Saturday, December 31, 2016

Samba Brazil again

My Samba Brazil Thanksgiving cactus is in full bloom now.  I can't stop looking at it.  It's so beautiful.

Schlumbergera truncata Samba Brazil

Friday, December 30, 2016

Twinkle Twinkle LIttle Star

I've had another orchid opening for the past couple days, Oncidium Twinkle 'Fantasy".

Oncidium Twinkle 'Fantasy'

It's a cute little miniature-ish Oncidium, with sweet little flowers.  I got this almost exactly one year ago as a small division, and this is its first bloom.

Oncidium Twinkle 'Fantasy'

Pretty little yellow and white flowers, which are scented like chocolate! 

Oncidium Twinkle 'Fantasy'

It's put on a lot of growth this year, at least six new pseudobulbs, and I'm looking forward to bigger and even better floral displays in years to come.  Three spikes is very good for a first blooming, but I've seen this type absolutely covered in spikes, with hundreds of flowers!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Abalone shell sky

Such a pretty sunset tonight.

Amazing sunset 12.29.16

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Oh hello!

After 14 years and 204,001 miles, my trusty green 2003 Subaru Forester has been retired.  Hopefully it will be refurbished and go on to serve someone else for a good while.

Meet my new 2017 Subaru Outback!


This is by far the fanciest car I have ever owned.  I don't really need all the bells and whistles electronic gadgety things like Sirius radio and touchscreen and backup camera and Bluetooth-to-phone and LED displays, but apparently that newfangled stuff is popular now.

I will say, though, that I am LOVING the heated seats.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Shouldn't be unusual

Today Emma was at her dad's in Walla Walla for Christmas Eve.  Since we meet in Pendleton to hand her back and forth, and I didn't want to make the trip there and back over the mountain from La Grande twice in one day (snow, ice, bad driving conditions, semi-trucks being stupid, cars off the road... but at least the highway wasn't closed...), I was going to spend the day with some friends in Pendleton.

However, my friends ended up having to go out of town unexpectedly about half an hour after I got there.  So I was left at loose ends for the rest of the day until I could collect Emma.  Not exactly how I would choose to spend Christmas Eve, but oh well.

I ended up going to TriCities and spending most of the day at a park along the Columbia River.  While I was there someone told me that I had a tail light out, so after my walk I went and got a new bulb and installed it right there in the parking lot.  While I was working, a man and his young son, probably about 5 years old, walked up to their big pickup parked next to me.  It was a manly-man truck:  lift kit, big tires, spotlights, gun rack, dangly bits hanging from the trailer hitch, the whole nine yards.  They were both dressed in camo.  Manly men, don't you know.

The little boy was very interested in what I was doing.  He looked at me, standing there with my socket wrench in hand, the tail light assembly of my car hanging by its wires, and asked what I was doing.  I told him that one of my lightbulbs was burned out and I was replacing it so I would be safe while I was driving.

He watched until I was done (it doesn't take long to replace a bulb), looking me over carefully.  Then he turned to his dad and said "Well that's something you don't see every day.  She's using tools! Her fingernail polish is fancier than Mom's and she's getting her hands all dirty.  Why doesn't she have her MAN do that?" (Emphasis was his.)

Without even thinking, I responded "I don't need a man to do this for me.  I can handle it by myself, and my hands are washable. You should know better than to say something like that about girls."

The boy looked at me in surprise, the dad looked at me in anger, and they left in their manly-man truck.  I probably shouldn't have said that to a stranger's child, but it made me so mad!

I am perfectly capable of doing most things that need to be done.  Even if I do have fancy fingernail polish. Ugh. People are so... ugh.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Samba Brazil

Today's bloom is on a Thanksgiving cactus named Samba Brazil.

Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) Samba Brazil

I got this plant this fall, succumbing to the lure of pictures posted by other people on an online plant forum.

Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) Samba Brazil

I have no regrets (do I ever?) because this is about the most beautiful Christmas/Thanksgiving cactus I've ever seen.

Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) Samba Brazil

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Southern Africa in my basement

Today I have two more very cool succulents blooming under the lights in the basement.  Both of these are native to southern Africa.  Southern Africa has very interesting plants.

This first one is Pleiospilos nelii.  I've shown this species before, when one of the other plants in my round planter was in bud.  This is a different individual, but the flowers are the same.  They're only open during the day, so I missed seeing that first one in October fully open.  As you can see, I almost missed this one- I hope the next one blooms on the weekend!

Pleiospilos nelii

I'm apparently unable to resist "rescuing" these when I see them in a store, because I know that more than likely they'll be overwatered, rot, and die a horrible tragic mushy death if I leave them there. They're such cute plants that I just can't let that happen.  That's why I have... umm... I think... eight of them?  Ha, oh well!

