Monday, June 4, 2012

Loving Living

Yesterday, I got up early with a clear goal in mind, to feed my azaleas. I have long had a love/hate relationship with azaleas. They are so beautiful. At least they can be so beautiful. But the are a pain in the ass to grow and keep beautiful, especially here in the Houston area where the soil is predominately black or red clay which is worth nothing as garden soil and deadly to prima donna plants such as azaleas which demand the best of growing conditions and great care.

Azaleas are scattered all over my yard. They nestle under the shade of a large crepe myrtle tree on the northwest corner of the house and under the shade of a tall Savannah Holly tree on the southwest corner of the house. The azaleas under the Holly tree always look horrible. No matter how much acid I feed them or how well I keep them mulched, the leaves are never dark green as they should be and never as abundant, yet the damn things always bloom in the Spring.

The azaleas under the crepe myrtle look great. The leaves are lush and dark green. They appear to be the picture of health. In the spring they are usually covered with purple flowers, yet this year for the first time in 20 years they failed to bloom at all. I have not the slightest idea why.

Azaleas in Bloom
The azaleas in the back yard should be happy campers. The back yard is shady with only dappled sunlight in the mornings and total protection from the hot sun of summer afternoons. They are all in raised beds, as is mandatory here in the Houston area; and their roots are free to roam in garden soil which I have bought in great quantities and hauled in for their enjoyment. Still, they require constant feeding and attention. Acid a couple of times a year and a bit of epsom salts every few weeks and water, lots of water.

As it turned out yesterday morning was perfect day for the job at hand. The day was so wonderful I found myself much immersed in the love part of my love/hate relationship with the azaleas as I worked with them. The morning air was cool by south Texas standards this time of year and the skies were cloudy. Thunder rolled in the distance as I worked, but I had very little faith that it promised any rain. I was content to listen to it as I worked enjoying its rumbling roll in the cool morning air.

Gardenias in a Crystal Dish
When I finished the azaleas, I decided I might as well move on to the gardenias as they like the same acid and epsom salts diet as the azaleas though they are not nearly so finicky about growing and showing off their blooms as are the azaleas. The truth is I was still enjoying just being out in the garden working in the soil while listening to the thunder which continued to roll in the distance. The gardenias are in my garden because they are my wife's favorites. They are planted at the edge of one of the patios where we often eat dinner in the Spring and Fall, and each Spring they fill the early morning air and the evening air with their almost over powering fragrance. This year the green of the shrub's leaves was almost completely hidden by the white blooms which were so profuse that the branches on which they rested were bowed downward under their combined weight. There were literally thousands of blooms. My wife would pick a few each day and put them in small crystal dishes to bring their fragrance into the house.

I finished my task just as the morning was ending. I was covered in mulch and mud from my feet up to my waist. Even though the morning had been relatively cool, I was drenched in sweat as well from crawling around on my hands and knees all morning. I sat down under the covered patio to rest and to take a few minutes to just enjoy my garden. In spite of all the hard work that goes into it, it is a labor of love for the most part; and to be truthful, I'm not sure what I enjoy most, the work of building and maintaining it or just sitting and enjoying it. I do know for sure I spend more hours working in it than sitting and enjoying it, though I truly love both.

Just as I sat down, the skies opened and the rain I had not expected began to pour down. The slight breeze I had enjoyed all morning suddenly became a wind and it rushed through the huge trees which shade the back yard with the beautiful noise of rustling leaves and pouring rain. The smell of the rain danced into my nostrils. It was almost intoxicating.

I sat there and thought how lucky it was that just as I finished the fertilizing, the rains should come to soak it all into the roots of my garden plants. It was a fortuitous coincidence indeed.

But as I sat there thinking and enjoying the rain and the wind, feeling the welcome spray of the raindrops on my body when the winds whipped them under the roof of the patio from time to time, I found myself thinking it was not just fortuitous coincidence at all. It was a gift. A gift just for me, just as this solitary morning in my garden had been. A gift from the solar system, a gift of my own work and imagination to bring a vacant lot to be a beautiful garden or a gift of God. The source of such a gift is for the receiver to decide, but I choose to see it as a gift of God.

The day before had been a great day as well. My oldest friend and I had spent the day playing golf. The morning had been beautiful, and I felt the joy of being alive and free to spend the day with an old friend laughing at each other's slices and hooks of our golf game and celebrating each other's good hits of the ball when one did come along. It was a great morning and our play stretched into the afternoon before we finished the 18th hole. We're never in any hurry when we play. We're both retired and our hurrying days are over. We play at a leisurely pace allowing those who come up behind us to play through as we sit and enjoy critiquing their swings.

