The Tale of Godot & Godette

Readers know the truth. Closing the cover on a well-told tale is one of the most satisfying experiences in the world. 

Breathing a sigh, caught between worlds, still oblivious to the clamor of unmade beds and untended gardens vying for their attention, readers linger at the threshhold of half-remembered lives, hesitant to turn from the vibrant, constructed world they entered with such anticipation, happy to have discovered all the pleasures of diversion, insight and beauty it once allowed.

Still, as I set aside the story of Godot, my self-effacing little cactus with the extravagant blossoms, I was content. The history of his rescue, the drama of his against-all-odds determination to bloom and the glory of his flowering had been recounted, and it was time to move on.

From all appearances, Godot was equally satisfied. As his blossoms faded and fell, he didn’t fuss or complain but re-dedicated himself to growing quietly in his corner. Life went on, as life does, and all was at peace on the porch.

At peace, that is, until one of Godot’s neighbors began to grow restless. A much taller, columnar cactus with a shape resembling a starfruit, she’d always been a bloomer, putting out pairs or triplets of small yellow flowers several times a year.

Like Godot, she kept her flowers for only a few hours, but set them with such regularity it was easy to overlook her efforts. Most of the time, I gave her no more than a cursory glance. If I noticed one set of flowers fading, more were sure to arrive. Neither dramatic nor spectacular, she was steady and dependable, offering few surprises. She could be counted on to produce.

Not long after Godot re-entered ordinary life, I noticed a cluster of buds on top of  the taller cactus. She hadn’t bloomed recently, so I thought little of it, assuming the new cluster of flowers would resemble the last. 

The next time I stepped out to water the plants, the number of buds had increased. I began to count: two, five, nine…  There was a total of thirteen buds. I’d never seen such a thing, and  told her so. 

“What?” I said. “You think you can outdo Godot? Are you trying to become a little Godette?”  There was silence as she continued drinking her water and leaned a little more toward the sun. Turning her around and inching her pot into more direct light as a gesture of encouragement, I said, “Ok. You’ve got aspirations? Let’s see what you can do with those buds of yours.”

As it turned out, Godette was an over-achiever. Over the course of a week the buds filled out, swelling and crowding against  one another until it seemed impossible there would be space enough for the blossoms to open.

In the end, there was space aplenty. The buds swelled and struggled and plumped, each competing for its own special spot as they became more uniform in size.

Eventually the time came for the flowers to open, and it was as though Nature herself had choreographed their one shining moment on life’s stage.  During that “moment” – which lasted no more than six hours – they seemed to have been infused with sunlight as they shimmered and glowed in the dappled afternoon shade.

 

Confronted by this newly extravagant creature blooming next to him, Godot appeared to be unperturbed, but who could say?

Looking at the pair, I recalled lyrics from the musical,  Annie, Get Your Gun:  “Anything you can do, I can do better…”  The thought of my cacti doing battle like a horticultural version of Betty Hutton and Howard Keel  amused me terrifically. It also gave me pause to realize my first, fanciful interpretation of Godette’s blooms had been based on the assumption she felt herself in competition with Godot. 

Watching the fuss made over Godot’s stunning work, had she felt inadquate? Inept? Envious or jealous? Was she frustrated by her seeming inability to produce a similar, stunning beauty ~ the kind that would bring plantparazzi running and ensure her a place in the blogosphere as well as on her balcony?

Perhaps. From neighborhood Little Leagues to the so-called Big Leagues of Washington and Wall Street, there’s a lot of competition taking place out there. Who’s to say it hasn’t taken root in unexpected places, thriving in soils enriched by generous doses of envy, fearfulness or greed?

Still, as I watched the setting sun wash Godette’s closing blooms with a final sheen of gold, I wondered: what if another story were unfolding in a corner of my balcony?  What if, instead of envying Godot’s accomplishments and expending all her energies in an obsessive attempt to surpass him, Godette simply had thought to herself, “Look at Godot. The flowers that plain little fellow produced were so unexpected, so memorable. I wonder if I might do something similar if I stretched myself, just a bit?”

To put it another way, what if Godette, looking at the beauty produced by her prickly little friend, felt no need to compete? What if she simply were inspired?

I never expected to be drawing life lessons from cacti, but there’s a lot in life I’ve never expected, including my own  struggles with competitive impulses and a nagging sense of inadequacy. A great joy of the world-wide web is that it brings exquisite writing, heart-stopping photography and great blooms of creativity into the very center of our worlds.  The danger is that, confronted with so much excellence, we’ll choose to  retreat while flashier blooms hold center stage, or perhaps exhaust ourselves in senseless competition.

Like Godette, each of us has our Godot, the one whose very existence tempts us to think, “I can’t do that”, or “I need to be better than you”. Like Godette, we could profit by learning to accept such thoughts as the silliness they are and simply allow inspiration to have its way. After all, if we’ve already produced a tiny blossom or two, who’s to say a whole bouquet isn’t within our reach?  By the time we close the cover on that story, it could be a very satisfying tale, indeed.

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Published in: on June 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm  Comments (87)  
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  1. Keeper of the Cacti, I would like to thank you for your lovely tales, and also for putting the “Anything You Can Do” song into my head for the next three days.

    If it were not for you, I would not have tripped over a Godot Wannabe in my small kingdom that is in need of rescue. Because of your inspiring stories, I have high hopes for this Plain Jane, so I think I shall assume she is a female and call her Gigi. Something with a bold and sassy name like Gigi wouldn’t be boring or keep me waiting for long, n’est-ce pas? Very nice inspirational piece, enjoyed it very much. :O)

    • Office Diva,

      My mother and I used to sing “Anything You Can Do” to one another with great gusto. I wasn’t allow to sass adults, but I could get pretty sassy with that song and get away with it.

