For your consideration:
It’s midway through the month already. We’re now a little over a week away from the official autumnal equinox, and just over six weeks until Halloween. Next thing you know, the calendar will have switched over, we’ll be looking over New Year’s Eve 2631, preparing for the Gorash Annexation to set up outposts and the occasional clearance outlet on the other side of our galaxy, and wondering if it really was such a great idea to de-extinct the moa and let them go feral in the Canadian Rockies…but perhaps I’ve said too much.
Over here at the Triffid Ranch, frantic work for the next open house is the order of the day, especially with the number of outside shows and events between now and the end of the year. After a lot of deliberation, particularly with input from people unable to get free on Saturdays to attend previous open houses, the next open house is scheduled for October 26 from 6:00 to 11:00 CST. Yes, a Friday night. Depending upon the success of this open house, we may try a few mid-week open houses as well, especially as football season gets going and Dallas traffic goes from “typically abysmal” to “blow up every highway in the state and require everyone to ride a bike for a month to learn some humility.”
Related news: partly to improve opportunities for people to see the latest Triffid Ranch enclosures outside of open houses and appointments, and partly to help fill a niche with the best damn reptile and amphibian shop in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, the Texas Triffid Ranch is now partnering with DFW Reptarium in Plano to offer new carnivore enclosures at the Reptarium. For those who haven’t visited it already, the Reptarium is a herpetophile’s joy, starting with the store’s mascot: an absolutely stunning crocodile monitor named “Whisper” who lives in the front window. In addition to the store’s assemblage of panther chameleons, arrow-poison frogs, emerald tree boas, and the world’s most mellow frilled dragon, the Reptarium now has the Nepenthes bicalcarata enclosure “Hans-Ruedi,” and more will be available based on customer response. In other words, this holiday season is going to be VERY busy.
In the interim, October also features an outdoor show on October 13, thanks to the Garland Urban Flea in, unsurprisingly, Garland, Texas. This marks the first Triffid Ranch show ever held in Garland, and the weather should be absolutely stunning. The October Urban Flea runs from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, so feel free to stop by for the last of the season’s Venus flytraps and threadleaf sundews.
And for those who might be coming across these missives via Facebook, be warned that a Triffid Ranch Facebook presence is shrinking and will continue to do so. The constant push to boost FB page posts was already becoming annoying, as they still weren’t reaching the people who chose to receive page updates. Now, new posts disappear immediately after entering them, only to pop back up days or weeks later. And then there’s Facebook’s page messaging system, which penalizes page owners if they don’t respond to any message sent to the page within minutes. This means either hiring someone to manage a social media presence (which I suspect is the hope), or get dinged for getting a message minutes after going to bed for the night and answering it only after waking up. Either way, it’s once again time to note that no such problems exist with the Texas Triffid Ranch Occasional Newsletter and Feedlot Clearance Sale, of which a new installment will be out very shortly. Go forth with the clicky to get newsletter-exclusive news and commentary, and occasional cool and educational prizes.
Well, back to the linen mines. Expect a few new enclosure premieres before the end of September, including a fun little commission: it’s either ramping up the enclosure releases or having a really slow holiday season. And on the holiday season, expect some extra surprises with this year’s Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas events. It’s absolutely amazing how much you can get done when you’re not unpacking from an unscheduled move…
We’re in the last couple of weeks before everything hits the fan. The flytraps and Sarracenia both come out of dormancy by the middle of March; that is, unless we get another one of those oddball end-of-February snowstorms like the one that surprised us last year. We’ve already had a hailstorm at the end of January, so anything’s possible. (At times like these, I’m happier than ever for the new space: between the hailstorm and the subsequent heavy winds, the one-two hit literally degloved the greenhouse. This would have been a problem if I still had anything frost-intolerant in it: instead, it’s full of flytraps, seedling pitcher plants, and triggerplants just waiting for one last cold snap to encourage them to bloom this season.) This time next month, free time will be something I hear about from ne’er-do-well cohorts, but for now, it’s time for an interview with the Fangirls of Dallas, my favorite Dallas fan group. Please excuse the hair. And the voice. I’m not going to age well, am I?
