Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Snuggle Buddy

With outside temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit and the house colder than normal to save money on the electricity bill, I felt uninspired to get out of bed early. Instead I turned on my Kindle Fire and found a book not read in several years.

Jezebel decided to join me. She’s not a lap cat and tends to hang around us on the periphery. The fact she curled up in the crook of my arm for a good two hours warmed my heart.

No Paparazzi, Please...
As I type this she has circled my seat several times, going from her kitty condo by the window to lay across the sofa cushions from me, then perching next to my arm. Now she’s settled on the back of this couch.

Who doesn’t like quiet companionship on a cold day?


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Things Are Looking Up (?)

Well, our perfectly fine 2013 Chevy Volt has been totaled by the insurance company. Hidden damage to a very important battery skyrocketed the cost to more than the vehicle’s monetary value. While disheartened, I’ve been assured by my husband it would probably never have driven the same again, anyway.

That car fit our lifestyle so well, and Volts are no longer in production, but my husband is willing to go pre-owned. The charging station mounted in our garage cost over a thousand dollars, providing serious incentive. He hopes we can afford a 2017 model, which would be an upgrade over 2013 technology.

We have to wait on the insurance reimbursement check, of course.

In other news, tomorrow our area is supposed to see the coldest temperatures of the season. So of course our heat pump acted up. ~sigh~ I am happy to report the repairman made it out within hours. And the $3,000 (US) replacement part (!) for our high end unit is under warranty. We hope it will come in for replacement on Friday.

Thank heaven the heat pump has an electric back-up!

Is it too paranoid of me to think the warranty company will find a way to weasel out of paying and make us foot the bill?


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Truth Can Be Stranger Than Fiction – Or Reflect It? And a Joyous Report

Trying to escape my mental funk, I have been looking at the prose written during National Writing Month last November. It’s been interesting. And a tiny bit creepy.

Today I came to a half forgotten passage in which my character wrapped her car around a utility pole, set off the airbags, and suffered minor whiplash.

Now I’m going to share a rotten little confession. Exchanging messages with a dear local friend, I admitted hoping the hit-and-run driver is sitting in jail with, of all things, minor whiplash. He replied, “lol mean lol”.

I must reiterate my use of the word ‘minor’. ~nods~ My husband informed me that all her misdemeanors could result in a year’s imprisonment. It seems to me justice would better be served with the woman performing community service.

On a happy note, I saw both of my surviving kuhli loaches alive and (seeming) well this afternoon. The typhoid mollies kept taking food out of their mouths, though.

I didn’t even think mollies would eat algae tablets. ??? Tomorrow I’m going to bury those skinny, slippery little guys’ chow in an empty snail shell where the mollies shouldn’t fit.

Meanwhile, trying to find a photo of my kuhli loaches I could not. Instead, I located an unexpected one (below) taken in January of 2014 featuring my now deceased clown loach named Frack. Dark orange with black stripes, he is a bit out of focus (that lion fish to the right is artificial). I am amazed and a bit heartbroken to note how much he grew in the last five years.

RIP Little Frack
Do you think I should just populate my tank with more fakes?


Friday, January 25, 2019

Still Naïve into Middle Age

Today my husband picked up Wednesday afternoon’s police report while I drove our rental car home. I honestly believe myself not to be at fault for that accident because the other driver sped up at the last second to (as my husband reports it) blow through what was already a light turning red.

I don’t recall either of us getting to make much of a statement to the officers on scene. Our insurance company asked me more questions. But authorities taking into custody someone with no auto insurance, an active arrest warrant, who was not legally licensed to drive and fled the scene of our accident believed her when she said the light was green.

Based on that alone, the report states, I’m being cited for an improper left hand turn. I’m sorry to be a downer, but this is disheartening. No doubt I’ll be fined on top of the fact we have to shell out a minimum $500 to (hopefully) get our car fixed. And who knows how long that will take.

