Succulent Ramblings

I like to ramble on about my plants... and other things! My hope is to log the progress of plants and talk about my frustrations with others. So, tune in, turn on, or drop out (if you find it boring!)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Damn, it's been cold!!  It's just too early for this shit.  But someone told me that Jim Flowers (a local long-time weatherman) said we are likely to have an early cold winter, then it will warm up and be decent in Feb.  But this seems extraordinarily early to me...

Mom really wants to sell the business, and even though I don't think she believes it, I'm with her on that count.  I do have reservations about it...  I'm sure her half will last her the rest of her life, I don't feel confident mine will.  And not that I'm opposed to working for some more years.  I can and I probably will, if anyone will have my old fat ass!  LOL!  But I'm ready to let someone younger, in better shape, more ambitious take it on.  I think with the right ambition and youth, the business could turn into a real money machine... SERIOUSLY!!  If I was 20 years younger, or if I had kids, I would buy Mom's half and continue on.  But I'm not, and I don't, and it needs to go to someone who can take it on and grow it into the cha-ching machine it could be. She's really putting the pressure on to sell, but I worry that brides will find out we're trying to sell and be concerned it will affect them.  We plan to stipulate to a new owner that bookings we have made will be honored in the way we've presented the package.  And I think there's a fair chance that someone might keep me on for awhile until they get their bearings and have a good feel for running the show...

LOL!! I just caught Spike sitting in the toilet bowl!  Our new toilet is one of those super low-flow toilets, so when it's don't flushing, there's hardly any water left in the bowl.  So there he sits, getting a drink - not perched on the edge like a normal (full-grown) cat, but in the bowl.  So funny!  I told him he better be careful 'cuz if his sister figures out how to flush it, it's liable to suck him right down!  LOL!

My plants - well, not a whole lot going on with them right now.  I'm going to have to restart my biggest 'Pink Silver', which makes me kind of sad.  I've known it would have to happen sooner or later, because it's been in the same pot in the same soil for...geez, probably a dozen years.  I knew it would come to this sooner or later.  I can't seem to give it enough nutrients to sustain it anymore.  But I've got the one in the dining room, and I've started several cuttings off of the old one, too.  I'm going to do more whacking on it in the next few weeks until I get it out of there and the spot ready for the new one to go in the spring.  I know it will grow fast and look wonderful within a couple years, but I'll missing the rambling of the old one until the new one starts to do the same...It's one of my oldest and has a special place in my heart!

My Haemanthus albiflos decided to bloom recently...
I can't quite figure out what it takes to make this succulent bulb produce bulblets - I've had it for years and it has remained solitary, but I've seen pots with more than one.  

In October, the cactus club had a speaker from Colorado, Leo Chance, who came to talk about winter hardy cacti and to promote his book.  I bought the book and six winter hardy cacti/succulents to put out next spring.  I'm not sure where they will go, but I'm thinking for maximum sun, they should go out in front.  That means I'm going to have to figure out a way to kill the ever-growing patch of dill that's trying to take over out there.  What I may do is berm up that little area I've got cordoned off with the scalloped cement edging, right on either side of the steps.  Then I can put in these winter hardy cacti/succulents and hopefully, as they grow, they will fill those areas.  That's my thought at this point, anyway.  This is assuming, of course, that they make it through the winter in the GH!  Nice thing is that Chuck will probably be selling W/H cacti by then and I can always get more from him if I really like growing them...

So a couple days ago, I was trying to figure out how many different places I'd lived.  I had commented to someone I've lived in the same house now for nearly 27 years and I never care to move again because I moved around so much the first several years of my adult life.  I couldn't keep track of them all in a count in my head, so I'll figure it out here ("on paper" so to speak) so I can do a real count...

1) We start with the old farm house I grew up in a mile from Grandma & Grandpa's house in Iowa between Red Oak, Grant, Elliott, Villisca... I lived there until I was 13, so 1958-1972.  It was a drafty old house with space heaters and a crappy exterior until Grandma & Grandpa had it sided on 3 sides when I was maybe 8 or so.  (Three sides because you can't see the back from the road!!  How freakin' cheap!)   I have mostly good memories of this house, so the fact that we lived pretty dang poor wasn't really a big deal.  We always had food to eat, and everything else was just not that important... 

