Remain Calm. You’ve Got This.

Last week was one of those “can’t win for losing” type weeks for me. Monday was fine – my Mondays normally are, oddly enough. Tuesday was rough though, and things just sort of spiraled downhill from there. Things broke that I didn’t know how to fix, so I had to learn how to fix them, which means I tried about five billion (okay, it was three or four, but the former is far more dramatic, don’t you think?) ways of fixing the problem before I stumbled over the easiest couple. It was stressful, though I think I did a fairly decent job of staying calm, and it was a great learning experience, which is what I try to remember whenever I need to do something I have no idea how to do.

Yes, it happens more often than you might think. I work in IT. Which basically means we spend a good majority of our time troubleshooting problems and figuring out how to solve problems that pop up out of thin air. It’s fun, but it’s also rather challenging at times, and it never fails to make me feel like an idiot at least once ever couple of weeks.

That’s not a bad thing. Gotta keep the ol’ ego in check somehow, eh?

In any case, keeping my “health as investment” perspective in place, there were several times throughout the week and weekend that I had to remind myself that while the stress of a challenge is good for your brain, stress from anxiety is bad for your health. I made a conscious effort to let that anxiety-based stress go (I wasn’t always successful, but I did pretty well, I think) on several occasions, and even re-prioritized some things on the fly when it became clear that it was either sacrifice my health, or put off the “thing”.

The net result had me ending up at Friday night still dealing with far more stress than I should have been, but a better outlook for Saturday. And after a brief bit of work monitoring early Saturday morning, I spent the rest of the day/night just relaxing and taking it easy. I did do the dogs’ nails and baths, but I felt like it, so I did it. I didn’t do anything I didn’t feel like doing, and for once, I gave myself permission not to feel guilty for just taking a “rest day”.

It was lovely, and if I’d gotten to bed just a little earlier on Sunday morning (forgot to turn my heated mattress pad on, so had to wait for the bed to warm up), everything would have been perfect. Still, I went into Sunday with a much healthier headspace than I’ve had lately. I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to, but it’s okay.

It’s okay.

I was talking to someone at work last week about some pretty big changes coming up this next fall. This person was worried about what might happen and hoping it would turn out okay. My automatic reply was, “Of course it will. It always does, because there is no choice – the work has to be done, so somehow, someway it will get done, no matter what else is happening”. Things always have a way of working out in the end, whether we can see it ahead of time or not, and also whether we’re even around to see it at all.

So anxiety-based stress is really pretty much pointless, all things considered. Things are going to work out the way they’re going to work out, and for every negative, there’s always a positive somewhere, if you look hard enough for it. I used to be far better at remembering that and not stressing out over things. I’m not sure what changed or why, but I really want to get back to that attitude as my “default setting”.

Remain calm. You’ve got this.

So simple, and yet so true, if you nurture and maintain the right attitude and perspective on things.

Health as an Investment Plan

I’ve been thinking a lot about health lately, what with hyper-focusing on calories and portion sizes and all the “stuff” one needs to pay attention to in order to lose weight. It’s also been on my mind due to the nightly walks I take with my dogs…time spent in the hope of longer good health for all of us as our bodies age (theirs faster than mine, of course).

I was also thinking about shares and stocks last week as I was purchasing shares in a local bookstore co-op, and looking at my finances in hopes of being able to invest more in the stock market soon. I’ve had a moratorium on investing for the last couple of years because our debt was just too high, but one of our bigger debts will be paid off in full next month, and while I’ll be rolling most of the money that no longer needs to go to that towards reducing other debts, I’d like to take a small portion and start investing more again. All with an eye toward retirement, of course. It’ll be quite awhile before I’m ready to retire, but I’d like to be at least somewhat comfortable when I do. My husband is eleven years older, so he’ll be retiring sooner, and it would be nice to have some extra money in the form of dividend income at that point as well, just to help take care of unexpected expenses and such. If you know me at all, I’m sure you’ve guessed that I’m a pretty conservative investor, which takes a bit more time than the high-risk sort of investing, but I haven’t lost anything yet either. Knock on wood…

In any case, I was feeling overwhelmed last week and trying to figure out how I could do more of the things I want to do by moving things around in my schedule, and also wondering why I don’t seem to have as much time for those things now as I used to, and while it’s partially due to social media (I spend entirely too much time just watching other people’s lives go by), it’s also partially because I’m spending more time on health-related activities. My first inclination was to try to figure out how to cut back on some of that so there would be more time for other things.

