“Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” ― Georgia O'Keeffe

The Earth Laughs in Flowers: A Photo Essay from a Visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Flowers. Seeing them is uplifting. Even when you see them here and there in densely packed urban areas, they still manage to uplift. Now imagine seeing flowers in an urban oasis in great variety and color. This blog entry is devoted to a recent visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with my Mother. It is one of her favorite places in New York City and I always try to bring her here when she visits from Puerto Rico. I wanted to complement my photographs with some favorite quotes on flowers. Enjoy the virtual oasis. And remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted, “The earth laughs in flowers.”

“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

“I must have flowers, always, and always.” ― Claude Monet

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” ― Lady Bird Johnson

“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” ― Lady Bird Johnson

“Collaboration has no hierarchy. The Sun collaborates with soil to bring flowers on the earth.” ― Amit Ray

“Collaboration has no hierarchy. The Sun collaborates with soil to bring flowers on the earth.” ― Amit Ray

“He who does not know how to appreciate flowers will not be able to see the beauty of life” ― Debasish Mridha

“He who does not know how to appreciate flowers will not be able to see the beauty of life” ― Debasish Mridha

“Dreams are the flowers of imagination which bloom on the fertile grounds of the mind.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Dreams are the flowers of imagination which bloom on the fertile grounds of the mind.” ― Debasish Mridha

“If you are a kind and a peaceful person, you will see yourself when you look at an elegant flower!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“If you are a kind and a peaceful person, you will see yourself when you look at an elegant flower!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

botanical bridge

“Man is hypocrite! He says that he loves flowers but he kills them for his own simple interests and for his own joy! Man is hypocrite!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Man is hypocrite! He says that he loves flowers but he kills them for his own simple interests and for his own joy! Man is hypocrite!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Amongst the flowers you always feel yourself you are endlessly far away from all the dangers!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Amongst the flowers you always feel yourself you are endlessly far away from all the dangers!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Come, see real flowers of this painful world” ― Bashō Matsuo

“Come, see real flowers of this painful world” ― Bashō Matsuo

“Nature suffers the most but never complains. Flowers never forget to bloom and beautify the world.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Nature suffers the most but never complains. Flowers never forget to bloom and beautify the world.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Flowers are the beautiful hairs of the Mother Spring! Don’t pluck them!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Flowers are the beautiful hairs of the Mother Spring! Don’t pluck them!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” ― Georgia O'Keeffe

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” ― Georgia O’Keeffe

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” ― Oscar Wilde

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” ― Oscar Wilde

“Amongst the flowers you always feel yourself you are endlessly far away from all the dangers!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Amongst the flowers you always feel yourself you are endlessly far away from all the dangers!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Little flowers get more attention than the big mountains simply because they emit love around themselves!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“Little flowers get more attention than the big mountains simply because they emit love around themselves!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“No flower is happy in a vase, because vase is nothing but an ornate coffin for the flower.” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“No flower is happy in a vase, because vase is nothing but an ornate coffin for the flower.” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

“When you love nature, it always loves you back with the fragrance of flowers.” ― Debasish Mridha

“When you love nature, it always loves you back with the fragrance of flowers.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Dreams are the flowers of imagination which bloom on the fertile grounds of the mind.” ― Debasish Mridha

“Dreams are the flowers of imagination which bloom on the fertile grounds of the mind.” ― Debasish Mridha

 

And finally, a picture of my Mother…

“Men were created before women. ... But that doesn't prove their superiority – rather, it proves ours, for they were born out of the lifeless earth in order that we could be born out of living flesh. And what's so important about this priority in creation, anyway? When we are building, we lay foundations on the ground first, things of no intrinsic merit or beauty, before subsequently raising up sumptuous buildings and ornate palaces. Lowly seeds are nourished in the earth, and then later the ravishing blooms appear; lovely roses blossom forth and scented narcissi.” ― Moderata Fonte, The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men

