Lifeless Buds

I have a Venus flytrap named Frankie. He lives alone in a plastic cup on the patio table, happy in the humid air as he nabs the occasional bug. My wife’s nearby garden is boasting fruit, vegetables, and colorful blooms but I’m content to just watch my little tabletop carnivore do his thing. I’ll get to why I named my bud “Frankie” in a minute but let me just say this: At least he’s a live little bud. That’s more than a lot of people can say about their more imaginary friends.


Here’s a morsel of self-discovery for you, extracted from my several years of blog posts.  I have a habit of referring to inanimate objects with terms of endearment.  My most recent example: two weeks ago when I discovered the SpaceX satellites launching into outer space.  I referred to those technological marvels as “little guys who talk to one another”, and, “when their time is done they’ll return home for a proper burial”.  Whether this is just cheap entertainment or an effort to elicit empathy from you readers, I regularly inject life into the lifeless (or in this case, a soul into the metal and mechanical).

“Little Caesar”

I didn’t have to scroll back very far to find other examples.  My post a week before the satellites, Hail, Caesium, endeared of all things, a lost capsule of nuclear waste.  First, I nicknamed the capsule “Little Caesar”.  Then I re-nicknamed it “LC” and noted how detection equipment ultimately “…led the search team right to our little friend”.  Were you more relieved to know the waste had been contained or that our little lost friend had finally been found?

Pine cone “sororities”

Conifer Confetti, a post from last fall, lamented the hours I sacrifice to contain the untold number of pine cones on our property.  I referred to the cones as “females” (because biologically, they really are) and in one frustrated burst of endearment, said “It’s like having the world’s biggest sorority row above my backyard, and every house is about to disgorge its girls for a giant party on the ground”.  So which is it Dave, a whole lot of “yard waste” or thousands of “little ladies”?

The “poor” leftover pieces from the LEGO Grand Piano

Finally, my series of posts on building the LEGO Grand Piano and LEGO Fallingwater were rife with terms of endearment.  All those plastic pieces were like little families bagged up in a single box; couples waiting to be married.  At times I thought I lost “one of the little guys”, and I felt sorry for the leftovers who’d never realize their destiny of being a part of the completed model.

“Cassini” (image courtesy of NASA/JPL)

This topic was inspired by an article in The Atlantic about the spacecraft Cassini.  Six years ago, Cassini completed a 13-year data-gathering cruise around Saturn and its moons.  Utterly alone and running out of fuel, Cassini turned towards the planet, eventually burning up in the atmosphere.  As NASA described the final moments, Cassini “fought to keep its antenna pointed at Earth as it transmitted its farewell”.  An entire room of scientists at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory fell into tears.  Cassini is the perfect example of – big word here  – anthropomorphism.  In simpler terms, the more “alive” a machine appears to be, the more empathetic the response from humans.  Some robots are deliberately anthropomorphic, a subtopic we just don’t have enough words for today.

As I watch Frankie ingest another insect, it’s time to reveal the genesis of his name.  Maybe you don’t remember Frankie Avalon in his prime but you do remember the 1970s movie Grease.  Avalon showed up in a memorable scene, descending a staircase dressed in white while singing “Beauty School Dropout” to Didi Conn’s “Frenchy”.  Guess what?  Avalon had an even bigger hit: VenusThat song is a plea to the goddess of love to bring him romance; someone pretty and very much alive.  Okay, so my Frankie isn’t pretty, but at least he’s alive.  That’s more than I can say about all those other little buds who keep showing up in my blog posts.

Some content sourced from The Atlantic article, “How to Mourn a Space Robot”, and Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to Life In A Word.

19 thoughts on “Lifeless Buds”

  1. I adore this. Frankie the Venus flytrap is a charmer, as is Frankie Avalon of course. I’ve named some machines– and one houseplant. My car is Olivia, my desktop computer is Keysia, and the cooktop is Juanita. We also have a philodendron named Rapunzel, for reasons you can imagine!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rapunzel! Hope she’s got herself a nice high perch. My own car is Roxy B. (“Roxy” was my last car, same make and model). Never thought to name my computer but it’s certainly been creative enough to deserve one.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Frankie is the perfect name and a cool looking plant. I understand about being proud of him being alive, as we kill most of our plants. I also tend to personify things. It’s kind of a bummer because then you feel more attached. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been trying to hunt down bugs for Frankie but he seems to do fine with or without them. I keep waiting for him to wave at me with one of those open pads, sort of a thank you for bringing him a little notoriety. I think I’d faint if he did that.


    1. Your comment had me wondering about Annette Funicello, Neil. Had no idea she died prematurely of MS ten years ago. I was too young to remember the beach movies she made with Avalon but I know there were a lot of them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly, those pieces have gone the way of most leftovers. Maybe there’s a Legoland in the afterlife and they’ve been reunited with all of their leftover pals!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Cats seem to create their own entertainment when there isn’t anything interesting otherwise. Must be a popular cat name – we also had a Smidgen (nicknamed “Smidge”).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lots to unpack in this post!
    Several times I think I had my hair done by a beauty school drop-out…
    Names of cars – my PT Cruiser is ‘Pete’. Our Mercedes SL500 is ‘Sadie’ and the Durango is ‘Dingo’.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never seen a Venus Flytrap, just pictures of them, but a clever name given its origin Dave. I do know who Frankie Avalon is and remember the “Venus” song and “Beauty School Dropout” as well. I loved the movie “Grease”. I’ve never named my cars but my father always called our cars through the years “Old Betsy” even when they were NEW Betsies. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve always admired people who could come up with perfectly-appropriate names for houses, vehicles, etc. My favorite is my nephew’s classic yellow Jeep: Queso. He lives in Southeast Texas.

    Liked by 1 person


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