Never a Dull Moment

Since getting this new phone, photo sharing has been such a streamlined process for me.  It is a far cry from the days when I would hook up my digital camera to my computer for uploads or use the SD card slot in my laptop.  It’s surprisingly fast and I’m learning more of how to use the technology.  It seems silly, and I’ve heard the remark “Welcome to 2008.”  Ah yes, behind the times I am.  That’s okay, it bothers me not.  However, the world of sharing photos of my menagerie has opened up quite substantially.   I’m as curious as a cat.  Speaking of which….

kronos face

Ah yes, that’s what I’m talking about.  There is another problem I encounter, though.  If I can share photos this easily, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop.  This house is full of animals that fill my life with little moments.  And each moment is precious to me.  Each moment we interact, I would love to beam it on a satellite for all to see if they so please.  I think the truth of my life is I’m actually burdened by having TOO MANY marvelous life forms surrounding me.  I actually have too much good on a daily basis.  I didn’t think it possible, but every time I turn around I have something new and touching to share.  Baby rats yawning in unison.  The tilt of a hungry steppe runner’s face as I prepare to bombard him with waxworms.  The baby cichlids that run up and down the side of the tank in begging formation.  I see so much that endears me to them and it happens so long as I am home to witness it.  I fear, because I never have a dull moment, I will strip my friends of interest in me.  They will grow tired of acknowledging my spastic enthusiasm, perhaps.  Oh no, that will be the day.  I would blame the technology but this is my natural state.

rat face

Here have a picture of more of my lovely rats.  Another cat and rat post, if you will.  But I promise there is so much more.  Are you ready??

leporinus

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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.

asfr

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

If Not for Critters

Image

That right there is love.  A new baby rodent to grace the world and in my palm.  That baby soft fur rat.  It’s a critter of mine.

And if not for those critters…..well, I probably wouldn’t be hungry today.

It’s such a counter intuitive move to spend money on animals when you need it to eat.  When you wouldn’t be broke if not for unnecessary “luxuries.”  A pet is supposed to be a luxury- only afforded truly by those who have more than enough for themselves in the bank.  I don’t.  I live paycheck to paycheck like a lot of people.  Only i really wouldn’t have to if I didn’t have these critters.

And the demands only mount.  I have….probably 11 lizards right now.  5 rodents.  2 axolotls.  Copious live feeder insects.  100+fish.  A cat who is more of a child to me.  Yet it always seems I’m on the lookout for the next cool species.  To breed and keep for my livelihood which neither activity supports. 

Today I realized that if not for critters, I’d be pretty well-off.  I’d have a savings account with money.  I wouldn’t get myself in a pinch like today where I’m eating the remnants of a packed lunch until I get home at 10 PM after 10 hours away.  But then….

What would I have to look forward to?

Most certainly not that little baby rat. 

And what would I spend my days doing?

Watching Netflix and studying dusty old books?

I can’t say I’d rather have anything else.  So leftover halloween candy it is…..to persist.  Til the next paycheck.  Which I will readily spend on my critters. 

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…..an 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.

September 26, 2013- a Year anniversary in the Pursuit

A year ago today, I had very little.  I was resuming my hobby, but ever so slowly.  I was disorganized and a bit hopeless and also unrealistic in my ambitions.

Let’s start from a less familiar perspective, shall we?  You may know me, but you might not.

I had myself a fish at a young age.  A goldfish in a bowl.  Or a genie in a bottle, whichever.  It wasn’t the most fascinating creature to me.  And I was also a third grader.  It had an uneventful life…and died at two years of age from a temperature shock while the caretaker performed a water change.  The caretaker wasn’t really me at the time.   But truthfully, it was dying long before.  My other fish was a betta and it lead a similar life.  It was almost neglect to leave them in a bowl day in and day out…and feed scarcely.  But for a long neglected organism type….nobody cries animal abuse.  Nobody cares.

One day, I did care.  More specifically, the day that the creatures in question perished…I felt the guilt of a child who did nothing in terms of prevention.  I lacked foresight. I didn’t give it my all as a pet owner.  I didn’t know I COULD give it my all.  This would soon change.

Somewhere along the middle school timeline, I had myself another try with the fish.  It gets fuzzy for my memory to recall precise timing, but I remember vividly taking over my sister’s fantail goldfish upkeep.  I had to be in control.  I wanted to learn.  I can’t explain why, except that i was opportunistic and I saw…opportunity here.  I was soon checking out every fish book in the community library…twice.  I read what i could and marveled over photos I hoped to replicate. I wanted to breed fish.  I wanted to create elaborate displays and show great pride.  I found myself doodling fish setups in every class period.  Middle school, mind you. I fantasized stock lists and imagined compatibility with every one.  I wanted biotopes.  I wanted everything to just…commence.  There was a budding hobby here.  And it gained momentum fast.

When i was thirteen, I had a display tank.  I had my first issue of Tropical Fish Hobbyist purchased from a book retailer.  I treasured it and read over every detail of every article.  I gleaned in each account so much enthusiasm and a world I desperately desired to be a part of.  So the next steps were inevitable.

Long story short, I was operating a small fish room by high school.  I had 20 or more fish tanks in my bedroom, much to my parents’ dismay.  But they didn’t stop me.  How could they?  My hobby has always been purely beneficial.  I did breed fish. I did cultivate plants.  I did write articles and I joined an aquarium society at the wee age of 14.  I was traveling an hour away, at my father’s expense, to attend meetings and fish auctions.  I was quite simply in love with everything.

Naturally, however, there came a time when I had to downsize.  I had to get rid of fish and prepare for a new adventure:  College.  I knew that it was a temporary gig.  I was going to have my fish room back, in some form or another.

So, that’s what today is….a celebration of a year of progress.  I’m a junior in college, and I do have just the cutest fish room to play with these days.  I’m as passionate as ever in my hobby.  And I even joined a new club.  I collect fish when I can.  I culture live foods.  I auction things and breed more fish than I know how to handle it seems.  A year ago, I had a good start.  Living off campus, though, I can accommodate so much more than I could in the dismal dorm setting.  And also coinciding with this date….is the acquisition of an entirely different animal.  I got my kitten a year ago.

It seems very obvious to me that I am a fish geek at the core.  But along the way, I embraced my love of all animals.  I have so much life surrounding me and enriching every experience.  I believe this is what true happiness entails.  As of today, I will be frank.  I have a lot of animals. But I wouldn’t change it.

I feel like I have a better grip.  What a life, though.  Surrounded by…..40 fish tanks….6 geckos…a few other lizards…some mice….and a lovely bengal cat named KRONOS.  I attend class, work, and go home to this menagerie every day.  It’s an unimaginable blessing. And that’s where I hope to start this blog.  Restart, rather.  Life is full of beauty if you open your eyes to the opportunity to let it in.