But from an investor’s point of view, that’s exactly the wrong way to look at it. Much like making smart monetary investments can be a boon for the bank account years down the road, investing time wisely in health-related pursuits can also pay off very nicely in the long run (we’ll all get sick/have issues as we age, but an overall healthy body will deal with those things more quickly & easily). I need to keep that perspective in focus, rather than focusing on how longer dog walks in the evenings or hours of food prep on the weekend or even just getting more sleep means less time for other things I’d like to do.

And I guess more than anything in light of my recent head-space, I need to acknowledge that I’m consciously choosing to make these things priorities. They aren’t being forced on me (though the dogs would have some serious things to say about cutting out their walks), they’re things I choose willingly as a long-term investment in health. And allowing them to cause me stress merely undermines that investment – stress is a killer, and distinctly unhealthy in most cases.

To that end, this week I’m going to seriously cut down on backlit screen-time outside of work hours. My corneas have been getting worse lately, so I need to do that anyways for health reasons (to avoid the sort of serious flare-up that had me on steroids when my eyes were watering 24 hours a day a couple years ago), but I think it will help me work out a better balance for other things as well, including writing (which I’ll do most of on my Alphasmart instead of my laptop, at least for this week).

Priorities change as we go through life, and at the moment, my main three need to be health, marriage maintenance, and work. Anything else I want to do (writing, crocheting, reading, etc) have to come after and fit in around those three things.

If I can hold on to that perspective, I think everything in my life will run a lot more smoothly. Or with less stress, anyways (healthier!).

Maybe I should put a buck in savings every time I do something healthy. Hmmm…

Gone to the Dogs: Tenderfoots

It's not raining...let's walk!

                          It’s not raining…let’s walk!


Murphy sez:
Rain sucks. But only because J won’t take us walking in the rain. Well, and it’s cold and wet. But I don’t mind so much when it’s not too cold. I hate being cooped up inside though. A dog needs fresh air!

Mica sez: Yeah, I don’t much care for rain either, but I’d walk in the rain if J would take us. There’s totally a difference between just going in the backyard and taking a walk – walks are way better! Kinda hard on your feet though, eh Murph?

Murphy sez: Yeah, I don’t know how you handle those rough streets. After a week of walking with no sidewalks in most of our neighborhood, the sharp little rocks in the road just make me limp. That’s why I wasn’t excited to go on walks anymore – it hurt!

Mica sez: Well at least J finally noticed you limping on the chip-seal stuff. I’m sure she’ll find you some nifty shoes to wear so your feet don’t hurt soon. But she is letting you walk in the gutters for now. They’re smoother, anyways.

Murphy sez: I like walkin’ in the gutter, mostly. I get to smell all the plants and yards and stuff, and I’m closer to the stealth bunnies trying to be all sneaky-like. They can’t hide from me! Too bad J won’t let me go on the lawns after ‘em…

Mica sez: At least you get closer than I do. I wish I could walk on the inside sometimes. You get all the interesting smells! But at least we get to walk. Going from 2 miles a day to nothin’ when it’s raining is pretty brutal. Stupid rain.

Less walks = more tugs!

                            Less walks = more tugs!

Murphy sez: We tried not to drive J too nutty, but I think she was glad when we could walk Weds night. And then last night we went early to try to beat the rain…and got rained on. Which she blamed on me, sort of. I can’t help that I got my name from Murphy’s Law!

Do you think J will get you new shoes too, Mica? We’d be stylin’…if she could get ‘em on your feet. You might be able to handle the streets better than me, but man, you’re a big baby when it comes to getting your nails done. What was that on Saturday anyways? All that jumping around and not letting J trim your nails…

Mica sez: She’d better not get me shoes. Though she does make me wear boots when it’s super-cold out. But I don’t like ‘em. I don’t like anyone or anything touching my feet. Period. Not even just pets. But I did let J use the electric file on my nails. So I wasn’t completely unreasonable.