      If your cactus is Gigi, you always can serenade her with “Thank Heaven for Little Girls Cactus”. I don’t know why I’m suddenly living again in the ’50s, but I was twelve when “Gigi” came along, and I loved all the music.

      Glad you enjoyed the second chapter. As far as I know this is it for the cactus tales for a while, but I intend to keep my eyes open.

      Linda

  2. Absolutely charming. And should be required reading for those who hate cacti! Although I can’t anthropomorphize plants to the point of Howard and Betty, I appreciate your points.

    What a stunning cactus. Did you take a liking to them when you moved to Texas or was this something stirring in a young girl from Iowa.

    • Martha,

      I’ve wondered from time to time how deeply I might have been influenced by early Disney. When I watched “Fantasia”, for example, I just knew those trees were alive. I’d watch the shadows of the bare tree limbs waving around my second story bedroom in the winter, and wonder if they might not be alive – and on the prowl!

      At this point, I have seven cactus. Four are Texas natives and came from the Hill Country. The others were passed on by people who no longer wanted them. They’re as much living souvenirs as anything – reminders of people I enjoyed and places I still am rooted to.

      The first time I noticed cactus was in 1984 or so. I was driving from Houston to San Francisco and cut up through New Mexico and Nevado to I-80. I happened across miles of blooming cactus – red, yellow and orange. It was even more spectacular than the wildflowers here in Texas. After that, I kept my eye out for them, but none came to live with me until after about 1990. Which is a long way of saying, yes, it was the move to Texas that turned me into a cactus lover.

      Linda

  3. Linda, this is such a good post and it almost gives me shivers to read how you have spun the tale of Godot and Godette.

    My passions in life are pets, flora, and photography but it is the pets and the flora that I can actually touch. So this piece is extra special to me. It gives these little jewels of yours such human qualities. :-)

    I hope to return to write more. Now I must hurry outside to pick some Mission figs before it is too dark to see.

    Ps: This post has now inspired me to write about some of my plants-maybe. Is copycat the biggest form of flattery or does it show lack of originality on my part?

    • Yvonne,

      I thought it worked well to post these entries as a pair, one after the other. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed them.

      You may have missed Bayou Woman’s comment in the last post. She pointed out that we could give this a little Cajun flavor by renaming Godot as Geauxdeaux – and of course after that we’d have to have Geauxdette! In the process of taking a look at which cactus grow in Louisiana, I learned that the prickly pear cactus is the Texas State Plant. I have one of the spineless variety, but it hasn’t bloomed yet. I started it from two single pads, and I suspect it takes some time to get established.

      I’d love to see you writing about some of your plants. I don’t think it’s “copycat” at all. I suspect you’ve just never thought about it because you tend to focus on animals – yours and those belonging to other people. Your knowledge of our native plants seems to be quite good, and your photos are great. I think you could have fun with it!

      How in the world do you have figs already? Do the Missions come in earlier than the Celeste and Brown Turkey? I just called the farm where I get mine and they said they’re not ready yet. Maybe a couple more weeks. You’re lucky – those Mission figs are good!

      Linda

      • Thanks, Linda, for the lovely reply. The Mission fig in my yard was grown from a cutting that I got from my neighbor. I have rooted quite a few just from the neighbor’s tree. I planted two for myself and have given about four away. I still have one in a bucket that has figs this year. For some reason the figs love my yard. The one tree is a bit early. The ones ripening this early are about one or two weeks ahead. The weather was pretty warm back when the first figs were forming. It is sort of in a protected area and these early figs were not damaged by the late frosts. These figs are plump but I must pick them a bit early or the birds will damage many.

        I wish that you lived nearby. You could have all the figs that you could possibly want or use.

        I have four varities of figs and really planted these for the birds more than for my own use.

        Regards,
        yvonne

        • Oh, have I heard complaints about birds and figs over the years. Let’s face it – bunnies and deer and birds like a nice meal as much as we do, and they’re smart enough to take advantage of their opportunities.

          The only thing I can’t figure out is where the local mulberry trees are. Every year the “evidence” that the birds have found them is all over the neighborhood. I don’t mind giving up the mulberries if they leave the dewberries and blackberries, though!

          • I had a nice long reply to your reply but it “flew away.” A mullberry came up near the carport and I was going to get my helper to dig it up when it was dormant but that never happened as he and I were always too busy to get it moved. It has grown about 18 inches this year since we’ve had the good rains. I don’t think that he’ll be able to dig it come this winter so I’ll probably have to chop the little tree down. Mulberries are great if they happen to be in the right places. They also serve as a host plant for several butterfly species.

  4. Ah, nothing like a little competition on the porch…how smug they are. The pictures are real showstoppers

    • Phil,

      They’re not really smug. They’re just confident and self-assured.

      I’m glad you like the photos. I got a kick out of doing the top one. I overlaid the photo of Godette blooming with last year’s photo of Godot and really like the way the images combined, especially the colors. But the sequence with Godette is pretty special, too. I suspect that many flowers, perfectly arranged, aren’t going to show up again for a while.

      Linda

  5. Your posts are gifts, and what a sweet gift this was to find at the end of “Day 1″ of a new painting project! You are so right – instead of a need to compete, perhaps Godette was inspired!

    Thanks, Amiga, for a great bed-time story!

    More soon from the Andean city of Quito!

    Z

    • Z,

      While I was writing this I couldn’t help thinking about the pole painting projects. Your photos illustrate the point perfectly. As far as I could tell, no one was casting glances at the next person to see their design.Each was focused on bringing to life with paint and wood their personal – and quite unique – vision.

      There’s a time for imitation, particularly when learning a technique. But the techniques and learned skills are there to serve the vision – always.

      Quito? How did I miss that you’re off to Quito? At least you ought to have a good internet connection! Sleep well, travel well.

      Linda

      • You are right! There is very little competition between egos here; people enjoy cheering and encouraging each other, and there’s always an infectious sweetness.

