Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday morning Nina and/or Sheba picture

It's very difficult to get a decent picture of Sheba; she has a tendency to strike a perfect pose for just a few seconds less than the time it takes me to turn on the camera and start it autofocusing. So I get a lot of shots of her blurred back half running out of frame. Nina, who spends the bulk of her time sitting perfectly motionless, is a lot more cooperative. I'm just saying.

Sheba report:

Walking Sheba using the harness we got for Fervor works much better than using the leash-and-collar system we were doing before. I can't figure out why it would be that much different, from her perspective. Possibly she clued in to the whole "walking" thing and it just happened to coincide with changing to the harness. Whatever it is, walks have gotten much more enjoyable. So that's good.

And no, the harness is not ordinarily on her like this; I hadn't noticed when I took the picture that she'd stepped over the leash. I was concentrating on getting the picture.

We still haven't chosen a new name for her, after a week to think about it: she sort of responds to "Zeal,"1 more so than any of the other names under consideration (the leading three candidates for me, at least, are Anya,2 Yoshimi,3 and Maui,4 though I don't think Whiskey,5 Yoko,6 or Zeal have officially been ruled out.). And there's also the chance she'll remain "Sheba," because we're sort of used to calling her that, and she sort of responds to it.7

And then there's the puking thing. As of Thursday night, we've had Sheba for seven and a half days, and she's vomited three different times already. The first time doesn't count, because it was pretty obviously carsickness, but still. I gather from reading around the internet that throwing up is just something that dogs do from time to time, and it doesn't necessarily signify illness like it would for a person. Nor does she seem to be particularly uncomfortable during or after, so I'm not worried about it yet, but still -- this was not in the brochure.

Speaking of not in the brochure -- she got her anal glands emptied on Tuesday, but the smell is still around occasionally, if not as often as it used to be. Unpleasant, but perhaps it will pass.

She also enjoys ice cubes, begs for food a lot (though she's getting better about it -- we've agreed that we don't want to start feeding her people food, lest there be confusion about which people food she's allowed to eat, but sometimes it's hard to restrain myself 'cause of how she's adorable), and is, variously: obsessive about birds, pretty interested in squirrels, bewildered by snakes, scared of cats, and desperate to meet other dogs, all of them, even the ones who are clearly barking at her in a threatening manner. She spends a lot of her day attempting to determine exactly where I and the husband are, so she can sit down precisely in between us. (This is more complicated when one of us is upstairs and the other is in the basement, but she does the best she can.) She's not entirely disinterested in the plants, as Fervor seemed to be, but I haven't actually seen her try to chew anything. The biggest problem to date has been that she's gotten into the orchid bark once and the empty plastic pots twice. No real damage either time (though she may have eaten a little of the orchid bark), but it's something that needs to be watched.

Sheba being bewildered by a garter snake.

Otherwise, it looks like things are pretty much working out. It's different, obviously, and we're all still adjusting, but it seems like this is going to be okay.


1 Chosen to parallel "Fervor."
2 I think Anya is the female "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" character to whom I best relate. Tara was excluded from consideration because the husband's former cat was named Tara (not after the "Buffy" character), but I probably would have gone with Anya anyway. (EDITED TO ADD: Anya also fits her personality better than some of the other options.)
3 From the Flaming Lips song (and album) "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots;" Sheba responds slightly to "Yoshimi" too but it's probably too many syllables to use for this. Also it gets the song stuck in my head.
4 The husband lived in Maui off and on for an extended period during his misspent youth.
5 From the character in "Dollhouse."
6 From Yoko Ono. "Ono" was rejected as a name because of the danger of accidentally calling the dog every time something bad happened, though I prefer its sound to that of "Yoko." (EDITED TO ADD: Personality is entirely wrong for Yoko, though the husband noted that if we named her that, we could attach a tiny pair of scissors to her collar so people could cut off pieces of her fur. [We would not actually do this, as it would be dangerous.])
7 People have been calling her this for about a month now, so she's kind of used to it, but I don't think she responds to then name as much as tone of voice. I mean, we could still change it if we wanted. We don't know what her name was before she was a stray.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pretty picture: Miltoniopsis Keiko Komoda

Another orchid picture from the show in Bettendorf last Saturday. Before sitting down to write this post, I'd thought that Miltoniopsis was a multigeneric hybrid (a hybrid from two or more genera of plant, as opposed to the more typical hybrids from multiple species within a genus) of some kind, maybe Miltonia crossed with Phalaenopsis or something, but it turns out that no, Miltoniopsis is in fact its own genus of six species (wikiposedly), from Central America and the northernmost parts of South America. They're always quite pretty in the pictures (and not bad in real life either, as far as it goes), though one doesn't see them for sale very often.

These are the orchids called "pansy orchids," for their resemblance to pansies (Viola cvv.). It's not a perfect similarity, but I can see where they get the name.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Question for the Hive Mind: ferny-looking outdoor NOID

I feel like I should probably know what this is already; it looks somehow both really familiar (could we have sold these at the garden center?) and really foreign (surely I'd remember seeing these before, if they were as weedy as they appear to be?). These have been coming up around town in the last couple weeks, especially in ditches and vacant lots.

Not an uninteresting plant, in any case. If you need a closer (or better-focused) look, the picture is much bigger when opened in a separate window.

UPDATE: Okay, duh. I am informed in comments that this is Queen Anne's lace, Daucus carota. Which makes perfect sense. I guess I've never known what it was unless it had flowers on it, and haven't paid the foliage any attention before.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pretty pictures: Anthurium andraeanum cvv.

I've mentioned before, probably more than once, that I generally have at least one Anthurium blooming at any given moment. Here's what I had going on March 23. Just 'cause.

A NOID pink flower, from my longest-lived Anthurium (at one time, I suspected 'Cotton Candy,' but I've never had any idea; pink Anthuriums are pretty common. The photo didn't really reproduce the color well: it's basically just a medium pink, like bubble-gum pink.). The plants had been around forever, and I cut them back maybe a year and a half ago or two years ago, I don't remember, and tried to root the tops in water and then soil. This is a bad idea. Don't do that. I lost about half of the cuttings, and the ones that have survived are only now getting around to flowering again, and look pathetic anyway. It's not impossible to restart Anthuriums, but don't do it the way I did.

Technically not flowers yet, but they will be. These are buds of 'Red Hot.' As you can see from the photo, 'Red Hot' isn't exactly red, but it's kind of a red-pink. The more exciting part for me personally is that the leaves start out sort of a red-orange, and gradually change to green as they age, which is pretty.

I tried to adjust the color on this to match reality a little better, but failed. This is 'Orange Hot,' a name which is a lie, being neither orange nor especially hot. It's a really interesting color, but nobody at work was fond of it, and it didn't sell that well either: in person it's a kind of pink-orange color that made me think of the "flesh" color of certain (Caucasian) dolls. In some situations, it was attractive, but it tended to clash with anything that was around it. I have one anyway, of course, and it's a pretty agreeable plant: this particular plant has a bud on it too.

I don't have an official ID for this, but people suggested 'Purple Plum' and 'Anouk' as possibilities when I first posted about it. It's one of the more consistent bloomers as long as I water it properly; it stops if I let it get too dry, but only for a couple weeks.

'Pacora' is another good one: the spathes are larger than those on most of my plants, they're a nice, solid red (the spadices vary from light yellow, as shown here, to green, to yellow with a green tip - I haven't figured out what determines the spadix color), the new leaves come in reddish, as for 'Red Hot,' and it's a very consistent bloomer.

'Pandola' has large pink blooms, sometimes with a little green in the "ears," which turn lighter pink as they age. This flower is a very old one, on the verge of turning yellow, but it's still not looking too bad, considering it's probably been around for two or three months.

These are more typical of the 'Pandola' color, though they'll be a little lighter than this when they open.

'Florida' is one I've photographed for the blog quite a bit, but it's just so darn photogenic, I can't help myself. And this bloom was there, ready for a photo. So. Unlike 'Orange Hot,' it's a real orange kind of orange, and like 'Pandola,' it also frequently has a little green around the "ears," which you can see in this picture.

I have other varieties here, including a couple red-violets and a white, but they weren't blooming on the 23rd. Perhaps another time.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Random plant event: Stapelia NOID flower bud

I discovered this during the last round of watering, on the 22nd. I'd seen the Stapelia start a number of buds since I bought it last summer, but most of them aborted while still tiny, and I'd pretty much given up on looking for flowers around November.

Which all means that by the time I found this one, it was already huge, roughly 6 inches (15 cm) from tip to base. I'm not especially looking forward to the smell, but I will be interested in getting a definite ID for it. Obviously updates will be forthcoming once something happens.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pretty picture: Masdevallia Prince Charming

This is one of the orchids from Saturday's orchid show in the Quad Cities. Full-size view is recommended.

I don't have a lot to say about the orchid, which I think is pretty self-evidently cool, and any commentary I had would be roughly along the lines of hey, isn't this orchid pretty self-evidently cool?, which seems like a waste of your time and mine.

