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Fauna, Flora, & Priorities

I made a decision last week that feels much bigger than it really is. I decided to turn my now-empty goldfish tank into a terrarium rather than restocking with more fish. For many people, this sort of decision is like picking out which photo to hang on a wall – something to put some thought into, but nothing to agonize over. Alas…I am not one of those people.

I love fancy goldfish…and I’ve been keeping them since shortly after I bought my first house (so…15 yrs now?). At one time I had a 45 gallon tank stocked with four beautiful (and huge) goldies. Then I lost one in the move when I got married, and over the years the large tanks gave way to smaller as fish died, and this last one was 29 gallons with just two fancies (still slightly overstocked, so over-filtered to compensate). They’re beautiful fish – I love their tails and coloring and the way they beg for breakfast every morning like little wet dogs.

They’re also part of my little ultra-local eco-system…the water from the aquarium goes to the upkeep of my house and garden plants, for a completely natural fertilizer you can’t get anywhere else. I love houseplants, and I love roses in the garden (no cut flowers, please). Fish-water fertilizer is something all plants love, and it’s been my “secret” to beautiful plants for a long time.

In any case, I felt horrible when I lost these last two, and for awhile I thought I’d turn that tank into a community freshwater tank (because it really isn’t big enough for goldies, and any space I had for larger tanks before has long since been re-purposed). But I don’t really *want* a community tank. And being perfectly honest with myself, I have other things I’d rather prioritize on the weekends than aquarium maintenance at this point in my life.

So yesterday, I drained the tank, left the gravel in the bottom for drainage, bought some potting soil and ordered some charcoal. I also bought myself a new Rex begonia for following through with the “no more goldies” decision – I don’t think my husband thought I would (he reminded me that last time I said I was done with fish, we had two within the next month or so). I have a China Doll plant and a curly-leaf arelea that both want more humidity than my house currently has, so those three will be the main plants in the tank, and I’ll create a park for some of my Smurfs with the rest of the space.

29GalStart

The difficult thing will be keeping myself from adding something “living” later on (as if the plants weren’t alive enough…). I love little critters – toads, frogs, lizards, etc…and it’s hard for me to have a terrarium without wanting to turn it into a vivarium. A little slice of the world right in my own home…but that would defeat the purpose of scaling back and turning my priorities elsewhere.

I do still have a 10 gallon tank with four cory catfish in it, and I’ll keep them until they die. Then that aquarium too is probably destined for terrarium-container-ship. It’s just…time, even though it’s kind of depressing, and I’m not really sure I want that part of my life to end. I feel like it needs to, though – a small, but significant difference.

In any case, I won’t wallow for long – I never do. The charcoal for the terrarium (between the drainage & soil layers as a filter) should be here by Wednesday, and when my husband is off playing pool that night, I’ll start working on the landscaping and planting. By next weekend, it should be a lovely little park for some Smurfs to play in, and where my humidity-loving plants can thrive.

And I’ll have an excellent excuse to visit the miniatures store again…

On Fishkeeping, Movies & Community…

New26gal

This post brought to you by the letter “W”, which for some reason, I keep typing right after the word “movies”. I don’t know why. It doesn’t fit there. There’s nothing with a “w” that I need to type at the end. And yet, it persists. Annoyingly, I might add.

Anyways…to the topics at hand! If you read last week’s post, you know that I decided, against better standard fishkeeping practices, to get a second fancy goldfish to keep mine company. Because goldies are social creatures, and mine has been a bit depressed/lethargic lately, despite my best efforts to perk the little thing up.

My conscience still prickled though for not providing at least a minimum standard environment for them. Goldfish are big and messy, and thus require a more generous environment than a lot of other fish just to stay healthy and happy. My tank was 20 gallons, the recommended minimum for one goldfish. Each goldie after that should have another 10 gallons – so 30 gallons for two goldfish.

Yes, I know that people keep goldfish in small tanks all the time. That doesn’t make it right.

