Carnivorous Circus

Happy first day of April! AKA Don’t Believe Anything You Hear/See/Read Day, although that is essentially every day I spend on the internet.

It’s feeling more like January/February lately though, with rainstorms and chilly temperatures. California had an unusually warm and dry winter though. “We need rain” was easily the most overspoken phrase of late 2013/early 2014. Now it’s variations of “I know we needed the rain, but man I miss the sun! It’s supposed to be spring!” My fellow Californians, please quit yer bitchin’. At least we’re not in these hellish lands like the Midwest and the Northeast that I hear stories about.

In any case, we had a small break in the rain on Sunday and I got to snap some pictures of my carnivores, which are looking super happy this season. I re-potted them all in early March, on the tail end of their dormancy.

My beautiful (and yes, somewhat phallic) Sarracenia oreophilia x pp (purpura ssp. purpurea) was the first of my pitcher plants to form an open pitcher.

Maria Fulmer 2014

Maria Fulmer 2014

Almost open Sarracenia flava cuprea in the same pot, getting photobombed by a pitcher from last season.

Maria Fulmer 2014

Maria Fulmer 2014

Venus flytraps doing their nasty thing, eating more than they can chew then opening to show it all off when they’re done. I have no idea which plant put out new traps first because I have too damn many of them.

Maria Fulmer 2014

Maria Fulmer 2014

My sundews, drosera binata and capensis, doing their thing which is mainly looking pretty. These are tropical plants that are hardy to cold temperatures, so I usually leave them out with my Sarracenia and Dionaea. They die back a bit and regrow when it warms up, but with my new greenhouse hopefully I can keep them going all year long.

Maria Fulmer 2014

Maria Fulmer 2014

Maria version 2014

Welcome to the 2014 version of my blog! It’s pretty much the same as the 2013 version, complete with sporadic posts and corny humor. Here’s a quick recap of things that have happened:

  • September 2013: I got an adult job, finally. Full time hours, health insurance, all that stuff adults rage about. But it’s better than your average job because I work for a small craft brewery!
  • October 2013: I joined a yoga studio! With more income and a schedule of somewhat normalcy, I finally committed to a regular, ongoing practice.
  • I visited a new state/city for the firs time: Austin, Texas!
  • November 2013: On the morning of Thanksgiving Day, I did 3 hours of Vinyasa yoga. I was nervous and had doubts, but I did it! Felt noodley and awesome!
  • January 2014: My man and I got hitched! I may type a full-on post later, but for now I’ll say this was one of the best, easiest, and most natural-feeling decisions I’ve made in my life.
  • February/March 2014: I started gardening again. This year, I’m branching out of my comfort zone and growing non-carnivores. Right now I have mesclun greens, basil, cilantro, and oregano going, and just sowed some cherry tomato and summer squash seeds. Pretty standard stuff, but unusual for me! My green thumb grew backwards, it seems. My husband got me a small greenhouse for Christmas last year, so I’m looking forward to winter gardening in that bad boy. It’s only March and way too hot to use it already! Working with our limited apartment patio space is also a challenge. But we’re facing south and get plenty of light so we’ve got that going for us.

That about brings y’all up to speed. Gardening is my current obsession, so that is likely the direction this blog will take this year. I’ll leave you with shots of my mesclun greens, which are retardedly easy but I’m proud of them, anyway!

Here are the potted seedlings, shot 2/24/14.

Maria Fulmer 2014

Maria Fulmer 2014

And the same pot shot 3/22/14.

Maria Fulmer 2014

My first harvest of 2014! Awww yeah, four whole salad leaves!

Maria Fulmer 2014

Maria Fulmer 2014

Praying Mantis Existentialism

Readers may or may not know that I grow carnivorous plants. Because they eat bugs, they attact other bugs that eat bugs, like this praying mantis hanging out on my Sarracenica Leucophylla “Tarnok”.

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

I’m not bothered by most bugs, and I don’t see mantises often, and I think they’re interesting. How ’bout that sexual cannibalism, eh? I saw this guy (lady?) a couple times and took several photos, but mostly left it alone. Plenty of bugs to share. A few days ago, I was trimming dead pitchers off my other pot of Sarracenia, when I pulled out what was definitely the remains of a mantis exoskeleton and had to photograph it. If you’ve viewed any of my previous photography work, you know I get poetic about death.

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

I keep wanting to display the living/dead mantis photos side by side, though it’s not likely the same mantis. I keep wondering if it is, though. I’m fascinated by all the parts of the exoskeleton and post-processed the photos as if they were abstract figure studies. Because they are, in a way. I find them visually very interesting, but I am somewhat emotionally attached to them. The hardest struggle with your own photography is separating yourself from the moment and seeing the images only aesthetically.

I am falling in and out of photography” so much. Not so much the act of shooting photographs, but the expectations and culture surrounding it. It’s at the point where I don’t want to call myself A Photographer, because that title is synonymous with doing services for people that mean nothing to me and pay way too little, if anything at all. Essentially, photography is what I want to keep to myself, for myself. I just want to shoot pretty dead things. Maybe I will rant on about this in another post.

Happy IPA Day! (And A Plea for More Pliny)

Emily Ragle

Emily Ragle

Internet holidays are silly, but fun. I’m all for finding an excuse to celebrate something, even if it’s something you do or appreciate every day. It’s nice to add a little extra thought and effort into showing someone you care, honoring veterans, or appreciating the art form that is the India Pale Ale.

