Posts tagged ‘maintenance’

It All Started with a Fish Tank. . . Introduction and Challenge #1


When we got the fish tank from our craigslist guy, he told us that it was just too much to maintain.  That didn’t strike me at the time. . . *
It struck me as I was typing this that this was going to turn into a very long post.  So, I’m starting you off with Challenge #1.  And I’ll also give you a teaser: we have 3 zebra danios, and as of Day 2, they are all still alive.  So far so good. . .*

It all started with my 10 Most Wanted List.  At some point I became obsessed with having a fish tank.  I’m not sure why.  Up until this point I’d sworn off all fish tanks: “No birds!  No fish!  We have cats!”  But I thought that it would be beautiful, and I had the perfect spot for it (see above).   Yes, I’d imagined it being a little bit higher to protect it a little better from the cats, but, it could work.

Let me start off by saying that when I started this project I was green.  Very green. And Brian even more so.  I was working off memories of my 10-gallon starter fish tank from 20 years ago.  And Brian had a fish bowl with a beta.  This is what I had from that  experience: 1. Get a tank bigger than ten gallons.  2. Do not leave dead fish in the tank.  So. . . clearly I knew the important stuff.

I set my mind on that tank.  Brian wanted to get our tank from Craigslist.  Part of me wanted a brand new tank to make sure everything functioned and was clean, but saving a few bucks and keeping a tank out of the landfill sounded pretty good.  And so the journey began.

Challenge #1: Cleaning the New (old) Tank

Choosing the tank and picking up the tank from the city proved to be the easiest part (though the waiting was a little painful).  But everything else was a challenge.  The previous owner had not cleaned the tank because he didn’t want to harm the life of our future fish.  Understandable.  Fish are very sensitive.  But, that left us with a rather unpleasant/unsightly tank with an unknown history.

So, step number one was Shaklee natural disinfectant and cleaner.  I know, I know.  You fish-lovers out there are cringing, and I’m a little nervous, too.  However, we had no idea what we were dealing with here, and so far everything appears ok.  (And what was that green stuff, anyway??  Algae?  Brian later told me it was probably lime from the water. I’m still not sure.)    I let the plants soak and the tank soak, and the miscellaneous-pieces-in-the-bucket-we’d-gotten-that-didn’t-have-cords-hanging–out-the-back soak.  (I learned later that I may have killed off beneficial bacteria.  Then, I learned even later that the beneficial bacteria had dried up a long time ago and was most likely very long dead.)

Next, I proceeded to try to wipe at — then scrub at — the tank and all of the pieces that had the yucky green stuff.  (We hosed off all the plastic plants.)  The green stuff wasn’t coming off.  I had some vague memory of using a razor blade on the tank in the past, but that seemed a little odd to me.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and SCRUBBED with one of those scratchy green Shaklee pads and ended up giving up and getting a butter knife (which mostly did the trick until I couldn’t take it anymore).  After everything was sufficiently clean/I was sufficiently exhausted, we hosed everything off again a few times and started looking at the pieces in front of us.

To be continued for Challenge #2. . .

Smorgasbord: “My poor baby!” x 2; More Angel Numbers; Raw Emotions; Animal Visits; and Pupil Jealousy?

