These are old archived entries from my journal, Ornamental Illness. I have eliminated all graphics (except those in context of an entry) to save on my bandwidth usage.


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Windowsill Cactus

Saturday, November 29, 2003

What they must be thinking

They come into your greenhouse during the holiday season. They don't buy pointsettas, they don't buy wreaths or Christmas trees. They don't buy gift items or all that fancy crap you take on this time of year. They buy the most unlikely, ugly, prickly things imaginable. Lookout...they're CACTUS PEOPLE!!!! AAAAAaaaagggggghhhhhh!

And they're headed for your town!

Posted by Ann on 11/29/03@04:53 PM CST ..::Link::..

Friday, November 28, 2003

Two DREAMs, unrelated.

I was at home, but the house looked more like my grandmother's house as far as layout. Someone knocked on the door. I answered it, and it turned out to be someone Stan and I used to be friends with that we don't want anything to do with anymore. I'll refer to him as "Glenn." I let him in against my better judgment. What was strange is that it was as if I was reading a letter of apology from him simultaneously as he was talking to me in person. It was very surreal. I knew this was bound to happen one day, that he'd come back begging for our forgiveness (although I don't see that as a possibility IRL right now), and dammit, I caved. Stan was not around to do otherwise. So Glenn brought all his belongings into the house...computer, sleeping gear...it seemed that he was going to stay with us for a while. Oh joy. So I decided to tell him what's been up with me in the past three years, and warned him that what I was about to tell him might change his mind about me as far as wanting to know me. I started going on about progressive music, and I forgot what I was saying--I don't think it made much sense. He was quite interested and listened to me intently (which is odd for this Glenn...he never really cared when you told him about yourself)...but then I said that I had become a very big Pink Floyd fan and that I had been wrong all those years (that I'd been friends with him) not to have been listening to Pink Floyd. Suddenly his demeanor changed...it was as if I had told him I'd been a serial killer. He no longer seemed to be overly happy that I was letting *him* back into *my* life. He seemed very cautious and cold.

Heh.

I was in a strange place that seemed like it was a combination of Woodman's (large grocery store in my city) and the place that Stan works...the front office/residence halls area. For some odd reason I was helping some woman bag groceries, but I was putting the groceries into a shopping cart, not into bags at a checkout line. Evidentally, this was my "job," and the woman was my supervisor. Stan was nearby. After I helped her, she walked away, but she didn't tell me what to do next. I was really angry and upset and started to cry and complain to Stan, saying things like, "This is why I hate working for other people. They are so rude, and they don't take the time to tell you what to do when you're working under them...they just expect you to know what to do! If I had people under me, I would tell them what to do so that they could stay busy. Instead, what am I supposed to do? Just hang out and do nothing?" or words to that effect. Stan was trying to console me, and took me down a corridor that was like a hallway in a school that had art displays of student work, except it was work of the residents that lived there (who are mostly mentally/physically ill). The work was very amateurish, just pieces of construction paper with other pieces of construction paper and metallic stars and play-doh bits glued to it. He said that one of the residents actually sells his work, and he asked me if I could guess how much his pieces go for. I took a stab at it and guessed "$20." Stan told me it was $400. The thought that people bought pieces of crap just because it was done by someone mentally ill and physically defective made me even MORE upset. In a doorway there was a man standing holding a person who was the size of a child, but somehow I knew it was the "artist." He was small, maybe 60 lbs? black hair, goatee, olive skin, glasses, I think. (I think this is probably similar to the way a client Tim had looked, who was spastic and very obnoxious). Then I woke up crying from the dream. It was hard to stop because the emotions a dream leaves with you are so very intense and it's hard to shake them off entirely after you wake up.

Posted by Ann on 11/28/03@08:54 AM CST ..::Link::..

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Rigged Dog Shows

Around noon today, I suddenly remembered that I had seen a coming attraction the other night for some kind of dog show to be shown on network TV today after those dreadful parades. I quickly ran downstairs, hoping I hadn't missed it. I figured I'd not missed much, if anything. They were on the Toy group, and a Pekingese was strutting down the runway. Surely Pug was after Peke, no? No. They quickly rounded up the contestants, and a mini poodle won best of group. OK, well, there was still more to come. The Non Sporting Group was next. Yay, my favorite group of dogs. They showed a Bulldog and a Boston, but they just skimmed by the French Bulldog. They didn't even show it being walked by the handler! It sure seemed like the commercials were taking far much more precedent over the content of the show, causing them to omit certain breeds...lots of breeds. And yes, the Standard Poodle won for the Non Sporting Group.

