Wednesday, May 1, 2013

So There..

It has come to my attention that despite my request to skip reading it if they didn't wanna see me asking for help, some have taken great umbrage with my last blog post asking for help with my trip to the AVSA National Convention happening in Texas at the end of the month. They brought up situations and actions from my past to try and embarrass me and/or make others think less of me. They even had an issue with my vowing to volunteer for the AVSA office for a week after convention ends.

So,  I'd like to make some things clear.
First and foremost, this is my own personal blog that I use as a tool to get people interested in the hobby of African violets. (I'll get into why that is important to me a bit later in this post.) To have a good blog,  one needs interesting content for the readers to enjoy. To get the best content, I do my best to make pics, tutorials, videos,  answer questions, etc., etc. all in my free time when I'm not at work. (Yes,  I work full time. In customer service,  no less. Meaning I spend my day answering questions, then I spend my free time answering MORE questions that come in email asking African violet stuff! ) To get even BETTER content for this blog,  I also travel to as many shows and conventions as I can with my own money,  taking pics and vids, and reporting the winners because I feel people enjoy seeing that stuff and who knows,  maybe it will encourage them to find a club in their area to join. Maybe it will even encourage them to join AVSA.
Did you know that clubs, vendors, and even the society itself are all having a hard time these days? People in the hobby are aging out. Clubs are shutting down, vendors are shutting down, and the National society needs more members. Do you see what I'm getting at here? I want people to join this hobby before it's not an option anymore. I want to do my personal best to contribute to saving it. And if you care about it,  I encourage you to do the same.

Now a little about me,  and why this hobby is so near and dear to my heart:
I've had a really rough life. Not getting into too many specifics, I'll just say I had a childhood that still gives me nightmares to this day. Then,  probably in a textbook reaction to all that,  I had problems and setbacks afterwards that would have killed a weaker person. In fact, I went down a bad enough road at one point that might have actually succumbed. I made bad choices and have partaken in many impulsive and dangerous activities. I had questionable morals and even more questionable boundaries. I never hurt anyone but myself,  thankfully. But man, honestly, I really did a number on myself. To put it all mildly, I was not exactly an upstanding pillar of any community. I finally got to a point where I just sat in my apartment for 3 years and self-destructed.

Then one evening in February of 2007, I was out of my mind and actually left my apt for the first time in months. I was roaming around a Lowe's home improvement store when I spotted a tiny little plant with dusty, fuzzy, limp leaves and what looked like sugar-coated, sparkling purple flowers. A miniature African violet.

I had never seen a miniature African violet, and it just captivated me in a way that's hard to even word properly. It was kinda ratty looking and in bone dry soil. I bought it, watered it in the drinking fountain by the exit doors on the way out of the store, took it home, and started googling about what to do with it.
Taking care of that little plant gave me a purpose. It gave me focus. It gave me joy. I'd never even been able to keep a damn pothos alive, but via the info online, here I was growing a plant with actual flowers in my apartment. I replaced bad habits with a tiny little plant. Then I bought more. Soon I had a little army of fuzzy foliage'd plants keeping me safe.

And what else happened? Well,  anyone who is into violets soon finds out there are other people out there who grow too, and suddenly you find yourself surrounded by this awesome community of kind, caring, positive people. I started leaving my apartment regularly to attend shows and conventions. I was no longer hell-bent on destroying myself. I was too busy being a part of the African violet community.
Most people didn't know much about my history. For the few that did know, only a couple seemed to have a problem with it. The other few that knew didn't care. They loved me from the start for who I am. They nurture me just like I nurtured that first little plant I bought.

This is no exaggeration, y'all: AFRICAN VIOLETS SAVED MY LIFE! I am forever indebted to the plants, the hobby, and the people who make it all possible.
For those of you out there who had no idea, there you have it. I had a past. I'm not an angel that dropped from heaven clutching a miniature African violet. If you have a problem with me not being perfect my whole life, that's on you. I forgive myself. (Well,  most of the time. ) I don't have a time machine, I can only keep moving forward.

