Tag: 2019 May Group Writing

Group Writing: The Scent of a Woman


The scent of rumduol is the scent of a woman. Phka rumduol, phka being the Khmer word for flower, is the national flower of Cambodia. Rumduol has been a beloved bloom of the Khmer people for thousands of years. It graced many of our temples and sculpted female figures are adorned with rumduol in their hair and bodies. They also graced the temples’ colonnades and door frames.

Rumduol is the single most recurring character in Khmer literature. Countless poets, playwrights and lyricists, in the past as in the present, have gone to great lengths to extol the beauty of rumduol the flower and rumduol the woman and sometimes both. In Khmer culture, rumduol is synonymous with women and represents feminine beauty. This doesn’t just apply to literature. Khmers use rumduol and women interchangeably in real life as well. In the past, young women would thread rumduol blooms into body chains to wear before entering temples to receive blessing. But the flower itself bears neither Hindu nor Buddhist connotation. Khmers just simply love rumduol.

Rumduol flower comes from the rumduol plant (sphaerocoryne affinis), which belongs to the annonaceae or soursop family. Rumduol is native to Cambodia, often seen growing wild in semi-dense and secondary vegetation in the plains of country. They are heavily concentrated particularly around Angkor Wat temple. The plant is also cultivated all over the country; they line the streets, in the parks, hotels, cafes and private residences.

Blooming Idiots or Bureaucratic Blight?


There is nothing inevitable about the trajectory of a nation or a business enterprise. While we may perceive patterns, these arise from human nature at the mean. Yet, we see moments when individuals and relatively small groups make a real difference for some time. Consider two instances of business enterprises seeming to go badly wrong, and ask if blooming idiots or bureaucratic blight are to blame.

Cadillac: an instance of automotive industry decline?

Pretty Blossoms, but the Weed of Crime Bears Bitter Fruit


An American citizen, a single mother, worked her way through undergraduate and professional schools. She did all the right things. She networked successfully. At long last, she got a job with a six figure salary at a highly secured facility, in an industry under intense federal regulation.

Employment at such facilities is subject to constant federal scrutiny. The FBI takes the security clearances very seriously, and apparently routinely monitors indicators of risk, of possible compromise. We should all want this, because very bad things could happen if an employee in the right position was corrupted or coerced, perhaps by blackmail.

Now, Jeb!, the Chamber of Commerce wing of the Republican Party, and the red-green alliance all assure us that illegal aliensmigrants” come here as an “act of love.” We are hectored about some duty to be grateful and welcoming to all. We are incessantly told that these are really good people, not criminals.

Group Writing: “Gentlemen, Start Your Bloomin’ Engines!”


Well, here we are just a few days from the start of this year’s Indianapolis 500, and the delivery of the famous exhortation to begin. From 1977 to 2017, the phrase was amended to include “Ladies” as well, if there was one or more competing. Such a rational response in this day and age that it almost boggles the mind. However, in 2017 political correctness and inclusivity caught up with Indy, and the phrase is now an anodyne “Drivers, start your engines!” I have no idea what they’ll do when the first self-driving car muscles itself into the pole position. No doubt their highly-paid consultants and lawyers will think of something.

But since it seems that the actual wording of the phrase is fluid and can be altered at will, and because this is May:

O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!–Thomas Dekker, 1572-1632

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Warning – this is another post about GPS I’ve been speaking and writing about the history of GPS since 2006 (and blabbing about in on Ricochet since I joined in 2015). The two major predecessor systems, Project 621B and my father’s Timation, both date to 1964. I have a 1966 621B document which dates it […]

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Don’t let the month go to seed! Quick, click through to the May 2019 Group Writing Theme: Blooming Ideas! We have five plots left for you to plant an idea and let us all watch it bloom. If you do not have an idea yet, browse through the other posts like a seed library.   […]

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Johns Hopkins’s Blooming Ideas


http://welcometobaltimorehon.com/images/johnshopkins.jpgJohns Hopkins was born on this day, May 19, 1795. A Marylander, his Quaker parents lived out their religious beliefs by freeing their slaves. This cost them greatly and led them to put their son into their tobacco fields at age 12, ending his formal education. Yet, Johns Hopkins not only overcame the economic disadvantages imposed on him by his parents, but also overcame the natural human impulse to hate the “other,” the people with darker skin who society and his personal experience would tell him to blame. From a poor start in his parents’ tobacco fields, after transplantation to the merchantile field, Johns Hopkins blossomed into a business leader, then grew other businesses through investment, finally creating seedbeds from which amazing new ideas bloomed.

Johns Hopkins started life with a very unusual first name. As Johns Hopkins Medicine explains:

Johns Hopkins’ peculiar first name was simply a family affair; it had been his great-grandmother’s maiden name.

Ever-Blooming Garden Ideas


My maternal grandfather started his garden every year in the basement with grow lamps. When the Farmers Almanac said the time was right, the plants went into well-prepared soil. Weeds dared not grow there.

My mother inherited the green thumb. My father, who grew up in the country, before it was swallowed by suburbs, is not so much of a gardener but very handy with the tools needed to garden. So, between them, their home has always been alive with all manner of plants.

Every year there are catalog orders and visits to plant nurseries. For some years, they even made an annual road trip to visit the family boy, me, and a series of their favorite gardens along the way. The homeward leg always included a stop at a particularly good nursery in northern California.

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We have plenty of days left this month for you to join in the blooming fun. For May, our theme is “Blooming Ideas,” after all, April showers bring May flowers. All you need do is write a short essay to start the conversation. Perhaps you could ask a question or two to get the conversation […]

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M-3: Calm Before The Storm


Today was a day for introductions & preparation. Tomorrow and Saturday will be incredibly busy.

