I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Gazing at the stars

Lilium "Stargazer"

 I have been walking by these beautiful lilies every day this past week, on my way back home from the bus. The smell makes it through even to my own impaired smeller, so strong that I cannot even imagine someone trying to put a bouquet of these flowers inside their house. They are in a private garden and are taller than me. I found this information about the Stargazer online.

Stargazer lilies are often incorrectly called "Rubrum" lilies. Rubrums were a predecessor commercial lily to the 'Stargazers' whose flowers pointed down to the ground. As such, consumers and other end users thought the Rubrums' downward-facing flowers looked wilted. The 'Stargazer' lily was created in 1974 by Leslie Woodriff, a lily breeder in California, to overcome this downward look. Woodriff called the new cross 'Stargazer', because the blooms faced towards the sky.

 They have only been around since 1974, which feels like almost yesterday to me. It's impossible to believe that it's been close to a half century since they were created (47 years, to be exact).  I was a young woman back then, too. I hadn't even gone on many of my adventures, and I hadn't even started working at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) in Boulder, Colorado. And I worked there for three decades. Where does the time go? How can I be almost eighty already?

Today is also my younger sister Norma Jean's 76th birthday. Being less than three years apart in age, we were constant companions growing up, and I still talk with her for a couple of hours on FaceTime once a month, just to keep in touch. Although I do have other siblings, I am not as close to them as I am to her. Mostly I follow them on Facebook or we send one another texts now and then, but I don't feel the need to connect with them like I do with Norma Jean.

Taking a shared bath

When you can share a small sink with your sibling like this, you tend to bond more tightly than if there is more age distance between you. She never knew a world without me in it, and I only had a few short years to have my parents' devotion entirely to myself. But my world has been so much richer and stronger because she is in it. Happy birthday, dear sister!

* * *

Have you been following the star-crossed Olympics? They started this weekend in Tokyo, after having been delayed for a year because of the pandemic. They are perhaps the strangest Olympics in history: there are no spectators allowed inside to watch the events, and the pandemic is still going strong in many parts of the world, with Japan no exception. How strange to see empty stands and empty streets as what is usually a crowded venue is eerily silent. But they are still happening, and I am anxiously watching how Simone Biles is doing. Her dangerous routine is so advanced that most other athletes will not even attempt it. I just hope she will be okay, whether or not she garners a place on the medal podium. 

However the Olympics turn out, I just hope that everyone will be able to return to their own countries without mishap. And that they don't end up spreading the virus to innocent citizens in Tokyo and beyond. It's a little hard for me to understand why they didn't just wait another year. Or is it possible that we will never again be without the coronavirus hanging around in our lives? If we can just get everyone inoculated against it, we should be fine. But what a herculean effort is required to vaccinate eight billion people. I believe we can do it, given enough time.

I don't even want to think about all the climate disasters that are occurring every single day. I read recently that the scariest show on TV these days is the Weather Channel. Floods and fires galore. It's almost like all the worst climate predictions are coming true all at once. All I can think about is that it will get better, it has to because it can hardly get worse. However, I don't have to dwell on it, I can go for a nice walk in the sunshine, water my garden and be grateful for all the wonderful fresh veggies that emerge from the ground, or even go out onto my shaded front porch and do some yoga poses to clear my mind. What do you do to make yourself feel better when things are difficult?

And there's always gazing at the stars, or visiting the Astronomy Picture of the Day website to look at distant galaxies to remind myself that all the tribulations I am experiencing here are just small little blips in the larger scheme of things. Changing my perspective is the best way I've found to get through tough times. That, and staying away from doom and gloom as best I can, so that the sense of love and compassion emerges strong and shining in my heart. No matter what else happens, those attributes never are very far away, if I just look for them.

My day is just beginning, and the constant sunshine is beating down on all the green and lush forests and parks within my reach. All I have to do is leave the gloom behind and concentrate on the love that surrounds me. I can feel it even here, as I tap away at the keys and listen to the even breathing from my dear partner sleeping next to me. And I can also feel the presence of my invisible community, my electronic friends who read this after I hit "publish." I look forward to your comments, and I hope so much that you are having a good day, a good year, a good life. 

Don't forget to give yourself a big hug and try not to be too hard on yourself. You matter to me, and to many others in the universe we inhabit together. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I wish you all good things.


Terra said...

I did not know that Stargazers were created in 1974. I have grown them for years, and as you said, when I cut one flower to bring in the house the scent is very strong. I love it. One thing about all TV news and the weather channel in particular, is that they do not show lovely sunny days or peaceful scenes, they pick out death and danger. I avoid that type of TV that only shows doom and gloom. Have a gorgeous day.

Rian said...

Staying away from 'doom and gloom' here too... which means limited access to the news. And I didn't realize that Norma Jean and I are apparently the same age (76) and only a few weeks apart - since both our birthdays are in July.
As for the Olympics, I too wonder why they didn't just postpone it for another year. We may be living/dying with this virus for a while yet... but it seems to me that another year would give us more knowledge as to how to handle it.
Wishing you a good weekend, DJan. Enjoy the little things; the flowers, sunshine, a good book!

Elephant's Child said...

Happy Birthday Norma Jean.
I was astonished to read that not all of your country's athletes were vaccinated before they went to the Olympics. Astonished and more than a little horrified.
I so often turn to nature as solace and heart balm when the 'news' overwhelms me. I have difficulties with a lot of scents, but fortunately lilies give me no problems. In season we often have bunches of them indoors.

Arkansas Patti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arkansas Patti said...

Happy Birthday Norma Jean. I'm another July baby and we all know that only good people are born in July:)
Yes the news and weather can get a person down. I try to limit it but we do have to know a bit of what is going on. We have been lucky here with only experiencing some of the smoke. Tiny price to pay compared to what others are paying. Now if we could just get people in Arkansas to take the needle.
I let my friends, family and pets pick me up.

