Wrong color, wrong team

Chrysanthemums purchased yesterday.

I was kinda excited about this, because while I lived in an apartment (my entire adult life until five years ago), it didn’t seem like there was any point, and then, after I moved back home, dad had specific opinions about purchased flowers and plants (“foolishness” — or “Quatsch,” as his mother would have said). So it may seem silly that I waited until I was in my fifties to do something other people do as a matter of course, but I was pretty excited! Until my next-door neighbor came by — she’s actually very nice — to tell me that my mums were the wrong color. For my house to fit in, she was insistent that I need to purchase yellow mums. I listened to her and smiled (“Wisconsin nice”) and eventually she went away. When I drove out this morning I did look at everyone else’s mums and indeed, they are yellow, orange, and white.

This is a common sort of problem for me — in many cases, I have not been blessed with knowing the typical correct responses to things that are shared among others. And I’m not usually the “go along to get along” type with anything that I consider important. That is to say: you might say I don’t instinctively know the typical correct decisions because I’ve never cared.

Mums aren’t important. (Except in Texas, where “mums” are important.) I’ve moved into a suburb, though, where conformity is. However, I’m not going to buy any more mums, so it’s these mums or no mums, and I picked these because I like them.

In the last ten days, roughly 8,000 refugees from Afghanistan have arrived at a nearby US Army base. (If you’re from the Upper Midwest, you know why I cringe at calling people “Afghans.”) Under-occupied as I currently am, and relatively open-minded on the refugee question, I thought I should get involved in the relief effort. Unfortunately, the local agency charged with refugee resettlement is Christian. This wouldn’t be so bad, as I’m not per se hostile to Christianity, and I still occasionally teach Christian theology, but the application to participate involves four questions about my relationship with a Christian congregation and Christianity more generally. I’d forgotten this detail, but I had looked into this several years ago when there were refugees from Somalia settling here and had been dismayed.

There are going to be a lot more Afghan refugees here now than Somalians back then. More even than the initial resettlement of Hmong people here in the 1980s, which caused so much uproar.

Theoretically, they don’t require volunteers to be Christian, only to “personally affirm” or agree that they can “work alongside” their “values,” but it’s quite off-putting, as they want volunteers to follow the example of Jesus. (I’m not planning to be crucified and die for the sins of the world, either literally or metaphorically, any time soon.)

I looked it up and 99 percent of the population of Afghanistan is Muslim (Sunni or Shi’ite), with a vanishingly small percentage (<1 percent) of “other.” Normally, if a Muslim moved here, I’d offer to put them in contact with the local groups. There are three mosques within easy driving distance. Two are Sunni. One is Ahmadi and opened its doors to let students shelter during a school shooting a few years ago. In this case, though, I personally would be stepped back about religion, given the likelihood that these refugees in particular might be members of Muslim minorities, or secular in orientation, or just maybe tired of thirty years of conflict over the desire of some people in Afghanistan to live in a theocracy. And I sure wouldn’t be engaging in Christian mission to them. Geez.

Interestingly, the local agency has also not yet published a call for volunteers (in contrast to Madison and Milwaukee, which are already hard at work on this task). In those cities, Jewish Social Services is involved in resettlement efforts with other groups. Of course, we don’t have Jewish Social Services here. So maybe the plan is not for them to resettle here.

It’s a puzzle. In the end I’m on the wrong team again. But only kind of.

Two years ago I joined a food co-op operated by a small group of US military veterans (mostly for the food, because I also want to support veteran efforts more generally — won’t get into the reasons here.) It turns out that they are now trying to get two families out of Afghanistan whose members worked with these veterans when they were deployed several years ago. The goal is to get them out (!) and then resettle them here.

So I’m getting involved with that. Right now it only involved writing a check. But I hope it can turn into more.

The military is also a team I’m not on.

Boy, this was a weird ramble. Rosh Hashanah starts tonight. Happy New Year and May You Be Sealed in the Book of Life for a Good New Year to those who celebrate. I will catch you on the flip side.

~ by Servetus on September 6, 2021.

31 Responses to “Wrong color, wrong team”

  1. Your flowers are the wrong colour? What a Karen that woman is. I would have just shrugged my shoulders and told her I like the colour. But that’s just me. I enjoy annoying people with doing my own thing. Glad to see your settling into your new place.


  2. When it comes to flowers I don’t think there are wrong colors. Personally I don’t like yellow very much. I love Purple.

    I am glad you are finding your way in your new place. I must say I loved your pictures of your menu. Very inspiring.


  3. Heh, you’re more polite than I would have been. My yard, my rules. And depending on the neighbor, I might’ve replied, “I’m not a sheep. Just because all y’all decided you want bland, boring colors doesn’t mean I do.”


    • I think one concern in my mind is my potential need to rely on these people somehow, eventually (?). I have a little bit the feeling that the safety net I had through dad’s friends will pass away when dad goes. So I bite my tongue.


