Archive for December, 2008

Our First Marine Critter

We’ve had our marine tank set up for nearly two weeks and today we introduced our first critter. Meet ‘MR WHIPPY’ an Electric Blue Legged Hermit Crab or ‘Calcinus Elegans’ if you want the proper name.

Mr Whippy

Mr Whippy

Mr Whippy, named after his current ice-cream whip shaped shell was introduced to the tank this afternoon. No sooner had he gently plopped onto the sandy substrate at the bottom of the tank he propped his shell up over his elongated blue eye stalks and set to work on the nearest rock clearing algae and cramming it into his face a pinch at a time with his little nippy claws . That was five hours ago – he’s just stepped off that small rock and moved onto find something else.

The tank has had other interesting activities going on during the past few days. The biggest coral, a toadstool leather suddenly withdrew all of its polyps (the flowing hair-like strands that protrude from it’s surface and wave about in the water). The following day it never put the polyps back out again. This coincided with the first water change Wil and I had performed as new marine tank owners. It hadn’t helped that for our first water change the fish shop didn’t have any premixed saltwater and instead could only provide us with some RO (distilled) water and some salt for us to create the mix ourselves. The withdrawal of ‘Matey Boy’s‘ (the toadstool leather), polyps caused us to worry we’d done something wrong with the mix. However, after a good read of various marine forums and websites and an examination of the tank on the second or third day led us to believe that Matey Boy was shedding a protective layer. Apparently while they do this they close up and wait for the clingfilm type covering to peel off their surface and disappear into the water. It’s taken three days and now he’s back on form with his extended polyps waving in the flow.

Just to the side of matey boy there is another mushroom type coral which looks a bit like a minature palm tree. ‘Short Stuff’ as we’ve named him only stands about 3cm tall although we’d noticed that he does tend to stand taller on some days and shorter on others. The surprise came today when I was examining Matey Boy’s shedding progress and noticed Short Stuff seemed a lot further behind Matey Boy than he had been before. I compared a photo that I’d taken of the tank when we first set it up two weeks ago and confirmed that Short Stuff had taken a SHORT TRIP!

Once again, thanks to the wealth of wisdom on the internet I discovered that many soft corals can actually move themselves by swelling up so as to cover a larger footprint and then detatch their hold on the side from which they want to move – a bit like a snail. We confirmed this at the fish shop today where the guy fishing our hermit crab out of the tank pointed out one of their toadstools suckered half way up the glass at the front of it’s aquarium. Apparently they do this to get themselves to a position in the tank they like and wish to settle. Very difficult to get my head around the thinking that these are living creatures and not plants!

In the meantime we’ve set up a third aquarium in which we will fulfill our original intention of rehoming the Pygmy Puffer fish which currently resides in our community freshwater tank. The new tank is beginning it’s ‘cycle’ in which beneficial bacteria crucial to the correct functioning of the tank will begin breeding on the filter and substrate. Adding any fish before this cycle is complete could result in death and since the idea of this tank for one little puffer fish has already resulted in my becoming au fait with all things marine and owning three separate aquariums, I dread to think what daft ideas we’d come up with to fill the void should we lose the intended inhabitant of the new freshwater tank.

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Christmas Day

Wil made the tea – there was quite a bit of debate involved. In the end I picked my book up from the nightstand and began reading knowing full well that my patience would outweigh his. As expected he lasted about three minutes before throwing the covers back and jumping out of bed to go make drinks, a prerequistite of opening presents. He returned with two cups of tea and left again to collect our presents from under the tree.

With the pile of wrapped shapes stacked in the middle of the bed we took turns searching for one with our name on and peeled open the wrapping. I got a running heartrate monitor, a small handmade metal owl and a beautiful necklace made from silver metal and decorative glass beads. Some christmas tree decorations, chocolates, a book and a little drawstring bag from my brother with the message ‘let me know what you find it useful for’. I think I’ve already found a use – it’s perfect for holding all the small bits and pieces I carry around in my handbag. Lipstick, nail clippers, file, plasters etc.

Wil got some clothes, cd’s, a book, chocolate, wet weather motorbike boot covers, an fm transmitter to use with his mp3 player in the car and a cocktail shaker in which he promises to mix me a Mojito tonight.

We eventually crawled out of bed and ate breakfast at the table listening to the new cd’s I bought him. The Best of Busta Rhymes and the Ultramagnetic Mc’s. It took me ages to swallow down the hot porridge I made although I did so while admiring the freshly cleaned aquarium bubbling to the side of me. Gently twitching my shoulders to the rhythmic ‘YAR YAR YAR’ chant from Busta.

By late morning we’d retired to the living room where we have remained in quiet both reading books, drinking wine and munching on salt and vinegar kettle chips. It was several hours before I decided to flick the tv on incase there were any good movies I could record for Cameron.

As usual the same old Christmas durge has been dug up and churned out about as welcome as old dishwater. We turned instead, to ripping the piss out of the Christian Channels. Christmas Cheer Wil and Ren stylee.

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Waiting For The Big Fat Guy In The Red Suit

We’ve had a lovely productive week. One day we spent the whole day in the garden having a pre-winter clear up. There weren’t enough hours in the day to get all the jobs done but we made the front of the house look lovely and tidy. Swept the leaves into a big ton bag which we took to the composter at the recycling center 4 times to empty. We crawled on hands and knees weeding the path to the front door and the driveway we share with the messy neighbours next door. Fed up with constantly having to peer at their big rubbish pile amongst the weedy patch of grass between our shared drive and their Nissan Terano which is being used as outdoor storage, I threw all the junk off it underneath their car and then racked all the crap off into the bag for the dump. They are oblivious. I’m happy it won’t all end up being blown into our garden as per usual.

We worked up quite an appetite with all the activity, hauling that ton bag around and scooping up armfulls of leaves. I made us each a big cup of potato and parsnip soup which we sipped while leaning against the front of the house admiring the fruits of our labour.

Thin white wind swept clouds streaked the pale blue sky allowing the sun to filter through. The wind was blustery and created mini tornados on the ground with groups of leaves which had escaped the bag.

Wil’s grandma had a saying. “If there’s enough blue in the sky to make a sailors suit it’ll be a nice day”. Something I’d remembered him telling me in the car one day as we drove towards a cloudy outlook with a small square of blue squeezed in the middle.

“How big is the sailor?” Wil quizzed… “such a ridiculous saying”

I took a sip of my soup and noted that due to there being enough blue up there to make a sailors suit it’d turned out to be a nice day. Wil lowered his cup and peered upwards immediately springing into question again just has he had before in the car. “How big of a suit?… For how big of a sailor?… Is he big or small? and how does this affect the weather?”  I grinned, “yeah but if you look at it logically and look at the size of you, here, now and imagine cutting enough blue out of the sky to make clothes your size” “HANG ON A MINUTE, Wil interupted – Look at it LOGICALLY??? We’re talking about making a suit, for a sailor, OUT OF THE SKY!”dsc002091

I collected my pruning sheers and set about the overgrown shrub near the door.

We finished our shopping at the beginning of the week and even took an impromptu trip to Tescos to do the food shop late at night so as to avoid the imminent late shopping crowds of the last two days before Christmas.

Christmas is set to be a quiet affair – just as we wanted it. Cameron is in the states, Wil’s Mum is visiting her family in Lincoln and my Mum is entertaining my brothers and Nana at her house. Christmas dinner at mums house sometimes is not a relaxing affair. Mum doesn’t do well when she has a lot of people to cook for, she tends to get wound up and tense, and then there’s the imaginary *issue* because mum and one brother are vegetarian and little brother and nana are not and mum feels like she should cook them meat when in reality I’m sure neither of them really care if they eat vegetarian food anyway!.

The most stress we will have tomorrow is waking up in the morning and bartering over who gets to make the tea and then debating whether to  open our presents downstairs or in bed.

I hope your Christmasses are cheery and relaxed and that you get all that you wish for.

Love, Foxsden and Luna the Christmas Lurcher playing the part of Mary in the Nativity.

