Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Discoveries, Some Unpleasant

Morning came a little suddenly this morning. It was a day off and an overcast one at that, so I had designs on staying a-bed a little later this morning, enjoying the cool feeling of the pillow against my face as I dozed a little longer. But there were dreams bizarre (Years ago I kept a notebook beside the bed and would write down all I remembered the moment my eyes flicked open. It was always amazing to re-read them later on, when the thin memories would be gone like morning mist. I always recognized my handwriting when I'd read back that night, but the dreams recorded were brand new to me by then. I must start doing this again.) and an over-eager neighbor's car horn, which conspired together to have me awake by 7:14. Sigh.

Fortunately, there was one of those blue morning glories I like so to greet me out on the fence.

Here's another glimpse of these pretty purple flower stalks known alternately as gay feather or blazing star (liatris spicata).

This was a plant which pre-existed us here. I haven't grown this before, but I do like what it's doing so I think I'll make an effort to always have some in the future.

Plus, gay feather? Between that and the purplyness, clearly, it belongs in my garden. It is, by the way, related to the sunflower, 'though you might never guess.

After a little watering and the usual review of the garden, I had an enjoyable long distance "cawfee tawk" call with Mom, in which we discussed the house she and Dad are buying in Connecticut and what new gardening possibilities it may bring, among other things.

While we were chatting, a hummingbird made a quick visit to the lantana hanging overhead on the porch. But the camera was deep in my pocket, so that'll be an image for another day.

Our corn stalks are all growing steadily. A few of them shot up their tall flower tassels last week, and this morning, the first wild spray of silk appeared lower on the first of those cornstalks.

It's always such a cool sight, but I'm not sure I've seen reddish-pink silks like this before. I just love the chaotic beauty of it, all these different varieties of plant sex to admire. : )

Owen's got a vegetable patch going strong on the side of Mount Dump-it. I've been remiss in sharing photos of it, but there are wonders to be seen. The Roma Tomatoes are pacing the still-green Early Girls in the front garden. Squash and zucchini vines (nursery purchases) have already begun producing fruit and the eggplants are starting to do the same.

Most remarkable, however, are the watermelon vines, where already three or four golf-ball sized fruit have appeared.

Here's that morning glory vine that escaped from the fence post and is rambling its way through the garden. It's made a nice trellace of a pair of shasta daisies, but it will be disappointed when these flowers are dead-headed before long.

Down at the "wild end" of the border, where more native species are planted, the first of many delicate thistle blossoms opened this morning.

Aren't they lovely?

As I mentioned yesterday, the dianthus are returning for another round of flowering in the lower front edges of the fence garden. I just love this pink flower. At a distance, it doesn't look so remarkable, but when you get up close and look at the detailed pattern, it's just a little amazing.

Of course, I think that about these red guys, too.

Down below is my tiny agastache plant. It's actually a side shoot rescued from a much older plant, now deceased(we bow our heads), which I bought about eight years ago.

These guys are related to mint, I believe, though share none of that plant's aggressive nature. The leaves and flowers are scented of licorice and the bees just love them.

When this plant's ancestor was fresh from the nursery, it grew to an astounding and unexpected height of about eight feet. I don't think I have to worry about such from this young-in for another year or so. But I'm pleased to see it doing so well.

I enjoyed the day off, getting to spend a little extra time tending to the garden and some house chores, as well as just relaxing and reading a little more.

It was, by the way, Day Five of the no cigarettes thing...and while I had an urge or two, they were easily pushed aside and it was another good day in that respect.

A sign of the time of the year, there was still plenty of dead-heading to be done today. I cut out about a third of the daisies, which had passed their prime, among assorted other things.

But it was careful work, since I was getting to do so around mid-afternoon, when I am usually at work, and the garden was just swarming with pollinators of all shapes and sizes. I think that's a wasp on the daisy there, but I'm not entirely sure from the angle.

This pair of flirty frittelaries fluttered a pas de deux all along the fence and through the breeze-bouncing blossoms there.

I saw a monarch butterfly, but he didn't stay very long, perhaps because of the breeze...but it could be he was just casing the neighborhood for the first time, too. I imagine he'll be back on a less breezy day.

There were bumblebees everywhere. They are quite fond of the sunflowers, and there seems always to be at least one of them on each of the current flowers.

At one point, a large sphinx moth flew up from the grass near my feet and zig-zagged his way through the fence, landing briefly on a sunflower before darting off into the sky.

This wasp (or is it a hornet?) was eager to taste some of the cone flower's wares, but seemed to know that the bumble had been there first and it's always polite to wait your turn.

