expect the unexpected: a sabbatical warning about plants…

As previously discussed here I made a lot of lists moving into this sabbatical. I did a lot of thinking. I made gentle plans. And in doing so I thought I had used all the practical knowledge I had on hand. I tried to predict what Cami would do with a 3 month period of time in which responsibilities were lessened.

But as always in life, particularly with me, I should have known to expect the unexpected. You see I’m a pretty predictable person. I have a routine even if I don’t have a schedule. I’m pretty deeply a creature of habit. That doesn’t mean I don’t like surprises. I do, when I have time for them. And they’re good. And I can afford to do whatever that surprise is. I’m completely capable of doing things on a whim. As long as I get to stick to my routine on days surrounding that whim.

Okay. I admit it. I’m not the most fun person on the planet. I’ve accepted this. I’m okay with it. You should be too.

But as always with me something creeps in that I didn’t know about. That I didn’t anticipate. Deeply rooted in my past. I knew something like this would happen, but I thought I already had it covered. Not to get too far down a rabbit hole but a couple of years ago I picked up embroidery. Or I should say picked it back up. When I was a kid I remember my grandmother teaching me the art of cross stitch and embroidery. But I found it boring. And I wasn’t allowed to embroider what I wanted to embroider until I could successfully embroider what she gave me to embroider. Also I wanted to pound on the piano or play outside with the dogs. But enough of those skills stuck (thank you Grandma <3) and I decided to take my love of profanity and my interest in poking needles through things and embroider things by which my grandmother would have been appalled.

So I made plans to work on my embroidery over this break. I stocked up on supplies. I bought a nice little practice sampler that I very much enjoyed. I bought a few more patterns and also a transfer to trace whatever I want. I planned for this to be the thing from my past that kept me preoccupied. But it was not.

You see a year or two ago I also did something else. Well… I did many things but one in particular. I bought a house plant. Or two or three.

I’d been seeking ways to holistically decrease my staggering anxiety levels and one of the glaring red flags was how poorly I slept. I read an article somewhere that I can not possibly site for you now that stated that increased oxygen levels can improve sleep quality. And in that very same article it pointed out that plants in interior spaces increase oxygen levels. Now I didn’t expect buying one houseplant to fix my sleep problems. Insomnia and poor sleep quality can’t be fixed by a plant. Probably.

But it couldn’t hurt. So I bought an orchid and a dracaena. Just to see. They were pretty so even if they weren’t a magical cure for sleeplessness no big loss. The orchid… it died a grisly death. The dracaena didn’t fare so well in the bedroom but it’s still alive and well today. I repotted it yesterday. Because yesterday was houseplant care day. The day when I moved almost all of my houseplants out into the backyard to check on their health and wellness. To prune off dead leaves and limbs, to replant them in larger vessels if needed. To give them an extra shot of glorious sun when it wasn’t too hot. And, as I learned when I got them out into the glorious light, to harvest some little baby plants.

If you had told my when I was in high school and signed up for a class on Floriculture that I would actually enjoy the care of houseplants when I was in my 40s. And that I would use the base knowledge given to surly 16 year-old Cami. I would have… well I probably would have told you to go fuck yourself and reminded you that I was only in that class because it was an agricultural high school and I had literally already taken every elective that had to do with writing or theater and I had no other choices unless I wanted to take choir or band and there is not one musical bone in my body.

Now that class was mostly about flower arranging. When to use what kind of floral foam, how to cut the stems, how to make a bouquet, corsage, and a boutonniere. I even learned how to make an impressive bow from wired ribbon.

But there were bits and pieces about caring for houseplants. Bits and pieces that I did not use because I killed literally every houseplant I had before I brought that little dracaena home with me. I could hardly keep a kitchen herb garden alive for a few weeks.

Then yesterday I spent 8 hours tending to my beautiful assortment of houseplants. Transplanting baby plants to tiny little containers. Buying a new pot for a plant who was too big for his britches. Err… pot. Misting. Cleaning, Pruning. And it was glorious.

If you had told me 2 months ago that I would spend this much sabbatical time and energy on plant care or that I would have rushed to a floral shop upon finding out they had a specific plant in stock that I had to have. Or that I would plan plant shopping trips to round out my collection. Or lovingly strip baby pilea from the mature plant to replant for my friends and loved ones…

I wouldn’t have told you to go fuck yourself but I wouldn’t have thought you were right…

I didn’t realize that since bringing home that first plant in the hopes of a sounder sleep each night I had amassed such a beautiful collection of indoor greenery in every room. Plus I’m totally growing aloe vera again for the firs time since my childhood. So I totally imagine between that and the mint plants I will make an excellent healer when the zombie apocalypse is upon us…


6 thoughts on “expect the unexpected: a sabbatical warning about plants…

  1. jeffgolenski says:

    Yesss this is fantastic! I hope you enjoy your sabbatical and working with your flora!

    The pilea you posted as your featured image is one of my favorites! I’m a massive plant geek as week. Haha.

    If you’re looking for some Instagram accounts where you can waste an entire day looking at amazingly designed rooms with an abundance of greenery, give me a shout.

    Enjoy, Cami!

  2. Lindy DeMelo-Garner says:

    It’s a slippery slope! I love love love my houseplants and I can’t stop buying them! I think at last count I have 95 but then I bought 3 more when I was in France last week so make that 98! I also got into making pottery because of my houseplants. I couldn’t find pots I liked so I decided to make them myself!

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