Good to rest after a nice walk in the rain...

                   Good to rest after a nice walk in the rain…

Murphy sez: Sure…after you were worn out from avoiding the clippers. You’ve got issues, Mica. Seriously. Your feet might feel better without those huge claws you’re sportin’. And if you don’t let J take care of them, she might take you to the vet like she’s been threatening for awhile now…

Mica sez: As long as she only uses the grinder, and not the clippers, that might be okay. I don’t like the sound of clipping. I blame you and B for all this. You got your toenails done all pretty-like at the groomer’s last week, and then B was making fun of J’s toenails last Saturday, so she decided that she had to do hers *and* mine.

She said she’s been neglecting her own feet and mine, so we gotta do pedicures every Saturday now, just like her weekly manicures. But she said she might just touch your toenails up too, so it’s not like you get a pass, Murph. I think she said something about lotion or oil or paw salve or something too. I’m tellin’ ya – it’s dangerous when she gets ideas in that head of hers…

Murphy sez: Well at least that waterless shampoo she bought for you smells pretty good. Watermelon-y. I’m not sure why she used it on me since I just got groomed and all, but now we smell like fruit instead of flowers. Yum!

I hope J can find me some red shoes to match my collar & leash…

Mica sez: I’m sure she’ll try, buddy. I’m sure she’ll try.

LazyMorning


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to our favorite charities – the shelters that helped us when we needed it most! 

Murphy’s shelter: Donate to The Rimrock Humane Society
Mica’s shelter: Donate to Help for Homeless Pets

This & That

There’s been a lot going on in my head recently, so focus is not exactly my strong suit at the moment. It’ll pass, it always does. But for now, a smattering of what’s occupying my mind for the dangerously curious (or insomniacs) among you:

– My new Pebble smartwatch works great for telling time, getting notifications without having to look at my cell, and alarms when I’m already awake. It does not, however, work well for waking me up. Dang it. It did work twice last week, and I think part of the problem is that I sleep on my right side, and unlike most right-handed people, I also wear my watch on my right wrist. Which means the vibrations are probably absorbed by my comfy mattress…

So I shall try wearing the watch on my left arm tonight (which will probably keep me awake, ironically enough). I ordered a metal band too – which I think will conduct the vibrations rather than absorbing them like leather does. We’ll see. Luckily, my cell has been working fine and not waking my husband up too badly in the mornings, so there’s that.

– Hubby and I need to get our eating under control again (can you say “proper portion sizes”?), so I really do need to get some menu planning and calorie-tracking going again this week. I know once I get into that mindset it won’t be a big deal, but it really is time & energy consuming when getting everything set up. It would be great if there was a tool/app out there that would allow me to track us *both* without two different accounts, but so far, I haven’t found one. If you know of one, I’d be grateful for the referral…

– A group of local authors/readers is starting up a Bookstore Co-op here in town (well, they started planning last spring), which I wasn’t terribly excited about until I heard that they hired a very experienced bookstore owner from another nearby town to come in and run the place, *and* move the tea bar from his bookstore here in a lessor capacity as well. You know I love books, and tea, and considering how successful the new manager was/is with his other bookstore, I’m excited now. He’s got a lot of plans to keep the place hopping, and I’m really interested to see how it all plays out. I’m planning to invest/buy stock in the venture, I’m just trying to decide how much. Yes, there are perks for both authors and tea-lovers depending on investment level…and I get my longevity check this week. Exciting!

– My to-do list for the yard and gardens is about a mile longer than the time I have/will have available this summer, so making priorities on that is difficult.

– I stayed up way too late last night listening to/buying music. I generally prefer to buy the album on CD if I want at least a couple of songs, to support the artist and so I have a hard copy if anything happens to the digital copies. But three of the CD’s I bought last night came with auto-digital-downloads, so of course I downloaded them, and had to listen to a few songs here and there, and make some new playlists, and…well, I would have been better off just writing this blog post and getting to bed. For the curious, I bought new albums by Rob Zombie, 3 Doors Down, Disturbed, Shinedown, and Theory of a Deadman. Good stuff.

