Archives for posts with tag: freshwater planted aquarium

Springtime is flowers, morning coffees on lazy Saturdays, sunny mornings that still feel too chilly to take my coffee out to the deck… and seasonal allergies. Yeesh. These fragile meat suits we wrap ourselves in to tackle this mortal lifetime are annoyingly prone to stuffy heads and sneezes.

The pollen count is high. Trees are blooming. My Traveling Partner’s Spring allergies are going absolutely nuts. Mine are not so bad, but they crop up in Spring. There’s some particular tree… I’m not sure which one. It isn’t all of them, and it’s a brief period in the season, for me. I know other people whose seasonal allergies associated with pollen are all Spring, all of the summer, and right into autumn when the last of blooming things gets done with blooming. My mother didn’t care for flowers, much, her allergies were pretty bad. I could – for most of my life – bury my face in flowers loaded with Spring pollen and have no reaction other than pure delight in their fragrance. That’s less true now, than it was then, but my allergies are nothing like his. As I said… there’s a particular tree. It happens to grow plentifully in our community here… whatever it is. LOL

Blue skies and flowers; it’s Spring.

I’m not really bitching about my allergies. They’re not that bad. Maybe you’ve got it much worse? If so, it may dull the shine of Spring for you, and if so, you have my sympathy, and my well-wishes: I hope you find relief. Allergies suck. If you’re among the ludicrously robust and strong-of-constitution, be kind to those who suffer. Just saying, the suffering is very real.

I see the sunny day beyond the neighbor’s fence. There are two pear trees and a cherry tree in my neighbor’s yard. They’re blooming. It’s quite lovely. There is so much I love about Spring. I’ve been watching a lot of gardening content on YouTube. By far my favorite gardening content, at least right now, is from a UK gardener named Huw Richards. His climate is rather similar to the climate here in McMinnville in most regards. His philosophy and practical approach suit my own inclinations. I’ve got a much smaller space, but the basics are the basics – are they not? I bought his book. lol It’s excellent with my morning coffee on a Spring morning.

What can I say? I like books.

I spent a portion of yesterday’s sunshine out in the garden, planting kitchen herbs in the front flower beds. I’m not personally a fan of the American “standard Pleasant Valley Sunday suburban curb appeal landscaping” that is so common in suburban communities and neighborhoods. I know, it’s a template that’s easy to work from, but omg – so lazy, and unpleasantly homogenous! I get that developers building a community of homes to sell to consumers would want to be easily (and cheaply) able to purchase and plant the necessary landscape, but for fucks’ sake would it really be that hard to provide some variety? In the case of this little house of ours, it’s easy to point back at the developer although the house is 18 years old; it was clear that most of the landscaping was wholly original, never altered by the previous owner. He wasn’t a gardening sort. lol (I’m sure the handful of recently-added primroses in the flower beds was something the realtor thought of to prepare the house for sale.) Now, a couple cycles of seasons has passed, and I’ve got a sense of where I’d like to take this garden… it’s time to get to work out there!

Kitchen herbs waiting to be planted.

…It was very satisfying planting some thyme, oregano, sage, and flowers. The lupines and nasturtiums that I had planted last year are making an appearance this year. That delights me. The roses are wide awake and growing fast – soon the small buds will be blossoms! (Well… soon-ish.) The veggies are planted in grow bags, along the rock walk that tops the retaining wall, just past the deck. Later, when the weather is warmer, I’ll plant peppers in hydroponic buckets. I also plan to have some Japanese eggplant (most of the veggies this year are chosen for stir fries, which I’m doing a lot). The eggplant has a lovely form and flowers; I’ll tuck a couple of those into the front flower beds as “showy annuals”. πŸ˜€

My thoughts are in the garden on this lovely Spring morning… it’s a distraction from the task ahead. I’m taking down my aquarium today, permanently. Oh, no tragedy, it’s not like that. It simply takes a lot of time to maintain, and in this little house there just isn’t an ideal location for it that suits the purpose. Where it sits now, it is too close to a big sunny window, which has led algae to proliferate and I’m over fighting with it. It’s noisy to live with, and it’s adjacent to the bedroom wall… and the entire point originally was a soothing “noise cancelling” device to allow my living space to preserve some sense of privacy and solitude in the midst of a noisy household that was triggering my PTSD regularly. I don’t need that, now. Now the noise is an unwelcome distraction, and the tank has become problematic to maintain. So.

…The hardest part has been re-homing “Teller”, my now-at-least-seven-year-old clown pleco. He’s the one creature in that tank that is truly “a pet” to me. The rest are well-cared for, greatly enjoyed, delightful dΓ©cor. Hardly seems reasonable to keep creatures captive for that purpose. So… today I will carefully remove the creatures and take them to their new home. I’ll shut down the filter pump and the heater. Tomorrow I’ll finish taking down the aquarium. In the long term, that’s one less complex, highly demanding, time-sensitive household chore to tackle every week. I could use that added bit of ease; I no longer have the boundless energy of my youth, and honestly, I’m neither surprised nor complaining. I’m just taking care of myself the best way I can figure out how to do. There have been a few intensely poignant moments along the way – making the decision was the hardest part. Writing about it? Probably the next most difficult piece; just saying it, acknowledging it, and allowing it to be part of my reality. πŸ™‚

It’s hard to say good-bye.