A minor update, but one directly tied to (anti)social media. After starting a Facebook account eight years ago, it became time to close everything down. It’s happened in bits and pieces over the years: realizing that work wasn’t getting done because of constant queries while online, deactivating the account, and then getting back on when that was the only way to contact old friends or vital sources for information. The combination of the utter toxicity of Facebook in the current US presidential election cycle, the fact that Facebook was holding the Triffid Ranch page hostage in the hopes of paying to get updates viewed by people who had requested as much, and the simple fact that Facebook was making me nostalgic for the thoughtful conversations and commentary on LiveJournal, finally pushed me over the edge, and I’m staying off. Probably permanently, too.
That’s not to say that the Triffid Ranch is staying off social media. It’s just time to move to a healthier place. In a roundabout way, that’s to mention that everything that doesn’t quite justify a full blog post is going over to Tsu. If Facebook is that unemployed uncle at Christmas dinner who can’t speak except in Fox News bullet points, Tsu is that artist aunt who keeps getting you hooked on Spirograph and polymer clay. Besides a much less obnoxious ad presence, Tsu actually pays for original content, so with the combination of being compensated for new material and being reasonably sure that comments won’t be hijacked by that friend of a friend who only wants to pick fights, it’s a much better idea.
Anyway. https://www.tsu.co/TexasTriffidRanch. Come by to say hello, or just come by to read. Either way, I promise that the Drama Llama will not come along and take a forty-pound dump in the middle of your living room.
It’s that time. For the Triffid Ranch, the move for the rest of the year is toward prepping for winter (warm and very dry, according to the National Weather Service, with a higher likelihood of extremely brutal norther storms) and gearing up for 2013. Aside from plans for a tenth wedding anniversary gathering at the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science at the end of the month, we really don’t have that much planned for the holiday season. Since 1998, my New Year’s Day tradition has been to finish cleaning and clearing the house and yard, and I usually dedicate a week’s vacation on the Day Job to take care of that. Being able to see the floor and walls of my office, along with discovering that the boxes of magazines and papers I’d been dragging around since 1986 hadn’t been compressed into diamond from their own weight, is celebration enough.
This is why, in lieu of hyping Triffid Ranch activities, it’s time to give a high five to all of the friends, cohorts, colleagues, interested bystanders, and beloved thorns in my side that make working in the carnivorous plant trade so much fun. If you’re looking for something different as a gift for friends and/or family, for that special event around the Cephalopodmas tank, you can’t go wrong with any of these folks.
Carnivorous Plant Resources
As mentioned in the past, I’m a firm believer in the old adage “a rising tide lifts all boats,” which is one of the reasons I gleefully refer friends and cohorts to other carnivorous plant breeders and retailers when the need arises. On the West Coast of the US, you have both Sarracenia Northwest outside of Portland, with its open house every weekend for the rest of the holiday shopping season, and California Carnivores in San Sebastapol. On the East Coast, I can’t speak highly enough of Black Jungle Terrarium Supply, especially for those wishing to mix up their carnivores with orchids and arrow poison frogs. It may be a little late to pick up temperate carnivores from these three, but they’re definitely set with tropical plants, and at exceptional prices.
If you’re more interested in natural history and species preservation, you have options, too. The International Carnivorous Plant Society is an organization to which I have been a proud member for nearly eight years, with a one-year membership starting at $35. For those seeking even more action, North American Sarracenia Conservancy always needs volunteers to rescue plants in threatened habitat and move them to preserves, as well as bystanders interested in setting up those preserves in the first place.
In the literary front, I shouldn’t have to introduce you all to Timber Press, one of the two most dangerous book publishers on the planet, but if in case you missed out, give a click. This month, Timber Press is holding a 30 percent off sale on every title it carries, and that features Growing Carnivorous Plants by Dr. Barry Rice. When I conduct lectures on carnivores, Dr. Rice’s book is always at the top of the pile, and with good reason, so go get your own copy and kvell over the photos inside.
And on the subject of books, I’ll warn you away from Redfern Natural History and the tremendous selection of exemplary books on carnivorous plants. I’ll warn you away because your wallet will hate you as your library swears eternal fealty to you for your taste. One of these days, I’m going to sell enough body parts to pay for every volume I don’t already have, and I might even stoop to selling some of my body parts to do so.
