Have Yourself a Merry

Please don't let this die now.

He came, he saw…

and he left behind more food than this fridge has hosted in months.  I’ve been keeping the refrigerator sparse due to its now sensitive nature.  Trying to coax it along for another year or so before I break down and replace it, but in the meantime, to minimize losses I try not to keep much in there at a time.  Man Child came home last week, took one look, went shopping and got to cooking.  And baking.  Because he was leaving to do some traveling and meet up with Miss Music for the holidays, he wanted to be sure Art Child was covered for Christmas.  She now has approximately 8001 assorted, homemade cookies to share with Santa.

There’s good and bad to having a large span of years between the first child and the last.  The bad, I’ve kind of run out of steam for all the little extra touches during the holiday season.  The good, the oldest doesn’t want the youngest to miss out, so he picks up the slack.

Having him here was great.  A friend of his also came to stay for a couple of the days, so fun!  I’m glad I’m no longer one of them, but the passion and enthusiasm of young adults can’t be beat, and we had a great political discussion one of the evenings.  That’s the thing about allowing your teens to go to boarding school, there are fewer opportunities for these moments.  So yes, even now that Man Child is in his senior year of college, I can honestly say I treasure these times.

He left, and Nerd Child arrived.  I’m hoping he’ll play his guitar for me a few times while he’s home–another one of those experiences I wish I had more of–but it’s unlikely.  And that is my fault, I get too excited.  Really.  I always tell myself I’m going to be blasé and just nod and smile, but then I burst with the fabulousness of it all, asking him to play another and another, and why doesn’t he sing, too?  Mmm hmm.  My enthusiasm is received like a zit exploding mid-performance.

Art Child and I got a little tree this year.  Barely more than a table top.  On the stand, it just about reaches my rib cage.  It feels right.  Low key.  I haven’t done one thing to decorate the tree or the apartment. Honestly, I’m still too busy feeling the relief of the extra space.

Do I have to consider myself behind on the holiday shopping if I’m never done at this point? I say no. Besides, I’m still busy angsting (took 4 tries to type angsting, spell check is insisting I mean to write ingesting) over what I am or am not doing with writing and submitting, checking email 43 times an hour to see if I’ve gotten any responses.

I did drag myself away from the screen yesterday, spent some time in the park with Art Child to check out the bare trees and the holiday booths by Columbus Circle.

I'll stick with tea, thanks.

I’ll stick with tea, thanks.

I never knew horses could have curly hair. Fur?

I never knew horses could have curly hair. Fur?

The park, tony Columbus Circle, the artisan booths, older buildings behind, to me this shot caught NY.

The park, tony Columbus Circle, the artisan booths, older buildings behind, to me this shot caught NY.

Art Child and I both loved this tree.

Art Child and I both loved this tree.

At long last, I now have a favorite park bench.

At long last, I now have a favorite park bench.

It Is! Friday.

My week, in a tissue box.

My week, in a tissue box.

It’s been a long, disjointed week. Art Child has been sick, pneumonia.  Yah, good times.

We’ve pretty much been trapped in the apartment. One afternoon, I looked down from the balcony and saw this:

seemed perfect for the mood.

seemed perfect for the mood.

But then yesterday, the light was amazing.  Not a sunrise or a sunset, just a beautiful moment.

IMG_2558

So I took a long, long shower,

I'll be honest, I wished I could stay in the steam until next week.

I’ll be honest, I wished I could stay in the steam until next week.

 

and opened the file with that short story I’ve been staring at for months.  “Pigeons.”

I hope everyone has a happy Friday Night Madness.  I’ve given you a head start with the madness.    

Above, its own page labeled Fiction III will take you there.  One of these days I need to reorganize the pages, figure out a better way to lay out the shorts I’ve got here.

 

What Do I Know?