        The past few weeks have been very busy, and I traveled to Quito to meet friends who arrived last Wednesday. On Thursday we traveled to the cloud forest of Mindo, where they’re considering purchasing a large tract of land. We looked at the houses on the property on Thursday, then trekked a small portion of the land on Friday. (Three hours up two ridges and one hour back down!) We returned to Quito late yesterday, and they returned to Colorado today. I will be in Quito for another week, and I am working on a fun project that kicked off this afternoon. We’ll be painting all week.

        Most likely in another week I will be traveling to the Amazon – four hours by boat to a remote lodge in need of a makeover. Life has been a roller coaster for the entire month, and I’ve had few ops for internet until today! Hopefully I’ll catch up this week!

        • Is the Amazonian lodge a personal home, or is it being renovated for eco-tourism? Even ten years ago, the phrase “eco-tourism” made people assume Costa Rica and Belize, but clearly that’s changing, and there are wonderful opportunities available.

          Whatever your work involves, that’s clearly one of the more romantic exotic places to do it!

  6. Good Evening Linda:

    I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of your narrative and the sheer aesthetics of your photographs. Yellow always embellishes photographs of flowers.

    Competition is always welcomed. It makes you work harder to get more juice out your oranges.

    I always thought it should be a personal goal to compete with yourself in life. While working, I followed this objective and have continued it with my photographs, albeit my progress has been modest. However, following your story, I might get better as I age with persistence and tranquility.

    Today we celebrated Father’s Day, so I’m taking your blog post as a present for this special day, even though I’m not a father.

    Warm Regards,

    Omar.-

    • Omar,

      The kind of competition you mention – trying always to do better, seeking to exceed our personal best – isn’t going to harm anyone. That’s how we grow as people and develop skills – like your photography.

      But there are other kinds of competition that aren’t so healthy. The urge to “keep up with the Joneses” by purchasing cars, houses or jewelry that isn’t affordable is unhealthy competition. So is being obsessed with the number of comments or followers other bloggers have. Another example that comes to mind is the torture girls and women put themselves through by comparing themselves with the models they see in films and videos. I suppose the list could be endless.

      I must say – I love your expression about getting more juice from our oranges. I’ve never heard that before. It’s clever and colorful.

      I’m happy for my post to be a present to you, but I must say – for someone who claims not to be a father, you’re doing a fine job of helping to raise those Twisters!

      LInda

  7. I love Godette–she has many life lessons. There are not people in my life that I think I can’t do as well–there are chores in my life that I don’t think I can accomplish. Then I ponder, and I sweat and I figure it out and just do it and there always seems to be that moment when, “I did it!” bursts forth and blossoms in my mind!!! YAY!!

    • Judy,

      Isn’t that sense of accomplishment wonderful? You sent me right back to the days when I was trying to set up this blog. I knew nothing – nothing, mind you! – about even the most basic tasks. It took me three days to figure out how to change the color of the text in my posts, and that was the easy part.

      It’s interesting that you say you ponder about such things. I’ve always felt as though “thinking about” and “pondering” were quite distinct processes. I can’t describe the difference, but I know there are times when, if I can’t think my way through something, pondering will do the trick.

      Whatever the method, there’s nothing like results. I’ll bet you’ve had the same experience I’ve had – of completely surprising myself!

      Linda

  8. Oh, Linda — please put the stories of Godot and Godette into a book. A small book with beautiful pictures and these words. Just a few stories but each a gem, each leading to the other and each bringing to the world their own lessons. Don’t be the old Godette, overshadowed by all that wonderful writing on the web, when each post shows you are the real Godette — one of the best. Take the leap. We’ll go with you. I want to see the story of Godot and Godette when I go to the counter at my local book store, where they have two or three hot books — all small, no more than 100 pages. Some are funny, some are poignant. You belong there.

    Thank you for sharing those stories. I have my own demons and your words offer much to contemplate here. Burst out like a flower, the surprise on the prickly cactus… And I can almost guarantee you — that bloom will last more than a few hours.

    • jeanie,

      Have you heard the joke about the perfect Texas family? There’s Bubba and Bubette, Bubba Joe and Bubbelina. Maybe Godot and Godette know them. ;)

      You tickle me to death with your enthusiasm. Self-publishing being what it is these days, getting G&G into a book format wouldn’t be impossible, but getting them next to the cash register is something else. Besides – their story is right here, with pictures and everything! And you get to chat with the author! Such a deal.

      Now, I’ll admit that a title for such a project wouldn’t be hard to find. How about “The Cactus Whisperer” or “The Cactus Chronicles”? (The truth is that there’s another title, a much better one, than I’ll keep to myself for the time being. There’s a horror film out there called “Invasion of the Title Snatchers”. It’s got some lessons to teach, too.)

      Oh, shoot. I don’t know. You say I belong “there”. I’m just not sure I want to be “there”. To some degree it’s a puzzlement, although I have more understanding of my approach to all this than I’ve shared. Just know that you’re not the only person nagging me – I have breakfast now and then with one of the best naggers in the world. We’ll see.

      I’m just glad you’ve enjoyed both these little tales as you have. Your praise is ever so much better than, say, $4.99 plus tax. ;)

      Linda

  9. For once Linda, I have to disagree with you. :-) Fancy saying that until she flowered, Godette was neither dramatic nor spectacular! I gasped in wonderment and awe when I looked at the first image of her bejeweled along her spines, and with elegant curves, to which I do have to say, your photography does her much justice.
    And see how the centre of the flower echoes those little jewels along the spines! C’est magnifique – to quote Cole Porter. :-)

    • eremophila,

      And here’s a detail that didn’t seem necessary for the story. Each of those little “jewels” along her spines is where one of her blossoms emerged.