Other Retailers of Note
It goes without saying that St. Johns Booksellers is the official bookseller of the Texas Triffid Ranch, and I’ll continue to link to St. Johns resources for as long as its owner will let me. I’ll also say that this bookstore and Sarracenia Northwest are two of the things that would get me to go back to Portland for a visit, and there’s absolutely no reason you can’t order online as well. We can cry about the decline of the independent bookstore or we can do something about it, and I make the stand here with no misgivings.
While not horticulturally related per se, I can’t thank the folks at Keith’s Comics and Roll2Play enough for their help over the years with materials for Triffid Ranch arrangements. Keith Colvin of Keith’s Comics has been a friend for twenty years as of next October, and he and his crack crew of enthusiasts always keep an eye open for items that would look really good alongside a Nepenthes arrangement. Likewise, Tiffany Franzoni of Roll2Play has been a welcome cohort and fellow vendor since the first Triffid Ranch shows back in 2008, and if she doesn’t have the game you need or a way to snag it for you, nobody else could help you, either.
Back to horticulture, Janit Calvo at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center continues her unceasing efforts to promote miniature gardening, and you really should look at some of the items and guides she has for sale. Time permitting, I have a project lined up that should make her VERY happy, so go give her lots of business in the interim.
Finally, there’s my favorite form of porn, the FarmTek catalog. The Czarina actually smiles when she sees the latest FarmTek catalog all creased and marked up and drooled over, because although she worries about the day that I attach a 300-foot greenhouse to the garage, it’s still better than my writing for science fiction magazines. Both for me and for her.
Charities, Preserves, and Educational Facilities
It just opened to great fanfare, and the Czarina’s family takes it as a very high compliment that I passed up an early admission to the new Perot Museum in downtown Dallas to spend Thanksgiving weekend with them. It’s open this weekend, but I won’t be there. No, that’s reserved for December 28, when the Czarina and I plan to start a new tradition underneath the Protostega skeleton where we married a decade ago. After that, there’s always the after-hours events to keep us all busy, right?
This one I won’t be able to visit right away, but I owe an immeasurable debt to Tallahassee Museum for sending me down this strange road a decade ago. I still hang onto my Zoobilee memorabilia after all these years, and if time and money allow me to head back to the Tally area, I’ll meet you out there.
And then we have folks closer at home that could use support. I have lots of friends who say they support bats, but Bat World Sanctuary follows through, and they’re always conducting presentations and events throughout the US to facilitate bat education.
Okay, so I fibbed slightly about this not having any self-promotion. However, while I’m always glad to see both new and longtime friends at various shows, one of the reasons why I tend to stick to unorthodox venues is that there’s a lot to do for the admission price. It’s all about an entertainment ROI, and all of these are worth making a trip.
ConDFW – February 15-17
All-Con – March 8-10
Texas Frightmare Weekend – May 3-5
FenCon – October 4-6
North American Reptile Breeders Conference February 23-24, August 10-11
And there you have it. If you have suggestions on other venues, retailers, or events I may have missed, please feel free to leave them in the comments. It’s all about the sharing.
On very topical notes, I have to admit that Today’s Garden Center magazine has a brilliant method of attracting press coverage for garden stores, by inviting local garden writers to lunch to let them look around. I love the idea. LOVE it, and I may expand upon it. In fact, I may resurrect the idea of the “Manchester United Flower Show” as such a luncheon. Of course, I say this as a former writer, and I can imagine the aftermath.
Now, I say this as someone who knows a lot of garden writers, and counts many of them as good and dear friends. I also count a lot of other specialist writers as friends, and know that this won’t work in other venues. Political writers, for instance, are used to this sort of treatment, and always compare a quiet little luncheon to that one they had with “their close personal friend” in the White House or the Governor’s Mansion. Sports writers are easy to feed, but the subtleties of general garden luncheon cuisine are beyond them. And don’t get me going about the insane entitlement issues with film and music critics throwing temper tantrums unless they get freebies and exclusives for them to sell on eBay. (As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, an inexplicably still-employed local writer out here, back when he was a film critic, was notorious for throwing tantrums and fits about getting freebies and exclusive interviews in exchange for positive coverage, and then savaging the venue because he got everything he wanted. He now can’t figure out why his name is a profanity among the music community; I myself was nearly stomped to death at a music festival in 2000 because a band assumed that I worked with him and wanted revenge.)
