Movie Recommendations

People are starting to return to work and normal activities as more and more are vaccinated, but some of you still may be looking for movies to watch (having binged out on everything during the lockdown).

Rewatched The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain the other night.  Hugh Grant at his Hugh Grantiest, but just the overall quirkiness is amusing and heartwarming.  From 1995 so may be a little more difficult to find.

A Welsh village takes umbrage when their local mountain is slighted by English mapmakers.

Uh Oh! Someone Gave You an Orchid

I’ve noticed that in recent years orchids have become a favored floral gift to give to others.  It makes sense as they are fairly inexpensive and the blooms can last 4-6 weeks under the right conditions.

The problem is, once the blooms die, people consider the plant to be “dead”.  It isn’t.  It is just dormant so far as blooming is concerned.  So long as the leaves continue to look green and healthy, the plant itself is alive.  But, without the right conditions, you won’t get it to rebloom.

I’ve mentioned before that since being in my current apartment with a westward-facing balcony window, I’ve had major success in reblooming orchids.  People happily gave me their “dead” plants in hopes I’d return a blooming plant to them somewhere down the line, and that has often been the case.

So, here is my NON-EXPERT tutorial for anyone who wants to attempt it themselves and get more life and enjoyment out of that initial orchid plant.  There are lots of online tutorials that get very involved in ‘never do this’ and ‘you must do this’.  My take is more ‘the lazy person’s way of reblooming orchids’, since I certainly don’t put a lot of effort into it.

  1. Orchids are air plants. That means they don’t want a lot of water and certainly don’t want to have their roots swimming in it.  The main problem people have is overwatering.  If there is appreciable humidity in the air, orchids will pull some from there if they need it.  I once ended up being gone for 4 weeks and left my orchids on the bathroom counter.  I watered them, then set several containers full of water around them.  Thus they had shade and humidity.  They all survived just fine not being watered during that time.  In fact, orchids seem to tolerate too little water far better than they do too much water.  So, DON’T overwater.

I’ve seen it mentioned to only water every 7-10 days.  I would say you could probably even go 10-14 days unless where you live is very dry.  But the best way to know is to stick your finger in the soil.  If it’s damp – don’t water.  If it’s dry, put a little water on it.  You can add more if necessary, but it’s hard to remove.  Most of the containers orchids are sold in do not have drain holes so it is very easy for water to sit in them without your realizing it (hence the finger in the soil test).  Only give them a splash (e.g. 1/8 cup).  Like I said, you can add more if it seems very dry and the finger-in-the-soil test confirms a need).

FYI, water is for the plant, not the blooms.  Getting water on the blooms will just make them die faster.

  1. The other thing orchids need in order to rebloom is light. But they don’t want the sun beating down on them.  Most guides mention “indirect” light, which can be difficult to interpret.  I pretty much aim to keep the vertical blinds open during daylight hours except when the sun is beating in through the window and directly hitting the plants.  When I’m home, the blinds are open til noon or later, then closed as the sun begins its descent in the west and comes in through my west-facing balcony window.  On workdays, I mostly close the blinds but leave a sliver to let some light in.  Doing so takes longer to rebloom the orchids but is safer.

They tell you that if the leaves are dark green, then the plant isn’t getting enough light.  But ‘dark green’ is a little subjective.  ‘Yellow’ means the leaf is dying/dead, so that’s the other extreme.  (Though leaves do occasionally die, turn yellow and fall off in the normal life cycle – just not ALL the leaves.)  Try to get a middle shade of green – not an extreme in either direction.

Preferred temperature around the orchid is between 65-80, but they do like cooler, at least the phalaenopsis orchids do.  So do what you can in your circumstances to keep them more on the cool side.  Where I live sometimes it gets up to 80-90 indoors and it hasn’t killed anything so long as the sun isn’t beating on them.

my orchids_04.04.20bc

  1. Guides will tell you all kinds of do’s and don’ts. Likely there is a good reason for those warnings, but common sense has to prevail.  Orchid roots go wild and grow out of the pot.  They can get quite long.  (see picture above – plant on the left)  They don’t really advise cutting healthy roots, but when they’re near to wrapping around my leg, I’ll do it anyway.

So far, I haven’t had any problems as I try to only cut back as much as necessary.  I got to the point where my choice was either cutting things back or throwing the plant out because it was out of hand.  Since I hadn’t paid for the orchids and wasn’t spending a lot of money on them, I wasn’t worried about tossing a plant out if it died after I cut back the roots.

