Monday, April 24, 2017

Anthurium no. 0813 "Arya Reddy"

Not much to say about Arya (but keep reading anyway, 'cause at the end I'll talk about a different, more interesting seedling). Her seed parent was 0234 Ross Koz (red-purple spathe, yellow spadix). I understand that the pollen parent is contributing genes too, and therefore I shouldn't expect the seedlings of a given plant to all look the same, but it still surprises me to get this


out of this:

0234 Ross Koz.

I wish stuff like that would happen more often with the Schlumbergeras.

This spathe color is similar to 'Orange Hot,' though a bit lighter. Presumably that's where the color comes from; I've seen it in several other seedlings by now. Though I think Arya is unique in having a matching spadix; all the other peachy-orangey-pink spathes have come with yellow or light yellow spadices.

Arya starts out more orange than pink


and finishes more pink than orange.


Also you can see the thrips really like her. The leaves are nice, though: large and mostly unblemished.


And she seems to be suckering okay.


So I'll probably keep Arya a while longer, as long as she doesn't develop new problems on top of the thrips.

The other seedling I want to talk about is 1299 Sinthia D Meanor, which fell apart just before opening a first bloom. Since I'd teased you earlier with talk about Sinthia doing a new bloom color, and since the bud got far enough along to be able to tell what color it was going to be, I figured I should go ahead and reveal it even if I don't have an actual full bloom to show. Here's Sinthia:



In person, that's a sort of muddy tan-yellow, a little closer to the second photo than the first. The spathe uncurled enough before dying that I could see a tiny sliver of the spadix; what I could see was light yellow.

So it appears that it's possible to get to a yellow(ish) spathe through breeding alone, presumably a combination of a very light green pigment (which came from the seed parent, the NOID red) with a very light orange pigment from one of the oranges. Averaged out, that would yield the muddy tan-yellow we see here.

Obviously I would rather have an actual open bloom to show you, but since it looks like it's going to be a while before Sinthia tries again, I figured I may as well show you what had happened so far, since it's pretty interesting news either way (if you're the sort of person who finds unattractive but unusual spathe colors interesting).


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 181

181A is the only seedling from the NOID magenta to bloom magenta, which isn't exactly interesting but it's kind of the best I can do.1


The name finalists: Divoon, Kiss Them For Me, Margaret Atwood, Remedial Optimism.

Divoon and Kiss Them For Me are both related to Jayne Mansfield (1950s/60s actress and sex symbol) and the Siouxie and the Banshees song "Kiss Them for Me," previously discussed in the post for seedling 182A Padparadscha.


Margaret Atwood is, of course, the Canadian novelist / poet / environmental activist / Twitter enthusiast, who I probably don't really need to identify because she's kind of having a moment, what with The Handmaid's Tale being adapted as a TV series on Hulu and everything. Why seedling 181 specifically? I did an image search for Atwood, and on the rare occasions when she chooses to wear a non-neutral color to be photographed in, it's often a color similar to 181A's: fuchsia, magenta, pink, lavender. That neighborhood.2

Remedial Optimism is sort of random-word nonsense and sort of not. I could probably use a refresher class in how to be optimistic. You know what happens to skills that you don't practice.


So. Not particularly taken with Remedial Optimism. Divoon and Kiss Them For Me are both similar enough in meaning and referents that I should probably choose one or the other, so let's drop the longer of the two. Which leaves us with Divoon and Margaret Atwood.

I keep thinking that I should try to bring back some old slang words, like The Darb (considered for seedlings 200A and 176A) or Divoon, though I never actually do. Haven't even gotten particularly close. So maybe Divoon is overdue, sorta.

I also considered Gallop for a while in the selection process, for reasons which may or may not be obvious.

