The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, September 8, 2014

#LifeIsGood Sunflower Tribute & BOTB Results

            Today nearly 100 bloggers from around the world are paying tribute to the much beloved blogger and kind heart Tina Downey who passed away on August 23rd.   In her honor many of us are planting sunflowers or displaying representations of sunflowers.   The sunflower was Tina's favorite flower.   Hopefully we can in our various ways help to carry on the memory of Tina Downey.

A Garden Is an Expression of Hope

The "flower bed" in my backyard

      I've never been much of a gardener.  When we first moved into the house where we live, I attempted to turn most of the backyard into a vegetable garden.   I ended up with more jalapenos and Anaheim chiles than I could use and some of the sorriest scrawniest cucumbers I'd ever seen and that was the extent of my crop.  The following year I decided to turn most of the backyard into a patio with only a tiny strip allotted to plants.

        There are flowering plants in the little circular place you see pictured above, but the blooms don't stay long.  It's a pretty scraggly mess I will admit.  I planted a row of sunflower seeds along the wall and while I was in a planting mood, I also planted some kind of flower that I cannot recall what it was.   Hopefully they'll grow, but we'll see.  

My  Garden Is Not Hopeless

Those two plants you see on either side were
 started years ago from tiny houseplants.

       For any of you who lack faith in my gardening abilities I will let you know that several years ago I actually did have a nice healthy stand of tall sunflowers growing in one corner of this same strip where I've planted my sunflowers for Tina.   I don't recall whatever happened to those previous sunflowers, but I assure you that they were there for some time and quite beautiful.

       Also on either side of my little garden children you see in the above photo are a rubber tree and some other palm-like plant that I planted as small houseplants that were given to my teacher wife many years ago by one of her students.  Actually my sister transplanted them and left them to my care--or should I say non-care.   Despite neglect those plants have flourished.  In fact, I've pruned that rubber tree several times as it grows like crazy.   So stuff does grow in my backyard.   And I don't do much of anything.   That's why there's not much of a garden there.

        I think Tina would get a chuckle out of my ineptitude as a gardener.  But, hey. I'm trying--kind of.  I don't know if there is any particular season for growing sunflowers in Los Angeles.   As far as I know the growing season here is kind of year round.   Then again what do I know about planting stuff?  

         I hope I see some sunflowers in my backyard.   Along with those other flowers that I won't know what they are if they grow.   If I do get any flowers, I'll put a picture of them on my blog.               

          Be sure to visit the other tributes to Tina Downey.   The complete list of participants can be found here.


          My match-up between Anjelica Huston and Lou Reed performing their versions of "September Song" ended up with some surprising results as well as more than a few unfavorable opinions about both artists.  My vote in this one doesn't matter one way or another in regard to the final outcome.   Anjelica trounced Lou by 25 to 9 votes.   Not as I expected.

          When I put together my Battle of the Band segments, I don't choose the versions that I necessarily think are among the best.   I'm looking for the most interesting.   Sometimes those might be the best while at times they might be the worst.   Besides it's all a matter of that little issue called taste.   What's good to one person may not be all that great to another.

           In the case of the contest at hand I went into it with Lou Reed as my pick.  I've liked the Lost in The Stars: The Songs of Kurt Weill  album since I first bought it in the mid-80's.  When I thought of "September Song" I decided that Reed's version would be the male entry in the contest.

        I chose Anjelica Huston because I liked the connection with her grandfather Walter Huston.   When I first listened to Anjelica's version I hated it.  In fact I didn't even listen to the whole thing.  Then I listened to it again--all the way through.  Then again.  And again.   Then it began to dawn upon me.  Anjelica Huston was not just singing the song, she was dramatizing it.   I began to feel it.  Soon I liked it better than Lou Reed's version.

        And that's how I changed my vote to Anjelica Huston.   I like her version better now.  I still enjoy the version by Reed, but it's more of a poppish novelty.   The Huston version is a mini-drama.  A soliloquy.  A meaningful admonition to the young and all the rest of us.  I believe Anjelica Huston's version the most.

Final Vote:

Anjelica Huston 26

Lou Reed 9

         Be here next Monday September 15th  for another Battle of the Bands.   This will be where I address the inevitable in BOTB for future battles as I present a special tribute Battle with potential marketing implications.