In any case, long-story slightly shorter, I did my research, found out that a 30 gal. high tank has the same width/depth as my 20 gal., went to Petsmart and couldn’t find a 30 high, but bought a 26 gal. bowfront aquarium instead. It’s still not ideal, but it’s got quite a lot more swimming space especially with the bowed-out front, and it came with a filter too, which gave me a second filter to run on the same tank and provide a bigger bio-system to deal with the extra waste.

So I spent a good couple hours on Sunday taking all the stuff out of the 20 gal. tank (including the goldies) and setting up the new 26 gallon tank, which is shown above. I’m happy to say that the goldies seem to like it (and each other), and I think they have plenty of room now to cohabitat successfully, even though it’s still a bit shy of the standard. I even saw them napping on the bottom together tonight, side-by-side like they’d always been friends. Which makes me feel good about my decision to get the second one.

Unfortunately, I was also reminded that the universe is kind of a stickler about balance when my betta died this past Sunday (I believe it was a blocked intestine). I didn’t notice quickly enough that he was ill, and he was dead pretty soon after. My bad in two ways – one, not noticing in time to do something about it, and two, not feeding him the varied diet he (and all animals, really) needed to lower the odds of it happening at all.

This made me take a good hard look at my feeding practices, of course, and after a few hours spent scouring the internet, I’ve about come up with new feeding schedules and menus for all of my fish, plus the new betta I’ll bring home next weekend. Perhaps the next time I have a little extra time, I’ll put a page on my site about them…

In other news, Saturday night I was trying to get caught up on some writing (was horribly behind last week), and Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone was on TV. I watched, writing on commercials. Sunday I was just beat from swapping the aquariums out, and The Hunger Games was on – all about needing others just to survive. Somewhere along the way it hit me – in the children’s draft I’m working on, there’s not enough community. By which I mean, my heroine is doing too much on her own, and she needs to learn that she can rely on her friends to help. That’s part of coming-of-age for most kids…I just forget, because I sort of skipped that part of being a kid.

So…good insight into my story, and my weekend has really had an all-pervasive theme of “community”, when you think about it. My goldie got a new BFF, and he seems happier about it. Harry Potter & Catniss Everdeen (?) both gave me insight into my own stories. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Now, for sleep. It’s been one of those weekends where I got everything done except for the stuff I need to do, which kind of sucks, but when it’s all you can manage, nothing to be done about it.

In any case…have a great week! Anyone got any fun Valentine’s plans you’d like to share?


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On Piercings, Goldfish, & Eye Drops…

A friend I’ve never met in person asked me last week if I had pierced ears. I thought it was an interesting question, because it was unexpected. Partially because I don’t know many people who don’t have pierced ears in this day and age. But also because I consider her a close friend, which means I don’t often think about the fact that we’ve never actually seen each other in person, and thus wouldn’t know the answer to things that normally we’d find out via sight, rather than conversation.

Like, for instance, the fact that anyone who looks at my left ear will see one pierced earring in the normal spot, and six more marks running up the side of my ear where I use to wear a sparkly assortment of rhinestone studs on a 24/7 basis (and a titanium hoop in the very top hole). My right ear has three holes in it, though I’ve only used the bottom one since I cut my hair short. Because I wore earrings constantly for so many years, most of those holes are still open, and could still be used if I had a mind to. Cartilage is fun like that.

Yes, it was really cold in the winter. Yes, I slept with all those studs in my ear. Maybe that’s why I normally sleep on my right side, eh? The thing is, piercings were something I could get without parental approval after I was 16 or so, and I used it as a way to express my creative side. Of course for my 18th birthday, I got my navel pierced, and had that particular piercing until it grew out just a few years back. When I was 22 or so, I went and got a piercing in a somewhat more sensitive part of my body. To read more about that, check out alter-ego Trinity’s post on Thursday… šŸ˜‰

No, I have no plans to get anymore piercings. Unlike tattoos, that’s not a compulsion for me. I’m content just using my two original ear piercings at this point in my life. Most mornings I don’t even have time to change those, though I would like to make more of a point to do that. I have some really great earrings I never wear because I’m just too lazy. Which is silly.