2) We moved to Jack Halbert's house in the summer of 1972 - Grandpa bought Jack's farm when Jack died, and we got to move into his house.  It was like moving to Shangri-la!  It was such a step up from the old, decrepit house we lived in before.  Merry & I shared the best room, upstairs, that faced east.  It was so beautifully flooded with sun in the mornings.  It was a feel-good room!

3) Mom and Dad divorced in the summer of 1974, and we moved to a little (I mean LITTLE!!) house in Harlan, Iowa.  Within a month, the owners sold the house out from under us and we had to move...

4) ...down the street to the house at the end of the same street, next to Mr. Lawson, a teacher. It was a much bigger house with a big living room, big kitchen and 3 bedrooms upstairs.  

5) Mom bought the house on Willow Street in Harlan... I'm gonna say it was spring of 1976, because I remember I went to the junior prom with Frank and we were in the process of fixing it up at that time.  (I'm pretty sure, anyway...)  Lived there until the next year when I graduated and married Paul in July, 1977...

6) ...and we moved into that little apartment he and Ann lived in when they were married.  I know, that's weird, right?  It is, sort of, but I always loved that apartment.  (Ann & I were friends with she and Paul were married and I spent a lot of time there...)  Paul was working for Variety Distributors, and he got on with Wheeler's through his brother, so we were only there for about a month or so.

7) Wheeler's gave him his first job in Seward, Nebraska.  We moved there in late August or early September, to an apartment above the Penney's on the town square.  It was a real dump, but cheap and it had BIG windows facing east, which I loved.  (I'm a morning person...)  I got a job at the hardware store within walking distance - by this time I was almost 19 years old...  We lived there about a year, then Wheeler's transferred Paul to the Grand Island store.

8) We moved to Aurora, to a mobile home, because Paul's brother lived in Aurora, and he commuted to GI to work.  I worked for a little motel that was in front of the trailer park, cleaning rooms.  But the commuting really wasn't working out so well, so we decided to move closer to his job.

9) We went out and bought a mobile home (new, I'm pretty sure) and put it in a nice park outside of Alda, which is kind of like Papillion in comparison to Omaha.  I went to work at my first office job in Alda at Leon Plastics after we lived there about 6 months.  We lived there a total of about 18 months.  Wes lived with us for awhile.  Then Paul decided to enlist in the Air Force.

10) I think I worked through January 1980, then we let the mobile home go back to the bank (which is allowed without affecting your credit when you enlist in the military) and I packed everything up and moved it to Paul's parent's house where they stored our furniture.  I stayed with Mom briefly until Paul got settled in in Biloxi, MS where he was doing training.  Wes and Herb helped me take my stuff, what we could pack in the car and Herb's van, down to Biloxi...

11) So February of 1980, we moved into an apartment in Biloxi, about 4 blocks from the Gulf.  It was even a worse dive than the apartment in Seward - the roaches were big enough to saddle up!  YIKES!  But we were young and it was an adventure.  We were there for 6 months while he trained and I worked with the 1980 census, which was a nightmare.  Southerners are not (or were not) very receptive to northerners, and I had more doors slammed in my face than I can remember!!

12) His first real orders were to Vandenberg AFB, CA.  We moved there in August, 1980, to an apartment in Lompoc.  There wasn't any base housing available when we got there, so once that came available, we moved to the base.

13) We got a really nice house on base a few months later.  It was big and probably just about the newest place I ever lived.  It had 3 bedrooms, hardwood floors, two bathrooms, a large living room, small dining room, nice kitchen with lots of storage, a nice patio, and an attached garage.  I worked at an insurance agency in Vandenberg Village, with a brief stint at an agency in Santa Maria, then back to the original agency in VI when they wanted me to come back.  We lived there until he got orders to Guam.

14) We arrived on Guam around March of 1982.  Initially, we found a cheap apartment in a little village called Toto.  Back to another dive, though it wasn't awful.  It had one bedroom, a large room that included living room and kitchen together, and a bathroom. It was furnished because we were waiting for our furniture to arrive. Very basic, just the essentials.  When our stuff arrived, we started looking for a better/bigger place to live.