Adding insult to injury, a driver on the way home from the collision center later forced me to hit the brakes to avoid the same scenario in reverse. I just pray there is no court summons over Wednesday’s debacle. Surely not, but I have no clue. And I lack the will to phone the police station to question.

I just want to get on with this life I’m lucky to have. It’s tempting to just dig a hole and crawl inside. Maybe I should purchase a dash camera.

Do you think I should just hole up for the rest of the month, maybe more, and try not to leave the house?


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Cracking Up & Seeking That Bright Side

As January comes toward a close, I’m finding 2019 is no improvement over 2018. We just can’t quite catch a break.

After an unsuccessful effort to eradicate my fish tank’s deadly ich parasite with higher temperatures, that heater stopped working through my attempts to bring temperatures down from a reasonable 86 F to a more ‘typhoid’ mollie friendly 78. An older unit brought out of long retirement refused to regulate.

This ordeal was costing me sleep. Slight adjustments resulted in ten degree swings in a matter of hours.

The night before last I set my iPod’s timer to wake me about every two hours and fifteen minutes so I could intervene and prevent extreme spikes or plummets. That’s more intense timing than a rescued kitten demands! In a funny twist, it was better rest than I’d been getting, lying half awake all night long.

So, with my husband’s encouragement, yesterday I drove us out to lunch and a pet store where they happened to stock the very make and model I’d considered.

It’s an Aqueon Pro 100 costing over $50, but I’m happy to report it’s pretty well holding to 77.4 F since installation. In retrospect, I should have shopped on

Oh, well. All that was about to become the least of our concerns.

Almost home with purchase in hand, we were slammed into by a hit and run driver. The sedan heading toward us sped up to blow through a traffic light turning red as I rushed to turn left and clear the intersection.

I’m happy to report we are uninjured aside from my husband’s understandable back ache. He thinks it actually happened getting in and out of the police officer’s SUV.

That lead officer on sight, a lieutenant, acted very professional and sympathetic. After overseeing my beloved Chevy Volt loaded on the flatbed tow truck, he broke protocol and drove us the two miles or so to our front door.

It’s amazing that I don’t suffer so much as a bruise or a twinge. I credit this in part due to my muscle tone from all those weightlifting sessions. In addition, my intense thought process preceding the collision might have provided a distraction keeping me from tensing up.

Of course I wanted to avoid that accident. However, in the microseconds beforehand, I estimated that straightening our trajectory would result in a head on impact. That would be bad. My split second decision to resume course meant our tank of a Volt got hit on the right front fender instead.

The criminal hit us so hard we sat incapacitated facing the other direction, able to watch those dwindling taillights headed west. Yet with no air bags deployed, the car may not be written off as a total loss. We shall see. I’m crossing my fingers.

Shaken, I sat with the engine running and my foot on the break pedal well after police were called. A kind stranger checked on us before sirens approached. Paramedics cleared us with rainy conversation through my open window. I watched firemen sweeping up debris while photographs were taken and the situation assessed.

The best part of all of this? That perpetrator fleeing the scene did not realize that she left a calling card in the form of her front license plate. The idiot kept going because police had a warrant for her arrest. I didn’t get the pleasure of seeing her handcuffed, but it’s probably for the best.

You see, for a nonviolent person, I’ve often wondered if I could resist punching someone in the face for so much as denting my Volt. So there’s that; I’m not stewing in a cell next to that piece of garbage awaiting bail.

How is your week wrapping up?


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A Chuckle for the Day

One of my local friends posted this on FB today and cracked me up…

Wouldn’t you, just sometimes, really want to do this job?


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tongue Twisters & Brain Busters

Language fascinates me. This morning, for whatever reason, I lay in bed thinking about verb tenses. In fact, I typed this on my Kindle Fire while lying prone and emailed it to myself, which is why this font is different than usual.

Anyway, the fact any non-English speaking foreigner learns it is a testament to human fortitude and overall intelligence.

Think about this...

After skiing a person skied. Mastery means something has been mastered. Preventing a glass from being knocked over means you righted it.

