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The Corpse Flower Ate My Homework

As they say, the get up and go has definitely got up and went. The only reason that anything was accomplished this weekend is because my husband was still in forward motion. I can’t take any credit.

Friday night was not entirely my fault – we were hijacked. The original plan was that Friday was going to be cleaning up and early to bed. Then I checked the website I’ve been monitoring for the University of Connecticut greenhouse (http://florawww.eeb.uconn.edu), and all the plans went out the window. Their amorphophallus titanum, or "titan arum" for short, sent up a flower bud, and I wanted to see it. The common name for this plant is the "corpse flower." It is native to the jungles of Sumatra and attracts pollinators by imitating carrion – the flower spathe actually heats up, and it emits a strong (!) odor of rotting meat. "Why would you want to see that?" I hear you cry. Because when else am I going to get to see a five and a half foot tall flower? It bloomed back in 2004, but the flower never completely opened so what we saw was a huge, stinky bud. I checked the site at about 9:00 pm Friday, and it said "Titan Arum is opening tonight!" The bloom stays open for less than 72 hours, and the greenhouse has had budget cutbacks since 2004, so I didn’t think they’d be able to be open for the entire flowering. Yet somehow there’s always money for new football facilities. But I digress. The site said that they would be open all night and all day Saturday. We both had other plans for Saturday, so we headed out. Kudos to Bob for overriding his dithering wife and saying "Let’s go now."

Off we went – over the river and through the woods. Literally! The greenhouse was obvious – it was the place with the fire truck and all the local news stations’ uplink trucks. We got there just as Fox was leaving. It turned out that the fire department was there to play with their infrared camera. The "neutral" temperature of the bucket next to the titan arum was 68 degrees, and the bottom of the spathe was 84 degrees. Pretty impressive for a plant. We followed the trail of TV cables and the smell of rotting meat, and there it was. It’s actually fairly attractive, if you breathe through your mouth. I snapped some photos of it with Bob for scale. Then we chatted for a while with the greenhouse employees, who were just sinks of information. NBC tried to do their live report while we were there, but neglected to do a mike check and lost their live feed while they were working it out. Ah, the glamour of live television. I’m actually kind of glad, as I wasn’t excited about being part of a crowd shot. Afterwards we talked a little longer with the greenhouse manager, who looked like ten miles of bad road. It was 11:00 pm or so at that point and he’d gotten to work at 5:00 am. As we left, he was hauling in a cot. According to the website when I checked on Saturday morning, it opened as far as it was going to at 2:00 am. So we were there pretty close to the biggest show, and I don’t regret missing the high point of the stink.

It did, however, make it hard to get out of bed Saturday morning and I was late (as usual) getting over to vynehorn for our sewing date. It was a good day, despite how I was dragging. I got a tunic cut out and pinned, we talked about some philosophical SCA issues, and we did some very preliminary planning for a project for a 2008 SCA event. Oh, and I got to cuddle her cats. That’s always very important.

Sunday was a testament to inertia. In my case, the body at rest was definitely tending to remain at rest. I was tired, the allergies were plaguing me (apparently tree pollen was very high yesterday,) and the motivation was non-existent. Eventually Bob began to move without me, which is to say that he cooked breakfast and brought it to me where I was not moving from the couch. *He* was very productive after that. He put together the router table we bought last summer (we’d been using the router, but not the table), unboxed the new miter saw I bought, and took some measurements for me. After that we headed to Lowes. It wouldn’t surprise me if the clerks at the Plainville Lowes and the Bristol Home Depot are beginning to recognize us. After that, Bob did all the actual work involved in executing my next project. We’re beginning to resemble that old joke about how many laurels it takes to change a candle ("and one maunch to actually *make* the candle...) I dithered around, sat on the couch, and blew my nose a lot. Oh, and I whined. There was a fair amount of unrestrained whining. But in the end, he produced a very nice prototype of a shaker style cabinet door. There is now officially hope for our kitchen. We’re going to make new doors for all the cabinets, and then paint the whole thing taupe. Behr calls it "Gobi Desert," but I know that it’s taupe. The test door came out well. I think we may be able to actually use the prototype, although that’s going to screw with my cutting layout a little bit.

Off the top of my head, here’s what I learned from Bob’s efforts on Sunday:

*We should have bought the miter saw YEARS ago.
*I shouldn’t glue up the entire door in one step: I should glue the frame, and then glue the insert separately. It’ll finish better.
*Biscuit joiners are really cool.
*Once we set up the wood shop corner in the basement, I think it would be very good to install a dust collection system.
*We’re going to need more clamps.

I’m now very excited about the kitchen again. I still need to break out my caulk and fill the gaps like I’ve been talking about for weeks, but now it feels worthwhile. Our goal is to have the kitchen "redone" by the end of Memorial Day weekend. I think that my current plan of attack is to have the cabinet carcasses caulked by the end of this week; knock out the doors by bits and pieces over the next two weeks; and prime and paint the doors and the outside of the cabinets over the holiday weekend. Then I will do the *insides* here and there as I can muster up the ambition. That will also mean that I’ll only be emptying one set of cabinets at any given time.

This means that I need to get the half bath pulled back together so that the "one room ripped apart at a time" mantra may be observed. All of my friends believe that makes good sense, and none of them believe that I can actually stick to it. They know me too well. I’ve patched the walls, so I believe that I should be able get it primed soon. An evening should be sufficient. That room will get new doors also, so I’ll just prime the cabinet carcasses, and since there’s only two I’ll do them inside and out right now. That should still only be an evening’s worth of work. Then I figure that I’ll pick a shade of yellow, and paint the wall that I’m not going to be ripping up – I’ll leave that wall in primer. Prop the mirror back up, and it will be functional. Maybe not finished, but on the cusp. Close enough to allow myself to rip into the kitchen. Who knew it was going to be this hard to find an affordable light fixture that I like? I might have to change my hardware color scheme in there. That would be annoying.

So when was it that I said I was going to have a life again? I’m sure I was wrong.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
kyrelle
May. 14th, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC)
You do have a life. It just consists of serveral walls and a roof.

O cam't wait to see how everything's coming along. I'll be down in CT for a few days next week, before running off to the wild wild west. Maybe we can do dinner, or coffee or something?

kls_eloise
May. 15th, 2007 01:14 pm (UTC)
Getting together sounds great! We're out Wednesday evening, but other than that, it's me and the house. You can see Bob's new car - we're picking it up sometime this week.

I'd love to see you before you run off to play in the dirt some more - just call on your way over if things get last minute. I'll even send a new set of directions ;-)
merimask
May. 15th, 2007 06:35 am (UTC)
Okay the corpse flower sounds INCREDIBLY cool. I am insanely jealous. :-) Did you get any pictures?

One room at a time is a VERY good idea. I've known people who get renovation-happy and gut their entire homes...then live in half-finished rooms right until they plan to move. Then suddenly the house looks incredible, but they leave! Keep yourself to a room at a time & you'll stand a better chance of finishing them, because your reward for finishing one room is starting the next one.
kls_eloise
May. 15th, 2007 01:09 pm (UTC)
The corpse flower was fabulous. I'm not usually a botany geek, but how can you not go for that? I did snap a few pictures - I'll post them if I ever get the quality time to get them out of my camera.

"One room at a time is a VERY good idea"

That's kind of what I was thinking. I know how easy it would be to get carried away because I want it all NOW. I am resisting the siren song of the upstairs wallpaper. I am. I really want to work on the kitchen over Memorial Day, because that three day weekend is too valuable to waste because I don't have a plan. So that's my incentive to get the bathroom patched back together. All it *needs* is paint - I can do that.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )