Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Looking through water

Well, it took over two hours, and stressed our poor fish out to the point where Zippy the oto looked albino when we finally put him back in the tank, and the yoyos were splashing about unhappily in the container where I stored them as I tore the tank apart, but the tank is now a bright vision of colour! Click each photo below for the larger version.

Two before shots (above and below). The background is new, but I thought I would slide it in for a night to see how it looked. Dinosaurs! :) But you can see the deterioration of the plants, and the general dullness of the tank. I siphoned out two containers of water (about 2L in each, and put the platies, Sherman, and the blue snail in one, and the yoyos, Zippy (Mike caught him), and the new orange snail in the other. It was a process! They did not want to be caught, and when they were, they didn't want to swim out of the net into the container! But eventually they were all out of the tank and on the table with towels overtop to try to keep them calm. Then the work began!

First, all the plants out! Doing this made me realize why the cryps did well, and the others really didn't. The cryps had root systems nearly a foot long, whereas most of the others, even though they'd been there more time, didn't have developed root systems at all. Alas, plants and I... After the wood pieces got transported to the sink for subsequent brushing, I did a very good gravel vacuum (above and below), which I never could do with plants in there. Oh, the gunk! I was ashamed... but by the time I got down to two inches of water above the gravel, the siphon was running relatively clear, and wasn't stirring up clouds of brown stuff whenever I stuck it in the gravel. With two inches of water above the gravel, I stopped. I removed the filter and heater, and cleaned them both, scrubbing the algae off as best I could with an unused nailbrush. The wood pieces and rock got the same treatment, albeit a little more gently. I also scrubbed at the glass, though I did miss some spots near the bottom I'll have to deal with when I do a water change. Then it was time to redecorate!

I thought about going natural. But then I realized that I'd tried the natural thing. It was time to liven thing up! So I went pink and blue, with one centrepiece green motif (above). And then, we couldn't help but give in to a little bit of kitsch (below).

The new arrangment (above). And yes, we decided to go with the happy reef fish rather than the dinosaurs this time around. I can always change it. :)

Are the fish happy with it? Well, Zippy started getting his colour back right away once he got in the tank, and the yoyos seem pleased that I left them their favourite hidey hole in the one piece of wood. Both snails were out immediately after being put in the tank, and the platies hung out together. As for Sherman? He went to his favourite corner and looked at his reflection.

So that is the story of my tank rebuilding! And for good measure, since I also changed up the betta tanks, here are pictures of Ducati and Beamer (top and bottom), delightfully posing with their new silk plants.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A list of updates

This past weekend, I was knitting on Mike's black scarf, and thought it might be nice to update people on various RELAXING projects that I'm working on (no, the filing in the library doesn't count). I don't have photos yet, but to whet your appetite, here is a list of items I will be updating you on this week:

  • The hat... err, blanket
  • First Harry Potter scarf for donation next Christmas
  • Mike's black scarf
  • Fishtank rebuilding (that's right, I'm giving up on the live plants and natural look. Last night, we bought a dinosaur/cartoony reef background, blue and pink plastic plants, and a little figurine that says, "No fishing." Kitch FTW!)
  • WoW characters
  • Passing my epee test
  • Working out

I guess I can do those last two now, since they're not exactly photogenic... :) In some ways, they're related, as I've been studying the manual while I'm at the gym. I'm hoping to retake the test this weekend at the tournament, if the instructor is there. I may be presiding for three time blocks, but it shouldn't take long to do 30 multiple choice questions! As for the gym, I have been going the 2-3 times a week that I said I would. I've graduated from "reps of 10" to "reps of 12," and am now doing level 4 instead of level 3 on the sitting bike for my cardio. I need to talk to my assigned trainer about new stretches, because while I can do most of them, there's some I just can't, and some that really aren't reaching the muscles the poster says they should be reaching. And I weighed the same this past Saturday. *shrug* Some weight loss progress would be nice, but I'll be patient. I don't really have much of a choice.

Updates on the rest are forthcoming! Aquarium first, probably, since that's what I'm doing when I get home today!

I'd also like to welcome my brother-in-law to the world of blogging! His first post is wonderful, so you all need to go read it right away!

Friday, January 26, 2007


Today's going to be long, I just know it. It's one of those days where all I want to do is nothing. But since I know it's only 1/4 that my wrists are swollen and I feel the nerves all the way up to my elbows when I type or just move my fingers, and 3/4 that my self esteem has taken another tumble (likely hormone related, since, you know, I'm female), I can't justify laying in bed like I want to. *sigh*

Sheila and Nathan will be up next weekend, which will be fabulous! We're hoping to host a get together with our family friends up here. Mike's taken it into his head to make a 10-layer nacho dip (even if he has to eat it all himself, he threatens!), and I'm going to look through my new hors d'oeuvres cookbook for something with brie, or maybe something Mexican, if we're going to try for a theme. Fooooooodddddddd... Yum.