Blank page

Blank page

Anyone who reads Mrs Fringe or knows me in any other role knows I’m opinionated. If you know me well or agree with a lot of my thoughts, you might say I’m passionate.  If you don’t, you might think ugh, that Mrs Fringe is such a bitch, I wish she would shut up already. But the quote I used for my high school yearbook said something like, “It often shows a fine command of the English language to say nothing.” I’m certain there were quite a few classmates surprised by that one, because I never shut up back then. I had to get kicked in the the teeth by life a few dozen more times before I really learned it. While I believe in the truth of that quote even more than I did back then, I still believe in the power of words. Of having an informed opinion and not being afraid to share it, while understanding opinion is not the same as fact.

Obvious, right?  I mean, I’m a blogger ferchristssake. I think. Can I call myself a blogger if I don’t earn any money from it? Maybe it’s more like my fiction, where until and unless I’m published I prefer to say I write than I’m a writer. Fine. I blog.

Do I still opine too much? Probably. I’m not special, an expert in anything, or even formally educated. Who am I for anyone to take my opinions seriously? I’ve even been quiet on the writers’ forum. I’m not a grammar whiz (my unholy love of commas is well documented) and if I knew what made for publishable writing I’d be published.

In my little corner of Fringeland these days, most people I know are having opinions and sharing them; talking about racism, police, Eric Garner, Ferguson, protests and riots and what’s going on in our world right now. Yes, our world.  Not just our city, our state, or even our country.  This is our humanity. Some aren’t talking. Some are too genuinely busy with more personal crises, and some don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss these issues, some can’t because of their employers.  Some are tired of talking about it and seeing it on the TV. I stand by what I said when I blogged about Ferguson–I think we need to talk about this.  The grand jury’s decision in the Eric Garner case coming so closely on the heels of Ferguson is a clear illustration.

I’ll be the first one to say I don’t understand what happened with the Eric Garner case, don’t understand how anyone can see that video and say well, it’s a shame but that’s what happens when you resist arrest. Or he shouldn’t have been selling loosies. He wasn’t violent, not an immediate threat to anyone. I don’t understand how I’m seeing people argue that he didn’t die as a direct result of the chokehold placed on him. Every report I’ve seen says the medical examiner declared his death a homicide. Yes, his other medical issues were contributing factors, but not the cause. If any of my readers can cite a reputable source disputing this, please share a link.

Not all police are corrupt, or overzealous, or poorly trained. That doesn’t mean none are. Not all people are racist. That doesn’t mean none are. These things don’t balance each other out. Because police officers A and B came to the aid of persons of color C and D doesn’t mean police officer E didn’t harass person of color F. Or in too many cases, worse. And any number of these cases is too many. Police are human, yes. They deserve to be and keep themselves safe, absolutely. But something has gone wrong if they don’t feel confident they can peacefully defuse a situation and arrest someone who is unarmed and outnumbered.

I also don’t understand when I see people quote Martin Luther King while complaining about the protests occurring.  Not talking about looters or violence, protestors.  Just a little disconnect.

We have a problem, not “just” one rogue incident. The very fact that we have clear videotape of Eric Garner’s arrest and I’m still seeing such polarized responses shows our problem. But shelving the discussion? Being afraid to take a stand, have an opinion, because it might be uncomfortable? Because we’re tired of it? Because we don’t want to believe racism still exists in this country? That isn’t a fine command of the language.

I care, and I like knowing the other people in my world care, too. Our words do have power. And our opinions matter.

Peace

Between the grand jury’s decision not to indict in the Eric Garner case, Art Child being sick, looking at a half written short story with no new words coming to me, and debating whether or not to participate in #pitmad on Twitter today, I’m having a hard time gathering coherent thoughts.  While I try to do so, I’m staring into the tank, and figured I’d share some photos.  Invertebrates–not the prettiest, but some of the most fascinating creatures that live on reefs.

Blood red fire shrimp

Blood red fire shrimp

Nassarius snail. These guys live in the sand, popping up when they smell food.

Nassarius snail. These guys live in the sand, popping up when they smell food.

Conch buried in the sand, proboscis and eye stalks making sure he isn't missing anything.

