stuff and things

22 July 2013

Summer Celebrations

Mid-July holds a place of much happiness in our family. Of course, it's Bastille Day, and who doesn't like a good prison break? Moreover, it's a beloved family member's birthday, who shall remain anonymous but whose name rhymes with "Shandy." He's one of those people who simply hates being fussed over on birthdays.

Finally, I gave him the old, "It's not for You; it's for 'Them'" line ... 'Them' being people like friends and family. He wised up, but not enough to let me give him any actual presents. I did manage to sneak in a hand-made card ... (As always, click on images to get closer views.)
Birthday Wiseguy asked why the mouse was holding a yellow squash. Harumph!
Needless to say, certain family members showered "Shandy" with presents galore. Perhaps they didn't get the memo? (This always happens.) Anyways, the neatest gift was Alice's Venus fly-trap, filling a void in our collection of carnivorous plants.
A bright new Venus fly-trap, open for business.
Our house was designed to convey the indoors/outdoors concept, so our doors and windows don't have any screens. While we get some nice breezes, we also experience annoying visitors. As summer rolls on, all manner of flies, wasps and even the occasional birds come and go. For the flies, at least, we have found the perfect revenge. We catch them and feed them to our carniverous plants.
A Wardian Case holds our small but entertaining collection of carnivorous plants.
The Venus fly-traps don't last very long; we've replaced them a few times. But the pitcher plants (Nepenthes sp.), similar to those pictured below, have hung on for some years now.
The nefarious pitcher plant lures flies into its tubes with savory scents, but the jungle-gym of clingy hairs disappears farther down, and the fly slides to a soupy but nourishing end. Whee!

If I could figure out how to do it, I'd design our entire entryway to be a giant Wardian case. Or move to Houston, Texas. (We visited there one spring and saw green mold or algae growing in skyscraper windows.)

On one of our trips to San Francisco we discovered Valencia Street, a great eating/walking/shopping area in the Mission District. When we found ourselves face to face with dioramas of taxidermed mice in costumes, alongside shelves of animal skeletons and bays of exotic orchids, we realized Paxton Gate was possibly the strangest shop ever conceived. There we found the Wardian case, named for a 19th century inventor whose glass terrariums vastly aided the efforts of British specimen collectors to keep their treasures alive over months'-long sea voyages. That same year, Shandy gave me a subscription to Carnivorous Plant Newsletter, which offers a seed bank to members. I'd like another ten Wardian cases, please, for experimenting with seeds. But ... there's always that clutter thing looming.
Carnivorous Plant Newsletter: A scientific journal that reveals this world of amazing plants.
Like Alice and Mom, I'd planned on a present for Shandy, too, but the new shirt didn't get finished on time. Years ago, he'd picked out this Australian cotton print crawling with Honey Ants. I tried out a pocket placement going crosswise, below left, but the photograph showed how wrong it was. Cameras are a great tool for evaluating works in progress, no matter how you like to roll!
Honey Ants, also called Honey Pot Ants, are eaten as sweets by Aboriginals in the Outback.
Lotus, my sewing assistant, is trying to prove a point. Yes, kitty, the fabric wrinkles like crazy.
Lotus enjoying the cool of the evening, and perhaps the thought of Honey Ants?
Even with wrinkles, I know Shandy will wear his new shirt with pride, and spread the lore of Honey Ants wherever he goes. He is an Interesting Person. Happy Birthday, dearest hubby.