In other news, I’ve finally decided to get my fancy goldfish a tankmate. I’ve struggled with this a long time as his 20 gal. tank is really only large enough for one and I really don’t have room to upgrade, but I think that all things being equal, he’d probably prefer a shorter, more social life to a longer lonely one. So next weekend, I’ll be picking out a buddy for him (and hoping they get along!). We’ll see how it goes…

And in even better news, I’ve finally found a brand of eye drops that really helps *a lot* with my watery, rebellious eyes. After trying nearly every supermarket/drugstore brand and ending up with an infection for my trouble (and no good solution for my problem), I stumbled across a homeopathic brand (Similasan) at our local health food store, and I can’t tell you how great it is to just be able to see again. It doesn’t stop the problem completely, but well enough that I can function pretty normally, and that is worth the bottle’s weight in gold. So…hooray for homeopathics!

Little o’this, little o’that today, I know, but that’s sort of how my head’s been running lately. And now it’s telling me to get some sleep, because tomorrow’s bound to be an interesting (as almost all Mondays are).

If you have a few minutes and are so inclined, do tell: Are your ears pierced? Do you have a goldfish? Do you have a favorite brand of eyedrops?

Inquiring minds, and all that…


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Talkin’ Books: July 30, 2014

Books Finished:
Dare to Desire by Carly Phillips

Kindle Books In Progress:
Fanning the Flames by Victoria Dahl
Death, The Devil and The Goldfish by Andrew Buckley
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Innocent Blood by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

Comic Books:
None

The week before last, I thought I’d have a ton of time to read, and then my little cleaning/organizing project pretty well sucked up all the available time and energy. I did sneak in a little reading every night before bed (a day without reading is…well, a very sad day indeed), but I only got a couple chapters done on Innocent Blood every night, and the chapters are short. Still, phenomenal vampire treatment, and I’m loving it very much, but I haven’t had much time to read before bed this week, so I’m getting more done on my lunchtime books than that one now. It’s a cycle.

I did finish Dare to Desire the week before last, and I think it was almost better than the first one. Good conflict, and good reasons for the heroine to do what she did (and the hero as well – no TSTL characters, yay!).

I picked up Fanning the Flames for .99 cents, and it’s a short(er) story, so I’m in the midst of that at the moment. Still not sure if it’s pulling me into the series that it’s supposed to be pulling me into, but some of that is personal bias, the subject matter and timing all kind of working against it. That is to say, had I read it a year ago, I’d be loving it, and if I read it later, I’ll probably enjoy it then too. Sometimes timing is everything, even for books. Dahl is a great writer though, and I normally love her stories, so we’ll see.

Death, The Devil and The Goldfish is just completely, absurdly wonderful, and my husband agrees (he read it while traveling last week). I’m still working on it, but seriously, just go get a copy. It’s crazy in a completely wonderful sort of way.

Tatterdemon is still on hold, but fall is coming (really? already?) and I’m feeling the pull again. So soon.

And no comic books this week, dang it – I just haven’t made the time. But next week for sure…the next issues of Harley Quinn and Sandman Overture should be waiting at the comic shop for me this weekend – woohoo!


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Monday Musings: Confessions of an Unsupervised Wife

Last Friday at noon (okay, around 11ish, but close enough), I dropped my husband off at the airport and wished him luck for the pool tournament in Las Vegas. Having taken that day off work (plus Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday of this week – all the days he’ll be gone), I happily headed for the pet store to start working on my list.

What list, you say? Why, the list of all the things I might not do (or at least might think twice about doing) when my husband is available to share an opinion or “help”, of course. And no, I’m not the only wife who does this. I have it on good authority that those who don’t are few and far between. By which I mean, I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t have an agenda when her husband leaves her alone for a few days. But I digress.

