Random Saturdays – The Fish Tank

Ben has been planning out his saltwater fish tank for four years.  When we started dating, he was looking over plans to build a fish tank stand.  He built the stand, but it was about half an inch off, so he ended up having to buy one instead.  For some reason, you can’t have a giant glass container of water sit on a crooked stand.  Whatever!  He shopped online and at a local fish stores for supplies.  To save alot of money, he also made his own saltwater, which is actually more complicated than pouring a bit of salt into the tank and stirring.  After all of that time, all of that effort, and all of that money, we finally have fish in the tank!

We have plants and snails in the refugium (where the water comes out of the tank to be cleaned out before recirculating back into the tank) and have snails in the tank itself.  We had a green hair algae problem, but our Mexican turbo snails have taken care of that.  We also have a black limpet snail.  He has cute lil antennae and a snout!  This little fella went halfway around the tank in just a few hours on his first night.  I have never heard of a snail going that quickly before.  I thought the turbo snail was fast, but this limpet dude took his snout and ran laps around the turbo snail.  There were some emerald crabs in there.  The smaller one, died. The bigger one ended up eating two of our fish and we think he killed the other crab.  We stuck him in the refugium and he ate all of the plants except the mangroves.  So, that jerk ended up going back to the store.

It’s only been during the time that I’ve been with Ben that I’ve really learned anything about fish tanks.  Until that, all of my knowledge came from biology classes about closed ecosystems and random nature shows that I watched.  Temika and I had a betta fish named Busker, once, but he died when she forgot to clean the fishbowl.  I’m learning more about fish now that we’re trying to figure out what kinds of fish to get when the tank is ready.  The kids want “Nemo” and “Dory” fish.  Minecraft really likes the dogface puffers, too.  Ben is partial to the tangs.  Apparently, you have to be careful about which tangs you put in the same tank, how much food you feed them, and how many rocks are in the tank.  Tangs are racist and can become aggressive depending on the color of other tangs in the tank, how hungry they are, and how big or small they are.  They made Disney movies about these killer racist fish!  Who knew?!

As for the fish that I want in the tank, I will need to get another job to afford them.  Everytime I see a fish that I like, it’s over $100.  Ben will say, “Oh yeah, those are hard to find, ” or, “We’ll have to see if we can find one on sale sometime,” when I show him the fish I like.  We currently have a banggai cardinal, cleaner wrasse, foxface rabbitfish, and a magnificent foxface.  The rabbit fish wants to kill the magnificent foxface, so we’re trying to find a new home for the rabbitfish.

Elska is still scared of the fish tank.  Pad Kee loves the fish tank, but doesn’t have a good ledge to watch them.  So, he mostly just follows Ben around when he’s working on the tank and ignores it otherwise.  I take care of the cats and Ben takes care of the fish.  I really got the easier and cheaper job, thank goodness!

Random Saturdays – Playing, You’re Doing It Wrong

I get that phrases like the above are hip on the webernet, but you have no idea how much energy it took to keep me from correcting the grammar in the title of this post.  Moving on now…

Spring Break for most of the DFW metroplex just passed.  This meant that there was alot of talk at work and online about people’s plans with their kids and arrangements made at work to care for these kids.  Ben worked from home all week.  We talked about how we wished that we could’ve taken time off to take the kids somewhere and that we hoped that we’d be able to do that sometime in the next few years.

ME — I wish we could’ve taken them somewhere fun.
BEN — Yeah, me too.
*At the same time*
BEN — Somewhere like Disneyland.
ME — Somewhere like Disneyworld.
BEN — Disneyland’s cheaper.
ME — Isn’t that because Disneyland sucks more?
BEN — It’s still Disneyland.  It’s all cheaper than Universal Studios.
ME — I don’t care about any of it.  I just want to go to
BEN & ME — Harry Potter Land

He knows how I roll.

Erica told me about her step-son sleeping in past 10 am.  I told her about this big box that we kept when Ben got his replacement tool chest.  I saw it and immediately thought about the kids being able to use it to pretend it was a house or a rocket ship or something.  (Erica and I used to sit in her grandma’s closet, our backs on the floor and our legs on the walls, pretending that we were blasting off into space.)  After weeks of telling the kids about this box, they finally paid attention to me.  “Can we decorate it?” “We can cut windows into it!”  “We can make it a season box and decorate it differently each season!”  (The season idea is an off-shoot of our fake Christmas tree upstairs that we are keeping out and decorating for each season, an idea I stole from my friend, Jennifer, who is no longer allowed to talk to me after I called out her husband on some disrespectful stuff he did to her on Facebook, but that’s another story…)

Erica and I started talking about what we used to do on spring break and all the different ways we used to play.  We jokingly wished that we were still kids so that we could show all these kids how to really play.  We grew up with computers, video games, and t.v., but we mostly used all of that as a bouncing board for our imaginations.

I remember watching something about history on Muppet Babies and learning about explorers that landed in The Americas in school.  Erica and I made up a game where we explored her grandma’s den and landed on different countries/furniture to claim it for different countries.  Amanda, her little brother, and I used to make up elaborate dances to The Little Mermaid soundtrack.  Temika and I used to make up accents and words that cracked us up while we cooked and did dishes.