But the day that had held such joy ended on a less than joyful note when I received a late afternoon call from my oncologist. I had been in the day before for my regular tests. There had been a blip in one of them. He had told me the slight blip did not worry him and that we would watch it for a while and see how it went. But on the phone, he told me he had presented my case to his colleagues, and they felt a change in my therapy was appropriate. A change in therapy means excruciatingly painful tests and other invasive tests that are just a pain in the butt. Some of the literally a pain in the butt. It also means dealing with another set of side effects and worrying about whether or not the new therapy will be effective; and if so, for how long? After all, there is no cure. Only therapy to slow down and/or tempoarily impede the tumors.

The shock of the unexpected news had knocked me for a loop; but as is my nature, I had begun adjusting quickly, and the morning in the garden had been great for attitude adjustment. The right-on- time gift of the rain did nothing but help to seal my attitude adjustment. Who was I to complain? I am free to spend every morning in my garden, I am free to spend any morning I want playing golf with my buddy. Unlike my friends who are my age, I don't have to worry any longer with earning a living or working long hard hours in Houston, fighting traffic to get there and to get back home. It's not that I am not familiar with that world. I am very familiar with it. As a guy who married at age 18 and worked full time to get through college while taking a full course load and graduating in 4 years, I know the hard realities of work. I also know the value of work as a guy who worked hard enough, planned enough and was lucky enough to retire at an early age at a time when many people more than old enough to retire at the usual age are having to continue working because of the poor economy. I have, as I always say, led the most blessed of lives.

As I sat on the patio listening to the rain and the wind, I couldn't help but review my life. I grew up with a father who believed in and knew the value of hard work. Not being privileged to even complete high school, my father had depended on hard work to make it into the middle class and he had succeeded in doing just that in the Texas oil and gas industry. If hard work worked for him, he thought hard work and a college education should certainly work for me and my brothers. By the time I was 14, I was working for a paycheck. I graduated from high school at 17, entered college and married my high school sweetheart at the end of my Freshman year of college.

I knew the value of work, but I had no idea at all what I wanted to do with my life. I had never, unlike many of my friends, had the burning desire to be anything in particular. I did want to be successful in something. That was the only thing I knew for sure.

After college, I tried various things. One of them I liked, but it was nothing that would bring me the financial success I wanted to achieve in life for the benefit of myself and my family. Another of the things I tried, I hated and soon found it would not bring the financial success I desired either. The third thing I tried would have brought me the financial success I wanted, but not the life I wanted. I was stuck. What to do? Looking back, I can't believe what I did. It was the biggest gamble I ever took in my life and in the lives of my family. In the early 70's I packed my wife and two young children into the car. Packed a U-Haul trailer pulled behind the car and drove to Houston to find the life I desired, not even knowing exactly what that might be.

It took two years and another couple of false starts to find what life really had in store for me. Even when I found it, I didn't know I had found it. At first, it was just an opportunity. But soon it became much much more. I fit in well. So well that within 18 months I had gone from  a new hire to a management position. My wife was also doing well in the boom town which was Houston in the 1970's.  Money, which had always been short for us, was no longer a problem. A whole new world was opening up for us. Soon we moved out of the apartment into our first house and then a bigger house and then an even bigger house that we built the way we wanted where my garden began to take shape. We were blessed beyond measure.

It's  not that there were not bad times in our lives. There were. Shortly after our wedding, my wife lost her Dad. My Mom, who had always been such an important part of my life, passed away shortly before the birth of our first child. She had been so happy to hear the child was on the way, but she was not to live to see the birth. We almost lost that first child at birth. But blessed by an alert doctor who knew exactly what needed to be done and knew that he couldn't do it, but knew who could, our first born was saved.

My Dad and her mother died at much too young an age and we found ourselves alone in the world except for each other and our children. And of course, always in the background of my life was the problem of my sexuality. It was a part of me that was kept bottled up deep inside me and shared with no one, not even my wife, especially not with my wife.

In those early years, it was pretty easy to deal with really. It would flare up like some dread disease and cause me great discomfort, and then I would fight it down and life would return to normal. I was simply so busy and had so many competing responsibilities in those early years, I didn't have the luxury of time to deal with the issue much less exercise it.

