Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

This is a little blurry because it was taken (via a side mirror) while the car was in motion, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

This week was the anniversary week of bringing Sheba home from the shelter. I checked my personal journal to confirm this, and ran into the list of names we were considering for her.

One option I'd considered privately, but didn't include in the poll, was "Pandora," after the contestant from Season 2 of RuPaul's Drag Race, and I kinda wish I'd gone with that now, since it's nicely symmetrical with Nina (also a RPDR contestant name) and Pandora is my favorite from that season, like Nina was my favorite from the first season.

This would have obligated us to get a third pet a year later, who we would have had to name Yara, and then a fourth pet this year named Chad, Sharon, or Latrice,1 so it's probably all for the best that I never got started down this particular road. We only have just so much in the budget for pet food. (Though the idea of a pet guinea pig named Yara is surprisingly compelling. . . .)


I am occasionally still bothered by the name "Sheba." It's not that I find it objectionable on its own; it's just that we didn't pick it out, so there's no personal significance to her name; it doesn't reflect our tastes or whatever. And then sometimes I'm concerned when we're telling someone else her name, that they'll think we picked it out, and I want to make sure they know we didn't, which doesn't even make sense because it's not like Fervor wouldn't come across as way more off-putting and harder to explain.2 In any case, I'd wondered whether going with the shelter-assigned name would bother me, back when we were making the decision, and it turns out that yes, it does. Lesson learned.


1 I can't decide on a favorite this year! On the one hand, Sharon Needles is originally Iowan, and very weird and creative (I'm particularly fond of her plastic surgery and pea-green/coral glam outfits.), and has the best name.
But Latrice, though not quite as fabulous with the outfits (check out her Ursula hair and makeup, though), is still a lot of fun to watch, and it would be awfully nice for a big girl to win a season, especially after stick-thin Raja won last year.
Chad Michaels has done the most outfits I've found jaw-dropping (the gold/hologram dress, the Florence Welch dress, and most recently an AMAZING green 50s politician's-wife number (full view, close-up).
I don't ordinarily give a damn about fashion, but it seems like there's always one runway outfit every week that I find fascinating, and I've become mildly obsessed with the show this year, which is new. The point being that I have no idea who is my favorite for Season 4. I'd be happy with Chad, Sharon, or Latrice as winner, though I think if I were forced to choose one, I'd pick Chad.
Which would make a terrible pet name.
2 Our next dog will of course be named "Rural Juror."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New plant: Ficus benjamina

I know what you're thinking. You're writing a post to tell us you got a Ficus benjamina? Who, exactly, did you think would care?

And okay. I'll grant that this is not a particularly exciting plant to be talking about. But it's not so much about what I got as how I got it.

Also you don't have to be so mean.

It was basically a case of somebody coming up to the house, knocking on the door, and asking if we wanted a Ficus -- one of our neighbors had one which had outgrown its spot in their house, and they were looking for someone to take it, being the gist.1 When I actually walked to their house (about a block away), to see the plant, it didn't look that bad. I mean, it was a house I'd never been in before, so I didn't have much sense of what was "normal" for the space, but I'd originally pictured some 8-foot tall, five-foot wide monster in a 100-pound ceramic pot, with branches growing horizontally along the ceiling, and it was nothing like that. The (clay) pot was maybe eleven inches (28 cm) in diameter, which is big, but, you know, I've probably got twenty plants that are in pots bigger than eleven inches. So no big deal.

So I agreed to take it home, and the pot got broken along the way, for reasons which aren't really very interesting and would take a lot of time to explain properly. So I had to find a new pot to move it into, and it turned out that the only one I had that was big enough was 16 inches (41 cm) in diameter.

As it was sort of an emergency and I didn't have any other options, I went ahead and used the 16-inch pot,2 and . . . that thing happened. You know that thing? The thing where when you have a small plant in a small pot, and then you move it into a big pot, it suddenly looks like the plant got bigger too, even though you know that only the pot changed size? That happened.

Oh, shit.

