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Mammillaria longiflora f. stampferi, my cactus blooms pink flowers
My blooming Mammillaria longiflora f. stampferi and her gorgeous pink flowers

February Preoccupation

My cat Hermione has been very sick and required major intestinal surgery. I've spent most of my days and nights with her. We're still waiting for her final diagnoses as they don't rush labs for cats. But if you're wondering where I've been, that's my preoccupation.

This has been a rough couple of months for pets with both the passing of Winston the cat (featured in my last newsletter) and my mom's dog Sophie.

Bookworm corner 📚

I haven't finished my best-of reads for 2019 post.

Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells 5/5 stars
I loved this ending for The Murderbot Diaries novella series, and I cannot wait for the forthcoming novel.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 5/5 stars
I loved this so much. I still don't have words to describe how I felt reading it. Just read it.

Marvel Comics #1000 by Al Ewing and a lot of others 2/5 stars
Hit-and-miss and mostly misses for me as every story is around 1-page long, and there are certain creators who can tell a story in that space and others who cannot.

Strangers In Paradise XXV Vol. 2: Hide And Seek and Five Years Vol. 1: Fire In The Sky by Terry Moore 3/5 stars
I hope that Moore doesn't pull a C.S. Lewis on his universe because that's where this feels like it's going.

Supergirl Vol. 1 by Marc Andreyko and Kevin Maguire 1/5 stars
Andreyko loves to dig deep into DC's mythology for characters and teams neglected by time. However, in recent years, he's forgotten how to give them characterization and not rely on readers to know these past stories.

Transmetropolitan, Vol. 5: Lonely City by Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, and Rodney Ramos 4/5 stars
Transmetropolitan seems to have predicted the future, and it confirms we are definitely in the worst timeline. The key plotlines here are a sex abuse scandal involving distinguishing features of a politician's dick and police brutality related to racial profiling.

Things I wrote recently

Reviews on my comics blog:

Green thumb update

I just tossed out my first attempt at seed germination for my spring 2020 garden. The entire setup molded in 24 hours as I attempted to use a humidity dome again, and while it may work for some, this is my second failure at using one. Honestly, what's worked the best for me has been germinating seeds in egg cartons without heating mats, humidity domes, and even without sterile substrate.

On my familial visit to Arizona, I didn't come back with as many plants as last time. Though also, all the plant stores are on the opposite side of Phoenix from my parents' suburb. However, I got a few cacti and took some cuttings from my mom's yard. All are under my powerful grow light that's 1,000-1,200 foot candles. Two of the cacti are blooming.

The arborists cut down the six small trees on my postage stamp yard. I feel guilty for cutting down trees in our climate emergency, but two were struggling due to the concrete jungle, and four were blocking light on my garden. The original landscapers got my yard in a "looks nice to sell" manner, but did not consider the longevity of what they planted.

The trees were the first step in my yard and garden remodel. We're now on the timeline of spring to get the rest done.

My houseplants have been fighting pests. Sugar ants have upped their home invasion and got into my Cryptanthus, using it as a highway to get on other plants, especially the Philodendron painted lady and her natural sap. We thought the thrips were gone from the Philodendron bipinnatifidum, but they were dormant and awoke when she was moved. Now they're the Alocasia elephant ear as well. And spider mites have mostly done away with the Mimosa pudica — it's not my plant; otherwise, I'd compost it — and have quarantined the Pachira aquatica. The latter was a plant I was so proud of, and the moment it was unwatered during my Arizona trip, spider mites and thirst killed about half the leaves.

In happier news, the Pilea peperomioides is crawling with babies, and if anyone wants one, let me know as I'll be cutting them off in the coming month or so. A lot of plants are going to need to be potted up this spring due to new growth, including my Chlorophytum comosums that literally busted apart their pot. The first pitcher is forming on my Nepenthes, which was fully dormant when I bought it last fall. And Jacob's precious tiny Monstera deliciosa Thai constellation — which he ordered from Thailand in November — has shot up its first new leaf.

monstera deliciosa thai constellation and its new leaf
roots bust through on the chlorophytum comosums
Left: New growth on Monstera deliciosa Thai constellation
Right: Chlorophytum comosums and their roots are busting out!

Other things

[FOOD] When Did Snacking Become So...Bleak? Mush in pouches, dehydrated everything, and endless jerky. Why are we eating like it’s the end times? by Alex Beggs — I'd argue this is bleak desk culture over apocalypse worries. I did love the part about the obsession with protein so our wrists stay strong as we type for 12 hours a day.

Stay healthy! My grandma reminds you to eat some protein.


Erica McGillivray

Copyright © 2020 Erica McGillivray, All rights reserved.

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