I say it's a conspiracy. Every show a poodle wins something.

Needless to say, I went back to work and didn't continue to watch the program.

Posted by Ann on 11/27/03@01:58 PM CST ..::Link::..

DREAMs: Are there any paranoids in the audience?

I was with Stan sitting on some bleachers with a bunch of other people. I have no idea where it was. There were some young women (20s, 30s) sitting near him. There was a young woman (early 20s, long dark brown straight hair) who was in front of him. There was a popsickle that was pastel pink, pastel blue and white (like the colors of the flag, except pastelled) that Stan picked up and sniffed. Then he whispered something really strange to me, like "The woman in front of me is evil," or "wants me to go away" or something weird and paranoid like that. He supposedly "understood" this from sniffing the popsicle that the woman had touched or something. Then he started saying really paranoid stuff about the other women around him, how they all wanted to destroy him. He started saying this loudly so that they could hear him; he even started poking their shoulders and shoving them to show me, like, "she's the one I'm talking about." I got really angry at him and told him to shut up and that he's being paranoid and that the people around him have nothing against him, it's all in his mind, and that it would be best if we leave. I was really stern and angry. As we left, we were walking down a boardwalk that was rotting. I was afraid I would fall through it. Stan was ahead of me in the distance; it was like he was not waiting for me to catch up with him. He also seemed really short, like a dwarf. When I finally caught up to him, I swung my purse and hit him. I guess I was mad. Then, I forgot what happened, but somehow Stan had morphed into Hieronymus, but I lost track of him altogether. Someone asked me where Hieronymus was, and I realized he was not with me. Very weird.

I was with some people (I don't think Stan was with me...this is a different dream altogether) and we were having dinner with Roger Waters' mother! LOL! I knew that Roger had been around, but had gone off someplace with his ex-wife! I asked his mother (who seemed rather small--surprisingly because I thought she'd be tall like her son) where Roger was and she said she didn't know. She wasn't concerned, but I was. I wanted to meet him! I could barely eat my meal. I can't remember whether in the end I met him or not...it seems vague. I think it was around this time I was waking up from the bad radio.

Posted by Ann on 11/27/03@09:39 AM CST ..::Link::..

Are there any weak people in the audience?

On holidays, Wisconsin Public Radio always has the most lame broadcasting. On Thanksgiving, this usually culturally-astute and socially-aware statewide radio network dons a care bear mask to hide its usual serious political tone and turns squishy soft to Oprah standards. As I lay in bed this morning, I knew I'd had enough, and that it was high time to get up and leave when they were talking about how not to overeat during the holidays. That was bad enough, but the guest started talking about how we "overdo it" to "make up for lost time" when we haven't seen our relatives for a long time." Just what was a long time by her definition? "three to four months." THREE TO FOUR MONTHS? WTF? TRY THREE TO FOUR YEARS, HONEY!

'The Hell?!?!

I don't get it? Just what is so *LONG* about not *SEEING* a relative in three to four months? Sometimes I don't even TALK ON THE PHONE to my dad for that long a time! (I call him once on Father's day and once on his birthday (which have approx. 5 and 7 months between them, and then I'll say something short to him if he accidentally picks up the phone instead of my mom when I call her...which is pretty rare (not the calling of my mom is rare...the father picking up the phone is rare)).

These are the type of people that you see that practically have a cellphone duct-taped to their head, or they're like that old cellphone ad of a couple years ago where their skeleto-muscular structure permanently conformed to the holding of a cellphone.

I could seriously live on a salary of what these people must spend on their cellphone bills.

They seem like a different species. What makes them so weak, so needy? But the big question is: Why are they so gullible to fall under the spell of the travel industry? You MUST travel on the holidays to be with family. Why, everyone does it!

The most I ever travelled at any age for Thanksgiving (and by car, at that) was when I lived in Colorado in my 20s, and it was no more than 150 miles one way. Stan and I would rotate years we had Thanksgiving with his family, who lived 150 miles away, and then the other year we would stay in town to have it with my family. Even when I was a kid, my parents never travelled to be with their parents over Thanksgiving...we always had it by ourselves until they permanently brought my grandparents to the town they lived in. Once Stan and I moved to Wisconsin, the travelling was over. I was always fascinated how empty the roads were the day before Thanksgiving. I must say, I really enjoyed the desolate eastern Colorado plains and the crispness of a late fall morning to travel. But...I thought it was supposed to be *busy* travelling this time of year. Where was everyone? Oh yeah, they all flew.