That’s not to say that the kids in our lives now have no imagination.  It’s just that it takes a little longer to get them going and the starting points for their imaginations is very different from our generation.  Then again, I think about how depressed I was at the age of 17, stressed about trying to find financial aid so that I could go to a school as far away from my parents as possible while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  At 17, my grandfather lived and worked on the family farm and was dividing his time between building the cement porch for their house and chopping down cedar trees to build the cedar chest that I now have in my bedroom.  As with everything, I suppose that it’s really all about perspective.  I’m just thankful that these kids are even willing to play outside and get excited about an empty box, even if it takes a little mental prodding sometimes.

With that, I thank you for reading and wish you all a happy spring!

Random Saturdays – My Temika Weekend

Since I started this blog, I’ve gone from posting three times a week to twice a week to once a week.  Last week, I didn’t post at all.

It was a combo of being busy, being exhausted, and being lazy.  One of my best friends was visiting me from out of town last weekend, so I spent last week procrastinating about getting my apartment ready for her visit.  Then she visited, so there was no time for blogging.  I’ve known Temika since 1988, but we didn’t become (best) friends until 1992.  Since then, we’ve been inseparable, except for the fact that we haven’t lived in the same city since 1996.  It doesn’t stop us though!  We have been through international plane trips, marathon road trips in the Texas summer without air conditioning, towed vehicles, and, as of last weekend, running over giant sheets of metal on the highway.  No matter what, we stay in touch and visit each other.

Temika, her girlfriend, and her son came to visit me last weekend.  I hadn’t met Melinda before, but she turned out to be one of the coolest chicks both sides of the Mississippi.  My precious little Zakk is turning into my goofy kid Zakk, which simultaneously breaks my heart and makes me proud.  When I was little, I always thought it was lame how adults always said that kids grow up too quickly — I completely get it now.  Friday night, we met up at my apartment.  Amanda met us, too, so that we could all get dinner together.  We went to Cafe Brazil, which made such an impression on Zakk that he kept asking to go back for every meal afterwards.  Zakk fell asleep on the way back from dinner, leaving Temika, Melinda, Amanda, and me to talk and laugh to the point of exhaustion.  We also learned that Temika developed a zebra impersonation after hearing the noise on some show.  Then Amanda did her version.

This is the sound that a zebra makes (skip to the 1:00 minute mark).

This is Temika doing her imitation of a Zebra, followed by Amanda doing her version.

This is Amanda making a second attempt at the sound.

Saturday morning, I made biscuits and a potato, sundried tomatoes, and feta frittata for breakfast.  Afterwards, we headed to the Ft. Worth Zoo.  I’m not actually a fan of zoos because I think it’s sad to keep animals caged.  Then again, some zoo facilities are safer from human destruction than animals’ natural habitats.  I am a fan of taking kids to zoos, though.   On the way to the zoo, I ran over a big piece of metal in the road.  Actually, it flew at me after a giant truck passed it, then flew into my bumper and got stuck under my car.  Due to construction, there was no shoulder and I was in the far left lane.  I had to slow down, ease over four lanes, and drive until I could find a bit of shoulder where I could stop.  Once I pulled over, Melinda and Temika tried to pull out the metal, but it was stuck.  Melinda used a jack to lift the car while I crawled beneath it and pulled out the metal.  Thankfully, nobody was hurt, the car was still safe to drive, and I have full coverage.  (As I type this, a rental car sits outside of my apartment.  I had to get up two hours earlier than normal to drop my car off for inspection/repair, but the rental car guy looked like a much cleaner and less skeezy version of Shia LaBeouf, so that was cool.)

It actually turned out to be a great day to go to the zoo – too hot for my taste, but not too hot by most people’s standards.  All the animals were out and about, curiously exploring items in their areas, bathing, eating, and playing.  When we were ready to head back, we took the toll road to avoid more construction, but there were multiple things in the middle of the road there too, all of which gave me mini-heart attacks.  We grabbed dinner at Eddy’s Pizza.  Then, Melinda and Zakk went to Main Event to play games while Temika and I tried to find a dress for a semi-formal event she needed to go to back home.  It was our lucky day because she found it at Burlington Coat Factory, the first store we tried!  Since we still had time, we also made quick runs to Ross and Old Navy.  Temika found great deals at all of the stores.  I think she bought enough clothes for her, Zakk, and Melinda to wear for a weekend, plus her semi-formal dress, for less than $100 in less than an hour.  We made a quick stop at Yogurtville for dessert before coming back to my place to end the night with some Redbox movies.  We watched Pitch Perfect (which was way funnier than I expected), but were all too sleepy to watch Hotel Transylvania (which we had all seen before anyway).

Sunday morning, we had breakfast at The Original Pancake House.  This time, I was told that I couldn’t make any substitutions on the combo meals, so I ordered á la carte.  I still don’t understand why I can’t substitute bread for meat — the restaurant saves money this way.  We said our goodbyes, and then Temika, Melinda, and Zakk headed back home.  It was a busy weekend with lots of food, lots of driving, but mostly lots of love & laughs.  We were all exhausted, but in a good way.  So, that’s why I never got around to blogging last week.  As an additional penance for missing last week, I offer you, dear reader, Amanda’s impression of a goose.