The Nicest Thing

Last night, I began to ache in every joint and muscle.  I thought little of it, but it grew within the hour to where I couldn’t shake the feeling.  I couldn’t shake how miserable I was suddenly feeling, in the physical sense.  I took a shower, and it was a beautiful respite.  I inhaled the steam and the warmth soothed my body in every portion.  I felt queasy, but it made the nausea calm within me.  Just as I felt maximum, fleeting relief, I heard the chiming of my phone.  That’s him, I thought.  Oh he’s on his way home.  He, after all, is the nicest thing I know, at least in the human sense.  He was due to return to Michigan that night.

Then, it was so unfortunate that leaving the shower didn’t make me feel better.  In fact, I felt wholly worse.  I was shaking from the cold of the ambient temperature, but the shaking never stopped.  I got dressed and groveled in pain on my bed.  Oh, he said he was showering and then coming to visit me.  I haven’t seen him in weeks, this nice thing of mine.  I wish I didn’t agree so readily to see him like this.  But it’s too late, he’s on his way.  I need this, I think.  I need something, or someone to make the awful go away.  I feel so unwell. My body starts cooking.  100 degrees.  101 degrees.  I’m covering myself in blankets, barely wanting to move.  I want to be well.  I was so well, just hours ago!  I could have seen him any other time of day, and it wouldn’t be this agony.  Oh well, he’s nearly here.

I had intended to wrap his gifts, which accumulated like the snow outside in the days he was gone.  I just kept thinking of him, and kept wanting nice things for him, because he’s so nice.  I couldn’t wrap them, no.  I put them in a recycled bag and threw a sheet of wrapping paper over top.  I meant for this to be so much more thoughtful, but it’s too late now.  Maybe he didn’t bring his gifts?  Maybe I wouldn’t have to give mine.  We missed Christmas and New Year, this year.  It was a sad time, all things considered.  Then I heard the car pull up, that little blue Ford Fiesta.  It’s him.  I gotta get to the door, it’s so cold out and I don’t want him to freeze.  I didn’t tell him I was sick.  Or that chills were wracking my body.  I didn’t have to.  I wrapped a blanket around my shoulders, and wobbled to the door.

There he was, the nicest thing.  He had a pot of white roses, flecked with shimmery glitter and a frozen pizza.  Oh, he really did mean for me to heat the oven to 375 degrees, I thought.  I fell into his arms, headbutting his chest affectionately.  Then I began to quiver.  I’m so happy you’re here, I’m thinking.  I’m so happy, but I’m so sick.  And he handed me the sweetest little card, handmade, with money to fund my fish habit in the form of a gift card to the pet store.  After preheating the oven, I realized I would hand him my gifts.  They’re not wrapped…but neither were his.  Thoughtfully, he inspected everything, and we spoke.  I sat on the floor, shrouded in blanket.  I smiled and explained the thought behind every gift.  I said I just kept adding to the pile because he was gone so long.  We chuckled.  Candles that smelled of hot cider like the kind we enjoyed at the Irish pub, Christmas cheer and so forth.  He’s a man who likes his candles.  Poker chips, because I know you and you like to play poker sometimes.  When you win, we get to eat out, wherever I choose and it’s a new adventure every time.  Chocolate from the gift shop in the museum, like two years ago when we drove on a snowy February to Ann Arbor.  A pin from your favorite show, which we watched an episode or two of together, because I knew you were itching to.  I had included his favorite candies, way back from Halloween, because he likes the Child’s play mix the best.  Stress-relieving lotion, also, not for him to use on me but for me to use on him as we trade turns giving massages.  I was so happy.

I had a really rough night, after he left.  We cuddled for maybe an hour, and then he decided I needed to rest.  I threw up at 5 AM.  I was struggling to fight the sickness, which must have been a bad flu attack.  It’s making the rounds, and nearly everyone I’m employed with had a similar night.  But not everyone had this wonderful encounter with a boy who cares so deeply.  He told me, before he took off, that if I needed anything at all, he would retrieve it for me.  I told him, after some thought, come back at 1 pm tomorrow when I am scheduled to be working.  I’ll call in, because I need to do that anyways.  I’m somewhat of a workaholic, I admit.  I survived the night, though.  At 1 pm, his Ford Fiesta appeared once more.  I happily jumped out of bed, my fever broken and my body beginning to heal.  My throat is still sore and I’ve been hacking and coughing.  But I’m so much better, especially since he is here.

