June 30, 2006

I have started a Blogger 'diary'

I have just begun an African violet diary on Blogger.com.... and I thought you all might be interested. In fact, if you are reading this on The Violet Voice messageboards, you are actually reading one of my posts!
Here are a few of the features I like the best:

  • no ads, even on the basic accounts
  • you can have more than one blog... so you can experiment with one and have one as your 'good' journal
  • you can add posts to the journal simply by sending an email from your email program! (note: you cannot add photos to these posts; you have to add photos by posting from the blogger.com site.)
  • the template of the blog and posts can be customized in many ways!

Other features that you may find interesting and to some purpose:

  • You may upload 300 MB of photos, although the photos can not be shown on other pages or messageboard.
  • search your blog, haven't tried this yet!

Blogger journals and blogs is also available in other languages than English.

I first joined Blogger.com three years ago and my account seems to have been up and available all this time. Their cookies, etc. seem to work fine on both my desktop and laptop computers.

There are options to set that will send all posts to an email address... I simply set the email to come to The Violet Voice... (WHICH DOES NOT APPEAR TO WORKING AT THE MOMENT... I am blaming it on MSN and the fact that it is a weekend, MSN's busiest time!) :(

p.s. Thanks again, Laurie! This is fun! ;)

Instant Gratification -or- My Frustration!

We've all heard the term 'instant gratification'. It is often used like this: 'In this modern age, too many people are used to getting what they what, when they want it, and at any cost.' I have heard people actually boast of behaving in this way: "I wanted it right now, so I just went ahead and bought it." or "I saw that beautiful quilt and asked around the show until I found one for sale. Boy, I wish I could sew something beautiful like that."

I enjoyed the first part of an article, It Takes Time by Nan Russell:

The story goes that after one of Ludwig van Beethoven's performances, several people were offering
him their congratulations, when one woman commented, "I wish God had bestowed me with such genius." "It isn't genius, madam, nor is it magic." Beethoven replied. "All you have to do is practice on your piano eight hours a day for 40 years."

That's not the message most people want to hear. Most people would prefer to buy the magazine which headlines, "Miracle Weight Loss Discovery," in the hopes of finding a quick solution before their class reunion,
rather than start a daily diet and exercise program. They'd sooner check out a seminar promising, "become a millionaire within months" rather than start a debt reduction, monthly savings plan. And they'd rather put their future hopes in a weekly lottery ticket than in themselves.

It's an instant messaging, plug-and-play world. Too often we bring that instant gratification thinking into
our workplace. We have little patience for the business idea that doesn't show an immediate return. We aren't interested in learning how to do something; we just want to do it. We don't want to hit the singles, just the home runs. We want mastery, money and success. And we want it now.

..... People who are winning at working ... know what happens to them, is up to them. Just like a house is built stone-by-stone, they know they build their own work success step-by-step. They know it takes time, and they use that time wisely.

Personally, I think we all have been tempted to 'GET' something already created, when we could just as easily 'WORK' at creating the same for ourselves. Sometimes, I wonder if we don't excuse ourselves by saying: 'I need a little treat for myself' or 'I don't do this too
often' or the one I find myself using: 'I don't do many other extravagant things!'

In an African Violet perspective, this 'instant gratification' can border on 'addiction'. And particularily when buying new plants. And I am not talking about buying more plants than will fit in your house. That is a different subject altogether.. that is insanity! ;)

I have recently been horrified by the high prices people seem willing to pay for African violet plants and leaves on Ebay. Okay, I understand the desire to have a certain variety, and the real need to bid when there is something beautiful. That is addiction too... addiction to Ebay, that thrill of getting a bargin and of bidding wars.
But the thing that makes it so terrible to me is the fact that the same variety is most often available from an African Violet vendor, at much cheaper prices!

I have heard the arguement that it is nice to see what size of plant you are buying... but I have seen Ebay auctions go sky high even without a photo of the plant. In several instances, the varieties was indeed hard to find, but many Ebay descriptsions say HTF, when the same variety is listed on more than one online AV catalog.

I don't consider spending the high price the terrible part... if someone truely wants a certain variety and it TRUELY IS NOT AVAILABLE anywhere else, I say 'go for it'. My price threshhold is not very high, but then again it has not been tested by an Ebay auction for a variety that was NOT available elsewhere.
In all but one or two cases of the last 30 or more I checked, HTF varieties on Ebay were NOT that HARD TO FIND!

I just had to vent my frustration!

WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE DOUBLE-CHECK other sources, ESPECIALLY when the prices GETS OVER $20 or higher????!!!!!!

I have a great example:

Last month, I followed Alana's link to the winners of last year's AVSA National Convention Show... and fell in love with Rose Buddies. I had no idea there was such a neat yellow-flowering violet! The first thing I did was a search using African Violet Search.. with not much results showing up there. I did an Ebay search and, if I were to believe the prices there, would have expected it to be one that is HTF and always with a high price.

Then, within one week, I received two vendor catalogs in the mail that listed Rose Buddies leaves.. one at $2.75 per leaf packet of two leaves, and the other at $1.00 a leaf! I promptly emailed Violet Gallery and asked if they had 4 leaves of Rose Buddies available. They said yes, so I ordered 2 leaf packets! A few days later, I received a wonderful PLANT of Rose Buddies!

The plant has three leaves that are hanging way out to one side, but to me they are saying 'pick me.. to plant' ! So I have three leaves to plant AND a nice, well-rooted plant of an age to begin to bloom very, very soon!

