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Do you recall me sharing my little sunflower that I thought initially was a weed?
She got a little bigger.
And made lots of babies.
We’ve had lots of rain here and lots of rain makes sunflowers feel happy and fed. It’s amazing how much you can thrive and blossom with lots of nurturance and lots of what you need. We are very much the same!
A couple of pictures from the vault today: the first Aimee and I took with sunflowers nearly thirteen years ago.
Aimee surrounded by the yellow blooms wearing her Sunflower Bike Shop t-shirt. How appropriate.
Yes, that's me, baby face and all, sniffing a sunflower. Look how non-grey my hair was back then. And no, sunflowers don't really have a lovely flower fragrance. To take the picture, Aimee asked me to climb a little mound and stand in the middle of the flowers. I paid for my compliance with tiny cuts and hives on my arms and legs. She framed my picture (the one above) and kept it on her nightstand until the day she died.
After that first adventure, we took family photos with sunflowers each year. Usually, we'd pose with random "dirt mound" flowers--the small ones from the pictures above which litter Kansas in late summer. A few times we found commercial fields of sunflowers, the big, fat-headed blooms harvested for seeds or floral arrangements. Sunflowers are stubborn plants, and the wild ones crop up anywhere they can find open soil.
Sunflowers held special meaning for us. I painted an arrangement of sunflowers for Aimee's wedding gift. When we honeymooned in Ireland and I started feeling a little homesick, Aimee found a flower shop in Cork and bought me a sunflower. The boys and I made her a triptych of flowers one year for Mothers' Day.
We'll take a family photo this fall, the boys and I in a cluster of yellow, and share memories of sunflowers past.
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, Edward Zelinsky
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As the year draws to a close, we’ve been reflecting on all the wonderful books published in 2011, and in doing so, we’ve also realized there are some classics worth revisiting. The authors and friends of Oxford University Press are proud to present this series of essays, which will appear regularly until the New Year, drawing our attention to books both new and old. Here regular OUPblog columnist Edward Zelinsky writes about My Antonia by Willa Cather.
The first time I read My Antonia, I hated it. That was to be expected: It was required reading in my sophomore English course at Omaha Central High. This was during the Sixties. In the Age of Aquarius, no one was supposed to like assigned reading. That’s why it had to be assigned.
I next confronted My Antonia in college. Like Jim Burden, Willa Cather’s narrator, I had left Nebraska to go to east to continue my education. During those years, some feminists were arguing for Cather’s place in the women’s canon. Thus, Antonia, the Nebraska icon, was to be transformed into Antonia, the feminist icon.
This didn’t seem quite right to me. As I reread My Antonia in college half a continent away from Nebraska, Cather’s portrayal of Nebraska seemed more appealing than it had when I had grown up there. And Antonia was too rich a character to serve anyone’s political agenda.
It was when my eleven year old daughter discovered My Antonia that I came full circle. Jacoba was blessed with a wonderful English teacher who guided her to read challenging novels. My Antonia became Jacoba’s favorite book. This prompted me to confront Cather’s most famous Nebraska novel once again.
This time, I was really hooked as I read of Antonia, her family’s travails and her ultimate triumph on the plains of Nebraska. This book, I declared, was good; it deserved to be taken off the required reading list.
The following year, when we visited my mother in Omaha, Jacoba asked if we could go to Red Cloud, Willa Cather’s hometown which she fictionalized in My Antonia as Black Hawk. I told my mother we were going to Red Cloud because Jacoba wanted to. That was partially true.
Our day in Red Cloud remains one of the best memories of raising my daughter. The citizens of Red Cloud are understandably proud as they guide visitors through the many Cather-related structures still standing.
At the end of the day, our guide gently walked us toward the cemetery where Antonia is buried. The small, picturesque graveyard was dotted with Nebraska sunflowers. Standing at Antonia’s grave was one of the genuinely peaceful moments of my life.
As I stood by Antonia’s grave, I realized that, like Jim Burden, I had gone east to be educated and live my life as a lawyer, but that I had forever left behind an important part of me in Nebraska.
A few years later, when Jacoba’s twin brothers reached Bar Mitzvah age, the synagogue in Connecticut was decorated with Nebraska sunflowers.