…Not all of our choices, however wise they seem, or may in fact be, are easy to make – or to implement. It’s a very human experience…

It’s time to begin again.

Another Monday in the Time of Pandemic. News headlines reflect the unease of the wealthy, concerned about loss of wealth over time, and the unease of the “essential workers”, concerned about surviving the pandemic, at all, at constant risk of exposure. Our individual perspective is informed by our individual circumstances, and manipulated by media coverage. I sip my coffee, grateful for all the at-risk workers still working, who made it possible to have it. Another Monday.

The day and week stretches out ahead of me. The weekend behind me dissipates, into memories. I reflect on life, lived between those future and past moments. I enjoy this cup of coffee. It’s enough.

Each pleasant moment has a quality of its own.

I notice the time and smile. I’ve still got time to enjoy this coffee. To meditate on details of the weekend. To consider the needs of future moments – and the woman in the mirror. I’ve got time for self-care (no commute). I feel fortunate. I start the day with gratitude, and this cup of coffee…

…Soon enough, it’ll be time to begin again.

Small changes add up to big changes, over time. Some of the small changes I made are a goodness, and result in improved quality of life. Some of the small changes I make are less so, and create potentially problematic circumstances – sometimes entirely foreseeable conflict results. Humans being human. Some of the small changes that are made around me manage to also improve my circumstances. Some, though, are a bother. It is what it is. Not all the small changes are mine to make, or made by me. Not all the small changes that occur are even about me.

I sip my coffee and think about changes.

This morning, there are three less aquarium fish in my tanks. The difficult thugs that were creating so much difficulty have found a new home. I hope it works out better for them. They were certainly too aggressive for my tanks, here. It was a poorly chosen small change to bring them here. I am feeling fairly confident that it is a beneficial small change that sees them on their way elsewhere.

Small changes involve verbs. This morning I broke down boxes for the recycling. Definitely a positive outcome as small changes go; boxes were piling up, and the clutter was an aggravation. This morning? Less clutter. Less aggravation. In the process, I got a paper cut, from a bit of discarded paperwork that was stuffed into a narrow box. Pulling it out, definitely a small change, resulted in blood loss (not much), and a very irritating sensation in the crook of my hand, between my thumb and fingers. Ouch. Annoying. Not a small change I’m super eager to embrace; I’ll have to keep my hands out of the aquarium water until it heals, for sure. I love my aquariums, but let’s be real; it’s not a great idea to immerse an open wound or cut in aquarium water. It’s definitely full of a variety of bacteria.

I remind myself to wash it, again; it bled more, and there’s dried blood all over my hand.

I look around at the many small changes that have resulted from prolonged staying-at-home over the past handful of weeks. There’s more I could do, particularly here in my studio, but wow – so much has already been done.

I finish my coffee, thinking about other small changes I could make to improve my quality of life. I think about spring. I think about the garden. I observe the morning sunshine illuminating the bedroom window, through the blinds. I pause to savor this quiet moment, before I begin again. πŸ™‚

By now, you’ve probably found yours, right? Productive distractions that pass the time during pandemic “stay at home” orders, or worse yet, during actual quarantine. A productive distraction staves off boredom, and prevents looming chaos from overtaking everything. Mine has been my aquarium, generally, and books. My Traveling Partner has been focused on games and gaming, and tweaking the pc that drives that experience. For us, it’s been helpful that we each have our own “thing” to focus on, the result being we generally have something fun to talk about, any time.

Consideration matters so much right now, for those who are “sheltering in place” with or among other people. Tempers can fray so easily. Letting small shit stay small helps a lot. Mostly it’s all small shit. It’s the letting go that requires the verbs. lol

…My experience this morning “feels different”… I am typing on a different keyboard. My steady regular keyboard is badly in need of cleaning, and I disconnected it to do that. My Traveling Partner said “here, try this one“, and it remains in place, even this morning, loyal favorite forgotten over there, by the stack of things-yet-to-do. This one feels similar-but-different, softer, somehow. Tolerant of my heavy key-stroke, but quiet. Tactile, without being very “click-y”. The strike of each key is vaguely muffled. The “click” is more a “tap” than a click. The keys respond to my touch so fast that I feel as if I am typing “as fast as I think”. It’s nice. Also… the numbers on each key light up. (lol Why does that delight me so?) I enjoy the sensation of typing on the new keyboard. (How many millions of key strokes have I dropped on my old keyboard in the past 6 years of heavy use?) I decided yesterday to stick with this one, and programmed the keys to be illuminated in a lovely dark-ish lavender hue, which changes to a bright greenΒ  with each keystroke, quickly fading to teal as I continue to type. So fun. πŸ˜€

I am distracted by the novelty of typing on a new keyboard. It’s a pleasant distraction.

