dweller by the river

sojourner of earth attempting to understand the journey home

Month: February, 2015

Return to reality — sort of

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Today is the last day of my long break from work, and tomorrow (9 February 2015) I return to the normalcy of office life.

It’s been a long, odd period — since 23 December 2014 I have spent only six days at work, but it hasn’t really felt like a holiday. The first half of the break was coloured mostly by my fear of ending up with a miscarriage, and the second half has been mostly about dealing with fatigue, back pain, nausea and food aversions. We didn’t get to celebrate either Christmas or New Year’s properly.

I started today planning to be moderately productive (write a proper post, finish a half-read book, sort out my office wear issue for the week, chase KKH for E’s test results), but I’ve only managed to skim through the book and sort out the clothes problem. Procrastination is my friend. Maybe I subconsciously don’t want to return to reality.

The past month and a half have been weird. I’ve been spending my days napping, reading books, reading nonsense online, staring out my window, making occasional blog and Facebook posts, playing Scramble With Friends on my phone, eating (at least in the past week or so!), and talking to whoever happens to be around (I’m mostly alone). It’s been like some sort of limbo, in which I’m floating outside of the reality of having to spend 80 minutes a day on public transport, a minimum of nine and a half hours (570 minutes! 40 percent of the entire day!) in the office, at least six hours sleeping (25 percent of the day!) in order to stay healthy and sane… leaving me with just seven hours to do the household chores, do the grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning, take care of personal hygiene, maintain my marital relationship (not easy when E only comes home close to 9pm) and have some sort of social life.

The reality is that in this country that we live in, it’s hard to raise a family on just one person’s salary, especially if that income is dependent on a non-professional job (E is an acupressure therapist). The thing is that I don’t believe in forcing yourself to do a job you hate (E used to be an IT engineer) just for the money — we have a God who calls Himself Jehovah Jireh, the All-Providing One. But there’s a really thin line between living dangerously (walking by faith) and being carelessly impractical. So I have to keep my job, at least until it becomes clear to me that God is giving us the go-ahead to take the leap of faith and have me be a stay-at-home mum (and freelancer, maybe).

To be honest, I think it’s a matter of time. Everything I’ve studied and contemplated on the subject in the past few years, both theologically and from secular sources, has contributed to cementing my conviction that once I become a mother, my highest priority after God and husband is my child(ren): their health, development and education. And it’s clear to me that I cannot trust someone who doesn’t share my convictions and beliefs to raise my kid(s). Especially with the way the sociopolitical climate is shifting, in view of a growing global hostility towards Christian family values.

So I’ll take my cue from my plants again, now — just keep growing. As long as life endures, I will believe that we will see the Lord’s goodness here in the land of the living. We just have to ensure that we keep growing.

T. cyanea

I feel compelled to confess the somewhat embarassing fact that for the longest time, I misspelled T. cyanea as T. cynea. And me a writer and editor! Oh, dear.

Anyway. This somewhat grassy-looking tillandsia isn’t one of my personal favourites, though it’s certainly grown on me over the many months its been a part of our little high-rise garden. We bought it because E, freshly introduced to the world of Hawaiian slack key guitar, was going a little crazy picking up little facts and trivia about Hawaii, its culture, flora and fauna. See, T. cynea is also known by two other names – Pink Quill (for its flowering bract) and Kamehameha’s Paddle (after Hawaii’s King Kamehameha, probably because its shape and colouring brings to mind the Law of the Splintered Paddle).

T. cyanea is not a showy plant until it flowers. It is also one of the very few tillandsias that can be grown potted in well-draining media instead of almost bare-rooted, can take less light, and is able to survive a pretty wide range of watering schedules. Appearance-wise, one might mistake it for a bunch of grass, though, which is why I don’t find it particularly attractive. Tillies only flower once in their life cycles, so it doesn’t make sense to me to keep them for the sake of their flowers. Pick a plant whose foliage you love and whose needs more or less match your growing environment. Personally, I’d have picked a variegated T. cyanea if one had been available, but alas, only the ordinary dark green variety was on sale.

Our plant hasn’t flowered yet. It’s only gotten bigger and bushier and appears to have one or two grass/adventitious pups pushing up close to its base. Odd, that.

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T. butzii

It’s a sad fact that when you keep plants, you will experience both successes and failures. Sometimes a plant fails to thrive because you didn’t understand its needs, sometimes it dies because it was inherently weak or already diseased when you obtained it, and sometimes your growing area just doesn’t agree with it even if you’ve tried to make the necessary adjustments based on research and advice from experienced growers. Sometimes you can’t help it when pests attack and a plant just doesn’t survive, either.

I’m not entirely certain which was the case with my unfortunate T. butzii, though I’m inclined to think it was a combination of all of the above (poor thing!). I bought it at a clearance sale where none of the plants available looked all that healthy to begin with (but the prices were so low! and I just wanted to try), it seemed to rally and deteriorate at intervals while I tried various care plans and hanging positions, and in the end, it succumbed to a spider mite infestation.

T. butzii is an elegant species of tillandsia, smallish and with a distinctive squid-like appearance. With its smooth, hard exterior and long, slender leaves boasting beautiful markings, it really is an attractive plant. However its general care guidelines are a little tricky: bright but indirect sunlight, frequent light watering (better to hang it sideways or upside-down as it’s prone to rot) because of the lack of trichomes, sufficient moving air to keep things fresh without drying it out too quickly… I guess my growing area is just too hot and dry for this species. Oh well.

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T. intermedia

Talk about slow-growing. I’ve had my T. intermedia for more than a year (got it in mid December 2013) and it hardly shows any change from when I first brought it home. It grew roots twice, which is a good sign, but I’ve always trimmed the roots off my free-hanging tillandsias because it’s neater that way.

This is an interesting species that can grow pretty big (a friend has specimens that measure 15–20cm tall from base to growing tip), though most seem to stay between 10cm to 12cm in height. They’re funny in that they tend to grow facing downwards instead of up (or mostly up, at least – tillies generally like to slant a bit and that’s healthier as water can drain out better), look like squids, and pup from the base as well as along their very long inflorescences (a viviparous species). Rainforest Flora’s website has some pretty good images of these – I don’t have my own photos because, you know, slow-growing.

Yes, it really looks almost the same right now (1 February 2015) so I didn’t bother to take new photos. The leaves are just a little longer and there are two new ones just starting to sprout. That’s it.

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