Conch buried in the sand, proboscis and eye stalks making sure he isn’t missing anything.

Did someone mention food? Emerald crab.

Did someone mention food? Emerald crab.

Spiny star astraea, working hard to clean the glass.

Spiny star astraea, working hard to clean the glass.

Conch cruising along, eating diatom algae off the sandbed

Conch cruising along, eating diatom algae off the sandbed

Red legged hermit, lived through the cycle

Red legged hermit, lived through the cycle

Emerald again, searching for bubble algae to eat

Emerald again, searching for bubble algae to eat

Conch and another nassarius, working to clean the same patch of sand.

Conch and another nassarius, working to clean the same patch of sand.

Yup, this is about all I’ve got in me today.

Social Injustice

Sunrise

Sunrise

You know those moments when you have so much to say you don’t know what to say? Yeah.  But I believe we need to keep saying it, keep talking about it.  My Facebook feed has been a steady stream of memes, quotes, and misquotes revolving around race, the Ferguson verdict, police and guns.  It’s exhausting, often disheartening, sometimes nauseating, but I’m not closing the tab and I’m not choosing to unfriend the people who are clearly on the opposite end of the political spectrum from me.  I have friends who are, and I understand their choice.

I’m going to branch off from the verdict itself, it’s been covered and continues to be covered by people who understand the intricacies of the law much better than I ever will.

One evening a couple of weeks ago, Husband and I were watching a prerecorded concert with a variety of performers.  I’ll tell you the truth, I found the majority of the performances to be lackluster, and I was just marking time until a show I wanted to watch came on.  Something quality, probably one of the Real Housewives. Mid-yawn, someone with some passion came onstage.  My first thought, oh look, it’s Eminem. Immediately followed by my chastising myself for being racist,  just because it’s a white rapper doesn’t mean it’s Eminem.  It was, but that isn’t the point. The point is the assumption.

I’m sure some people are out there who are so evolved they don’t make assumptions at first glance, but most of us do.  That’s why those memes are so popular–one picture, brief caption, all our assumptions fill in the blanks. What those assumptions are grow from our ideology, affiliations, backgrounds, socio-economic class, and race. I know there are memes I’ve liked posted by people who attribute a completely different meaning to them.

“It isn’t about race.”  Yes, it is.  When white kids are taught to be respectful of the police while kids of color are taught not to speak, not to question, not to move, it is. When the people harmed by laws, policies, and assumptions are disproportionately people of color, it is.  The same way laws and policies that affect women’s bodies are indeed about women, limiting their options and freedoms.  Do these laws, policies, and assumptions affect all? They certainly do.  Especially the poor and working class, people for whom choices are already limited, which is why I never understand when people I know are struggling financially support policies that ultimately make life harder for themselves and their own families. Why, when posting quotes and discussing police brutality, would anyone focus on those few looters?  a) it just gives them airtime, b) they truly are few in number, a fraction of those who are protesting peacefully, c) I don’t know anyone who supports looting.  Peaceful is not the same as quiet, and it shouldn’t need to be.  Sometimes noise has to be made in order for the issues to be heard.

Here in Manhattan everyone lives shoulder to shoulder, but that isn’t to be confused with racial and/or socio-economic harmony.  This morning Husband and I were talking about an apartment building in the area that’s been under renovations for quite some time. The building used to be all affordable housing, but they opted out of the program that kept it that way.  This has happened with quite a few buildings here in the city.  Some tenants have been able to stay, others have been booted out. This building is creating a new entrance.  I guess they weren’t able to boot everyone out, Husband and I are assuming the old entrance will now be a “poor door.”