And then, as I bet over to trim a few faded pansies, I heard it.

It's funny, you don't realize how well you know a particular sound until you haven't heard it in a while...but my ear keyed in on the different sound right away and I was quite happy to spot what turns out to be the first honeybee I've seen in this garden, who was happily drinking of these tiny wild mustard flowers.

The Queen Anne's lace, as I mentioned last night, has really come into its own this week, with new flowers appearing daily on plants that grow fuller each day.

Their delicate-looking flowers are always a great addition to my chaotic border, being so different from everything else there. If you want some, they are easy to welcome--just cut a few of the challis-shaped fading flowerheads from roadside plants and drop them into the bed where you'd like them.

It's really that easy.

"...so the Mole drew his arm through Toad's, led him out into the open air, shoved him into a wicker chair and made him tell him all his adventures from beginning to end, which Toad was only too willing to do. The Mole was a good listener, and Toad, with no one to check his statements or to criticize in an unfriendly spirit, rather let himself go. Indeed, much that he related belonged more properly to the category of what-might-have-happened-had-I -only-thought-of-it-in-time-instead-of-ten-minutes-afterward. Those are always the best and the raciest of adventures; and why should they not be truly ours, as much as the somewhat inadequate things that really come off?"

--Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, copyright 1908, 1999.
Tonight, I feel like I need to offer a disclaimer. When I started this blog, I really didn't know much about "blogging" or exactly what I was hoping to do. I knew I wanted it to be about my garden...and so I started there. Back then, any personal content was minimal, since I'm not a plant and so didn't quite fit my own initial criteria for blog-inclusion.

But to think that a blog about the Garden wasn't also about the Gardener was really sort of silly, I've discovered...and as little bits of me have crept into the narrative, I find it's become more enjoyable to write. And so you know plenty of assorted things about me and my life (although only one of you has ever noticed or at least mentioned that I failed to include a #26 in my Hot 100 List!).

But I also still believe you come here for the garden and so I try not to wear you down with too many of the assorted less-than-rosey things Life tosses my way (as it does to each of us). After all, we all have our own reasons for what draws us to the Garden. I spend a bit of time "developing" the pictures, to make sure you get the best photos...and the garden provides the rest of the good stuff.

But no one's life is all rose-scented air and fluttering daisies, and like Mr. Toad, I may sometimes exaggerate a little for the sake of entertainment, or occasionally gloss over (or omit out of hand) the annoying or unhappy bits.

But I can assure you that all I have presented is more or less accurate. These are pictures from today, not last year...and not someone else's blog. The morning glory is really blue, the lightning really was purple. The sun truly was a fleeting visitor today.

I was sadly informed by a fellow blogger this evening that "Nicky Cooper" of the blogs Cooper's Corridor and more recently Nico's Niche, has been plagiarizing content of another blogger...and boy, is she pissed about it. And understandably so.

I will admit there were times, reading both of Nicky's blogs, that the whole business felt "too good to be true" somehow, and I found myself involuntarily wondering if it wasn't all a fiction. And you know, if it had all been entirely made up, I'd have been okay with that. I'm all for creative writing. But there are few things I find more heinous than stealing another writer's ideas and words...and photographs...and claiming them as your own. Anyone who comes by them honestly knows how difficult and precious it can be to tease just the right ones from one's mind...and to do so before you've managed to miss an entire night's sleep for blogging.

But you see, more than angry for being played the Fool (along with others), I'm a little sad, because Cooper's Corridor was a gateway for me to a host of wonderful bloggers who feel to me at times like some sort of extended family...and I think I wasn't alone in feeling like Cooper was the hub of our wagon wheel. The optimist in me believes that the internet has the potential to make our Big Bad World a smaller and friendly place...and getting to know so many of these people bears that out.

And I'm sad because I think (tho I also concede that in light of all this, "Nicky Cooper" may, too, be a fiction) at the heart of the re-constituted material was a real guy, with real heart who loves trees and the natural world...who didn't realize that we might've loved him for who he was, and for what he chose to write about from his own life.

If he is a real person, then real, original and sincere apologies are owed(even tho it must be assumed that some if not many will question that sincerity)...first and foremost to Kate at Sweet/Salty, but then also to the many loyal readers who regularly clicked in to visit his world and so vehemently defended him in the face of faux bullying last winter. And one last apology is due, to Joe.My.God, for letting him believe that a post on his blog had been responsible for the cancelling of Cooper's Corridor.

