Author Archives: heretherebespiders

About heretherebespiders

Ex-pat American living in Ireland. Sarcastic, decrepit. Loads of interests: reading, plants, pets, food, art, writing, drinking, space, quantum theory. Not 'girly' and not interested in being so.

Plant-it-ary Disaster

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I know it is meant to get very cold this weekend, below freezing. It might not happen, just like the last big snowstorm went right over us on the Atlantic coast and dropped on the west coast instead. Pooooooor Dublin.

Me, surprised to be feeling positive in spring, decided to get some seeds going. First I had to sort through the massive, and I mean massive, quantity of seeds that I have. Hubby needs to stop buying me magazines with free seeds!

Nearly every pile has more than one variety – for example, seven kinds of poppies, eleven types of sunflowers. I had other piles of that I definitely wanted to plant, might want to plant, two groups for himself to choose from, and a discard pile. These are just the flowers; I didn’t get into the veg seeds yet (zipper bag still in the shoebox).

I’d already set up a mini greenhouse a few days earlier. Brand new, but had been boxed and unused for a couple of years. I had new seed trays, new soil – not for seedlings, unfortunately – and a sunny day to enjoy.

I’m not gonna list everything I planted now. It was a lot, and quite a few ‘best before 2014’ ones I planted for the hell of it. All carefully planted according to depth, needing a cover of light soil or none, and labelled with species and number of cells planted with each variety.

I’m not going to list them because it doesn’t matter.

I no longer have the faintest idea of what seeds are in which cell. The whole greenhouse went face-down yesterday in wind that wasn’t there…until it was.

Couldn’t even get to the front zippers. This happened when I left the house for 15 minutes. I rushed home from the shop because I accidentally locked us out of our bank card, found this, and started to cry.

Hubby tried to help me over the phone with the card, and told me to go sort out my plants until he called me back…I couldn’t, it was pouring rain! Then when I tried, one of the important plastic bits on the greenhouse shattered in my hands. I screamed bad words and threw greenhouse parts at the innocent grass.

Phone call from himself let’s me know that I have to drive to another town to sort out the bank card…bank closes at five, it’s ten to four now… deep breaths and make sure the car has enough petrol to get there as it is low, and we have no cash. As soon as the downpour stops, I go out to see if I can make it.

Rain stops. Out to the car and see that I left the windows and sunroof open as I was in a panic sweat that needed cooling when the bank card didn’t work. Back inside for towels to hopefully save the electronics. Drive to other town. Realise on the way that it is late on Tuesday and I needed to do something pretty important on Monday, but forgot. Struggled for parking, more panic sweats.

The bank closed at 4! Defeated, I went back home (on petrol fumes) to try to salvage my seeds. I had to take the greenhouse apart bit by bit and carefully try to poke dirt and seeds back where they came from. Not so bad for two trays on the lower levels. Very bad for the upper two – the ones I really wanted to grow!

My only hope for one tray is that as I used a seed packet, I turned it upside down on a pile. One label stick remained in place, so I can get it right one direction or the other, hopefully?

On the plus side: years ago I found some seeds on the ground at a local, beautiful, garden and they are growing. Not all is lost.

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Bathing Beauties

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Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t include myself in that headline!

I took a bath today. Lumi came knocking at the door, as he always does. I’m well used to Bengals wanting to investigate a tub full of water with me in it after having Spot for so many years.

Lumi stood on the outside edge of the bath, walked down to my feet, turned and carefully made his way back up to my head. He did slip: not only have I recently trimmed his nails but there isn’t any ledge to hold on to. The tub is hard plastic with no possible kitty traction.

He continued on his way back up to my face, then decided to go behind my head and around to the wall side (tiled wall). He had not even an inch of space to walk on, it is angled downward for drainage, and his feet are huge…

I immediately realised there was a big chance of personal injury and quickly sat up so he didn’t use my skull or face as soft, traction-y, things he could claw into and hold on for dear life.

Shouldn’t have worried! Yes, he fell in. No, he didn’t panic, shred me or flail the bath water into foam. He stood there for a second, calmly and silently climbed out, shaking his feet. He didn’t even leave the room!

Luckily I had my phone in there with us, and got a couple of damp shots.

Bengals and water, you never know what might happen!

Bengal Bullshit

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I love Lumi, I really do. But since I’ve been off work for three months, I have become his biggest toy.

I keep hair ties in my pocket to give to him whenever he is awake, and I need to sit down. He has three things he does with them: lose it under the TV stand, lose it under the couch, or take it into the kitchen.