What I did  have was a great marriage, a great family and a great career, all of which, I loved. My wife and I were truly in love, and god did we love! She could, and did, shake my world with our love making on a regular basis. I loved it, but in a way it confused me more. With love like that, why did I feel I needed more? Why was there still a dark part of me that would not be satisfied?

By the time we were 43 years of age, the last child was out of the house; and both kids were on their own and doing well in their own lives. My wife had, with a great deal of dedication and work completed her education which had been interrupted by our marriage and was well on her way to success in her chosen career. I was at the peak of my career and accountable to no one on a regular basis. My success had bought me the right to do the job as I saw fit; and for the most part, the job was mine to define and carry out. Those were great days. The hours were as long and hard as ever, but the difference was that I was well compensated and time was mine to flex. I could basically set my own schedule so long as the job and make sure it was done. I made sure the people around me were people who could do that with minimal supervision from me.

With more time at my disposal, and fewer burdens always at hand, the monkey on my back, my sexuality, began to make increasing demands. As I have documented before in this blog, it caused me a great deal of pain. But then, just as I felt I could take it no longer a whole new world opened for me when my first adult buddy entered my life. As I have also mentioned in earlier blog pieces, I came to see my whole life had been preparation for meeting him and helping him to deal with his own monster. At first I was so involved with dealing with the issues that were trying to destroy his life, I failed to see that dealing with him and his issues was changing my life for the better by helping me to deal with my own issues and my own lack of understanding of those issues.

The conflict between my sexuality and my faith began to disappear as I came to realize God was guiding and directing me in ways I would have theretofore thought impossible in helping me to help my buddy. It became very clear to me God was not mad at me or angry at me for being what I am. Neither was he angry with my buddy for being what he is.

And there was another thing. My buddy was struggling to identify and accept his homosexuality. Having a front row seat to observe his struggle and to participate in it, I came to see, for the first time, the answers to who and what I am. While I was not heterosexual, I was not homosexual either. I came to see that I am a bisexual man. That label, even though labels are hated by so many men, gave me a sense of peace in my life I had never had. I knew then why in spite of all my wife gave me, I wanted more. And I learned through personal experience that having all I needed for the first time in my life made me not only a different person but a better person. For the first time, in a life that had always been blessed, yet tortured, I was living in peace in every aspect of my life. I was living and loving it.

In the years that followed other men who needed help somehow came my way on a regular basis. The BisexualBuddies Group was born and followed several years later by this blog. The numbers of men and their wives I came into contact with increased sometimes to the point that I was almost overwhelmed.

It was John F. Kennedy who once said, "Here on earth, God's work must truly be our own." I say it most humbly, but I see the last nearly 20 years as my small contribution to God's work. And it is God's work that we live in a time when equal rights and increased acceptance for gay people are becoming a new norm. It is God's work that gay men and women are coming quickly to be seen as just a normal part of the human condition. It is God's work that society is coming to see these men and women have much to contribute to society; and in deed, always have in spite of the prejudices they have endured. I am proud to have played a small part in this revolution of ideals. I am proud to count my gay and bisexual friends as true friends. I am elated to see what they are accomplishing in their individual and collective lives. I'm living and I'm loving it.

As a Christian, I see God work in the lives of other Christians to cause them to open the doors of their churches and their individual lives to Christian gay and lesbian people. I have not the slightest doubt God is smiling over this renissance of understanding.

I admit I have less and less tolerance for my fundamental Christian brothers and sisters who continue to adamently resist the renissance God Himself is leading for the benefit of gay and lesbian people. These vocal minorities are probably the sons and daughters of the same Christians who resisted the idea that black people were human beings and not an inferior race condemned to slavery by the word of God they (Christian fundamentalists) so willfully misinterpreted. The willful misinterpretation of God's word continues today as it relates to homosexuals. This week the world was subjected to a viral video of a 4 year old boy singing in chruch, "ain't no homo gonna go to heaven," while the adults shouted and clapped in ferver born of madness and misplaced religious zeal (click here to see the video). I feel sorry for these Christians that they have no understanding whatsoever that they are the ones who dispease God. But in another way I take great joy in their perverse demonstrations. Their very zeal, their constant outcries against a world they see as going to Hell is assurance to me that God is in control as he has always been and that these so called Christians are mainly upset because they see the writing on the wall. Their cause, their beliefs are already defeated. They are already pissing into the wind. Impartial polls already confirm that the majority of Americans, including American Christians, have no religious or secular problems with gay men and women having full rights in American society. I'm living in interesting times and I am loving it.