I don’t mean to imply that garden writers are this bad. Heavens, no. You’ll never hear of a plane full of journalists heading to the Independent Garden Center Show being called “the zoo plane“. Nobody’s going to write a tell-all on the Garden Writers Association on their coverage of garden events. We’re definitely never going to see a film featuring a GWA junket starring Bill Murray:
More’s the pity. Considering some of the absolute loons with whom I associate in gardening circles, on both sides of the counter, I’m not only thinking that these luncheons should be encouraged. They should be mandatory. If the luncheons don’t scare the hell out of the shade of Hunter S. Thompson, we’re not doing it right.
The second part of Emily Goldsher’s Triffid Ranch interview is now live, including an explanation behind the concept of “Kareds”. In related news, keep an eye open for the next few Triffid Ranch shows, because I plan to have a lot of them. (I regularly see my future as an old man in a motorized wheelchair, holding one withered claw aloft while screaming “My Kareds are the supreme beings in the universe!” This future only happens, of course, if I don’t aggravate the Czarina to the point where she feeds me to the cats.)
Not that I’m obsessed with tooting my own horn (he said, the automatic self-promotion inhibitor attached to the back of his skull threatening to turn his brain into charcoal), but Emily Goldsher over at the Grower’s Supply Blog contacted me for an interview back at the beginning of June, and the first half is now online. Now I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It’s been an interesting week, so I have no excuses as to why I forgot to pass on Black Walnut Dispatch‘s discovery of an essential horticultural tool. In fact, with a little promotion, this might be the biggest thing since that Interwebs thing.
*cue Ronco announcer voice* “Want to convince your neighbors that they need to get with the times, but they’re smart enough to see through your ‘but I waaaaaaant it!” arguments? Need to pitch the idea that ‘creative class’ solutions will save your town, but Richard Florida puts you and your pets to sleep? Convinced that you can grow food for fifteen off one 3×3 chunk of lead-contaminated street median in front of your Brooklyn loft, but can’t quite find the words to stun your friends and roommates into watering it eight times a day? Then it’s time to try the new (flash) Landscape Urbanism Bullshit Generator! Simply press the button, and effortlessly crank out mindless buzzwords all day! Why pay $50,000 and up for an MBA when you can grunt out official-sounding and almost plausible technobabble in the comfort of your home?
“Now, don’t just assume that this valuable and cost-effective tool just needs to be used to promote bioswales and rooftop farming. The Landscape Urbanism Bullshit Generator has a million-and-one uses. Use it to generate Viagra spam headers! Compose corporate memos on dress code and lunch breaks! Write your own letters to your local newspaper editor! Make urban trend story proposals for the New York Times! Explain the science behind faster-than-light in your science fiction novel! Press it ten thousand times, and generate Bruce Sterling essays indistinguishable from the real thing!
“Before, if you wanted a never-ending source of gibberish for verbally bludgeoning your local planning commission, you used to have to pay hundreds of dollars for subscriptions to Wired and Make and Urban Farm, and spend hour after hour clipping out malapropisms from the columns therein. With this SPECIAL ONLINE OFFER, though, you can get the linguistic clarity of a Faith Popcorn or Cory Doctorow for ABSOLUTELY FREE! Check out the Landscape Urbanism Bullshit Generator now, before it shows up in an episode of Portlandia!”
Cliche cliche “it’s time for a change” reminisce rue grumble “the old mailing address just isn’t convenient to access any more” sigh shrug chuckle “at least it still keeps random passersby from dropping by unannounced at 3 ayem ‘to see the plants'”. Now that I’ve spared everyone the pain of dopy eulogies to a mail drop that I’ve had for nearly a third of my life, it’s time to note that the Triffid Ranch has a new mailing address:
Texas Triffid Ranch
5435 North Garland Avenue, suite 140
Garland, Texas 75040
As always, please note that this is a mailing address, as a friendly warning to the individuals who ignore all of the previous notices that this isn’t a retail location, drive out without checking, and then pitch fits that they can’t “see the plants”. The old mailbox will remain open for a few more months, but mostly to snag stragglers and the occasional bit of detritus from movie publicity people who still think I’m the local contact for Sci-Fi Universe magazine. (It still happens.) Other than that, anyone wanting to send physical mail in this direction should take note of the new locale. And thank the Czarina for being proactive, as she wanted to get this done as part of her Chinese New Year celebrations. And so it goes.