46 thoughts on “Making Haste Slowly

  1. Like Sancho Panza, my paternal grandmother spoke in proverbs, only they were in Russian rather than Spanish. One I remember from childhood was Тише едешь, дальше будешь, pronounced loosely teeshe yedesh, dalshe boodesh. The meaning is “The slower you go, the farther you get.” The English proverb puts it the other way around: Haste makes waste.

    1. If my pronunciation’s right, your grandmother’s proverb rhymes, too. I heard “haste makes waste” from my grandmother, but every now and then someone would quote Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

      1. I’d forgotten about the white rabbit’s statement, which is a better analogue to the Russian proverb. As for the rhyme, not quite, because of the stress pattern: yedesh and boodesh are both stressed on their first syllable. A similar English example would be raisin and season, which would traditionally be called half-rhymes or slant-rhymes or near-rhymes. Leonard Cohen used a fair number of those, for example in the first two lines of “Suzanne”:

        “Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river.
        You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever.”

    1. That’s another bit of wisdom that can be hard to learn, especially for impatient sorts. As for the caterpillar, he was well off a formal pathway, trucking along on his plant at a steady pace and moving more quickly than I realized a caterpillar could move. It was fascinating to watch him go from plant to plant.

    1. I did a quick image search, and discovered some impressive and highly decorated creatures from that area. What a trip that must have been — given Taman Negara’s protected status, it must be filled with beauties galore. But there’s always something interesting lurking around, as this little creature proves.

    1. This one isn’t poisonous and doesn’t sting, but I’ve had an entirely too up-close-and-personal encounter with an asp: the southern flannel moth.

      It’s the cutest darned thing, in an English sheepdog sort of way, and looks like it ought to be petted. Unfortunately, every little hair is a miniature hypodermic needle, just waiting to inject the toxin. I just brushed one with the side of my arm, and it was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.

    1. As usual, we’re lagging behind you. Despite our December snow, we were soon back up into the 70s. But now it’s 43F, heading for the mid-30s, and next week we may have four days with lows in the 20s.

      Of course it’s nothing like your winter, but it’s cold enough to reduce certain insect populations — like mosquitos. It is interesting working in cold weather. Once it’s below 45F, I can’t varnish — those days have to be devoted to sanding and such. When it dips below 40F? My productivity dips, and I start thinking about coffee and a book — indoors.

    1. It is amazing to watch natural processes at work. We’re such time-obsessed creatures, and so prone to say, “Faster! Faster! that we miss a good bit. Sometimes, just sitting down and waiting to see what happens can be rewarding.

  2. Your woolly caterpillar made me think of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXi3bjKowJU
    Walt Kelly always called them “caterpiggles” — which I think suits them better. The adults are spottty on a handsome pale orange background.

    There is a heedlessness that comes with haste and impatience, whence the waste. Things take as long as they take. My mother has never been able to understand this. She wants everything done right now, then picked up after, cleaned up and put away. Sometimes she reminds me of those moths that fly in frantic spirals, light, then fly in frantic spirals, then light . . . .

    1. How can I have missed the song and the musical? That’s a great clip: not only the song, but also the teacher slamming the doors shut. I had one of those teachers — literally. There may have been a few others, metaphorically.

      “Things take as long as they take” is a lesson I’ve had to teach customers, repeatedly. People accustomed to constant operating system upgrades and constant increases in computing speed sometimes have a hard time understanding that varnish dries when it dries, whether you’re talking about a small cocktail table or 120 linear feet of handrail. Certainly there are solvents that can speed things up (or slow them down, if necessary) but those changes are marginal, at best.

      You’ve brought to mind that wonderful comment by Billy Collins: “While the novelist is banging on his typewriter, the poet is watching a fly in the windowpane.” The underlying wisdom applies to more than novelists and poets, of course.

    1. What a creative interpretation. Now I’m thinking of the dragons during Chinese New Year parades. Can’t you imagine a dozen celebrants inside a caterpillar costume, making way through the streets?