I went to the pet store, and picked out all the fixin’s for a new 10 gallon aquarium (besides fish, of course). Sparing all the boring details, by the end of the night Friday I’d put together two aquarium stands (matching for either side of the entertainment center), written a serial scene for one of my blogs, and gotten the new aquarium set up on one of the stands. I’d also done several loads of laundry, doing my best to ignore how high the water bill is going to be next month.

NewAquarium

Hubby will appreciate the new stands – they’re a vast improvement on the TV trays I had in those spots before The new aquarium? Probably not so much.

Saturday morning I got up early, watered the lawns while I wrote my last scene for the week, and ran back to the pet store for fish. Brought home a betta and five cories, got them settled into their new home with “seed media” from the goldie’s tank for a quick cycle and started more laundry. Then I really dug into the *big* plan for the week: The Basement Reclamation Project.

Many months ago, hubby decided he’d reorganize the storage room. Most of our Halloween stuff was already being “staged” in the TV/workout room, but he took the rest of…everything…out of the storage room, resulting in an explosion of…stuff, everywhere. He never got around to finishing that project and I let laundry (blankets and such) and “things to be tossed” pile up in other areas, so the basement’s been largely unusable all year.

So…Saturday, I packed all the Halloween stuff back up and got it back into the storage room. Then I started going through stacks of mail (largely unopened) in the pool room resulting in four piles: trash, filing, recycling, and shredding. I got through three piles, shredded what needed shredding, and stopped for the day.

Saturday night, I had a couple friends over for wine & dessert (cheesecake!) – a nice break.

Sunday I started off by breaking down a bunch of boxes and putting them in the dumpster or recycling, as appropriate. Then I took a ton of stuff to the garbage, including a bunch of stuff my hubby probably won’t notice is gone, but wouldn’t have managed to toss himself. I finished a crochet project, sent a bunch of old printers and other electronic stuff off with my dad for reuse/recycling, fought with the sleeper sofa downstairs to get photos so I could list it on freecycle, and then went through several other boxes, putting things aside either for tossing or storing. Three more stacks of mail/papers completed the afternoon. Had to get a little regular housework in, so I vacuumed upstairs and cleaned the aquariums.

Sunday night, I had another friend over for wine/dessert (flourless chocolate cake!) – another nice break, though the dogs weren’t happy that their last meal of the day was late due to my chatting…

After she left, I started another load of laundry (only 2-3 more to go!), tried yet again not to think about the water bill, and remembered that payday is today (yay!). Got the pill/vitamin boxes restocked for Lucy & I once I remembered it was Sunday, and then sat down to get blog posts done and/or started (this one) for Monday.

This morning was rough. Could have been that I slept too long (or drank slightly more than usual last night – *ahem*), but it’s been tough getting moving. I watered the front lawn (stupid water bill), and I’m behind on nearly all my plans, but I’m not leaving the house, and no one’s coming over, so I should be able to make good headway today. What’s on the list for today? Are you sure you want to know?

(in no particular order – except this post is first)

– Get this post put up.
– Answer a couple of emails
– Email a few roofing companies to get estimates
– Finish the basement laundry (2 more loads, I think)
– Finish dealing with all mail/paper stacks downstairs
– Finish going through all boxes/”stuff” in the pool room and main basement area
– Write one or two of this week’s serial scenes

Then tomorrow:

– Get our insurance checks for the roof signed by both banks
– Buy a few mail-inbox/outbox trays for better mail flow
– Grocery shopping (skipped my normal day, since it’s just me)
– Pay bills (payday!)
– Clean up the basement bathroom so it’s usable again
– Clean out my laundry area and storage cupboards
– Organize the spot under the stairs where we store dog crates and luggage
– Hang up stuff that needs hanging (photos, posters, shadow boxes, etc.)
– Write one or two more serial scenes
– Vacuum & deodorize the basement carpet (I’m not even saying how long it’s been)
– Clean out my mail center upstairs & put new infrastructure in place (hopefully to avoid the insane pile-up of mail in the future)
– Do a manicure

Wednesday morning I’ll take out any extra garbage (Weds is garbage day), and then pick hubby up a the airport around noon. Thursday I’ll be back at work, thankful to be sitting at my desk.

