October 2010

“So Krsna says, punyo gandhah prthivyam ca. When you smell something very fragrant… Just like in the flower. There are different varieties of flower, and they are exacting different varieties of aroma from the earth. So the good smell of the flower… In some other place it is said in the Bhagavatam that the…, when you see flower, you see Krsna smiling. That is the seeing of Krsna smiling. Therefore the flower should be utilized for Krsna’s service. Because these flowers, everything, is Krsna’s energy.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.44 — Bombay, January 19, 1975

Earlier in the year I was hunting for some plant I wanted and stumbled unto a nursery that specializes in peonies and has over 600 varieties. The choices were bewildering so I asked the owner to make recommendations based on the parameters of being early and late bloomers, to spread the season, and being very fragrant. Based on that I ended up buying 3 new varieties.

Chestine GowdyAahh! What a wonderfully fragrant, late, full double. With a bright rose pink center and guard petals separated by a collar of cream colored petals it creates a unique effect. 26″ tall. In a bouquet this is just heavenly for the fragrance. Use it generously along a fence for a plentiful supply of blooms to share with friends and family. Plant in full sun.

Burma Ruby: APS Gold Medal and 2009 APS Award of Landscape Merit Winner! A single, bright red hybrid with a little purple in the background that gives it an extra brilliance, very early blooming. A generous bloomer with large petals forming a cup shape set off by the deep green foliage. The added bonus is it has a pleasant fragrance too! Plant in full sun in well drained soil.

Pink Hawaiian Coral:  Semi-double, fragrant salmon-pink to coral with a cupped shape bloom. 34″ stems. A late-mid-season bloomer. This hybrid peony won the APS Gold Medal in 2000 and received the Award of Landscape Merit in 2009.

Peonies are great because they have tremendous flowers early in the year long before the annuals make a show. Deer don’t bother them, which is a major consideration here in West Virginia, so they can be planted without being fenced.  Peonies, along with iris and day lilies, are sometimes referred to as the ironclads — relatively easy to grow, long lasting and reliable flowering.  Once planted in rich, well drained soil, the only care peonies need is removal of the foliage in the fall to prevent disease incubation. I do top dress with compost in years I have the energy to do so.

I already had a row of about 14 peonies and am happy with that amount. I have a few of a white variety the name of which is lost in the sands of time, but it is very fragrant. The rest came from divisions that my sister-in-law sent me from my mother’s garden where they have been happily pumping it out for more than 50 years.

I dug three of my mother’s peony progeny and divided them into about 40. I was a little surprised how dense the root structure was as they had only been planted 4-5 years ago. I split them using the criterion of 3-6 “eyes” per division. Then I got on the phone list calling everyone I knew that  does some gardening until I found homes for them all.

While it will be a few years until the new peonies mature enough to divide, I do hope to expand their numbers if they are as brilliant as their descriptions promise.  As with most perennials, it is “first year sleeping, second year creeping, third year leaping” and apparently 5th year plenty of divisions to propagate. Not that I have any surety of living that long, but just in case I do I will have something to do.


Dear John:

I hope you can help me. The other day I set off for work, leaving my husband in the house watching TV. My car stalled and then it broke down about a mile down the road so I had to walk back to get my husband’s help.

When I got home, I could not believe my eyes; he was in our bedroom with the neighbor’s 20-year-old daughter. I am 32 and my husband is 34. We have been married for ten years. When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted they’d been having an affair for the past six months. He won’t go to counseling and I’m afraid I am a wreck and need advice urgently. Can you help me please?



He writes:

Dear Sheila,

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipe and the hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be the fuel pump.

I hope this helps,


I am focused on something else when from a TV playing in the background a single  opening note pierces my concentration. Although it may have been 30 years or more since I last heard it I think I immediately recognize the song, and the second note confirms it. It is “Season of the Witch” by Donovan, one of the signature songs of the psychedelic era in the 1960s. It was one of those songs that although a reading of the lyrics now seem pale or like a chemical analysis of a dead body, at the time it  seemed to embody the yearnings of a generation searching for the truth, an identity.

“When I look out my window,
what do you think I see?
And when I look in my window,
so many different people to be.
Its strange,
sure is strange.”

Now to hear it being used in a commercial was a little disconcerting, disconcerting enough that I didn’t even grasp what the commercial was for, though it was a bunch of electronic gizmo zombies staring into their plastic gods. Society has become even more soulless than it ever was with the youth firmly in the grip of the electronic opiates.

Donovan actually met Prabhupada.

“Through George Harrison, another famous pop singer and musician, Donovan, was drawn to come and see the renowned leader of the Hare Krsna movement. Donovan, accompanied by a musician friend and their two girl friends in miniskirts, sat in awkward silence before Prabhupada. Prabhupada spoke: “There is a verse in the Vedas that says music is the highest form of education.” And he began to explain how a musician could serve Krsna. “You should do like your friend George,” Prabhupada said. “We will give you the themes, and you can write the songs.” Prabhupada said that anything, even money, could be used in the service of Krsna.”

SPL 42: Developing Mayapur

If only someday I will develop enough attraction for the maha mantra that on hearing the first note I will be drawn out of my own mental miasma and have such an affinity for it.