Next up is Faucaria tigrina.  It's also in the Mesambryanthemacea family, along with Pleiospilos nelii, living stones (Lithops), and many others.  This one has little alligator-jaw leaves, with soft teeth along the edges.  It looks very fierce.

Faucaria tigrina

Plants are so much fun.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Amaryllis 3 and 4

My third amaryllis for the year is called Candy Floss.  This is a new bulb for me, and I'm quite pleased with it.

Candy Floss amaryllis

It's a very vibrant pink, with pretty streaks.  There are two scapes, and the second should be about ready to open just when the first is done. Nice!

The fourth amaryllis is a re-bloom from last season, Blossom Peacock.  This is quite a different bloom from what it did before.  Last time it was much streakier and darker, as seen in June

Blossom Peacock amaryllis

I'm not sure why it's so much lighter this time around, but possibly because it's been less than six months since it bloomed and the scape formed when it was still warm.  I dunno, but it's still pretty and has the same fragrance as last time.

Last but not least, here's a no-ID Thanksgiving cactus blooming, a very pretty white blushed with shell pink.

Thanksgiving cactus NOID white

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Always something in bloom

The fun thing about having so many plants is that I always have flowers.  This is a little succulent called Echeveria minima. It's related to the common hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum) that are found in many outdoor gardens, but Echevaria will not tolerate extended freezing temperatures. I have this inside under lights for the winter with the rest of the cactus and succulents.

Echeveria minima

I got this from Home Depot (or Lowes, can't remember which, but a big box store in any case) about three months ago, just because it was so cute. Some types of Echeveria get huge, but this one stays small.

It came in a 2.5" pot, and looked fairly miserable in its little ball of dried out and compacted peat soil.  I repotted it into a coarse, well-draining medium and a 3.5" pot.  It quickly perked up, started growing, and is now blooming on two spikes!

Echeveria minima

The flowers are pretty, understated and subtle.  However, I most particularly like how the flower in this photograph, from this angle, looks like a sideways penguin-squid.

Friday, December 09, 2016

TWO Masdevallias!

Remember how excited I was about my very first Masdevallia flower?  Well, now BOTH of my Masdevallia strobelii plants are blooming! 

Madevallia strobelii (small form on left, big form on right)

Both of these are from Ecuagenera, picked up at the Portland orchid show last April.  The one on the left is the small form, and the the one on the right is the big form.

The big form has five flowers!

Masdevallia strobelii (big form)

And the small form has seven!

Madevallia strobelii (small form)

Madevallia strobelii (small form)

These are growing right next to each other on the same windowsill, so they get the same light and temperature.  The only cultural difference is the pot size, but I've noticed that they dry out at about the same rate because the big one has more root mass. I'm glad they're both blooming at the same time so I can show a good comparison.

The small form, unsurprisingly, has a smaller overall plant form in both leaf size and height. However, on this blooming anyway, the small form has slightly larger flowers that are much more yellow.  They are both scented quite strongly, especially in the sun, and I can't tell any difference in scent.

Madevallia strobelii (small form on left, big form on right)

They are both beautiful.

Monday, December 05, 2016


The second amaryllis of the 2016/2017 season is open!

(I'm counting the surprise summer scape on Red Lion 2008 as the first.  If you click on the link to open the post on the surprise scape, you can see what a difference temperature makes in the flower color.  Cooler temperature equals redder blooms.)

Red Lion (2014), first amaryllis bloom of 2106

This is the 2014 Red Lion, and is its third blooming for me.  This is the one that had two scapes last year, but only one is showing so far this year.  Time will tell if there's another in the works.

Also opening today is this Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), a variety named Claudia. 

Thanksgiving cactus "Claudia"

Very pretty, and I didn't have a red/white variety, so yay!

I got this as a freebie plant when I ordered a couple other plants from Whitton's Greenhouses earlier this fall.  I'm telling you, I should just disconnect my internet.  It makes it way too easy to buy plants.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Pink cacti

I have these two pretties blooming right now.  This first one is exciting because I got this cactus last summer and this is its first blooming for me.

This is Mammillaria huitzilopochtli, a species native to southern Mexico.

Mammillaria huitzilopochtli

There is a complete ring of buds around the plant, but only about a third of them are open at the moment.

Mammillaria huitzilopochtli

I love the little flat starburst spines. I'm quite pleased that this plant is happy.  It's so pretty!

Mammillaria huitzilopochtli

I also have my first Thanksgiving cactus flowers of the year opening.