#IPAday was originally created in 2011 to celebrate this delicious, versatile beer style all across the internet. As I generally prefer bitter tastes over sweet ones, IPAs quickly became one of my favorite styles. I enjoy them frequently but IPA Day 2013 is special to me this year, because I’m enjoying an IPA I rarely get to have. That beer is the notorious Pliny the Elder.

Now I love Pliny, but Russian River Brewing Company makes me mad and I’m going to shit on them a little bit.

First of all, I’m about about an hour away from the brewery, but finding anything made by Russian River is damn near impossible. One store regularly has Damnation and Supplication but never any Pliny or Blind Pig. In order to get Pliny, this store must request a case from a store in another county even further away from the brewery. If said store has the beer to spare, the idiot beer guy at our store will just stock all the Pliny at once. So the first hop head there will buy it all up. Fantastic, right?

Fortunately, that was us last time we went shopping. Pliny wasn’t even cold when we took it out of the fridge. We also just took two bottles instead of the whole stock because we’re nice people like that and not greedy assholes. My point is, it irks me that it’s most likely easier to get Pliny in Philadelphia than one county over from the source.

Secondly, Russian River has no desire to up the supply in order to meet the demand for their beer. Ever. At all. I know they want to stay small, local, and not compromise the quality of their product. I understand and respect that completely. That being said, there is an air of snootiness about them that I do not like. If you read their FAQ page, you’ll see that they will not add any new accounts under any circumstances. If you’re an entrepreneur who just opened a new bar and want to serve some Pliny or Blind Pig to your customers, you’re shit out of luck. You’ve been out of luck for years actually, and will be for the foreseeable future. If a new grocery store opens up near you, you can count on them never having any Russian River beer either. I don’t know when they stopped accepting new accounts, but it was definitely before I started drinking.

If you continue reading their FAQ page, you’ll see you also cannot tour the brewery, book large reservations at the pub, or buy kegs at retail value. Fine, you’re within your right as a business to open or close off whatever you want to the public. But earlier this year, Russian River pulled all their business out of Washington in order to better meet the demand at their pub. Insert are you fucking kidding me face. Do I have to point at Philadelphia on a map? How dedicated to serving locally are you when you pull out of the Pacific Northwest before goddamn Philly?

I think if Russian River increased their production by just 10 to 15%, it would reach a lot more people without decreasing the quality of the product, or the demand for it. If you haven’t had Pliny, I’ll fill you in. Pliny is so popular because it’s amazing. I swear the balance and clean finish is magic. Making it more accessible would not decrease the demand and allure of it. It would do nothing but make them more money, and possibly me a little less cranky.

And I didn’t even mention the madness that happens every year for the Pliny the Younger release. People go apeshit for Russian River beer and they know it. I think they know it and test the boundaries of what they can get away with. They are more concerned with having this unattainable, highly sought-after reputation than getting their beer out to the people who want to drink it. Sure, their beer quality may be their top priority (but Philly, for real?), but customer service appears to be among their lowest priorities.

So on this IPA Day 2013, I’m going to enjoy my rare treat of Pliny the Elder and hope that one day, its creator will stop being a crotchety old man yelling, “Screw you, kids! Get off my lawn!” and embrace some growth and progress.

Summer Saison Takeover at The Trappist

saison-3

Maria Fulmer 2013

Saisons, also known as Belgian Farmhouse ales are quickly becoming one of my new favorite beer styles. Green Flash’s Saison Diego did beautiful things to me. In my mouth. And in my brain. So the Summer Saison Takeover at The Trappist last weekend seemed like a great opportunity to become more intimately acquainted with this style. Plus, they were serving ceviche, which is one of my favorite things in existence, and wild boar ribs.

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Despite lots of unique flavors within this style, saisons are generally light on the palate and refreshing on a hot, summer day. They can easily be a gateway beer to someone who is new to Belgians, craft beer, or just beer in general. The mister and I tasted with three friends who aren’t quite as beer-geeky as us, but also enjoyed their samples.

Some notable standouts (from what I can remember, har har) were Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, Stillwater Stateside, Prairie Ales Prairie Hop, Dupont Saison Dry Hopping, and the rare Sante Aidarius Anais Saison.

Maria Fulmer 2013

Maria Fulmer 2013

Initially, I was nervous about tasting the saisons made with Brettanomyces, which is known for (but doesn’t always) adding a sour or “funky” flavor to beer. You see, I’ve been turned off to sours for a couple of years due to tasting a sour milk stout too soon and completely unexpectedly. I don’t think I had even warmed up to IPAs at that point, so strong flavors were waaaay overwhelming. I mean, I thought I had actually ingested spoiled milk. It was not pretty.

More recently I tried a few framboise and enjoyed them, but fruit beers are not really my style. I prefer tasting malts and hops. In some of the saisons I tried, particularly Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere, the Brett character came out as a lemony tartness that would have paired perfectly with the ceviche (which was lacking in lemon, in my opinion). It was well-balanced with the malt profile, along with some spice and bitterness. I like a good, complex layering of flavors and this one certainly achieved that! I was pleased (and relieved!) that my second tiptoe into sours was a positive, eye-opening experience. I am certainly not as turned off as I used to be, and will actively seek out more sours to learn and enjoy.