With all this on my mind, I found myself at First Encounter Beach this evening, hoping for perspective as I walked the shore in the burning rays of the setting sun. Ah, well. It's a beautiful a spot even on an overcast evening. If you "embiggen" this, you might be able to find the one tiny patch of orange light in a sky of gray.


dykewife said...

having seen tonight that his blog was gone saddened me. now finding out that he had plagiarized another's writing is extremely disappointing. after the disappointments at work this past weekend, finding this out...well, i hate it when i get to the point of thinking less of humankind because of the actions of a few.

Marc said...

Beautiful pics, as always. Wish I had a similar display of beauty going in my yard. I have a few glads going and that's about it. The shade doesn't permit a lot of variety for me!

I, too, have enjoyed Nicky's blog for quite some time. I can assure you that he is a real person, and Patrick can confirm this. I think it may have been his or Patrick's blog that connected you and Jess and me. It was Nicky's blog that connected Jess and me to Patrick. So Nicky was indirectly responsible for us finding you. I think that Nicky has a good heart and means well, which I know does not erase the stain of plagiarism (alleged - I haven't read sweetsalty, so I can't comment to that yet) but he is a real guy with a real heart. Whatever he has done, if he has indeed done wrong, I hope he makes amends for it. But I am not ready to dismiss him yet. In this case, sorrow comes more quickly than anger for me.

By the way, the wasp with the very slight build is a mud wasp (or in the Midwest, known as a mud dauber). They make their nests out of mud and they nests are very interesting looking...they are usually look like a round ball of dirt with a tiny hole in it for entry and exit.

Greg said...

Dykewife, I hope this won't color you against all humanity, even Nicky, who I'm honestly more worried for than annoyed with (anger doesn't make me feel very good). I just don't understand why he would think we didn't love him for who he was and what came out of his pen.

Marc, I don't have any glads this year, so your garden's one up on me!

As for Nicky, I don't mean to dismiss him out of hand, though the temptation is there. He found a big place in my heart this last year and it's not possible to just surgically remove that. I'm happy to know that he's a real person and now just want to give him a big hug and then a swat up the backside of his head and say, "what were you thinking?!" like I would with any friend.

I am still very grateful to him for having brought us all together...(and for making me re-read The Wind in the Willows) and if apologies are made, I would still be quite happy to be his friend and read original content from him. After all, we all make mistakes.

But the word thievery has happened twice now, apparently, and I felt it was important for someone in our blog circle to shine a little light on what was happening. This was not my favorite post to craft, that's for sure.

sweetsalty kate said...

Hi Greg. I really am so sorry to have to get this word out to what seems like a good group of people...

I have no doubt that 'cooper' is a real person on some level, that some aspects of his persona may be true. But he has already admitted that the profile shot on the top right of his blog - the one he put forth as himself - was someone else. And all the other shots on his blog purported to be him? At least three different guys, when you pay attention.

I have to admit though... I did feel mostly sorrow and bewilderment until he did it again. And then lied about it. And then tried to cover his tracks when confronted about it. And the more we look, the more we find:

...not only more images stolen from me that he says are of him and his children (uhh.. nope, that's MY kid, MY husband...), but words and rejiggered posts from myself as well as at least two other bloggers. So my pity is lessening, and now I'm just fed up.

This guy was not just 'inspired' or 'carried away'. His content stealing was totally intentional, and extensive. The question is why - and how sad must his actual life really be? Only he knows that.

With respect... and lovely garden, by the way. I'm in awe of anyone with your green thumb. Thanks for helping to get the word out, Greg.

Greg said...

Sorry to meet you under the circumstances, Kate. It's a sad business on a variety of levels.

Please come back to the garden, though--I'll be glad to give you tips for how to have a nice garden with what little free time you may have (the secret: no weeding!)

Greg said...

Marc, BTW, thanks for the introduction to the mud dauber. I haven't had a chance to post any of yesterday's insect shots to BugGuide.net yet.

Sounds like a fascinating home they build.

tornwordo said...

First I was all like, "Is he going for longest blog post ever?" And then I was thrilled to see you still on the non-smoking bandwagon. Hey the worst is over. And then the terrible bomb you dropped (for me this is the first I've heard of it) makes me sad. But mostly YAY YAY YAY Keep The Quit!

Greg said...

I wonder, what IS the longest post ever...not that I'm looking for a challenge.

Sorry to be the one to break the news, Torn. It was a complete shock to me yesterday, as well... since it seems to be a serial thing, I thought it was important to get the word out. Hate the whole business, really.

