Tag Archives: Bat World Sanctuary

“If your friends all bought Christmas presents, would you do it, too?”

It’s that time. For the Triffid Ranch, the move for the rest of the year is toward prepping for winter (warm and very dry, according to the National Weather Service, with a higher likelihood of extremely brutal norther storms) and gearing up for 2013. Aside from plans for a tenth wedding anniversary gathering at the new Perot Museum of Nature & Science at the end of the month, we really don’t have that much planned for the holiday season. Since 1998, my New Year’s Day tradition has been to finish cleaning and clearing the house and yard, and I usually dedicate a week’s vacation on the Day Job to take care of that. Being able to see the floor and walls of my office, along with discovering that the boxes of magazines and papers I’d been dragging around since 1986 hadn’t been compressed into diamond from their own weight, is celebration enough.

This is why, in lieu of hyping Triffid Ranch activities, it’s time to give a high five to all of the friends, cohorts, colleagues, interested bystanders, and beloved thorns in my side that make working in the carnivorous plant trade so much fun. If you’re looking for something different as a gift for friends and/or family, for that special event around the Cephalopodmas tank, you can’t go wrong with any of these folks.

Carnivorous Plant Resources
As mentioned in the past, I’m a firm believer in the old adage “a rising tide lifts all boats,” which is one of the reasons I gleefully refer friends and cohorts to other carnivorous plant breeders and retailers when the need arises. On the West Coast of the US, you have both Sarracenia Northwest outside of Portland, with its open house every weekend for the rest of the holiday shopping season, and California Carnivores in San Sebastapol. On the East Coast, I can’t speak highly enough of Black Jungle Terrarium Supply, especially for those wishing to mix up their carnivores with orchids and arrow poison frogs. It may be a little late to pick up temperate carnivores from these three, but they’re definitely set with tropical plants, and at exceptional prices.

If you’re more interested in natural history and species preservation, you have options, too. The International Carnivorous Plant Society is an organization to which I have been a proud member for nearly eight years, with a one-year membership starting at $35. For those seeking even more action, North American Sarracenia Conservancy always needs volunteers to rescue plants in threatened habitat and move them to preserves, as well as bystanders interested in setting up those preserves in the first place.

In the literary front, I shouldn’t have to introduce you all to Timber Press, one of the two most dangerous book publishers on the planet, but if in case you missed out, give a click. This month, Timber Press is holding a 30 percent off sale on every title it carries, and that features Growing Carnivorous Plants by Dr. Barry Rice. When I conduct lectures on carnivores, Dr. Rice’s book is always at the top of the pile, and with good reason, so go get your own copy and kvell over the photos inside.

And on the subject of books, I’ll warn you away from Redfern Natural History and the tremendous selection of exemplary books on carnivorous plants. I’ll warn you away because your wallet will hate you as your library swears eternal fealty to you for your taste. One of these days, I’m going to sell enough body parts to pay for every volume I don’t already have, and I might even stoop to selling some of my body parts to do so.

Other Retailers of Note

It goes without saying that St. Johns Booksellers is the official bookseller of the Texas Triffid Ranch, and I’ll continue to link to St. Johns resources for as long as its owner will let me. I’ll also say that this bookstore and Sarracenia Northwest are two of the things that would get me to go back to Portland for a visit, and there’s absolutely no reason you can’t order online as well. We can cry about the decline of the independent bookstore or we can do something about it, and I make the stand here with no misgivings.

While not horticulturally related per se, I can’t thank the folks at Keith’s Comics and Roll2Play enough for their help over the years with materials for Triffid Ranch arrangements. Keith Colvin of Keith’s Comics has been a friend for twenty years as of next October, and he and his crack crew of enthusiasts always keep an eye open for items that would look really good alongside a Nepenthes arrangement. Likewise, Tiffany Franzoni of Roll2Play has been a welcome cohort and fellow vendor since the first Triffid Ranch shows back in 2008, and if she doesn’t have the game you need or a way to snag it for you, nobody else could help you, either.

