Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Orchids, Nero Wolfe and can you name this tree?

"the orchids were his concubines: insipid, expensive, parasitic and temperamental. He brought them, in their diverse forms and colors, to the limits of their perfection, and then gave them away; he had never sold one" 

                --The League of Frightened Men 

Ovidia--every other Tuesday

I'm still settling back into daily life and writing, and looking longingly at Nero Wolfe's routine: 


Orchids (9am to 11am)

Work (11am till Lunch, then till 4pm)

Orchids (4pm to 6pm)

I also love his particularity, precision and enjoyment re: language, thought, food and life.

If only I could adopt a routine like his, my murder solving score might improve too. But right now, between edits, emails, laundry and the vengeance of daily tasks put on hold for two weeks, it's not happening. 

But even with all that and the jet lag, it was so wonderful to be at Bouchercon again!

I took these orchid photos at the Asia Pacific Orchid Conference 2023, two days before leaving for Bouchercon. 

Orchids are taken seriously here in Singapore--when we were looking to pick a National Flower in 1981, 30 of the 40 contenders were orchids. And yes, an orchid--Vanda Miss Joaquim--is now our National Flower.

These (partly) black orchids in particular make me think of Wolfe--

They also remind me (uncomfortably) of traditional Chinese bunholders--

 These are among my favourite orchids, with what I think of as 'bottle brush' sprays--

The show left me with a head full of orchid intentions, just as Bouchercon left me with stacks of books and reading intentions.

But unfortunately right now I'm in another part of the Nero Wolfe universe. Closer to:

"Fritz Brenner was in bed with the grippe... On that Tuesday in November the kitchen had not seen him for three days, and the resulting situation was not funny..."

Not me--I'm still fine. But the Beloved who escorted me to San Francisco and San Diego is down with something that we hope isn't Covid. The fever is in at 38º++ C and if it doesn't break by today we'll be heading to hospital.

Not the best of souvenirs to bring home!

It was so wonderful being surrounded by the mystery writing tribe. I can still feel the energy, through the jet lag and sickroom blues!

There's one more memory I'd like to preserve from Bouchercon San Diego, if anyone can help me:

I love these trees I saw in Downton San Diego that I couldn't identify--can anyone tell me what they are?

 And a closer look at those beautiful flowering bundles:

I'd really like to find out more about them. I fancy there was some fragrance too, but can't say for sure.


  1. Ovidia, it was lovely to see you again at San Diego Bouchercon! So sorry that your beloved caught a bug while there. I saw the same flowering tree in downtown SD. I also took photos & hope someone can ID the tree.

  2. Hi Grace--love that you saw and liked that same tree! I learned from a FB friend (Shawn Chen, who's a real greenfingers on plant expert) that it's a Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia sp. It's a beautiful tree isn't it?

  3. Great, thanks for solving that mystery! Yes, it is beautiful and a tree that is definitely not found here in Ontario. FYI, I asked a similar question about ID the tree on FB but had not received an answer.

  4. I have pink crepe myrtles at my home. I had expected you to like our famous jacarandas but I forgot it wasn’t their bloom time.

    1. So sorry to have missed the jacarandas in bloom!

  5. Healthy, healing thoughts! And fast-acting ones too. Three cheers for Nero and the staff that made his life possible :) thank you for sharing the beautiful orchids. We’re happy to trade images of crepe myrtles. They are popular here in
    Southern California. As slow, stable growers which can’t tolerate out bouts of drought and which don’t tend to lift/break sidewalks, they are popular street trees. Some cities have given them away to homeowners to promote shade and water conservation. My favorites have always been the deep purple and the lavender.

    1. Thank you, Ruth! Yes that brownstone is my happy place. And I'm so impressed by the city encouraging homeowners to plant those lovely trees!

  6. I think the tree with the white blossoms maybe crape myrtle. We have several different colors of crape myrtle in South Carolina. White usually blooms first--for us around June. And then the purple crape myrtles bloom. Other colors are lavender, pink, dusty rose, watermelon pink, or scarlet. Our watermelon pink have almost bloomed out for this year!

    1. Thank you Martha. I really loved the trees I saw--I wish I'd gotten to see all the other colours too!

  7. Great to see you again, Ovidia. Hope things are improving on the health front there. Michael.

    1. Lovely to see you again too, Michael. Yes we're all recovering and re-syncing here. Hope you are too!

  8. My heart goes out to you dealing with jet lag, Ovidia. A week after getting back to Switzerland, I'm still not completely over my nine-hour time difference, but I think you're dealing with fifteen hours, aren't you? I just hope you've managed to get SOME sleep. Hang in there! And thanks for the beautiful orchid photos.

  9. Hi Kim, thank you and yes... just about getting back to normal. A nine hour difference can't be easy to deal with either, hope you're well too. But it's totally worth it, isn't it?