If he goes in the kitchen, the hair tie first goes in the big water bowl. No problem if it is full

…but if partially empty, this happens.

After that, I find the sopping wet hair tie in the dry food bowl, abandoned and smelly.

Tonight I had the trifecta, however. Spilled water. Then a massive puke (in a shoe, did he read how to be a stereotypical cat somewhere?), then one of his patented Giant Smelly Shits.

Now that he has purged from both ends, he is running around the house top to bottom enjoying his svelte new self. As he does.

Experiment Win!

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Orchid pot v2.0 had some slight problems, but I am sure the next one will be easier still.

After talking about my first attempt in the comments of the last post, I came up with a few new ideas.

Just assume I fixed the five problems I found the first time; now we have new complications!

I found a new outer pot to work with my already-perfectly-sized inner pot. It is a fully glazed, smooth, no-hole-in-the-bottom useless as fuck decorative pot. I love the colour, but I never use pots with no drainage holes; they are the best way to kill any plant.

I made my concrete in measured batches. Two small ones with the same measure of water to mix. I did have to make a third batch as I was still underestimating how much I needed, but this time the mix in all three were actually measured and not eyeballed.

I taped up my corks (shaved down, a full size cork would let all the growing medium run right out the holes). I hot glued them to the tape on my perfect size interior pot, so it can be used again.

Those corks need to be smaller still!

Here we go! I think I forgot to mention I used veggie oil last time to make pot separation easier. I used a lot more this time, as I didn’t want to destroy that lovely useless pot. I know, I know: I hoard. But this is why! I found a use for a useless thing! It takes me being unable to go to work and to be bored to finally use my useless crap.

You can see the oil at the surface here, and the concrete is still wet. A worry. The next day it was so bad I dipped a paper towel in it to soak up the excess oil.

Weighed down. I brought it inside later, before it got chilly out.

Inside pot pulled out with help of pliers. There was a very thin sheen of ‘crete at the bottom, but it easily chipped off. The inside pot, between the corks pulled up most of the bottom. Not all the way, and no cracking at the bottom. I did it perhaps a bit too soon. Or maybe the corks were too big as I already said. In any case the bottom is thin.

Next problem was how to get the concrete out of the lavender pot. I’ve already given a spoiler with the two pictures above that proves I did it. How? I ran the sink full of hot water and let it soak. I made sure not to get the ‘crete wet, and after 10 minutes I turned it upside down, gave it a couple of thumps with my hand and heard a welcome clunk when it fell out. Whew! Thermodynamics, baby!

Pretty damn clean in there! Yay! The little bits left washed out easily.

My timeline is all screwy now, sorry!

I used these to make the holes in the sides. A very dull scalpel (an X-Acto blade would also work, in the same rounded shape) to start the hole. A not-too-pointy pocket knife that we don’t care about to do most of the hole drilling. I did have to sharpen it five times. Lastly a crappy battery powered drill that had no charge and likely had the wrong drill bit on it.

I made a bunch o holes! When it was working well, it took me about 5 minutes per hole.

Overexposed. But by now the cats were waking up from their 3-hour nap and wanted to see what I was doing.

Not too shabby!

Immediately planted up one of my unhappy orchids. Lots of root rot and suffocating moss in the original plastic pot. I even poked some of the roots out of the holes for stability. Let’s hope they like their new homes.

Experiment Fail!

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I had the great idea to make homemade orchid pots. Using concrete, after researching to see if the lime content would be harmful, of course. Here is my journey into failure!

I chose two plastic plant pots that looked like they fit together enough to make a concrete pot between them.

I taped up the holes on both – inside pot on the outside, outside pot on the inside.

I sliced up wine corks as spacers for air-holes.

I glued the corks inside of the outer pot. This didn’t go well, as I didn’t have proper glue. Later on I found my hot glue gun and that made a big difference. I also forgot to wrap tape around the corks like the tutorial said I should. Mistakes one and two!

Messy! I underestimated how much concrete to mix, so here there are two batches of concrete, both with a different water to concrete ratio, because I did it both times by look and texture only. Mistake three!

I weighed down the inside pot and put it outside to cure. Mistake four. It went below freezing that night.

I had to cut off the outside pot.

Then I wracked my brain trying to figure out how to get the inside pot out without cutting it up. It was the only one I had that was suitable, I thought, to be an inside pot for another attempt.

My bad glue choice spread everywhere, making it harder to get the cork plugs out. You can also see the frost patterns.

Finally, I dug out the inner pot and the corks. It broke. A lot. The top edge was very fragile, and the two different mixes of concrete did not become best friends.