“Men were created before women. … But that doesn’t prove their superiority – rather, it proves ours, for they were born out of the lifeless earth in order that we could be born out of living flesh. And what’s so important about this priority in creation, anyway? When we are building, we lay foundations on the ground first, things of no intrinsic merit or beauty, before subsequently raising up sumptuous buildings and ornate palaces. Lowly seeds are nourished in the earth, and then later the ravishing blooms appear; lovely roses blossom forth and scented narcissi.” ― Moderata Fonte, The Worth of Women: Wherein Is Clearly Revealed Their Nobility and Their Superiority to Men

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Milk, Bread and Snowstorms

Engaging in social media also means engaging with the weather, most notably, inclement weather. Perhaps the most notable are those videos, memes and news stories that detail coming snowstorms and the supermarket freak-outs where everyone is trying to buy milk and bread. Where did this come from? Why do people in modern industrialized urban areas act almost panicked for what is essentially a cyclical occurrence? Snow is ubiquitous in New York City!

1daily newsI grew up in Manhattan near three supermarkets. However, my parents were those people that made sure we were stocked up for ‘the big storm.’ I once asked my father about it and he noted the massive snowstorm of 1969. I was a year and half old at the time and we lived in Jackson Heights and the city neglected the entire borough of Queens. According to The New York Times, 42 people died in that storm, half of them in Queens.

“For days, the streets were impassable, and residents were all but barricaded inside their homes.”

For first-time parents with a young child this made a lasting impression.

After I moved away from home, my parents continued to ask if I was prepared for ‘the storm.’ For me, preparing meant not having to go out and having a great movie to watch. In fact, I have a tradition in my home during a snowstorm that requires me to watch the ultimate snowbound film,  The Shining.

I didn’t quite understand my parents until I experienced Hurricane Sandy. I had a hole in my roof and was without electricity for nine days. Because I was disconnected, I didn’t see the shocking images of Rockaway, Lower Manhattan and New Jersey until much later. Most shocking were the petty politics perpetuated by conservative politicians.

Since Sandy, I  walk around with a portable charger for my devices and I also keep batteries and flashlights ready to go. Since that experience I have become very familiar with New York’s Emergency Management website. I recommend you do the same. Even if you don’t reside in New York City, many of the recommendations are applicable. I think Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Eulogy for my Uncle George

I grew up in the Northern Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood. It was a great place to grow up because it had architecture, interesting topography and a lot of character. What made it even better was that I had two uncles, both colorful characters, living within walking distance. My uncle Roberto lived two and half blocks away, and passed away in 2002, shortly after retiring; and my uncle George, who once lived in Marble Hill and passed away yesterday, one day before tRump — whom he loathed — took office. I learned of his passing while I was at an anti-tRump rally. Of everyone on my Mother’s side of the family, my uncle George was the one I felt most connected with.

My uncle George was a mixed bag of contradictions that somehow existed harmoniously. He was a dreamer and a pragmatist. He detested inanity and had no qualms conveying that, but was still tactful, patient and a first-rate communicator. He was once a driving instructor who taught me, but what I learned from him went beyond operating and navigating an automobile. From him I learned to explain the way things work. And even though he was not college educated, he was still well informed and exceptionally insightful. Most memorable was his amazing wit. I remember once driving him to JFK Airport and sitting in traffic for what seemed like an eternity and he looked at me and said, “They should blow up the whole airport and start over.” It was the way he said it that made it funny — not unlike Bea Arthur as the sarcastic Dorothy in The Golden Girls.

Like me, he loved comic books, fantasy novels, music and film. I remember many conversations with him revolving around these topics. I remember his remarkable record collection from the 1970s, which featured all the great musicians of the time. He once gave my mother the soundtrack to The Way We Were, which she played that year while we decorated our Christmas tree, a favorite childhood memory of mine.

Above all, my uncle George understood me. When my father died in 1994, he stood with me in the back of the funeral parlor and told me a funny story about the time they smoked pot together. He knew I wasn’t about the gloom and doom of death, but the celebration and humor of life. He knew that I needed to laugh at that moment. This is how I will always remember him: as someone who always got it and made the most of it.