Monday, August 25, 2008

Cereus Film

I finally put together a little film of my 2008 cereus blooming. I didn't make it as pretty as last year's. This year I experimented with taking long films of the blooming, now that I have my snazzy new still camera that will also do unlimited films. I then doubled their speed 6 times, so 2 to the 6 or 64 times. For the last night of blooming when I actually had a bloom facing the camera, I reverted to many stills. I think I actually prefer the progression of stills since the quality of the picture is better. All the flower shots are now up on my Flickr account, and here's the video.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Across the Universe

Last night I saw a movie I absolutely loved: Across the Universe. It's a rock opera of the 60s done completely with Beatles lyrics. That sounds only mildly interesting, but the movie is way more than that. It's awesome. The director's vision is incredible and the performances by the non-star actors is amazing. Cameos by Bono and Eddie Izzard are good, but only mildly so since the rest is so great! Watch for references to icons of the 60s like the cave-like bars the Beatles first played in, Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, the Weathermen, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Bread and Puppet Theater, and the Beatles singing on a rooftop in NYC. If you don't like the Beatles, don't let that put you off, as the songs are all reinterpreted by the stars and the situations they find themselves in. I hardly ever watch any of the DVD extras, but I watched them all for this movie since I didn't want it to end. Rent it!

I got some great frontal views of my last cereus flower to bloom, but I won't be able to work on that 'til next week, as I actually have to work through Sunday. Boo work!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Alien Pod Hatching

There has been some serious Cereus action in my house! I had always heard that all the blooms happened on the same night. This year is the first time I've had more than one bud, and they seem to be disobeying orders. One flower bloomed Monday night, but the others stayed shut. This was good because I had to work 'til 9pm Monday night and I didn't get home until after 9:30.

Tuesday night I still had four unopened buds, and once again I had to work until 9pm. Luckily, I wasn't scheduled to be on the desk for the last hour, so I was able to go home one hour early! Thanks, Alene! I set up a light before I went to work, and Michael had started the video on my camera at 7:00 when he left for Kung Fu. I got home at 8:30 just in time to change the battery on the camera and see most of the blooming. I took a bunch of stills and a couple hours of video. I hope to take the video and do some time lapse fiddling. I'll post that sometime this week.

One bud still hasn't opened, and I'm pretty sure it will bloom tonight. The plant is right next to a big window, and the blooms face the glass making them hard to film. The plant is too huge to turn around entirely. I'm going to try to twist the last one around to get some full-frontal-bloomity.

Meanwhile, I've uploaded my photos to a Flickr set.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tonight's the Night!

Tonight's the night the cereus bloom! At least I'm pretty sure it will be tonight or tomorrow. Unfortunately, I work 'til 9pm tonight and tomorrow. Big wah. I set up the camera, and Michael will get some shots and footage. Last year it got to its most open at around 9:45, so I won't totally miss it, just all the opening action. I discovered another bud, too! I'll have 5 blooms!

This week has been quite hot, although today finally cooled off with some rain. Bijou has decided her new favorite place to cool off is in JoJo's carrot garden. Michael said it's because it's a "bed of carrots." The poor carrots are getting pretty squished, so I started pulling them for JoJo to eat. They're delicious!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Playing tourist

My Dad and my brother Brady were just out for a visit, and I got to do lots of great tourist things I never get around to doing on my own. They took a train cross-country from Maine, seeing the sites as they whizzed past. At Glacier, they rented a car and came out to Seattle Friday night.

Saturday we spent relaxing for the most part, though I took my Dad for a bike ride down to Golden Gardens while Michael abused Brady with weight lifting and going up and down the long stairs to Golden Gardens. We stopped in at Dusty Strings to oogle instruments and buy a few doodads and a CD. That night, after a dinner at the Hi-Life, we went to the Tractor Tavern. I had seen a bluegrass show advertised, but I knew nothing about the performers. What an awesome show! As my Dad said, one guitar solo alone was worth the $15 to get in. Danny Barnes of the Bad Livers opened the show on his banjo. He'd lay down a lick, record it, play it while laying down another lick, record it, etc., until he had about 5 tracks of himself playing while he played yet something else. Then six handsome young bucks got on the stage and proceeded to blow us away with totally amazing bluegrass. The Infamous Stringdusters. Wow. Each musician was top-notch. The guitar player blazed around the neck of his guitar like a classical guitarist, the mandolin player's hand was a blur, the other players were very fine, and the most beautiful vocals and harmonies came from them. To finish off their encore they came off the stage and stood in a tight circle in the middle of the stage picking like they do for themselves. Brady and I each picked up a CD at the end of the night.

It's hard to beat all that Saturday fun, so Sunday we just left town. We drove up to Paradise on Mt. Rainier and hiked around for a couple of hours. Although clouds covered the summit while we were there, Dad and Brady were suitably impressed by the views they got of the mountain and the tree strewn Nisqually river bed. We saw some pretty alpine flowers, a blue grouse and her chicks, lots of other birds, and a big fat marmot. On the way down the mountain, the clouds finally left the summit, and we got a nice view of the mountain up through Kautz Creek.

They had planned to leave Monday, but I convinced them to stay another day. Monday we strolled down to the Java Bean for coffee and goodies, then walked on to the Ballard Locks. We were able to see the Locks in action and get some salmon viewing in! The Chinook were heading up to spawn. We could see them waiting below the locks, in the glass viewing area we saw them hanging out resting in the fish ladder, and then we briefly saw a few jumping up through the locks. They were mighty big. Smolt were heading out of the locks, and a seagull and a great blue heron were monitoring it all. Some fish and chips from the Lockspot got us home, and then they came with me to my banjo lesson and a little thrift shopping. We topped the night off with square dancing at the tractor.

It was great visit!

Floral excitement!

Last year, my Night Blooming Cereus bloomed for the first time in 6 years. I got one flower last year, and one flower 6 years before. This year, I left the cactus in the nice sunny window it had enjoyed so much, and I fertilized it with specialized cactus fertilizer. It's paid off! I have FOUR alien-pod-like buds! I'm very excited. I have a better camera this year, so I'm hoping I have enough memory to shoot the whole blooming thing on film, rather than just paste together stills like I did last year.

Last year it bloomed on August 17th, and it will probably be at around the same time. Stay tuned!