If you aren’t a New Yorker, that expression may be unfamiliar to you. Building developers like tax breaks.  To get the big tax breaks, luxury buildings offer 20% of their apartments to less privileged families, “affordable housing.”  Pretty cool.  We used to live in one of those apartments.  Not exactly the same as the other apartments, our countertops weren’t granite, the bathroom fixtures weren’t marble, but still lovely.  I want to be clear, those affordable apartments aren’t free. Much lower than market rent, but if you live more than 40 miles from New York, Boston, San Francisco or LA, odds are your mortgage is equivalent or less than our rent was. There was a private gym and community office available for an annual fee.  We didn’t use those, no big deal. But some of these buildings have added “poor doors.”  Yanno, for the peasants like us to use. No big deal? Yes, it’s a big deal.  Legal segregation.  Wasn’t separate but equal determined to be against the constitution a long time ago?

How do I get from race and Ferguson to poor doors?  The majority of those living under affordable housing regulations are people of color.  I live in a neighborhood that’s pretty active politically, including quite a few senior citizens who remember and marched for civil rights.  But somehow, though those poor doors have been challenged, they’re still here, still being included in plans for new buildings.  New buildings, of course, that are built on properties that used to be rented by people living on limited incomes. I’ve yet to see any multimillion dollar brownstones owned by the affluent being razed to make way for luxury buildings.

Injustice is injustice, a young black man is more likely to be shot by police than a young white man, and when an us/them mentality is allowed to spread, it’s only a matter of time before them includes you. So yes, I’m exhausted, disheartened, nauseated, and so so sad we’ve yet to truly move forward.

 

Comfort and Screw Ups

Fire shrimp

Fire shrimp

New tank occupant, I’ll call her Celia because I like that name.  Shy and nervous, she spends her days upside down behind a rock.  I asked her to make room for me this morning, but she ignored me, didn’t so much as wave her antennae in my direction.

In my mind, I’ve been working on a blog post about Ferguson, the need to keep this conversation going.  I thought I would sit and write it today, but then this morning I went over my files for Astonishing, to see if there’s anything/one I should be following up with.  Yah. Don’t know if I mentioned it here, but in a moment of I have to try something, I sent a query to a small press a few months ago.  This small press promises a fast response, I hadn’t heard anything, so I pulled up my original email/query to them and found…

…a request for a full from the editor.  In my “junk” folder.  From a month ago.

“You screwed it up, Bobby Terry!”  Does anyone else have random quotes from novels that have stayed with them forever?  That one is from Stephen King’s The Stand, right before Bobby Terry is flayed and flambeed by Randall Flagg– the Dark Man.

Get a grip, Mrs Fringe.  No evil being is waiting to fly across the desert and eat me because I missed an email that was caught in my spam filter.  If any one of my writer friends came to me melting down about this, I’d reassure them that it happens, in the world of publishing a month’s lapse is not even a blink, any editor/agent/professional will understand. This is nothing in the days of being a wannabe.  This is less than nothing in the face of Ferguson, what the verdict represents and the false focus of so much of our media.

Still, I decided comfort food was in order.  How about if I make grilled cheese for dinner, kiddos?  This, of course, meant I went to Whole Foods on Sunday afternoon of a holiday weekend.  Clearly I was punishing myself for not checking that fucking junk mail folder regularly enough.  And why buy 10 items when you can buy 11 and stand on the slower line?

I will be drowning my whining in chocolate pudding this evening. Care to join me?

I will be drowning my whining in chocolate pudding this evening. Care to join me?

Never Again! oh, and happy Thanksgiving

Yesterday was miserable weather here. Rain to sleet to snow and back again, all day.  Little Incredibly Dumb Dog ran to the couch after her 7am walk and did this.

Apparently taking her outside for 5 minutes in cold rain was cruel and unusual punishment.

Apparently taking her outside for 5 minutes in cold rain was cruel and unusual punishment.

I took the girl to school, came home, woke Nerd Child–because he’s home, yay!!!–went to two grocery stores, began prep work for Thanksgiving dinner, and prepped, and cooked, and prepped.  Nope, not going to do this anymore.  Next year, we are going out to eat.  My spine has handed in her official resignation letter, she refuses to support me in the chopping, lifting, mixing, and standing required for Thanksgiving dinner anymore.