We cuddled and ate Chinese food and cuddled some more.  My cold heart warmed.  This is the nicest thing, I’ve decided.  My animals are in the periphery at all times.  My cat, Kronos, tries to cause mischief but we both watch him with admiration.  The puffer fish in one of my display tanks begin to swim up and down the corner of the tank.  Look, I tell him.  He looks.  There is a book, too, that I’ve been reading on the history of the hobby.  He flips through that, and greedily listens to every word.  I show him fish vocalizations.  Isn’t that crazy, how that darter sounds underwater?  There’s so much to show and so much to tell.  He’s a quiet one, but he never needs to say much.  I’ve learned over the years to pay attention to his actions.  He never says what he needs to say, most of the time, but he always does what he needs to do every time.

A fish geek girl can scarcely ask for more than this understanding.  A fish geek girl can scarcely have a nicer thing.


Pilling Cats and African Soft Fur Rats

Throughout the day, I have an assortment of tasks to perform.  Almost all are pet-oriented.  My cat was diagnosed with a heart condition at a young age and if I can get the pills down, it is beneficial for him.  That’s always an if, because he is prone to fighting me on them and when I’m frantically trying to tackle my own crazy agenda, I don’t have all the time in the world to fight back.  Today, I decided to coax him and resume the more rigid pilling schedule we once upheld.  I have always tamed my animals with love, and as I cradle him I shower his face with kisses and hold him firmer as the pill sticks to the roof of his mouth.  I know that it is unpleasant and I know the struggle with forcing your body to take the medication.  It took me most of my life to learn to take pills and even today I still slip up, so I decided to keep that in mind and held him tight.  Pilling a cat is not an easy task, but today it went rather smoothly, with no foaming at the mouth to speak of.  One pill, two pill and he was done.  I rewarded him with wet food and rewarded myself with the notion that “hey, doing these things and following through is worth every bit of allowable time.”  I think that is a primary reason why I’m always late- that deep understanding of proper time use.  It’s hard to know what in your life is worth the extra few minutes, but my cat’s health is assuredly one of those things.  I would do anything for a best friend of mine.

kronos pill

Speaking of best friend, my human friend of three years has become ill recently.  It’s just seasonal sickness, but it’s still concerning and just as equally “no good.”  I made it a point to cheer him up- “What could I get for you to help with the symptoms?” I asked.  “I have no money” he replied.  This is a ridiculous thing, to think he needed to pay me, I would help and I adopted a fierce determination to do so.  I braved a mild blizzard to gather items any sick patient would endorse- pain killers, cough drops, soup, crackers, water, tea.  It began immediately to brighten my day at the thought of the possibilities.  Working two jobs, I’m more prone to having pocket change, though not the hefty kind.  I can make a lot happen with a little, and it has always been my gift to give.

As for the second half of this post subject, I have begun a secondary breeding project in my home, and it has been on-going for the last few months.  I’m raising a herd of African soft fur rats, focusing on selective breeding for high-white coloration.  I’m having a lot of fun with it, and in 2015 I plan to attend reptile shows to balance out the cost of raising them and also to justify their production via the feeder mouse market.  This is a different species than a rat or a mouse typically encountered in the pet trade.  It tends to be a bit more vicious and bitey than it’s kin, but then with the right amount of taming down, they really aren’t so bad.  And they are painfully adorable; a worse pain than any bite!!  It hurts the heart to see those bulgy eyes, but I suppose not in a bad way.  I’m interested to see how far this takes me, for breeding them came off a whim when I was told this rat was not easily handled- I think there is a real place for them to become an accepted pet like a hamster or gerbil or house mouse.  I had a little fun after I delivered my friend’s care package and picked up some clearance ceramic barns for hides for my rat colonies.  I think it compliments them well.