We meant to watch a movie together yesterday… we spent the day on our projects, and in between (and later on) watched tech videos of various sorts. It was a delightfully productive and fun day together. I mention it because, seriously, this “life in the time of pandemic” gets pretty fucking “real” sometimes, and it has made a lot of difference to my experience to find moments of joy and delight, and to savor those, rather than sit around staring into the maw of media talking heads regurgitating COVID-19 content. I’ve no idea whether we’ll watch that movie tonight… I know we’ll find something fun to share, whether or not it is a movie isn’t very relevant to the shared experience of joy and love. It’s just one way to get there.

What if I were alone, though, how would I “find moments of joy” then? Probably still in the pleasure of caring for my aquarium(s), and reading still more books, honestly. πŸ™‚ I don’t find myself all that complicated, generally, I suppose. Small things delight me (a new fish, a new keyboard, a favorite book), and I entertain myself pretty easily (books, writing, painting, gardening, aquarium keeping… it’s a long list). I fret for a moment, trying to imagine being truly bored right now, and what it would take to lift myself from that boredom. What would I do? I think I would still read books; I can’t really imagine what it would be like to be someone who “doesn’t read”. Lots of libraries are making audio books available for free, too… it is a great time to catch up on reading. lol Online learning? Plenty of that to be had, too. Online travel? There are some very interesting documentaries and streams of a variety of exotic locations. Museums have streamed walk-throughs of their collections, and those are available online, too. Not so interested in someone else’s words, thoughts, or perspective? Pen & ink, my friend – say what you’ve got to say. Self-publish on Amazon. Become the author of the narrative someone else will read. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee, taking a moment to appreciate the grocery delivery service that keeps me supplied, the farm workers who harvested the beans, the shipper who transported them, the roaster who roasted them, the distributor who supplied them to the grocery store… How can any one of us not recognize how interconnected we all are? We are all in this together (even though we are each having our own experience). Even our own individual experience is built upon more than the mere sum of our own individual decision-making; there is, too, the matrix of coincidences and circumstances that is the combined force of what happens, and what is chosen, out of reach of our own consideration, in every moment. It’s not all “about us”, regardless who we are. This is a great cup of coffee. In a very real sense, I did not “make it all by myself” – all I did was grind the beans, and pour water over them. A rather small contribution to the outcome, frankly. lol

I find myself appreciating how fortunate I am in these challenging times. I miss my friends, though. I miss brunch on Saturdays. I miss shopping together over a lunch break and laughing about something silly. I miss dinners out. I miss strolling a crowded farmer’s market. I miss “community”. Yep. Even me. I do miss the presence of other people. Part of feeling fortunate right now, is about simply not being alone in this. Again, I find myself feeling fortunate. I remind myself to write letters, emails, and send texts to friends. We really are all in this together, and distance is not always about miles. πŸ™‚

Another day of living in the time of pandemic. Another opportunity to begin again. πŸ™‚

This headache I woke with is no joke. Ouch. Too real. I woke later than usual; sleeping in is one of my favorite “day off” experiences, and I’d taken today off. I woke gently, bumbled around haplessly a bit, made some coffee… felt a bit “off” somehow, but didn’t clearly identify the headache as the cause for some minutes. I wasn’t quite awake enough, yet.

…I definitely “get it” now. :-\

I sip my coffee, and plan my day. This is a relaxed, quiet morning, no work pressure. Feels good. I’m thinking I’ll spend the day tidying up the studio to be more work-ready (for painting – it’s plenty ready for working). Later, a delivery of livestock for my aquarium will arrive (lots more delivery options than there used to be; no one wants to shut their business down, no one wants people in the shops), and I’ll spend the afternoon getting them settled in, and enjoying them. πŸ˜€

I make a point of continuing to clearly distinguish between work hours (and days) and non-work hours (and days) – healthy boundary setting remains an important practice for long-term quality of life. I see how easily work could become a solution for boredom or confinement stress, but also recognize that succumbing to that short-cut would likely reset expectations long-term regarding my willingness to work through my leisure hours, or at the convenience of my employer without regard for my own needs. I think I won’t do that. πŸ˜‰ No, not even now. What I want and need from my own life, and leisure, for myself, remains of value to me.

Pulling my focus away from the morning news, to sit a few minutes and write, while sipping my morning coffee, seems to be a worthy endeavor; the headache seems to have lessened, and has begun to fade into the background. Looks like today is not the day to involve myself with the news. Less screen time, more aquarium time. Less “content” more housekeeping, perhaps. Be here, now. This is a relaxed, quiet morning, no work pressure. Why add media chaos to this chill vibe? Meditation, instead of news headlines – that sounds lovely. A second coffee, and some bird-watching, as spring unfolds in the strip of forest beyond the deck, perhaps. Confinement in the time of pandemic feels less confining, and more like a leisurely day at home, if I stay focused on these small delights, and refrain from involving myself in the concerns of the media (which, truly, are already very well-covered, and rather unchanging, at present).

I smile and finish off this first cup of coffee, eager to get on with the day, eager to see new fish swimming in the aquarium, and familiar squirrels on the deck. Eager to begin again – right here at home.