ApacheDug said...

This is uncanny. I would say I talk about flowers... never, and just last night I was talking to another blogger (Margaret) who also hails from the state of Washington about this same flower. She loves both it and astronomy, she named her blog 'Stargazer'. Anyway, I wonder if it's indigenous to Washington? I'll have to look that up. I'll also have to ask her if she knew the flower was only 47 years old... wow.

Happy Birthday Norma Jean! Whenever you bring your sister up, I wind up thinking about Marilyn Monroe for the rest of the day. It isn't a bad thing. :^) Speaking of female celebrities... I've been wanting to share something with you DJan, but didn't want to embarrass you or anything. A couple weeks ago I saw this movie (on Paramount Plus) titled 'Infinite', with Mark Wahlberg. It's about a select group of people on the planet that can remember all of their past lives. That night (or the night after) I had a dream that you learned in your past life you were Amelia Earhart, and didn't know whether you should share it or not. The more I thought about it, the more it actually made sense. :^)

Linda Reeder said...

I watch/read enough of the news to know what's going on. I frequently tell myself that I have no control over that. As we learned in one of our teacher training classes years ago, you can only deal with what is within your sphere of influence.
I am watching much of the Olympics but we decided not to sit in front of the TV all day. We can catch up with most of the action by watching just in the evenings. Today we are recording the US Men's National Team Gold Cup match, the evening broadcast of the Olympics, and two Masterpiece Theater programs because we have a live soccer match to go to. We might have to watch some daytime TV just to catch up.:-)
I have been feeling down frequently this past year full of surgery and recovery. I tell myself I have a good life and things could be so much worse. I count my blessings, make my face smile, and get busy. Gardening is a wonderful balm.
The make my face smile thing- interesting. When you activate smile muscles it does raise your spirits.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Birthday Norma Jean! That is such a cute photo of you girls in the sink! I wish I had a sister close three yrs and nine years younger than me. I was almost 15 when my sister was born...we have always been at different stages of life.
I hope you have a good week. I ordered some N95 masks this morning...I can only see the virus getting worse. Earlier we were told to save the N 95's for medical people but now they are available. WE will probably just hunker down anyway...but Far Guy has to go to the clinic once a week:( Hope you have a great week...yes those Lilies are packed with fragrance...I am glad mine died:)

William Kendall said...

I did see some of the opening ceremonies. It felt strange.

Glenda Beall said...

Lovely flowers, DJan. I like flowers, too, and my deck garden is flourishing even though the deer ate my outside plants, the hostas which were so beautiful.
I, too, am avoiding gloom and doom and barely check the news now. I think I have more confidence in the president now and don't feel so worried about our country. I know that makes no sense because we have many out there who want to destroy what we have.
However, I am enjoying every day and I always look forward to your post each week. Thanks for stopping by my place. Have a great week.

Red said...

You connect things smoothly in this post. I am worried about the same things you are. I think we will see lots more covid. I don't like the dangers in the olympics. I think there will be some tremendous losses because of climate change. It will happen after I'm gone but I still worry about it. I think food production will be one of he first problems.

Betsy said...

Such a cute photo of you and your sister. My sister is 3 years older than I am and we're pretty close too. I avoid the news as much as possible. It's easier to not think about the fires being here in the midwest instead of Spokane, although we have even had smokey skies the past few days here. I do miss the PNW a lot though.
Covid scares me. We're flying this week and I'm a bit worried about what we'll encounter. We've both had our vaccinations and will wear masks when around others but the various variants out there are still concerning.
I hope your week is a great one.

Rita said...

Happy birthday to Norma Jean! Love the pic of you two having your bath together.

Changing my perspective is what I do, too. And not watch the news--LOL! ;)

Have a wonderful week smelling the flowers as you walk by. :)

Marie Smith said...

Belated best wishes to your dear sister.

I remember years ago, I taught a girls who was the youngest of fourteen children. She came to school after lunch one day talking about the phone call from the oldest sibling in the family, who called where their parents weren’t home. She felt so awkward talking to him, since she didn’t know him at all. It was hard for me to imagine feeling like that since I have one brother who is four years younger. While we had different friends, we were close. I understand it now of course.

My fear with the pandemic is people who refuse a vaccine will keep this virus around far longer than it has to be and the variants will be uncontrollable. Getting the world vaccinated is a challenge of monumental proportions. A one dose vaccine would be easier for sure. Wonder if the J&J vaccine is up to the test?

Anvilcloud said...

We did have Stargazers, which did have a fabulous scent. Sadly, they diminished year by year until I removed the remnants. These don't look like Stargazers to me unless the red hue shifted in camera. But they are fab, whatever they are.

No, I am not paying attention to the Olympics except noticing some tweets or headlines. I understand the major sports leagues having continued on in some fashion, but I don't understand the need to hold these Olympics right now.

gigi-hawaii said...

Those are beautiful lilies, even though they give off a strong scent. LOL. Happy birthday to Norma Jean! It is incredible that you are so close even now.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, like you, I try to find and concentrate on the good in my life. It's always there, but sometimes other things overshadow the good and have to brush aside the overhanding branches of the tree of dismay or remorse or anger--three emotions that I experience any time I watch the world news--and find the anemones growing below those leafy branches. I have a quote taped to my computer and it helps me, too: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust said that long years ago, and I'm concentrating on finding the newness in everything--I'm trying to have the eyes of a child newly awakened to wonder. What helps me also if that after spending all my adulthood--from age 30 to age 85--watching 1 1/2 hours of news each night, I am letting myself live in ignorance of what is happening around me. Too much stress brings on Meniere's and I can't afford that. Also, I let myself say only one political sentence a day! Peace.