The Philadelphia Flower Show

Until last Sunday I knew very little about Holland, save for a vague idea that wooden clogs were involved somehow. Now, however, I can confirm that tulips, windmills, and bicycles are the other three things in the Netherlands. Sometimes bridges.


Often all at once.

On Sunday I dragged James to the Philadelphia Flower Show on the basis that he had to, because I was his girlfriend and I said so. I find bullying and manipulation to be excellent cornerstones of a relationship. Plus I bought him lunch.

This year’s theme was Holland (last year’s: Ireland. So close), and as stated above, Holland has a lot of bicycles and windmills. It’s enough to make you wonder if each individual artist began to set up their displays and grew increasingly depressed as they realized that every other artist had been in possession of the same idea.


“We’ll have windmills! And hanging flowers!”


“We’ll have hanging flowers! And bicycles!”


“We’ll have bycicles! And bridges!”


“We’ll have bridges and hanging flowers and bicycles!”



Don’t get me wrong, it was all lovely, at least those exhibits that I fought my way through the crowd to see. Sunday was opening day and the crowds were thick, resulting in many blurred photos as professional photographers used the heads of passerby to brace their heavy-duty cameras.

Getting through the crowds rapidly became exhausting, and I had bought all my windowsill plants for the day, so I was about to release James from this special guy Hell when I caught sight of the “Live Butterfly Exhibit.” With BUTTERFLIES! LIVE ONES!

So we stood in line to funnel into a netted room, where we were handing q-tips dipped in sugar water to try and tempt the exhausted butterflies to us, so we could carry them around like fairy wands.

But as it turns out, butterflies just take what they want.


It took me five minutes to pry this one off of the netting, and only because I wanted my sugar q-tip back.


Got you, you little punk.

Catching butterflies was hard work. James and I struggled to coax the fragile things onto us for what felt like ages, while small Disney princesses in training waltzed by with sleeves covered in the floaty things. If that’s not a sign that I’m old and no longer desirable by the fairies, I don’t know what is.


Most of the butterflies went to the ceiling to rest. I couldn’t reach them. James could, but he was too busy remarking on how short I was.

I caught sight of a large blue butterfly and spent the remainder of my time in the enclosure trying to get it to love me. “Go on, have a sugar stick,” I whispered, shoving the q-tip at its feet until it latched on to avoid being pushed off the plant.


It requires immense concentration, badgering a butterfly to accept you as its new owner.


Success! The q-tip is gone for good, mind you.

Once my life goal of holding a blue butterfly for thirty seconds was accomplished, James and I packed up and headed out, and I faced the reality of my ever-shrinking windowsill space for my new plants.


The little ones will need big pots soon. I have no space, but I need more.

Fortunately, there is a solution to dwindling windowsill space: Hanging plants.


All the hanging plants.

Basically Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day, and instead of doing anything romantic or productive I’m nursing my tea and begrudgingly healing my Overwatch teammates, because I’m sick again for the third time this year. As in, since January 1st.

The problem with taking care of three to six small petri dishes is that you will be sick, all the time, always. Sick will become the background music of your life. I’ve complained about this in the past, but I’m complaining extra hard today because it’s preventing me from going out tonight, and also because I’m blaming my illness on the fact that I killed my Valentine’s Day gift.

You see, on Saturday I went out with James to explore the wonderful and terrifying city of Philadelphia.


It has architecture.

We spent most of the day wandering around, drinking our various warm beverages and pointing out ridiculous works of modern art.


I don’t know what to say about this one. It simply is.


This isn’t modern art (probably), but I was hoping somebody would know what it was, since it was just hanging out on a ‘no parking’ sign.

And, at one point, we ran into humanity’s most creative torture device, the ice-skating rink, complete with five year olds that can skate better than you, and packs of teenage girls taking up half the rink while they check their phones.


Naturally, we gave it a go. I blame my performance on the fact that the rink was bumpy, and also that I haven’t gone skating since I was a five year old that could skate better than everyone. James and I shuffled around the rink doing our best impression of old people who have kneecap paralysis.