Later this summer, my wife and I will travel to Europe for the wedding of a gay friend of mine. He is one of the Christian men who crossed my path. When we met, he was hopeless and resigned to a life he didn't want to live. Just by being his Christian friend and offering him some interpretations of the Bible by well known Christian writers, he came to see for the first time that fundamental Christians have no lock on the likes and dislikes of God or the thoughts of God. Today he's a happy man looking forward to a life he never dreamed possible. I'm a living part of that and I am loving it.

In fact, the only thing I'm not loving these days is those who do not have the courage to even think new possibilities. Another gay friend of mine is in a relationship with a fundamental Christian man. This young man is truly in a box. He cannot be heterosexual because he is homosexual, but neither can he reconcile his faith with his sexuality. He is miserable. Happiness is not even on the horizon for him. He is totally captive to the absurdities of his upbringing in a fundamental Christian home. Even though he is college educated and intelligent, he sees any straying from the word of God, as taught to him by his fundamentalist father, as an attack upon his father. I have made an attempt to talk to him, but he is offended and angered by the suggestion of any view of God that does not include judgmentalism on God's part. He denies entirely any possibility that Grace could be bestowed on him as an actively homoseual man. He thinks perhaps he would be alright if he just thought as a homosexual man but did not act as a  homosexual man. He's too young to remember it was former President Jimmy Carter who pointed out to the world that the Bible says to think something is the same as to do it.

I am deeply saddened by such men. There are tens of thousands of them who have closed their minds, closed their ears and doomed themselves to a life of bitterness, anger and pain when it doesn't have to be. Their intractability has doomed them to living life's they hate and lives that are full of emotional pain.

It confounds me more on an intellectual level I think than it does on a religious level. There are just about as many views of God as there are people alive on the earth. That is a fact that is easily observable. With this being true, how could anyone think that a God worthy of the title would stake everyone's very soul on one particular view of God being correct; and thus, condemn the vast majority of His own creation to an eternal Hell? The very idea is ludicrous. It would be the same as a human father of 12 children slitting the throats of the 11 he found less favor with than the 12th. None of us can imagine a human father doing such a thing, but we have no problem at all attributing that capability to a God that is supposed to transcend us in every way. How utterly ignorant are Christians who believe and cling to such views of God! Yet, I'm still living and loving life, because I know people in general are simply becoming too well educated to hold such views for too much longer.

People will either change their view of God to a more benevolent one or they will simply cease to believe in God altogether. Speaking as a moderate Christian, I honestly think the world would be better off filled with atheists than it would to be filled with fundamental Christians. Atheists rarely think of themselves as somehow chosen people, and they rarely try to live other people's lives for them. They rarely try to force their view of God or the lack of God on anyone else. Most of them do not believe in God, yet they live by a moral code, they contribute greatly to society and they don't foster hate towards those who are not atheists.

Over the years, I have come to believe it really does not matter to God how one sees Him or if one believes in Him with only the wish he could have faith. In the end, all will be well. But that is the problem. The end is a ways off for many of us and there is room enough and time enough for a great deal of pain and heartache in most of our lives. That is a rub we create for ourselves when we refuse to think for ourselves,  the fault is not in the nature of God.

Someone once said, "I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better." Well, I've lived in pain and self hate. I've lived with feeling my bisexuality a burden. I now live in peace and with a sense of loving life even with its problems. I live now seeing my bisexuality as a gift. I can assure you, seeing it as a gift is better than seeing it as a curse. You should try it. What have you to loose? Not your soul, I'm convinced of it.

One's sexuality should be one of the principal spices of his life. It should be a joyous thing! It should not be something that causes pain or hurt or fear of eternal damnation. I am able to enjoy, truly enjoy, a day in my garden because I am secure in myself and in my view of things larger than myself. It is  not that I have not had bad things happen in my life. It is instead that I am happy and secure in my life, and I can look back and readily see the blessings of living and loving life rather than dwelling on the difficulties of life. Everyone has the opportunity to do the same. One needs only to seize the day.

Jack Scott


  1. Jack...

    Your two most recent blogs have touched a nerve with me. I hope I can explain as eloquently as you express yourself.

    The "nerve" is the topic of "sin". If someone takes a step back regarding the Bible, so that instead of seeing the minutiae of what is written, you can see the over-all point, you would see that God is doing ALL THINGS to RECONCILE us to himself.