      It’s hard to explain, but as she grows taller, new segments are created and each segment edge has a single row of – those “things”. I tried to find the proper name for them, but I’ve failed so far. What I will do is get a photo so you can see the structure of the whole cactus better. (I’ll post it as a response here so you’ll get notice of it.)

      I need photos anyway, because I have to consult with The Plant People about her. When I got her, she wasn’t the most healthy thing in the world. Now that she’s growing so well, the bottom segment isn’t strong enough to support the upper segments, so I’ve got her staked up. I’m hoping that I can simply plant her more deeply, so she can get more roots going, and not be at risk for breaking. I can’t let that happen!

      Linda

  10. Do you know that I’ve never even had a cactus? You have piqued my interest. Since the fifties, they’ve been something that a thirsting cowboy would stumble across in a desert. He would cut it open and drink its lifesaving liquid. We loved those westerns.

    Their blooms are beautiful. You must check them daily or you could miss the whole show. What a pair!

    • Bella Rum,

      Those movies were such fun. And it’s true that ranchers will burn the thorns off prickly pear to feed cattle, but as for whacking off a cactus top and having a nice, long drink? Only in the movies. . I didn’t know that, but thanks to you, I do.

      On the other hand, I know for a fact you can tap palm trees for wine. All it takes is a machete, a pail, and someone with an ability to climb. You can drink it right from the tree, or let it sit around and ferment for a bit. Let it ferment long enough, and you can use it to bake bread. If you’re really hardcore, you can strain the grubs out as you drink instead of picking them out first. I know – too much information.

      You ought to have a cactus or two. I know there are sites on the web that tell all about the best varieties for window sill cactus. And I’m going to link a really good page for The Bug that talks about cactus in cold climates. Some are much hardier than you’d believe.

      If you got a cactus, you could name yours Kevin.

      Linda

      • Ha! You are full of information, young lady. The article was interesting. I loved those old cowboy movies. They were always lopping off the top of a cactus, and the good guys were always wounded in the shoulder so they could live to fight another day. I think we should issue black and white hats to congressmen, and they should have to wear the appropriate color so we can tell who the good guys are.
        I don’t know about those grubs. I might have to pass.

        • If we could find someone able to make those congressmen wear their black and white hats, we might finally be on the road to improving things around there. At this point, I think they’re toss them into the cloakroom and go, “Pffffft…”

  11. And something inspired you to purchase blackberries and bake a cobbler. I’d like to think I had something to do with that!

    Even though your writing always inspired me, you might recall that I had a tendency to compare and recoil. I’m not the same type of blogger that you are, and I can certainly appreciate all the work and effort you put into finding just the right words. You do it so well. I had to realize that it’s not that I don’t write as well as you, it’s that we write different genres. Now, if I were to sit down to write an essay, THEN I could compare and contrast my work to yours, and I have no doubt that it would take me way longer than week to turn out a piece as polished as yours.

    I really enjoyed this piece, and I’m amazed at your cactus flowers and impressed that you are so in touch with your cacti and inspired by their existence. We can find inspiration in the most simple things if we’re just open to it, slow down, and just “be” for a little while.

    • Bayou Woman,

      Here’s how it actually happened. There were blackberries at the farmers’ market – big, fat, sweet ones. i brought home that quart and a half and then thought, “What am I going to do with this many blackberries?” Clearly, it was cobbler time. I looked through recipes forever trying to find one that resembled what I used to make, but couldn’t find it. I figured you had one for dewberries on your site, and there it was.

      Yours is different than a midwestern cobbler. We’re more into dropping biscuit-like batter on top of the hot fruit and then baking. We do the same thing with dumplings. I’d never seen a rolled dumpling until I came to Texas.But there wasn’t a thing wrong with your recipe, and by the time the neighbors came over, that question about freezing leftovers wasn’t important any more.

      As for writing, don’t forget I’ve read that piece you wrote for the magazine, not to mention your book – both wonderful. And you’re exactly right. The purpose of your blog is different from mine, in several respects. That’s one of the things I love about blogs. The form is so elastic everyone can find a way to adapt it for their own purposes.

      I will tell you a little secret. Very few of my pieces are written in a week. They get started, and then percolate for a while. Some hang around and get worked on for six months before they’re ready to go. If I come to an absolute dead end with one, I go poke around in the files and see what else might be lurking.

      As for the cacti – being in touch with them is one thing. Touching them is another. I wish I could break myself of the impulse to pet them.

      Linda

  12. Thank you for the inspiration, Linda. There is only one word for this.

    Perfect!

    • Lynda,

      Here are two words for you: thank you!

      Linda

  13. I am so glad to have read this post on a Monday morning. The thought of Godette will, I believe, keep me inspired through the day and beyond. Thank you.

    • Deborah,

      It is a rise-and-shine sort of post, isn’t it? Those sunny blossoms of Godette’s make me smile every time. I hope your day was great, and I hope the sunshine lingers for a while longer!

      Linda

  14. It’s true. I spend a lot of time online looking at the artwork of other people and sometimes it leaves me feeling quite inadequate. Other times, it makes me want to keep striving for excellence. Inspiration is all around, we just have to embrace it as a valuable experience. Love the cactus flowers. I have a large garden of succulents and they do produce the most amazing flowers!

    • SDS,

      One thing about your art – it’s clearly yours. Somehow you manage to convey as much emotion, quirkiness and beauty as anyone I’ve come across. I truly think I could pick out one of your pieces in a gallery, every time.

      I do know that experience you describe. It’s usually poets who leave me with that feeling that’s a combination of hopeless and inspired. And sometimes it seems there’s just too much inspiration – my head’s full of ideas and my files are full of drafts. I’ll bet you have your own pile of sketches and head filled with ideas.