Of course, I mentioned this to Fatigue on the phone last night, and his response was he’s heard me say this before.  Oh.  Well, this time I mean it.  Really.  And I did get Husband, Nerd Child, and Art Child to help me with some of the snipping and chopping, loading and unloading of the dishwasher, washing pots.  Of course being an idiot, I didn’t ask for help until my back was already screaming.  Man Child stayed up at school this year, he’s busy and working.  I missed him yesterday, and I’ll miss him more when we sit down to dinner, but he’s living his life, enjoying all the man child stuff I’m happy he can experience.

With fewer people at the table, I thought I’d share dinner with you, Fringelings.

 

Trying a different stuffing this year

Trying a different stuffing this year

Cornbread based. One day I'll figure out how to cook stuffing for fewer than 20 people.

Cornbread based. One day I’ll figure out how to cook stuffing for fewer than 20 people.

I skipped the yams entirely.  Went with an old favorite of mashed gold potatoes and parsnips.

I like to pretend the parsnips make this a healthier choice.

I like to pretend the parsnips make this a healthier choice.

Of course, the very first dish completed yesterday was dessert.  Another old favorite, pumpkin marble cheesecake.  I didn’t have it in me to drag the mixer out of the closet–it’s heavy!  As it turns out, my cooling racks are nowhere to be found.  You know those boxes you stick away when you move to a new place, with the intention of getting to them when you have time? I hope they’re in there.  They have to be in there. I’ll find them eventually.

Gingersnap pecan crust

Gingersnap pecan crust

Turns out I can't beat things by hand as smooth as I used to. Oops.

Turns out I can’t beat things by hand as smooth as I used to. Oops.

Want a slice?

Want a slice?

Today I’ll do the rest. Nerd Child was kind enough to prep the Swiss chard for me.  Ready, clean and waiting in bags.

Pretty, isn't it.

Pretty, isn’t it.

When I gave up yesterday and sat down at the laptop with a glass of Bailey’s, I looked over at the couch:

Seriously. All day.

Seriously. All day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

And of course, because it’s obligatory:

 

 

From the Withered Tree*

a flower blooms.

*a flower blooms.

Buddhist proverb.  I don’t think that’s a direct quote from Buddha, but it fits where my head is/has been nicely.  I’m trying.  Trying to make peace, find my peace with where I am right now.  I’m getting there.  Part of getting there for me involved taking a step back from querying and writing fiction.  Both things that bring me most of my highest highs and lowest lows, but not a whole lot of serenity.   “This sentence is perfect–I’m ready for my O. Henry award.”  “I’m never, ever going to get through this scene, all the words are poop smears.”  “OMG!  Agent SoandSo requested the manuscript, whee!!!!”   “Oh, the despair! Agent MucketyMuck never responded to the requested manuscript.  Not even a response to a nudge…I’m, I’m…not even worthy of a fuck-off, you suck.”  (For those writing friends who want to remind me rejections are for the work, not the author, I’m not referring to rejections, or agents who take a long time to respond.  I’m referring to agents who never respond, to material they requested.)

When your natural state involves letting your imagination run with “what ifs” for stories and characters and worrying about what tomorrow will bring in life, forcing yourself into the here and now isn’t so easy.  Sometimes though, it’s necessary.

This is step 1.

6:30am, yesterday morning

6:30am, yesterday morning

And of course, getting the tank together.

No really, the rituals of making RO/DI water, mixing salt, very soothing.

No really, the rituals of making RO/DI water, mixing salt, very soothing.

Powder room is just a euphemism for fish room, isn’t it?  Of course you can still use the bathroom, honey.  Just don’t touch anything.

By today I should have my Thanksgiving menu completely planned, and begun shopping.  Not a clue what I’m making yet.  I intended to look through my cookbooks and start a shopping list this morning, but when I woke up, I saw this.

Fuzzy, but it's one snail cleaning the shell of another.

Fuzzy, but it’s one snail cleaning the shell of another.

It’ll be a small table this year, I’ll figure it out.  Tuesday, when I remember the holiday is two days away and I haven’t so much as bought cranberries.