Introductions are in order, but not all the faces are new. Overall command and expertise lies with the Steel Rose, our fearless leader and lead florist. She has decades of experience to draw on. The number one rule around here is do what she says. Silence handles IT and communications with the various wire services like 1-800-FLOWERS, BloomNet, and FTD. Each uses a separate system and has random eccentricities, like repeatedly sending orders we cannot complete, sending orders with obscenely low prices where we can’t make a profit, and general errors / omissions. It requires an expert geek, and Silence is certainly qualified, having delivered flowers and managed the wire services for decades. Besides, it is appropriate that a military history major manages our logistics. Honeybee is our dedicated assistant florist; she has several years of experience and is very helpful.

M-1: Until The Last Bloom


Previous Entries in Operation Bloom:  M-4 M-3 M-2

Something not widely known is that most florists do not deliver on Mother’s Day itself.  This includes the shop I am working at — even the Steel Rose needs a day of rest.  This means today is the big day.

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Previous Entries in Operation Bloom: M-4 M-3 M-2 M-1 M-0 Mother’s Day is actually celebrated on a wide variety of days worldwide. Interestingly, it is associated with the Virgin Mary in many countries, which I imagine makes sense. Former communist bloc countries celebrate it on International Women’s Day. Preview Open

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Group Writing: M-4


The subject of this series of posts is going to be a bit different from normal. It’s a different experience for me, certainly. For today is M-4.

I sit at a borrowed computer in an apartment over a flower shop in a historic building, somewhere in small town Illinois. A small TV shows Fox News continuously on mute. I’m here on vacation to work during the busiest time of the year for florists: Mother’s Day. And I will transcribe the highlights here, as part of our Group Writing series on Bloomin’ Ideas.

Group Writing: Ab-so-bloomin-lutely Loverly


Audrey Kathleen Ruston was born 90 years ago, on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium, the daughter of a member of minor Dutch nobility and a peripatetic English financier father who later changed his name to the double-barrelled “Hepburn-Ruston” to show his connection (probably imagined) to one of the husbands of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Her childhood (ably, and very readably, documented in the new book Dutch Girl), was spent bouncing around the world and trying to find her feet wherever she landed. A withdrawn and reserved child, she was uncomfortable around others, always felt awkward and out of place, and never thought she was “good enough” to please her parents. She eventually found her passion in dance, committing herself to ballet while in school in England, and then continuing with her studies when her mother moved back to Holland with her, to keep her “safe” after the outbreak of German/British hostilities. Of course, she wasn’t safe in Holland either, once the Germans began their occupation, and she suffered the horror of her beloved Uncle Otto, together with a cousin, being rounded up and shot for nothing at all, other than as an example to others of what the Nazis could do if they felt like it. Thus it always is with tyrants.

But as long as she could dance, the young “Edda van Heemstra,” (having taken her mother’s maiden name again for “safety” reasons) had a refuge and could find security and happiness inside herself and a sense of “belonging” with others. It was a talent she loved to share, and which she used to entertain members of the community and the Dutch Resistance during the war, through tough times of privation in which she, family members, and many millions of their countrymen, were reduced to grinding up Holland’s famous tulip bulbs to make some version of flour to cook with and eat, while all of Holland’s resources were taken to feed the Nazi war machine. The gastric and intestinal disturbances that started during the war were to plague Audrey all her life, and by some accounts, she was never completely well again.

The Beautiful Gardens of Kyoto


Asian culture, religions and countries have intrigued me for many years. In fact, I practiced Zen Buddhism for over 20 years and my husband grew bonsai plants. So as part of a trip abroad, primarily to visit our friends in Thailand, we decided to add a week for a trip to Kyoto, Japan.

Desert Blooms


The Desert Southwest is not colorless. Nor are the colors in the landscape just from different hues of sand and stone. There is a great deal of life, a fascinating variety of plants.

When I moved to Arizona, I carried a bit of the family tradition with me, trying to grow the sorts of flowers, herbs, and vegetables I had grown up around. I acclimatized and discovered that even short absences resulted in returning home to find sun-blasted plants. So, I switched to regional plants in my large container garden.

The Search for a Bloomin’ Idea


I’m a day late. I was supposed to publish something for group writing on May 1, and I had what I thought was a great idea for it, too. You see, my branch of Christianity has this one fairly unique concept. One of our founders came up with it. It is exciting stuff and works well within the theme. I thought I would use the title, “Let the Flowers of Spirit Bloom.” So, I started writing. And I continued writing.And I realized why I have six books on the subject. It pretty much needs a book-length treatment. But I didn’t think y’all would be wanting to read that much. So, I summarized. And then I summarized the summary. But, it was still too long. So, I decided to approach it through a story. Well, that was not working out either, so I went back to the drawing board of ideas.

My other initial thought had been to write on the creative process, how to make ideas bloom, as such. But I think I have written about that before on Ricochet. I have changed computers recently and don’t have all of my old content easily available. (In other words, I’m too lazy to fire up the old computer.) I could search Ricochet, but I’m not sure what I would search on. Or I could look back through my archive. Except that there’s a problem with that since we converted to Ricochet 4.0, and Max is working on the problem, but he had a death in the family and will be gone for four days.

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There are two major monthly Group Writing projects. One is the Quote of the Day project, managed by @vectorman. This is the other project, in which Ricochet members claim one day of the coming month to write on a proposed theme. This is an easy way to expose your writing to a general audience, with […]

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