Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fishies, Plants (Planties?), and Wine

It's been a while since I've posted, mostly because there's just been nothing exciting to post -- and that's by the standards of this blog, which I realize is not very exciting. I've had lots of work -- just finished an interesting sociology textbook and today will work on a book about menopause (maybe I'll pick up some tips, heh!). Also recently worked on a study prep book for the medical boards (a test that prospective MDs have to take before practicing medicine) and a book aimed at Gen Y about marketing oneself. So lots of variety, as always. With the economy entering a rocky patch, I am looking to add another client or two to my "stable," just in case an existing client has to cut back sharply. As a freelancer, one can never take one's income stream for granted!

Plants: Made a trip to a local nursery to pick up a bag of potash. And I did pick up a bag of potash -- and about $150 worth of plants, bulbs, and tools. Whee! Doug waited for me in the car in the parking lot. I told him it was all his fault -- he didn't come in with me to hold me back, so I just kept putting plants in my cart until it couldn't hold any more. [shrug] I am helpless before the pretty plants! And they were on sale. Got several interesting Hostas to fill out the area by the house, a couple of Delphiniums to go with the one I have on the hill (which I grew from seed and is gorgeous! covered with intense blue flowers from midsummer to fall!), an Echinacea to go in my Echinacea/Daisy/Aster border, and a bunch of Heuchera (coral bells) of various kinds -- one of my favorite plants -- also to fill out and add color to the beds by the house. Plus brought home several bags of tulips in red, yellow, and white to feed the squirrels -- no! to come up in the spring! -- and an actual bulb planter, which I've wanted forever -- makes things so much easier. Overall, a very fun shopping trip.

I already have my list picked out for the spring Friend's School Plant Sale. I may pass on WisCon and Vegas (when Doug does GAMA) in 2009 to spend money on finishing my front yard instead. It's been a work in progress for years, and I'm getting kind of tired of having to superimpose "what it's going to look like" over my vision whenever I look at it.

Fishies: Decided that my male Betta splendens should have some friends. Some people feel they should be kept in isolation, but I did lots of research and figured that as long as it wasn't another Betta or something that looked like it might be another Betta, and it wasn't a fish that would nip his fins, then it would be okay. So I went to the fish store. Whee! Ended up getting more than I'd planned -- is there a theme here? -- and put some rocks and such back on the shelves to compensate (I have some self-control).

For the big tank, I got a couple more Botia almorhae ("yoyo" loaches) to break up the Botia kubotai ("polka-dot" or Burmese Border loach) chasing the yoyo dynamic; they were really young and small but are growing fast. If I stick my fingers in the water, they love to come up and nibble on them, which tickles! They also making a lot of clicking noises. (In the meantime, the mature yoyo has developed gorgeously elaborate, reticulated striping and has swelled once with eggs. She has taken over a "cave" under some driftwood for herself, and her whiskered snout as she peeks out is adorable.) I also got four glowlight tetras (Hemigrammus erythrozonus) to bring that shoal to nine. Then for the 20-gallon tank, and the Betta, I got three "leopard" cories, or Corydoras trilineatus (fat, wiggly little catfish that are adorable), and -- a surprise find -- three freshwater "bumblebee" gobies (Brachygobius; black and yellow striped one-inch fish with attitude -- the terriers of the fish world). Now I assumed that the gobies had to go in the big tank because the Betta would eat them -- Bettas have a reputation for eating small fish. The gobies are ambush eaters, however -- they wait for food to float within "darting" distance, then dart forward and grab it. In the big tank, however, they were clearly overwhelmed by all the much larger, much faster fish during the feeding frenzy. The Betta, on the other hand, after one big territorial display, which the Cories ignored, seemed to enjoy having tankmates, so I took a chance and moved them. No problem! They're clearly very happy little fish now, who enjoy basking on the plants and don't give a hoot about the Betta or the cories.

Then there's Mr. Flounder (I've assigned it a gender). When I was a kid, I had a flounder in my tank for a while, and I have fond memories of it. So when I saw "freshwater flounders" at the fish store, I said, "I'll have one of those!" About $3.50. Got it home, put it in the 20-gallon tank, and did some research. Turns out there's no such thing as "freshwater flounder." When they're very young, some flounders do live upstream in fresh water, but as they get older, they migrate downstream to brackish or even full marine water. For now, he's got a couple of tablespoons of aquarium salt in his water, which doesn't bother the other fish. I'm waiting to see if he survives a month -- that he's eating, doesn't have a disease, etc. That'll be up this weekend. Then I see a brackish tank entering my life. I'm researching the possibilities. Doug is resigned to the inevitability of it all. (What a good husband!)

Wine: Speaking of the husband, we've decided to do a nice dinner together at home every Saturday night: Doug cleans up the kitchen and dining room, I cook, we eat together at the dining room table and share a bottle of wine. Romantic! I hardly ever drink. Last weekend, I guess I was thirsty -- I drank wine at a pretty good clip -- and I'd just taken my medication, which "enhances" the effect of alcohol. I was amazingly blotto. Skate America was on, so I was watching the skaters and posting to FSUniverse and my spelling -- well, let's just say that getting all those pesky letters in the right order didn't seem very important. (And I'm a copy editor!) Happily, my spelling improved over the course of the night (and I post there under another name). I think I'll do marinated chicken this Saturday, take my meds at a different time, and sip rather than gulp!

Fun:

  • Search the Old Bailey's records from 1690 to 1772. Maybe you'll find one of your ancestors? (I'm pretty sure a couple of my ancestors came over to the Colonies because they chose transport as an alternative to whatever punishment awaited them there.)
  • Search the WorldNames site to find out where people with a given surname live. I haven't fully explored this yet, but at least in the United States, you can zero in on the county level.
  • More fun with names (and other words): Plug your name into Wordsmith.org's Anagram generator and find a funny alias for yourself. And more fun with words: Check out other features at Wordsmith.org. A cool one is a Word of the Day, which you can get e-mailed to you if you want. Today's word is asperse. Yesterday's, continuance. Yes, I'm a language geek.
  • Interesting YA novel by Cory Doctorow is online free under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. I've just read the first few chapters, but Little Brother is really interesting so far. It seems to be about kids in a world where adults/institutions attempt to monitor their every move; of course, the kids get adept at doing what they want.

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