15) We found what I'm sure was considered a posh (by Guam standards) apartment in a high-rise in Piti.  Up on a hill with nice views, though the apartment we had just had a view of the jungle.  Two bedrooms, one bath, large living room/dining room combo, small efficient kitchen, nice balcony.  The complex had a swimming pool and tennis court.  Here's a link to those apartments... Nimitz Towers, Piti, Guam  I worked at a little office in Agana as an Administrative Assistant.  I really enjoyed that job!  We lived there until he was discharged in March, 1984.

16) Back to Omaha, lived with Mom & Herb for about 6 months until we bought a house a few blocks away from them.

17) The house we bought was a big old house built, I'd guess, in the 1920's or 30's.  By the time we moved in there, I was working for River City Heating & Cooling.  We lived there together until we separated in Feb. 1986.  

18) I moved into an apartment on 76th and Blondo in March, 1986.  I think Paul and I officially divorced in June, which would have made our divorce final around the end of the year. I lived there for a year.  Mark was living with me (almost from the beginning...) and we started looking for a house to buy.

19) And finally, we moved into this house in May, 1987.  

So, that means I lived in 19 different places up until I was 28 - no wonder I have no desire to EVER move again!  LOL!  Of course, when you're young, these things can seem like a great adventure...  I don't remember ever thinking, "OMG, we have to move AGAIN?!"  It really didn't bother me, and each move seemed like a new chapter was beginning.  

But now I like being settled.  You know, I can get up in the middle of the night and walk around my house and recognize where I am by the sound of the squeaky floors.  I love my windows, my sunroom.  It's an OLD house, not efficient at all.  The utilities cost us a fortune.  But I wouldn't give two nickels for a new house unless I had it built THE OLD WAY.  With big wide woodwork.  I like plaster walls - I know, I'm weird!  But they feel SOLID.  Drywall feels cheap.  I like my high ceilings - they're almost 9'.  The rooms are a little smaller than I'd like, sure, but that's ok.  There's a lot of character in these old houses, and I love the fact that they have a history.  I'd love to go back and find out about all the people who have lived in this house - who they were, what kinds of lives they lived.  

Anyway, enough for now!    












Wednesday, November 06, 2013

It's been awhile... It was such a crazy summer, with Mom out at Wes's and the business was about as busy as we could expect.  I didn't have much time for posting, and it was really all I could do just to stay on top of taking care of my plants.  But we all got through it.  Wes is gone, and that's the hard part, but I talk to him every single day and see lots of signs that he's around me.  I was thinking how I should document some of the signs so I can go back and read them during those times of doubt... You know how things fade in your memory.

Almost exactly one month after he died, I stepped out onto the porch one cloudy morning.  Mind you, it hadn't rained at all, but I looked up and there was a rainbow.  I hadn't seen a rainbow in YEARS, and I was excited and ran back in to get my camera.  Came out and took a shot, but it I couldn't see it on the photo, so I puttered a few minutes (watering plants), hoping the sun would hit it differently so I could get a photo.  By the time I looked up again, it was gone.  About two weeks later, Aunt Judy came to visit and Merry and I went over to Mom's one night for a slumber party and stayed the night.  When we got up in the morning, there again, no rain, was a big ol' rainbow off in the west!  This one was much, much brighter and clearer, but I didn't have my camera with me.  It was beautiful and hung on for a long time.  About 2 weeks after that, I had taken some other photos and downloaded them and there was that rainbow pic from the first rainbow and not only can you see it, but there is a faint second rainbow above it!...


A few days ago, I got up (as I do pretty much every night because of my back) to doze in my chair.  My habit is to turn the TV (it's on a swivel so I can either watch it at the dining room table or at the computer) and turn on channel 65, which usually has old sitcoms.  We've never, ever watched that channel any other time - I only watch it when I go to bed, and when I sit in the chair to doze.  Well, the TV was turned, the remote on the desk, and it was already tuned to 65.  The night before, Mark & I had been watching TV with dinner (he would never watch channel 65 even if I wanted to!!), so when I went to bed, it was still facing the table, remote on the table and tuned to (I'm pretty sure) 27, because I remember we were watching Big Bang.  If I ever had any doubt that our spirit friends could do very physical things, I have no doubt now!!  He's being very ornery and I'm loving it!