On the other hand, Margaret Atwood is an important writer to me personally. I really love Cat's Eye and The Robber Bride, both for themselves and because I encountered them at an impressionable age.3 Also Lady Oracle is wonderful, and deserves more attention than it usually gets. (She lost me somewhere around Alias Grace / The Blind Assassin: I own copies of both but have only read the former one time, and was never able to get very far into the latter.4)

On balance, I have to go with Margaret Atwood. Whatever difficulties I've had with some of her books, I can recite portions of the others from memory, I've read them so often. I kinda have to. So: 181A Margaret Atwood.

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1 Two other magenta seedlings, 132A [name TBD] and 281A No Bad Vibez, came from the NOID white; a third magenta seedling (165A [name TBD]) came from the NOID peach, which was unexpected.
2 Not exclusively or anything. Quite a few reds and orangey reds, and there's one photo involving a turquoise scarf that pops up over and over. But still. Seemed like a good color to go with, if I'm going to name a seedling after her.
3 So impressionable that, when I look at the short stories I wrote during and just after college, Atwood is probably the author whose style I rip off the most. (Along with Lorrie Moore, David Foster Wallace, Katherine Mansfield, Jay McInerney, and fellow Canadian Douglas Coupland.)
4 I've also read all three of the MaddAddam books (Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam, each only once. I had trouble suspending disbelief for both books, in particular the clunky and awful names for places and things (RejoovenEsence, rakunk, pigoon, ChickieNobs).
These were apparently deliberate on Atwood's part: she was making some kind of point about something, I read it in an article a while back and it made sense, even if can't remember what the point was now. But it was still really distracting. I mean, there are people out there who specialize in finding pleasant-sounding, memorable names for new products / businesses / etc. now. I found it hard to believe that a process that, in the early 21st century, manages to come up with Roomba, Altria, Mondelez, Xe, and so forth is going to give us CorpSeCorps in a couple decades. There's no way CorpSeCorps gets past a focus group.
It's not a big deal exactly (though by now you should understand that naming things properly is really important to me), but the books were full of stuff like that, not just the names but all kinds of stuff that threw me out of the story because I just couldn't believe that things could get quite that lurid and cartoony. Though that was a few years ago: I suppose my baseline for how lurid and cartoony is too lurid and cartoony has moved since then. :^(


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Anthurium no. 1145 "Jimmy James"

Jimmy's kind of a mixed bag, as seedlings go. He took a really long time to produce a fully-developed inflorescence; for quite a while I was getting stuff like this instead:



I mean, obviously there are worse things. And in some ways the half-baked blooms are more interesting than the finished version, which is the same old red / yellow combination we've seen many times before:


But even so. Even the fastest seedlings have a long delay between the appearance of a bud and the actual unfurling of a spathe, so when a seedling stops just short of unfurling, it's hard not to feel frustrated.


The plant overall isn't particularly full-looking, though it makes up for it slightly by having interesting leaves. It isn't always visible, but the thin reddish edge on the leaf here


is a real thing, not an artifact added by the camera, and the larger veins are slightly red as well. Even better, the new leaves are a very dramatic red-orange.


Jimmy does have some minor problems with thrips and Xanthomonas; one or both may be enough to get him discarded eventually. I'm willing to wait and see how things go, though.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 080

Seedling 080A is redder than the usual Schlumbergera seedling, and its petals are a little more disheveled-seeming. It also produced more flowers than a lot of this year's first-time bloomers, though that might just be because it lucked into a good location.


The name finalists: Four-Alarm Fire, I Think She Likes Me, Nichelle Nichols, and Overblown.


Four-Alarm Fires are just big and difficult-to-contain fires; though there is a common misperception that the number of alarms equals the number of firehouses dispatched to fight the fire, Wikipedia says that it's actually the number of times units get called to fight the fire: the first dispatch is usually the largest, and then if the first group is unable to contain the fire, a second alarm is sounded to send additional units. A four-alarm fire would then have units called to fight it four times, which may be all from the same firehouse, or from different firehouses.


