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Archive for September 1st, 2009

It’s not just that the calendar page has turned, although that doesn’t actually happen in this house.   The first of September happens to fall in the middle of the week so my date book, which has weekly pages, didn’t actually turn a page.   And my “hang on the wall” calendar is a lunar one, and we are still in the middle of the moon cycle.   It’s page won’t turn until a couple of more weeks have gone by.

But still, it is now only three weeks until the vernal equinox, and there are a lot of things that need to be done.    The nights have suddenly turned cooler, so I needed to get all the Marvins ready to move inside.    This statement may need some clarification for people who don’t actually live in this house.   I have a collection of peace lilies. They live in the house during the winter and outside my back door in the summer.  There are three sizes of plain green ones and one variegated one that is truly a cool plant.   Even the spath and flower stalk end up being variegated on this one.

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Cool, huh?

However, the name Marvin refers to the large peace lily, Spathiphyllum giganticus (I made the species name up, but the genus is right).   I received this plant for Valentine’s Day from my sweetie pie about 1998.  It came in a two gallon plastic pot with a giant bow that says “Happy Valentine’s Day.”   I still have the bow.

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I’m sure you noticed all the other ribbons and bows behind this one.  I confess that I have a large streak of romanticism in me, and what you are seeing here is a collection of all the ribbons that have ever been on every bouquet of flowers that had a ribbon that Jim has ever given me.  The little group of silver roses with gold ribbon that is nestled right behind the giant heart came with a spray of orchids that we bought at Pike’s Street Market right before the USS Sacramento deployed on December 1, 198*.  They lasted all the way until Christmas. The ribbon from my wedding bouquet happens to be the white lace one dangling to the left in the photo.  Okay, a few of these ribbons came on significant gifts as well:  There is a navy blue curled ribbon in there that was around the neck of the bottle of champagne we received from the US Navy at Jim’s retirement ceremony.  Anyway, the huge red heart was attached to the peace lily.

Now, this peace lily was very cute when I received it.   It wasn’t over 16 inches tall.   It had nice wide fat healthy leaves, and it lived in that pot for about two years.   It was suitable for sitting in the middle of a coffee table.  After a while, since I fed it on a regular basis, it got awfully large for the pot it was in.   If you weren’t careful, it would tip over, which was annoying when the catch pot was full of water.   So I decided that perhaps it would enjoy being in a larger pot.

The peace lily did indeed enjoy larger quarters.  It is the big one on the left in the corner.  And the big one in the group outside the kitchen door.

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It got so happy, one year it actually made berries after it flowered, and I had baby peace lilies that sprouted in the soil below Mama Spathiphyllum.

Now, how did this plant get called Marvin?   Well, we have a liking for odd movies, and “Little Shop of Horrors” is one of the  odd movies that we have watched together more than once.   ( We like both versions, by the way.)  Anyway, as you may recall, there is a man-eating plant featured in this movie, and when it started leaning over the couch one winter, Jim and I decided that this Spathiphyllum had a lot in common with that plant.  We could almost hear it calling, “Feed me.”   Unfortunately, we did not remember that the plant in the movie was named “Audrey.”  We fixated on the name “Marvin”, which I believe is the name of the hapless florist that owned Audrey.   Be that as it may, by the time we had recalled this important detail, the name “Marvin” had become securely attached to the peace lily.

Marvin got so happy it divided itself, and so I split it and repotted it and gave one of the scions to a friend of mine who had opened a brand new beauty salon and required a salon warming gift.   She calls her plant “Marvin Two.”  When Marvin made seedlings, we just called the whole pot full  “The Marvins.”  As my peace lily collection expanded the whole grouping has by default become referred to as “The Marvins.”

This is useful when we are discussing plans, like the fact that the night time temperatures are dropping into the 50s and therefore the houseplants need to be moved back into the house:  “It is getting chilly at night.   The Marvins need to move back in.”

Over the years I have discovered that moving the houseplants back into the house requires some advance preparation.  It is a good idea to inspect the catch pots thoroughly, and make sure they are well cleaned.   This is especially important when the catch pot is one that is designed to stay attached to the large pot above it.  One year I neglected to do this properly and in a couple of weeks we had a whole bunch of mosquitoes attacking us every time we walked into the living room.    One year I poured all the water out and rinsed well, but the toad that was living in that catch pot just held onto his corner really tight (God knows what he thought was happening), and the night after I moved the plants inside I found him in the middle of the kitchen floor looking quite puzzled.  “What happened to the garden that used to be outside my house?”  he seemed to be plaintively asking.   He didn’t appreciate that the way I found him in the dark was by kicking him into the refrigerator, either.   One year there were so many giant banana slugs crawling out of the pots that we ran out and purchased extra pans to put beneath the big pots and filled them with rock salt.   That took care of the slugs, but it made a pretty icky mess in the process.

So, anyway, I have a charity that I wish to donate to.  they always have a silent auction when they have their big fund raiser, and since the seedling Marvins were starting to become of appreciable size, Jim suggested that I could remove them from the big pot and repot them into smaller pots and use them as a donation.   It would make a nice tax deduction for the business and get some of the jungle out of the living room at the same time.

So that was the exercise I was engaged in when my phone rang this afternoon about lunch time.   I had wet potting soil all over my hands, but it could have been a client wishing to change an appointment or make a new one, so I dashed into the house and answered the phone.   Oh no, it was the car salesman from the Honda dealer where some friends of ours got a new car a few months ago.   Part of the deal was if they gave him prospect names the guy gave them a break on the price of the car or some such thing, and so “Dumbass” has been calling us on a regular basis for the last two months.   I guess I was a little hot with him because the last time he called Jim told him we were in no position to buy a vehicle any time in the future, especially since our truck works just fine and the car has yet to be fully paid for.  Right after that someone from Howard Dean’s campaign called wanting me to donate to the cause.   He said “I’ll be brief,” and I said, “You’re going to be briefer than you thought.  Good bye.”

But I eventually got the job done.    I even remembered to clean the dirt off the phone.  Following is a shot of all the peace lilies, having been drained, cleaned of slugs (but probably not all spiders) and repotted as needed.

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I think I should put a warning sign on the pots when they go into the silent auction.   “Re-pot to a larger sized pot at your own risk,” it will say, with a picture of the Elder Marvin as a cautionary emphasis.

Now I need to get busy doing some weeding out in the Petite prairie.

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