Just a couple days ago, I went to work just to drop something off.  Since I was there, I checked the mouse trap.  (We're having a little issue with the buggers this year and I use a humane trap and throw them in the dumpster so they can go off to the dump and a happy life!  I know - I'm weird!!)  There was a little ol' mouse in there, chowing down on the nuts I use to bait them with.  I took him to the dumpster, rebaited the trap and put it back and took off to go to my C&S meeting.  As I got in the car and turned on the ignition, the song "Stray Cat Strut" came on at exactly the line that says "I don't bother chasing mice around"... I laughed my ass off!  Wes, you are SUCH a tease!!

I could cite of so many more that have a little less punch, but I feel him all the time - ALL the time!  

Best of all, I've come to believe he sent me my two new kitties, that I want to introduce here, since I haven't been on to talk about them yet.  It's so interesting how this happened...  Chuck, from my C&S club, e-mailed me to send out an e-mail to club members about two kittens he had that needed a good home.  He included pics - a little black kitty and a little tiger kitty.  Of course, as is true of all kitties, the pics were adorable.  I sent out the mass e-mail and e-mailed Chuck back and said how adorable they are and how at some point, I was hoping to get two sibling again, but now wasn't a good time.  I used the expense of spaying/neutering as an excuse, which IS part of it, but I wasn't really feeling quite ready for it and I guess in the back of my mind, some of my hesitation has been fear that the older cats wouldn't accept them.  When I got Sammy, the two female cats I had at that time never warmed up to her and I always felt bad about that.  Anyway, one lady came back and said her son wanted them - he lives on a farm and wanted a coupe cats that could be both pets and mousers.  I passed it on to Chuck, and he came back with a long e-mail that said he'd really prefer they not have a hard life on the farm, and if I'd take them, he would pay for them being spayed/neutered.  Wow.  I kind of felt like this was some sign that they were meant to be mine.  With some hesitation, I agreed to take them, still a little wary of the possible pitfalls - the acceptance thing, the possibility that the old cats would be pissed off and show their displeasure by peeing where they shouldn't, or the new kitties doing that and getting the old kitties started doing the same.  You know - the typical things you worry about introducing new cats to old cats.

Well, I'm happy to report it's been right at a month and all is well.  Bella came around first and now she seems to enjoy them.  She'll groom them, and she'll sometimes try to jump in to their play, though she and Pearl weren't big players and it's like she's not really sure how to do it, or maybe she's not sure if it's playing or fighting.  But she's very curious and lets them chase her.  Then Pearl came around - she can still be a little crabby with them now and then, but for the most part, she hangs close to them, will let them cuddle her (with just a BIT of objection!), and she watches them play with a lot of curiosity and sometimes a "whack" in their direction, like "Settle DOWN!"  So I'm very pleased with that part of it. 

They were completely cat box trained by the time I got them, and after about a week, when they were familiar with the whole house, I moved their box down to where the other two are.  It was interesting - at first, they wouldn't leave an area of about a dozen square feet.  It took them about 2-3 days before they started seriously venturing out.  I have a feeling they were confined to a small room, which makes sense since Chuck & Karen have 9 Dachshunds!  But now, they're zippy little things - they love the greenhouse and play in there a lot, but up and down the stairs, over the furniture, under the beds... they're EVERYwhere!  And sweet - OMG, they are SO sweet!!  Apparently, their mama disappeared when they were quite little - there were 4 of them, and Chuck & Karen had to hand feed them for a few weeks.  So they're very, very affectionate and love to be held.

Here's the black one...
Initially, I was going to call them Pooh and Tigger.  Well, Tigger has stuck but Pooh hasn't so much.  Mark wants to call him Spike, which I'm considering - it might work.  This pic makes him look bigger than he is.  They're still very small and may end up being small cats, I don't know.  I got them at 8 weeks and they seemed small.  Now their 12 weeks and though I can tell they've grown, they still seem so tiny.  But that may just be because the big cats make them SEEM small...  Anyway, Spike or Pooh is the most loving cat I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.  He comes right up on me, straight up to under my chin on my chest, turns his motor on as loud as can be, and insists I pet him.  If I stop for even a moment, he turns and rubs his face against my chin or nose, or he may even nibble just a bit.  I call him my little boyfriend...