    If that is the case, then any proper reading of Scripture needs to have it's roots in that concept. Are there warnings of dangerous thoughts or actions? Of course! But they are not there as weapons to condemn us but rather to help us.

    I have found that most of the teaching of the religious right prefers to start with a phrase or sentence somewhere in the middle rather than starting with the global perspective that "God loves us & has a wonderful plan for our lives"!

    "Sin" then is not a collection of acts but rather a "nature" that is seperate from God & in need of "reconciliation". For the Christian, this is achieved by the person & work of Christ & then guidance of the Holy Spirit rather than a series of Laws.

    1. Mark, I couldn't agree with you more. God indeed is on an never ending quest to reconcile all things and all people to himself. My fundamental Christian brothers would be astounded and doubtful that I first came to recognize that fact because of my bisexuality opened up an opportunity for me to step into the life of a homosexual man who was about to commit suicide because he could not reconcile his male/male urges with his view of God.

      As I have chronicled elsewhere in this blog that quest, to save his life, took three years of constant work with him. It was nip and tuck for some time, but in the end God did reconcile Mike to himself, not by ridding him of his homosexuality but by showing him that it was a gift he should embrace.

      How appropriate that you should say, "God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives!" When Mike found himself reconciled to God in spite of his homosexuality his favorite verse of the Bible became Jeremiah 29:11, " For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

      Mike is happy now, prosperous, reconciled to God and hopeful for the future he shares with his partner.

      Mike found that his mistaken perception that he was subject to the law of Moses had filled him with unnecessary pain and guilt, for he and all of us are not subject to the law. We are redeemed by the Grace of God. As you point out; for Christians, this means our example is Christ who taught that God loves us no matter what. Unfortunately, fundamental Christians in their ignorance of the real gospel insist on adding qualifications to that love. Christ didn't qualify it in any way.

      Thanks for a great comment.

      Jack Scott

  2. Jack
    This long post that begins with the joy of gardening and ends with the joy you still radiate at the flowering of your own true sexuality in clear light is uplifting. You are such a positive man, and if one can use the word nurturing for a manly type of guy in all respects, that applies to you too. I wish you well in dealing with this health setback. You clearly do not dwell on the negatives that have come into your life, and your resilience extends to your marriage and family as well. You are a fortunate man in many regards, and I hope good fortune continues in this current stage of life.

    1. Jason, thanks for your kind description of me.

      I find it so unfortunate that as human beings just about the time we figure it all out, our lives are nearing the end.

      What we cannot change is best accepted with as much grace as we can muster. It took me a lifetime to learn that lesson. It is serving me well.

      I debated about whether or not to write this particular blog piece. I felt it might not be appropriate, but I have received public and private comments that have blown me away describing how it has touched individuals.

      My goal, at this point in my life, is to help other men to understand that rather than dwell on the negatives of life, we are sometimes best served by making sure we are not making something positive into a negative. For many years I thought of my bisexuality as a huge negative. I came to see I was wrong. It was a huge positive in my life.

      I have been fortunate to find other men who have learned the same thing in their lives. I hope to keep the list of such men growing.

      Jack Scott

  3. A gloriously inspiring and liberating piece of writing.

    1. Thanks Westernstock. Coming to recognize that I must accept what cannot be changed was indeed a liberating factor in my life.

      It can work for every man. One only has to embrace the concept.

      Jack Scott

  4. Dear Jack:
    Although I have never met you I feel I know you just from reading your postings. You are a true inspiration.

    I am homosexual, a Catholic priest, 75yo. Your story needs to be published. I will pray that the great healer touches your totally being and gives you total health.

    I would like to share a pray I use.....

    Thank you God
    For all you have given me.

    Thank you God
    For all you have taken from me.

    Thank you God
    For all you have left me.

    1. Vinmor, actually I have written my story. It took me about 3 years. That was about a dozen years ago. It sits in a file on my computer. A couple of my closest friends have read it.

      I have no idea how to get something published so it has never been published. I have toyed with the idea of using modern computer methods to self publish it; but just never have snapped to do it.

      Writing my story was a good exercise for me. Putting something into words gives it great power. My story is the story of my search for understanding myself and my sexuality and understanding how and what God thought of me as a bisexual man.

      The awesome 6 line prayer you shared sums up well what I have learned. God gives. God takes. God leaves some things in place. But in the end, all things work together for the glory of God and for the betterment of those who trust him.

