Project Hair: Day 0

short haircut, day 0

I'm going to try growing my hair for donation. My hairdresser told me wig-makers love Asian hair, because it's thick and holds up against the piles of treatment required to make it usable.

So, here I am on day 0. Donated hair needs to be at least 30cm from where you cut it, which for me, will be the base of my hair at the back of my neck. Once the sides catch up with the base, we can start counting.

According to my hairdresser, human hair grows approximately half an inch per month, so it'll take me a couple of years to get there. Hair growth can supposedly be sped up by taking flaxseed oil or deep sea kelp. It supposedly makes your hair stronger too, but since you eat them, the effect is systemic. So my underarm hair, leg hair and sexy chest hair will also grow fast and strong.

Hmm!

This will be an interesting experiment.

Hair progress: -4cm

The arranging of things

rosemary flower

I've had time to think about what my Horticulture course and work experience means to me. I got into it for the love of gardening, and from feeling disenchanted about working with technology. Particular in web and marketing areas, you deal in the 'unreal'. You sell concepts, ideas. At times, it feels dishonest, like selling an air sandwich.

Dealing in plants seems wholesome in comparison, but you don't just 'deal in plants'. Like in technology, the plant industry has different flavours and practices.

My favourite part about all this has been arranging plants. Presentation, putting stuff in order, working with harmony and juxtaposition, getting quiet time to learn botanical names and plant characteristics. It’s certainly showed me how I’m inclined, and what led me to web design in the first place. I wonder, if I worked in a café or cat hotel, would I still love most the arranging of things?

My least favourite part is the customer service, because I still don’t know enough to help most people. My team are nice about it, and remind me often that no one expects that much from a beginner, but I still feel disappointed when lack of knowledge stops me from being able to help, especially when the answer could be so simple.

I decided for my last couple shifts that if I don’t know an answer, I’d not think twice about pulling out my phone and looking it up. It’s not orthodox, but if an organisation has a problem with it, given the age we live in, they may not get to have a problem with it for long. Luckily, the staff at my Bunnings store will use iDevices soon to look stuff up on the spot. That made it seem like whipping out my phone in a retail situation would be an okay thing to do. I do wonder what this changes about the customer service frontier. These are interesting times.

One day, I think I’d like to find a way to combine 'plants stuff' with technology and craft. These are the three major pursuits in my life. If something in me didn’t believe in the validity of this combination, I wouldn’t feel so naturally drawn to it. I do see a place for it in our future. I feel as though modern society moves towards a closer connection with nature.

It probably always has done, and it’s only being exposed to it now that leads me to think I see it as an emergent movement, but... also maybe not? We are right in the middle of the Information Revolution, and we won’t always be. Just as the age of agriculture gave way to the Industrial Revolution, which has dovetailed into the present technological era, change is as it always has been: imminent.

If biotech is the next epoch for the developed world, and something Kurzweil this way comes, why wouldn’t mankind and its civilisation converge with systems that have survived for longer and more persistently? Why wouldn’t we intermingle our lives with the sustainable lives of plants?

So, I see a place for my aspirations in our world. Even something as small as creating, say, a bedside clock that doubles as a planter. That’s a start. Who knows where that could lead? Maybe one day, we’ll have bioengineered plants that will allow the clock to be powered by photosynthetic energy. Maybe the whole clock is itself a plant. This is a hare-brained, far-fetched idea, but you know, even the largest tree began as a seed.

This gives me hope.

Hours completed: 64 of 70

Stuff I'm working on

Nippon blanket - now for dog

My blanket project from last year grew less interesting with every square. It was meant to be a 100-patch glory for cold nights on the couch. Then cut back to 81 pieces because fuck doing 19 more squares for hardly a size difference. Now it's relegated to being a dog blanket for a Cocker Spaniel pup we'll be visiting in a couple of weeks. So, that's on the cards - stitching up all 36 pieces, then rubbing my face in it so it smells like me.

Along with this are more half-finished, barely started, and mostly done projects strewn around my desk. Fancy a look?

my first weaving

My first weaving project, using orange and light aqua yarn. I almost gave up on it because the weave was too loose, but then I learned about stiffening fabric and figure I could starch this and make a display piece. That was a month ago. I haven't touched it since.

Sullivan's felting tools

This felting kit is waiting to be picked up. I'm scared, though. These needles are sharp and rough. I have thimbles, but it's still risky. Something stupid is going to happen. Blood will probably happen.

basket of unfinished projects

There's a lot going on in this tiny basket of bits. That blue stuff is a baby kimono awaiting more yarn. The white stuff will be made into a hat. The blue-grey thing is alpaca yarn slowly transforming into a scarf. The red stuff will go towards a neckie. And the orange bits will end up a present for someone in the family.

Victorian-esque collar

I had a go at making a Victorian collar - sort of. It's almost done. It needs some buttons, but every night, I cbf.

The Modern Girl's Guide to Hatmaking by Mary Jane Baxter

Throughout my childhood, I wondered what kind of wizardry went into making hats. At some point in my life, I would like to find out, thanks to this book I found at Planet Books. The craft of hat-making is called millenery. It sounds like it requires a lot of steam and glue. However, before I can even think of starting, I have to make a gateway piece:

calico, cotton drill and a fabric pencil

An apron. This is my cotton drill fabric, calico and a fabric pencil. The book recommends using an apron when crafting, so your clothes don't get smudged or snagged on your hat. An apron is a nice, simple re-introduction to sewing machines and sewing. This will be my competence litmus.

Other projects I can't take pictures of include...

  • A gamedev project
  • Nursing fresh seeds and seedlings for a winter crop
  • Growing indoor basil over winter
  • Making succulent cuttings in cute pots
  • Adding a second species of moss to my two-year old terrariums
  • A coeliac test

Busy busy busy.

