribbing, shared happiness, recalled sadness. They refresh and charge our batteries. They reconnect us with the people we love most, yet see all too rarely! That requires effort and time to reconnect to this wonderful world into which we are most accepted as we are and because we are. Families are the treasure we all seek but oftentimes forget is as close as a phone call, as easy as a letter posted, as fun as a web camera and a hilarious collaboration among siblings to produce a video to show those who couldn’t make it (nieces, nephews, their kids) 1. nah nah, you aren’t here having fun with us, 2. love you, and want you to see how much fun we can have as a family, and 3. give you a chance to see your aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, get “stoopid” in a way that reconnects them with us in a big loving family. No in jokes here, bub. Well, maybe one or two. But sluggishness? How many people will read the June blog? How many people read any of these blogs? They just happen when they do. They aren’t a thing to schedule. They must be spontaneous and fun for me or they just won’t be. One month might be a blog-a-week month. The next might be a blog with another waiting to be hatched month. They create themselves in their time. I’m on sun time now, friend. Call me a slug if you will, weggieboy! The label sticks to you!
      And I know where you live…!

    • Edit Comment

    By: weggieboy on July 5, 2009
    at 4:29 pm



  2. p.s. I happen to know you are addicted to Japanese cat videos on YouTube, sicko.

rhubarb- a tasty fight

I live in a retirement community, I guess you’d call it. I live in the south end of a duplex apartment, where my co-resident’s  floor plan is the opposite, a mirror image of mine. That means the noisiest activities either my neighbor or I might be involved with take place the farthest distance possible from the other’s bedroom. Neat!

Good floor plans make good neighbors.

I, as a youth, used to write an Indonesian boy. At some point, he mailed two recordings of Gamelan music played specifically for accompaniment of Wayang shadow puppet shows. I mention that to alert you to my interest, now, in this eery, beguiling, lovely music. Were it not for the floor plan, I would hesitate to play any of my Gamelan orchestra CDs for fear of upsetting my neighbor, whose tastes are more country, I think. 

I’m listening to some seriously serious , classically classical Surakarta Court Gamelan music as I write.  It’s up a bit loud. Yes! ~ bliss! ~ a rhubarb averted by a good floor plan!

Another neighbor and I forage for the available rhubarb when one doesn’t think the other will see it happen. A rhubarb averted by stealth, but neither of us gets as much as we’d like.  That, of course, had a lot to do with why I bought three new starts of rhubarb to plant on “my” rented turf.

I told you yesterday about planting those rhubarb starts, as an act of faith, but not that the undeclared Rhubarb War would come to an end, peacefully, with all rhubarb patches properly claimed and undisputed!  

After I posted the account, I decided to go over to the care center to see my mother. I stepped outside the front door to find a smallish box CDs or DVDs could come in. Perplexed, I took it in, slit the tape and found… six more rhubarb starts! What?! What was I thinking when I placed two orders for rhubarb starts?

Another rhubarb averted! A Golden Rule moment! I decided to ask my neighbors if they’d like to have rhubarb starts, that I had the proper tools (and, now, attitude!) to do the planting  job if they did. And at least one does. I talked with her when I chanced to see her outside this morning. Two neighbors left to ask. The one I sneak around to avoid while rhubarb’s in season surely will accept my gift! The one who is co-resident of this duplex may accept some more.

Rhubarb’s about US$2 a bunch, about a pie’s worth, at the grocery store. If they have it. We’re all retired. Rhubarb’s in short supply in our part of the complex, making it a potential source of friction (oh, it is!). But I have this plan, this way to change the rhubarb season into one of peace and joy and harmony and bliss and sour stalks eaten fresh from the early, chill morning garden, with no guilt! Whew! 

Rhubarb. There you go: with faith, TLC, time, the neighborhood will have so much rhubarb everyone will be trying to find homes for the surplus. That’s the Golden Rule in action, and that’s the Prairie Way, too. Take care of your neighbors when they are in need, and know they will be there when your turn comes.

