Tag Archives: holidays

New Triffid Ranch Plant Tours: The Holiday 2020 Edition

Okay, so it’s the beginning of the holiday season. Travel out of town is right out this year, and let’s face it: if Die Hard is a Christmas movie, the only movie that sums up Thanksgiving weekend 2020 is Alien. For those for whom the holiday season is problematic or unbearably painful, we’re looking for something reasonably safe in the year of COVID-19, with not a trace of tinsel. Far too many of us working retail have wanted to be in a position where the manager who insists upon running Christmas songs all day starting November 1 gets tied up, eyes propped open like Malcolm McDowall’s in A Clockwork Orange, and forced to watch The Polar Express until his ears bleed. Things aren’t as bad as they were 40 years ago, where television, radio, and theater gave no other options, but it would be nice to take a break once in a while.

That’s why we’re proud to announce the upcoming Weekend Carnivorous Plant Tours, starting on Saturday, November 28 at 10:00. The idea is to open the gallery on Small Business Saturday to allow new visitors to view the entirety of the gallery and returning visitors to see the new enclosures made since their last visit. (For many, they understandably haven’t seen the inside of the gallery since our Lunar New Year open house back at the beginning of February.) After that, we’ll open again on November 29, take a short break for a private event on December 6, and then resume on December 13, 20, and 27. After that, well, that’s what 2021 is for. As always, masks are mandatory and their proper wear is vital, with the gallery sanitized between visitors. (Due to Dallas County ordinances, no more than 10 visitors can enter at any given time: we apologize for the inconvenience, but this is for everybody’s health.)

The best part of all of this is having the opportunity to debut new enclosures every week: including commissions, 2020 has been exceedingly busy, and the plan is to average out at one new enclosure every two weeks since the beginning of the year. Will we do it? CAN we do it? Well, you’ll have to come out to the gallery every week to find out.

Otherwise, the gallery is as always open by appointment through the end of the year for those wishing to view or purchase an enclosure outside of the Plant Tour schedule: unfortunately, a new day job prevents keeping the gallery open every day through the season, so appointments will be vital. Anyone with questions is free to ask: otherwise, we’ll see everyone starting November 28.

And one last note for Christmas Eve

The Triffid Ranch will be closed today and tomorrow, but opens on Saturday for those in the need to get out of the house for a while. In the meantime, how about a little holiday music appropriate to the shop?

Holiday Interlude

Uncle Duke

For all those at home, and especially those who work today, a toast is in order. While the real celebration won’t start until next Tuesday night, on behalf of everyone here at the Triffid Ranch, have a great holiday, no matter the holiday you wish to celebrate*. And for those who work today (and I was 18 before my mother didn’t have to work Christmas Day as a labor & delivery nurse, so I’m especially sympathetic), here’s hoping that today’s workday is low-stress, high-reward, and very, very short.

*With the exception of Cadigan, but that’s because she’s still figuring out how to get at the now-traditional Christmas brisket. If you could smell it, you’d understand her determination. Otherwise, her definition of “peace on Earth, good will toward men” translates to “CONQUER ALL HUMANS,” but that’s not overly surprising.

The Charlie Brown Tree That Time Forgot

Norfolk Island Charlie Brown tree

As par for the course in North Texas, we currently alternate between record high temperatures and sudden drops well below freezing, some in the same day. The Nepenthes and other tropical carnivores are all indoors, soaking up as much sunlight as they can and sucking up artificial light the rest of the time. The temperate carnivores went into dormancy with our first big freeze two weeks ago. The Roridula gorgonias seedlings…well, I don’t even pretend to know what they’re doing any more. The Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion plants are under cover and currently enjoying the sudden gusts of heat. The rest of the year now leans toward support and supply here at the Triffid Ranch, and that’s not including plans for building a new greenhouse this spring.

Likewise, the Day Job is a bit lacking in green this time of year, and a sudden run on my old friend Araucaria heterophylla at the local grocery store inspired me. “What’s wrong with a live tree? Even better, what’s wrong with bringing in a bit of Mesozoic holiday cheer?”

Naturally, it wasn’t enough simply bringing in a Norfolk Island pine. It definitely wasn’t enough to relate how it’s one of the last survivors of a once-extensive group of conifers now mainly represented by the monkey puzzle tree and the Wollemi pine. No, one of the advantages of being a palaeontology junkie is that people give me all sorts of unbidden dinosaur-related paraphernalia. Over the last 25 years or so, friends, relatives, and even a couple of ex-girlfriends contributed to the pile of dinosaur-related tree ornaments and lights, and a fair number had to go on ol’ A. heterophylla. Combine them with some of the new LED holiday lights, and the whole thing doesn’t look so bad.





Naturally, every Christmas tree needs a topper ornament, and stars are just so overdone. Next year, I’m going to make an Archaeopteryx topper, just so it’ll become art.


And since the Day Job is in the tech arena, the tree needed an appropriate nativity. Again, between the stuff I’ve been given and decorations from co-workers’ cubicles, we had quite the ensemble. For the record, the Burgess Shale critters in the front are mine, and they may or may not become ornaments on their own one day.


Look: the Spirit of New Year’s Eve.


Finally, I had to add something for a special niece who’s becoming quite the comics artist. Several co-workers with kids have noted the whole push on the Elf on the Shelf trend, and I can understand the idea. Isn’t it better, though, to have someone watching to see if you’re good and kicking your butt up around your shoulderblades if you aren’t?