The "Mona" glove

the

Ah! I am excited. One of my goals this year is to put something cute in a shop. Yesterday, I delivered the "Mona" gloves to Lucy In Disguise, and independent retro, recycled, vintage and handmade store in Subiaco. :)

The lowdown:

  • Handmade, 100% wool, natural dyed wood button, hand wash only.
  • Available in limited supply from mid-Autumn at Lucy In Disguise in Subiaco.
  • Part of my quaint goods collection at The Softery.

Funny timing - just a couple hours after I dropped off the glove, the weather turned a huge corner and we got super rain all evening. Google weather says the cool weather is finally here, at least for another week. Get your gear ready - winter is freakin coming!!

The friendly garden pest

hedge grasshopper on my sweet basil

I found this bugger in my basil. LOOK HOW BIG HE IS! My hand would be just enough to hold him. I think he might be a Valanga irregularis, a hedge grasshopper, and that he might actually be a she, judging by the size listed on the DAFF site.

According to the internet, they feed on leaves, and are thus pesty. There are massive bites taken out of one of our chilli plants. And she didn't leave in a hurry when I watered, so I suspect she may have just laid eggs in my garden bed. Argh x 2! Never mind. Let's think positive - maybe her presence will attract lizards and mantises to my garden.

golden candle flower with aphids between petals

Last week, nursery received a set of flowers with aphids. Boo. A common but destructive bug, aphids suck the sap out of a plant, eventually killing it if the infestation is too extreme and left untreated. You can spot the bugs as little yellow, brown or green pinheads on leaves, stems and petals.

Treat aphids with insect oil. The internet generally recommends neem oil, but I saw a bottle of Multicrop EcoPest Oil in our supplies - I think it's the same or similar.

pest control sprays

Our aphids actually got sprayed with an insecticide called Confidor. I'm not into chemicals like this, because I'm scared of hurting bees, but I have to learn about them for school. That said, I was unwell recently and thought it might be a parasite. My first instinct was to look up how I might poison my own blood to get at the intruders. So maybe systemic insecticide isn't all bad.

The active substance in Confidor is called Imidacloprid, a neurotoxin to insects, resulting in convulsions, paralysis and eventually death. It's not very toxic to mammals, but you wouldn't want to eat food covered in it. The chemical is absorbed into plant xyelm (the bits that conduct water and nutrients) and stays present in the plant, thereby turning the whole plant into kind of an insect killer.

mottling on leaves from azalea lace bug

It's sad to see a plant afflicted by bad bugs. We found azalea lace bugs on some older plants. See the mottling on the leaves? That's from the bugs feasting on the underside. The mottling remains permanently on damaged leaves.

azalea lace bugs look like tiny fuzzy black dots

In spite of my chemical paranoia, I applied the insecticide spray and mentally crossed this off the bucket list. If faced with the same problem in my own garden, I would try pyrethrin first - this also an insect neurotoxin, but breaks down more quickly than imidacloprid. I've been told just growing pyrethrum daisies can be enough to repel insect pests; would love to hear from someone who's actually done it and knows.

an ordinary garden slug

While cleaning under a shelf, I found a little garden slug. These don't seem to be as big a problem in retail nurseries as they are at home - at least at my home. The coffee grounds trick doesn't work for me, but beer traps never let me down. Slugs and snails are lured by the delicious yeasty scent of beer, and indulge themselves to drowning. You do have to tip out the slug-filled gluggy old trap later, though.

Finally, I learned about a pest of another kind - dodgy humans. Our three toughest looking teammates casually loitered to keep an eye on a notorious sticky-finger. My nerf life makes me complacent about this type of thing, but it is very real. Some people live by lying, cheating, stealing. Some people are dangerous. Retail serves all kinds of people, including those who venture into these lifestyles. A staffer told me not to worry about staying out in the nursery after dark if there was anyone else out there I didn't feel safe around. So that was sobering.

I saw some interesting bugs today, but didn't have the camera ready. There was a cute fluffy white bug, looking similar to a woolly aphid but not the same. A customer brought in a leaf asking about his little white bugs, which may have been white mite but there were no webs. And I hung out with a friendly wasp inspecting the flowers, possibly a flower wasp.

I'm almost halfway through my work experience. :)

Hours completed: 34 of 70

Itchy eye - red, swollen, squishy bits

swelling and redness in of my lacrimal caruncle and plica semilunaris

My left eye was itching like mad tonight. I thought I had a cat hair stuck in there, looked in the mirror and saw some swelling on the glossy, fleshy part in the inner corner of my eye. I briefly wondered if I might be turning into a cat, and this was my third eyelid developing, but it was only happening in one eye, so probably not.

Thanks to Google, I learned I had an inflammation of my lacrimal caruncle and plica semilunaris, little pink nodular bits of eye tissue that cover a sebaceous (oil) and sweat gland. I didn't even know eyes could sweat!

Sometimes these parts of the eye get swollen, red and itchy from histamine release. Histamines are chemical compounds your body released in response to injury like if you scratch your skin or sprain your ankle, and to foreign invaders like germs or allergens.

My allergies have been rubbish this year and I've been on anti-histamines all through the warm season. I must commit to spending more time outdoors over winter. I have a hypothesis that being outside in winter has innoculated me against hayfever in previous years. We shall see.

Anyway, I wanted to share this eye thing in case anyone else experienced this and needed a start for their own reading and self-diagnosis. A couple drops of ketotifen set me straight - the surgeon who did my laser eyes recommended it. Works really fast, though I'd rather not need it at all.

As an aside, the plica semilunaris is a remnant of the third eyelid, so you know... purrhaps I am yet a cat. ^__^

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