      God left my bisexuality in place. He gave me an understanding of His purpose and His Grace. He made me see that my bisexuality was just one of the many blessings He has bestowed upon me. Your prayer was acted out in my life.

      Thanks so much for sharing it.

      Jack Scott

  5. Dear Jack,

    Modern azaleas cultivars are far removed from nature. As such, they are dependent on us humans. You are quite right that they are a pain in the ass. And yet, for all they take, they give back so much. I like to say that people shape the land -- and then the land shapes people. The joys of gardening are so intense when we open ourselves to the graciousness of all that goes in and all that comes back to us. If we let ourselves, we can be shaped by the landscape around us.

    I am a life-long gardener, and a professional horticulturist who has been working on subjects relating to food and sustainable livelihoods for all of my professional life. But the ultimate joy for me are my flowers, especially the demanding azaleas. I have never seen anything as well written as your description of a what it takes to have a fine crop of azaleas. You should try to get something printed in Fine Gardening or another high quality magazine.

    On Memorial Day weekend, I had the same set of circumstances. I was on my belly scratching mulch and Holly Tone fertilizer into the shallow root zone of the azaleas. And then it rained. It was an incredible miracle. At 62, I find rain, and the gifts of the ecosystem, to be as invigorating as they were when I was a kid.

    I must admit that I cried when I got to your bad news. Jack, my prayers are with you. Your bravery and ongoing joi d'vivre are an inspiration to all of us who love life and struggle with our competing needs and desires.

    Your article is overwhelming in its comprehensiveness.

    And now I have a question for you: It must have taken hours to write this article. Is your wife aware of the blog? How do you account for all the time you spend writing?

    1. What a beautiful and profound thought, "people shape the land and then the land shapes people." I love that thought.

      My father taught me that privilege is best not bestowed but earned. I didn't much care for that life lesson as a young kid, but I came to treasure it as an adult for its truth. Life is not easy for a boy who marries at 18 years. Hard work is a must to avoid utter failure.

      But the years of hard work paid off when we were able to build our home. At first I just studied the vacant lot imagining what I wanted our home to look like. We had the lot for a couple of years before we started building so there was time for a lot of imagining.

      After the house was built, I would sit on the back porch imagining what I wanted to do with the vacant back yard. Over the years what I imagined was made reality through more hard work. But as you suggest I shaped the land and the land has helped to change and shape me. My garden is my refuge. It is a place I can retreat to and be calm and happy, something that has not always been easy for me.

      In answer to your question, the blog piece took three days to write and edit and re edit and then to decide if I should trash it or post it. For some reason I was hesitant to post it. I felt it might be misunderstood and unappreciated. I was wrong, it has brought comments public and private that have been wonderful.

      Time is always a problem, but as a wise man once said, "we make time for the things that are important to us." My wife loves her work. She plans never to retire. So she works 3 days a week. Those days are mine to do as I please and the blog is a result of some of that free time. It is time I don't have to account for. My wife knows I have contact with guys around the country and the world, but she does not know about the blog. I think she would find the blog interesting, but I have just chosen to keep it mine.

      Thanks for your kind words and your thoughts.

      Jack Scott

  6. Nice essay. I, too, have a thing for azaleas, as in over a hundred of them; some quite large. I am blessed with somewhat sandy dirt, which I have ameliorated for 25 years by assiduous composting. The back yard has a large almost flat grassy area backdropped by a 35 foot rise into the forest (most of the azaleas being on that shady slope). DCBiGuy is correct that most commonly-grown azaleas are tame cultivars that seldom reproduce on their own except by layering. However, I have a "mother" r. canescens about 8 feet tall and a number of her seedlings roundabout. Still, in this area (northern Virginia) azaleas are very easy to grow.

    I am baffled as to why the azaleas under your crape myrtle did not bloom this year. Were they possibly trimmed too late last year (i.e., after the 2012 bloom had set)? New growth that comes on after late summer pruning seldom sets a new set of buds.

    The husband of a friend of my wife once accused me of being gay based on my fondness for flowering plants and music. His comment was meant as a friendly jab, I suppose, but I was not amused. His yard was uninspired; even unattractive by my standards, but in fairness as a renter he was less than fully motivated. They moved away a few months later and I never saw him again. I have since wondered if his mind ventured into the subject of my alleged gayness because he had some feelings for other men himself, however repressed.

    If the only men who could enjoy natural beauty were gay, the rest of us would be missing out on a great deal.


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott