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Gwin Paden: Garden’s August slump, word confusion and more

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Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 12:00 am

The garden is in its typical August slump, not quite finished blooming here and there — liriopes, impatiens, vinca, zinnias, and some roses — but mostly ready to call an end to making any effort to do anything new and interesting, and relaxing in a blowsy kind of way to bear up under the heat and whatever other weather comes along.

I am particularly interested in seeing what my special hydrangea will do this fall. It has bloomed prodigiously in its new location, and I am watching to see if it will go into the progression of color promised by the picture which tempted me to buy it. The completely dug up front lawn will wait until cold weather for some transplanting into its area; meanwhile, latent Bermuda roots will have a chance to grow and be yanked out until they give up — or does Bermuda grass ever give up?


I became cognizant of another word confusion after reading Saturday’s paper, and this one, like so many others, can be laid at the door of speech inaccuracies. “Conscience” and “conscious” are two vastly different things. The first, which Emerson called “the oracle of God,” is that small voice within us that makes us aware of whether we are behaving well or badly, either before or after the fact. The second is the condition of being awake and aware to what is around us in all manner of ways. We usually think of being conscious or unconscious physically, but it can apply to mental and spiritual awareness, also. Pretty simple definitions, really; check the dictionary for wider applications.

Anyone who is really interested in words can find out information in depth in the Oxford English Dictionary, a set of very large volumes that are still being updated and added to. (There are condensed, smaller volumes, and the dictionary is probably now on the internet.) Reading the original large ones has more appeal. Each word’s definition starts with the first time it was ever used and what it meant then.


I applaud Chinet paper plates for its very thoughtful TV ad. A social gathering is pictured as a display in a store window. After looking at it longingly, a young woman simply climbs into the window and becomes part of the scene, which then comes alive. Of course, the point is to extol the Chinet plates being used for refreshments, but the announcer wistfully speaks of such a social time, “when doorbells rang more than cell phones,” as though it were a thing of the past. Have we lost this kind of personal society — or are we just pretty far along that road? Let’s hope we don’t isolate ourselves now when we need to keep personal human contacts very much alive.

What is most important is keeping the family unit intact, sitting down together at least for the evening meal, with all electronic devices banned and personal conversation on everyone’s part encouraged. Beyond that, how many of us know the neighbors on our block and how to reach them in case of a common emergency? A Neighborhood Watch is a good way to do this. We need to look out for each other.


Humor from here and there: (1) Experience is recognizing a mistake the second time you’ve made it. (2) Never trust an atom; they make up everything. (3) Carbon — don’t date without it. (4) Horse sense is just stable thinking. (5) The cheapest way to trace your family tree is to run for public office. (6) Where there’s a will, there are relatives.

*** I have been having a wonderful time these last few weeks reading some of the old books which have lived on my bookshelves since childhood and early adulthood. They have been written from the late 1800’s through the 1970’s, and have been wonderful The writing is more considered and conducive to reading at a slower pace, even though there is plenty of action. Included have been two Louisa May Alcott books, “Eight Cousins” and its sequel, “Rose in Bloom,” two books about the mountain people living on the Kentucky/Tennessee border and the impact of “civilization” on them; and a saga set in the late 1800’s and onward in the Pittsburg area of steel mills and their growth, development, and effect on the various levels of the society that depends on them.

There was also a historical novel about the early stages of the American Revolution in North Carolina. The Revolutionists (Whigs) had more to deal with than British troops. British sympathizers (Tories) stirred up revolts among the plantation slaves, and incited native Indians to attack. It was a time when Washington was driven to hold raffles to raise money to feed and clothe his few troops. The book culminated in a pitched battle from which the Whigs emerged victorious, even though the British had the advantage of warships off the coast and the capturing of the strategic town of Savannah, GA.

Two others, which struck me with the remarkable quality of their writing, will be saved for a later column.

And one to end with: You can never do a kindness too soon because you never know when it will be too late. — Anon

Gwin Paden is a long-time Lodian with a lively interest in the community. She has been writing this column since 1999. She may be reached at

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