So, once again, I say:

Check the AV vendors... and don't pay HIGH prices for plants and leaves,
if you don't have to!

(maybe I should add a disclaimer: "My opinons only" if I post a topic like this? But, remember, that is what this diary is for! ) :)


I think the beginning of this Diary should demand my honesty --- and a confession. I AM GUILTY!

It is a straight-forward case of neglect --- deliberate abuse. There is no need for debate or a trial; the facts are simple. I have no honorable defense, because I have been given many warnings. I had ample time to change my actions. I have also been previously convicted on similar charges, which made my behavior even harder to understand.

It began in October of 2005 when I began to make plans for a new house. Fall work on the ranch is at it's busiest. At first, I simply put off watering my African violets until the weekends only.
In November, we had a chance to go on several 'totally carefree' camping trips. Before we left on the first trip, I put all my plants under domes and shut off the plant lights. Actually, that was a good plan to 'get by' for a few weeks, and everything would have been fine if I had returned my violet care to normal when the hunting season was over! But I totally ignored the plants for nearly three months!
In February of 2006, dead plants were scattered in every tray. While the majority were alive, they were in such poor shape that I felt real shame when a visitor would ask "Where are your violets?". I was so horrified at my neglect and not wanting to deal with the huge task of repairing the damage, I consoled myself by giving each plant a little drip of water and saying: "Revive them slowly before repotting.". In reality, that was just an excuse and what I was really doing was still ignoring them.

Late February, I sorted out all the duplicate plants and the varieties I knew I didn't HAVE to keep. In a matter of minutes, I did the ONE THING TO BE PROUD OF, and the number of plants in my house went from over 200 to 50. (I've always clung to '50' as my magic number -- as the number of plants I can care for properly.)

In April, all but 4 plants (2 were set aside as entries for our Virtual Show and 2 were left as control plants, see below) were cut back to about 3 leaves in each center, and put into 2" pots. There were about a dozen or so that looked pretty nice, and these were not pruned so severely. They were allowed about 6 leaves, received new pots and a bit of fresh soil. My plant shelves were cleaned and the lights finally turned on. It was nearly a full month before I saw new growth, but only 5 of the crowns died.

The end of June is the end of 3 months of PROPER CARE, and I have been rewarded with a spurt of new, fresh growth. Every plant has been transplanted at least once, and about half of them have buds. At first, they fit under two lights... now I have them spread out under 4 lights and my living room window.
The streps seem to not only have survived but thrived under their domes in the past year!
The two plants I set aside as Virtual Violet Show entries look okay, considering what they have had to deal with! They are the two blooming plants in the tray below.

I kept two duplicate plants 'as is'. I did not repot, I did not do anything to them, except give them the same renewed care as the plants I 'repaired'. They have not improved and look the same. So this photo gives you an idea of where my violets started three months ago.

So my punishment for my crime has been a mild one: I lost five varieties that I wanted to keep. But I DID 'cull' my collection, even if it was by neglect. But that is maybe something I should not mention as being to my credit???!!! (insert embarrassed face here!)

So: who is my Probation Officer? Have I modified my behavior? I wonder if I have learned from this experience!!?

My rehabilitation should not include browsing Ebay violet auctions, or opening Violet Voice messages with beautiful violet photos! My friends should not be other addicts with the same habits and faults as my own!

In early May, I purchased a 50-leaf Ebay auction, and found a leaf auction of Sybil, one of my 'most wanted' varieties. I simply 'had' to have a Ma's and a Rob's for our VV projects, plus the Buckeye leaves, and so it goes!!

I think the lesson to be learned here is "Grow as many violets as is fun to care for!".

In the words of Laurie from her blog: "the golden rule: Grow only the number you have time to care for." Humm, Alana wrote a great article: Keeping Your Collection manageable . Fred is always telling us how he refuses most new plants, in order to keep the ones he has. And many others tell of 'Violet Burnout' when they could not 'sent bounds to their desires'.

There is much truth and a not-so-subtle warning in *Count your plants, multiply by 15 equals?, a review of an article by Rich Follett.

Time will tell if I have learned something from this experience, or if all violets in my house are doomed to this annual cycle of neglect, then abuse. While I have a 'reasonable' number of plants at this moment, I also have the potential for many, many... TOO MANY by fall... If all my leaves sprout and my re-started crowns continue to grow and thrive. The only way out of this is to make sure I give away and sell as many of my extras, duplicates, and any variety that I don't absolutely love.

Can I do it? I will let you know this fall!

June 28, 2006

Thanks, Laurie!

I want to send a special 'thank you' to Laurie Walton, whose SocksHaveNoThumbs blog has been so interesting to me. I have felt a bit guilty that I had nothing to share in return!

So, I decided to begin my own 'Diary' and I will try to add a few thoughts-- interesting or not! :)

I won't even try to match your sense of humor, Laurie, or your 'way with words'. Reading your blog, I am always amazed at, and I admit, a bit in awe of the way you always seem to go into every experience, good or bad, with every bit of your body and soul! :)

Thanks again, Laurie, for sharing your days!


Welcome to my new Diary!

I have in mind to use this blog as a place to post my OPINIONS, a place to give my views on this obsessive hobby of African violets.

These 'opinons' may be as simple as my favorite variety of the moment or as serious as the future of no-name plants. Maybe some of these opinons are not ones I would post on The Violet Voice!!!???!!!

I have so much fun reading about how the rest of you 'play with your plants'!
I will try to do my part, by sharing some of my thoughts here!