Massage is over, back to work.

Massage is over, back to work.

I’m working on it, this finding my peace.  Feeling withered, sure–but there may be some blooms to come.

Stuff This, Corporate Retail America

Paper bag from a thrift store.

Paper bag from a thrift store.

I like things, it’s no secret.  I even like stuff.  But what. the. fuck. America?  The insanity known as Black Friday wasn’t enough.  Ok, I’m not a Black Friday shopper, but lots of people are, I’ve known several who find it fun, and a few who see it as a type of sport.  Now more and more stores are opening on Thanksgiving.  Shop, shop, shop for more shit you don’t need and no one wants while you’re in your growth-hormone-laced-turkey stupor, so there won’t be any pesky common sense to get in the way.  A couple of days ago I saw a clip on the news about a mall in Western New York that will be opening at 6PM on Thanksgiving Day (and I’m willing to bet if there’s one mall doing this there are more doing the same)–and any retail stores that choose not to open will be fined somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 an hour for every hour the mall is open that the store isn’t.  Apparently these fines are somewhat common, written into lease agreements at many malls across the country.  Opening on Thanksgiving Day, though, that’s new(er).

What is wrong with us?  These big box retailers are the pimps driving BMWs with flashy rims, and we the consumers are the black-eyed,  split-lipped prostitutes shivering in the cold and dirty slush waiting for the bus at 5AM.   I don’t know that I think Thanksgiving with its false myths of blissful Pilgrims and Native Americans singing Kumbaya together over pumpkin pie is so sacred.  But it is supposed to symbolize something, a day to reflect on who and what we have, enjoy our friends, families and communities, what our society is and what it stands for.  If you’re a cynic like myself, your immediate thought is of the big money involved in those Thanksgiving Day football games and the gluttony encouraged on TV screens across the nation.

This is New York, city of convenience.  Public transportation, grocery stores, drug stores and restaurants being open 24/7, 365 days a year is nothing new.  I used to work in social services so yes, I have worked every holiday.  I’ll even admit I didn’t hate it.  In fact, it was lovely, and those holidays affirmed the work I did mattered, because these were human beings I worked with, not diagnoses, and workers and clients had a good time cooking and eating together.  Sure there was always someone who would decompensate and need to go to the ER right before I was about to go off shift–but that’s why I was there, why the work was meaningful if not lucrative–and good God, draining doesn’t begin to cover it.

That said is why I’m very aware not everyone can or should have the holiday off.  Social services, medical services, residential treatment services, police, firefighters, public transportation, emergency crews available for public works, these can’t all lock the doors and turn the cell phones off.  Sometimes the service provided is more necessary than dinner with Cindy Lou Who.  But buying the latest video game console?  The perfect sweater for an ugly sweater contest?  Really, that can’t wait until the morning?  People who work retail are among those who can least afford to take a stand and say “I’m not coming in to work on the holiday,” yet they already see their loved ones least, since they work evenings, nights, and weekends.

I posted last week about my city adventures in the Met and St John the Divine.  I’ve been thinking about it ever since, these great enduring works of art–hundreds, some thousands of years old, still revered, still relevant, artists and works still remembered.   This being the case, why are artists (visual, actors, musicians or writers) still treated with contempt, as if what they offer society has no value, unless, of course, they’re hugely financially successful?  Or dead.  Maybe I’m just a flaky mush but I went back to St John yesterday, to bring my godson and Art Child and spend time again with “AMEN: A Prayer for the World.” And I was moved, on the verge of tears again from the works of these modern artists from disparate cultures, an exhibition about respect and understanding, our shared humanity.

