Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rebellious Bright Blossoms

Inspiration for this post came from my blogging friend, Jodi, who recently encouraged us to give Moth Orchids a try. Reading other women's blogs often encourages me to gamble with new flowers. In the case of Phaleanopsis Moth Orchids, I've discovered it's surprisingly easy to get them to re-bloom.

Over the weekend, I noticed a whole bunch of buds on the Moth Orchids. (I've been raising them for a few years, now.) It's anniversary time for them and for me, too.

I'm celebrating 10 long, lovely years of working from home, doing a little bit o' this and a little bit o' that. Started out as a marketing consultant. Evolved into a freelance writer.


You'd think after a decade I'd have it all down but just yesterday somebody called me up, begged me to do a project for free.

This happens all the time. I think it's rude and I didn't wanna do it. So, naturally, I said yes.

Clearly, I'm not the most cutthroat of businessmen women. Plus, I know they all mean well. They just assume I'm unemployed. I'm not in an office. Most mornings you'll find me working in my jammies. Therefore I'm not really working.... right?

 Cymbidium Orchid
This slacker died a slow death in the compost pile.
If they don't bloom often enough, they get kicked to the curb.

So, it's been 10 years, but I still can't get through a week without someone offering me career advice. You'd think they'd have given up long before now.

Has this ever happened to you? You make a monumental decision and it doesn't come lightly. Something in your life is broken and it needs to be fixed. You fret about it. Lose sleep over it. You wiggle your way through every worst and best case scenario.

Crunch and re-crunch those infernal numbers...

I killed this one, too. Dendrobium, another fussy variety.

Essentially, you do everything in your power to insure it's a wise idea. This is, indeed, a gamble you'd like to take. In my case: I decided to become self-employed and work from home.

Happy with this decision, I announced it to my friends. I was excited for the big group hug.

To my surprise, all hell broke loose.

One negative observation after another. How will you survive? How will you pay your bills? Here. Here's the number of our human resource dept. They'll give you a temporary job until you come to your senses.

Feed me! I'm hungry.
Moth Orchids get soaked for 30 minutes once a week.
 Water + leftover tea leaves + a highly diluted organic fertilizer.
Seems to do the trick.

Sheesh! I understand that failure is a scary thing for lots of people. I fail so often I don't even think about it anymore. Can you train yourself to be different? Doubtful. I suppose that comes from somewhere deep within.

But, I will say that there are certain instances when failure should absolutely be an option. And, such is the case with Moth Orchids. It's just a plant. Give it a go! If it decides to die then toss it in the compost pile and do it again.

Tips: 
* What worked for me might not work for you. That's half the fun of gardening.
* Flowering really took off once I decided to stop coddling them.
* Mine live outdoors in the summertime. They get direct sunlight in winter. Every Sunday, I soak them for 30 minutes. The leftover tea leaves gives them lots of nitrogen, for which they are eternally grateful.
* From my perspective, the biggest mistake you can make with Orchids is over-confidence. :) Moth Orchids are easy peasy. Other varieties, not so much.

43 comments:

KC said...

Congratulations on your 10 year anniversary. I think your business plan worked out great and admire your bravery for going for it in the first place. Plus, I appreciated the free work you did for the Dahlia Society;-)
BTW, loved the photos. Just seeing flowers in 11 degree weather makes me smile.

Kate said...

Brrr... KC;
We need a heat wave so we can go snowshoeing again!

PS: I was happy to do your Dahlia project. It's when they call up asking for the sun, the moon AND the stars that I feel a little taken advantage of. Besides! Now you owe me one. :D

Ramona said...

O.K. Kate, this gives me hope that my orchid I purchased last winter will still bloom. I guess it's the survival of the fittest, right? The finicky ones get tossed in the compost pile and the not-so-finicky survive.

Kate said...

That's the ticket, Ramona!

My little houseplants are always shaking in their boots because they know what happens if they don't bloom often enough. ;>)

Ellie said...

You go girrrrrl! You sound happy enough, so your career move 10 years ago must have been a good one! I do know the feeling though. I work mornings and usually 3 evenings a week, but people see me at home in the afternoon and conclude that I only work half days. Yeah, right. As if the evenings don't count.

Love your orchids! I have never been good with them.