Back to horticulture, Janit Calvo at Two Green Thumbs Miniature Garden Center continues her unceasing efforts to promote miniature gardening, and you really should look at some of the items and guides she has for sale. Time permitting, I have a project lined up that should make her VERY happy, so go give her lots of business in the interim.

Finally, there’s my favorite form of porn, the FarmTek catalog. The Czarina actually smiles when she sees the latest FarmTek catalog all creased and marked up and drooled over, because although she worries about the day that I attach a 300-foot greenhouse to the garage, it’s still better than my writing for science fiction magazines. Both for me and for her.

Charities, Preserves, and Educational Facilities

It just opened to great fanfare, and the Czarina’s family takes it as a very high compliment that I passed up an early admission to the new Perot Museum in downtown Dallas to spend Thanksgiving weekend with them. It’s open this weekend, but I won’t be there. No, that’s reserved for December 28, when the Czarina and I plan to start a new tradition underneath the Protostega skeleton where we married a decade ago. After that, there’s always the after-hours events to keep us all busy, right?

This one I won’t be able to visit right away, but I owe an immeasurable debt to Tallahassee Museum for sending me down this strange road a decade ago. I still hang onto my Zoobilee memorabilia after all these years, and if time and money allow me to head back to the Tally area, I’ll meet you out there.

And then we have folks closer at home that could use support. I have lots of friends who say they support bats, but Bat World Sanctuary follows through, and they’re always conducting presentations and events throughout the US to facilitate bat education.

Upcoming Shows

Okay, so I fibbed slightly about this not having any self-promotion. However, while I’m always glad to see both new and longtime friends at various shows, one of the reasons why I tend to stick to unorthodox venues is that there’s a lot to do for the admission price. It’s all about an entertainment ROI, and all of these are worth making a trip.

ConDFW – February 15-17

All-Con – March 8-10

Texas Frightmare Weekend – May 3-5

FenCon – October 4-6

North American Reptile Breeders Conference February 23-24, August 10-11

And there you have it. If you have suggestions on other venues, retailers, or events I may have missed, please feel free to leave them in the comments. It’s all about the sharing.

“We can’t stop here! This is wine country!”

Tonight’s Jam 4 Bats event in Cleburne is still going on, but Chicago hot dogs aren’t the only dining experience touched by the crew at Bat World Sanctuary. Might I direct your gaze toward the new Bat World wine selection, each featuring a Bat World adoptable orphan on the label? (I can’t drink, but two dear friends of mine are wine enthusiasts without being wine snobs. I think I know what I’m getting them for Christmas.)

Things To Do In Cleburne When You’re Dead

Just as an aside for those living in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex or who plan to visit this weekend. Yes, I know that Arlington is going to resemble the Atlanta scenes from The Walking Dead on Saturday. Yes, I know this is the last weekend of the State Fair of Texas. You have a real reason to come out this way, and that’s to show up for the Jam 4 Bats benefit at Garza’s Famous Hot Dogs in downtown Cleburne this Friday night. The intention behind Jam 4 Bats is to finance the construction of bat houses to hold the bats currently roosting in Garza’s building. The Czarina and I plan to head out that way as soon as she gets off work on Friday night, so, with luck, we’ll see you there.

In incidental points, as I mentioned a while back, this has a horticultural component. Ultimately, the bats roosting above Garza’s will migrate to southern Mexico and Brazil for the winter, at which point the building gets its renovation so the bats don’t move back in come spring. (Hence, the reason behind the bat houses for downtown Cleburne.) Part of the renovation involves cleaning out the significant amounts of bat guano built up in the building, so I’m trying to organize a volunteer event in conjunction with local gardeners in need of guano and Bat World Sanctuary out in Mineral Wells. The bats leave by the beginning of December, and the guano and dermestid beetles that feed on the guano should be dead or hibernating by the end of December, so I need to work out particulars with both Bat World and Garza’s as to when would be the best time to shovel out guano. Details as I get them, but I should have some idea of what’s going on after this weekend.

