Well Now That's Done And I'm Glad It's Over*

Hi! I am not dead! I have not forgotten that the Internet exists! I have just fallen prey to the well-known rule that when you're offered a job that doesn't start for a week and finally have an excuse to lay about lazily for a week, safe in the knowledge that you'll be working soon and you don't need to refresh the Craigslist writing/editing postings every five minutes anymore, this is when everyone in the world will decide to offer you some freelance work. This is no bad thing, of course, but it does rather cut into the scheduled watching of Ten Years Younger and Designed To Sell you'd had planned for the next five days. Also, apparently, it makes you forget to post on your website. So hello! I'm sorry! Please go easy on me today, I have a hangover.

It's the fault of Valentine's Day, of course, or rather it's the fault of Jemima's Eighth Annual I Hate Valentine's Day Dinner Party (Jemima! You really need to post something! Pot, kettle, black etc) at which Sean and I were guests last night. This is the thing about Valentine's Day, you see: I cannot think of anything more depressing than going out to eat in a restaurant on February 14. Much like going to a party on a boat, eating dinner in a restaurant on Valentine's Day just seems too much like forced merriment to me. Eating dinner at someone else's house, however, is a different story. Mostly, it is different because you know that six plates will be coming out of the kitchen that night, rather than two hundred and six, and also because you can be fairly safe in the knowledge that the line cook won't have spat (or worse) on your bruschetta because his girlfriend dumped him right before he gave her those tickets to Paris, that spiteful whore. You will know this because you will generally be the line cook, thanks to your innocuous "can I help you out with anything?" that never fails to have you standing knee-deep in the gory battlefield of someone else's kitchen, irritating them because you don't know where the dish towels are, doing something arty with the pine nuts, and trying to calm the hostess' mounting panic that she oversalted the butternut squash ravioli.

For the record, Jemima did not oversalt the butternut squash ravioli. In fact, she made a meal of such spectacular beauty that I was still so full this morning I could only have two cupcakes for breakfast, instead of three. This is what I made Sean for Valentine's Day, you see: double chocolate cupcakes with icing the color of Sweet n' Low packets. Because nothing says "I love you and think you are incredibly masculine and virile" than that, I assure you. For his part, he bought me an orchid, a towering white orchid, which is something I've been wanting for ages, and was just enough in keeping with my "please don't buy me anything, I really don't want anything, seriously, flowers on Valentine's Day are such a cliche, yuck, so tacky" request, and yet still "ah! something pretty for me!" enough to prevent me from breaking up with him immediately. Because despite my protests, we all know that if he hadn't presented me with something, there would have been some bitching going on. And some throwing of cupcakes as well, cupcakes for which I actually made CREAM CHEESE FROSTING FROM SCRATCH, by the way, rather than buying a tub of chemicals, oh, the hardship of it all.

So now I have an orchid and no idea how to take care of it. Does it need watering? Feeding? Baby Mozart? A name? Constant reaffirmations of its beauty in order to build its self-esteem? I am afraid I am an awful plant owner and will probably have killed it by next week. For now, though, it's beautiful to look at, and the cats are eyeing it hungrily like it's their own personal tower of double chocolate chip cupcakes---very masculine cupcakes---with lurid pink cream cheese icing. I fear they may eat it even before I unintentionally murder it. Please advise.

*I speak, of course, of Valentine's Day. And quote from T.S. Eliot. My English degree is good for something, after all!

1
chirky
Feb 15, 2007

1. There is something funky going on with the coding when I press "leave a comment" - something that has created a towering pink block over most of your entry, and it is a bit distracting. But that is not what I came here to say.

2. I think orchids like humidity. So...maybe put it in your bathroom when you take a steamy shower?

2
chirky
Feb 15, 2007

Huh. That is odd, indeed. Because now that I submitted a comment, the towering pink thing is gone.

3
Jacqui
Feb 15, 2007

I also got an orchid for Valentine's Day, except mine is yellow. I love plants but I cannot keep them alive, so I think it will have to be the Boyfriend's job to take care of it. I keep the cat alive and he does the plants. Fair enough. I think it needs a name, though.

