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Late summer

20 Aug

In like a lion, out like a lamb, or is that just for winter? Seems to be the case for New England summers. There is already a chill at night, and the days are hovering in the 70s. Tweeds will be returning soon.

A little recap, as I spent an inordinate amount of time this summer living life while not documenting it.

Gardening

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Closet Projects

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And now, Fall, come at me.

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Squirrel Time

30 Oct

Vermont thus far has been rather warm. I am told, with great peals of laughter punctuating, that it will not stay so. My indefatigable father in law refers to this time of year as the squirrel times. This is because this time of year is for preparation- “you run around the place, getting everything ready and stored away, and sometimes, if you don’t watch yourself, BLAMO, under a car wheel”. So, if I am to understand this correctly,  the world as I know it will come to an end soon, replaced by rolling hills of ice-sheeted inhospitality, roving packs of dire wolves, possibly some mammoths.  I wouldn’t say I’m afraid, exactly, of this coming seasonal Ragnarok, but I will admit that I’ve acquired more tweed jackets in the last month than I have in the last two years.

In the spirit of staying calm about the impending tundrascape, I’ve started my own preparations; I’ve purchased a little black laboratory-style glass case to house my collection of tropical orchids. The case needs a little work, but it should serve well to keep them alive through the coming winter.

I’ve also been on the hunt for some decent winter boots that will see me through slushing about in the ice and snow and rabid ermines. I turned to a few mostly reliable sources for advice, and was recommended a series of more and more plasticized storm trooper style boots. While trying to maintain my sense of style, haphazard and nonsensical tho it may be, I split the difference to these. Under non-frozen/salted /windigo chased conditions, I’d go for a slightly more expensive (read well made) country boot , I figured the smooth surface will allow them to shed salt and water more easily, and stay conditioned with no trouble. Once I start wearing them out and about, I’ll do an update after a month or so.

I’m sincerely hoping that my dormant Viking genes kick in at the right moment and allow me to acclimate to all of this climactic extremity; otherwise I recon I’ll be waddling down the street wearing 4 tweed jackets at once, peering through a balaclava and two layers of scarves. Yes, I fear that the majority of my winter preparedness comes from inaccurate portrayals of extreme conditions from 70s pop-culture.

So far I’ve been making do with Spiewak and Pendleton, but we’ll see how far that gets me in a week, when the snow starts falling.

 

 

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Naturalists Eccentricity -or- why i should wear a poncho

23 Jun

A fellow could get away with quite a lot, insofar as wardrobe, in the late 1800s; especially if he was a self proclaimed explorer, adventurer, painter, and orchid hunter, as was Albert Millican. He wrote the book on Orchid Hunting, literally. In the above drawing he’s decked out to clamber around in the jungles of South America looking for plants to send home to rich collectors. In those days, the right kind of Cattleya could buy you a small country home.  I think I could get away with this look today, assuming I dropped the white felt 10 gallon and the coach gun.

Albert Millican

 

Millican represents my two ideal lifestyles; gentleman explorer, and crazed naturalist (I wore that look yesterday). Who wouldn’t want to dress up like a gaucho and go traipsing around in jungles looking for things to draw/ sell to the highest bidder? Maybe that’s just me.

While I’m on the subject, there is a book out that I’m eager to get my hands on, Field Notes on Science and Nature, a collection from Harvard’s archives of field notes and drawings from the natural sciences. Looks fascinating!

It would seem that all of my misspent years of office drudgery are wearing away at the sharp edges of my once intact sanity. I’ll end up one of those guys that comes to work in exotic skin cowboy boots and lots of khaki, with a multitude of leather belt holsters for fountain pens, smart-phones, dingo bait, etc; all in the hope that one day they’ll find themselves standing at the edge of that jungle, and they want to be ready.  Perhaps its not too late. I need a vacation.

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Works for them

17 May

In my unrelenting quest to be a complete wingnut, I’ve come up with the concept of matching outfits to the inflorescences of the orchids I cultivate. I know, stroke of genius (twitch twitch).

Because I am neither rich, insofar as affording all of the things I would select in these ensembles, nor a drag queen (never too late!), it poses a bit of a challenge.

So an easy one first- Cochleanthes (Chondrorhyncha) amazonica

A couple of notes on culture- from Orchid Web

This is a plant native to the Amazon Basin, mostly in Peru and Ecuador. This plant has no pseudobulbs for storage, and the thin wide leaves require that moisture be available at the roots at all times. The flowers are large, white, and the lip has some blue veins in it. Usually each stem produces about three flowers that are 3-4″ in size.

In my own experience, this is an easy plant to rebloom. Those of you with no orchid experience can basically treat it like a house plant, and it will be happy-

LIGHT and TEMP-Direct morning light, indirect afternoon light. Temps should stay in the 60s at night, mid to high 70s in the day.

WATER-A little plate with standing water. Depending on your humidity/time of year, water every few days when media is nearly dry. This guy has no pseudobulbs, which means it isn’t able to store much water. It evolved to live in a high moisture environment, so it wont enjoy drying out. – ALSO misting without air circulation will rot them, so don’t do it.

POT- NZ sphagnum moss is your best bet. If you can maintain humidity levels at 75% and above, you can use bark.

Also, they smell amazing

OUTFIT- Entirely Brooks Brothers. Sort of a 30s Safari look. This would be the fellow that poisoned all the heiresses and was then conveniently eaten by a lion after leaving a note of confession to tie the ending up.

Not bad for a first try. Also, I seem to want to dress like an extra in Poirot.

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orchids

24 Apr

Hanging cymbidium species- pendant inflorecenses.

Living in the Bay area has it’s upsides. One of them is a climate similar to that of the semi-arid highlands of Vietnam. The above plant is a species native to those highlands, and because of the temperature similarities, it blooms reliably in my back courtyard.

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