Thanks, again, for the Quit Support!!

sageweb said...

Greg, what a wonderful garden you have. I use to read the original Cooper's Corridor, never commented just read. I never got into the new blog, sorta glad. I loved his writing...well Kate's writing. It is such a small world how we all connect and I am a little bit bummed this happened. But it also led me here and to Kate's blog so good has come out of it.

Greg said...

Welcome, Sage. It's true what they say about clouds and silver linings, eh?

MartininBroda said...

These are really bad and sad news, they put a heavy stone on my heart, remind me of similar experiences, there is not much to say, but I hope you meet sometimes the real Cooper, then you could perhaps say, he has done one good thing, he has brought together people who appreciate and like each other.

Greg said...

I share that heart stone, Martin. But I also share your hope that this is only the conflict at the middle of the film.

As you say, Cooper has at the very least introduced a terrific group of people to one another...and I'm sure there's more good in his life than we (and possibly even he) know/s about.

em said...

Oh hell. (Not the best intro for a new commenter.)I'm Torn's friend em, Torn sent me over here. Hi. Your blog is lovely.

No matter what, Nicky is a Real Person. Okay, he isn't the person he presented, he isn't the person we thought he was, but he is real, and I'm concerned that he feels the need to present fiction as his true life. Because he isn't plagiarizing shallow stuff, he is plagiarizing deep heart level feelings, he is inventing a family maybe and I can't help it, I worry for that secret him, who thinks himself unvarnished isn't enough for the world.

But this isn't the first or second or I suspect even fourth time this has happened with his blog. I think the thing to be done, the medicine that would heal the sickness hopefully would be to step forward and talk about this honestly.

I hope he does.

Greg said...

Hi em; I recognize you from your comments over at Sticky Crows. Welcome...

I'm full of worry about this for him, too, and I agree: a cupful of honesty would do him a world of good.

Jenn Thorson said...

Greg- Oh my... disconcerting to hear. But in happier discussion, I think it's wonderful you put your personality into your blogging. You're a great fellow, Greg, so the online world SHOULD get to know you as well as your lovely garden. It would be their loss if they didn't get that chance. :)

Greg said...

Hi Jenn! Hugs and thank you, dear.

Java said...

Love the purty flow'rs. Morning Glories are one of my favorites. (It's a long list) I also like those dianthus. And gay feather? That's just perfect.

The final picture of the beach and the sky looks like it would make a very good image for a jigsaw puzzle. Especially once embiggened. I love that word. Is that an internet phenomena word, or was it around before? Embiggen. Again, perfect.

Greg said...

Java, you make me laugh as I realize that not a day goes by that I don't declare some lovely posey my "absolute favorite of all time". It's a long list, indeed.

While on the subject of credit where it is due, I first heard/read "embiggen" on the pages of Joe.My.God, though we'd have to ask him if he coined the word, or has just helped to popularize it.

It would be a good puzzle image, wouldn't it?

GayProf said...

I think that you and the other commentators are wise to show more compassion than anger about the "Cooper" blogs. It seems clear that something isn't quite right in his real world (though I also understand why Sweet-Salty has legitimate reason to feel angry).

GayProf said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I think the television show The Simpsons created the word "embiggen."

Greg said...

Now that you mention it, GayProf, "embiggen" does have a "Simpsonian" feel to it, doesn't it?

Marc said...

"Embiggen" is indeed from The Simpsons. JMG is an admitted "Simpsons pedant" and is all about everything Simpsonian. He could tell you better than I from what episode it hails, but I seem to remember it used in an episode about how Springfield came to be and the founder of the town used the word in a speech or something.

Having now gotten a more full explanation of what's cooking with "Cooper", I am shocked. We sent "him" some homemade candy and some shirts for the boys at the holidays, and "he" raved in specifics about what the candy that was sent and sent us pictures of the boys wearing the shirts we sent them, so we knew that there was some person behind it who existed at an address. However, I/we didn't know the REAL real story until later today, when things started unfolding rather precipitously. What an unimaginable ruse. It makes me feel that I should be much more inhibited about my online generosity as far as what I share with people. But as I said this morning, I feel more sorrow (and disappointment) than anger. This is a completely bizarre personality.

Birdie said...

You know, it was Cooper's blog where I found most of the links that I've bookmarked and read today. We have in common a desire for what's good and meaningful in life.

The person who portrayed Cooper has apparently deceived people completely as yet another person, one who was seriously ill. This is a variant of Munchausen's Syndrome: the need for attention is so great that a reason is created to get it.

