Human Flower Project
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Mother of Calcutta
Happy birthday to the “world-peace-dream-flower.”
Visitors pay their respects at Mother Teresa’s tomb
Missionaries of Charity, Calcutta
Photo: Sandy Ao
We’ve been holding something from you: Sandy Ao’s photographs from the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (Calcutta). For today is the birthday of founder Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa, born 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia.
Just one month ago, Sandy wrote to us: “Today went to Missionaries of Charity, that’s Mother Teresa’s Home, for a change instead of Mother Kali and her Hibiscus. I took some pictures.
Statue of Mother Teresa with floral offerings
Photo: Sandy Ao
“It’s tuberose, roses and gerbera for Mother Teresa’s tomb. You must be knowing Calcutta is also called City of Joy, due to the reason that in this city we get lots of opportunities to do some service to another human, and this is also the city where Mother Teresa found compassion for the old and the young destitute….She is respected for her service towards another human being. Every evening we will find people from all walks of life come and pay homage to her, irrespective of religion and race.
“I am sharing the joy from our city through these few pictures which I am sending to you.”
Thank you, Sandy, for permitting us to “share the joy” as well.
Initially we were confused about Mother Teresa’s birthday, seeing it recorded elsewhere as August 27. We’ve since learned, “She always wrote her birthday as the 27th of August because that was the day of her baptism, which was always more important to her than her birth. “
After joining a religious order at age 18, Teresa was sent to Calcutta to teach. In 1948 the Catholic Church granted her request to leave the convent and work among the city’s poorest people. Teresa and some of her former pupils “found men, women, and children dying on the streets who were rejected by local hospitals. The group rented a room so they could care for helpless people otherwise condemned to die in the gutter. In 1950, the group was established by the Church as a Diocesan Congregation of the Calcutta Diocese” and named the Missionaries of Charity.
Mother Teresa, so far as we know, originated the phrase “a cheerful giver.” Charity alone won’t do; it needs to be provided with lightness, or as we suppose they’d say in Kolkota, JOY. In this spirit, Sandy writes to us, “Calcutta is a very human city, though it’s old, broken and dirty. But anyone who has come to Calcutta will like to come for the second time and the third time. Here we get so many opportunities to give a helping hand to another human being.”
Mother Teresa died September 5, 1993. Here are some photographs of her obsequies, flowers aplenty, by Pablo Bartholomew.
So happy birthday, Mother. We’ll close with spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy’s words of praise: Your life is the fragrance of the world-peace-dream-flower.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
A Rose for a Tongue Stud
A rosarian in India achieves record dwarfage, thanks to pyramid power.
The world’s tiniest rose, “Moti”
Photo: Dr. Sudhir Khetawat
“The fantasy of making bodies smaller is the same as the fantasy of making bodies larger. It is a fantasy of total power.”
from “The Multiple Protagonist,” by Donald Hall
Which brings us to Sudhir Khetawat. He has succeeded in growing the world’s smallest rose, 12 petals, one centimeter wide. (That’s about the size of a nostril, so sniff with caution.)
The Limca Book of Records has vouched for this achievement; Dr. Khetawat’s website provides a rather blurry photo and a smidgen more information. The flower, named “Moti,” was grown at his Pyramid Research Center in Indore, India. “We kept our rose plant under a pyramid in the center two months ago,” he writes. “Due to the effects of electromagnetic waves, the rose buds and flower grew to this size only.” We’ve heard of pyramids sharpening razor blades and keeping frustrated tourists dazzled as they wait in line at the Louvre, but never of their power to dwarf roses. All you pyramid-gardeners, please weigh in here.
“Si” (with FDR) has been out-tinied
Photo: John’s Miniature Roses
It so happens that we were reading just last night about the will to make-miniature in Susan Sontag’s essay “Under the Sign of Saturn.” She writes, “To miniaturize is to make portable—the ideal form of possessing things for both a wanderer or a refugee…To miniaturize is to conceal…To miniaturize means to make useless….” Apparently not if one’s goal is to be listed in the Limca Book of Records.
Dr. Khetawat’s itsy flower seems to have displaced “Si,” previously the world’s tiniest rose, from its high-chair. Señor Pedro Dot (an excellent name for a miniature rose breeder, we must point out) produced “Si” in 1957, when interest in small roses was minimal. Now, it’s a new day.
A bigger “Si,” with Mr. Lincoln
Photo: Old Garden Roses and Beyond
There’s a universe of miniature rose lovers out there, and several nurseries that sell little but. Here’s quite a good introduction by Kim Rupert with minute biographies of some of the most beloved varieties, like Little Pinkie, Fairy Moss. We would like to recommend “Awww” to the namers of miniature roses, and as our eyesight declines, “Where?” would be fitting also.