Yesterday, I washed my car. Now, I know my car is brown (Bronzemist, *shakes head*), but I'd forgotten what colour it actually was under the dirt! And with temperatures going once again below freezing, maybe I'll be able to keep it clean(er) for a while. Forgot how nice and shiny a washed car is. :) Now I just need to put more windshield washer fluid in it so that warning light can go off...

We've finalized spots for my two ship's figurehead models, but there are no studs where we want to put them. This poses a problem, which Mike believes can be solved with plastic wall inserts. Wish us luck! Now, if only House of Spoons would have a wall mount for Mike's katana, or the ones on eBay weren't in the UK or from a company in the States we'd have to jump through 10,000 hoops for, we'd really be in business!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Stress management

Or rather, lack thereof. I ♥ my job, but last week was hugely stressful, and I didn't seem to be able to deal with it. By the end of the week, I was writing long, frustrated, and brutally honest email replies, and I actually asked for a Tom Sawyer day. I was going to take a half-TSday on Friday, but ended up leaving even earlier when I realized that it wasn't my keyboard's fault, even though I seemed to be taking everything out on it. The extended weekend seems to have helped, even though I was still very tense for most of Saturday.

Exercise is supposed to be good for stress, and I have been going to the gym. I don't think the endorphines are kicking in, though. I don't feel good after exercising. I don't feel bad either, but I don't feel good. I feel the same as when I walked in. *sigh* Maybe I'm expecting too much too fast. And I forgot to weigh myself Saturday! Darn it! I just remembered!

A final note: I discovered this weekend while cleaning the bathrooms (YES!!!! THEY'RE CLEAN!!!!!) that our bathtub doesn't get dirty, because we don't use it very often. What it does get is dusty. If I didn't have to dust the bathtub, cleaning the bathrooms would be about 15-20 minutes shorter. So if anyone has any ideas for how to make a bathtub dust cover, I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I don't have time for...

The new radio commercial for a widely available cold medication bothers me. No, it doesn't bother me. It pisses me off, actually. A woman speaking goes on a litany of the things she doesn't have time for. In short: "I don't have time for a cold. I don't have time to feel sorry for myself. I don't have time to sit at home and watch Doctor Bill or whatever his name is. I don't have time to take time off. Luckily, there's --Cold Medication--. It works just the way I like it: fast."

You know what I don't have time for, cold medication manufacturer? I don't have time for a cold to last four weeks, like the last one did. I don't have time to feel like a wreck for days on end, only to wonder when my mind actually starts functioning again what horrible mistakes I made while attempting to work in that kind of fog. In short, Mr. Manufacturer, I don't have time for your medication to get me out of the house and into the office before I'm ready. Not only that, but I don't have time for your medication to get other people out of the house and in to work so they can infect me! Why don't you do what's best for everyone, and encourage people to stay home and in bed when they get sick, so they can get better, with or without your medication? Aren't you half about selling your product, and half about making feel better? Wouldn't a better selling point be that your medication makes it easier for people to sleep through the day so they can more effectively combat the virus?

/end soapbox

I worked hard over the Christmas break, physically: cleaning, painting, tidying, shredding. Now my RMT tells me I need to keep doing whatever I did over the break, because my back was in much better shape! O.o Since I have nothing left to paint, I guess I'll go to the gym. But so far, it hasn't made my muscles sore. Maybe I'm not working hard enough... We'll see.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Yarn mecca, or Mike wants a scarf

Before going out to snowblow the driveway after the minor blizzard we had, Mike turns to me. "I need a scarf!" he says.

"A scarf?"

"Yeah, a black one. Something I can wrap around my face for when I go out there."

"Well, I can knit you one."

"Okay! Go, do it right now!"


In the end, he went out with a my 3 foot long elf toque in the place of a scarf, and I went to the local yarn mecca yesterday.

Yes. A Yarn Mecca. Four rooms full, FULL mind you, of the most wonderful colours, textures, materials, all in strands, all available for the fondling. Saturday last, I went to find a small enough circular needle for the Harry Potter scarves, and impressed myself by walking out with... only the needles. But yesterday, not so. No, I walked out with another pair of circular needles, and 600 metres of black alpaca wool yarn. Yesterday, I wrapped 200 metres into a centre-pull ball, which will take up my down time this weekend. I am in Red Deer presiding my first tournament. Wish me luck!