Edward A. Zelinsky is the Morris and Annie Trachman Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University. He is the author of The Origins of the Ownership Society: How The Defined Contribution Paradigm Changed America. His monthly column appears here.
This post has taken a turn from my original plans. I was going to post some goodies I was lucky to receive from some of you wonderful ladies, but now that I opened my mail not fifteen minutes ago I knew I had to make this post about Renee.
I promised myself to always keep fresh yellow flowers in my studio as a way of always having her spirit with me. Yellow was her favorite color and she adored fresh flowers.
So after putting the flowers in water I go to the mailbox and there's a package from Margaret at Waterblossoms. Most of you already know her and love her as I do. She did a post about Renee (here) on March 15th. Margaret really picked up on the essence of Renee's spirit immediately and conveyed it beautifully in her post and in the beautiful ATC she painted.
Today, as part of the package she sent me is the original ATC and printouts of the post and all the comments and a beautiful card thanking me for introducing her to Renee.
This is the original ATC in all its glory. It's a sight to behold in person, really.
Peg said that as she painted it it was as if she had a butterfly on her shoulder telling her muse what to do, line by line, brushful by brushful. She went on to write,
"It sang of renewal and light and rebirth...it sang of the lessons I personally gleaned from Renee...it sang of a free spirit and serenity. This original belongs to you~I will have it no other way...thanks for sharing Renee with me!" Peg ♥
Thanks so much Peg. You have no idea how much that moved me.
This is the stunning card and envelope it came in. Sorry for the shadows, I was just trying to find some natural light and the kitchen was the only sunny spot.
More goodies from her (and more shadows!)
8 Comments on Thankful Thursday: Mellow Yellow, last added: 3/21/2010
Blog: .:happy chinchilla:.
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This year the girls and I are taking part in Nurture Store’s Sunflower Challenge. Not only do we get to grow (hopefully) prize-winning sunflowers, we’re also helping raise funds for the work of the Compton Hospice. For a donation, Compton Hospice will send you a packet of sunflower seeds and then it’s over to you – for the growers of the four tallest sunflowers there are some wonderful prizes including family tickets to the Just So Festival 2011 and the ThinkTank in Birmingham.
Last week we planted our seeds…
…and ever since then we’ve been reading lots and lots of books about sunflowers, including To be like the Sun by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine, which opens with these lines:
Hello, little seed,
striped gray seed.
Do you really know everything
To read my review, head on over to the Nurture Store blog. I’m thrilled that over the next few months I’ll be regularly guest posting for Cathy with reviews of sunflower picture books. I hope you’ll be popping over to read all about the books I’ve selected. And if you’d like to join in with the Sunflower challenge yourself, you can find all the details here.
In deciding which books to review as part of our Sunflower challenge I drew up a master list of great sounding books. I’ve not yet read them all, but I thought you might like the list to give you some ideas as you (hopefully) get seed sowing.
The Great Golden Thing by Linard Bardill and Miriam Monnier
A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai and Felicia Horishino
Measuring Angels by Lesley Ely and Polly Dunbar
Secret in the Mist by Margaret Nash and Stephen Lamber
On Saturday I reviewed another Sunflower picture book as part of Nurture Store’s Sunflower Challenge
– do head on over
to read about a peaceful and mysterious book, particularly good for sons and dads but a lovely read for anyone wanting a slightly different take on sunflowers.
Our sunflowers are doing well – the tallest is now 150cm!
It’s probably too late to join in this year’s growing challenge, but it’s never to late to share a book Here are all my past sunflower picture book reviews:
Measuring Angels by Lesley Ely and illustrated by Polly Dunbar
To be like the Sun by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Katie and the Sunflowers by James Mayhew
and you can see what we did with our sunflowers after they had finished flowering two years ago, here.
On June 30th Cathy at Nurture Store will be hosting a Sunflower Carnival and she’s inviting everyone to link up with post of their own about sunflowers. If you’ve got a post about a sunflower book or sunflower activity it would be great if you could join us at the carnival.
So here they our, our 4 sunflowers we grew as part of the Nurture Store’s Sunflower Challenge in aid of Compton Hospice.