  1. Orchids will tend to grow a “stalk” over the years as they rebloom. They periodically lose leaves or roots and then send out new ones and each time it goes upward.  A few of my plants were getting too unwieldy and tall, so I finally tried breaking off the seemingly dead and unnecessary bottom of the stalk and that has worked fine so far.  But, again, I’m not out a lot of money if it had failed.  (also the picture above, plant on the left – the leaves should be down closer to the top of the container, but the stalk has progressively moved them upward)

 

  1. They tell you to repot orchids every 1-2 years but I have not really done that. However, some of the containers I have them in were rather small so I got something larger and more soil to move them to a pot where they fit better.  I also put small stones or marbles in the bottom of the pot to leave more room for “air”, especially if the pot has no drain hole in it.  The soil itself is mostly there just to hold the plant in place, but orchids will tend to lean, so I have accumulated a wide assortment of sticks to use to help position them upright.  I also have quite a few of those little butterfly clips to help anchor the bloom spike to a stick to keep it from falling down.  Most of the sticks and clips came with the original orchids I was given, but in a pinch I have used twist ties in place of clips.  Many of the sticks that come with the original plant are meant to be decorative (e.g. bamboo), but most any stick will do if you don’t care about aesthetics.

 

  1. When orchids bloom, they send up a bloom spike that usually has several buds on it toward the top. Once the blooms finally die, they will shrivel up and fall off the spike.  When all have done so, the spike itself will start to turn brown and shrivel.  Cut it off as close to the base of the plant as you can and throw it away.  It’s useless.  In order to bloom again, the orchid will have to send up a new bloom spike for that to happen.  (note the VERY long bloom spike for the plant on the left in the picture)

 

And that’s kind of it.  I do have orchid food that I maybe splash on them every few months in lieu of the regular watering, but a lot of the time I forget and it hasn’t yet been a problem.  The kind I have is granulated and dissolves in a lot of water, so I saved a juice container for mixing it in.

But if it comes to tossing the plant or trying to rebloom it, you might as well try to rebloom it for further enjoyment.  Otherwise, settle for a green plant.

I’m happy to try to answer questions, but remember – I’m not an expert.

Trust Me on This

One of the most annoying sounds in life is that beep-beep-beep of vehicles backing up.

For about the last 2 years there has been construction near where I work, so I have to listen to that all day long.  Yes, it can be heard very clearly even in a high-rise building.

Now, they’re doing construction on a building near where I live, so I get awakened to that each morning around 7:00 am.  Looks like I won’t be sleeping in for quite some time.

There are several annoying sounds in life, but they are usually brief and intermittent.  But when there’s construction (and other causes), it seems to be constant-constant-constant beep-beep-beeping.  White noise can only cover so much.

I wonder if construction workers develop a constant beep-beep-beeping that they hear even when off the job.

Have You Noticed?

With the advent of the pandemic, parking lots became a lot less crowded (for the most part), but people still cram into the smallest grouping possible.  (They did it before but it was less noticeable until now, and could be construed as ‘necessary’.)

I’ve pulled into a spot leaving an open spot between me and the next car, while there are numerous empty spaces around me.  A new driver comes and crams into that one spot between me and the other car.  Why do people do that?

They aren’t any closer to the door, so that can’t be it.  They have less room to open their door to get out and back into their car.

Are they hiding from someone?  Do they have anxiety about being alone and this provides comfort?  Should I offer to hold their hand while walking to the door of the store so they aren’t scared?

I’m at a loss to explain it, but then I don’t grasp much of human psychology.

I Guess It Still Needs to Be Said

The CDC eased the guidelines about wearing masks, and everyone is wildly celebrating.

Yeah, it’s great.  I don’t like wearing a mask either, especially since it fogs my glasses.

But I will continue to wear one, and social distance as much as possible, and continue frequent hand washing and other cleaning protocols.

Why?

Under normal circumstances, it takes YEARS to develop a vaccine, and part of the reason for that is that the vaccines are rigorously tested.  Usually they are dealing with something that they’ve had years of experience studying while they were working on the vaccine, so they have a pretty good idea of how the disease works and is transmitted.

They didn’t have time for that with COVID-19.  There were too many illnesses and deaths.  Healthcare systems all over the world were being overwhelmed.  They had to find something that was effective, at least temporarily, to stop, or at least slow, the march of the disease.  And they managed that in an amazing effort.

But now they still need to test and study the disease and all those things they didn’t really have much time to do before. How many times were we told one thing and then further study made them revise their statement?  They aren’t sure how effective the various vaccines are/will be against the several variant strains that are being produced.  So far, the vaccines seem to be working well on those also.

They also don’t know if the vaccine will “expire” and require booster shots to keep it effective, and if it does require booster shots, how often?  They are working to determine that.

Everyone wants the world to go back to normal, but moving too fast and without heed of the dangers could cause more problems than anyone wants.  If we continue to move with caution, and follow the safety measures, then likely we can begin to function in our usual ways.  If we recklessly charge back to ‘normal’, it could prove a great setback.

Please, use caution and sense as we try to resume life as we once knew it.  No one wants to draw this out any longer than it has to be suffered.

I Can’t Prove It, But I’m Still Sure

Eight hours.  That’s what they tell us is/should be the amount of sleep we get each night.  Fair enough, if not always doable.

The thing is, though, my body knows the difference between the eight hours of 10:00pm-6:00am, 11:00pm-7:00am and 12:00midnight-8am.  It’s like it has decided to not start the clock on “hours of sleep obtained” until midnight.  So, going to bed at 10:00pm means my body considers me to only have had 6 hours sleep when I get up at 6 am.  Even if I did fall asleep right away.

Now, I don’t claim everyone is the same on this.  Each person has their own time frame (or maybe it’s just me), but that’s how it works for me.  Send me to bed at 10pm and I’ll struggle to rise at 6am.  Same for an 11pm bedtime, 7am wakeup.  But midnight shutdown and 8am restart – sure, okay.  I can do that.

Am I really the only one?

Health Care Opportunity

The AARP April 2021 newsletter indicates that there is a new window for signing up for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  President Biden directed the HHS to reopen the enrollment period at HealthCare.gov through May 15.  Hope this helps someone, or gets passed along to someone who needs to know.

The Great Pumpkin

Many years ago, my roommate, her family and I would all go to a pumpkin patch each year for fun and to buy our pumpkins.  One year, I took a friend with me.

He decided he wanted to find the largest pumpkin there.  So I started helping him search.  Then my roommate and her family got in on the hunt.  We finally found it – probably the size of those big exercise stability balls (knee or thigh height).  We’re talking really big.

Well somewhere along the line I got it in my head that my roommate wanted to buy this thing.  And SHE got it into her head that I really wanted to buy this thing.  Fortunately, her daughter had a hatchback car (it wouldn’t fit through the door into my backseat), and she agreed to follow us home with it.  Then we had the problem of getting it into our apartment.  It finally took us loading it onto a bath towel and carrying it between us.  We got it inside, found a place to put it that wasn’t in the way (much) and only then did we somehow discover that neither of us really wanted this huge thing, we’d just agreed to it because we thought the other person did.

Well, after the time, effort and expense, of course we kept it.  And kept it.  And kept it.  After a while, pumpkins eventually start to go bad and get mushy, but not this thing.  It lasted through Christmas.  It lasted through Spring.  It lasted through Summer.  If I remember correctly, we finally got rid of it just before the next Christmas because it was near the front door and would make it difficult getting the Christmas tree.  And there was every evidence that it was STILL good when we tossed it in the dumpster.

I don’t wait for The Great Pumpkin each year like Linus does.  Been there, done that, brought the big guy home for a year.  Do not want to repeat that.  Sorry Linus.

Ads? Sure, No Problem.

Someone on Tumblr was ranting about “no ads”, particularly since we are inundated with them everywhere.

Years ago, I got a call from a marketing company.  They wanted me to promise to watch a certain television show on a certain day/time.  They were going to call me afterwards with questions.  I agreed to do it.  The day came; I watched the show.  Sure enough, they called.

 

“Did you see a dog food commercial?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you see a commercial for a car?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you see a commercial about hair products?”

“I don’t know.”

“I thought you said you watched the show!”

“I did watch the show.  You didn’t tell me I had to watch the commercials, so I didn’t.”

 

They can insist on foisting them on us, but I’m very good at ignoring them!

And the more “in your face” that they get, the less likely I am to buy anything from them.  Ever.  Offer it to me, okay.  But don’t try to shove it down my throat.  You won’t like the rebound.