In other news, this resort in St. Lucia offers included spa treatments, wonderful food, guest ages of 16 or over, a labyrinth, free weddings with stays over 7 days, and fencing lessons. Sadly, it may be out of our price range... Yes, we're actually starting to sort of kind of think about it. :)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The mystery continues!

I hadn't intended to post again, but something awaited me when I came home from work today. It was a postcard from Femme de Carriere, ostensibly, inviting me, as a preferred customer, to take part in their sale between 12 and 19 December this year. The store, however, is in Montreal.

Closer examination revealed these interesting facts: The postcard is hand addressed, to my last name and first initial. There is no postal code, however. And, that's right, AND, it is sent from the same post office as the mystery Christmas card! The only problem is, the writing doesn't match at all. I am so confused, and intrigued! Who? Why? And why is the post office being so nice and delivering them without postal codes? Not that I mind, of course! And will this individual ever reveal themselves and their purpose to us? Stay tuned! I know I will!

And so this is...

Welcome to the New Year! I am resolved not to be melancholy in this post, but the gray day outside and the quiet inside may override my intentions. Ah well...

Christmas was lovely, though the short visit to Calgary meant only time to see family. Upon our return, I managed to seal our coffee and end tables, put up a wire shelf in the front closet, cleaned every room in the house except the bathrooms, did a little bit of knitting, and even took one whole day for myself... almost. After about nine hours of World of Warcraft, I started to get antsy. I hadn't done anything productive outside the game yet (in-game, I was extremely productive, but it's a game...). What was wrong with me? So I went upstairs and did the dishes and cooked dinner. I still felt completely guilty. I felt I should have cleaned the bathrooms, done the dishes earlier, shovelled the two millimetres of snow off the driveway, folded the drop sheet, taken the garbage out, done something but relax and take a bit of time for myself. It's interesting, actually. This is something I have to work on in my psyche. I know this, but to see it manifested so clearly... At 9:30 in the morning, I didn't feel at all bad about taking a day for myself, but the more time I did take, the worse I felt about it. I must consider this more.

Anyway, no melancholy! I have decided to make a To-Do list for myself for 2007. These aren't resolutions, because resolutions just cry out to be broken. No, it's more of a wish list, or an accomplishment list to reflect on next year.

  1. Stop rereading. Perhaps because I haven't been feeling quite right of late, I find myself rereading when I do sit down to read. Books can be like comfortable sweaters, or hot chocolate and a blanket. You surround yoursef with books that are broken in, that you know will warm you and make you feel better. But I have five bookshelves full of books, and I've maybe read half of them. Not only that, but I got a ton of reading material for Christmas! I have purchased or asked for these books because the subject matter interested me, or I liked the author. I should not be afraid to partake in them, even if they are not worn in. So my wish for 2007 is to read new books, not old ones. I won't set a number; 12 seems too low, but that may be all I find time and energy to do. But I want to read new books.

  2. Obtain a healthy weight. I made it to this week without gaining more than the first weighing, but I do attribute that to dropping 10 lbs while I was sick. So next week, once I return from Winter Camp, I'm calling up the gym for my intake session. This will be the first step: to try to enjoy exercising again.

  3. Finish the hat. Okay, it's not a hat. It's a blanket. But it looks like a hat! I am nearly halfway through colour 4 of 9, but each colour takes longer and longer as the stitch count increases. But I am determined. I will do my best to finish the hat, if only because the exercise of knitting may be good for stretching out my arm nerves. I also wish to make Harry Potter scarves to donate to the work building's charity Silent Auction next year. And depending on how long they take, I might even be persuaded to make a scarf or two for the rabid Harry Potter fans that find themselves in my circle of friends. :) But you'll have to tell me which house you belong in, so do a bunch of those online Sorting Hats to be sure!

  4. Relax. Mike will be pleased to hear this one. But the simple fact is, eventually, there will be nothing left to do around the house but special projects, like the useless closet or the garden, and the weekly cleaning. There will be no more unpacking, no more organizing, no more purging, and when that happens, I envision myself rattling around, unwilling to sit down and take some time, but out of things to do, like Kathleen Turner in The War of the Roses. I don't want to be her. I don't want to feel bad sitting down to read, or knit, or watch M*A*S*H, or play WoW, Katamari, or Animal Crossing. So I will try to create a mental place where I don't. I don't expect this to be easy, but I'm certainly going to give it my best effort.

It's not a long list, but it's something, and I will revisit in next January to see how well I've fulfilled my own wishes. In the meantime, best wishes and hugs to all of you, and the best for the New Year!

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