Monday, February 12, 2007

Why I Love Where I Live or "People Who Live in..."

Laura Gray Thompson, my mother, liked to twist famous sayings. She would add this finish to the proverbial quote, "People who live in glass houses." with merely the one word, "shouldn't." I will leave what she meant exactly to your imagination. The quote however allows me to fulfill the theme of our team blog and to play the game proposed by Marnie of I Didn’t Say It Was Your Fault… for Fun Monday, Why I Love Where I Live.

I love where I live notwithstanding a few drawbacks such as this scenic view of my neighbor's back porch and this nifty sign posted in the same neighbor's stoop window. Yes, that is my reflection in the picture. I think that it is humorous that my image is right above the word, b*tch. I find it somewhat less humorous to see that sign day after day.

There are many reasons to love where I live, but my primary reason "for lovin' it" involves the people that live here. Sadly, loving our community, a sleepy bedroom town next the city of Gary, took some personal growth for me and for my community. I moved to Lake County, Indiana from Fort Wayne forty years ago. When I arrived this was a town without many of the amenities of Fort Wayne, there were no streetlights, no sidewalks, no bookstores, and only a few restaurants. Furthermore, this town, just south of Gary, Indiana was becoming a bastion of white flight. Thus, some citizens of our community were either timid homeowners fearing possible falling property values or outright haters.

However, as time past, many positive economic and social changes took place right here in Merrillville, Indiana. There was vast economic expansion that included a hospital, shopping centers, restaurants, theaters, and yes, even bookstores. Additionally, slowly the diversity of our population changed. For a number of years, our community has been a gathering place for people from Eastern Europe including Macedonians, Greeks, Croatians. Polish people, Serbians, Romanians and others. In recent years, the diversity of our population has expanded even more. In fact, our town may have the most diverse population in Indiana or perhaps anywhere. Our community population now includes a variety of ethnic backgrounds. This is a town where African-Americans, Hispanics, Indian-Americans and those with Eastern European heritage join people of other backgrounds to play, to work, to attend school, to shop, and to eat the town's many restaurants. Wonderfully, the religious institutions reflect this vast diversity. In addition to a number of Catholic and Protestant churches, we have a number of orthodox churches and cathedrals, an Islamic center, a Hindu place of worship, and a Sikh place of worship. Proudly, our community has evolved into a community that fosters tolerance and acceptance.

Besides the great folks in our community, there are some other reasons why I love living here. First, this is my home, and I have many fond memories. Second, we live a few miles from this beautiful lake shore. Third, my church is a growing family of faith, and we are working on reaching out to others.

As a final thought about my mother's version of the old saying, "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones", may suggest insight to appreciate where we live. Marnie has given us this chance to voice this appreciation in this Fun Monday exercise. Sometimes by not judging others, I can learn to appreciate my own circumstances or "house." Although honestly, I think that mom meant something else.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Kruby by Any Other Name Still Smells

Members of my family have been growing a mysterious plant for at least fifty years. There many mysterious aspects to the history of this plant. First, what is the plant’s name? Family members called this botanical oddity, a Kruby. My grandfather gave my mother some of the bulbs or corms to grow her own Krubys. However, perhaps grandfather being a farmer had legendary success in cultivating a Kruby crop. Maybe it was his access to a secret ingredient or maybe not so secret as long as your farm has cows

Years, later my mother donated one of these plants to
Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory . The horticulturist told my mom that the plant’s scientific name is Amorphophallus konjac, which is native to Asia. Searching the Internet, you can find various names for this plant besides Konjac, such as Voodoo Lily, Devil’s Tongue, and Snake Plant. The name Kruby is nowhere to be found.

If you decide to grow this unique plant, you need to be aware of the dreadful foul-smelling stench emitted by the enormous bloom. Growing the plants is relatively easy. You place the bulb or corm in the ground and wait. Some say that the flower does not bloom often, and the flower blossoms in a strange way. Here in the Midwest, the plants grow quickly in the summer; the green leaf dies off and maybe, just may be followed by the gigantic maroon evil-smelling blossom.

Thanks to my lovely sisters, Shirley and Marie for providing the family pictures of the Krubys. My sweet sister, Ruthie has sent word that the family Konjac at the conservatory is blooming right now. You can bet it stinks.