      Succulents are amazing plants. I had the standard Jade plant for a while, and one of those donkey tails. Now, I can’t even remember what happened to them. I may have given them to Mom – that always was akin to sounding the death knell. ;)

      Linda

      • Wow – you’ve described my artistic life so well! Lately, especially, my head is so crammed with techniques and images that I can barely stand being away from my studio. And, yet, it’s almost too much going on in my head.

        Thank you for the most treasured compliment, ever! I needed to hear that today. I’m still struggling to get back to watercolor. I’m heading in a new direction and it’s so tough to get it on paper.

  15. Linda, this reads like a children’s fable. How interesting to ponder the slim line between competition and inspiration. . . a reminder that one’s attitude is one of the biggest determinants of happiness.

    Your post brought up some points that we all struggle with — how comparing ourselves to others often brings unhappiness and discontent; how discouraging it can be sometimes to be the steady, non-flashy, dependable one, working away with little recognition compared to the flashy extrovert who gets all the attention. Lots to think about and even more to admire — writing and exquisite photos. Thanks again!

    • Rosemary,

      It does have a bit of that fable “feel”, doesn’t it? It’s not quite as didactic as Aesop’s, but still… Beyond that, I was thinking about G&G as a pair this afternoon, and realized they remind me of one of my favorite celebrity couples, the Owl and the Pussycat. I don’t think they’re going to set sail, though.

      Speaking of setting sail, it crossed my mind that “steady as she goes” is one of the most important commands for a helmsman aboard ship. The ability to steer a steady course, not deviating because of inattention or being pushed off by currents or winds, is a great virtue. The steady, non-flashy, dependable ones reach port. The flashy extroverts, the ones devoted to impressing others, put ships with names like Costa Concordia on the rocks.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post – it tickled me to have some pretty flower photos to share.

      Linda

  16. Linda, I’m glad you posed the possibility that Godette was simply taking inspiration from her blooming companion, rather than trying to outdo him! I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re all unique — people as well as cacti — and we each need to find our spot in the sun to bloom. We won’t all do it the same way, for the same length of time; we won’t all gather the same responses. But if we do the very best we can, we, too, can be stunning!

    By the way, I understand just what you mean about the struggles over competition and the nagging fear of inadequacy — they probably come with being a creative individual.

    • Debbie,

      I agree wholeheartedly with your first paragraph. And those differences among people are part of the reason our one-size-is-going-to-fit-all-gosh-darn-it! educational system is failing so badly. Simply getting rear ends in the seats to guarantee government subsidies and teaching with little more than test results in mind isn’t going to help anyone bloom. Education is a wonderful thing (as Domer knows). Indoctrination? Not so much.

      I suspect creative people may feel those struggles and fears you mention a little more sharply, but there’s no question everyone suffers them at one time or another. Even the best aren’t immune. I still remember one of my occasional debate partners in high school, the writer Charles Murray, having a case of nerves at the State tournament. It was an amazement to me.

      A side note in the “My, how things have changed” department. Our topic the year we worked together was, “Resolved: That Red China Should be Admitted to the United Nations”. Good grief.

      Linda

      • “The Bell Curve” guy was a classmate of yours? Wow, I’m very impressed. Thus far, I can’t point to anybody I graduated with who’s attained such prominence.

        And his criticism of the No Child Left Behind law is spot on, in my opinion. Holding back the naturally gifted — for the ease of a teacher who doesn’t want to “mess” with them — can’t help anybody. And expecting everybody to be of equal ability (“we’re ALL winners”) only serves to provide a dumbing-down that our society cannot afford. Whoops, there I go, getting on my soapbox again!

        • Not a classmate – he was a senior when I was a sophomore. Still, he and his partner were real inspirations. As for all things educational system – I just sigh. Local control used to mean somethng. Parents supported teachers. Heck, kids still had parents! I still remember those once-a-semester parent-teacher conferences. We all dressed up, went to the school and I sat quietly while my teachers and my parents discussed my progress and my deportment.

          Deportment! Does anyone use that word any more? We got graded on it, for heaven’s sake!

  17. There was absolutely no competition. Godette simply was herself and performed to the best of her ability. Why? Just because she thrived on doing her very best and not to outdo anyone else. Problem is others may not see it in the same light, jealousy is a green eyed beast and conjures up all kinds of ulterior motives on the part of Godette. How do I know? I have shined for the pure love of doing my best but there were emotional consequences when others feared and envied my light.

    Linda, once again you spun a lovely and humorous story. But not just a story, it tells of your life without saying so. And it makes the reader get involved emotionally and recall our life story.

    The photographs, once again, are superb.

    Maria

    • Maria,

      There’s a reason we speak of artists “expressing themselves”. There are times when that which is held inside demands to live in the world. Of course others’ responses may be negative, critical or even harsh. That isn’t our concern. We may wish it were otherwise, we may even grieve that it isn’t so, but our first responsibility is to ourselves and our vision. No?

      I’ve come to appreciate Rumi’s poetry, but I recently found this quotation from him, which is just as poetic and ever so true:

      “Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”

      If that’s not a description of the creative process, I don’t know what is.

      So nice to have you stop by – I always appreciate your insights.

      Linda

  18. Oh MAN what gorgeous blooms! I wonder how well a cactus would do in Ohio?

    I don’t have much of a competitive drive. I like to be “well thought of” & that’s about the extent of my ambition. But when I read posts like this (or responses to poetry prompts) I am often inspired to take just one step further. Maybe I’ll break out of my summer torpor & write an actual real post!

    • The Bug,

      A cactus would do well in Ohio, depending on the variety. I happened across this article covering just about everything you’d need to know. It was published by the Columbus, Ohio Cactus Club. If they’ve got a club, they must have cactus!