Thursday is Resource Day

Now that the Triffid Ranch is between shows, Thursdays aren’t insane for a while. Well, if they are, it’s “filling your house with dog-chewed Star Wars action figures” insane, not “shooting at school buses” insane. I don’t know about anybody else, but I can live with that. Just pass me that tranquilizer gun, just in case this Thursday wakes up before we finish tagging its ears, fitting it with a radio collar, and painting “87″ on its butt.

Where to start? Well, without going into long digressions about high-pressure cells and cold fronts, Dallas is going into cooler weather this week. The definition of “cooler,” of course, depends upon your perspective and sense of humor, as I’m still thinking of decorating for Halloween by putting a life-sized model of Venera 13 in the front yard. Even so, this means two things: gardening and music, not necessarily in that order.

For the music, the area around the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is already notorious for its extensive autumn music festivals and concerts, and when I say “notorious,” I really mean “don’t expect to have a free weekend between now and the second week of January.” I could focus on the obvious events, such as the Fort Worth Music Festival this weekend, but let’s try something a bit more unorthodox. In this case, it’s time for a trip to Cleburne, southwest of Dallas, on October 21 for the Jam 4 Bats benefit. Last June, the owners of Garza’s Famous Chigo Hot Dogs discovered that their building hosted a huge colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in the upper floor, and rather than simply force them out, Fred Garza is hosting a benefit to put bat houses all over Cleburne for their benefit. I, for one, haven’t had a good Chicago-style hot dog since I left Chicago in 1979, so I already want to order a Bat Dog. Coming out for music, well, is just gravy.

(And concerning the bats themselves, Mexican free-tails are migratory, so they’ll be leaving the building by the beginning of December. At that point, the idea is to clean out the existing guano, repair any damage, and seal the building so the bats can’t simply move back in. I’ve already talked to Amanda at Bat World Sanctuary about collecting the guano for gardening, but there’s going to be a LOT more than I or any other individual will be able to use. To that end, I’m trying to organize local gardeners and gardening groups to assist with the cleanup. As soon as I know when we’d be able to get in, I’ll spread the word, and we’ll all be up to our armpits in well-aged, high-nitrogen guano by Christmas. And yes, you have to be a gardening junkie to look at guano in that way.)

And as far as gardening is concerned, I owe my friend Leah Shafer, former columnist at the late Dallas tabloid Quick DFW, a few favors. Thanks to her, I now know about Discount Home Warehouse Architectural Salvage. The Czarina’s already been nuhdzing about building me a new, larger greenhouse, so this was already perfect. Then I discovered Discount Home Warehouse has gardening materials. It’s already time for me to consider putting in a new raised bed in the front of the house, and I’ve been wanting to put in a small pond for both wildlife and aquatic bladderworts. Oh, we’re in trouble.

Other than that, it’s relatively quiet right now, but probably not for long. I’d best enjoy this relatively free weekend while it lasts.

Birthday beatings

I love the Czarina with all my heart and soul, and that’s probably why I give her so much grief. It’s obviously an addiction to adrenaline: walking up to a black rhinoceros and slapping it in the face, giving a Komodo dragon a thorough flossing, or going to a science fiction convention and telling the assembled crowd how the only thing you loathe more than Star Wars is its fandom are easy. Nothing compares to making the right comment that ends with the last things you see for the next six hours are her elbows going for your forehead. When it’s birthday season, it’s time to double down.

Now, the Czarina is exactly three weeks short of three years younger than I am, so she starts worrying about birthday celebrations around April. A lot of this comes from her being part of a very large and very enthusiastic Texas family, where quiet birthday parties are about as alien as dressing for minus-forty temperatures. (I regularly try to describe minus-forty weather to her, having lived through far too much of it in my childhood, and it’s much like describing the concept of “plaid” to Stevie Wonder. Our nephews and nieces love the idea of ice and snow for playing and skiing, but they question the sanity of anybody willingly living in places that stay frozen for eight months out of the year. I do, too, which is why I’m in Texas instead of Ontario.) Her mother reminds her of her obligations around February, so she has six months to fret and fuss to herself over whether she’s neglecting me. Naturally, I regularly steal Bill Cosby’s comment about how his kids can’t sleep at night unless they’ve had a good beating, and this time of the year, I sleep incredibly well.