I Think She Likes Me is a song title: I was thinking of the Treat Her Right song when I put it on the list, but there turn out to be several songs by that name (or something close to it).1


I shouldn't have to tell you who Nichelle Nichols is.

Overblown can mean a lot of different things depending on context (exaggerated, overdone, excessive, bombastic), including one I didn't find out about until I started writing this post (specifically for flowers, it can mean past its prime). Whoops.


So I can drop Overblown, obviously. And although it's sort of interesting to find out what a four-alarm fire actually is, it's not really that amazing of a seedling name.


And given the choice between I Think She Likes Me and Nichelle Nichols . . . I mean, come on. How is that even a question? Like, I don't think I even need to explain this, but if I do:



So there we are. 080A Nichelle Nichols.

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1 Just on the first page of YouTube results, there are four different songs in three different styles, none of which are really to my personal tastes but whatever:
Pop: Jesse McCartney - I Think She Likes Me
Country: Billy Gilman - I Think She Likes Me
Rap: Rick Ross - I Think She Like Me ft. Ty Dolla $ign and Jadakiss - I Think She Likes Me (ft. Nicki Minaj)


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Anthurium no. 0789 "Marsha P. Johnson"

Alas, this isn't one of the better seedlings. The spathes so far have been on the small end of average, the color combination isn't particularly new or interesting, and thrips are an ongoing problem on the spathes and leaves both.




Not only is this kind of disappointing in itself, it's disappointing because the seedling's namesake, Marsha P. Johnson, is a really big deal, being one of the people present at the Stonewall Riots in 1969, which isn't exactly the beginning of the gay civil rights movement but was certainly a big milestone, and (unless I've missed something) is the reason Gay Pride Month is in June. I'm likely to discard seedling 0789 and recycle the name for some other, more deserving seedling, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.


I had a hard time trying to summarize Johnson's life for this post; different accounts emphasize different details, and Johnson herself is no longer available to clarify.1 One can get something of a sense from a documentary about her life (2012's Pay It No Mind - The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson, on YouTube here), and from various on-line articles (Wikipedia, outhistory.org, theradicalnotion.com, crunkfeministcollective.com).

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1 She was probably murdered, in 1992; the official cause of death was recorded as a suicide, but those close to her at the time say she wasn't suicidal. While it's true that it's possible to hide suicidal impulses from friends, Johnson was a sex worker, and possibly transgendered (it sure looks that way to me, from reading the stuff about her, anyway -- she mostly lived as a woman, she had her name legally changed -- but the way we talk and think about such things has changed a lot since the 70s and 80s, and the boundaries between trans woman and drag queen weren't as clear then. Not that they're entirely distinct now, as far as that goes.), both of which would, sadly, make murder a much more likely cause of death.
The investigation was officially reopened as a possible homicide in 2012, but doesn't appear to have resulted in any new information.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 070

Seedling 070A is maybe a little more pink than the usual orange/pink, and looks to have suffered more thrips damage, but it's otherwise unremarkable.


I had four name finalists this time around, just like usual, but once I started to write about the first name, I realized that the other three were kind of irrelevant: I want seedling 070A to be Delia Webster.


So who was Delia Webster?

Delia Webster was a Kentucky art teacher and abolitionist who was part of the Underground Railroad, helping fugitive slaves escape to free states in the 1840s. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to two years hard labor in the Kentucky Penitentiary, the first woman to be imprisoned for assisting escaped slaves.


(Webster was also the only woman in the penitentiary; she was housed in a small wooden cottage in the center of the prison yard, which isn't really relevant to why she was a badass but I think it's interesting.) Anyway. So the penitentiary warden, Newton Craig, liked her. It's unclear to me whether there was a sexual relationship or not; one source says he was tempted into a compromising relationship with her, which presumably means they did, but is vague enough that I'm not positive. In any case, Craig urged the Governor of Kentucky to pardon her. Which he did (Webster only served five weeks of her sentence), though she did have to say she wasn't an abolitionist, as one of the conditions for her release.

