Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

Nope, no tennis balls in here. . . .

A question for the dog-owning subset of the hive mind:

On a typical evening here, the husband and I eat dinner while watching TV.1 When we're done, Sheba joins us on the couch, and generally falls asleep. At the end of an hour of TV-watching, the husband gets up to get something for dessert, and Sheba wakes up. Then he returns, and Sheba goes back to sleep for another 20 minutes to two hours, depending on how much TV we end up watching.

Lately, during the dessert intermission, Sheba has a few times tried to snap at me when I reached out to pet her. This is something she hadn't done before the last couple months. She also only does it with me, not with the husband, and only during the dessert intermission, not at other times of the day. I'm uncertain how serious about it she is -- she has made tooth-to-hand contact before, but generally doesn't, and I sort of have the impression that the one time she did, doing so was not her actual objective, 'cause she's not closing her mouth on my hand.

So far, we've been dealing with this by making her get off the couch when it happens and not letting her re-join us until some substantial period of time has passed (like 15-20 minutes?).

I looked on-line for something about this, and found a number of places saying, basically, not to get in a dog's face after it's been asleep 'cause they wake up cranky as much as people do, which works as far as suggesting what not to do in the future, but doesn't explain why she started doing this in the first place. The only thing I've noticed is that it seems to happen more on nights when we've given her bread.2 Which, I mean, she can't be thinking I'm going to take the bread from her, since she's already eaten it, but that's sort of what she's acting like.

So my questions are basically:

What's going on with her?
What should we be doing about it?
Is it possible that it's related to the bread, as it seems to be? How? If so, should we stop giving her bread, or is there another way to deal with it?


1 Recently we've been watching Friday Night Lights.
I am unable to come up with a less-interesting sounding premise (football coach in a small Texas town leads his team to the state championship, drama ensues), but I'm pretty certain it's #2 on my Most Beloved Shows of All-Time list,a largely because the relationship between Eric and Tami Taylor is the most realistic portrayal of a good marriage I've ever seen on television. Most shows would try to split them up, for the sake of creating drama, but FNL doesn't. I can't get enough of them. I could seriously watch hours of the Taylors doing their taxes or going grocery-shopping or whatever. This is totally not the point of the post, but I love, love, love the show and have been waiting for a moment to shoehorn a plug for it into the blog somewhere, so now I've done that and can finally relax.
     a The top ten is something like:
1. The Wire
2. Friday Night Lights
3. Angel / Buffy the Vampire Slayer (but only if I disregard the last two seasons of Buffy) (tie)
5. Breaking Bad (have only seen the first three seasons)
6. Firefly
7. Misfits
8. Dead Like Me
9. Louie
10. My So-Called Life (though it is critical to skip the Christmas episode)
2 Sheba looooooves bread, and is terrible about begging for it while we eat. She also doesn't like to eat it near us -- if we give in and give her a piece, she won't just flop down and eat it where she is: she'll pick it up and search for a place where she can't see us, and then she'll eat it there. She does this a little bit with other foods, but it's very pointed with the bread.
I can't be sure that she's only snapping at me on bread days; it didn't occur to me to make a connection until the last time or two, but since I came up with the theory, I can say for certain that she hasn't done it on days when she didn't get bread.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

List: PATSP All-Stars

"All-Stars" are those plants for which:

1) I have had at least one specimen, continuously, for at least three years,

2) which is still living,

3) and looks as good as, or better than, it did when first acquired, plus:

4) no specimen has ever had spider mites, scale, mealybugs, thrips, aphids, whitefly, cyclamen mites, or fungus (Fungus gnats are excluded, because fungus gnats don't do enough damage to the plants to count as pests, and it's often difficult to tell what plant they're residing in anyway.),

5) no established specimen has ever gone into an abrupt and irreversible decline (new cuttings/divisions/offsets may still do so, 'cause that's part of the process of getting established), and

6) the plant has been successfully propagated,

7) more than once.

I have something in the neighborhood of 400-450 distinct kinds (species / subspecies / cultivars / hybrids) of plants in the house right now, and I don't have any idea how many other kinds of plants I've attempted to grow in the past, but I figure it has to be at least a couple hundred. Out of all those, a mere nineteen meet the above criteria at the moment.

(NOTE: The pictures which follow are not necessarily of the original plant nor particularly current; even those photos which are of the original plant and current may not impress, because looking better than when the plant originally came to live here is a lower bar to clear for some of the plants than it is for others. Also the Philodendron hederaceum 'Brasil' picture isn't even of my own plant.)

Aloe 'Walmsley's Blue.'

Anthurium 'Gemini.'

Anthurium 'Orange Hot.'

Begonia NOID, rhizomatous type.

Chlorophytum x 'Fire Flash.'

Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana.'

Gasteraloe x beguinii. (Aloe aristata x Gasteria batesiana)

Nematanthus 'Tropicana.'

Peperomia obtusifolia, variegated.

Philodendron hederaceum, chartreuse version. (Possibly 'Aureum' or 'Lemon-Lime;' I've never had an official cultivar name.)

Philodendron hederaceum 'Brasil' or 'Brazil.'

Philodendron hederaceum micans.

Sedum morganianum.

Sedum rubrotinctum.

Synadenium grantii (green version).

Syngonium podophyllum NOID (possibly 'Neon').

Yucca guatemalensis, gray version.

Yucca guatemalensis, green version.

Yucca guatemalensis, yellow-margined version.

I don't know whether this would be useful information to anybody else, but there it is. Ordinarily with the List posts, I recommend three good ones and warn against one, but these are obviously all recommended, so we'll skip that part.

What are your All-Star plants, according to the above criteria?