If you wring out a rag it is now wrung. But a bird with contrasting feathers around its neck is considered ringed.

What if you traveled in a car? You were either driven or you drove. What about the fight, flight, or freeze response? That translates to having fought, flew, or froze. Wait. In that sentence structure it would be flown and frozen.

~shakes head~

How people not immersed at birth learn to speak, let alone write this stuff is beyond me. Now I'm exhausted. I think I'll go back to bed.

So, what are your plans today?


Friday, January 18, 2019

Silver Linings – An Update on First World Problems

Trading emails with a certain sweet someone yesterday caused an incidental hope that all my recent posts haven’t been too much of a downer. I can be kind of whiney. ~grin~ True story.

That said, I can’t help sharing what happened yesterday.

When I went to medicate my decimated 29 gallon tank I found the second and final dwarf clown pleco deceased. It seemed I was down to just the four Dalmatian mollies. Struggling to extricate the tiny body out of a decoration, I was surprised to find three surviving kuhli loaches.

Hang in there, gang...
This treatment for ich is deadly to all loaches, as previously mentioned, so I decided then and there to pull out a tiny ‘hospital’ tank and try saving them. You see, while they appear asymptomatic I don’t dare put these critters into my healthy 10 gallon tank for fear of infecting all those older residing kuhli loaches with the parasite.

Pulling water out of that healthy tank for my trio of survivors, I realized the water felt super cold. With all the drama across the hall, I neglected to do more than toss food in there every day and watch them eat for a minute or two.

Talk about clouds with a silver lining! If not for an effort to save those others, the broken water heater might never have come to my attention. My twelve (?) year old kuhlis could well have all died.

Fortunately, I had two spare water heaters. One has a thermostat, the other does not, and I had to swap them after what I hoped was an ich killing hot water bath for the one removed from the ‘hospital’. Otherwise, my survivors were going to be boiled alive.

I am happy to report that the temperatures evened off before my bedtime. The heater with no thermostat warmed the ten gallons to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, several warmer than normal, but it should be okay. My little rescues are in 82 degrees, two lower than what they’d lived with for the last week of my failed attempt to heat treat for ich.

Oh, crap. I set the thermostat too low on the oversized heater and only now noticed the three survivors are in seventy degree water. Ugh...

Is it wrong of me to nickname my four initial carriers as ‘typhoid mollies’?


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Teased and Tickled

I still miss that lost kitten Dillon, who I planned on naming Styx because he went through starvation hell before stumbling through our yard last spring. A part of me hopes the universe will put two ginger boys like him in our home. Chance is, after all, how we ended up with our three past and present kitties.

Instead, I keep getting taunted. Yesterday, our page-a-day cat calendar teased me with the following image of two kittens…
Too Cute
Meanwhile, we’re not active in any search because we are a bit worried over how our geriatric girls will react. Both of us would be happy to adopt any needy feline who crosses our path. My husband would love a black cat, which he likes to call a ‘hole in space with eyes’. ~grin~ I wouldn’t complain. We shall see.

As for our elderly Jezebel, she surprised me this morning. I heard a sound like she’d settled onto something soft. I looked toward the dog bed bequeathed by my parents after they lost their pet.

Empty. So was the couch, fitted with a big fluffy blanket Jezzy often enjoys.

Where was she? I scanned the room and discovered her right near where my feet had been.

A vertical bed, Jezebel? Really?
I’d noticed the missing cushion from the chair to my left, but chalked off the disappearance to my possible senility and have no idea how it landed on the floor. In all probability, Jezebel pulled it down, though she doesn’t normally behave that way.

And I have good news on my eyeglass frames. The tightening loosened just enough so that my vision is now perfect through the super fancy, months old lenses. Yay!

As a final note, let me leave you with something I hope will tickle your funny bone. My dear friend and talented writer A. Catherine Noon shared an image on Facebook today.

I would have adored this art teacher!
Aren’t optical illusions amazing?


