Brian has a lot of Hobbies, Part I

The great thing about being an adult is that it’s cool to have hobbies. No longer are you the weirdo kid with a bunch of make-fun-of-me interests – you’re now the interesting person who does a lot of things!  Or at least, that’s what I like to tell myself.  As the title subtly suggests, I have a lot of hobbies.  My orchid hobby is one of my longer standing ones, reaching back to those early teen years.  You know, when being a dude who’s into flowers is a real cool way to meet girls.  You know, girls who are the same age as your mother.

So yeah, maybe I didn’t talk about this hobby a lot at school (but I did with my Mom’s friends, and they thought it was awesome), but I spent a lot of time in the Cornell stacks studying orchids (more than I would later in life as an undergrad studying for classes…?).  I found myself enamored with an orchid I stumbled upon by accident, and it was one that was available at only one greenhouse in town – Masdevallias.  They were these tiny little guys with leaves around 2 inches long and flowers that would be swallowed by a dime.  They were dwarfed by all of the other orchids I had, and I was fascinated by how many of them fit in a small pot.  They later died because I went on vacation and forgot to get a plant sitter.  They are, I should mention, not the kind of orchids that like to go a week or two without watering.

Fast forward a decade and a half, and I’m leaving the Marines, which means I can finally have plants that require constant attention.  So what did I do?  Bought some orchids!  We still travel as often as our budget and schedules allow, but I know now to ensure there’s someone around to water them when we’re gone.

Of course acquiring and growing the orchids didn’t end up being enough of a hobby for me.  I also needed to make an aesthetically pleasing planter for each of them.  Sure – I could have gone online or to the local greenhouse and found something, but I decided I wanted to make them out of cedar.  With hand tools.  Because if it’s the harder way, it’s better, right?

Turns out you can’t buy small quantities of cedar strips readily, so we ended up with 80 feet of 1″ cedar strips.  After a few evenings of sawing, sanding, and gluing I had a profusion of miniature orchid boxes.


Eventually, I made so many that Laurel gave me the half laughing look she gives when I find myself in another one of my hobby rabbit holes and asked, “so what are you going to do with them now…?”

…so now you can find them on Etsy!


Chances are, it won’t be long before the rest of the larger orchids end up in something similar…

2 thoughts on “Brian has a lot of Hobbies, Part I

  1. You do know, son, that research indicates plants thrive when exposed to (especially Classical) music. The orchids in the dining room, as you have so astutely observed, generally flourish- exposure to sunlight, but also frequent exposure to Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mozart, Chopin, Copeland, Gershwin, etc. The beneficial reaction of plants- verdant, blossoming, and healthy- from exposure to music is referred to as “The Mozart Effect” . Over the years, interestingly, I have applied the concept to classroom students, during quiet writing and test taking sessions. Without scientific data, but with consistently positive response from students,,,, “Mr. I… Could you play that Mozart music again?”…. I have realized that the music is soothing. Students have indicated they could think better and were less stressed with work.
    So…. Perhaps, if this concept is new or as yet untested, you might try it on your orchids or any other plants…. Recorded music…. Maybe even at some point live music piano or even saxophone….. The latter being a very easy instrument to learn and enjoy…
    Finally, always remember. When it comes to music, you can B Sharp or B Flat, but it is always best to B Natural! Cheers!

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