Culture & Society • Cut-Flower Trade • Gardening & Landscape • Religious Rituals • Permalink
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Marrying or Pickling
Whether you’re making matrimony or sauerkraut, dill’s the thing.
Anethum graveolens in bloom
Photo: Gernot Katzer Spice Pages
The cucumbers are ripe in Oregon, prompting Linda Ziedrich to share her recipe for pickles with the Portland daily. Her instructions, calling for “1 fresh head and 1 frond of dill,” sent us off on the scent of this marvelous herb. You may not be familiar with dill as a cut flower, but it’s a beauty—its lacy umbels yellow as devilled eggs (we feel another recipe coming on…). On the taste-o-meter, chefs locate dill between anise and caraway, but we surely prefer it to either one. The flavor is much more pleasingly green, plus the feathery foliage looks good in or on whatever it touches (whereas caraway seeds, we find, bear an unhappy resemblance to fleas).
Anethum graveolens is native to Southern Russia and the lands of the Mediterranean, though it fares well in Asia and California, too. Hey, it even grows in Central Texas. We know because Frank and Pamela Arnosky include it in their beautiful Texas Specialty mixed bouquets—zinnias and sunflowers with a few airy heads of dill really make a statement. Gardener Sue Oberle also extols dill as a cut flower. This annual sounds easy to cultivate and to harvest—a survivor—putting it on our fall planting list.
The groom enjoys a cucumber
Photo: Jay P. Langhurst
Here’s a treat for all you dill-ettantes, Gernot Katzer’s “spice page,” which includes, among many other delights, the word for “dill” in 60 languages. Now that’s bound to come in handy. What’s usually referred to as dill seed, we learn, is actually the plant’s fruit, a favorite in breads, cheeses and salad dressing. “Dried dill shows up in Georgia’s famous spice mixture khmeli-suneli and is also quite popular in Iran, mainly for boiled beans.”
We discovered several references to dill as a wedding guest, though a number of discrepancies among herbalists and other plant psychologists about why the herb is invited. This site claims that flowering dill used to be common in bridal bouquets “because it was believed to promote desire. Following the ceremony, the dill was eaten for that purpose.” In traditional Egyptian weddings, the bride and groom take their places on a cermonial setee, called a kosha; Bayoumy Muhammad, owner of Queen florist in Zamalek, reports that “dill flowers are most often used to adorn the kosha as they can be easily arranged into heart-shaped designs or to form the first letters of the bride and bridegroom’s names.”
Another site calls dill “an antidote for victimization.” And yet another notes it soothes digestion and “destroyeth the hiccups.” We suppose newlyweds can use all of this help, and more. Why not tuck a pickle in the bride’s shoe, for resilence.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Blazing Flowers: Poi
An ancient form of Maori dancing has evolved into a fiery Human Flower Project.
Anti Spin Six Petals Flower
Photo: Home of Poi
Strike a match. Turn out the lights. And watch the practitioners of poi sketch flowers in the air.
As the grass turns dead gold and temperatures top 100 each day, we’re in the right mind for blooms of fire. Here they are. Poi, we’ve learned, is an old form of Maori dance, a kind of juggling using cords weighted at the ends with balls, and in this case, balls of fire.
Kael Anti Spin Flower
Photo: Home of Poi
Traditionally, “wahine”—female dancers—“performed with balls attached to flax strings, swung rhythmically.” The movements kept hands and wrists flexible for weaving (and could probably do a number on carpel tunnel, too, come to think of it). Maori men also practiced poi to develop the “strength and coordination required during battle. Poi are also used as a training aid for other ancient weapons like the Mere or Patu (Short club).”
Today, poi has escaped New Zealand and become a popular form of dancercize and entertainment in many parts of the world. We read of one 15-week course of study (long enough to quit singeing your hair, perhaps) and beach parties in Thailand, where thousands of spectators come to watch the poi dancers spin their hoops and blossoms under the night sky. Sounds like fun!
At the Home of Poi you’ll find lots more, including terrific photographs of cherry blossoms and a giant, eerie green boutonniere, spun in a cemetery. There’s also “Hugo Doing a Flower” and a tiny movie in case you’d like to get the moves down, Arthur Murray style.
Hope all you poi dancers have gotten crew cuts (just to be on the safe side). You’ve made us see “ephemeral flowers” in a searing new light.
Flower at South Perth
Photo: Home of Poi
Art & Media • Culture & Society • Secular Customs • Travel • Permalink