We thought we might stop by to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, given that they were a mere two miles away by walking distance, but by the time we arrived we realized it was a Saturday, and desperate parents with bored children were flooding the area by the hundreds. So we saw the outside of the buildings instead.



Pictured: Line of two hundred-some people waiting to get inside. We sat on a park bench and tried to identify which one of them was a Russian spy instead.

And as a ribbon on the day, James gave me the promised small Valentine’s Day gift, which was a lovely pot of (live) flowers and some coconut truffles. I tucked it all carefully into my car, and when I got home that night, I promptly forgot about them.

The next morning, I woke up sick. And I’ve been sick for three days now (but not nanny-sick; that is, sick enough to skip work). And when it finally occurred to me to go into the car and get my stuff, I realized that pretty tropical flowers don’t survive too well inside a car kept out in the thirty degree weather.


Pictured here: My flowers wrapped in an electric blanket to try to thaw them out.

I discovered that these flowers are Cyclamens, and I foundĀ an excellent website on how to care for them, which sadly assumes you haven’t already killed them. In particular, the website states “Cyclamen that are sold as houseplants are tropical and cannot tolerate temperatures below 40 F. (4 C.). And certainly not 30 F for three days straight.” I’m paraphrasing.


I’m eating one of the truffles right now as I type this. It’s also frozen.

I think the moral of the story is that I shouldn’t be trusted with anything living when I’m sick. Certainly not the children I’m taking care of. So if I could have a day or two off, that’d be great.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, and to all a good night.


Get well soon, little Cylamen.

Bits and Bobs

If it seems like I’ve been quiet here lately, it’s only because I’ve been too busy being violently ill elsewhere. These kinds of things happen when you’re surrounded by public-schooled children.

On the other hand, I may have picked it up from someone other than my charges on the weekend. A friend of mine had a birthday party and decided we should all go play laser tag for it, all ten of us adults. We filed into that flashing, disorienting waiting room swearing that we would show Timmy’s birthday party no mercy, and it was just as well, because those seven year olds swarm at you like Day Z zombies.

We lost to a full team of under-tens on the second round, but I maintain that it was because they had five more players than us.

And on Sunday, I visited Philadelphia for the first time, to play a game called “Escape the Room.”


Philadelphia sure is a pretty place. Here’s a picture of the buildings while I was stuck in traffic…


And here I was stuck in traffic again…

Escape the Room is where you pay to be locked into a room and have to use your (probably non-existent) puzzle-solving skills to escape. While we were working on ours, called “The Dig”, we heard the people in the one across the way (“The Office”) run out of time and subsequently fail. You only have an hour to complete the room and find the key that releases you, and even with the generous hints the game-masters give you, it’s hard.

And fun. I highly recommend it.

I have no pictures of this because they didn’t want us to spoil it for anyone, but I’m really not that kind of person. The blueprints have to be aligned by the light blue shapes in the middle.

It was the next day that I got horrifically ill, so I could have picked it up while laser tagging or room escaping or merely nannying the night away. But now that I’m recovered and on tangent after tangent, let me tell you about the cookie you absolutely must buy:


It says “Lotus” on the top, but don’t let that fool you.

These rectangular, gingerbread-colored cookies are Biscoff cookies, which I had not heard of up until now. They might be bigger in Europe, I’m not sure. Regardless, Alaska Airlines served them on the last flight I took with them, in a display of marketing genius, and I was so hooked that I used my previously purchased in-flight wi-fi to order three boxes of them right away.

They’re like… graham crackers in cookie form, perhaps. Very difficult to describe. But they taste incredible with tea. Or coffee. Or water. Or on their own. And, as cookies go, they’re not too calorie-dense. Not that I’ve really looked at the back of the packaging.

So I’ve been up to a whole lot of nothing worth blogging about. On that note, here is a picture of the grocery store ivy I purchased a few months ago:


I’m sure at some point it must have crossed my mind that ivy would grow, but ow that it’s actually outgrowing the pot and the windowsill I’m not sure what to do with it. It’s not my house, so I can’t plant it outside, but I don’t want to just dump the thing.

Life can be hard at times, especially when you’re a plant in my terrible care.