And here's Tigger...
Now this photo gives the right impression for size.  She's quite a little ornery thing.  Not as affectionate as the little boy, but she comes up on my lap and lets me pet her and will even join Spike up on my chest sometimes.  (That won't last long as they get too big to share that space!!  LOL!)  When I get in my chair in the middle of the night, Spike comes up and sleeps on my chest and Tigger on my lap.  Sometimes, Pearl will join them...

They're wonderful.  I shudder to think that I almost passed up this opportunity.  I think about how much joy they've brought me, especially during this time that I miss Wes so much.  Which is why I think Wes had a hand in this.  Distraction is a wonderful thing - whether it's from the daily grind of our lives, or some event that makes us sad or mad or whatever...

Here's one of them together...
And on to other things!  Let's see...  Oh, the bathroom is DONE!  Well, all but done.  I still have some decorations to decide on and put up.  We have a cabinet sitting in my sunroom I've been trying to get Mark to put up - he's such a procrastinator!  Maybe I'll have to do it myself...  And the mirror will be the last thing.  I need to go pick out some trim to use, then get the mirror.  Maybe I'll do that today...  But otherwise, it's done and I LOVE it!!  It's SO awesome to take a hydro-bath.  I've been know to get up early early on a Sunday after a Sat. function and take a bath.  I enjoy it more then than right after I get home on Sat. night.  I think probably because I'm usually still hot and sweaty and a hot bath just isn't appealing at that point.  Here's a photo from one end...




I lost about a foot of my linen closet, but that's ok.  They did a great job of making it look original.  I replaced ALL the hardware, window, closet, to match the oil-rubbed bronze.  I got two glass doorknobs for the inside of the bathroom side of the doors.  Notice my over-the-tub teak shelf and three candles.  Ambiance!  (Can't get it to stop centering the text here...dang.)
From the other end.  Got a new medicine cabinet.  The other cabinet (that's in the sunroom) is going above the tub there.  I haven't decided if I like that round hanging on the wall.  It's a seashell display, but it just seems too big for the space.  I'm looking for alternatives... And here's a shot of the window...
I managed to get 5 plants hung in there.  YAY!  Feels very tropical.  It ended up costing a lot more than I anticipated, but it was worth getting it done right and relatively fast.  And I got what I wanted.  I spent a small fortune on the oil-rubbed bronze fixtures, just 'cuz I wanted that old world feel.  I considered going cheaper, but I thought this is a once in a lifetime thing, do it the way I want!  I've been holding on to the money I got when Dad passed away (in 2004) to do exactly this, and it's finally done.  THANK YOU, Dad!  (It's what I say every time I'm relaxing in the tub!)


So on to my plants!  The pubicalyx 'Pink Silver' in the GH has dropped a lot of the old leaves, so back at the pot, it looks pretty thin.  Yet it bloomed more than usual this year from the newer growth.  I think I'm going to have to whack it back and restart it.  I guess it doesn't really surprise me - it's been in that same pot for probably a dozen or more years without new soil, except an occasional top-dressing.  Around about March, I'll take it down and start a pot full of cuttings.  Maybe that one should come into the dining room and the one in the dining room go out to the GH since it has yet to bloom...

I repotted onychoides last late spring - into a hanging pot.  It just didn't seem that happy in the smaller pot anymore.  I've always been a little leary of moving it up just because archboldiana, a very similar species, never seemed too happy when I repotted it up.  So I also took some cuttings of onychoides as well.  It seemed to perk up almost right away and even put on some new growth...
Even the Dischidia I grow on the top of the soil looks better...
I'm pleased with how this repot turned out.  And the cuttings took, too, though I didn't get them marked and so they look an awful lot like macgillivrayii.  I'm going to have to do some studying to feel completely confident marking them onychoides!

Well, I'd better get my butt moving.  More soon!