      When Mom still was here, I used to take her around to various needlepoint shops to browse. She had four lifetimes’ worth of supplies, but liked seeing what “the young ones” were doing. I still remember seeing a printed cross-stitch pattern for a little saying, surrounded by flowers. It said, “Strive to Excel, Not to Win”. I was standing there trying to figure out if I agreed when the shop owner looked over my shoulder. “Isn’t that just the truth?” she said. “If you do your best, you’ll always be satisfied, no matter what.”

      Today, I think I agree. Winning’s great, but it’s a now-and-then sort of thing. Striving for excellence can happen every day.

      Linda

  19. Cacti, the fascinating, admirable beauties occupying this planet at one time under water & presently inhabiting the deserts, teach us respect, not only for their incredible evolution, but for the weeds that grow around them in the pots in my back yard…

    • Lindy Lee,

      Even on their relatively isolated balcony, Godot and Godette get some “friends” dropping by. Right now, Godette is hosting a volunteer Maximillian sunflower, and Godot has some sort of clover that’s shown up. The sunflower stays, but the clover has to go – I learned last year how quickly it can move from pot to pot and take over.

      I suspect you’re a bit like me, in the sense that I’ve always believed “weed” is in the eye of the beholder. I love dandelions, clover, the tiny white stars of buttonweed. They’re determined and spunky, and no doubt laugh with one another at their ability to raise the blood pressure of humans.

      Linda

  20. This is really tangential, but the name Godette reminded me of the actress Paulette Goddard.

    • Steve,

      Well, Paulette Goddard’s name reminded me of the Goddard Space Flight Center, which reminded me of our exploration of the stars, which brought me back down to earth and Godette’s star-shape.

      Circle closed!

      Linda

  21. Coincidentally, I just read a post by someone who decided to be a little Godot and a little less Godette by dropping out of the social media frenzy. Kind of the mental version of “you can’t have it all; where would you put it?”

    As for plant matter and competition, it’s been great to see the progress of your two prickly friends. That first photo of Godette is quite lovely.

    • nikkipolani,

      I’ve never heard that little saying you quote, but it made me laugh. My favorite variation is, “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at the same time”.

      I heard the funniest definition of social media last week: “intense vapidity”. Even Twitter can become a time sink, as I learned to my chagrin. Now, I keep it as just one more tool in the toolbox.

      I think all of us enjoy watching the world develop. That’s one of the things that makes your blog so interesting. It’s not just people with yards filled with roses who enjoy seeing everything from “prune to bloom”!

      Linda

  22. The cactus has always been my favorite plant, perhaps because it represents, to me, the perfect yin/yang of our circumstance in life. I’ve always wondered why the dandelions proliferate over the daisies? Why do homely weeds take over the whole lawn, and not the magnificent pink roses? The cactus bears both prickly thorns and stunning flowers, and you have captured them beautifully.

    • Monica,

      Well, the answer to one of your rhetorical questions is obvious. The dandelions have everything working for them, including the children (of all ages) who delight in blowing those puffs of seeds into the air!

      I very much like your yin/yang reference. Being a both/and sort of gal, I don’t mind that thorns come along with the flowers. One of the most extravagant examples around here is the trifoliate orange . It’s not a native, but it’s quite something. In spring, it has tiny white blossoms that resemble those of our more familiar oranges, but by fall? Well, you can see how impressive those thorns are! I don’t know if the fruit stays on the tree because it tastes terrible, or because the birds find it too much trouble to harvest.

      Linda

  23. Wow, Godette has her own particular kind of beauty! You did very well to catch it at its prime!

    • montucky,

      Of course you remember Euell Gibbons’ “Stalking the Wild Asparagus”. I’ve been stalking the semi-domesticated cactus! One of the interesting differences between Godot and Godette is the length of time it takes for her buds to develop. Even after they’re obviously ready to bloom, it takes a couple of days for them to open.

      i noticed yesterday Godette has a new set of buds – there are nineteen this time. Sometimes half of them bloom and fade and then the second group opens. It will be interesting to see what happens with these.

      Linda

  24. For Godette to go nuts in a floral way implies somebody’s doing something right, but I confess to a bit of ho-hum-ness when presented with such abundance. I was much more impressed by Godot’s “meager” effort. There is that old expression, bloom where you’re planted — good advice for those who blame their location on their lack of blooming, bad advice for those who interpret it as a command to bloom.

    I, for one, am in favor of optional blooming. Bloom if you must, bloom if you will, or not. We tend to focus on the showy ones, the bloomers. Yeah. I like bloomage, but the nonbloomers are OK with me, too. I didn’t get very many blooms on my climbing roses this year, but then we didn’t get rain to speak of, I can’t afford to water, and I’ve let the yard go to pot. My Irises were in the middle of blooming when it snowed and the blooms froze. This has not been a good year for any of us. Still, we muddle onwards.

    • WOL,

      There’s no question that over the decades “Bloom where you are planted” has become almost unbearably trite, the kind of saying that becomes meaningless through repetition. My mother had a plaque with the words in her kitchen for a while – and that was in the 50s.

      On the other hand, there’s a third interpretation that differs slightly from yours that I like – the one that suggests even poor dirt, lack of rain, too much sun and an inattentive gardener doesn’t have to condemn a plant to bloomlessness.

      Of course the non-bloomers are fine – I’m not throwing over my spineless cactus because he won’t get with the program! But I must say, after the desolation of the post-hurricane-Ike period and the terrible drought that took even strong and sturdy trees, I’m ready to celebrate blooming.

      We do muddle onwards, whatever the circumstances. I’ve a couple of friends in the DFW area who have begun rebuilding their drought-decimated gardens, but they’re going with drought-tolerant natives this time. I do have sympathy for your iris, though. Tulips can take snow. Iris, not so much.

      Linda

  25. Stunning blooms and delightful story as usual Linda. The winter was good to my roses this year. they were show stoppers and all need to be dead headed now. That’s the price we need to pay for a short period of enjoyment. But 6 hours is not long enough for Godette!

