dweller by the river

sojourner of earth attempting to understand the journey home

Month: October, 2014

T. paucifolia

This species of tillandsia was the first to wind up in my husband E’s “favourites” list. I am not entirely sure what draws him to it; it’s probably the odd tension between its clean, simple shape (like a basic crescent) and its horn-or-tentacle-like leaves.

I like T. paucifolia myself. It’s just not a flat-out favourite. I am very fond of its simplicity and its toughness: One of the two I currently have went through a harrowing period where its survival hung in the balance while I attempted to keep it in the office. Despite everything I tried (misting more, soaking, even putting it outside on a palm to get sunlight and rain), its condition just kept deteriorating to the point where I felt so bad about torturing it that I brought it home and put it with the rest of my plants outside the kitchen window.

It’s clear to me that the office environment (in my company, at least?) is not at all friendly to plants. Every tillandsia I’ve tried to keep there has either done poorly or flat-out died, except for that first T. paucifolia (it’s rallied admirably since it came home) and a bunch of T. ionanthas.

I don’t foresee growing clumps of T. paucifolia eventually, though. I’ve seen clumps at my friends’ nursery plots and they just don’t seem to look very nice once they are all in a bunch. Their graceful curves all but vanish; they straighten out and stretch out and look for all the world like any other long-leaved T. stricta-type tilly. Nothing special there! Singly, they stand out better.

I’m looking forward to seeing them flower and pup, though.

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Moonlight Prayer


“It’s beautiful.

“Will I one day get to see it up close in person?

“You know, I’ve always found it so much easier to talk to You when I’m surrounded by stuff that You’ve made, instead of stuff that we’ve made. You know what I mean, don’t You?

“It’s like, when someone has gotten married and is moving house, but they’re still walking around in their old house and letting the old things and old sounds and old smells and old atmosphere and old thoughts and old feelings permeate them… and suddenly it feels hard to believe or imagine that they’re married and no longer live here.

“Being stuck here on this physical plane is a bit like that, cos I know what’s real is where You are, in another dimension.

“Being stuck in a job where there’s nothing but concrete and metal and dead trees everywhere around me, in an office where the air itself seems to suffocate small plants to death, is MUCH worse. Cos there are nearly no reminders of You anywhere at all.

“It’s not that I don’t want to talk to You more. I just need… help, sometimes. Thanks for this one. I needed a reminder of how small I am and how huge You are. And it’s beautiful, which is a real bonus.

“Thanks again for the plants. Sometimes I egotistically think You must have created them all those millenia ago just with me in mind – the silly 21st century plant-lover whose every soil-based attempt is a disaster. Heh.

“Leave me this little conceit for tonight; You came down here and suffered the bounds of gravity and fragile skin, what’s it to You if I… oh, never mind.

“Thanks, anyhow. I guess You allowed me to forget to put my keys back into my bag (right now I can’t even remember when or where I last saw them, actually, which is absurd) so that I would have to sit down and write this. It’s good, I think.


Another Round…

…of battling with spider mites (it looks something like this). And once again, it’s the oft-beleaguered T. bulbosa and T. streptophylla (yes, that original piece from FEF that went through a miraculous revival).

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Above: T. bulbosa (with 3 pups) and T. streptophylla, when healthy and bug-free.

For a few minutes, while I was filling yet another tub with soap solution (not breaking out the poison yet because the infestation isn’t that horrible), I considered letting myself get angry and depressed about the situation. Why is it that time and again, it’s the plants that hold the most sentimental value for me that get affected by pests? Why is it that it’s the little ones that always get attacked? Why is it that the plants that have fought for recovery from the brink are brought down again and again, requiring repeat after repeat of the same old nursed-back-to-health story? Why is it that I generally give all my plants the same amount of care (I water them every one to two days, and look them over at least once every four to five days), and some are perfectly happy with that while others seem to scream for attention every now and then even though nobody is being neglected, damn it?

Then I realised a few things. And figured that there really isn’t any point in getting upset. Just deal with it and move on. God is (once again) using Creation to deliver warnings and lessons pertaining to the spiritual realm.

Bugs are opportunistic. It’s their nature. They’re predators, in a way, and just as big cats on the savannah watch for the youngest and weakest animals in a gazelle or zebra herd and demons prowl around looking for handholds on unsuspecting Christian psyches, them bugs are going to be on the lookout for the smallest and weakest plants in any garden or collection. Plants that are small (more surface area to volume) or have survived previous attacks are easier pickings than big, untouched specimens. The recent weather isn’t helping, because it’s searingly hot most of the time and too-dry plants attract spider mites. I just need to step up the watering schedule and stop worrying about whether there will or will not be rain, because the intense heat is clearly posing a bigger problem than the possibility of overwatering, right now.

The Enemy attacks the young and the weak of the Kingdom, too. And those of us who have struggled with certain strongholds and personal issues know all too well how these hot buttons can be targeted again and again and again, even though we’ve picked ourselves up and gotten patched up and soldiered on countless times. It’s never-ending; we’ll have respite when we’re dead or Raptured.

And about the non-neglect that still causes (or leads to) health problems? Some plants, coming from different climes and with different constitutions (xeric VS mesic, etc.), need different levels of care, just as some people are a little more fragile and need a little more care than others. It’s an important point to keep in mind, when you have children or mentees or members of a ministry group under your care.