  1. Hi Lee - I think Tina would be giggling happily at your garden antics .. and we're all planting sunflowers or displaying them .. I'll collect the seed from mine and hopefully once spread in the Spring they'll grow during the A-Z into wonderful reminders of Tina for me ..

    Cheers ... Hilary

  2. Lee, Tina is laughing right now and preparing to unleash several lines of snark on your gardening abilities. (Which is why I didn't even try - I suck as well.)

  3. I can't garden either mostly because I hate yardwork so much! I opted to take pics of sunflowers instead, for my Tina post!

  4. I don't even have a garden although I guess I could have tried growing some in a flower pot. I do hope your sunflowers come up Lee. Please post the pictures when they show their pretty faces.

  5. I too have trouble in being a gardener, plastic looks nicer lol. Thank you for all you guys have done, I am very sorry to have fallen off... it's been a tough one.


  6. Not counting the wild tomato plant that came up on its own, you've grown far more than I have in your garden. For sunflowers, I went the plastic route today.

  7. Hilary-- I'm glad others are accepting my humorous approach. A life that is good should have a healthy dose of humor.

    Alex-- I guess you can't be good at everything.

    JoJo---With your creative touch I would have thought you'd be good at gardening.

    Jo-- I hope I'll have some of those pictures.

    Jeremy-- No problem--I understand.

    L.Diane-- Wild tomato? I have a pepper plant that just appeared in my yard many years ago and it's still growing.


  8. I think Tina would have absolutely loved this. And snarky comments or not, this would have made her smile with love. Life is Good.

  9. Dear Lee - tina would SO roast you for your pathetic gardening prowess all the whike being pleased as punch that we celebrate her tiday and remember her always as we carry on. Life Is Good.

    Cheeres! Sammy D

  10. You'll be enjoying those flowers long after everyone else's have faded. Wonderful tribute, Lee.

  11. Definitely points for trying! I don't know how long they take to grow, either.
    I think she'd get a kick out of your tribute.

  12. Tina would be getting a chuckle out of your garden! She was a lovely soul who will be missed!

  13. Your garden looks better than mine, considering I don't have one. I've always wanted a garden, and sunflowers would be in it, but I live in an apartment. One day, I'll have a garden with tall sunflowers. :)

    Thanks for a great tribute. I had a laugh and I know Tina did, too.

  14. Hey Lee, I am impressed by your rubber tree! I have one here in my kitchen. I got it years ago as a tiny .99cent plant at the grocery store. It's now five feet tall. I've thought about putting it outside, but I don't live in L.A., so I don't think it would survive the winter.
    I hope your sunflowers and mystery flowers come up.
    I am kind of surprised by the result of your BOTB. I remember not being able to get through Angelica Huston's song...I actually hated it. And Lou Reed...I don't know...I used to listen to him quite a bit...I mean, I was never a giant fan or anything, but I kind of liked Velvet Underground years ago...anyways, I think I was one of the nine who's vote went with Lou, only because of how much I disliked the other version.
    I have to be in a certain mood to listen to Lou Reed, and that mood comes about very rarely these days.
    I'm looking forward to the next BOTB.

  15. The year Tina was my Co-host Sponsor, I had a garden full of sunflowers which I used in my tribute today. I'm so glad I took lots of photos then, for the birds cleaned out the seeds before they could fall and re-seed for the next summer. Sadly lacking in backyard sunflowers today.

    Your post brings lots of smiles in remembering Tina's great sense of humor and her appreciation for the AtoZ Challenges. She will be missed, but not forgotten for all she was to Blogland and her friends and family.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

    I recall a song by Frank Sinatra about a "RUBBER TREE PLANT". I don't know who recorded it first but it might actually have been "Ol' Blue Eyes" hisself.

    I do recall that it was in a soundtrack for a movie that Sinatra appeared in. (My first inclination is to mention the movie 'A HOLE IN THE HEAD'. I saw that movie many, many years ago, and I seem to recall it starred Sinatra, and I think it might well be the movie in which the song 'Rubber Tree Plant' - or some similar title - was revealed to the public.)

    Connecting that song to the plants you have growing in your (what passes for a...) "BACKYARD" ( Los Angeles), I think it might make a suitable song for a future 'BOTB' blog bit at 'Tossing It Out'.

