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Hard Times Make Happy Pets

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Life these days, at least for me, doesn't look all that different from life as it has been. There are two other beloved beautiful people in residence, and you can be sure that I'm reveling in that. I never thought I'd get to spend more than a couple weeks at a time with them both. And now, it seems, we have many weeks together to look forward to. All that other stuff aside (and that is a lot of stuff) that is a beautiful thing.

People say dogs and cats (and birds and all other pets!) are the greatest beneficiaries of this shutdown. Curtis is certainly getting an abundance of attention and affection. One of my dad's favorite sayings was, "Attention makes the pup." He used it to refer to children, too. If that's true, Curtis is getting even moreso. We are so grateful to have him here to love on. There's little that's as comforting as the scent and feel of a good solid animal when you're freaked out. I love this shot. Curtis is taking the Wide Stance which is becoming his trademark. He's got strong shoulders.

This dog is truly in hog heaven with his pack all together in one place. He still prefers Liam as a sleeping partner above me or Phoebe, but that's fine with us, because he kicks and has hunting dreams which involve lots of foot paddling, deep breathing and muffled yelps.

Our beautiful betta, whom the kids insist on calling Boogle, is another beneficiary of the attention of his humans. Bettas are very personable and Boogle enjoys his perch from his new desktop tank atop a column in a busy corner of the kitchen. He creeps on us all as we work and eat and demands treats, grabbing fresh bloodworms and shaking them like a tiny aquatic pitbull, darting enthusiastically after his daphnia. I hear the kids talking to him all day long. Liam does a noodle dance in front of the tank and Boogle goes crazy, shimmering up and down. Who knows what the noodle dance means to a betta, but Boog seems to be digging it.

Boogle is all I have now for tropical fish. After 25 years of cleaning it every three weeks, I finally broke down my 38 gallon freshwater Amazon tank. I was down to 8 fish (one of them Boogle) when a hideous cyanobacteria, expressing itself as blue green algae slime on EVERYTHING, overtook the tank. I fought it for more than a year,  endlessly scrubbing glass and plants, and finally conceded defeat. It was killing my beautiful plants; it smelled like rotten patchouli, I could NOT get rid of it, and I was finally and completely DONE with it all.

Mind you, in its prime, it was a glorious tank. The tank itself I'd bought well-used in the Pennysaver; it was not beautiful; had ugly peeling contact paper over pressboard on its stand. But the live plants made it an enchanted place, a world of its own, and I looked past all that at the life within it. I filled it with rainwater from my barrel. Emperor tetras bred like mad in it, and I actually sold them and vast armloads of excess plants to my fabulous local Marietta pet shop, We Love Pets. I had to weed it every couple of months and my plants were so gorgeous--they loved to see me coming with a cooler full of plants and young tetras! The tank paid for itself and all its accoutrements and then some! That part was really cool. When I look at this lush and vibrant shot from 2009 I realize how far down it had gone thanks to the cyanobacteria. Ah well. All things have their time.

I found a beautiful home for the 7 tetras with dear friends who have a 50 gallon tank, bought a 5 gallon Contour tank for Boogle, because I could not give him up. I rigged up my beautiful and expensive color changing LED light fixture over it (because the fixture that comes with the tank is, to put it kindly, merely decorative) and am a happy fishkeeper and aquatic gardener again. Plus, bonus! another well-lit plant growing space atop the water filter! Ha ha! The Zick way--cram 'em in!

I love water energy, fish energy, aquatic plant gardening...but a 38 long? Way too much for me now. I'm much better able to see what's too much for me now, having been through too much of late. This tank is juuust right. The cyanobacteria came along for the ride, doubtless on the plants, though I scrubbed them under running water and even gave them a 10-second diluted bleach dip. So I'm still scrubbing glass, d'oh! If anybody out there has a cure for slime algae, I'm all ears.

I would like this post to be longer and have more photos, but two nights ago I went to reach for a mug half-full of cold herb tea and instead of picking it up I knocked it over and guess where the tea went? All over and intothe keyboard of my new MacBook Pro, purchased in August 2019. I had just updated its OS to Catalina and was so enjoying it. 

Despite early hopeful indications that it would shrug off the insult, and my turning it upside down in a New York nanosecond, then setting it up for 24 hr. above a box fan, the tea did its work and my New Hotness is deader than a donut.  I am coming to you from Old and Busted, with no new photos in its library and an operating system that dates to its purchase (Snow Leopard...remember the big cats that came before the mountains?)  

Apple's gonna send me a coffin for it, and then I send it out and wait a minimum of 7-10 business days for the repair. Though I was told it could be longer due to you know what. Luckily I know myself well, and I'd purchased the turbo version of AppleCare that covers stupid human tricks like tea in the keyboard. After years of haranguing my kids about liquids on the same table as a laptop, I've done it now, too. I blame quarantine brain.

I finally feel like I'm settling into some kind of rhythm, and I was able to finish one job and am now going onto another. It's a big illustration job, and I took it because it was awesome and I needed something to get me painting again. Now I'm SO glad I did, because my book tour is totally cancelled/postponed/FUBARed. In happier news, I'm hearing from lots of people who are finally finding time to read Saving Jemima. I get emails every day, and actual letters in the mail from people who truly love it. That feels so good! Almost as good as having Phoebe and Liam cook dinner and call me into the kitchen!! And we're gonna watch a movie tonight, the four of us on the couch. Boogle will watch from his tank. Life is good. Hope it is for you, too. Hold your loved ones close!

Photo from Feb. 2019 by Shila Wilson. I was letting him run leash free on long hikes. Aaack! Once I got a load of who I had here, I started using a lead. Only now, a year later, do I very judiciously let him off the lead on hikes off our land. Progress is slow and steady. Dog is good.


I love everything in this nice post, except for toasted mac and the slime. Want to see a noodle dance, but will respect Liam's right to privacy. Kisses to the wide-stanced Curtis and to Boogle. hugs to all the hoomins.

Love foo-dog and stripe-ed rock!

I always think of Curtis as a much larger dog. Must be the personality. Stay safe on Indigo Hill.

There's a reason They say "no food or drink anywhere near your computer". I'm not supposed to have food or drink in my pottery studio either. Yeah. Right. Does a donut taste better with HF 126 glaze dust on it? You betcha.

I too battled cyanobacteria and thought I'd never be rid of it. I found something called Ultralife Blue Green Slime Stain Remover on Amazon and even though the reviews sounded too good to be true, decided to try it because my god, I could not stand pulling any more sheets of slimy algae stuff out of my tank anymore. And it worked like... well, like magic. I haven't seen any sign of the stuff in 7 months. It didn't hurt my fish or my (modest number of) plants. Maybe worth a try?

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