Saturday, April 30, 2016

Red Pearl amaryllis

My seventh amaryllis to open this year is Red Pearl.  And yay! It's not mislabeled!

I could tell from the bud that it was going to be the deep red that it was supposed to be.  Ah, anticipation...

Red Pearl amaryllis bud, almost ready to pop!

I was not disappointed.

Red Pearl amaryllis

So pretty!

Red Pearl amaryllis

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dancing Queen, round two

The second scape on my Dancing Queen amaryllis fully opened yesterday, and it's just as pretty as the first round.  This is such a glorious flower, and there is still a third scape to come!

Second scape of Dancing Queen amaryllis

When I posted about this bulb when the first scape opened, I mistakenly called it Aphrodite.  That was a reasonable thing to do, since Aphrodite was what I ordered.  However, after browsing pictures online, I realized that this was yet another mislabeled bulb.  It's actually Dancing Queen.  Aphrodite is similar but not as streaky and vibrant.

Doesn't matter to me, I really like it and didn't have one already.  But I wish the bulb growers and/or middle men and/or resellers would get their acts together and stop mixing up the varieties. Four of the six that have bloomed so far this year have been mislabels.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dragon explosion

Yesterday, Critter shed his skin for the first time since coming to live with us.

Critter's first shed with us.

It was hilarious.  I walked in and there were pieces of skin all over his tank, his  back was peeling off, he looked like he had a tutu, and he was rubbing his face on the bark of his half-log cave.

He looked ridiculous.

Critter's first shed with us.

He just looked at me like "What? Why you laugh? I'm still cute!  Gimme bugs!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Portland Orchid Show

I had a Grand Adventure this past weekend- I went to Portland to go to an orchid show!

Not only that, I went by myself! And not only that, I didn't have to drive in the city!  I parked in Gresham and took the train in!  I am NOT a city person, and this was a big scary thing for me to do- a country mouse negotiating public transportation.  But I did it and it was painless and easy and fun!  So much less stressful than driving on the surface streets downtown.

The orchid show was great, though smaller that I was expecting.  Only two show tables and a dozen or so vendors.  I went to a couple shows in North Carolina years and years ago that were much bigger, so that sort of set my expectation I guess.  Still, there were lots of great plants and I got to see some blooms in person that I haven't seen before.

I managed to get away without too much damage to my bank account.  I had set a budget beforehand, and stuck to it.  Then, too, there was the issue of carrying whatever I bought back on the train, so I was limited to the tote that I brought. I brought only one tote on purpose...

Portland Orchid Show purchases

This is me waiting to get on a bus.  Yes, I not only rode the train, I changed my plans after lunch and decided to go to a pet store on the other side of the city (to get calcium powder for Critter), and to get there I had to take a bus.  The bus line connected to the train line, so I just got off the Blue train, walked a block to the bus stop, and waited for the 75 south bus.  Easy peasy.

Everyone who is a seasoned public transportation rider can stop laughing at me now.  I was very excited about this.  You pay $5 in the morning to get a ticket, then you can ride all over the city all day on buses, trains, and streetcars, all on that same ticket.  They drive you around! You don't have to keep track of which streets are one-way, or where you can park, or anything!  They do it all for you!

Ahem.  Anyway.  It was really fun.

So here's what I got:

Portland Orchid Show purchases

Three of these are not for me.  The big one in the back on the right, plus the two smaller ones directly in front of that one were for coworkers who decided that they wanted orchids too.  I only got eight plants for myself.  Left to right and counterclockwise starting from the tall one in the back left corner, they are Oncidium Sharry Baby 'Sweet Fragrance' (which smells like chocolate!), Aerangis distincta, Angraecum equitans, Lepanthes calodictyon, Pleurothallis grobyii small form, Masdevallia strobelii big form, Masdevallia strobelii small form, and Paphiopedilum Oriental Spring.

I think of all the ones I got, the Lepanthes calodictyon is the coolest.  It's a miniature, and has awesome foliage.  It's not in bloom right now, but the tiny flowers will be carried on the little stalks protruding from the middle of each leaf.

Lepanthes calodictyon

Then on the way back at the end of the day, I stopped in at the hardware store that was conveniently right next to the train stop. I was lured in by their display of house plants in the window.  Just to browse, you understand, but I did still have a little cash left in my plant budget envelope.  So this cactus had to come home with me.  It was only $2.50, and so pretty.

Parodia werneri (Notocactus uebelmannianus)

This is Parodia werneri (formerly Notocactus uebelmannianus).  The plant itself is about two inches in diameter, each flower is an inch and a half in diameter, and I like it because the spines are very tidy and flat.  I'll actually be able to repot it without puncturing myself.

Parodia werneri (Notocactus uebelmannianus)

Plus, so pretty!  There are five more flower buds developing, in addition to the two that are open.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Critter's first outing

It was a lovely sunny day today, and in between taking care of yard chores and laundry, Emma and I took Critter for his first outing to the back yard.

But first I had to mow the lawn so we wouldn't lose him, and Emma had to pick some dandelions before I mowed. There were plenty (ha!) for a crown and a bouquet.

Dandelion princess

After the grass was back to a manageable height, we brought Critter out.  So many new things to see!

Critter enjoying the sun

Emma made him a dandelion chain too.

Enjoying the sun

Surveying his domain...

Critter enjoying the sun, with a dandelion chain

Lots of new things to see, and he especially had to keep a close eye on all the birds flying overhead.

Critter enjoying the sun

We had some quality Vitamin D time together.

Snooze in the sun

Thursday, April 14, 2016

An unexpected amaryllis

My sixth amaryllis of the season opened yesterday, and yet again, is is a mislabeled bulb.  But it is very, very pretty!

Amaryllis 'Flair'

Actually, it has been mislabeled twice.  This was the bulb I had marked as Red Lion 2014. I thought it had bloomed for me before (which is why I labeled it Red Lion) but apparently not, because I've never seen this flower before.

I bought this expecting it was Apple Blossom (the 2014 expected-Minerva turned out to be Red Lion).  Since it is clearly not Apple Blossom, the bulb company did the first mislabel.  Evidently it didn't bloom for me in 2014 or 2015, and when I finally got around to sticking labels in my pots this year, I assumed that it was Red Lion, not realizing that it hadn't bloomed yet. So I mislabeled it too.  (But let's face it, Red Lion is a pretty good assumption for any of the mass marketed box bulbs until you actually see it bloom.)

It was a really nice surprise when it opened!  It's a lovely peachy-salmon color, and I'm pretty sure it's the variety named Flair. This is a less-common variety, and one of the few in the peach color range.  I'm very happy with it!

Amaryllis 'Flair'

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Oh, and also there is this.

As part of having the new bearded dragon, we also need to make provisions for... provisions.

Beardies, especially young beardies, are insectivores.  As they get older, they switch to being primarily herbivores (75% veggies, 25% insects), but the young ones that are growing fast need mostly insects for the high protein content.

So I now have a bin of pet store crickets in my house, and a bin of cockroaches.  You read that right, I actually paid real money and bought roaches off of Ebay to feed to Critter and breed as a self-sustaining food source.  Roaches.  Off Ebay.

Dubia roaches

These are dubia roaches, not the horrible house-infesting kind that I lived with in my cheap apartment in grad school.  Gourmet roaches, as it were.  These can't fly, can't jump, can't climb smooth surfaces, don't smell or try to escape or make noise like the crickets do (yeah, ugh, we won't be maintaining those in the house after this lot is eaten), and live quite happily in a plastic tub.  They multiply easily but not too fast, and have minimal maintenance needs.  Or so the internet tells me.

They are basically mobile protein pellets.

Dubia roaches

These are just half-grown baby roaches, the size to feed to a baby bearded dragon.  When the roaches are full grown, they are about two inches long, and we'll see how I feel about holding them when that time comes.  Right now, they aren't too squicky.

