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.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Spinzilla Day 6

Whew.  I spun for 17 hours today.

Spinzilla Day 6

This is 4.1 oz of merino singles, 3 oz of BamHuey "Olive Branch" singles, 3 oz of BamHuey "Katarina's Crystals" singles, and 4 oz of Fiber Optic merino/bamboo "Catamaran" ridiculously fine 2-ply.

I love my fast wheel.

Tomorrow is the last day, and I'll probably be plying all day.  I think I have 12 cakes of singles.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Spinzilla Day 5

More good progress on Day 5!  This is 4.2 oz of merino singles and two 3-oz skeins of BamHuey 2-ply ("Frog Pond" and second "Fruit of the Vine"). 

Spinzilla Day 5

I must confess, though, that I finished these skeins and took the picture at 1:17 am, so a bit over an hour of this work is actually on Day 6!  However, I back-dated this post so that it shows on Day 5.  The blog must stay tidy, after all.

In my bleary state at the moment, this makes total sense.  It will probably seem silly tomorrow (today).

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Spinzilla Day 4

Another good day.

Spinzilla Day 4

This is 4.1 oz of merino singles, 3 oz of BamHuey "Guava" singles, and 3 oz of BamHuey "Fruit of the Vine" 2-ply.

I'm tired. Time for bed.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Spinzilla Day 3

Now this is more like it.

Spinzilla Day 3

This is 8.5 oz of merino singles, plus 3 oz of BamHuey spun AND plied!

No idea of yardage on anything yet, but it's got to be getting up there.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Spinzilla Day 2

Well, here's all I've got for today.  That's 4.1 oz of merino and the second half (1.5 oz) of the BamHuey. Pitiful.

Spinzilla Day 2

I had great plans for today.  I got half an hour in when I was home for lunch, but then things went off the rails when I had an unexpected trip to Walla Walla and back after work.  That was almost four hours wasted.

So it ended up that I only had three hours to spin this evening.  And now it's almost midnight and I have to be responsible and go to bed.  Meh.

I need to get serious tomorrow.

We interrupt this regularly scheduled Spinzilla...

For a cactus bloom.

Possibly Parodia ottonis

This is possibly Parodia ottonis. It was unlabeled but the flower was so pretty that I couldn't leave it behind when I was in a greenhouse in Tricities a few weeks ago. It was in bloom when I got it, and this is the second flower to open since. None of the flowers have opened fully, probably because I haven't turned on the heat yet and my house is too cool at the moment.  However, unlike the Echinopsis flowers which only last one day, each of these has lasted about five days.

Possibly Parodia ottonis

Monday, October 03, 2016

Spinzilla Day 1

Spinzilla got off to a pretty good start.

Spinzilla Day 1:  7.8 oz merino, 1.5 oz BamHuey merino/bamboo

That's 7.8 oz of merino and half a wheel (1.5 oz) of BamHuey "Calm Waters" (60% merino, 40% bamboo).  Not as many ounces as I had hoped for today, but the singles are all pretty fine.

It's now about 11:30 pm. I feel like I could spin for another four hours, but alas, I have to go to work tomorrow.

I do so love to spin long draw.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Spinzilla 2016!

It's that time of year again!  Spinzilla!

Ready for Spinzilla 2016!

This is my second year participating in Spinzilla, which is a contest/fundraiser where thousands of spinners around the world are joining together to see how much yarn we can spin in one week.  I'm on Team Knot Another Hat, which is sponsored by the yarn shop in Hood River.

I had so much fun last year.  It's such a connected feeling, to know that spinners all over the world are spinning enormous amounts of yarn all together.  And again, as last year, I donated some money to help sponsor the team from Bolivia, Team Clothroads Warmis Phuskadoras.  I don't even know those ladies, and I feel connected to them.

Last year, I spun 11,251 yards of finshed yarn, equaling 34,278 yards of Spinzilla spinning credit (length of singles plus length of plying) during the seven days.  My goal is to beat that this year.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Living stones and split rocks

Here's another set of unusual plants for you.

6 Lithops and 3 Pleiospilos nelii - 10/1/16

This planter is full of little succulents commonly known as living stones and split rocks, native to southern Africa.  They really do look like pebbles.  There are two types in here- the brownish ones (living stones) are Lithops (possibly hybrids?), and the three green ones (split rocks) are Pleiospilos nelii.

These are very interesting little plants.  The visible parts of the plant are the fleshy leaves- each "lobe" is one leaf.  They grow one new set of leaves each year, which push out from between the old pair.  A healthy Lithops only has one set of leaves at a time, and Pleiospilos (usually) carries two sets of leaves at a time, the current pair plus last year's.

Both usually flower in the fall.  Which leads me to this! One Pleiospilos has a bud forming!!

Pleiospilos nelii in bud!

I've had all these plants for a year, and they had already bloomed when I got them last fall.  So this is my first time to see any flowers, and I'm very excited.

For most of the year, these are pretty uneventful plants.  They just sit there looking like pebbles.  They get watered a couple times in the spring and a couple times in the fall, and that is literally all the water they get all year. I have watered this pot a total of three times since I got them in September 2015: once last September after I got them potted up, and twice last spring after their old sets of leaves were completely shriveled and gone.

You don't water at all when the new leaves are growing, because they pull the moisture out of the old pair of leaves as they grow.  It seems very counter-intuitive at first, to not water when the plant is visibly growing.  And you also don't water at all in the summer when the plant is dormant.

Cool plants, very unusual, and I like them.