NOID pink Thanksgiving cactus

This is a plant that I started from a piece off the floor at a store (can't remember which, maybe Walmart or Home Depot).  It rooted and grew well, but then languished for several years, ignored in old soil and a too-small pot.  I repotted it this summer and it took off with new growth, and now several stems have two or three flowers each.

NOID pink Thanksgiving cactus

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dumbledore got it right.

"I say to you all, once again - in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

It is my belief - and never have I so hoped that I am mistaken - that we are all facing dark and difficult times. Some of you in this Hall have already suffered directly at the hands of Lord Voldemort. Many of your families have been torn asunder. A week ago, a student was taken from our midst.

Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”

-Albus Dumbledore  (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, 2000)

Emma and I were listening to this book on CD this afternoon, and this passage jumped out at me like it never has before.  It takes place at the end of the fourth Harry Potter book, when Voldemort is newly returned to power and Cedric Diggory has just been murdered.  Harry is traumatized and the school is in shock.

Cedric was killed, not because he was a threat or powerful or anything other than ordinary, but because he was just in the way.  Voldemort saw no value in him, marginalized him, and decided that he wasn't worth having around.  Voldemort didn't even kill Cedric himself, he ordered one of his followers, Wormtail, to do the actual deed.

When a leader draws violence, hatred, disrespect, and discord from his followers - condones it, orders it, encourages it, and demonstrates it in his personal conduct - then that person is no fit leader at all.

On the flip side, people can't follow blindly or justify their behavior by pointing to the words, or even actions, of a person in power.  As a society, we have the power to shape what happens over the next few years.  Because yes, Lord Voldemort's gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great.  But it can only spread if we let it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

No, really, I'd like to wake up now please.

Dear Rest of the World,

I know, I can't believe it either.  I'm so, so sorry.

A Rational American

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Could be worse...

Some people have destructive addictions.  Me?  I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't gamble, and I don't have any debts except my mortgage.

Hi, my name is Sue and I collect plants.

New amaryllis, round 1

This is my new batch of amaryllis bulbs, the first two (of four) orders from this fall.  At least this addiction is relatively harmless, and I get pretty flowers.

I have no idea where I'm going to put them.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Masdevallia strobelii

For all the many years that I have grown orchids, I resisted getting Masdevallia orchids.  They are a little pickier, like cooler conditions, and just aren't as easy as other common orchids like Phalaenopsis.  They're pretty, but I resisted.

Until this year.

I got two Masdevallias off the internet last winter, and I got two at the Portland orchid show in April.  Neither of the mail order ones has bloomed yet, but I'm feeling good that they haven't died and have both grown new leaves.  One of the ones from Portland came with buds that eventually bloomed, so that was fun to see but I couldn't really take credit for those flowers.

But NOW!!!  Look!  This is the very first Masdevallia flower that has ever formed entirely under my care!  I am triumphant!

Masdevallia strobelii (big form, from Ecuagenera)

This is Masdevallia strobelii, the large form from Ecuagenera (an Ecuadorean orchid company).  I also have the small form, which is the one that came in bud and bloomed last spring.  The flowers on both forms seem to be about the same size, but the leaves on the large form are... larger.  Strangely enough. Ha!

Masdevallia strobelii (big form, from Ecuagenera)

The flowers are fragrant, and this is is such a sweet little orchid.  I am delighted.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pleurothallis grobyi blooming

Finally, one of the little Pleurothallis grobyi is blooming in the 12x12x18 terrarium, the one I got in April from Ecuagenera when I went to the orchid show in Portland.  This is actually its third bloom spike, but unfortunately, the first two were munched by snails.  I had not been aware that I had snails in this terrarium, but have since gone on a snail hunting expedition.  I harbor no illusions that I got them all, but will continue to be vigilant and will get as drastic as needed.

Anyway, isn't it pretty!

Pleurothallis grobyi

Each bloom on this diminutive little orchid is 3/8" tall, and each leaf is about 1/2" long.

Pleurothallis grobyi

They are so delicate and dainty.  And hard to photograph!

Pleurothallis grobyi

I just love the way this terrarium is developing.

Pleurothallis grobyi

Thursday, October 20, 2016

America, please. Really.

OK, I just have to say this.  I'll preface it by stating that I don't enjoy politics, but I do think that being informed is important.  And unfortunately, that means that listening to politicians talk is sometimes necessary.

American voters, please use your brains.

When I watched the presidential candidates debate last night, I kept a running list of notes to myself on how each of them was responding and what they were saying.