    • kayti,

      I’m a little short on flowers to share around here, so I have to make good use of those I do have.

      A lovely woman who comments here also lives in Southern California, and she is a rose-growing fool. You might enjoy peeking at this page, which catalogues those she has at her house. She often provides the most most stunning photographs of them on her blog. How she manages to keep up with them all I can’t imagine, but when it’s time to prune, transplant, cull or feed, she’s the one doing it (albeit with help from family and friends).

      Thank goodness for photography, which helps us extend the bloom time of our treasures!

      Linda

  26. Godette’s blooms simply took my breath away. I’m not trying to detract from little Godot . Each is splendiferous in their individual way.

    I had a night blooming cereus that put forth it’s blossoms around 1 a.m. years ago. I looked like a zombie the next morning at work but it was worth it.

    One day my little Texas cacti will bloom. I can be patient.

    • Gué,

      It’s like asking a parent, “Which one of your children is your favorite?” If the parent comes up with an answer, lickety-split, there’s a problem – at least for the other kids!

      Those night bloomers are amazing. Remember my ugly, lumpy old “peruvianus monstrous” that set three blossoms about three years ago? I did the same thing – set up my own personal watch party. They did have a bit of a spread in their blooms, though. One opened at 10 p.m, one at midnight and the last – well, I don’t know. I went to bed. But it still was open in the early morning.

      I’ve thought from time to time that it had to have been the perfect set of conditions that made it bloom. If only I could figure out what they were, maybe I could get it to produce another flower or two.Or I could just wait. ;)

      Linda

  27. Cacti are not among my favorites per se — and having stated this, I admit they produce beautiful blooms; and the blooms always catch me by surprise. The photos are absolutely stunning blooms and the story with them make them “endearing”!

    … I saw some yellow blooms off the highway; I am going to attempt to capture them tomorrow and pray I don’t get run over!! :D

    It is always a wonderful respite to peek into your world of stories. Thank you for sharing!

    • Becca,

      I’ve really begun to appreciate cactus since moving into a place that has a patio that’s all sunshine and heat during the summer. There are three little corners where the more sensitive plants huddle from about May to September. The cactus? Happy as can be with that afternoon sun beating down. They’re the low maintenance part of the plant world!

      The blossoms? The very definition of lagniappe, the little “something extra” that Mother Nature throws in, just because. You know about that!

      Linda

  28. Oh, I like that very much: replacing competition with inspiration. That’s a keeper. It’s not that I’m against competition; sports tend to be rather dull and pointless without it. But competition does wind its way into areas where it poisons. What i like about inspiration is that it isn’t a zero sum game: my being inspired isn’t at the cost of yours, but in fact they feed on one another. Thanks for this, and the gorgeous photographs!

    • Allen,

      That’s it, exactly. The zero sum game mentality is causing problems in society far beyond issues of artistic inspiration. Economics comes to mind, but certainly there are other arenas where such limited vision is hindering progress rather than encouraging it.

      You brought to mind a story of inspiration and determination I shared some years ago. You may be able to use it yourself one day.

      “Once upon a time, a small boy was coloring in a book. The scene was of mountains, forests and streams. There was wildlife roaming about, including a bear which he colored green. An adult who wandered through looked at the picture and said, “You made your bear green. But bears are brown.” “This bear isn’t,” the child said. ”He’s green.” Only slightly patronizing, the visiting adult asked, “How do you know?” The boy sighed and said, “I know he’s green because I can SEE him!”

      Three cheers for sticking by our visions!

      Linda

  29. Magnificent photos! And how beautiful your cactus flowers are. Yes, I’d seen that movie, in the theatre too, when I was a child still in HK, although not understanding too much of it. I also know that song too, but not the singers. And guess what, we’re having pouring rain and thunder as I type, and very windy. Not tornado, but very stormy. Your tweet scared me a bit. But thanks for the weather warning. ;)

    • Arti,

      Oh, my! I didn’t mean to scare you. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever that I was getting to “ride along” with the chasers while they cruised your “neighborhood”. Of course, if Reed Timmer’s showing up in my neighborhood, I’d get a little nervous myself. After all, his business is tracking the truly bad weather. Still, it was fun to see that Alberta & BC was going to be his focus for a couple of days. It looks like the bad stuff’s going to be north and east of you.

      Thanks for the compliments on the photos. They really pleased me. And I thought of you today as I was working. I just have to take my camera along one day – there were egrets, herons, terns, gulls, mallards and mockingbird babies! You would have had such a fine time.

      I’ve been giving thanks for my little cooling device, too. It’s still working like a dream, and it’s been needed. We’ve plunged into full summer here. Whether you’d like the heat I don’t know, but G & G certainly are enjoying it!

      Linda

      • Glad it’s still working for you, Linda! And, if you ever need a new one, let me know. I’ll go back there to that farmer’s market and hopefully they still have a stall there selling them. And yes, I’d appreciate some photos of your shorebirds… and maybe a post to go with them here? ;)

        • I need to try and get a photo of one of my pigeons, too. It’s the most beautiful I’ve ever see – all black and white. I do have a critter post in mind, but trust me – the critters are absolutely flightless!

  30. As a child I loved most of the musicals..Those were the days.. Thank you for bringing the adventures of Godot and Godette to us. My life has been enriched..I am a very late bloomer and can always use inspiration.. (:

    • Roberta,

      When we got our first stereo, musicals were among the first LPs my folks bought. I remember especially The Music Man, South Pacific and Oklahoma. Of course, as kids we were more intrigued by the “sounds” record that came with the stereo – things like ping-pong games, with the sound of the ball bouncing from one speaker to another. What a long time ago that was.

      Interesting about the late-bloomer business. I’ve been told that some plants don’t bloom until they’ve had time to develop a concentration of a certain enzyme (or something). What looks to the world as “late” blooming may be right on time. We just have to wait for the right conditions to develop.