    But... if you DO decide to use it, as the originator of the idea, may I urge you NOT to use a version by Anjelica Huston (who is a lovely no-singing-ability lady) or a version by Lou Reed (whose greatest talent was OBVIOUSLY mainlining heroin in a recording studio).

    Mayhaps you can find a really, really, very, very pretty version of the song by the "memorable" Lisa Dalbello.

    [Yeah, LeeBro, it'll be a lifetime before I stop using THAT reference when we get to jabbing each other in 'BOTB' ...JabDisputes. HA! ...Jus' learn to love me, Lee. Heck, even Sheboyganboy Six, FarAwayEyes, and Girl Wonder Robin have somehow learned to lov-- er... tolerate me.]

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Blogfighter' :-)

  17. I found your tribute interesting and think Tina would too. Gardening is a hobby of mine and am going to see if I can get sunflower seeds. It's not a flower that is grown that much in my hometown.

  18. You have a nice backyard! Maybe the soil or location is more suited to certain plants, veggies or flowers than others. In her chuckles, Tina would be happy to see your diligence in trying to get sunflowers, or any flower, to grow in your garden. If it helps, you're much better at it than me, as the last time I planted something was probably in middle school. However, my high school had a large Greenhouse on the building and now I wish I took advantage of that feature before graduating years ago. Ah well, we live and learn.

    Regarding the BOB...I know little, if anything about Anjelica Huston and Lou Reed...except for maybe those "greats hits of whatever decade/year" commercials and such that came on TV when was younger. To base me knowledge on what little I've gathered from those commercials would be silly of me, so I'm not the best person to comment on who had better music between those two.


  19. S.L.-- I hope no one considers the post irreverent.

    Sammy-- I hope Tina's spirit will be tending my garden when I don't.

    Melissa -- I hope you're right.

    Lenni -- I could have used Tina's guidance about planting the flowers.

    Sherry-- Tina sure had a great sense of humor and fun.

    Chrys-- There are advantages to not having a yard.

    Eva -- You might have needed to listen to Anjelica's version a few more times like I did.


  20. Sue-- I don't think I ever took any photos of my previous batch of sunflowers. I'll be sure to get these if they manage to grow.


  21. StMc-- That song is "High Hopes"--one of those novelty ditties that I don't like all that much, but it's cute. I think I caught in passing the film this came from but I don't remember exactly. I believe it was one of those Bing Crosby films where he plays a priest. As I flipped by the channel there was a boys choir singing the song.

    It's unlikely that I'll be using anymore songs by Huston, but Lou Reed is not out of the question.


  22. When it comes to gardening, I'm the worst! I believe they call the syndrome 'green-finger-impaired'.
    I once killed a cactus.
    How difficult is that? Very difficult.
    That's a story for another time...

  23. Michelle -- You might try Home Depot if you have one nearby. I was impressed by the number of different kinds of seeds they carried.

    Nicole-- The backyard is small but that suits me fine. I have enough room for my grill and a table for 6 that we rarely use. The soil back there is quite bad I'd say, but it works well for the plants that I have their. I've thought that maybe the soil has a high level of toxicity, but I don't think I experienced any ill effects from eating the peppers and cucumbers I grew.


  24. Michelle Wallace-- Yeah, I guess it's pretty bad when you kill a cactus.


  25. I often think about using the few feet of pebbly grass they call a lawn in front of my apartment as a place to grow flowers.
    Perhaps, someday. I'm not good at gardening.

  26. Lee, I think Tina would chuckle indeed, and she would also be deeply appreciative of your wonderful efforts. A very moving tribute.

  27. Lou was my favourite but Anjelica still did a very good job with the song. I'm sure Tina would have had a good laugh indeed Arlee. At least you are trying and I wish you luck Mr. Gardener.

  28. Such a lovely post, for a lovely person. She will be missed.

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy)

  29. Another nice tribute to Tina, who I am sure is enjoying your garden as much as the bright sunflowers.

  30. It's lovely that when those sunflowers grow, you'll think of Tina. They'll grow. I have no doubt.

  31. Gardening is a challenge at times. I do understand that, but it seems you've encouraged two houseplants to grow into some hefty shrubs.

    I knew Angelia would win. No contest.

    I've enjoyed going to all the blogs today and admiring the sunflowers in tribute to Tina.