Do I know how to take a vacation, or what? Movin’ right along…

Monday Musings: On Carp, Domesticity, & Life Cycles

Fantail2014

This past weekend as I was cleaning out my goldfish tank, checking up on my plants and basically doing all manor of domestic chores, I got to thinking about the cycles I tend to repeat over and over in my life. My interests tend to ebb and flow depending on whether I’m currently hyper-focused (obsessed, fixated, whatever) on one main thing or not, and it’s a rare thing indeed that survives one of my obsessive/compulsive mental cycles. Those who do survive tend to be the ones who can bug me until I give them food, water & love (so…my dogs and my husband).

My goldfish (I don’t name fish…whenever I name them, they die soon after, so it’s the one animal I keep that I never name) is one such lucky creature (or not so lucky, depending on how you look at it). I don’t remember exactly how old he is, but I brought him home at least five years ago, possibly more. He’s made it through the strongest part of my writing obsession, which is saying a lot, considering how often in those years I neglected to clean his tank as often as I should have, and downsized him twice when his buddies died and I decided I wanted to devote less real estate to fish (he lives in a 20 gallon condo that he has all to himself, so don’t feel too bad – he never grew to full size during the time he spent in a big 45 gal. tank, so he was stunted to begin with, poor thing).

In any case, I’ve been cycled out of the obsessive phase of being a writer for awhile now, which means he’s getting better care again, and amazingly still kicking along quite well. Goldfish are very hardy critters, and they can live up to 30 years or so (though I’ll admit I’ve never had one live longer than 10 or so, but it’s probably my own fault), but I still feel bad that he had to go through that time of neglect because I was so focused on just one goal for so long.

Incidentally, I ordered him some new silk plants and a new air pump this weekend. I think he’ll like the change in scenery.

And then there are my plants. My mom always kept plants, so every once in awhile I’d try to keep one too. In my basement bedroom, where it was cold, and there wasn’t much light. I remember one was a small cactus – the ones they glue the fake flowers to and sell at the grocery store (eyeroll)? I killed it. And no, I didn’t over-water it, I just assumed that since it could go for a long time without water, I didn’t need to water it. It eventually withered up and died from lack of water. I was either in high school or college, but either way, I was working a lot, and hanging with friends, and focused on…other things.

Then I bought my first house, and my dog and I moved out on our own, and I started collecting plants, and…pretty soon, I owned a jungle, complete with a set of lighted shelves in the laundry room for growing African Violets. Plants were my next obsession, and I spent hours reading and studying and learning all the optimal conditions for growing them and pruning them and caring for them…to the exclusion of a lot of other things.

Then I went through my reptile phase, and the plants naturally scaled themselves back to a somewhat moreĀ manageableĀ level, while the number of living things in my house multiplied. It’s just as well I lived alone.

When I got married and moved to our current house ten years ago, I think I was down to two lizards, some hermit crabs, someĀ fire-bellied toads, my big goldies and the dogs, of course. I lost most of my houseplants in the move – the only ones still alive today are, ironically enough, cacti.

In any case, in the years since I’ve gone through several more cycles where I’ve hyper-focused on one thing to the neglect of other things that should have been important enough to keep up throughout. And as I was thinking about that this weekend, I was wondering if it would ever stop. More to the point, if there was something I could do to make it stop.

Actually, I was sort of wondering why I hadn’t outgrown it yet. It seems immature to obsess over one thing in your life to the exclusion of everything that can’t vocally demand your attention. And yet, I still do. Or did. I currently have no hyper-focused obsession, which is why I can spend a whole day taking care of fish and plants and domestic chores without constantly feeling like I should be doing something else. It’s nice. A much calmer way to be.

Now if I could just figure out how to keep things on an even keel while still learning and growing and moving forward. There has to be a way to avoid that whole obsessive/focused cycle.

Maybe I’ll write a book about it. My characters tend to figure things out faster than I can – the subconscious is sneaky that way. šŸ˜‰