– I’m itching for a new tattoo. You’d think the book I’m reading right now would discourage that, given that the villain is a tattoo artist who works in poison (The Skin Collector – Jeffery Deaver…slow in spots, but overall okay), but much to the contrary, I’m thinking it’s time to see if the guy who does my tattoos wants to tackle one of the designs that’s been stewing in my brain for awhile now. I’m sure he’s getting busy now (’tis refund time), but I might see if he has some time for a small one if he can’t fit the larger one in…

I have a tattoo shop mystery series waiting to be read too (courtesy of my sister who read them first).

– Lots of work stuff (nothing bad, just problems to solve & code to write), that will remain vague just because I feel like it should.

– There’s an art exhibit at the old state prison that I’d really like to see, but I don’t think I can leave the dogs overnight just yet. And the exhibit ends on June 30th. But maybe I’ll change my mind while there’s still time. We’ll see.

– I have three books I want to finish writing by the end of the year, two started, and I’m having a heck of a time getting back into a regular writing habit (though I did better last week, finally). Thing is, I really do want to write, and I enjoy it once I get into the groove, so to speak. But with so much else going on, it’s hard to sit and just…allow myself that simple pleasure. I’m working on it. I’m better when I’m writing, even if the writing goes nowhere.

So there you go – a peek between my ears, so to speak. With any luck, I’ll have some of this worked out by next week, and I can pick a topic to focus on!

Short & Sweet Placeholder

My weekend got away from me as they so often do when there’s a holiday of some sort involved, and now it’s late and I need to get to bed as soon as possible so I can get up for work in the morning. When I finally sat down to write this, I blanked (too tired to think – I’ve been running non-stop since this morning), and then I got distracted by the new song out by Justin Timberlake.

So here you go – something to put a little sunshine in your pocket this Monday morning. I’ll have a “real” post up after work tonight.

I hope your Monday is enjoyable…or tolerable, at least!

Gone to the Dogs: Fighting the Beast

Away we go!

                                         Away we go!


Murphy sez:
I…am the greatest dog alive! Last weekend, I got a steady stream of treats for a good twenty minutes. It was phenomenal! One of the best days ever! And all because there was a ferocious beast in our kitchen…

Mica sez: Don’t you think that’s just a bit dramatic, Murph?

Mmm...treat dough leftovers...

                                Mmm…treat dough leftovers…

Murphy sez: Shush! It’s my story, I’ll tell it like I want to.

Anyway, like I was saying, I was just minding my own business out in the backyard, snacking on some tasty grass, and I decided I needed a drink. So I head back into the house and there it was! Right in the middle of our kitchen. It was tall and gray with yellow stripes and a long white arm that seemed to flail about for no reason. It wasn’t making any noise, but I knew it was gonna, so after I gave it the sniff test, I barked at it. J said I didn’t need to worry, but what does she know? She’s just a silly human – I had to protect her from the beast!

J went to the cupboard while I was barking – the one with the yummy stuff in it, and came back with some treats. She gave me some, only I couldn’t bark and chew at the same time. But then she stopped, and said that the beast was going to make noise. Noise! It made a weird sound, and then I got another treat. Then there was another sound, and another treat. Then it made a *lot* of noise and J actually *touched it* – she was moving the arm around and giving me treats with the other hand!

I wanted to tell her how dangerous it was, that she should get away and let me kill it, but my mouth was full and all I could think about was those treats. She gave Mica some too, but not as many as me.

Then the beast stopped making noise, and I stopped getting treats, but there was this long cord that J was wrapping around the beast and I couldn’t understand why she was touching that evil thing again! So I barked again, and barked some more, and I got some more treats.

The scariest part was when the beast moved…it moved, I tell ya! I was going to kill it right then and there, even though it wasn’t making any noise, but J just gave me more treats and she put it in a little room behind a door.

Why didn’t she let me kill it? And why would I get treats for not yelling at or killing such a horrible, noisy, ugly, smelly beast?

*sigh* Next time, Beast. Next time.

Sparkly clean!

                                 Sparkly clean!

