By the way, it’s getting to be orchid season. How do I know? Well, I boarded out my orchid collection when I left, with a nursery that keeps your orchids in their greenhouse, and sends them to you when they’re blooming. November, December, January–nothing. Now it’s February, and they’re making deliveries twice a month. They just called me up to say they have another delivery tomorrow–and I still have four orchids on my desk from their *last* delivery!! Heaven save me. I won’t have any desk space left! I’ll be farming them out to friends!
But they’re beautiful, and fragrant, too. I had a Cattleya a week or two ago that had two giant, deep burgundy flowers, with a heady cinnamon aroma…incredibly intense. The ones that just left my office (to go back to the nursery until they bloom again) had sweet, tropical fragrances and a peppery (no, really) fragrance; the one left on my desk has a “chocolate” fragrance. (I actually think it smells waxy, and sweet, but not exactly like chocolate.)
Can’t wait to see (and smell) what I get tomorrow!
Meanwhile, I have been making my own yogurt. Yeah, I know. You can get the stuff pretty cheaply at the supermarket, and up until last year, I did. But I’ve been getting more and more lactose-intolerant over the years, and it’s now reached the point where I can’t even eat yogurt–even a small cup is iffy. So I tried an experiment yesterday, and it worked!!!
1 cup nonfat powdered milk
1/2 gallon whole milk
2 tsp “starter” yogurt
Mix powdered milk into 1/2 gallon whole milk. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir again to make sure all milk powder is dissolved. Heat milk to 180 degrees (kills bacteria), then quickly cool to 106-109 degrees. Take a few tablespoons of milk out, mix with “starter” yogurt until thoroughly dissolved, then mix it all back into the warm milk. (If you’re lactose intolerant, add 10-15 drops of lactase droplets.) Pour into containers, cover loosely, wrap with a towel, and stick onto a snake heating pad** for 8-10 hours. (If you don’t have a snake, use a regular heating pad on the “low” setting.)
**Do NOT put the yogurt inside the snake cage. (Sheesh! What are you thinking??) You can borrow the heating pad for a few hours, the snake won’t mind.
Anyway, after eight or ten hours I got a wonderfully mild, creamy, and LACTOSE-FREE yogurt. Of course, now I have half a gallon of yogurt that I’ve got to eat in the next week or so, but I think I can make later batches a bit smaller. [grin] I’m really psyched–during the spring and summer, peaches and strawberries with yogurt are one of my favorite foods. Best of all, this yogurt is very mild, very creamy–better IMO than the very tart yogurts generally sold. (My recipe says that if you start with a very little starter, you get a mild, creamy yogurt; but if you use more starter, or a warmer temperature, you get a sharper yogurt–maybe that’s what the supermarket yogurts are doing. All a matter of taste, I guess.)
Finally, an update on Isis: she just finished 6 weeks of antibiotic shots, and she goes back to the vet in a few more days. The vet thinks her Pseudomonas infection may wind up being chronic, with Pseudomonas cysts embedded in lung tissue–and she may need supplemental antibiotic injections for the rest of her life. I’m sincerely hoping not. She also has an abcess on her right eye–she will almost certainly lose the eye (which is fortunately not too serious for a snake–they mostly hunt with their heat sensors anyway), but they’re hoping to prevent it from becoming a more serious infection.
But she does seem to be feeling better (she is certainly wheezing a lot less), and I’ve put together a humid hide-box (sphagnum moss in a big tupperware container) that should help keep her warm. I’ve also increased the temperature in the cage and bought her some other cage furniture to help with humidity.
Meanwhile, I nearly got a mate for her, but he turned out to have a respiratory infection, so I sent him back to the pet store. I’ve heard there are some pretty ones up at East Bay Vivarium, I’ll have to check them out. Adult male Brazilian rainbow boas with good color and nice temperament are NOT easy to come by, so I’m hoping one turns up. Isis herself may or may not be able to breed again (because of the Pseudomonas infection), but Astarte, Isis’s daughter, is nearly breeding-size, so I could use a male anyway.
Rob (my ex) also still has four of Isis’s children; he’s offered them to me, I may take the two females. That would give me a fair-size snake colony, but Brazilian rainbow boas still fetch pretty good prices–I can get $40 store credit for each of them, and 3 litters of 18 each x $40 = over $2000 in store credit per year! (which is way more than yearly upkeep for the snakes)
So it looks likely that there will soon be more snakes in my future.
Knee-wise, I was having more knee problems, went in for an MRI, they’re discussing the possibility of exploratory knee surgery (ick!). But it’s improved a lot in the last week, so, well….we’ll see.