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Some Good News and Much Gratitude

First, let me say thanks to all who have offered support and suggestions during this relatively minor tribulation. As lucky as I am overall, kind words during this upsetting period mean a lot.

In good news, my four Dalmatian mollies are still alive, a miracle. Let’s hope the water treatment I’m planning to administer doesn’t kill them. Chemicals automatically lethal to the now extinct loaches should be delivered today.

(and the product arrived, the first of five daily doses given)

A Desolate Sight (5 Tetra Lifeguard Tabs at L and R)
I am happy that my smaller tank remains clear, despite the fact my guppies (all deceased, I am sad to report) from that same ill-fated pet store visit spent time there before being moved. You see, I thought the high speed water flow in the smaller tank overcame one of those three tiny fish right away, the reason I relocated them that very first night.

It’s a mystery if ich or something else killed off the one who survived the longest. That guppy was so small and fast I couldn’t get a good look at its scales. And I didn’t have the heart for a postmortem examination.

Their size alone should have kept me from letting the sales gal talk me into them. ~sigh~ That albino coloration was such a pretty shade of orange. And guppies always seemed so hardy in past.

Live and learn.

On the topic of ‘looking’, my eyeglasses have indeed been fixed. As last fall, the man crafted what he needed from spare parts using a tiny dental drill bit. I spent a total of two hours’ time, an entire Chevy Volt battery charge, three tenths of a gallon of gasoline (the cold weather lowered the battery’s range), and $45.15 (US) paid to Specialeyes, Inc.

It’s not like the lenses can be popped into different frames, so I consider all that well worthwhile considering the hundreds spent on filling this prescription last autumn.

On that note, both failures occurred after the lenses were inserted. So I have a new theory as to why. Those young gals working at the Sam’s Club optical department may well have never handled vintage frames. Their complex inner workings might have received undue stress.

For all I know, old aluminum could weaken over the decades, too. All I can say for sure is that long ago I took my recent eBay purchase to an optician who collected antique eyeglasses. In fact, the enthusiast refitted a newer set of very old nose pads for me back then.

Unfortunately for me, Woody retired from the business.

The only problem remaining is that while this craftsman worked great magic yesterday, he tightened the frames to the point they don’t fit my slightly asymmetric face quite right. I didn’t realize this until almost home because it was disorienting switching from a really outdated optical prescription back to new. Last night I found myself fiddling with their fit to optimize clarity.

The Specialeyes, Inc. artist doesn’t impress me as someone who knows or cares how to make an organic fit. During both visits he acted almost like I didn’t exist until showing mild enthusiasm after his success, and sharing some obscure facts in that regard and the optical business in general.

Question of the day is, do I take them to Sam’s Club Optical or somewhere else?


Monday, January 14, 2019

Insult to Injury – A First World Rant

Weeping over the increasing number of my dead tropical fish throughout Sunday, I tried keeping things in perspective. One fantastic thing, I recalled, was the fact my vintage eyeglass frames with their expensive new high tech lenses were repaired right before our vacation last autumn.

And yeah, they are great.

The long distance vision is fantastic. Coming in from shoveling snow Saturday under cloudy skies showcased how well the polarization works, too. So I sent up thanks to heaven while nudging the left side with a delicate touch.

You see, the left lens seemed to have drifted out of whack again, causing my consideration to get the frames adjusted. Surely that’s all they need, I figured. I’ve been treating these frames with great delicacy since their repair and planned on asking any technician to treat them with the greatest care.

Well, torque wasn’t the issue. The right side hinge snapped when I attempted to put them back on!

The Screw is Still in There...
Guess it’s time to call Special Eyes tomorrow. I hope he can again do his magic.

At what point should I give up and purchase new eyeglass frames, do you think?


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Aquarium Update – Spoiler Alert: Epic Fail

I rose early this morning and found a horrific little domestic scene. First I discovered a dead kuhli loach. I haven’t seen them eating or swimming about and honestly think all those tiny guys are long gone from the ich infestation, as susceptible as their equally scale-less larger cousins. They tend to cannibalize their dead overnight, before I can find their bodies, so that may well have been the last one.

The three clown loaches were inside their favorite decorative hideout. That could have been a good sign, which I told myself before spying the silhouette of a dwarf clown plecostomus within. This is not normal behavior.

Holding my breath, I reached into the tank and lifted the decoration dubbed ‘skull mountain’. It lived up to that nickname, for out tumbled the bodies of Frick and Frack, my two smaller clowns. I burst into instant tears. Then things got worse.

The impressive Ms. Pacman, also deceased, remained wedged inside. I called for help and, sobbing, at last managed to dislodge the weighty corpse into a bucket.

After many years with me, these fish should have lived another decade or so. Even worse is my culpability over the loss. I just had to bring home some new pretty top dwellers.

Well, these newbies alone appear asymptomatic. How weird is that? They must have been the unwitting hosts (!), yet seem fine. So now I’ve broken down and will use a chemical supposed to eradicate the parasites.

Perhaps I can still save my two plecos. My sole, meager comfort is the fact a quarantine tank may have proven useless if these Dalmatian mollies and guppy are healthy as they appear. What do I know? I never had this happen before.

I know this is small in the scheme of things, but right now my eyeballs feel like they served as fill-ins at a golf driving range. Once the snow stops, I guess I’ll bury my fish in the garden and put skull mountain atop as a memorial. No way can I look at that item in the tank anymore.

At least these victims are no longer suffering.

Guess whose done trying to raise long-lived fish?


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Please Pass the Garlic

Last night my clown loaches acted restless. Splashing at 3am actually woke me. So the first thing I did during their morning feed was take an extra close look.

What did I see? Spots. Ich. Or Ichthyopthirius multifilis.

My fish don't look this bad, but won't stay still for a photograph.
I found this image and useful information here...

Scale-less loaches are particularly vulnerable. And my desire to add a few Dalmatian mollies and albino guppies probably transported the parasite.


As the sun came up I changed out the usual monthly amount of water and replaced an appropriate measure of aquarium salt, actions supported by the various and often contrary online opinions. A bio boost additive went in, as well, again at the typical rate.

Then I nudged the heater up a little. Warmer temperatures are said to speed up the parasitic cycle. Now I’m watching and waiting, checking the thermometer. It was already around eighty degrees Fahrenheit and we don’t want it above 82.

Another common suggestion my husband and I both found was to add garlic to their diet. Garlic contains allicin, an organosulfur compound known to be antibacterial and anti-parisitic. There are commercial foods available, but I didn’t want to waste time. Raiding the kitchen pantry, I crushed several cloves for their juice and soaked fish food flakes in the stuff.

Two out of three clown loaches partook, as did much of the asymptomatic population. Tomorrow morning I will repeat the process.

As a last resort I’ll look into the chemical route. Those can be more dangerous than the parasite, especially for loaches.

Are you a garlic fan?


Tuesday, January 8, 2019


We cannot say just how old our cat Jezebel is. Friends a few blocks away found her in their yard back in 2003. Nearing full grown, she may have been less than twelve months of age when they literally dumped the sweet girl in my lap. She fell asleep while we four played cards and went home with me and my husband that very night.

Plushie on Plushie
That timeline would put her somewhere between fifteen and sixteen. Yet one would never guess to look at her lush coat and bright eyes. Even her teeth are in good shape despite the fact she’s never allowed me to brush them. I think her high quality diet plays a factor in her dentition.

A shed whisker impaled (?) in the comforter on our guest bed (now hers!)
As dear Strayer has pointed out, too, a happy cat makes for a healthier cat. And both Tilly and Jezzy live a life of quiet, luxurious doting. Now Jezebel has discovered an old toy bought for sweet little Luna, her now deceased housemate. The feather boa on a stick sat untouched in a closet for quite a few years.

Look at her now!

This came as an utter surprise. I have since gotten Jezebel to run around in circles and race to the top of a six and a half foot tall cat tree during evening play. Fun times.

Have you played today?