(And then Webster had the nerve not to contact Craig right after her release, so he was pissed that she'd "tricked" him -- which, come on, dude, you were the warden and she was a prisoner, she wasn't exactly in a position to say no to you about anything.)

All the sources agree that she traveled around a bit after that; Wikipedia says she was governess for Craig's family for a while in the early 1850s, too, though I'm not clear how that worked. In any case, eventually she returned to Kentucky and bought a 600-acre farm there for $9000 with help from investors, Northern abolitionists, and Newton Craig of all people (to the tune of $1100, which in 2017 dollars is at least $27,0001). She employed freed slaves, and then farms in the area started to have a problem with missing slaves again, so naturally (and correctly) everybody assumed that Webster was responsible.


So they cut down her trees, burned her buildings, threatened her life, and so on. As you do. She was re-arrested in 1854 and released on a technicality. Then they indicted her again in 1854, for charges related to her 1844 arrest, but she managed to escape before they could arrest her. She hid in Indiana for a while, but they eventually found her, took her to Kentucky to stand trial for the 1844 charges, released her again on a technicality, and then she came home to find about $9000 in damages and theft to her farm.2 Abolitionists from Boston gave her enough money to enable her to keep making her loan payments, and she planned to build a school on the property, but arsonists started setting her buildings (and the materials for the school) on fire in November 1866, and she eventually lost the farm in 1869.

Webster never married. She returned to Indiana and taught African-American children in Madison, IN for a while,3 then lived with her sister Martha Goodrich in Wisconsin briefly, then they both moved to Iowa;4 after Martha died, Webster lived with her niece, Alice Goodrich,5 in Des Moines, where she died in 1904, at the age of 86.


So. Yeah. It just kinda has to be 070A Delia Webster.

Refs.:
www.Womenhistoryblog.com (recommended)
Wikipedia
Vermonthistory.org
Explorekyhistory.ky.gov

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1 For reasons I didn't have time to look into, the inflation calculators on-line won't go any earlier than 1913.
2 At least $220,000 in 2017 dollars.
3 (Significant because African-American children weren't permitted to attend public school at the time.)
4 First to Le Grand, Iowa, then to La Porte, Iowa.
5 Who is interesting in her own right: Goodrich was the first woman to graduate the University of Iowa's medical school.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 190

After the mess of naming 089B Haunted Houseboat, I'm apprehensive. Let's see how it goes.

It wasn't an especially good seedling: I think it only produced the one bloom, it's a boring color, and consequently I wasn't looking terribly hard for good names for it. The finalists were: Europa, Snezhana, White Album, and Whited Sepulcher.

Europa is a lot of different things, but I was thinking of it mainly as the moon of Jupiter or the figure from Greek mythology. It's a pretty neat moon, as moons of the solar system go;1 the mythology is, as with most Greek mythology, pretty bizarre-sounding: Zeus takes the form of a white bull because he's hot for Europa (a Phoenician woman), she sees the bull and is like, whoa, what a hot bull, and climbs on top of him, at which point Zeus runs to the sea with her on his back and swims to Crete, reveals his true identity, gives Europa some magic shit, and makes her the queen of Crete.

Snezhana is a Slavic, Circassian, and Lithuanian feminine given name, which Wikipedia thinks probably derives from the words for "snow" and "woman." I find it a pleasant-sounding name, and it seems appropriate enough for a white flower, so why the hell not, right?


White Album could be taken, I guess, as the Beatles album from which we get "Dear Prudence," "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," and "Helter Skelter." If you want to, that is. For me, it's more a not-very-well-thought-out pun on the meaning of "Album" ("white," in Latin; the story of how it came to mean record album, when records were mostly black, is complicated). But think whatever you like.2

Whited Sepulcher is Biblical, from Matthew 23:27. In the New International Version: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean." (Jesus was so judgey.)