So now I have a new plant that's about 4 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide, all of a sudden, in a house that was already kind of full to overflowing with plants, and no place to put it. I mean, we'll figure something out -- I could never turn away a Ficus in need -- but this isn't quite what I thought I was getting into when I said yes. When PATSP gets made into a sitcom, this will have to be one of the episodes.

P.S. For the record, I gave her a plant back, to fill the new empty spot in her house. (She picked one of the variegated Yuccas.)
P.P.S. She also said I could go over and dig up some of her Sempervivums and Mertensias sometime if I wanted to plant some here. Not sure about the Mertensia -- there's not really a good spot for one right now, though I do want one eventually -- but I'll definitely take her up on the Sempervivums.


1 You might think that our plant-crammed windows had something to do with this, but no. We weren't even the first or second household they asked. (Maybe we looked like we had enough plants already?)
2 I would ordinarily never do this, or advise anybody to do this. The general rule of thumb is to go up two inches (5 cm) at a time, so I should have moved it to a 13-inch clay pot, ideally. I went ahead and jumped it five inches in one go because: it sort of needed to be repotted anyway (it wasn't bad, but close enough), the two-inch rule matters less once you get into the really big pots, and Ficus roots are so aggressive and robust anyway that the plant will likely fill the pot within a year regardless. I'm semi-inclined to keep it outside this summer, in which case having some extra soil there will help keep it moist when I forget to water it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum Hsinying Makurow x Paph. Raisin Magic

And the 2012 orchid pictures begin. (Hooray?)

There will be a lot of Paphiopedilums this year; this isn't because I was obsessed with them or anything. (I like them, enough to attempt to grow one, but nothing beyond that.) They just seemed to have a lot more of them this year. As always, a lot of the plants were crammed so closely together that it was more or less impossible to get decent pictures of some of them (you'll notice a stray Phalaenopsis in the background on the left, and a ribbon -- I swear they gave every plant that showed up a ribbon, and then the ribbons were all angling themselves to get into my pictures), and the way some of the displays were set up, a lot of nice plants went unphotographed because I couldn't get close enough. Not that I didn't get plenty of photos anyway: my point is just that there was a higher percentage of paphs than in previous years, and the paphs were also in more accessible displays, for the most part. Hence lots of paph pictures.

As usual, it was impossible to distinguish smells, there being too many scented plants (and not a few fragrant people) around and lots of air currents, so that piece of information will be lacking, again, for this year's pictures. Which is sad. Even if I could distinguish individual smells, though, it's not like I have an easy way to record them for later discussion, so maybe it's better this way.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Walkaway: Tillandsia dyeriana

It's occurred to me that there have already been a couple weeks when I probably could have mailed plants out and didn't, even though I wasn't expecting suitable weather for that until end of April / beginning of May. So, I'm trying to get prices set and photos done so we can go ahead and begin with the selling and trading. (You'll know when I'm ready to start mailing stuff out by the cold snap that will hit Iowa.1) I spent the better part of Sunday taking pictures; we'll see how long it takes to get them rotated / cropped / colored / etc.

Anyway. I needed 4-inch grower pots, perlite, and aquatic soil, so I went to Iowa City on Friday, where I saw the most interesting new bromeliad I've seen in quite a while:

Not that the foliage is so fascinating -- as you can (kinda) see, it's basically just a dull green, medium length, medium width kind of deal -- but the inflorescence is pretty striking.

(Particularly striking is how the pure white flowers turn nearly pure black when they die.)

It's apparently not a particularly difficult plant to grow, but I passed it up because it was priced at $20, and I have no positive past Tillandsia experiences,2 so it didn't seem worth it. Not that $20 for a 4-inch pot could ever seem reasonable, but . . . well. You know what it's like; I don't have to explain it to you.


1 Not really: you'll know because I'll put up a post about it.
2 I like T. cyanea in theory, and managed to keep one alive for five years, but it never grew very much, it didn't rebloom, it tried to offset a couple times but then the offsets died, and eventually it rotted out and died. My best guess is that it probably wanted more light than it was getting.