It usually starts on the weekend, when we have some free time. We both know the rules. She asks for my input while keeping control of the situation, and not giving in to completely unreasonable requests. In turn, I know that if I make completely unreasonable requests for the next hour, for things she knows I don’t really want, I can drop a good humdinger and she’ll agree to it before realizing her folly. I can then look at her, tears running down my legs and into the stormdrains, and weep “But you PROMISED!” until she realizes I’m messing with her again. This fuels the adrenaline addiction, because one slipup, such as using the words “Wyoming real estate” or “threesome,” and I’ll need years of therapy before I regain such advanced skills as color vision and bladder control. Those elbows are sharp.

The other trick is to push the edge of “How does Brundlefly eat?” territory without going over. For instance, the esteemed garden guru Billy Goodnick commented on Facebook a little while back that the best way to take care of the arguments in a marriage about leaving the toilet seat up at night is to use the sink instead. I told him “Naaah. Use the dishwasher a couple of times, and she’ll be GLAD you use the sink.” When the Czarina saw this, her first response was to impersonate her mother and sigh “Oh, PAUL!” My immediate response was “What? I was going to say ‘oven’!”

And so the bladeplay began. She asks innocently “So what do you want for your birthday?”, and before the first syllable can emerge, yelling “And NOT a crocodile monitor.”

She’s obviously learning, as it’s only taken nine years of marriage for her to pick up my opening gambit. “Well, I had something I wanted, but SOMEone wouldn’t let me haul it home.”

“If you bring up that stupid case one more time…you know it’s GONE, right?”

“Yes (sniffle), because someone wouldn’t let me get a truck to pick it up. (sob)”

“Okay. Aside from a crocodile monitor or a glass case, or the case so you can keep the crocodile monitor, what do you want for your birthday?”

That’s when I realized that I didn’t have a good answer. I mean, I have an answer, but finances won’t allow it for a while. I could have a smartaleck answer for her, and then she’d just look at me and say “Mm hm. And you got one of those when you were ten, right?”

*mope* “grumble* *scuff shoes in the dirt* “Yeah.” She’s remarkably perceptive as to the fact that it’s not 1976 any more, damn her.

“I’ll ask again, and I want an honest answer. What do you want for your birthday?”

Okay, then. I told her what I’m telling everyone else: get something for yourself. I’m serious.

To start, I can’t say enough about the intrepid crew at Bat World Sanctuary in Mineral Wells, Texas. Not only am I glad to contribute what I can to help out, but I’m still going through the kilos of bat guano they let me sweep up last year for fertilizer. (Yes, I spent the Czarina’s and my anniversary last year sweeping up bat guano, and I thanked them for the privilege.) It’s definitely time for you to adopt a bat. Every bit you chip in means a bit more guano for my dragonfruit and the Czarina’s roses, so everyone wins.

If you’re more inclined toward the floral, then get me something nice. Get a membership with the International Carnivorous Plant Society or a premium membership with the International Brugmansia and Datura Society. There’s also the North American Sarracenia Conservancy for those with a more particular bent, but all of these will work quite well.

Oh, and don’t listen to the Czarina when she mocks me about wanting a pony. She’s still ticked off at when I introduced her to the works of the exemplary author Jeffrey Somers. Specifically, he has a married life much like mine, only he refers to his wife as “the Duchess”, and she’s much shorter than he is. Otherwise, the beatings are identical. My mistake was noting that I truly fear the day that my wife and Jeff’s wife meet, because they’d probably be friends for life, and then Jeff and I would be in real trouble. I even started using an endearing nickname for the love of my life based on this observation.

Kids, take my word for it. Even in the days before Google, the Czarina would have found out what “MasterBlaster” meant sooner or later. And when the Duchess finds out, I’m going to need skin grafts on the insides of my nostrils from where the two of them yanked out my nose hair.