My retirement

Mary Sue Ittner
Tue, 23 Apr 2013 16:04:23 PDT
Thanks to all of you for your very kind messages about my retirement. 
They mean a lot and were very much appreciated.

I am grateful that the original Pacific Bulb Society board was 
willing to agree to make this list open to anyone who wished to 
participate, one of my conditions when I agreed to be in charge of 
the list.  I think this has added a lot to the group as we have 
learned from people who were not members of the Pacific Bulb Society, 
but had knowledge and experience to contribute. And I thank the 
people who helped me with the list over the years: Arnold 
Trachtenberg, Jen Hildebrand, and for the longest time  Diane 
Whitehead and more recently David Pilling. For the most part people 
on this list have been polite and helpful to other members of the 
group which has been wonderful. Some of you have held your tongue 
when unhappy with someone else instead of getting into an argument 
which has also been appreciated I am sure by other members of the 
group. I did the topic of the week for more than two years and it was 
quite a task and towards the end I was running out of steam so it 
wasn't every week. But many knowledgeable people agreed to provide 
introductions and I think we all learned a lot. I really enjoyed the 
weeks when everyone offered their favorites by color. In spite of the 
kind words from Maggi and Ian I'm not sure I was a successful cat 
herder, but I suspect that is an impossible task. I did give it my best try.

As for the wiki I'm very proud of what we have created. I had never 
heard of a wiki when someone suggested we start one. In those days a 
lot of bulb groups were splitting into those people who talked about 
bulbs and those people who looked at pictures of them. People with 
slow connections or not much storage space couldn't look at the 
pictures so didn't join the images groups. Sometimes the images 
groups provided lots of good information that people in the non image 
groups missed. I wanted everyone to be in one place. So the wiki 
seemed like a solution. People could add their photos of bulbs they 
grew and those people who wanted to see them could and those who 
didn't wouldn't have to look. As long as we were going to have a 
place for pictures I wanted to organize it in a way that people would 
be able to find the pictures again. And it had always been a 
frustration of mine to see a picture of a bulb without any 
information about it. So I proposed writing something about the 
pictures we added. I'm grateful for the help Mark McDonough gave me 
in the beginning as we thought about how to do it. He also 
contributed a lot of information and photos (especially Allium) 
before he moved on. And he helped me remove all the bizarre things 
people used to upload to the wiki in those days when there weren't 
free places to add images and before we required a password. Mark 
Wilcox patiently taught me Unix which saved me time and came up with 
our first tables and first wiki design before he too moved on. Jay 
Yourch added a lot of images of bulbs grown in the southern United 
States while he was involved with the wiki and he got some of his 
friends (one was Alani Davis) to add images as well. His Crinum pages 
and Narcissus cultivar pages on the wiki are wonderful. And he wrote 
a program for our first thumbnails. Susan Hayek worked on the wiki 
almost every day during the time she was helping. She and I took on 
the task of adding John Lonsdale's wonderful images to the wiki. 
Linda Foulis helped for awhile and was on board when we had to change 
every single url for every single picture when we changed to and she and Dave Brastow also helped with 
the thumbnail conversion (again we had to change every line for every 
photo on the wiki.) Lee Poulsen never was a wiki administrator, but 
he did add rainfall graphs, a popular feature of the wiki, and lots 
of images, an edible bulb page, and led to us finding information on 
genera with bulbs when he added potential wiki pages without 
information (and we got tired of looking at the question marks.) Yes, 
Lee you have been forgiven.

I must admit that it was after those hours and hours put into those 
changes that I cried when I learned that the wiki software we were 
using that had not been supported was no longer going to work. I 
spent a week trying to decide if I'd feel worse losing all the work 
we had put into it or spending all the time to convert. I had 
recruited Nhu Nguyen to help with the wiki and he helped me research 
possibilities until I settled on the current wiki. And then a miracle 
of sorts, a developer from Lithuania helped me convert the old wiki 
to the new one. We  communicated by email and he offered to help 
since he had the time and was interested in the process and had a 
mother who loved to grow flowers.  He was a huge help, but it still 
was probably a year before I managed to go through every page and fix 
things. Many of the list members helped by looking at pages and 
alerting me to things that needed changing.

One of the best things about losing the old wiki besides using 
software that is updated all the time and allows for a lot more 
possibilities is that we gained David Pilling who answered my plea 
for help. He has made an enormous difference to the Pacific Bulb 
Society by making so many things so much easier to do than they used 
to be. And he is adding things to the wiki all the time. He is 
especially interested in Lilium and has added so much to those pages, 
not only his own pictures, but pictures from other Lilium enthusiasts 
as well. He also has been willing to add photos from people who find 
the wiki hard to use. Mike Mace has contributed so much great 
information to the wiki since he joined the team. He is responsible 
for so much of the how to grow information and he finally took on 
trying to sort out the Narcissus species pages which I tried to get 
help with for years and finished adding John Lonsdale's Crocus 
photos. Nhu helped with a new design for the home page and finished 
writing something about each family represented on the wiki when I 
lost interest. He has added a lot of photos he has taken and 
generally been supportive at each stage. And he took all the 
cultivation information I had saved that had been offered over the 
years and added it to each wiki genus page that we had information 
about. The newest member of the wiki team, Gastil has been interested 
in adding photos of seed, bulbs, and media and is helping David 
Pilling review wiki pages as they are changed. She already is making 
a valuable contribution.

I probably averaged a couple of hours every day working on the wiki, 
answering emails, problem solving, but I had a lot of help as well. 
I'm looking forward to having the time to do other things. Maybe I 
can finally find time to join the Scottish Rock Garden forum as a 
lurker. I've learned a lot as a result of having these jobs, not only 
about bulbs, but also technical computer kinds of things. Probably 
the most fun has been making friends with people from around the 
world who shared my passion. We were lucky to get to meet people in 
Switzerland, France, Scotland, England, Australia, New Zealand, and 
South Africa. Some people came to see us as well and the California 
meetings have been another opportunity to make friends. I've been 
lucky to have an extraordinary group of helpers as well. Working with 
them on a common goal has been a privilege.

Thanks too to all of you who struggled through learning how to add to 
the wiki and added photos and text and to those of you who shared 
your images so people around the world could have this great bulb 
resource.  Giorgio Pozzi created Arisaema pages, Jim Waddick provided 
information and photos for Lycoris, Mary Gerritsen made a major 
contribution to the Calochortus pages and Christiaan van Schalkwyk to 
the Oxalis pages. My good South African friends, Alan Horstmann, 
Cameron McMaster, and Rod and Rachel Saunders have let me add a lot 
of their photos as well. Lately Oron Peri from Israel has been adding 
a lot of photos of species from Europe and Asia we didn't have 
represented on the wiki before. Two other Italians have added a lot 
of photos to the wiki: Alessandro Marinello and Angelo Porcelli. 
Angelo has been contributing for a long time. He started by creating 
a page for the place he lived, Apulia, and then has continued to add 
text and photos over time.

Long ago Lauw de Jager told me my messages were too long and I should 
shorten them. If there are still any of you left reading this I 
apologize for that, but I did want to credit all those people who 
have helped me along the way. I never did finish my "to do" list for 
the wiki as it always seemed new things came up before I got to some 
of them. If I find myself with time on my hands I may get around to 
working on some of them. But I am enjoying having more time and my 
garden has been very colorful this spring. We've not had the rain we 
normally have so I am getting an opportunity to see what grows better 
with less rain and humidity. The last couple of years I've been 
sprinkling extra seeds around so am finding surprises.

Thanks again for all the nice responses.

Mary Sue

More information about the pbs mailing list