I used my newly re-found hot glue gun to stick it back together, which also went very badly. The gaps in the cracks are huge now! I’m sure an orchid wouldn’t mind, more air circulation is always good. But it is kind of ugly. I will try again!

March Flairs

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I do have some flowers!

Our snowdrops have been blooming since January. I’m very pleased with how just a few bulbs planted years ago keep spreading. We had -4C temps recently, and I was sad to see all the ‘drops were flat on the ground. Tough little plants, they perked back up in two days and a week later still look this good!

The daffodils and narcissus did the same flattening and same perking up, but they aren’t blooming yet.

My crocus. Eventually I plan to have that whole awkward patch of grass filled with them. I’m a little worried about how much moss is in there, though! Any tips on removing or killing moss without killing bulbs?

My gerbera daisies. I keep them indoors, but they were in four shallow pots and several years old. I repurposed a tall container, put holes in the bottom and some rocks for drainage, and used an identical container as a water dish. They now take up less windowsill room and have so much more space to grow. Four plants turned out to be nine, as well – they couldn’t be separated since they were so root bound. I know I did the right thing as I have so many blooms coming up! One seems to grow at least a centimetre a day.

Stupid Thing(s) You Have Done

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I was going really fast on my bike as a kid. Decided that if I lifted my foot up and slammed it back down, I would go faster!

Missed the pedal entirely, went right off the side of the bike at super fast speed.

I now have road rash scars on my shoulder, hip, and likely under my hair on my head (Gonna shave it all off one day, I promise, just to see).

Even worse, one of my mom’s friends saw me come off and insisted on driving me home and my hip bled all over her brand new car’s blue fabric seat, turning it purple. I was mortified.

Tell me your stupidity! Crazy sunburn? Cooking accident? Driving whoops? I need a laugh so go on!

Everyday Sexism

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I am part of a Facebook group that is focussed on science, humanism and atheism.

Someone put up a post about International Women and Girls in STEM Day. She gave her science field, and asked for the rest of us to share our expertise. Some of the replies (several duplicates):

Paleoanthropology

Evolutionary Biology

Biology

IT Analyst

Medical doctor

Microbiologist

Geneticist

Physicist

Astrophysicist

Maths teacher

Engineering consultant

Forensic Scientist

Computer scientist

Zoologist

Physical Chemist

IT for a space-race competitor

Marine ecologist

Environmental chemist

Biochemist

Biophysical chemist

Economist

Many of these woman have multiple degrees. 63 women replied.

And one man.

“Very impressive, ladies.”

Lumi Cutie

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It’s been pretty rough here lately, hence me not being around much. I need to post something fun to cheer me up, and what better than my kitten/no longer kitten Lumi?

Christmas Cat!

He climbed in here behind my back, it’s a sack for firewood.

He has a skull on his shoulders!

Still loves his ‘brother’ Lokii.

And loves his ‘daddy’, too.

Schnozz Talk, Part II

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I did it.

I waited until himself was upstairs so I wouldn’t be interrupted or embarrassed.

It went pretty well? I think? Right nostril was first for the inflow. Came right out the other side, no problem.

Left side…it felt different. Colder. It came out of the other side faster, and ran down to my throat immediately. So I guess I know which side is the difficult one! I was able to intentionally close off my throat so it didn’t run into my mouth – and still breathe – which makes me think this is something I do not do involuntarily. Perhaps doing this rinse will teach my muscles to close that part off more often?

There was a strange not-smell immediately afterwards. Similar to what I think of as the smell of a runny nose when I am about to get a cold. I have a lot of drainage still, 20mins later. I’m not getting blocked up or anything. It just feels damp in there. I’m doing a good bit of hawking back snot. It tastes extra salty so maybe I didn’t get all of the rinse out.

Oh, and because I’m both curious and disgusting, I drained into a glass container so I could see what came out. Nothing was black, grey, or green – but there were a lot of white bits. Will be interesting to see if that changes with regular use. You’ll be glad there is no photo with this post! I could have, but I’m not that disgusting.

About a half hour later now and the left side is starting to close up. Well, I’ve had a sore spot in there for a few days so I’m not going to read too much into it.

Oh, joy. Hubby just came downstairs and I told him, ‘I did the nose thing.’

He said, ‘I can hear it!’

‘Wait, what?’

‘You sound more “nasally”. I thought you were putting it on.’

Fantastic. I sound even worse than I normally do, it seems. Sigh.

For those who do this, a question. Once a day or twice?