Honorable mentions:

Honorable mentions are those which meet 6 of the 7 criteria. Depending on their reason for disqualification, some of these may move into the All-Star list eventually.
  • Aechmea fasciata (only one successful propagation)
  • Agave desmettiana (?), variegated (have only had ~1 1/2 years)
  • Agave victoriae-reginae (one's been here 4 1/2 years but never propagated; the other's been propagated more than once but has only been here for 2 years)
  • Aloe NOID, possibly 'Blue Elf' or A. x humilis (have only had 2 years)
  • Anthurium NOID w/ purple flowers (original is not as attractive as when first brought home)
  • Anthurium 'Pandola' (have only had ~2 1/2 years)
  • Begonia NOID cane-type (only one successful propagation)
  • Begonia x 'Erythrophylla' (have only had for 7 months)
  • Breynia disticha 'Roseo-Picta' (has had spider mites)
  • Codonanthe serrulata (have only had for 8 months)
  • Columnea microphylla (have only had for 8 months)
  • Echeveria coccinea (have only had 1 1/2 years)
  • Ficus elastica (has had spider mites)
  • Ficus microcarpa (has had spider mites)
  • Furcraea foetida 'Medio-Picta' (have only had for ~2 1/2 years)
  • Guzmania cv. (original is not attractive)
  • Hatiora salicornioides (has had spider mites)
  • Haworthia attenuata (specimens have abruptly declined)
  • Hoya carnosa 'Chelsea' (only one successful propagation)
  • Hoya carnosa 'Krimson Princess', solid-green revert (have not propagated >1 time)
  • Justicia scheidweileri (have only had 1 1/2 years)
  • Murraya paniculata (only one successful propagation)
  • Nematanthus NOID, orange-yellow flowers (specimens have abruptly declined)
  • Nematanthus NOID, orange flowers (have only had 2 1/2 years)
  • Pandanus veitchii, variegated (specimens have abruptly declined)
  • Peperomia pereskifolia (original plant got chopped back severely for propagation, so it doesn't look as good as it did initially)
  • Philodendron erubescens (?) 'Golden Emerald' (have only had 2 1/2 years)
  • Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii' (have only had about 2 1/2 years)
  • Selenicereus chrysocardium (have had about 2 1/2 years)
  • Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Tilt-a-Whirl' (has only been an official plant for less than one month; have likely owned for less than a year but I'm not actually sure when I got it)
  • Synadenium grantii, red/purple version (have only had for 1 1/2 years)
  • Tradescantia pallida (original plant has been restarted repeatedly, and at the moment does not look better than it did when new)
  • Tradescantia zebrina (original plant is not attractive)
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia (specimens have abruptly declined)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Random plant event: Breynia disticha

I knew that Breynia disticha (aka B. nivosa) was capable of suckering like this when planted outdoors as a landscape plant, but I didn't expect to see it indoors, on my own personal specimen. I figured my personal plant was probably not happy enough to do that: it's grown fine, but I'm sure it doesn't get as much light as it would prefer, and it has to endure the occasional drought, too.

And yet.

In fact, I noticed last Saturday when I was watering that a second sucker has popped up in the pot, though it is still very tiny and refused to photograph well.

The suckers sprout from the roots and are supposedly pretty easily pulled up, so I'm treating them gingerly for the moment, but suckering is plausibly a better route to propagation than taking cuttings, as long as the plant keeps producing them. Cuttings have only been working for me about 40-50% of the time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pretty picture: Phragmipedium Sargent Eric 'Timberlane'

And yet another case of a mis-tagged plant: the tag on this one was Phrag. Eric Sargeant 'Timberlane,' not Phrag. Sergeant Eric 'Timberlane.' So not only a misspelling, but also a word transposition as well. (EDIT: apparently this is just a really confusing situation; BrianO says in comments that it really was Sargent, named for one of the parent species, P. sargentianum. Which isn't what the tag said, and isn't what Google thinks -- Google favors "Sergeant Eric" -- either, but I'm going to stop complaining about this one being mis-tagged because clearly, no mere human could possibly have figured out the name of this hybrid on his/r own.)

There's also a lot of confusion regarding the proper spelling of "Sergeant," but that's not terribly surprising, 'cause it's a difficult word. One E sounding like an A, another E making no sound at all -- the whole word's just a madhouse, which is what we get for trying to take words from the French. Should have known the French would booby-trap their words to make them unstealable.

It took me long enough to figure out the name that I was left with no interest whatsoever in trying to track down the ancestry of this flower, but I did run into an interesting site in the process, which has pictures of quite a few Paphiopedilum hybrids. (Why a website about paph crosses should show up in a search for a particular phrag cross, I have no idea.) Lots of pictures isn't even the interesting part, though: the interesting part is that the flowers of the hybrids are sitting right next to pictures of the species that were crossed to produce them, so you can actually kind of see what characteristics came from which parent, and what happens when you swap one parent out and put in a different one, and that kind of thing. Our good friend Paph. St. Swithin is there (St. Swithin = Paph. philippinense x Paph. rothschildianum), and there's lots of great eye candy, whether you care about the genetics or not.

But you should totally care about the genetics.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Milestone: 2,000,000th page view

Yesterday, StatCounter recorded PATSP's two millionth page view.

Unlike with the one millionth hit, I wasn't watching StatCounter when it happened, so I don't know who was #2M or what they were looking for, but it's still an occasion worth marking.

I don't have much comment about this beyond noting that it's happened, but traditionally, these sorts of things are marked by photos of Gazanias (the Official Celebratory Flower of PATSP), so:

Elsewhere on the Web

UK readers may be interested to know that The Constant Gardener is having a seed giveaway this week. The seeds in question are outdoor garden plants, both ornamental and edible, and will go to whomever claims them first. See her post or Twitter feed for the list of what's available, more detailed rules, etc.