Ah yes, the story of my life- Pilling cats and African soft fur rats!!

A Typical Day- Every One, Extraordinary

Going into 4 days with no home internet due to outage outside of my…home.  Not to mention the snow storm that delayed school and work.   And before that my own personal 4 day power outage.  This winter has been nothing if not eventful.  Still, like most any time of year, the present moments fill with experiences that gather in greatness.  It’s all in the attitude, I attest.  I feel as though I truly grew into that optimism award I received so long ago as a fourth grader.  Those teachers saw what I couldn’t then.  But what blinds me now. 

The typical day is extraordinary in its own way.  Barring major conflict or death.  The typical day beckons with offers so irresistible if you listen.  It practically screams at me, even as I go about my business in my trim and proper way.  A trained monkey set to stray on the routine…..routinely.  It happens every day. 

Think of this as my personal diary- a run-down of a feeling I’m exploring and trying to….express.  Thinking of it as that, I would proceed with the day of the SWAP MEET (1/11/14). 

My days in Grand Rapids are like voyages to lands of untold greatness.  Fish greatness.  Because the city, so much larger than Lansing, hosts so many pet stores of numerous chain origin and small business alike.  It brightens my heart as I go from shop to shop cherry-picking the best of the best.  I seek bargains and beauty.  Beautiful bargains, I might say.   Like a shop hop on a smaller scale than those arranged by organizations, it is guaranteed I will come home with something new.  

I did bring home much of what I sought.  But the meet for fish clubs….my, it’s something.  Greatest in value for supplies and plants, I was sure to load up.  Nearly 40 tables were filled with the dreams of young aquarists (i.e., me).  Old literature lay about everywhere, on subjects from herpetology to marine biology.  Even an old shedd aquarium book, displaying the history of the historical building/attraction.   It all went for garage sale prices, in the middle of january in the coldest state I can imagine right now.   I talked to nearly all the people I bumped into.  I’m a friend to many, and many are a friend to me here.  I suppose the only fish i gained from the event were tinwini danios.  But a small tank, a light, many plants, bloodworm flakes (it’s a thing), mixed shrimp, and a daphnia culture rounded out my purchases.  I have many endeavors to attend to.  And I keep them in mind on the daily. 

Then it was to BLUEFISH AQUARIUM, where the hobbyists meet in a casual way after events such as these.  The kid-in-a-candy-shop effect was undeniable.  I wanted more than my wallet could handle.  And self control…well, that’s a hard entity to bargain with.   Two barb species went under “must-have”….but in an eventual timeline.  I bought my fire-ring danios on sight.  Because my rule of thumb is if it is a danio I do not have under my care, it has to be made to be under my care pronto.   Fond childhood memories aside, I loved everything at face value.  The other priority species had to be a pair of Indian spiketail paradisefish…for the losses I experienced of spawning adults.   They do like to commit piscine suicide.  Via jumping out of water.  The other thing was a bit of a shot in the dark….a pair of weitzmani tetras for the small price tag and my desires for adventure.  

Other shops included VI PETS and CHOW HOUND.  At the Jenison VI location, i found ultra-cheap hillstream loaches.  January is 20% off fish month there.  Too good.  Even if the fish are sometimes in questionable condition.   At the other location (CUTLERVILLE), I found rabbit snails for so cheap.  Yellow and marvelous.   And I am certain some captive bred steppe runners must be mine shortly.   Another endeavor and for another post.   Regardless, I spread the hobbyist cheer wherever I go.  And inform of fish clubs and reptile shows and good things. 

The last task was the meeting.  We have an exciting year ahead of us at GVAC.  it is truly the year of the fish.  I turned in 2 spawns to start the year strong.   Choprae danios and Celestial pearls.   And the talk on aquatic plants was uplifting.  I wish to experiment there as well.   LED workshops and box swaps are in the works.   I have two articles half-written.  I’m so happy with my hobby, it’s absurd. 

