|For newcomers, this is a semi-regular newsletter from the Texas Triffid Ranch, Dallas’s pretty much only carnivorous plant gallery. Feel free to forward early and often, and to subscribe if you haven’t already.|
Installment #29:The Obligatory New Year Campaign, Complete With Chorus Line and Backup Band
(Originally published December 28, 2021)
Oh, 2021. Even after the dubious pleasures of 2020, you managed to be exciting. “Exciting” as in “your Manic Pixie Dream Girl girlfriend from 30 years ago got back in touch, asking for a place for her and her four kids to stay while she switches majors after going ABD in her degree in full-contact chess.” “Exciting” as in “finding a bobcat in your attic that refuses to come down unless carried.” “Exciting” as in “four doctors telling you that the strange pain in your upper left lung is all in your head, and discovering that the anti-inflammatories prescribed to deal with it offer a clarity of purpose you haven’t had in a quarter-century.” (That last one actually happened, by the way: much like the tinnitus I’ve had since I was an infant, it’s amazing how the human brain can block off ignore constant joint pain until that pain is suddenly gone.)
Anyway, for those who missed the news, 2022 is going to be an equally interesting year. What’s going to change with the gallery? The Heisenberg Principle applies for 2022: everything and nothing at all. The question is whether the plans made now keep holding true, or if we get a repeat of the first quarter of 2020. The way COVID-19 keeps spreading and mutating, it may be the greatest year so far for the Triffid Ranch, or I spend this time next year holed up inside it while my neighbor yells “Neville, come out!” all night long until the sun drives him and all of the other vampires to shelter.
Anyway, for those used to smartaleck commentary in this newsletter about impending new years, it’s more of the same. The plans include:
Moving. Because of the news mentioned earlier, I’m currently looking for a new domicile, preferably one with enough growing room for the ever-expanding Sarracenia out back. Moving in January or February means everything will still be in winter dormancy, making relocation much easier. Right now, everything is dependent upon the currently ridiculous Dallas residential real estate market, and if that bubble bursts early, a new growing area separate from the gallery might become an option. EDIT: That, at least, is done. Details will follow.
Open houses and gallery events. If any good news came from the constant stresses in 2021, it’s that most Triffid Ranch open houses did more to pay the rent than outside events, and themed open houses will continue all through 2022. Next year, besides the usual Manchester United Flower Show in April, it’s high time to hold shows with a specific theme, and not just “Hey, come in and check out the plants!” This may, MAY, include an after-dark showcase to demonstrate how many species of carnivore fluoresce under ultraviolet light, so keep checking the event calendar to see what’s next.
Outside events. Back at the beginning of 2020, the plan was to hold the first-ever Triffid Ranch show outside of Texas with the New Orleans Oddities & Curiosities Expo. This year, with Oddities & Curiosities starting up its new season, New Orleans is at the end of January, which simply isn’t an option. (New Orleans is fine: it’s just that having to drive for hours through subfreezing weather, cold enough to kill plants, to get there is a very valid and serious concern.) in 2022, it’s time to try again, in Chicago. Lots of dear friends that either I haven’t seen in decades or that I’ve never met in person, excellent food, a central location, and the opportunity to drive past my old house from 43 years ago…yeah, this will be worth the effort.
Gallery expansion. One of the joys of divorce when you and your spouse run separate businesses is trying to untangle the tax, rights, real estate, mailing address, insurance, and other paperwork so you can go your separate ways. The plan right now is for Caroline’s jewelry exhibition to remain in the front of the gallery until May, but eventually she’s moving out to do her own thing as she’s ready. This should be resolved about the time the lease is up on the current space, so now the question is “Another three years where it is, or is it time to move?” March marks 5 years that the gallery has been in its current locale, and continuity is important (you have no idea how many people call because they drove by the old Valley View address, saw the majority of the mall stripped to the bedrock, and got upset because “I was JUST there!”), but if a new space opens up, moving is a possibility, especially if the front door is ADA-compliant. (It’s not just for visitors, either. Moving a large enclosure to a waiting truck last night, one too big to put in several SUVs, makes me very glad that I work out, but that won’t and can’t be the case forever.)
Lectures and workshops. If omicron ever settles down and enough people get vaccinated that the current flareups burn themselves out, it’ll be time to rev up events with local museums and arboretums again, and a lot of that work has already been done. It’s just a matter of waiting until spring to bring carnivorous plants to the Heard Museum, and it’s high time to go back to the Perot Museum for its Thursdays on Tap late-night events, too.
So that’s the plan for 2022. Let’s watch as the universe uses those plans as toilet paper.
There’s nothing quite like the joy of an interview that comes out at just the right time, and Danny Gallagher’s Triffid Ranch article in the Dallas Observer debuted right at the beginning of the holiday season. Go give Danny the business: he’s one of the good ones, and every article he contributes puts us further past the old Observer stigma of interview subjects referring to themselves as “getting wilonskyed.”
It’s with a very heavy heart that I pass on the word that John Dilley, the founder of Defcon Sauces in New Jersey, died last September. His wife, though, is continuing the company and the tradition, and while the various Defcon habanero horseradish dips are unavailable until spring, the Malum Allium garlic powder is available in mass quantities. Or at least it is until I put in my next order.
Books from Redfern Natural History tend to be a bit massive: between their inherent thickness and the exemplary color photography, I always worry about putting them on upper bookshelves where they might fall off and kill children and small animals. The 3-volume set Nepenthes: the Tropical Pitcher Plants, still available for preorder, is a case in point: it’s a good thing I’m moving, because my To Be Read pile would probably take out several small towns if these were added to the top of the old pile.
More deep dives into music I should have heard years or decades ago but had no opportunity due to gatekeeping Dallas radio stations and music shops: I only came across the Scottish New Wave band Altered Images nearly 40 years late. Perfect timing, too, as the band reunited and has a new album coming out in 2022. Let’s just say I’m particularly sympathetic about revivals of this sort, because we in the States missed out on so much with the amount of payola on US radio keeping Phil Collins in perpetual airplay.