Here's the gist of my list for Clinton:
  • On topic
  • On topic
  • Intelligent response to a tangent instigated by Trump
  • On topic
  • Comparison of her experience vs his: Public service vs shady business and frivolous TV shows.
  • Unity. Diversity. Empowerment.
  • He denies responsibility for his actions and statements.
  • He has a pattern of divisiveness.
  • On topic
  • On topic. Statement of semi-attainable goals and path.
  • Visibly frustrated with his rhetoric
  • On topic, some redirection
  • On topic
  • Closing statement: I work for children and families. Unity. Progress. I will work for America and together we will rise to where we should be.

And here's the gist of my list for Trump:
  • No, you’re the puppet.
  • Whine
  • All these people endorse me because I’m great, and they’ve never endorsed someone this early before so that makes me even greater!
  • You’re a liar
  • Her plan is a disaster
  • [adjusts microphone]
  • Drugs, criminals… Pouring across the border…
  • I heard your current question but here’s some more response to what we were talking about 10 minutes ago
  • [adjusts microphone]
  • That question is something that I heard something about sometime, but here’s a convoluted and unintelligible series of phases that try to confuse you so that you don’t realize I don’t actually understand the topic.
  • Everything is a disaster now because of her and Obama
  • [adjusts microphone]
  • She totally lied. I was right.
  • "Excuse me. My turn." No one is allowed to interrupt me.
  • Squinty smirk.
  • She gave us ISIS.
  • I don’t know those women. Those stories are all totally false and Hillary put them up to it.
  • Nobody has more respect for women than I do.
  • [adjusts microphone for the thousandth time]
  • Moderator: Will you accept the results of the election? Donald: I’ll look at it at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. Hillary should not be allowed to run.
  • "Wrong. Wrong." Sigh. Heavy sigh. Squinty grimace. Whine.
  • Syrian refugees are definitely aligned with ISIS
  • Such a nasty woman.
  • Closing statement: Hillary is a disaster. America is a disaster. I'll make America great again. Hillary is awful.

My favorite line from the debate, though? When the moderator said "Mr. Trump, I’m not a potted plant here. I would like to ask some questions and I would like to ask you this direct question."  That was priceless.

Publicly endorsing a political candidate is not something that I've ever done, but I think it's pretty clear from those lists which way I'm voting this time around. There are things about Clinton that disturb me, and there have been for decades, but few (if any) redeeming characteristics that I can see for Trump. I'm still in shock that he actually won the candidacy.

This goes beyond just me personally not agreeing with a platform or policies or a candidate's opinion on a hot-button issue. This is an issue of character and integrity and morals. This is a fundamental, gut-level fear of what will happen if Trump is elected.

I debated posting this rant at all, but I needed to say it.

So I ask you, America. Please please please think before you vote.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Inside and outside

Inside my house, the Gastrochilus somai orchid is blooming!


Each flower is about half an inch tall, and both spikes are covered in flowers.  These have been open for two weeks now, and are so pretty.  I love their sweet lemony fragrance.


Outside my house, things have taken a definite turn toward fall.


The trees are at about peak color right now and I really need to get out and take some whole-tree shots, because wow.  Seems like they are extra bright this year.


Also, this happened on Monday.  First snow on top of Mt Emily, just north of La Grande,

Mt. Emily, La Grande, Oregon

And first snow on the Wallowa Mountains just east of La Grande.

Mt. Fanny, La Grande, OR

I was out for work today, south of la Grande in the Baker Valley, and took this picture of the stunning Elkhorn Mountains.  They got a lot of snow over the past couple days!

Elkhorn Mountains, Baker County, Oregon

The company car I drove today had beautiful frost on the windows this morning.





Monday, October 17, 2016

The results are in...

...and I have to crow a little.

Spinzilla results were posted this morning, and my team got second place again this year!  Go us!


I got fourth overall for individual yardage spun!

I certainly never expected to place in the top five spinners.  But there it was, my name in print.  I was in shock.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Spinzilla 2016 Final Tally

Ta Da!

Spinzilla 2016: 13,248 yards (Spinzilla credit of 39,745 yards).

This is my accomplishment for Spinzilla 2016.

A total of 59.5 ounces (3.7 pounds) of fiber gave me 13,248 yards (7.5 miles!) of yarn, equaling 39,745 yards (22.6 miles!) of Spinzilla spinning credit (length of singles plus length of plying).

I beat my total from last year by 1,997 yards of yarn and 5,467 yards of Spinzilla credit. Mission accomplished!

Goodness. No wonder I was tired by midnight on Sunday.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Spinzilla Day 7

All done except for the measuring.

I don't know what the yardage is yet, but I'm pretty sure I beat last year's total.

Spinzilla Day 7. Done.