Home Depot had a sale on 2″ potted succulents over the weekend, and I just couldn’t resist. Normally I try to be more thoughtful and deliberate with my plant purchases, but this time I went a little overboard. But hey, at least I managed to avoid buying any of the crazy beautiful blue Phals they had on sale too, right?

I’ve made two great little planters of my purchases. I had planned on one, but it ultimately seemed more prudent to separate the Lithops into their own pot. I looked around for some funky shallow pots or pans to hold the plants, but ended up going for plain and reliable in the form of a pair of terracotta “bulb pots”. The 8″ pot holds:

  • 2 non-specific Lithops
  • 2 Split Rock Pleiospilos nelii
  • 1 Baby Toes Fenestraria aurantiaca
  • 1 Tiger Jaws Faucaria tigrina

Of this planting, the Tiger Jaws seems the odd one out, but everything about its native habitat and root structure make me feel it belongs here.



The 10″ pot holds:

  • 1 Sedum rubrotinctum
  • 1 Sedum rubrotinctum v. Aurora
  • 1 Sedum nussbaumeranium
  • 1 Cremnosedum v. Little Gem
  • 1 Anacampseros lubbersii
  • 1 Anacampseros rufescens
  • 1 Anacampseros telephiastrum variegata
  • 1 Echeveria v. Dondo
  • 1 Pachyveria v. Royal Flush
  • 1 Rainbow Elephant Bush Portulacaria afra v. Variegata
  • 1 Jade Plant Crassula argentea
  • 1 Haworthia mirabilis mundula

Of the second pot, the Haworthia is the odd one; it has the thick “windowpane” leaves of a Lithops, but a hardier root structure and evident flower spike. I potted up with a 50/50 (by volume) mix of generic “Cactus & Palm” potting soil and Perlite. While I appreciate that summer is a dormant time for many of these species, I’m really going to enjoy watching them fill out their post, moving them around to keep them in the sun and out of the rain!

My expanding foray into web-development is starting to make my head hurt. On tomorrow morning’s schedule is a meeting to “reassess and discuss”… good grief! Even before the shit has properly hit the fan, I can tell this project has all the momentum of a turd headed straight down the toilet. I really should have taken better note of those warning sings! Namely:

  • When a client sends over a poorly-prepared, incongruent, and disorganized folder of material, accompanied with an email stating that the product model names/numbers “are probably going to change… we can call them anything.” Um, am I laying-out a website, or completely re-branding your company?
  • The client says, “Do whatever you want with the material; I don’t care.” Yes, your level of care and concern is obvious.
  • The client requests a non-disclosure agreement; okay, no problem… but can you send me one that doesn’t still have “Fill In Blank Here” still appended all over it?
  • The client shows me several $20k+ websites he’d like to emulate, then provides me with a handful of embedded 400px images with which to build an immersive landing page. Are you kidding me?

The greatest facepalm aspect of the whole deal is this: the client is a decent guy, a partner of a great source of referrals, and insisted on paying up-front (which I clumsily failed to refuse). Now, I feel like I owe this poor guy something… like a chef who has been pre-paid to create some grand feast from customer-supplied ingredients, only to find the kitchen stocked with nothing but crusty mayonnaise and freezer-burnt fish-sticks, while hungry guests mutter and fidget with their silverware in the dining-room through the door.

Meanwhile… I have these other dream clients, who come to me with clear vision, organized quality content, and great enthusiasm for close collaboration. Like Julia Child inviting you over to whip up some Coq au Vin with friends.

Papyrus update

In an earlier post this summer, I showed a few pics of 5 new papyrus plants I had acquired, with encouragement from my friend Kent Russell. In September, I moved them indoors ( a bit early, but I went travelling, I knew I wouldn’t be around to tend them outdoors). I have them in our 12′ tall south-facing windows, and they’re growing like crazy. Along with the great growth have come a couple of pest problems.

Papyrus in the south window

The Cyperus papyrus has exploded upwards to over 9′ tall. The previously needle-like leaves of earlier growths have been replaced by trifurcated strap-like fronds on the best stems. The weaker/older stems have been compromised by spider mites, which the newer growth is vigorously resisting.  These mites showed up first on my Cyperus isocladus and soon spread to the neighboring Cyperus involucratus. I was able to keep up on the C. isocladus by scrupulously pinching and wping the mites from the leaves, but once it got into the hair-fine foliage of the C. involucratus I was forced to go another route.