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To shy to even look up the angels dresses

To shy to even look up the angels dresses

This week held Cam’s school Christmas play. In politically correct style since we don’t want to piss off all the rest of the religions the school did their own production of Christmas Across The World, this way they managed to shoe horn in a snippet of the traditional nativity scene. In the big scheme of things Cameron was a hula girl and a Mexican. This is was to be his last Christmas play at Primary school since this time next year he will be at High School. The primary school has a host of new little ones that joined the reception class this year in September and some of them were painfully shy on the stage. One little boy must have refused to dress up as he appeared in school uniform for the afternoon show, melted into a little puddle of embarrassment on the stage and then squeezed his way behind some other kids in order to wedge his face in between the stage and the backdrop where he remained after everyone had left the stage. The small pair of legs visible on the stage was promptly collected by a teacher and carried off stage. These are the things school plays are made of. I just find it sad that no longer will we get to laugh when little Tommy walks onto the stage dragging baby Jesus by his leg and then drops him onto his head in the manger.

It’s going to be a quiet affair here at Foxsden for Christmas – just me and Wil since this morning we packed the larey blonde off to see his dad in the states for 2 weeks. Some people don’t actually cope very well with the concept of wishing to have a quiet Christmas. It’s not that we don’t enjoy it, quite the opposite really it’s just that we’re happy enough to do the whole build up and massively disappointing aftermath on our own without a flurry of noise, overeating of food and upheaval of tons of family coming and going. I for one will be glad not to have to bust my arse in the kitchen all day. I’ll be quite happy to open a present, eat some breakfast and then go out and do some gardening if the weather is nice! I think our neighbours thought we were Jehova’s when we did just that two Christmasses ago. I’m returning to work for a few days the following week – something my Mother in Law recoiled in horror at! Little Willy, left on his own at home AT CHRISTMAS? Oh dear – I’m sure he’ll be forced to spend all his time hanging out with his mate who’ll be dying to get away from his Mrs by that time and then filling in the other gaps with riding his motorbike and going out on his mountain bike. I will not be missed in this equation. At all.

That said, we are having friends round on the Saturday after. I’m looking forward to that. I think they’re going to love gardening at Christmas too.

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A Pain In The Arse

I went running on Sunday – 5 miles xc training with the club. The course is via fields and woodland in the grounds of a stately home and although it is largely flat there are small technical sections that you descend into (read, ‘nearly skid on your arse into) and then nearly have to pull yourself out of by grabbing roots and shrubs. Ok, it’s not quite that bad but there are sections that demand a huge amount of leg strength for both descent and ascent. It was on the 2nd lap of one of these technical sections that a frequent niggling but mild stabby pain I’ve been experiencing in the bottom of my right arse cheek suddenly became a large stabby pain  shooting down the back of my right leg shouting for acknowledgement. The pain worsened on the uphill and so I gave the 3rd lap a miss, instead jogging off with one of the coaches who suggested I might have a hamstring pull at the point where the hamstring joins near the glute. This had been a minor pain for a few months but nothing that bothered me on runs of 5 miles or less.

I took it easy around the rest of the course and by the time I got to the end another old achey muscle was screaming out for attention too. My hip flexor (one of the muscles you use to lift your knee like if you march) became very painful. Now both front and back of my right leg is sore. I’ve got to go and see the physio because now, over the past week my knee has started hurting again too.  Here’s looking forward to the next 2 months of races being cancelled, replaced by rest and followed by strengthening exercises – DOUBLE YAWN.

Sorry – I wish I had a much more humorous arse injury story for you fact if we’re really truthful it’s not even my arse that’s injured.

I bet you’re glad you arsed…..

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I Have These Things To Tell You About……

Latest addition to the house.
Christmas holiday.
I’ve injured my arse.
The Christmas performance.

But not right now…Back later.

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I’m A Weapon Of Massive Consumption… It’s Not My Fault It’s How I’m Programmed To Function

I’m not keen on the video but I like the lyrics and the tune. Lilly Allen – The Fear

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