Now back to this Fuzzy Foliage blog, and the African violet hobby at large: Like I mentioned earlier,  many other enthusiasts are aging out (that's a polite way of saying dying of old age), and younger people aren't replacing them. I spend a lot of time trying to help spread the word about these plants and the community. I don't want to see the demise of my favorite hobby. I try to make my blog for all ages,  tho I am younger than the "average" grower, so yes I admit I am trying to reel in more of the younger crowd. How else can we keep it going?

People have really seemed to enjoy my live National convention posts in the past, so all I was asking for was a few bucks from anyone who could toss it, to help contribute for that. If that is bothersome, I'm not really sure why. Everything takes money, and I post all this stuff for free. If you don't want to help contribute for good content, don't. If you want to,  thanks! Either way I will do all I can here for all to enjoy it, no matter if they help or not.

Whenever I'm at a National convention I am working my bootay off! I help whoever, with whatever. My feet are always killing me at the end of the day. But if all the people who work hard to put on a good convention didn't work hard,  it wouldn't be much of a convention! And the days of National convention every year, are without a doubt the best week of my year,  annually.

And I also do what I can to help volunteer with the AVSA. They have a paid staff of 3 gals that work HARD to keep the society going. So I help out on their Facebook page, and I try to recruit new members from this blog. I am also looking forward to repotting their office plants when I visit next month. And whatever else I can help with. Can't wait to show you pics from the AVSA HQ!
Now don't get me twisted, I'm NOT trying to inflate my ego and say I'm the only
person out here helping in the violet world. Many others do LOTS more! But I do what I can. I'll never stop trying to give back to the hobby that gave me a better life. And yeah, I'm allowed to ask for help with that.

Ok so, enough of all this. Go groom your African violets and smile! Share some with a friend! Be thankful for all you have and try to spread cheer!

Oh and in case you were wondering, this little beauty pictured below is THE PLANT that started my life on a better path.


  1. Wow what an excellent post M3rma1d! I am so glad to have found your blog that made me discover more of the African Violet World. If it wasn't for your blog, I would have not known that there are all kinds of different varieties of African Violets and would not bought them from the vendors who work so hard to hybridize and sell them. For me, taking care of African violets (and houseplants in general) gives me that inner peace and joy in my heart when I see them grow and do so well. There are days when I feel so miserable and angry at myself for not being the best I can be, but when I take care of my plants, I tend to forget about what I was so angry about and feel so good about myself when I look at them. I am so happy to tell you that I am 21 and have been taking care of african violets since I was 15. Throughout those years I had some success, failures, and gained a lot of knowledge from exceptional people of taking care of violets. I am glad to be one of the younger crowd who will continue growing these beautiful plants and try my best to keep this great hobby from dying. Because without it, my life would never be complete. So thank you so much M3rma1d for taking all of your free time into making this wonderful blog! You are so awesome! :D

  2. I knew we were kindred spirits! The reason I've gotten into the hobby is because I discovered I could name any plant I hybridize. I plan on doing that so I can name some violets in memory of my sister who committed suicide. Something to memoralize her name for as long as records are kept. It's a goal that's made living with her choice bearable. What a magic plant these little guys are and what a valuable resource you've become.

    1. That's a really sweet thing, I'm so sorry for your loss and at the same time I'm proud of you for putting your focus into something positive to remember her by :-) Thanks so much for commenting.

  3. Replies
    1. Wow...for some reason I didn't remember using jehwagner...

    2. Hey Josane! You're welcome. Big hugs to ya <3

  4. Haters gonna hate...

    I have no problem at all with you asking in your own personal space, for a few bucks to go to national. Wish I could go, but (lack of) finances forbids even thinking about it.

    I do appreciate all the wonderful info and pics you post here. Speaking of which, how are your preggers Sinns.?


    1. Thanks Korina!! The sinnie pods got mold while I was out of town taking care of my 90 year old Grammie, so I will have to make them have sex again. :-)

  5. Thank you for your blog ... and I love you YouTube videos ... I've been growing African Violets since age 12 but only just last month I joined a society. So I suspect there are young "underground" growers (excuse the pun) and you are maybe reaching them. It would be great if they joined and surfaced.


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