It Takes a Village

It Takes a Village is a reminder of Democratic Party values – especially the values of long time Democrats whose lives have been dedicated to helping people.

Tuesday in Mooseville – How Does Your Garden Grow? 7/9/19

Hemerocallis fulva. Or as most folks around here call it, the ditch lily. It’s so commonplace alongside the drainage ditches along dirt roads, it’s hard to believe it’s not a native.

Every time RonK posts something that includes PNW plant life, I find myself scouring the photos, because 9 times out of 10, I’m seeing plants I’ve never seen before. Or I’m learning something about a known plant that is surprising to me. (Lamiastrum is considered invasive? How can that be?!) I very much have a midwesterner’s sensibility in the garden, so I thought I’d do a simple post with plants that define that sensibility for me. In other words, while opinions may vary about specific cultivars, the genus x species I’m listing are practically universal to the midwestern garden. I’d love to hear more about the plants that are practically universal in the gardens in your neck of the woods! (Note: These are not photos from my own gardens, which are still so overwhelmed with weeds that I’d be embarrassed to share photos at the moment. Maybe someday…)!–more–>

SPEAKING OF WEEDS…
It makes me ill when I think of all of the plantains I’ve weeded and pitched. It has a fibrous root system, which makes it so much easier to pull out than a dandelion (which is taprooted), but like the dandelion, it’s only a weed if you’re seeking the Scotts-approved “perfect” lawn. I spent years not knowing a thing about this lovely beneficial herb; now when I stumble across it, I leave it be or dig it up and move it to a place where it won’t be unwelcome or mowed. I don’t cook it or eat it, but I have been known to make a poultice from plantain leaves for spider bites.

GARDENING BLUES
I have a thing about blues in the garden; I can’t get enough. From a garden design standpoint, that would be a very, very limiting choice. Blue is a receding color, which is great if you are wanting to create depth or make a garden look larger. But it also makes the individual flowers difficult to discern and as a cool color, there’s very little pop. As a result, most designers use blue as a foil to help emphasize other colors or to cool down an overly-warm palette. Me? I just want blue, blue and more blue. My favorite spring blues:
Geranium pretense ‘Mrs. Kendall Clark’: She’s prolific; she’s a reseeder (which I view as a plus); and she’s beloved by the bees. What more could I ask for?


Brunnera macrophylla: Big, coarse leaves and tiny forget-me-not flowers; when the hosta are just starting to unfurl; this guy is doing his thing.


Mertensia virginica: Easy enough to find in cultivated gardens, but considered endangered as a wildflower in Michigan. It disappears altogether by late May, which is fine with me, because the foliage is scraggly and unrefined. But, oh, those flowers!

[S]HE LOVES ME, [S]HE LOVES ME NOT I was never one to pluck the petals off daisies; I’m pretty sure if I had tried that with flowers from my mother’s or grandmothers’ gardens, I would have been buying trouble for myself. But the opportunity was always there, because their gardens all included daisies. I have continued the practice, and my personal favorite for the past 15-20 years has been Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’.

THIS IS THE ONE AND ONLY RED WINE I LIKE First introduced in 1992 by White Flower Farms; when I ordered my plants from them, I was told I was one of the first 10 to order the variety. The color just took my breath away (and still does). Monarda are not “neat” plants, but since I am not a “neat” gardener (no formal gardens for me…the more natural, the better), its loose habit works just fine. And did I mention the color?
Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’:

MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE RUDBECKIA (AND NO, IT’S NOT ‘GOLDSTURM’) Don’t get me wrong…I love ‘Goldsturm’ and have it several of my gardens. But the black-eyed Susan that I look up to (literally!) is ‘Herbstsonne’ (Autumn Sun). She’s a stately 6′ tall in my gardens, and she flowers from late July/early August well into September. The bees and the butterflies adore her almost as much as I do.
Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’:

IF I WERE QUEEN OF THE MIDWEST, I WOULD DECREE THAT MORE GARDEN CENTERS FEATURED THESE PLANTS, BECAUSE I CAN’T POSSIBLY BE THE ONLY ONE WHO COVETS THEM I have no idea why these plants aren’t more widely used. They’re late(r) season plants, so they add color to the garden when the mid-summer, prolific bloomers are a mere memory. They’re both natives, which is an important consideration for biodiversity and as the climate crisis deepens. And they are stunning in the gardens and a perfect complement to the fall leaves as they are starting to change. Yet they’re still harder to find in the local garden centers than a Hibiscus untouched by Japanese beetles…
Helenium autumnale:

Vernonia novaborecensis:

What plants do you think of as quintessentially “your region” of the country?

Tuesday in Mooseville – SHEnanigans 7/2/19

We need more of this.

I’ve been wanting to do some hardcore herstory for awhile, but “hardcore” equals “lots of reading,” and that’s something that goes by the wayside for me during the summer months. So instead of Herstory, I’ve opted for SHEnanigans, which is my abbreviated version of herstory. Skip the first several dictionary definitions for shenanigans until you get to “high-spirited behavior,” add women, and you have SHEnanigans.

Wednesday in Mooseville – Night One, Part Two 6/26/19

TOP, L-R: Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard BOTTOM, L-R: Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Timothy Ryan, Elizabeth Warren

My Tuesday post featured thumbnails of the “top row” candidates; this is a continuation of that overview, this time featuring the bottom row.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Night One, Part One 6/25/19

TOP, L-R:  Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard BOTTOM, L-R: Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Timothy Ryan, Elizabeth Warren

 Tomorrow night is Night One of the Democratic presidential debates. From 9-11pm (Eastern), NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo will be in Miami, with “Today” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd, “The Rachel Maddow Show” host Rachel Maddow, and “Noticias Telemundo” anchor José Diaz-Balart serving as the moderators. Although NBC has been soliciting questions from its viewers, NBC will be determining which questions to ask. What follows are thumbnails of the Night One candidates to help you prepare for debate-watching.

Tuesday in Mooseville – The Six-Week Filibuster 6/18/19

Promotional still from the 1939 film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, published in National Board of Review Magazine; November 1939.

On December 20, 2018, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018 passed the Senate by unanimous consent. After 200 attempts since 1882, this was the first federal anti-lynching legislation to pass in the Senate. It was passed again by unanimous consent in the 116th Congress in February 2019 and sent to the House, where it has been referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. (Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2019) If passed by the House and signed by the Current pResident, the legislation will be historic and unfortunately, still necessary:

Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., drafted the bipartisan legislation, which defines the crime as “the willful act of murder by a collection of people assembled with the intention of committing an act of violence upon any person.” It also classifies lynching as a hate crime that would warrant enhanced sentences.
“It’s a travesty that despite repeated attempts to do so, Congress still hasn’t put anti-lynching legislation on the books,” Booker said in a statement. “This bill will right historical wrongs by acknowledging our country’s stained past and codifying into law our commitment to abolishing this shameful practice.” African-American Senators Introduce Anti-Lynching Bill

I was reminded of this legislation when I was considering the lengths to which white supremacists will go to retain power, which in turn reminded me of a previous anti-lynching bill and the 6-week filibuster. That story follows.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Falling Down the Rabbit Hole Again 6/11/19

Michigan state flower.

I spent the weekend in the garden, and the repetitive, simple acts of digging up unwanted re-seeders and spreaders (are they “weeds” if their only crime is being in the wrong place?) leaves one time to think. Did I ponder the meaning of life? Did I discover the cure for the common cold? Did I figure out the key to achieving world peace? Of course not. Instead, I found myself wondering why the Ohio state flower is the carnation, when it is far from a common or native plant grown in Ohio gardens. And then I wondered what the Michigan state flower was. (I grew up in Ohio, so I learned these basics in 8th grade Ohio history. I have far less knowledge of Michigan trivia.) This simple train of thought led to a rabbit hole of discovery which was more interesting than I would have anticipated.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Maybe It’s Time to Believe ‘Em 6/4/19

Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3: Personhood restrictions, exclusion of women and “Indians”…it’s all right there.