  4. Those flowers are absolutely gorgeous. Who cares if they are the “wrong” colour! And how rude of the neighbour! I’m sure she would think she was doing you a great service by helping you to conform! Geez.

    Wishing you a good year ahead.


  5. is the flower color a neighborhood (HOA) rule? if not, then go your own way and pick whatever colors make you happy! it’s a shame about the Christian based relief group. you’d think they’d accept all the help they can get b/c they’re supposed to be helping out of the goodness of their hearts, not to get other people to play for their ‘team’ :/


    • It’s not an HOA rule (I made sure when we bought this house that there were no restrictive covenants as I didn’t want someone to complain if a tractor had to overnight in my driveway), so yeah, it’s just peer pressure.

      I honestly don’t know what to think about Christians any more, when I see stuff like this. Although I am sure it seems very normal to them.


  6. L’shana tovah (I think I spelled it correctly but like with anything else hebrew there are probably a thousand different spellings)


  7. Here, Chrysanthemums are nicknamed “daisy of the dead”, because they are devoted to the flowering of graves, for the day of the dead which takes place every day after the feast of All Saints. However, they are starting to restore their image: more and more cities are blooming their flowerbeds and balconies with varieties of multicolored mums reminiscent of the whole range of autumnal tones!
    So each color is beautiful, 🙂 🙂 🙂
    Good luck , good year!


    • Thank you!

      One of the unanticipated pleasures of this thread was learning about different cultural meanings of flowers. I really only associated yellow mums with football games in the US South in my grandmother’s generation.


  8. Your mums are pretty and just the color I will pick if they look nice at the store this week. My oldest son got me yellow mums for my birthday a couple weeks ago. I my book never a bad color for flowers with that said I do like some colors over others. When buying I look for the nicest looking not the color. Any way enjoy the pretty fall colored mums you have gotten for your house.

    It is a shame that the relief organization is not looking for people to help than being religious based. Hopefully they don’t push their religion on the refugees.


    • I agree — you want the sturdiest plant, whatever the color. I see the market now has magenta ones and I am tempted.

      Somehow I suspect that people who have the stubbornness to resist their own society and help out US forces and then survive all that turmoil to get here are not going to be especially vulnerable to other people’s religious opinions.


  9. I like the parallel showing how people try to enforce their views on others. Well done for sticking to your guns. And Happy New Year to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lovely colour, lovely flower, and don’t mind her. Such a busy body, and who is she to tell you that they are the ‘wrong’ colour. My, my. I don’t know if there’s a ‘correct’ answer to her ‘enquiry’. Now there are a lot of inverted commas; most of them are probably used incorrectly. Happy New Year.


  11. I’m bored by yellow “mums” and I think the dark red is absolutely beautiful! I hope the resettlement goes smoothly. I’m still upset about how few people the German forces got out. The Afghanischer Frauenverein says their schols in Afghanistan were able to reopen (including for girls). But I dare not hope it all won’t be as bad as feared.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it will be exactly as bad for women as people feared. I don’t know what to say about it because despite all those years of armed occupation, apparently the majority of society in Afghanistan is opposed to even the most limited female emancipation (or doesn’t care). I think the horror stories are only starting. There was a headline in the Guardian today that women in Afghanistan are now forbidden to engage in sports.


  12. Who would have thought there exists a flower police somewhere.

    The thought of people trying to missionize traumatized refugees is awful! I hope you’ll find your way to volunteer like you want to. Happy New Year!


    • I think being a retiree definitely plays a role for people like that. I’ve been home a lot since i moved there, but soon I won’t be home all the time to observe what other people are doing. I’ve noticed myself that I look out the window when a car drives into the house across the street.


      Liked by 1 person

  13. Gorgeous mums. I never seen such a color. Here (Italy) mums are a 2 November thing, flowers for the deads, in light colors, yellow or white. That woman is weird. In Europe the idea is to not accept refugees at all. A shame.


    • I don’t think any of us will have much choice, soon. There will be too many refugees not to overwhelm our border controls.


  14. Shanah Tovah, Servetus!
    My goodness, don’t listen to the flower police! I love the colour of your mums.
    Ugh on that Christian charity. I know religious charities want to help out of the goodness of their hearts but in Christian charities there is always this underlying idea of mission, which I find so appalling! Yeah, I couldn’t volunteer there either. A pity there is no secular organization around that can help. I hope you can find other ways and I hope those two families can make it to safety in the US!


    • Thanks!

      I read this morning that the local occupancy rate for apartments is at 94% (the larger topic of the report was that local landlords are refusing to take Section 8 vouchers to get low income renters into housing, because they don’t have to). This has implications for the refugee question just because there may literally be nowhere for them to live around here (and I assume they will initially have some kind of government voucher or guarantee). So my only option may be to help these two families (which is fine, but they are still in Afghanistan and it seems like it’s getting much harder for Afghan people to leave Afghanistan).

      And in general I should just find some way to volunteer. There are plenty of non-Christian charities around.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. […] the interest of peace after my visual transgression, I did make a gesture in the direction of […]


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