Carol said...

Kate, I love this post . . . a great metaphor! Using orchids is perfect as everyone thinks they are so hard to have any success with. I work in my robe too and report everyday around the same time to plough through the daily tasks of writing, editing and whatever the telephone rings in. A decade is call to celebrate! Beautiful photos of your orchids . . . I call them butterfly orchids. ;>)

Kate said...

I do the same thing, Ellie!!

I love taking the middle of the afternoon off. To hike, or garden or play with the horses. So, no one EVER believes it when I try to explain that I then come back to the office and work well into the night.

Kate said...

We pajama girls need to stick together, Carol! :D

I love your butterfly name for the orchids. It's always seemed a little unfair, to me, that such a stunning bloomer would have the not-so-pretty nickname of 'moth.'

Iron Needles said...

Congrats on the work thing and also on the orchids.

Sorry that baby took in her head to arrive when every one was all tied up and busy! Maybe later in the year, when it's warmner.

Kate said...

Hi, Iron!
Yes! Absolutely! This summer we should have a garden party @ chez kate. ;)

Tufa Girl said...

Orchid growing is so much easier now that the big veil of secrecy is lifted. I can ignore a plant - might as well make it an orchid!

I love your business plan and congratulations on your great place for achieving tenure.

Kate said...

Hi, Tufa;
I think you're right. Orchid fussiness is all a big myth. So much so that I never believed for a moment I could ever get them to re-bloom. I bought these because they were on sale at my local supermarket. Intended to toss 'em when they stopped flowering. But, I procrastinated on that and, by the time I was ready to pitch the plant, she was growing a new bud.

Diana (Di) said...

Kate, working from home is a good thing! I love it, but them I'm my own boss too... DH says "I'm the boss-a-you" and I say "yah, right". :o)

PJ's, the ONLY way to work! And thanks for the orchid update. I've never purchased one thinking they had to be misted and fussed with and... the next time I see one I love, I'll be picking it up.
PS: a girls gotta do what a girls gotta

Kate said...

Hi, Di;
Nobody's the boss o' me! Which is probably a good thing because I can be very contrary. :D

Go for the orchids. They bloom for 6 months so even if they do die they'll put forth a valiant colorful effort all the while they're kickin' the bucket.

Marguerite said...

Loved this post. In a similar vein, when my hubby and I decided to move cross country a couple years ago I was surprised at the lack of support we received. It's like people can't understand what you're doing unless it's something they would do too. If they wouldn't think of doing it then it must be wrong. It's a funny thing.

Kate said...

Hi, Marguerite;
How very true. I guess most folks are resistant to change. Those of us who embrace change stir up trouble. :)

Laurrie said...

A great post on risk taking in the garden and risk taking in life! Failure happens and it's not so scary. (I got some of the same disbelief and anxiety from friends when I retired at 56) Congrats on 10 years of doing what you wanted to do!

sweetbay said...

Congrats on the 10 year anniversary! I admire your orchids and your no-nonsense approach to growing them.

A Garden of Threads said...

I think it is wonderful being able to work from home. No traffic to the office, no having to dress up, no pantyhose, breaks when you want. The list for pro's is very long for me. Congratulations! I love the moth orchids, mine are all resting for a couple of months, the African voilets are blooming instead.

jan said...

I don't think I could do it. Work from home, or grow indoor plants. I really admire the way you do, though!

Kate said...

Hi, Laurrie;
Wow. Retiring at 56 is pretty impressive! Especially in this economy. Your friends probably weren't against the idea, they were just green with envy! All that free time for gardening.... Still young and fit as a fiddle. That's fantastic.

Kate said...

Thx, Sweetbay;
I'm still coddling the horses. :D They've got their coats on and they look so cute. Sub-zero nights. Yikes! When will winter get back to normal???

Kate said...

Pantyhose - Oh, Jenn!

I forgot all about the discomforts during that phase of my life. Running around, up/down 8 floors of a Mpls office tower back when I was a very disgruntled ad exec.

Flannel pjs were the welcome new look in office attire.

Kate said...

Hi, Jan;
Ups and downs to both, I'm afraid. Indoor plants are wonderful. Mine are wonderfully buggy. The Orchids don't have aphids but the roses certainly do. It can become quite the swarm in the sunny window.