I have had enough.
I gasp for breath.

Every way ends, every road,
every foot-path leads at last
to the hill-crest—
then you retrace your steps,
or find the same slope on the other side,

I have had enough—
border-pinks, clove-pinks, wax-lilies,
herbs, sweet-cress.

O for some sharp swish of a branch—
there is no scent of resin
in this place,
no taste of bark, of coarse weeds,
aromatic, astringent—
only border on border of scented pinks.

Have you seen fruit under cover
that wanted light—
pears wadded in cloth,
protected from the frost,
melons, almost ripe,
smothered in straw?

Why not let the pears cling
to the empty branch?
All your coaxing will only make
a bitter fruit—
let them cling, ripen of themselves,
test their own worth,
nipped, shrivelled by the frost,
to fall at last but fair
with a russet coat.

Or the melon—
let it bleach yellow
in the winter light,
even tart to the taste—
it is better to taste of frost—
the exquisite frost—
than of wadding and of dead grass.

For this beauty,
beauty without strength,
chokes out life.
I want wind to break,
scatter these pink-stalks,
snap off their spiced heads,
fling them about with dead leaves—
spread the paths with twigs,
limbs broken off,
trail great pine branches,
hurled from some far wood
right across the melon-patch,
break pear and quince—
leave half-trees, torn, twisted
but showing the fight was valiant.

O to blot out this garden
to forget, to find a new beauty
in some terrible
wind-tortured place.

The Green Chiles, an earthcentric environmental activist group has been unlawfully detained and needs your support to escape the clutches of the Consumer Police.

Just kidding. There was an frost warning the other night so we took some precautionary measures, covering a few tomato plants that are still pretty active and ripening more tomatoes and picking the last of the green beans and a bunch of marigolds for the temple to use for garlands.

We had 6 cayenne plants that had already yielded enough red cayenne for drying so I have more than I need for the next several years in case I didn’t get around to drying any next year. The plants were still covered with green ones and with the shorter days of late October and the long cool nights were unlikely to ripen anymore so I pulled the plants into wheelbarrows and rolled them into the garage. Yesterday I picked off all  those hot peppers and filled a couple of boxes with them, more than a bushel worth. I bagged up 9 pounds (4 kg) for the temple which should be more than they can use as even refrigerated they don’t last forever and there is pretty much just a skeleton crew of devotees there now that the off season has deeply set in.

So if anyone wants any free green cayenne stop by. Calling before you come by is advised because occasionally neither of us are here.

Every year our goal is to make it to November before we light our first wood fire. This means we tolerate interior temperatures down to 60F (15.5 C) which is no big deal if you just wear a warm hat and a sweater or equivalent.

If it gets too cold and too many consecutive cloudy days we aren’t dogmatic and will start heating earlier if necessary but probably over half the years we make it to November.  Having the sun come out really helps.

Yesterday was a good example. The interior temperature was 59F in the morning. The warmest it got all day outside was 58F but by the end of the day the  interior temperature was 62F and it was still 60 F this morning.  We let the sun shine in through the southern windows during the day and then close thick curtains on them in the night.

Plus we get some solar gain out of our attached greenhouse.

We would have gotten more gain but I realized that the castor bean plant we had planted in front of it for summer shading was still unwilted by frost and robustly shading it so I got out my machete and hacked it down.  With the late frost we still haven’t had (average first killing frost here is about Oct. 7th) the maple tree in front has been clinging to its leaves and just started dropping them, so with the sun sinking each day into the South, i.e. lower on the horizon, we also got some early afternoon shading from it.

I just ordered a solar thermal hot water heater. The greenhouse is an example of passive solar, the hot water heater will be an example of an  active ( pump required) solar device. That will go onto the upper roof so the front yard trees won’t be an issue as far as shading goes.

We use an electric hot water heater so I am hoping for substantial savings  in my electric bill which will reflect decreased demand for coal and all the nastiness involved in its extraction and burning.

Apparently the theme for today’s post was “hot” and “heating.” :-)



“Krsna wears a pearl necklace that appears like a chain of white ducks around His neck. The peacock feather in His hair appears like a rainbow, and His yellow garments appear like lightning in the sky. Krsna appears like a newly risen cloud, and the gopis appear like newly grown grains in the field. Constant rains of nectarean pastimes fall upon these newly grown grains, and it seems that the gopis are receiving beams of life from Krsna, exactly as grains receive life from the rains.”

Madhya 21.109

“The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the woods with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with insistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that  the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythm that are not those of the engineer.”

Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable (New York: New Directions, 1966) p. 9.

“Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants,  this rain. As long as it talks I am going to listen.”

Raids on the Unspeakable: p. 10.

Nevada, USA — Clean air mandates pushed the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to start developing renewable energy technologies. But the benefits of energy security and independence are what finally converted many military leaders into believers.

In this weird world we live in

  • If you’re too open minded, your brains will fall out.
  • Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
  • Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.
  • Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
  • My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.
  • In today’s world is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.
  • If you look like your passport picture, you probably need that vacation.
  • Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
  • A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
  • Eat well, stay fit, you will die anyway.
  • Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
  • Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.
  • Opportunities always look bigger while going than coming.
  • Junk is something you’ve kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.
  • Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.
  • By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.
  • Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.

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