Yesterday was the Preuss Pets Holiday Party.  Another social experiment and time for merriment.  I do feel a bit out of place in my own workplace, but slowly it molds to my form.  Slowly I adjust to it.   My white elephant gift I gave involved a giant microbe plushie….my gift of choice.  Here, have mad cow disease!  adorable and fun to say.   I got a nice pair of sharpies and gummy candy in return.  The nature center offered a complex and stimulating background.   Snapping turtles and hissing cockroaches and educational tools awaited the upper level.   Below, a crowd of people humming with conversation.  Some of it I partake in.  Some of it I tune out.   It’s an old habit hard to break.  But it’s breaking walls, after all.  

I have befriended a number of individuals.  More yet to convince that I am tame and good company.  Relatively.   I like to think so.

Today, I have a day chock full of classes and work and business.  So much to adhere to.  Such a schedule to follow.   But if anyone can make the best, it’s me.  It’s the fishgeekgirl.   I walked up and down grand river after doodling fish and engaging in Ichthyology lecture.  I’m a tad too eager there, but I cannot help.   Free coffee, free t-shirt, free mints, free coupon books….all perks of going to MSU.   Little pieces of enrichment that make the mood lift.   Seeing a sign for a good lunch deal, I stopped in foreign territory and sat quietly with my wi-fi, filling out the remainder of my planner and signing away my time happily and readily.   The demands are great.  But my condition can’t get much greater.

Even after all of this description- I feel I do not do life justice…..I could write a million words on the subject in one breath, with the enthusiasm I contain.  Sheer and genuine and wonderful as the highest high.  

Fall Splendor

How can I continue to show you the wonder of our human life?  The curse, and the wonder….
It’s cold and hailing and sleeting in Michigan.  It’s almost November, and this is not unusual.  But there is still so much to smile about.

I got that job at the pet store, which is why I’m so busy.  Not that “busy” was unfamiliar territory for me in the past.  I have that insider situation I always wanted, and pulled maybe my fifth shift today.  No volunteering any more; I’m paying for my hobby.  Tuesday I have my pick of Microctenopoma  ansorgii.  First served and discounted out the door.  It’s a beautiful life.

This weekend is also the GVAC auction.  I’m making it a priority for my job and for my hobby and my well-being also.  You know what they say….if you do what you love….

I don’t feel like I’m working.  I feel like I’m physically active and a bit underfed, but I’m rarely bored with the job.  Either job.

As usual, I sought to take a different route.  Leaving my shift at Preuss, I was so….hungry.  Two hours til class.  I wasn’t worried.  But the bus stop….wait for 40 minutes you say?  I say, take Lansing River Trail instead.  Boy do I love this city… unprecedented gem that i wouldn’t discover any other way if not for days that I take chances.

You gotta look at every experience in your day as enrichment….it’s a way to learn and expand and live a fulfilled life.  I walked that trail and noted so many kid-friendly stops on the way to the lansing center.  Jungle gyms to the left and the river to the right.  I wanted to scout for fish or macroinvertebrates but the fact of the matter is the water is too murky.  I still peeked from time to time.

The City Market greeted me partway, and I couldn’t deny my curiosity.  I had heard of things being sold local and fresh.  I walked in like a kid in a candy store……a cheese and produce candy store, to be exact.

I could contemplate a million ways why this is awesome.  The problem with shipping food from far and wide.  But I will sum it up as such:  Fresh food is simply better.  I tasted cheese I never knew could be so flavorful.  And I smiled.

Yes, it is cold.  But you don’t notice it so much if you’re moving.  Or if you’re eating natural foods.  On the last leg of my journey….upon completion of class lecture and a simultaneous nap…..I met the world with a mind full of satiation.

What a wonder it is to be a human.  We are the most accommodated animals on this planet.  We can be in the midst of a snowstorm but still sleep soundly in 70 degree housing.  We can eat food so rich and we never had to prepare.  We can keep tanks full of fish and train them to appreciate our bountiful lives.  If you can be unhappy knowing this, I don’t think you’ve yet understood the world.

Have you seen it lately?

I don’t know that I believe you.