And flying is what I'm supposed to be doing now, living 1000 miles away from my family. Oh sure, I have a few hundred extra bucks to spend on plane fare and another hundred bucks or so to board the dogs, and another hundred bucks or so for car rental. Not to mention it's impossible for Stan to take off work. No problem! Travelling on Thanksgiving is The American Way! Get out there are Fly! Go buy stuff!

Yeah, it's the American Way for the rich and the soft, and those who aren't rich but they're soft enough to not want to think of themselves as Unamerican so they go in debt up to their earlobes just so they can live out some sort of N*rman R*ckwell fantasy camp.

Baaaaaaaaa! Baaaaaaa!

Mmmm...lamb chops.

Posted by Ann on 11/27/03@09:14 AM CST ..::Link::..

Monday, November 24, 2003

We need you Hilary Clinton!

The Democrat debate is seeming to become some sort of smorgasbord. This word 'smorgasbord has the word gas in it - as in what you get after you eat as a restaurant that offers a smorgasbord. Anyway, the whole Democrat debate thing is becoming too much of a smorgasbord, of mildly interesting views without too much flavor. I think to myself, this is interesting and a little of this, over here, is interesting too, but I can't imagine having any of these choices as an entire meal. Also, why isn't there any Hilary Clinton being offered, now that would be a meal. There is someone to vote for without feeling like you're getting too much of one thing - and getting boring too soon.

Posted by Stan on 11/24/03@08:00 PM CST ..::Link::..

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Chocolate Cactii

It's a bit hard to explain, but since I've really started getting into cactii and succulents, it's another world as far as plant ownership. The difference between regular tropical houseplants (the leafy kind) and cactii/succulents is like the difference between owning tropical fish and owning dogs. Tropical fish and houseplants are colorful and pretty and all, but cactii have much more personality--like dogs. Their solitary columnar or globular forms make them seem like little characters...tall little people, stubby little people.

I am attempting an experiment this season--I will not eat any chocolate until next summer. Why? Facial breakout. I suspect chocolate is a big culprit, and in the winter months there is so much chocolate around, beginning with Halloween. This Halloween (we got like 6 kids total so there was plenty left over...kids too spoiled to climb our 22 steps or something) I substituted caramel and hard candy for chocolate. And you know what? I'm not missing it. Sure I love chocolate, who doesn't? But it is not necessary...it really isn't. And this might be rather mean of me--of course it's mean of me, everything I say is mean because Ann IS mean because she's not into teddy bears and smiley happy nice things--I rather ENJOY being able to do without something that most women cannot. I mean I KNOW I can do without all the superficial frippery and adornments and girly indulgences that women--*other* women--find life sustaining that is in actuality completely irrelevant...but that's just the physical world. Chocolate is nourishment for the body and soul. And I don't need it. I like the concept of being an ascetic, I suppose. Yet I am digressing. If I still break out this winter, then I'll know it's winter itself...lack of light (my face was really clear when I was in Colorado and getting lots of sun), and not the chocolate. But I have to know. To me a season without chocolate is certainly worth that knowledge.

So I thought of a substitute for people like me, for people who love getting those heart-shaped boxes every Valentine's day filled with chocolate candies...a heart shaped box (deeper, of course) filled with little tiny bon-bon-shaped cactii! As was said in a Seinfeld episode, albeit in sarcasm, "Nothing Says I Love You Like a Cactus!" See, to me, a cactus really does say "I Love You." Unfortunately, I don't know if other people can see it like that. They'd prefer to stick to their silly pastel teddy bears and lame cut flowers that die in two weeks. (I hate cut flowers unless they're from my own garden--what a waste of cash!) Give me cactii!