We can be thankful for the new group of friends that Cooper created and pray for Cooper's healing.

Greg said...

Marc, "What's Cooking With Cooper"? Oh, dear, it sounds like the title for a new recipe blog.

This whole story is on the shocking side...(and for those who've come late from intermission, you can check Father Tony's blog for at least some of the rest of the story. I'll post the link later on.)...but I feel mostly compassion and concern for the person who is Nicky...whomever that turns out to be.

One other thing remains, Birdie, and that is the gratitude for what Cooper has given each of us, which is such a strong circle of good, loving and caring people whom I'm proud to call friends.

But I will need to see each of your driver's license photos. ; )

Jess said...

My other half has been commenting quite well on this, so I don't have a lot to add. I left comments on sweet|salty and farmboyz, but I really don't know what to say. I'm so stunned by this, and I feel sad for the person behind the fictitious person we knew as Nicky.

Whatever the motivation, I hope the person who did this finds peace.

Butch said...

Your blog is extra special today, Greg. Thanks.

I too, have been feeling a wee bit protective of mine and myself since this latest news from Father Tony had surfaced. Though I am not angry, I do not relish the fact that I have been deceived. I think the owner of the character of Nicky and of another called Joel it appears, really needs to get some help. I support Kate in her quest of reclaiming her writings and her pictures and all of the other bloggers that had their material pilfered and plagiarized. My heart feels empty today realizing that the person known as Nicky Cooper doesn't really exist and that it all has been a charade. Many people were hurt over this and I hope "Nicky" can set it all straight with some apologizing all the way around. That may be the first step towards the healing process.

In any event, I have met some very dear people through the Cooper blog and hope this insident doesn't scare us all away from remaining in touch through the blogs and more.

bigislandjeepguy said...

hmmmm. now i'm *really* curious about this. how could cooper have sent pics of "his" boys in shirts marc sent them if, in fact, they are kate's boys?

T.R. said...

The blog world is saying that Nicky Cooper is a 52 year old woman. Is it true?

I am working in Beijing and cannot access any blogs outside of blogger.

I had grown to love that kid; marveled at his writing and connection to the natural world. When he responded to J.M.G in May he quoted verbatim a comment I left on his site months before -- even then I gave him the benefit of the doubt and defended him vigorously there. It's indeed an odd sense of violation.

T.R. said...

P.S. Your blog is beautiful! One more good thing to have come out of a year of Cooper.

jojo said...

First time commenter on here. Greg, I originally came across your site through a link from the old Cooper's Corridor. Although I do not blog, I've enjoyed your writing and lovely photos for a while now.

I saw your post today after discovering that "Nico's" blog had been deleted. I'm shocked and feel as though someone has delivered a punch to my stomach. I visited both his blogs (and left occasional comments), and now I don't know what to think.

Thank you for letting everyone know what was going on. I look forward to dropping in again. Take care. Oh, and BIG congrats on being cig free! :)

Greg said...

Butch, I'm still trying to sort out exactly how I feel about these new revelations. It's certainly all very complicated, to say the very least...and I've come to think that the plagiarism is really the most minor of it all, but like the Brady charm bracelet, the thing which brought down Cooper's house of cards.

Angry? No, not really. Confused, uncertain...still worried for the person who is also Nicky? Yes, I think that's safe to say. Clueless about what to think over all, you betcha...

BigIsland, apparently some of the photos we saw at Coopers/Nicos were of Kate's son and husband, but a few might've been genuine of the children. I'm told they really exist, so the person who received the mailing from Jess and Bokey would've sent real photos of those children wearing the shirts.

TR: Yes, Virginia, it seems that Cooper may indeed be a 52 year old woman with a transgender personality known as Nicky.

Read all about it: http://farmboyz.blogspot.com/ I'm not sure right now if I'll get around to posting tonight. If I do, it may indeed be a wordless Wednesday.

Jess said...

bigislandjeepguy: We've been trying to puzzle that out ourselves. The kids in the shirts we sent must have been grandkids of the person behind Nicky. At least, that's our best guess, based on the pieces we have seen and can recall. With his/her blogs gone, we can't do comparisons, but "Nicky" was always careful about too many face shots of the kids, particularly going back to the earlier months. So if they had a similar look to Kate's kids, that might have worked. At this point, I wouldn't be shocked to learn that they were some neighbor's kids and "Nicky" re-gifted our shirts and then took photos to send to us.

Actually, at this point, I wouldn't be surprised by much of anything in this, and that's the saddest part of all.