Our tallest comes in at 199cm and is still some way off blooming. It may have a bud – I can’t tell from down below!
What with relatives visiting and a very busy time at school we haven’t been able to read and craft anything new for today’s post, but we will be getting out all our old sunflower books, those that I reviewed for Cathy at Nurture Store, and sitting in the shade of our sunflower this afternoon to enjoy them all again.
When my sunflowers were about a foot high, I planted morning glory seeds near the base of each stalk. Now that the sunflowers are spent, I’ve been stripping off their lacy, bug-chewed leaves and watching the morning glories climb. The drooping sunflower heads are heavy with their own seeds; the goldfinches are in heaven. Empty shells litter the earth beneath the green hearts of the morning-glory leaves. When all the sunflower seeds are gone, I’ll remove the dry brown flowerheads and the stalks will disappear behind a curtain of blue trumpets.
This is a tremendous amount of fun to be had for the price of two seed packets.
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Huiricuta Ecological and Cultural Protected Area, Mexico
Coordinates: 23 42 N 100 54 W
Approximate Area: 285 sq. miles (738 sq. km)
Pilgrimages have long been a part of religious practice for many faiths around the world, and while the purpose and destination of each journey is predictably quite different, a common element among them all seems to be distance. In the case of the Huichol people of western Mexico, their route spans roughly 400 miles to a sacred mountain at the southern limits of the Chihuahuan Desert. (more…)
New growth is on the horizon!
This is my S is for Sunflower & Self-confidence
from my Healing Alphabet book/card deck I'm creating. This piece has so much movement, now that I look at it. I was so excited I had something in my repertoire to actually post on a Friday, even in the middle of this crazy, busy season!
Releasing today - on the first day of Spring - is Sunflowers: The Secret History, a highly entertaining social history of this remarkable flower.
Rave reviews are already pouring in: "Author Joe Pappalardo demonstrates a dramatic flair as he makes a strong case for the sunflower's grip on humanity. Enjoyable and eye-opening." (Kirkus).
"The trove of entertaining lore Pappalardo spins throughout his engaging and expansive look at a flower so ubiquitous that its critical role in cultural development since the dawn of time often goes overlooked. A glib, upbeat writer and fiercely determined researcher, Pappalardo intrepidly investigates everything from the sunflower’s genetic history and recent bioengineering discoveries to its influence on global economies from the U.S. to Uganda.” (Booklist).
More praise for Sunflowers: The Secret History, from the current issue of Entertainment Weekly: "There is a time in every author's relationship with a topic when he crosses the line into obsession,'' says the affable Joe Pappalardo, who seems to find sunflowers everywhere: He claims Hitler invaded Russia because he wanted the country's sunflower oil and notes that another form of the weed, the Jerusalem artichoke, was rejected as a food source in 17th-century Europe (which is unfortunate, since its use could have averted the Irish potato famine). Though some of Pappalardo's interview subjects in Sunflowers exude a standard scholarly dryness, Pappalardo himself does not in this lively, compulsively readable account. B+."
Blog: Bit by Bit
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, Colored Pencil
, Daily Sketches
, floating lemons
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I bought a bunch of sunflowers from the markets the other day, they are so wonderfully cheerful. It's also the first time in my life that I've seen fields absolutely full of sunflowers, a sea of bobbing yellows and oranges capturing the joys of the day, I love it.
Am not so crazy about the drawing though, I'm not quite sure why but it seems pale in comparison to the real thing. I haven't captured the vibrancy and am a bit disappointed -- maybe next time ...
Floating Sunflower cards and matching gifts at Floating Lemons at zazzle
Joe Pappalardao, author of Sunflowers: The Secret History, reveals the real truth bhind sunflowers in the current issue of Popular Mechanics. Commonly regarded as the symbol for all things peace, love and happiness, right? Wrong. The truth is that the Helianthus family, with more than 50 species of sunflowers, has a dark side influenced by evolutionary science, archaeology and military history. Pappalardo describes why this bright, friendly icon—usually associated with midwestern farming, environmental friendliness and Little League snacking—is hiding a past that is rich with intrigue, aggression and envy