Unfortunately, since our cactus obsession has taken over, there probably aren't too many species available on the common greenhouse circuit that we don't have. But I still think the concept of a heart-shaped box filled with tiny young cactii (and clumping-type succulents too) an ingenious one. It's not something you'll consume in a month either. It's a gift that keeps growing. The one drawback is that it would have to be fairly expensive because it would have to be packaged in a "loving", elaborate way, nice little decorative painted terra-cotta pots, a lovely devorative keepsake heart-shaped box, to keep out the hate-gift factor...you know, sending your ex- a box of cactii is a sure way to tell a cactus-hating prissy girl to piss off. So there could be two different product lines..."Nothing Says I Love You Like A Cactus" could be for people like me...and the "Nothing Says ___(you fill in the blank) Like a Cactus" could be composed of nothing but dead cactii...the poor unfortunates that didn't make it. That way, no cactii would potentially be harmed in the giving of these gifts.

Another line of cactus gifts Stan and I were contemplating recently were those cactus bowls...you know, you see them at some florists and greenhouses...shallow bowls with painted western scenes filled with assorted cactii and a few dumb rocks. Stan calls them "an ecological disaster waiting to happen." What he means by that is that whoever assembles the bowls has no idea that all those different cactii have different climate requirements. Some need cool (nearly freezing) winter temperatures to bloom. Others will perish if the temperature gets below 60F! So Stan thought that if the bowls are filled with similar-climated species, you could keep them in the appropriate spot in your house, garden or greenhouse. And my contribution to this concept? They would be called names of western states or countries and appropriately decorated. The Colorado bowl would contain cold-climated species (that you could keep on a 3-season porch in the winter); the bowl would be painted with mountain scenes and the soil would be adorned with beautiful quartz crystals. The Mexico bowl would be warm-climated, which means you would keep it inside in the winter (unless you live in the sun belt, of course). It would be painted with Aztec decorations and the soil would contain pieces of turquoise. The California bowl would be adorned with seashells and have ocean scenes on the bowls. I think this is rather clever, and certainly beats the current products on the market as far as keeping the plants alive, visual aesthetics and even "gift appeal."

Below are the first Euphorbias we got. Although they look like cactii...they're not. They're succulents. The first one, Euphorbia meloformis, we found at a greenhouse in Salida, Colorado. It was just so unusual, unlike anything else I've ever seen (or at least noticed). I nicknamed it "Silly Buttons" which is also my nickname for Lucifer Sam. The second one is similar, Euphorbia ferox. We found it in a greenhouse in Cortez, Colorado. We've since repotted them in nice terra cotta. One thing I liked about the greenhouses in Colorado is that they seemed really conscientious about including the Latin name on a little white plastic tag. I like that. You won't find that out here...people in Wisconsin aren't really into cactii.

Euphorbia_meloformis (36k image)
Euphorbia meloformis

Euphorbia_ferox (33k image)
Euphorbia ferox

Posted by Ann on 11/23/03@10:16 AM CST ..::Link::..

DREAMs: Shirts and Shoeracks

(As I was dreaming this early in the morning, I was listening to Wisconsin Public Radio and they had a garden show or something on...could've influenced it...who knows)

I was in a strange art class with Stan, taught by some guy...dark brown/black hair, fairly short, slight, glasses, I think, younger than Stan and I. We were sitting at tables and he was going on about some assignment that his class would be working on in March...ice carving. Everyone was taking notes, but I was wondering why bother because that was a different semester. Then he starts talking about using shoe racks. I'm still taking notes, but then I think and mutter to myself, "why do I care about using a stupid shoe rack?" and I flip my pen (a green bic pen) and it flies clear across the room. What's odd is that the classroom appears to be outside, and it lands near a corner gas station. Stan is sitting at a desk which is close to where I flip my pen, so I get his attention and motion to him if he could give me back my pen. I think he does and then I wake up.

Also, earlier in the night I dreamt I discovered a closet full of shortie halter tops that I once had (not really...I think I only had 3)...I don't know what these things are called...they were popular in the 70s...maybe halter isn't the right word? They were like a regular short sleeve top, but they didn't tuck in, the fabric turned into ties which you tied under your breasts. If you were flat chested like I was when I was 14, the tie just sort of hung loosely around your midriff...if you were busty, the tie cinched up your boobs. Well, of course I could barely even fit into the things now (and in the dream), but it was fun trying on them all. No, not really. It was fun in the dream because it was surreal and there were so many of them, but IRL I really couldn't be bothered with such girlishness, you know? The dream would've been fun for you, Stan, if you could've seen it.

Posted by Ann on 11/23/03@08:42 AM CST ..::Link::..
By Ann @ 20:55 PM CST:11:20:03 ..::Link::..