(p.s. For those who haven’t experienced a really awesome Gamelan performance, I’ve attached a link to a YouTube entry, below. I hope you enjoy this very different and magical style of music!)

faith, the other kind

I have faith. I am, in fact, an elder in the local Presbyterian church. But that’s not the type of faith I’m writing about today.

A few weeks ago, I received a small box in the post. It isn’t that unusual that I receive such boxes, but I was curious to open it to find what I’d ordered this time. I slit the tape sealing the box and opened the flaps, expecting music CDs, perhaps movie DVDs, because the box proportions suggested those treasures might be inside!

I cleared the packing away, and looked down in shock. Horror? Instead of something lovely, like a new J.S. Bach CD, the treasure turned out to be… three shrunken, black, organic somethings, the nature of which I could not guess. Then I found the packing slip under the black, mummified remains. Rhubarb! I’d forgotten I’d ordered rhubarb last fall, and these three scary things were it!

I have a rare form of vasculitis (Wegener’s granulomatosis) that nearly killed my body five years ago, but rekindled my faith, the first kind. Since then, the path to recovery left me less able to do gardening at first, though the strength needed (and a move from a house to an apartment, where the garden is much smaller) has returned mostly. I can do such things as plant tomatoes, if I wish, or lots of flowers (which I always have around me), or dried out, mummified rhubarb starts.

That’s where the other kind of faith comes in. To look at the starts, I would guess the best place for them would be the compost heap, if I had one, or the trash. Yet I have received such unpromising “bare root” packages before that turned into magnificent roses, lavender, grapes that were ambrosia and nectar in one, right off the vine! “I dunno,” I thought, because the “bare root” rhubarb starts looked, umm, unpromising!

I put the rhubarb starts in a plastic tub I’d filled to the top with water. “Over night” is the usual time you soak “bare root” starts, but I couldn’t imagine a week of soaking doing much to revive these specimens! I checked the next morning, decided to soak them 24 more hours. At the end of 24 hours, I checked for: 1. any sign of life, and, 2. any indication of which end was up because the starts, in the mummified state, didn’t give many clues. Both questions answered, at last! One end showed growth that suggested the top to me, even if the little shoots almost looked like roots.

Maybe another night’s soak would sort out the ambiguity….Which it did! The rooty-looking sprouts turned out to be the start of stalks. That’s all I need to plant the starts, which I did this morning after preparing the ground with lots of organic matter and rich, loamy garden soil, the way rhubarb likes it.

I told you this was about faith. It is! Gardening is an act of faith, a belief that working the soil to create a perfect environment for the flowers, fruits, and vegetables you like and want to grow will result in a harvest- in time, the Lord willing, and if you have faith, the other kind!

patience- when does it happen?

You know the joke: I want patience…now!

I confess to being one of those people for whom that joke isn’t funny. It’s one of those characteristics by which old friends know me: I’m impatient! Yet, I’ve lived a lifetime without patience, so what’s the rush for change ? I mean, there are indications something’s happened to me as I age.

I used to be one of those people who believed the car in front of me always drove 15-20kph slower than posted speed, and the car to my rear always tried to ram me by driving too fast. I, of course, was driving properly, at the ideal speed for road conditions.

 The driver in front I proclaimed a “*&^%$#?”, the one behind I proclaimed a “*^*%$@#!”  I used appropriate hand signs to underscore their driving and character deficiencies, while I screamed the specific charges out loud.

These days, I leave out the hand signs, and everyone who offends me with stupid driving is, simply, “You slut cow!” No blood pressure cuff needed now. I live in a small town, have short commutes, and slow drivers cost me seconds of time, no big deal, and fast drivers, I let pass, all the better to save them a stroke or heart attack. 

It isn’t a matter of patience. It’s a matter of maturity. Umm. “Slut cow” is an insider joke, so it counts as a laugh, not a deprecation! What is a slut cow anyway!? I don’t know, but it makes me laugh!