According to Critter, they are absolutely the most delicious, greatest thing ever in the entire world.


He froze at the end because my cat walked into the room.

The roaches seem pretty harmless so far. But still, the fact remains that I am now raising a colony of roaches.  Never thought I would say that.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Here there be dragons...

Meet Critter the bearded dragon, newest member of my household.

Critter the bearded dragon

Emma saw bearded dragon babies when we were in Tricities in January, and fell in love.  They are pretty darn cute (especially the babies), but I nixed the idea of an impulse-buy pet. I told her that I wasn't saying no, but I wasn't saying yes either.

I thought about it for a while, and told her that she needed to research how to take care of a bearded dragon and keep it healthy, write a report about her research, and present it to me.  She also needed to earn half the required money herself, since these little suckers and all their paraphernalia are expensive. Dipping into her savings account was not allowed.  If she could earn $150+ and do the research, we would talk.

Critter the bearded dragon

My secret expectation was that she would lose interest, or it would take her until next fall to earn the money and she would give up, or she would flit off onto another tangent, and I would not have to buy a lizard.


She was very dedicated and motivated.  She finished her report in less than a month, having apparently pestered the school and town librarians mercilessly to get all available books on bearded dragons, as well as using the school library computers to do research during her free library time and extra lunch-period time (hello, Hermione...).  She wrote the report on her Google Docs at school, and actually got extra credit points in science for it.  She presented it to me in February, and I was impressed.

Critter the bearded dragon

She earned the required money by the end of March, with even a little extra cushion so she can buy the food and pay someone to come take care of it if we go out of town.

All well and good, I said, but your room is a mess, you have no place to put this creature, and unless you clean it up completely, there will be no dragon.  Again, the expectation that this would not be done and I would not have to buy a bearded dragon.

Critter the bearded dragon

Again, with the underestimation of her determination.  She wrote herself a schedule, commandeered the kitchen timer, and worked really hard for a whole week to get her room and other Emma-mess areas of the house taken care of.


All my stated criteria being met, I had no choice but to follow through.  Let this be a lesson to all parents out there.  DO NOT PAINT YOURSELF INTO A CORNER.

Critter the bearded dragon

I complain, but it's mostly tongue-in-cheek.  This is a really cute little guy.  Or girl.  We're not sure which yet.

Critter the bearded dragon

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Fifth Amaryllis, Revisited

So that amaryllis that was Not-Benfica from a week or so ago?  The one that was mislabeled and definitely did NOT have the gorgeous big deep-red blooms I was expecting?

I think it's kind of growing on me.

Cybister Rose amaryllis

Once I got over the disappointment of it not being Benfica, I decided that it's actually quite pretty.  It has six flowers open now and possibly two more coming in the middle, though the buds are small and may not develop fully.

Cybister Rose amaryllis

The six flowers are arranged in a perfect wheel-spoke array.

Cybister Rose amaryllis, top view

Overall, very nice.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Garden sprouts

I started some seeds for the garden over the past month yay!  Left to right this is bell peppers, calendula, dianthus, SunGold tomatoes, moonflowers, cucamelons, and three rows of San Marzano paste tomatoes.

Garden sprouts getting big!

The tomatoes were started in the middle of February, and it's high time they were potted up into bigger pots.  Each of the little net soil pellets in the starter tray has two plants in it, so I carefully separated them and gave each its own 4" pot.

Potting up San Marzano tomatoes

They look so much happier now!

Happy 'maters

Saturday, April 02, 2016

OK, so that amaryllis was mislabeled...

My fifth amaryllis opened today.  This is the amaryllis I got when I ordered Benfica.  This is NOT REMOTELY the same as Benfica.  Benfica is large and dark red and beautiful, and looks like this.

Not like this.

NOT a Benfica amaryllis!

I'm not a fan of the spidery-look amaryllis to begin with, and the color on this one is sort of insipid and washed out.

NOT a Benfica amaryllis!

Meh.  I've sent an email to the place I bought it from to see what they can do.