Mica sez: Oh good grief, Murphy. You barked at the vacuum cleaner and got treats for it. Sure wish I’d figured that racket out a long time ago. The first time I saw the vacuum, I was so scared I peed in the dining room. I didn’t get treats for that…

Murphy sez: Well, maybe you’re not as smart as me, Brother Dear.

Mica sez: At least I don’t smell like flowers, Little Dude.

Murphy sez: Just you wait. It’ll be your turn for a bath soon enough!

Exhausting week - let's do it again!

                                   All worn out…bedtime!


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to our favorite charities – the shelters that helped us when we needed it most! 

Murphy’s shelter: Donate to The Rimrock Humane Society
Mica’s shelter: Donate to Help for Homeless Pets

The Alarming Truth About Mornings

PebbleBacklight

My new Pebble Time Round – backlit.

Four out of five mornings last week started out on a less-than-great note, all because I have to get up quite a bit earlier than my husband so we can both be ready for work on time. I typically get up between 5:30 and 6am, and he gets up around 8 (though he has me wake him up at 7 in case he feels like working out).

I used to use a really loud, annoying alarm in the bathroom (which is across the hall from our bedroom) to ensure I’d get up and out of bed on time. We’re both night people, which means mornings are painful for us anyways, and I can’t tell you how much I hated that alarm. But it did get me out of bed quickly…until one morning it didn’t. And then it didn’t again, even after I replaced the batteries. And I had to find something else to use.

I started using my cell (left in the bathroom so I’d have to get up)…but sometimes after a particularly late night I wouldn’t hear it. Sometimes hubby would though, and it would drive him nuts that I didn’t get up and shut it off right away. So I started using the clock radio alarm by the bed (the beeping one…the radio wouldn’t get me up), and setting the cell as a backup (in case I hit the snooze button or worse, turned off the bedroom alarm and went back to sleep). That worked fine for awhile too, but I still don’t get up as quickly as hubby would like most mornings, so he’s stuck listening to the alarm that early.

Last week, one morning I didn’t hear it, one morning I got up early (dog got me up) and forgot to turn off the alarm by the bed so it woke hubby up (and he couldn’t figure out how to turn it off), another morning I just didn’t move fast enough…you get the drift. There was only one morning the whole week that actually started off in a peaceful manner. The rest sucked, and when your morning starts off all angsty, the rest of the day doesn’t have much of a chance.

Needless to say, I’d had enough after the third morning, and that night, I decided to try one more thing before converting my office into a bedroom and just sleeping in there during the week. I ordered a smart watch – the smallest, most basic model with good reviews that I thought would work as a vibrating wrist alarm. I thought the “smart alarm” feature sounded neat, so I picked on that would work for that as well. My new Pebble Time Round was delivered Friday, and I tried it out right away for Saturday morning.

PebbleEPaper

Epaper background – easy to see in sunlight, but a bit dim inside…

The “smart” alarm really isn’t smart at all…it runs through a third party phone app, and both Sat. and Sun. mornings it went off later than the “last possible time” I’d picked. Supposedly it can sense when you’re in deep sleep vs. light (based on your movements), but it’s not supposed to go past the time you pick as the last possible. So Sunday when I went back to bed after feeding the dogs, I just set the standard alarm on the Pebble itself, and it worked pretty well to wake me up around 10am.

So I’m going to try that this week – setting the pebble alarm to go off first, and then my cell alarm as a backup. If all goes well, hubby shouldn’t hear one alarm this week. If not…well, I may be shopping for a bed in the near future, as I’m kind of out of options. Fingers crossed – I’d really prefer not to convert the office. I suppose I could go back to the super-loud annoying alarm again, but that makes my mornings stressful too.

For those morning people out there wondering why I don’t just go to bed earlier…I prefer the night, always have. And late nights are the only time it’s quiet enough around here to get any writing done. To have a chance at “just waking up”, I’d have to go to bed (sleep) around 11:30pm, or even 10pm. Which would leave me absolutely no time at all for writing…or anything in the evenings, really. Just not happening.

Speaking of which, my “get ready for bed” alarm just went off, so I need to get this posted and head to bed so I can read for half an hour and then be asleep by 1am. Here’s hoping the vibrating alarm works well from here on out!