"Multicolor Paint" courtesy of Idea go /

“Multicolor Paint” courtesy of Idea go /

“My Poor Baby!” x 2

  • #1: I hurt one of my babies today.  I was clipping Link’s claw with the clippers, and I must have been really careless because I cut into his paw. 😦  He cried out in pain, but he’s shown no other sign of pain since; he’s been walking fine and no complaints.  But he was bleeding for a while, and I freaked out for quite a bit.  Of course it was an accident, but I felt like a terrible Mom, and I didn’t know what to do.  I knew what I would do if it were me, so I got some tissue, and held it to his paw.  Then I actually put a band-aid over it, but he didn’t like that too much and took care of it pretty quickly.  Then I just monitored him, feeling sorry for him and awful that I had been the one to do such a thing.  I realized that cats get cuts sometimes from the silly things they do, and animals get injured out in the wild, and they make do, so this was not the end of the world.  Since he wasn’t bleeding profusely, he’d survive.  But I still feel like I need to make it up to him somehow (as I presently let him continue sitting on my lap, even though I desperately want to get up for some water and some chocolate).
  • #2: My other baby is my car, and I guess I’m responsible for part of its pain, too.  But mostly it’s just old and quirky.  When I start up my baby, the “CHG OIL” light goes on and my digital clock creates its own new language.  When I turn left, my turn signal blinks frenetically, signaling that my brake light is out AGAIN or my electrical system is still a bit wacko.  And then there’s the rapping noise of some strappy, window-related thing that I don’t even hear anymore because I somehow willed it not to be there anymore. . .  And I know it’s time to take the girl in.  I’m usually pretty good about taking her in every 3-4 months.  This time I’m up to 5, but part of that is because I just passed the 100,000 mile mark (Yay!) which means I’m due for a bit of a maintenance overhaul (Not so yay :-().  But I knew this was coming, and I already have a maintenance appointment scheduled for Friday.  Hopefully nothing else will go wrong with my car before then.  ::Foreshadowing alert::  No, really. Everything will be fine.

More Angel Numbers

So, I’ve heard that our angels/spirit guides like it when you ask them for help.  So, I’VE BEEN ASKING.  But I realize that a) I may not be noticing the signs or b) I may be noticing the signs, but I may be in denial.  Anyway, here are 2 other number combinations that I realized have popped up within the last year:

  • 49.  It applies to the $49,000 chunk of part of my mortgage debt, and it struck me because my dad mentioned that his mortgage had also been $49,000. So, I thought I’d take a peek. According to Joanne Sacred Scribes:

“49 is a message from your angels that a project or cycle is ending and you are asked to look to your achievements and successes. Take the lessons from the experiences and use them to your future advantage.  Finish off anything left undone.  Repeating Angel Number 49 is a message that your angels are with you as you step through a new door of opportunity.  As with all endings, it is the beginning of something new and as one door closes, another opens. Your angels ask that you focus on your goals, aspirations and life purpose, and remember to ask your angels for assistance along the way.”  The term “lightworking” also popped up with the number combination.

  • 27. I was timing my student on some touch multiplication facts, and she got 3 back-t0-back 27’s (seconds), which — is just unlikely.  So, here’s what Joanne Sacred Scribes has for 27:

“Angel Number 27 is a message from your angels that new information or news of a positive nature is on its’ way, so listen to your intuition and heed its guidance for your highest good.  Angel Number 27 is a message to believe in yourself, your intuitive messages and your inner-promptings.  You have been receiving messages about your divine life purpose, and your angels encourage you to follow the guidance and directions accordingly.  Trust that your angels support you in your spiritual endeavors.”

So, I guess I’ve gotta keep the faith.  It’s tough for a worry-wart like me, but I’m listening, angels!  Please keep trying to guide me!

Raw Emotions

I’ve decided that I have been put on this Earth to deal with intense emotions.  I cannot believe how completely blissful I can feel during one part of the day, and how absolutely terrified or angry I can feel later that same day.  Most of today I was nervous about my sessions with my tutoring students — especially my ACT tutoring session — and I was worried about my pending performance at the school talent show.  (I sang “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack.)  The talent show went just fine, the ACT session was pretty good — I’m still stressing about it a bit — and life has gone on.  I feel that I’m making this job/life transition so that I can be more relaxed and get back in touch with my true self and my spiritual guides — but I’m afraid that I’ll find something that will be just as stressful or just as awkward a fit as what I have now.  I mean, what if it’s just me?

Animal Visits

I like to notice special things — they may seem like random coincidences to most other people — like the number combinations and animal sightings.  I think it’s a little odd that one morning I had a rabbit run out in front of my car, and a minute later, a crow landed in front of my car.  I looked up both of those animals, and the impression I got was that I was supposed to be jumping on some opportunity.  I have no idea what that opportunity was, so I hope I took it!  And today it was spiders.  The second one was not a big deal.  It was a little black spider walking across the floor of the gym in front of the bleachers where I sat.  But it was the second spider I’d seen in one hour.  The first spider was much more interesting.  It was a medium-sized/largish green spider that camouflaged perfectly with our Shaklee water pitcher.  I was surprised because 1) I’d never seen a spider in the kitchen before.  2) It happened to be the exact same green as the water pitcher.  3) It happened to be on the water pitcher as I was filling it up!  (I’m just pleased I had enough composure to quickly place it on the counter, rather than drop the poor pitcher again — I have some sort of problem involving dropping water pitchers: I’ve already broken 2!I had some trouble researching and figuring out what the spider could be trying to tell me, but I found a LOT of green spider images on Google.