      Linda

  31. “After all, if we’ve already produced a tiny blossom or two, who’s to say a whole bouquet isn’t within our reach?” I absolutely love the way you think, not to mention Godette’s beautiful contribution to the bloom-a-thon going on over your way. May Godot and Godette continue to inspire one another–and all of us!

    • Susan,

      Ye olde bloom-a-thon is coming to an end, I fear. That’s all right – a moribund pencil cactus a customer gave me seems to have taken root, is perking up and putting on new growth. Who knows what that will lead to? Maybe instead of blooms it will produce pencils – preferably #2s, in a variety of colors!

      In the meantime, who knows what inspiration will strike next? I think it should hurry, whatever it is. It’s getting too danged hot to follow up on inspirations over here!

      Linda

  32. Beautiful words here. There are always lessons to be learned from all things natural. A basic theme of my life.

    • WildBill,

      Sometimes I wonder if learning from nature isn’t easier because we’re more free to pay attention to nature, to watch it, to be curious about it, without being told to get lost. ;)

      One thing’s for certain – we don’t learn unless we pay attention, and the world of nature is a very good place to learn that attentiveness.

      Linda

  33. Hello Linda,
    I’m so glad I thought to pop over and see what you’ve been up to. I love all your posts but this one shines with its brilliance.

    I think part of my reason for taking a break from blogging [besides being burned out] is I felt that “nagging sense of inadequacy…”
    It would do me good to remember Godette’s lesson
    “….if we’ve already produced a tiny blossom or two, who’s to say a whole bouquet isn’t within our reach?….”

    Also appreciate your little secret that few of your pieces are written in a week. “…Some hang around and get worked on for six months before they’re ready to go.”
    I wonder how many other bloggers have an endless supply of stories waiting to be completed. I don’t.

    • Rosie!

      How nice that you stopped by! I just was thinking about you this weekend – I found the photo of me with the stagecoach that your Wells Fargo post brought to mind. I don’t think that’s my mom with me in the photo. I don’t remember her ever standing with her hand on her hip like that. In any event, I know that’s me!

      I’ve been thinking about that business of a tiny blossom turning into a bouquet. Not every bouquet is made up of roses, you know. I remember giving my mom and dad plenty of bouquets made of dandelions and grass when I was a kid. What counted wasn’t the nature of the flowers, but the fact that I’d picked them. Sometimes I think most of my posts are dandelions rather than roses, but that’s fine by me. There are plenty of roses out there for folks who prefer them.

      I surely don’t have an endless supply of stories – I just collect ideas and stick them in my draft file until I either make something of them, decide they’re worthless and toss them out, or forget what I was thinking about in the first place. That happens with titles, especially. I can find a wonderful title lurking around, and have no idea what I was thinking of.

      Still, I tend to hang on to things that seem interesting to me. The new post I’m putting up tonight is a good example. I’ve been carrying the title “Dobro Nights” around with me for at least four years. Maybe more. Then, I got a photo to go with it. Finally, this past weekend, I went up to the Texas Hill Country, walked into a friend’s house and there, on the kitchen table, was a dobro. One thing led to another, and I finally had my post!

      The most important thing I’ve learned is not to be impatient. If something seems interesting, but I have no idea what it’s supposed to be, I just tuck it away and look at it now and then. Sometimes, I figure it out, and sometimes it never, ever blooms. ;)

      Linda

      • oh gosh Linda that photo of you and the stagecoach is fantastic. I really like the fact that the coach is “weathered” and hasn’t been polished up to look like new (like the one I saw in the Autrey Museum) — and I love the ringlets in your hair. Too cute.

        Thanks for explaining how you do your writing. I’ve never thought of saving titles. What a great idea.

        Problem of blogging and still working full-time with a long commute is I very rarely have the luxury of spending a week on a post.

        I don’t know what a “dobro” is so I look forward to reading your next post.

        • I tell you – those ringlets were costly. I have no idea how many hours Mom spent creating and sustaining them, but it was a great relief when she got tired of it and I was released!

          I don’t just save titles – I save anything that piques my interest and gets my juices flowing. I’m like a quilter – any little scrap may be useful some day, so I save them all!

          • Laughing at your comment “it was a great relief when she got tired of it and I was released!” You poor thing. :D

            Excellent advice to save anything that sounds interesting. Do you keep it all in a notebook?

            • Re: saving stuff.. Not in a notebook, but in my WP drafts file. I do carry a notebook that I’ll jot things down in, but then I transfer it all into drafts. Everything – quotation, good idea, interesting tidbit, etc – is a potential post. With everything in draft form, I can add details and new thoughts as I go along.

          • I save stuff too -mostly museum stories – and all on bits of paper…

      • I forgot to respond to your
        “Sometimes I think most of my posts are dandelions rather than roses”
        I’ve always loved roses {hah!} and discovered just a few years ago that dandelions are a really healthy vegetable.

  34. Hi Linda,

    This is such a touching inspirational post, just the thing I needed to read before I go off to college in a couple of days. Sometimes I’m able to successfully ignore all the Godets in my life and let my inner self bloom, but at other times, I let the Godets affect me. This post was a nice reminder that although life will always be filled with Godets, that shouldn’t prevent us from achieving our goals, and sometimes a little Godet – a little competitiveness – is healthy. Thanks again for just a great post!

    Leah

    • Leah,

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. There isn’t a thing in the world wrong with competition, especially when it’s based in a desire to excel. Not only that, we don’t always have to compete with other people – sometimes we do well to compete with ourselves. Every time I write a post, for example, I try to do a better job than I have before.

      I hardly can believe that it’s almost September and time for people to be heading back to school. Best of luck with your year – I’m sure you’ll start blooming early and bloom often!

      Linda

      • Linda,

        Thanks for the wise words and kind advice.

        Leah


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