I think we all realize at this point that the phrase, “This is not who we are!” is more a statement of wishful thinking than objective reality. It’s a statement of privilege for those who have never had to confront oppression before; it’s a statement of disappointment for those who have been taught and believed in American exceptionalism; it’s even occasionally a statement of defiance from activists who are fighting for change. For the longest time, I would hear or see this phrase and react with a cynical, “It’s precisely who we are!” But time has shown me that, more often than not, the utterance of that phrase is also a turning point for an individual; it’s the point where a good many folks turn from a simplistic, disengaged understanding of issues to an attempt to understand; to change; and to engage. It’s also the point where a fair number start to recognize the truth in Dr. Maya Angelou’s words, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” We’ve had lots of first times in this country; maybe it’s time to believe ’em.

Tuesday in Mooseville – If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words, What Is A Mural Worth? 5/28/19

Man and Machinery. One of Diego Rivera’s mammoth Detroit Industry murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts; 1933

I first discovered mural art when I moved to Michigan and visited the Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA). Since that first visit, I’ve made more visits to the DIA than I can count, and a I’d say that more than half of those visits have been to the court alone. There’s something direct and unvarnished in public murals that appeals to me. So when JanF shared a tweet of the Harriet Tubman mural, I was transfixed. It’s clear I’m not the only one.

When I went to the Post Office on Friday to buy some stamps, the postal clerk, who knows my interest in history (small town living FTW!), suggested I would like the newly-released Post Office mural stamps. She was right, and in the process, gave me a topic for today’s post. When life gives you murals, write about them.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Ode to the Paper Bag and Other Items of a Bygone Era 5/21/19

Grocery bag, book cover, part of herstory, and culture-changer.

Sometimes a peripheral observation in a book sets off a series of musings and memories. The paragraph that started this train of thought:

The development of the first practical mass-produced paper bags was spurred, like so many other things, by the Civil War, as northern mill operators sought a replacement for cotton sacks. In 1870 the mechanical process to stamp out today’s familiar bag was patented, and the relationship between consumers and products began to change forever. Purchasers had been taking their own containers to grocers in in order to carry products home and thus were constrained from buying more of an item then they had planned, on impulse; the arrival of cheap, mass-produced paper bags allowed buyers to carry home as much as they wanted of what they saw in the store. (Manring, M.M., Slave in a Box: The Strange Career of Aunt Jemima, University Press of Virginia, 1998, pp. 62-63)

This post is 50% nostalgia (and perhaps confirmation that I am an Official Old), but the other 50% is presenting the question (with no answers provided), “Would reclaiming some of the past be better for our future?” for your consideration.

Tuesday in Mooseville – Why White Folk Understanding the Racist Mammy Archetype Matters 5/14/19

Please, Mammy (1899)

Over the weekend, a Bill Maher-initiated hashtag on Twitter caught fire amongst too many on the Left. It was a play on a racist slur used by 45* against Sen. Warren, and far too many failed to realize that playing with the words of a racist slur was not clever, but an extension and reiteration of the essential racism. For once, I found myself in the position of understanding how unacceptable the hashtag was without having it spelled out to me, but as I saw white person after white person repeating the hashtag (and often arguing with those who asked that they stop), it was an object lesson in privilege trumping good politics, good citizenship, and good sense. I also realized that a fair number of tweeters stopped using the hashtag when asked without really understanding the layers and nuances of why the hashtag was offensive. That’s another privilege that comes with Whiteness, but it’s in understanding subtleties that White folk can learn to be better allies. For this post, I’m going to look not just at a stereotype that few would have trouble recognizing as racist, but at some of the underlying assumptions that are less recognized but no less harmful.