Cyperus papyrus fronds

I first introduced a vial of predatory mites into these plants. I’m not sure of the results of this; they couldn’t have hurt, but I didn’t wait for the predators to show domination before moving onto another avenue of attack. I began, (and continue) to twice-daily spray the plants with a fine misting of dilute colloidal cinnamon with a drop of Physan 20. This, I believe, is what has really done the trick.

The other pest in the pots has been those annoyingly ever-present fungus gnats. The solution has not been a difficult one, but in future I’ll attack it more vigorously and more thoroughly. The trick has been a combination of the aforementioned spray, Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis pellets in the pots and waterings, and yellow sticky-card traps. This attack has completely evicted the gnats from the papyrus. Unfortunately, the gnats have moved on to other plants around the house. From this, I’d recommend that anyone using BITS to control fungus gnats should go ahead and treat ALL the plants in their home, not just the obviously-infested ones.

A little later in the fall, friends dropped off three pots of Cyperus alternifolius. These are winter refugees from a summer pond, but had outgrown their previous owner’s capacity to winter them indoors. I cut all the drying summer growth completely back, and in less than a month have seen it all replaced with bright and vigorous indoor growth. Having come in from a pond, these three pots are ugly, unwieldy, and fully root-bound. Both these and the other plants have been placed into tubs in the window, half-filled with (very lightly) fertilized water.

Cyperus involucratus overwintering in the south window

The “other” papyrus, the Cyperus albostriatus has proven to dislike the growing conditions favored by the larger plants. While it certainly doesn’t like to be dry, neither does it like to be swamped. I have potted it into a nice 8″ clay picklepot with a more conventional watering scheme and am experimenting with differing placement around the house to see what it really prefers.

Cyperus albostriatus recovering away from the cold swamp of the windowsill

It’s been fun having them inside during the winter! The tall stems and firework-like heads are a great exotic contrast to the snowy scene beyond the windowpane. I can hardly wait to get them back outside for the summer where they belong and see how they really do!

My good friend Gillian has inspired me to make this list/fill out this questionnaire.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Deliberately and proactively commit to self-employment.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I make the same resolution every year, and always keep it: the resolution to never ignore my bladder and always pee as soon as possible once the urge strikes.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A couple old friends out west had babies this year… I wish I was closer!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My grandmother.

5. What countries did you visit?

Not much international travel this year; just a quick trip to Canada.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

A slightly larger and more stable client base, the increased self-confidence to close the sale, and a proper mobile workshop that gets better than 7mpg.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Sadly, no single date springs to mind.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Setting up house with my ladyfriend.

9. What was your biggest failure.

Follow-through in business.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Abscessed tooth removed, knee ligament strained, major lower back spasms, one bout of major bronchitis… geez, I’m a wreck!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

All the parts to build my new desk/computer, and orchids!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Janute, for keeping her chin up and not letting the financial roller-coaster throw her off the tracks.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The Tea Party and their ilk.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Housing, tools, travel, plants.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Taking my lady to Nelson, and having Cory and Jody meet us there. My new desk.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

Evil Boy by Die Antwoord

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

A) the same B) the same – I lost weight, gained it back, then lost it again C) Probably richer, but easy-come, easy-go!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Ride my bike.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Procrastinate and second-guess myself.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

A Christmas Day meal with all the available Booths.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?

No more than usual, I suppose, although my relationship with Teddy really strengthened this past year.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I don’t own a TV, but then again, neither does Gillian, and she still managed to answer this question, so… Dead Like Me (which was cancelled in 2004).

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


24. What was the best book you read?

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

The Pithos player for Pandora radio.

26. What did you want and get?

The financial freedom and free time to choose my own course rather than have it dictated to me.

27. What did you want and not get?

More of the above.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Modern Hollywood cinema is a wasteland.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I think I turned 37, but I can’t remember a dang thing about the day itself.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A new 2010 Ford Transit Connect XLT with a complete custom storage package.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

I wear whatever my lady brings home for me from the thrift-store.

32. What kept you sane?

I stayed sane?

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Radical partisanship.

34. Who did you miss?

Cory and the peeps at home.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Nobody new, but a did reacquaint myself with several old friends.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

I have learned the unfortunate American truth that silence, patience, and selfless effort are seldom rewarded; if you want something to change/improve, you have to speak up, make your move, and take what you want before anyone else does.

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