Gone to the Dogs: Girly Stuff?

MurphyBone

Mica sez: Hey Murph, that’s a snazzy new legging J made for ya. Makes you look like you’re headed for the tundra or something. How’s it working for ya?

Murphy sez: It is pretty cool, isn’t it? Except the bows. They’re kinda girly. J should rethink that part of the design. Get me some velcro or buttons or something. But it’s comfy, and it doesn’t stick to my sore leg, and it’s got lots of little holes to let air in. I like it, except it’s not as much fun to lick on account of I get all those yarn thingies on my tongue. And it’s loose in the main part, so I can’t get good trak-shun when I need to itch that sore. This is just the pro-toe-type though. I think she’s gonna make more. Maybe she’ll make the next one tighter? She said she might make me a shoulder strap to hold it up. Not sure how *that* will work…

MurphyCrochetedSock

Mica sez: I wouldn’t count on it, dude. I think the not-licking thing is important, considering how many times she tells me to stop licking my legs. Geez. But I hear you’re getting a new cone too, on account of your old one is getting worn out. And some kind of silver spray – are you gonna go gray?

Murphy sez: I’m kinda worried about the new cone – it might be too long. But J says there won’t be any plastic thingies to poke my neck, and there’s padding on the top and bottom, so it might be more comfortable. We’ll see. I don’t know nothin’ about the silver spray. Sounds kind of scary though. J says it might help my sore leg, but we’ll see. Doesn’t seem like putting metal on it will help. Except chain mail might be fun. We could go medieval on those bunnies…

Mica sez: Somehow I don’t think J would appreciate that much. Though she has been taking us on longer walks lately. Maybe we’re in training to take over the city or something. That could be fun. We could ban all cats.

Murphy sez: And vacuum cleaners. Weren’t we going to talk about evil machines today, Mica? Except I haven’t done any research lately. J was too busy to vacuum last week, and the week before I think I was outside. Hmm. I’ll have to find out where the big yellow beast hides. I’ve only seen it once, but it was ferocious and I wanted to kill it.

Mica sez: I remember. You were getting a little too excited about that, and I thought I might have to take you down. And J didn’t like that, so we both got put in time out. Over a vacuum cleaner. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? These humans and their need to clean is confusing. And what’s with the grooming wipes, speaking of that? I mean…I don’t think we smell bad…

Murphy sez: Me neither, but J keeps talking about taking me to get a bath. My former foster mom is a groomer, and it’ll be fun to see her again, but I’m kind of liking this whole no bathing thing. It’s good to be a dog. It’s good to smell like a dog. And we can always bathe in the rain…we shoulda done that Wednesday when we couldn’t go walking ‘cause of all the water comin’ down.

MicaEars

Mica sez: I don’t like baths. I hate getting my feet wet. And I hate getting my nails trimmed, and J says I have to go to the vet for that one of these days, because my nails are so long. Her nails are long. Why do I have to cut mine? They’re good traction, I tell ya! Sheesh. She’s been threatening to clip them herself, and I don’t like that either, but I really don’t like that buzzy-sander thing…

Murphy sez: Aw, it’s not so bad once you get used to it. Ya gotta keep your nails short so your toes don’t hurt. And you can sneak around then too – no one can hear you coming. It’s fun.

Mica sez: I don’t know about all this bathing/nail cutting thing…it’s not very dogly. Are you sure we can’t get out of it? Maybe if we both go roll in the dirt afterwards or something.

Murphy sez: Yeah, we could do that. ‘Cept I prefer to roll on the carpet like I do every night. It just feels so good to be free of the cone that I go a little nutty. Makes J & B laugh.

Mica sez: You’re such a clown. So next week we’re gettin’ all gussied up then, eh? I suppose one bath won’t kill me. But the nail trim might. If I don’t come back, I want you to…

Murphy sez: Oh stop. I’m the dramatic one, remember? Suck it up, buster. But not like a vacuum…

DogBacks


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to our favorite charities – the shelters that helped us when we needed it most! 

Murphy’s shelter: Donate to The Rimrock Humane Society
Mica’s shelter: Donate to Help for Homeless Pets

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…