IMG_2378

Husband works retail.  His store is closed on Thanksgiving, but if they decided to open, he would grumble, I would bitch, and then he would go to work.  Because rent. Maybe the saleswoman helping you find the laptop you want this Thanksgiving is a mom who is paying a babysitter more than she’s making for the day because the regular sitter is with her own family, or the daycare is closed. Maybe the cashier is an artist who thought he was going to be able to spend the day sculpting. Maybe the floor manager is just fucking tired and had hoped for a day off before the insanity of Black Friday began–because yes, she does have to be back at the store at 4am the next day.  The executives who decided the stores should be open?  They’re home.  Or on vacation.  Maybe they’ll stop in and benignly thank the peasant workers for their service. They’re most certainly not trying to figure out how to cook, clean up, offer a holiday experience for their children, beg for child care, calculate how they will pay rent/mortgage/utilities and then go stand on their feet and smile politely for 14 straight hours.

I received this solicitation in the mail the other day.  I don’t have much, but I think I’ll write a check.

and mail it on Thanksgiving.

and drop it in the mailbox on Thanksgiving.

We each have a voice in this country, as individuals and as a greater community.  Our voices are heard when we vote, and at this point in our consumer-based society, I believe our voices ring out most clearly through our wallets.  People can tsk tsk all they want.  The only message being conveyed if you shop on a holiday is that it’s a good, profitable idea for the stores to open, and the people working don’t matter.  I’m asking the Fringelings here in America (who don’t have to work on the holiday) to speak out by staying out of the stores on Thanksgiving.  Read a classic novel, listen to music, plan a trip to a museum, watch It’s A Wonderful Life. Use the day to make a statement about what you believe matters.  Unless you have to work.

 

 

Little Things

Can I interest you in a cuppa?

Can I interest you in a cuppa?

Let’s be honest.  Good or bad, day to day life is mostly about the little things.  Hitting on the right sentence, facing the overflowing laundry basket, kiddo feeling wobbly-wobbly, it’s all those small moments.  See the teapot above?  I love that thing, the little ritual of spooning out my favorite tea, pouring the water in and letting it steep.  Now that we’re in a bigger space, I feel like I can breathe better and enjoy those moments more frequently.  Let’s be honest, the dishwasher plays a big role in all of this.  Oh, the joys of planning a snack or meal and not stopping to calculate how many dishes/pots/pans it will create.

And the tank.  All the little things I get to watch in the tank now–and this is well before I purchase any livestock.

Full tank shot--now with live rock to jump start the cycle!

Full tank shot–now with live rock to jump start the cycle!

I got just a few pieces of live rock the other day, brought them home and put them in the tank, and surprise! The first hitchhikers. A patch of bubble algae–nuisance, though you can all snicker imagining me chasing these little green pimples through the water, a small patch of zoas (zoanthid, a type of soft polyped coral that looks like little flowers)–unlikely to survive the cycle–most living critters can’t tolerate the spikes in ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate that are an integral part of a new tank’s cycle, but still made me smile, a mushroom (corallimorpharian), and two red legged hermit crabs.  Hmm.

Many people consider them a necessary and valuable part of the “clean up crew” in a reef tank.  I don’t like hermit crabs.  They’re cute and interesting to watch, until they spot the shell they like better than the one they’re wearing, and murder the snail inside to appropriate it.  And then they decide switching shells and killing snails was great fun, and they go on a killing spree, ripping snails from their needed shells even when it’s a shell that wouldn’t cover their beady little eyes.  But, they could survive the cycle, and in the meantime I have no snails.  It’s nice to see a little life behind the glass.  Couldn’t get a shot of them yet, sorry.  One went half under a rock, the other is hiding at the back of the tank.

Poor tightly closed zoas, soon to melt away.

Poor tightly closed zoas, soon to melt away.

Most of the color on the live rock is coralline algae, a “good” algae that gives a nice purple color to the tank and ideally uses up the nutrients that would otherwise promote the growth of nuisance algae.

Left side

Left side

Right side

Right side

One of these days I’m going to find the tripod, still packed away somewhere.  It makes a big difference in the quality of the pics I can take through the glass.

It’s Friday, Fringelings.  I’m looking forward to Friday Night Madness with Fatigue and enjoying the little things. Excuse me while I go test the tank for ammonia levels.  Let the cycle move forward!  But no, you shouldn’t pee in the tank.