PS: You have a great job. That's half the battle. I most certainly did not.

Snowcatcher said...

Ten is a pretty awesome anniversary. And to still be going strong this far in, that's just plain awesome. Hopefully a little humbling for the disbelievers!

I think you've almost given me the courage to try an orchid...

Shina Willson said...

wow ! lovely flowers

Rose said...

Wow, these are gorgeous, Kate! Obviously, your methods are working well for these beauties.

I admire you for taking the plunge and doing what you want to do. I used to think how nice it would be to be able to work from home at least part-time, but in education that really wasn't an option. Even if it had been, I'm not sure I would have been as brave as you.


Congratulations on making it work!

Kate said...

Thx, Snowcatcher;
I've no choice but to make it work. I've been so spoiled by working from home that I'd be completely worthless in an office environment these days. Especially since I'd probably show up in jammies. ;>)

Kate said...

Hi, Rose;
I had always planned to be a teacher. And, truthfully? I'd still like to be a teacher. That's what I prepared for during undergrad. Did my student teaching in Memphis, TN. But after graduating it was just impossible to get a job so I moved onto another profession... :(

Kathy G said...

10 years is a wonderful accomplishment! I'm into year 14 now, and could never go back to an office. Some years have been more "beneficial" than others, as my husband tells me frequently :-) but I wouldn't give up the freedom, no commute, or time to volunteer when my kids were younger.

Now, if I could only learn how to make orchids bloom! Your instructions are firmly bookmarked.

Kate (daisygirl_io) said...

This is such a great post. I love your commentary on life interspersed with the photos of the orchids. So poignant!

Admittedly, I have always shied away from orchids thinking they were too hard to grow and rebloom. But your post has given me confidence. Its just a plant! :)

Kate said...

Thx, Kathy;
That was a big part of it for me, too. I loved the fact that I was here to say hello when my daughter came home from school.

Kate said...

Hi, Daisy Girl!
I was afraid of orchids for many years. But they're so gorgeous! And, they bloom for half a year! Now I can't live without them. They add such happy color to the house in winter time...

Lauren Mueller said...

They're just jealous. It takes twice the work ethic to be your own boss. Just think, if you'd stayed in the corporate world, I might not have a massive problem with authority! Boring!

Kate said...

I taught you well, darling daughter. ;D

Wendy said...

ok, I'll have to try these orchids. I would really love to successfully have something going on indoors.

good for you for following your own path! As much as I am envious of your orchid growing skill, I'm soooooo much more envious of your doing a "bit o' this and a bit 'o that".

The "concern" you've described sounds a lot like how my father in law has described entering retirement. Everyone seems to have ways for him to keep himself busy.

Corner Gardener Sue said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Corner Gardener Sue said...

Well, I just wrote a long comment, and it's lost because Google told me my request was too long. I was venting about people calling my husband several times a week, sometimes daily, for free computer help. I just told him about it as he passed by. I said I'm ready to tell folks they can vacuum our floors, since Larry hasn't been doing that per my requests.

Congratulations on your 10 years of self employment. I have chosen a job that gives me summers off. I am not paid for those days, but don't care to spend more money than we have, anyway.

I think I want to try an orchid.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Oh, dear! I just checked my email and see that the too long post went through after all. That's weird and embarrassing.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Sue!
I was reading your comment (and enjoying every word of it) when you left me this note about feeling embarrassed. I removed the comment but just wanted to thank you for leaving it! Nothing to feel embarrassed about. It was a good read. I find it very hard to set boundaries and people ask for crazy amounts of freebies so I completely empathize with your hubs situation...

Melanie said...

Great post Kate! I'm glad you didn't give up on freelancing. Congratulations! I've been freelancing since 1995. It's a hard life but I wouldn't change it for anything.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Thx Wendy;

Being my own 'boss' sort of dictated little bits of this and that. Part of that is fear of ever saying no to a paid project. I'd hate to jinx things! :D

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Melanie!

Ah ha! That's why we're kindred spirits! And, all this time I thought it was our love of skiing... I agree, it is a hard life. Or at least it will be until I win the lottery. (It could happen...) But I wouldn't trade it for a corporate job. It's a great blessing to have this level of freedom.