So. Timely though Whited Sepulcher always is, and as amusing as I find White Album, it feels slightly tacky or something to use the bloom color as part of the name. Plus the former's pretty hostile. And it's not even necessarily certain that future blooms will be white, considering how the seedlings have collectively behaved this year.


Which leaves Europa or Snezhana, and I feel like Snezhana has to be white more than Europa does: snow's pure white, but Phoenician women were presumably not. I mean, the part everybody remembers about the story of Europa is the white bull, but the point is that I feel like Europa gives me more leeway if the color's different next year. So: 190A Europa.

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1 Though my heart will always belong more to Jupiter's Io and Neptune's Triton. In fact, I kind of wish we could get a rover to drive around on Io and take some pictures, 'cause I bet they would be metal as hell. There are a lot of reasons why we're unlikely to do that -- the surface contains lots of reactive chemical compounds, and charged ions; it's both very cold (most of the time) and very hot (at the volcanoes), and there's intense radiation from Jupiter. Hard to build a robot that could do anything in those conditions. But I keep hoping.
2 I looked at the Wikipedia track listing for the White Album and was like, ennh, probably not my favorite, I should look at some of the Beatles' other albums to see which one has the songs I like best, and then I can make a throwaway comment about being more of a Revolver man, or whatever. But after looking at the track listings, I think maybe I'm just not a Beatles man. Which is weird, 'cause . . . I kinda thought I was?


Monday, April 10, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 089 (again)

Had a terrible time naming this one. It's a nice seedling, in a color I don't see very often (it most closely resembles 208A Raspberry Possum, but 054A Helpful Gesture, 078A Art Party, and the still-nameless 132A are also similar), and I really wanted to get a good name for it, but on the first attempt, I managed to eliminate all four name finalists, and then I had trouble coming up with replacement names that seemed any better than the ones I'd eliminated. Possibly I was in an overly critical mood; possibly I just have trouble naming seedlings that are this color.1 I don't know.

So now it's been a week, and this is like the fourth time I've written this post, and as nice as the flower is,


I'm honestly pretty sick of looking at its face. And I need to name it something so I can move on to the next post, so even though I kind of didn't like it, I'm going to go ahead and go with one of the rejected options, Haunted Houseboat.


The reason I rejected it originally is, when I did a search for it, I found a "Spongebob Squarepants" connection, and I find Spongebob pretty grating.2 But I found the name inexplicably appealing until then, and it's the least problematic of the four options I started with.


The other three were Galveston, Joycelyn Elders, and Pink Disco Trilobite; it may not be immediately apparent to you why these couldn't work, but I assure you that there were problems.3


It might not be obvious why they could have worked, either, I suppose.4


Anyway. Next up will be Schlumbergera seedling 190A. I'm not crazy about the names I came up with for it, either.



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1 208A Raspberry Possum's post also failed to select a name the first time through and had to be rewritten.
2 Apologies to any readers who are also Spongebob fans. It's just not my thing.
3 Galveston and Pink Disco Trilobite weren't color-accurate, in my opinion. (Galveston should be a light yellow, or maaaaaaaybe a yellow-orange, and this seedling is too red to be "pink.")
Joycelyn Elders was Bill Clinton's first Surgeon General (1993-94), and was controversial on a number of subjects (sex education, primarily) because half the country is out of their damn minds. Also there was a lot of deliberate misrepresentation of what she had said. As lots of people get really upset about anything having to do with sex, or anything having to do with the Clintons, it seemed unwise to give a name that would evoke both sets of associations.
Pink Disco Trilobite is also pretty long.
4 I visited Galveston a long time ago and enjoyed it; at one point I was even going to move there.
Joycelyn Elders is obviously amazing, but if you don't already think that then I'm probably not going to be able to convince you.
I don't actually know what I find so appealing about Pink Disco Trilobite either. I just do.