In Sheba news:

As of Day 3, the allergies are still a complete non-issue, which is awesome. The slight amount of reaction I had at the animal shelter when we first picked her up appears to have been from her environment, not the dog herself; since we bathed her on Friday, I haven't even had a small reaction. Unlike Fervor, too, she can play-bite me without it being a problem, though it's rare for her to try.

On the other hand, her anal glands need to be emptied (which we'll take her to a vet as soon as we can, but in the meantime this is not an endearing quality, and sometimes I have to back away from her because the smell is too much, which she of course doesn't understand). She whines when crated, though usually not for very long. She appears to bore easily, which is both good (probably pretty smart, then?) and bad (going to need more toys, play, and direct interaction?). She's agonizing to walk: she clearly hasn't been on a leash much, doesn't know how it works, weighs about 50 pounds (23 kg) and is very easily distracted by birds and squirrels. Both of which are everywhere at the moment.

She does seem to have figured out pretty quickly that she's not allowed on the furniture, she seems to be totally housetrained, she appears to understand that she's not to go into the basement (we have the stairs blocked off, but it's not like she couldn't jump the barricade if she wanted to: when we tried blocking the plant room, she jumped over the block just fine), and she hasn't done anything obvious to any of the plants, if anything at all.

So it's not all bad, or even mostly bad, and the problems we have are fixable, but at the moment, this whole anal-gland situation means I don't enjoy her a whole lot inside, and her unwalkability means I don't look forward to being outside with her either. And I feel kind of bad that I'm not happier about her being here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Random plant event: Zamioculcas zamiifolia leaflets sprouting

The longish essay-type thing I had planned for today first turned into a different post than I had intended to write, and neither the original idea nor the new one were ready by the time I woke up yesterday. Also the coffeemaker has decided to stop working, plus we'd already been planning to go to the Illowa Orchid Society Spring Show at Wallace's, in Bettendorf (~1 hour away) yesterday so that I could get new and exciting pictures of new and exciting orchids for you guys, but then we had to figure out what to do with [not?-]Sheba when we went, because if we took her there was a good chance she'd yak in the car and be miserable, but if we didn't, she'd be alone in the house and be miserable, and then also plus I had to start the watering cycle again because I had Salvia elegans wilting in the basement already.

So yesterday just kind of didn't work. On a number of levels. And instead of the thoughtful, psychologically penetrating post that I'd thought I would post today, you get a long, drawn-out series of excuses and a couple kind of ugly pictures of baby Zamioculcas plants.

I don't know when these were started for sure; they came from plants that came into work with a few of their leaves broken off. If I'm remembering everything correctly, that means I've had these for either 13 or 17 months. Growing Zamioculcas from leaflets is really not worth the time and effort unless you do it on a pretty large scale, and maybe it's not worth it then, either. There's also the disappointment where sometimes even after you get a leaflet to sprout and nurture it along for a year, it'll still fall over and die on you if you give it too much water (has happened to me). Or it will just sit there doing nothing for ages if you don't give it enough water. But it's kinda fun, if you have the space, aren't made unhappy by looking at dirt for a year and a half, and have a really flexible definition of the word "fun."

On the more positive side of yesterday, the trip to Wallace's netted me a few months' worth of orchid pictures, and they're mostly prize-winning orchids of genera we haven't seen at PATSP before, so that much was very worthwhile. There were orchids for sale all over the place, too, but I think I have decided that orchids are just not going to be one of my things: I don't seem to have a natural talent for growing them, and learning seems likely to involve a lot of plant corpses and even more money. Certainly the flowers are often breathtaking, but I don't need to have all the plants I see, not really.

I did buy an Iresine herbstii, though, and had a nice conversation with one of the employees (Kate Terrell, Nursery Manager), because she e-mailed me after running across PATSP somehow, and she told me I should introduce myself if/when I visited for the orchid show. We had a nice conversation, and of course it's very gratifying to have somebody in Eastern Iowa taking blogs and the internet seriously, particularly when it's my blog. There may be more on this later. The conversation got cut short when she was called away to handle a tree question, and my camera's batteries died shortly thereafter, so we left without getting a proper well it was nice to meet you in, but we'll be back at some point, and y'all may see more references to Wallace's in the future.

As for Sheba, we left her crated at home while we were gone, after first taking her on a long and extremely frustrating walk (Sheba does not yet see the walks as a collaborative activity), and playing with her until almost the exact moment we left. So she probably slept through most of the time we were gone, or at least that was the plan. If she was upset by being left alone at all, she appears not to be holding it against us.