      This is the weekend to do a little light plant moving, find the freeze cloth, and so on. I may do some pruning of the big scheffleras tomorrow, amend the soil, and give them a good watering. If we get a hard freeze, they’ll have to come in, along with the favorite cacti. Hauling plants back and forth’s going to make it finally feel like winter.

    1. It’s been forever since I’ve read Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare. I’d completely forgotten that the name of the tortoise was Slow and Steady. That makes the line about “Slow and Steady wins the race” even more amusing. Plod on!

  3. Bristling but very handsome its way. The only Caterpillars I ever pick up are woolly bears, to check out what kind of a winter they’re forecasting, and I will be sure to stay the heck away from the flannel moths!

    1. The woolly bears are cute as can be. I’ve not seen one in a long time, but we used to consult them regularly in Iowa. I read that they’re sometimes called “woolly worms,” and that helps to explain a little ditty we used to use to express various kinds of childhood anguish: “Nobody likes me; everybody hates me. Guess I’ll go out and eat woolly worms.”

    1. It is a beautiful creature, especially in its adult form. I’ve seen one that’s similar that I think is Hypercompe scribonia, the giant leopard moth. Here’s a nice page about it from Florida. What’s interesting is that it has orange segments, too, but they’re invisible unless it curls up in a defensive posture.

      I’m slow in identifying some of these creatures, but I’m trying to be steady about it.

  4. Well this beauty is one that causes irritation in some individuals and I’m not sure if it is found in McLennan county. However- I was stung by what I called a grayish looking small asp and I found myself in an ER

    1. I’ve noticed that the asps around here vary in color from gray to a pale tan, or even almost honey-colored. After my encounter with the southern flannel moth caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis) I did some exploring and found that there are other stinging caterpillars in Texas: the Io moth, the buck moth and the saddleback moth. They all seem to be just as “delightful” as our asp.

  5. Sorry but this one flew away. Anyhow I was having miserable and intense pain with a BP that went over 200/100. I was given steroid injections, BP med and a Demerol injection for the pain. I was kept there for 5 hours until my BP was back to normal. That was back about 1993. Demerol by the way is off market now. I had five stings total- two on one arm and three on the other arm. I can’t begin to describe the pain.

    PS did not get to proof read the first comment.

    1. Five actual stings must have been terrible. Even brushing against one was nasty enough. We finally figured out that they were living in some small oak trees near where I park.

      There’s a really interesting article here that discusses their life cycle, and how best to dispatch them (clue: let their natural predators do the work). It’s a bit of a slog to read, but it’s got some interesting information. I was most interested in the note that they seem to be attracted to plants that contain tannin or caffeine in their leaves. That means that keeping an eye out around the yaupons is a good idea, too.

  6. I’ve always liked Thoreau’s “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Who’s to say whether the turtle of the cheetah is right? But I also like: “Behold the turtle who only makes progress when he sticks his head out.” –Curt

    1. The answer to your question’s obvious: they’re both right. We may prefer one or the other as a model for our own life (or, more likely, find cheetah speed and turtle speed of value at different times) but they’re both following Thoreau’s advice, stepping to the music that they hear.

      I’ve never heard that saying about the turtle only making progress when it sticks its head out. That’s a good one — and particularly apropos for the beginning of a new year. Happy New Year!

      1. I first became aware of the turtle statement way back when I was Executive Director of an environmental action organization in Sacramento and someone gave me a poster with the turtle that I put up on my office wall. We were definitely sticking our necks out in those days! –Curt

    1. Happy New Year to you, dear Amanda! I love that: “So far, so good.”

      And thanks for the smile — I always smile when I remember discovering the meaning of frass, over at BugGuide. Submitted photos that don’t meet their requirements for one reason or another are placed in a section called “Frass,” and then eventually deleted. It’s the best kind of “in” joke.

      It was warmish here yesterday, and I couldn’t keep myself indoors, knowing that we’re going to be below freezing for the next few days. The Christmas tree is down, to make room for the plants that will have to come indoors, and I’ve laid in some extra bird seed, so now it’s time for all the tasks I let slide yesterday: like putting up New Year posts before the day actually gets here. Having “wasted” time yesterday, I’d best hasten!

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