Pupil Jealousy?

Yes, I am jealous of my students.  Because what I’m trying so hard to find, comes so naturally to them — creativity.  One of my students is an amazingly creative writer.  I don’t think he realizes how ingenuous his ideas are.  I want to write like that!  And another makes magic with his highlighter art.  Seriously.  Where do those images come from?  Why can’t I get myself to draw like that? This year I’ve become aware of how truly, and frighteningly powerful my critical side is, and it’s starting to make me mad.  I’ve even started talking to it: You are holding me back.  Do you know what you are doing?  Why?  Why are you doing this to me?!  I’m not sure this one-way conversation is getting me anywhere, but at least I’m becoming more aware of it.  Somehow I’ve got to get myself to play more.  I need to unlearn what “life” has taught me and become a child again.  Sigh.  I wish there was an easy step-by-step program for that one. . .

And. . . that’s it for today!  I’m hoping Brian will get home soon so that we can watch Castle, my new watch-while-I-grade TV series.  We just started season 1, and I can’t believe how quickly I got addicted.  But really, it has Nathan Fillion from Firefly in it.  Of course I like it! Oh, dang it.  I over boiled the mushroom ravioli, and there are now mushroom bits everywhere.  Gotta go.

Don’t Stop!: A Brake Light Story

"Business Team Carrying Books" courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/

“Business Team Carrying Books” courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/

Unfortunately,  if I have a major problem, I tend to obsess about it until it’s fixed.  Today it was a tail light that was out.  As I was leaving from tutoring, my boss happened to be leaving at the same time, and he called me to let me know that my left tail light was out.  He was concerned because he had seen a cop car come up behind me, and he was worried that I would tap my breaks and then get pulled over.  (By the way — so unfair that cops give you tickets for tail lights that are out.  I understand that it is dangerous,  but how the heck were you supposed to know about it??)

So, anyway, I didn’t get stopped, but I was rather paranoid about it on the way home and continued to obsess about it throughout the wonderful dinner that Brian had made for me (baked sweet potato, flavored mixed veggies, and spinach tortellini with marinara sauce and meatless meatballs . . . . Yum!)

Brian, obligingly put my worries to rest and began working on the issue, with me helping out the best I could.  He struggled with getting at the tail light in my crazy car, so I called up my dad who has two exact replicas of my same car.  (But apparently he has not as yet had the misfortune of having to deal with a malfunctioning tail light.)  He did have the excellent suggestion of looking at the owner’s manual of my car, which helped me diddly squat (the drawing was confusing!), but seemed functional enough for Brian to continue the project.  He opened the trunk and unscrewed some bizarre-looking screws, requiring tools that I cannot name — I wasn’t even sure I knew what needle-nosed pliers were, but apparently I guessed right —  and I got to see the inside of a tail light.  He did some testing, and it looked like the bulb still lit, so then he took a look at the fuse box (as I peeked over his shoulder, holding his iPhone flashlight app for light).  Suddenly the car seemed a little less of a magical mystery and more of an actual machine. . .

Then off to Sears we went, and we found the most helpful sales guy ever who led us to the bulb department and found us a box of fuses.  (We almost got a universal garage door opener for Brian’s car while we were there, but the price was a bit more than we had been willing to spend today.  Seriously, do not take your garage door openers for granted!) We came back, and Brian discovered  that the fuse was the wrong size, so he went back to the manual and switched out another fuse that was the same size (a fuse for the nonexistent sunroof, nonexistent power mirror, nonexistent OnStar, etc).  Turned the key, checked the break light, and still nothin’.  So, he went back to the bulb.  Pulled out the bulb, stuck in the new one, “Did it go on?”, a “Yes!”  (Bingo! ) and the scientific method came to its successful conclusion, my friends.

