Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 33 comments

Clammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra ssp. trachysperma) has appeared in several posts here. Because the most recent was in 2015, it’s high time to let you have another look at the helter-skelter inflorescence of this species. Notice the tiny bee in the lower part of the top picture. In the image below, you’re looking at a caterpillar on a clammyweed pod. Presumably the chomped-out part of the pod was inside the caterpillar at the time I made the portrait. Both of today’s photographs are from my neighborhood on October 6th.

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As someone who spent years studying linguistics, I often notice when someone uses a word in an unusual way. Take a look at this interchange:

Person A: This morning I went shopping for food and filled up a whole grocery cart.
Person B: How much did you spend?
Person A: The cash register rang up $217.65.
Person B: Wow, that cart of groceries cost you a lot!
Person A: Oh no, it cost me zero.
Person B: How do you figure that? I thought you said it cost you $217.65.
Person A: No, I said the register rang up $217.65. But then I paid the $217.65, so the groceries cost me zero.

Readers, what do you say? Is it true that the groceries cost Person A zero?

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 24, 2021 at 4:37 AM

33 Responses

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  1. Hmm, cost must be being used to mean ‘require payment’, so he might have been saying that it was the cash register that cost him the money. Though I really think it was the grocery store attendant, since all the register could really do was add up the amounts and provide a total… 🙂

    Ann Mackay

    October 24, 2021 at 6:23 AM

    • I’ll refrain from saying anything for the moment, hoping to get reactions from other people.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2021 at 6:53 AM

  2. “It will cost you” means that something will cost a large sum of money or have a negative impact on your performance or chance of success. The cost of something is how much you have to pay to buy something.

    I’m generally happy if I can understand English well enough to operate in this world, and when I say something and it’s understood the first time and don’t have to repeat or explain it in another way. 🙄

    Alessandra Chaves

    October 24, 2021 at 7:44 AM

    • You certainly understand the colloquial sense of “It’ll cost you” and the normal sense of the verb cost. Later today or tomorrow or the next day I’ll explain what I was driving at in my made-up conversation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2021 at 8:14 AM

  3. I had a couple of Clammyweeds volunteer in my front yard this year – my photos were uploaded to iNaturalist and just enough in focus to identify it. Your two shots are quite exquisite – especially the first. The second is a reminder that pollinators and butterfly or moth larvae are in a symbiotic relationship with this plant that has evolved over thousands (or millions) of years.

    As for person A, he or she might have spent x amount of money for the groceries, but the cost, was zero, as the groceries in turn provided him or her with the nutrition needed to stay alive on the face of this planet. At least that’s my reaction, for what it’s worth.


    October 24, 2021 at 10:48 AM

    • I found a lot of clammyweed that morning on a disturbed property in my neighborhood that’s been undergoing development. With so many specimens, I’d have been remiss if I didn’t come away with some good pictures.

      If I follow your thinking, the fact that a person gets value from buying something means that the cost of that something is zero. A car seemingly would cost nothing, then, given that it provides transportation to work, access to nature, etc. Does every purchased item therefore cost zero? Is there any purchased item that doesn’t cost zero?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2021 at 11:14 AM

  4. It looks like the garden flower Cleome. Did you get an ID for the caterpillar?

    Steve Gingold

    October 24, 2021 at 2:04 PM

  5. Very nice photos, both of them. I really like clammy weed, though I’ve never grown it. Might need to rectify that.


    October 24, 2021 at 3:07 PM

    • If you decide to follow through on that soon, let me know and I can give you the exact location on Lost Horizon Dr. where lots of clammyweed was growing so you can gather some seeds.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2021 at 4:22 PM

  6. Ha! You’ve been hanging around with the governmental bureaucrats responsible for budgeting. Clearly, they don’t work hard for their money. And if you ask them about it? They just ‘clammy’ up.


    October 24, 2021 at 3:59 PM

    • “Ha!” indeed: you figured out where I’m coming from. And no, those government drones don’t do honest work for their money. You’re funny with “‘clammy’ up.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2021 at 4:28 PM

  7. Those who work in the dining room kitchens here purchase truckloads of produce on accounts that cost them nothing.


    October 24, 2021 at 4:12 PM

    • It may not cost the people who work in the dining room kitchens, but the produce costs someone real money.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2021 at 4:29 PM

      • Yes, but it is still accurate to say, ” . . . the groceries cost me zero.” They cost someone or some institution real money, but not ‘me’. Nor would they cost ‘me’ anything if I just left the store without paying.


        October 24, 2021 at 7:56 PM

      • Oh, wait; they were paid for in the scenario.


        October 24, 2021 at 7:56 PM

        • Yes. I wanted to make clear in the scenario that someone does indeed pay real money, despite the strange claim that the groceries cost zero.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 24, 2021 at 9:07 PM

  8. I found one reference that said clammy weed is in the caper family, and is the host plant for the great southern white butterfly. This butterfly uses other host species also.

    Billye Adams

    October 24, 2021 at 4:15 PM

    • Thanks for your suggestion. I looked up the great southern white butterfly and found pictures of its caterpillars, which look similar but I think not identical to the one in my picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2021 at 4:44 PM

  9. […] dialogue that appeared at the end of yesterday’s post was one I created in response to a much-repeated claim that a proposed bill in Congress, despite […]

  10. I’m gonna play along – the person paid the amount stated on the register which could have been the true value of what was in the cart or just some random number.


    October 25, 2021 at 7:53 AM

    • Thanks for playing along, Nora. If you check the last part of this morning’s post, you’ll see what I was driving at.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2021 at 8:08 AM

  11. Such a mundane name for a truly beautiful flower!

    anna warren portfolio

    October 25, 2021 at 7:46 PM

    • Central Texas is home to dozens of native species with “weed” in their common names, all of which are attractive in their own ways. You recognized that here with clammyweed (whose name reflects the fact that the plant is somewhat gooey to the touch).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2021 at 7:57 PM

  12. If the person paid with a bad check or counterfeit bills, then it cost them nothing. Otherwise I’d say that claim was idiotic.

    Robert Parker

    October 25, 2021 at 7:59 PM

    • From the post that followed this one I think you’ve already seen that I made up the grocery-buying example as an analogy to the current American administration’s claim that a proposed $3.5 trillion spending bill would cost zero. Your mention of a bad check fits the fact that our government keeps borrowing enormous amounts of money it has no way to pay back. Your reference to counterfeit bills fits the unhappy reality that the government keeps printing huge amounts of currency with nothing to back it up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2021 at 8:55 PM

  13. Well, I know where you are going with this analogy because I have already read your next post but I do have to ask if Person A was indulging in extreme coupon shopping? https://youtu.be/byPTe9EUPtQ


    October 25, 2021 at 10:08 PM

    • Your reference to extreme coupon shopping is funny. Just think of $3.5 trillion in extreme governmental shopping.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 26, 2021 at 5:57 AM

      • I am trying but trillions are as much a puzzle to me as coupons.


        October 26, 2021 at 8:19 AM

        • You’re hardly the only person a trillion is a puzzle to. If you could count to a trillion at the rate of one number every second (which of course you can’t even come close to, given how long it takes to say a number like 385,469,371,842), it would take you 31,710 years! Methuselah was as nothing compared to that.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 26, 2021 at 10:16 AM

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