4
Erica
Feb 15, 2007

I had an orchid for about 6 months - I fed it orchid food and misted it just like I was told to and finaly the flowers fell off and I was pissed so I chucked it out in the trash. Better luck with yours!

5
Gretchen
Feb 15, 2007

God, I took an entire COURSE on Eliot. And one on Chaucer. And one on Shakespeare. My own English degree presently hangs over my kitchen sink to remind me exactly how much good it's done me.

Furthermore, I killed my Trader Joe's orchid almost immediately, probably by keeping it in my kitchen, which due to the shadiness of my backyard is as dimly lit as an opium den. So no advice there. But Happy Day After Valentine's Day, anyway, and enjoy what's left of your hiatus from the rat race.

6
Chiada
Feb 15, 2007

Well, I'm not exactly an orchid pro. I have one that my hubby bought me over 3 years ago. When he bought it, it was abloom with beautiful flowers that lasted a couple of months. Then they started to dry up and fall off. However, the plant is far from dead. It still has its leathery green leaves. I'm not sure how often orchids are supposed to bloom or what conditions they need to bloom. But from what I've read, they need bright yet indirect light and humidity. They should be planted in a loose bark, not soil. You should mist the leaves at least once a week. They should never be left sitting in water. I actually bought an orchid planter thingy from Home Depot. It's basically just a tray with a decorative pot that you put the plastic potted plant into. When I water it, because it's planted in bark, the water just fills up the tray. Then, as it evaporates, it creates a bit of humidity around the orchid. So, like I said, it's alive, but not blooming.... I've just visited www.orchids.com (shoulda done this yyyyeeeears ago) and evidently I'm doing everything right except FERTILIZING! I guess these babies need to be fertilized quite often. Needs of the plant also vary by the species. I have a dendrobium, myself. As for the tray, all you'd need to do is get a saucer that is bigger than the bottom of the plant container (at least twice the size), fill it with a shallow layer of small pebbles, and place the pot on top of the pebbles. So when you water, it drains into the saucer. Hope that helps!

7
jaz
Feb 16, 2007

An orchid? Tricky.

Better to go with a philodendron. One must make a deliberate effort to kill those.

8
citywendy
Feb 16, 2007

I was a floral designer for a couple of years and this is the way we cared for the orchids in our shop: water then ONCE a week by soaking the pot in water (fill a bucket or a sink or whatever is big enough to fill the pot). You'll see air bubbles rise to the top -- that is the orchid drinking the water. When the air bubbles stop, the orchid is done drinking and you can take the pot out and let it drain in a saucer. Repeat in a week.
When the last bloom has died, cut the orchid stem down the the second to last ring. If you keep watering it once a week, it will grow back and re-bloom in several months.

9
Lisa
Feb 16, 2007

I used to have an orchid when I lived in Colorado- killed it almost immediately. It wasnt until moving to Japan (Okinawa) that I think I have finally figured them out. People are correct in saying they like humidity and lots of sun. They are supposed to be potted in sphagnum moss- when the moss is totally dried out, you water it thoroughly (and let the water drain- dont leave the plant sitting in it). Its normal for the blooms to fall off after a couple of months. And the floral designer is right- once all the blooms fall off you want to cut the stem all the way back. Hopefully- if things go well, a new stem will shoot up next year and it will bloom again!

I love reading your blog and am bummed that your Asian adventure is over! I was living vicariously through your blog since the adventures we take arent quite as exotic with an 18month old! We are hoping to make it to Singapore this fall.

PS- my favorite thing in San Francisco is having an Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista. :)

10
Susan
Feb 16, 2007

Name the orchid Henry. To go with Charlie the cat, of COURSE.

11
fancythis
Feb 16, 2007

Ooh, I can HELP I can HELP!!!!! While I am a serial orchid killer (I just can't figure it out, I went to a technical high school for HORTICULTURE for crimeny sakes!) my best friend of all time can not only keep them alive, but they're beautiful! and thriving! and she has several!
Ok, I'm exhausted from the excitement here.
Go visit her at http://lifelemons.wordpress.com and tell her I sent you, I assure you she would be happy to help! Yay!

12
Horrible Warning
Feb 16, 2007

From scratch and cream cheese cancels out pink. Seriously, Sean is a lucky man.

And Jemima DOES need to post!

13
Melanie
Feb 16, 2007

#1- I think I'm not one to ask about plants, since I always forget to water mine. They manage to stay alive and grow huge without much watering, though, so I think I have a Plant Fairy in my house.
#2 - I love Iron and Wine, but I don't know that song! I can't believe I'm behind on his music!!
#3 - your link to Jemima won't work for me?

14
wwcutie
Feb 16, 2007

If cream cheese frosting killed me, it would be worth it.

15
Tia
Feb 16, 2007

I've killed off my African violets and my ficus is currently dying a slow and painful death, but I've managed to keep all my orchids alive! I don't even mist them or fertilize or anything. I just only water them when the moss is completely dried out and let all the water drain every time. And yes, it's impossible for the flowers to last forever, but I did the cutting it back thing several months ago for the one plant that lost all its flowers, and it already has new blooms coming in. (By the way, anyone know how to revive an almost-dead ficus?)

16
JB
Feb 16, 2007

Oh yes, name the orchid. All substantial plants need a name.

Ha! "Substantial plants." I like that.

This part is probably the truest thing you ever wrote:

"...just enough in keeping with my “please don’t buy me anything, I really don’t want anything, seriously, flowers on Valentine’s Day are such a cliche, yuck, so tacky” request, and yet still “ah! something pretty for me!” enough..."

What IS it about Valentine's Day that makes us NOT want something and definitely WANT something, at the same time? I've never figured that out.

17
Diane
Feb 16, 2007

Alas I can offer no assistance with the orchids having killed 3 of them. However, I do agree that double chocolate cupcakes with pink icing are VERY masculine and would like to place an order (I LOVE cupcakes)!

Enjoy the rest of your time off before starting at dream job.

PS - Yes, Jemima does need to post soon.

18
Elizabarracuda
Feb 16, 2007

I had beautiful, healthy orchids until I moved into an overheated apartment. I put my orchids on a shelf above the shower, thinking I could create an exotic jungle waterfall scenario. The orchids promptly withered, along with my steamy jungle dreams. It wasn't until I read Orchid Fever that I learned orchids do not like heat. I recommend giving your orchid an home on a chilly window ledge.

19
smoness
Feb 16, 2007

I am sorry to report that I cannot offer you ANYTHING on the ways of keeping plants alive and flourishing. I managed to kill an Aloe plant. Which I know is a cactus and can survive anything... except me. =(

20
Em
Feb 16, 2007

I have friends-who-throw-dinner-parties-envy. Seriously, why am I the only one who enjoys entertaining? Because, frankly I'm beginning to not enjoy it so much ... reciprocate friends!!

21
DM
Feb 16, 2007

I cannot give you plant advise. I had a pot of daisies commit suicide to get away from me (well, okay, they were outside on my landing (aka rickety stair railing) on a windy day but it ties in with the plant serial killer I have become), I had a cactus jump off of a television and attack me, I killed a daffodil and several cactuses and also my beautiful bonsai tree.

But yes, the orchid needs a name. My bonsai tree was named Mr. Perretti, one of my cactuses was called Steve because he reminded me of Steve Buscemi (don't ask, I think I may have been on serious drugs that day) and the daffodil was named Phil just because it was cutesy enough to be annoying.

And it's not just plants. I just named my new camera Zoe.

22
Schnozz
Feb 19, 2007

Wait ... there's such a thing as orchid food? I have a lot to learn. I may start with another cactus.

Don't ask what happened to the first one. It wasn't my fault.

23
s@bd
Feb 21, 2007

I was given one for Christmas and it's still alive. I have NO IDEA how. I have never before been able to keep a plant alive. I have always wanted to own an orchid (THE GORGEOUSNESS OF IT ALL!) but my inability to keep plants alive (and the rumours of orchids being extremely difficult to keep alive) scared me shitless (or at least orchid-less).

(It's on the fireplace mantle, I water it whenever I remember with about 2 cups of warm-ish water, and I leave it the hell alone. Seems to be working so far.)