That’s enough for one evening.  Now I can get a good night’s sleep. . .

My Car & Me: A Sketch

"Side Mirror View" by Dundee Photographics /

“Side Mirror View” by Dundee Photographics /

I finally took my car in today for its regular maintenance.  I know people sometimes look through medicine cabinets.  Have you every wondered what people think when they look in your car?

Your car can tell a lot about you.  What kind of car do you have?  What gadgets do you have?  Have you decorated the outside?  What’s lying around inside?

My car is a black 2004 Saturn Ion.  Supposedly many teachers own Saturns, and I am no exception.  It’s year tell you it’s either used or that I plan on running it into the ground, and the second is true.  I chose black just like my father did because it doesn’t show dirt.  The front bumper is cracked with a piece missing from the time that I drove over a parking median near the old vet’s office.  There are white creases in the plastic front left bumper from the couple of times I misjudged my entry into the garage.

The back bumper is spattered with bumper stickers with quotes from Jimi Hendrix, Gandhi, and the Native Americans.  I also “choose natural health,” have a blue and yellow equal sign that symbolizes equal rights for all, and a blue and white “Coexist”  a bumper sticker, created with symbols from various religions.  My “I love Shaklee” license plate holder completes the picture, adding to my non-conformist hippy-mobile.  My license plate is just standard numbers.  I have no fake baseballs penetrating my rear window nor any stick-figured family members or pets lining the bottom of it.

The tires are likely low  from negligence, and the oil sticker reads 9/14/12 as the next recommended oil change date.  The engine light used to periodically flash, but no one would see that now; that stopped when I replaced my gas cap. (Really?  Yes, truly.)  And every so often my left blinker switches to double-speed, but no one would catch that because it immediately returns to normal the following day.

The inside is sparse.  I bought the cheapest model possible, right off the lot.  I’m the only person I know who actually still rolls down her windows and double-checks that everyone has locked her own door.  The only access I have to music are my quirky CD player and radio, which both randomly mess with me, deciding the controls no longer function, holding fast to one station, or quitting and not playing anything at all.  The digital clock is just as possessed, creating strange new numerical symbols and impossible times like 8:98.

The inside is a visual cacophony, though I try to clean it out periodically.  Today a recently used smoothie glass is perched in the drink holder to the right of the driver’s seat.  On most days I might have an empty mug (which houses my energy tea) and possibly a bowl and spoon nearby, the remnants of my Ezekiel cereal breakfast.  Often I have a water bottle that begins in the other drink holder spot, but falls out due to the shallowness of the indentation and then rolls around in the passenger side of the car.  The passenger’s seat usually houses my purse and whichever book I am reading at the time; lying against the seat is my large, decrepit accordion that is stocked to the brim with my gradebook, plan book, meeting notes, and papers upon papers to grade. To the immediate left of the steering wheel are some granny-looking sunglasses that fit over my regular prescription glasses that Brian likes to laugh about every time I put them on.  In the middle compartment are gas receipts, a cat hair remover, my voice recorder, and various pencils and pens.  Hanging from the back of it is the charger for my GPS, my lifeline to the world of new destinations.

The back seat and wells below are strewn with various children’s non-fiction and fiction books.  Some are in a black bag that also houses random tutoring supplies and folders.  A backpack houses my writing workshop folder and materials.  Besides these items, you find an extra sweatshirt or jacket, my Australian outback hat that I use for writing workshop, and — in the winter — an ice-scraper/snow-brush.  My trunk has a small bag of clothes that have yet to be dropped off at Goodwill, donated books that await the library, and jumper cables.  The dashboard is dusty, crumbs are scattered about the front floor of the car, and a few seat spots have a slight yellow tint from my dusty softball days.

So, what does a mechanic think when looking at my car?  Does she see the teacher, tutor, writer, reader, cat-loving, softball-playing hippy? Or a seemingly disorganized slob who could use a new car?  Who knows?  But I wonder.  What do you think your car says about you?

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