  32. I hope the sunflowers come up and surprise us all!
    Nice post, Arlee.
    Thank you,

  33. Jennifer-- I think the key to success for those of us who are non-gardeners is to find hardy plants that require little care. Drought resistant are good.

    Silvia -- Tina knew about my quirky sense of humor.

    Sheena-Kay-- A try is worth something and can even result in a win.

    Sarah-- She will be missed indeed.

    Rhonda-- I hope somebody will enjoy my garden.

    Liza-- We got rain today. Maybe that's a good omen.

    C.Lee-- It's been pretty amazing to see the outpouring of love for Tina.


  34. BOIDMAN ~
    Oh, yeah, that's it, Brother! 'HIGH HOPES'. Good call. (Besides, who would title a song 'Rubber Tree Plant'?)

    Well, who knows, maybe Lou Reed recorded a version of 'High Hopes'. I mean, it seems like a song Reed would have recorded in that 180-degree opposite 'Parallel Universe'.

    Maybe you can also find a William Shatner version to put up against Reed's. Ha! Now wouldn't THAT be a 'BOTB' for the record books?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  35. StMc-- You were right about the song being sung by Frank in A Hole in the Head. I'm not sure what Bing Crosby I passed by the other day, but I didn't take the time to let it register.

    I can't imagine Shatner or Reed doing "High Hopes", but I guess stranger things have happened. I hope it doesn't though.


  36. I see a glorious patch of sunflowers in your garden's future, if Tina has anything to say about it:)

  37. Lovely garden, Lee! It's hard to keep up with mine. What a wonderful way to bring a smile to Tina's angelic face.<3


  38. I had other things going on and forgot to post yesterday. But, I will be planting sunflowers at my back fense.

    I'm not much of a gardener either, but we'll just see how they fare.

  39. Loved your gardening post Lee thank you! I had a chuckle at your not so green fingers, but it it is amazing that plants can flower in spite of neglect. Maybe playing them Lou Reed will give them an extra spurt but as it is it is lovely. And the children - a sign of future growth. Tina is no doubt singing ...

  40. I read your post yesterday, while on the road, but didn't get back home in time to make a coherent comment. Today I came by to give you grief about your song selection AGAIN, but when I read STMc's comment and your replies and saw that you didn't even blink at my taste in friends, I figured how could I give you a hard time about you taste in music or musicians. Thanks for the lesson in kindness, or humility, or whatever. Ha, ha, ha!

    Great sunflower/gardening post. I realized that I never signed up for the blog hop on this tribute to Tina, but I did post sunflowers on my BOTB results post. Not grown by me, or in my backyard, but a close friends.

  41. Samantha-- I hope that's what happens.

    Elizabeth-- Lovely garden? Well, I know it could be worse.

    Donna-- Sometimes we plant seeds and they grow despite whatever we do or don't do.

    Susan Scott-- If I play any music for my plants I think I'll stick to classical.

    FAE-- I stand by my music choices in this most recent battle. I thought it was interesting. And I haven't used anything by Tiny Tim yet.


  42. The neat thing about sunflowers is that they lift their heads to the sky, follow the sun. Tina must have done that as well, God Bless Her.

  43. Tina would definitely be smiling over that one :)

  44. I'm hopeful your sunflowers will come in soon. I'm sure Tina would appreciate all of your effort! Glad Angelica Huston's version won!


  45. The sun will shine for you flowers to grow - okay that's a given in California (so, I cheated). I'm sure she's lovin' it.

  46. Susan Kane-- I think you're right.

    Tammy-- I miss her funny emails.

    Julie-- Now I'm glad Anjelica's version won. It was the most appropriate.

    HR-- We do get a fair amount of sun that's for sure.


  47. I love gardening and this sunflower frenzy is just what we need to remember with fondness such a lovely friend. :)
    Edge of Your Seat Stories

  48. Not only do I think Tina would laugh out loud at this gardening story of yours, but I think she'd also think it cool that it coincided with your BOTB and how things turned out, not only the votes, but your change of mind. I like your description, AH did give us more drama in her version...

  49. Raquel-- The Sunflower Tribute was not a bad idea.

    Lisa-- Since I've cut back my posting schedule a lot of my posts have been coinciding.


  50. Can't wait to see the results of those seeds!


Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.