Category: Fish


Today we visited the Riverbank Zoo in Columbia, SC. The girls rode ponies and saw a hatchling flamingo.  They also sang with monkeys, fed goats, petted tortoises and heard a tiger MEOW.  (And I even had the opportunity to see several leopard sharks up close and personal).  The zoo is also somewhat self-sustainable with massive gardens full of veggies and herbs.  

This was our first visit in the daytime to the neighboring city to the south and I was impressed with how tropical it felt.  In only an hour and 45-minutes, we went from the mountains to a place that felt much like Florida with its native vegetation unlike anything I had seen before, as varied and bountiful as the tropics (there was a tree with leaves far larger around than the length of my hand).

The all-time cutest exhibits were the koala bear and meerkat habitats.   The koalas were napping and had curled themselves up comfy into the arms of tree-branches.  One meerkat took a fascination with me and I swear behaved as if we were doing a Vogue photo-shoot.  

When asked what the girls enjoyed most, for the older two it was the pony trail-ride (although milking the fake cow was right up there).

Our littlest giggled when the goats literally climbed the fence to eat out of her hand.  They were sweet-natured and beautiful goats with shaggy colorful coats.  And what personality!  

We crossed a bridge over the Saluda River (Columbia marks the convergence of the Broad and Saluda) and saw the old stone foundation of a bridge that was burned during the Civil War.  In the peace and shade on the other side, we rested (and remembered the automatic features of my camera).

Afterward, we visited the elephants, giraffes and the sea-lion a little boy emphatically suggested we see.  I was certain the elephants were Asian elephants for their size, but through the crowds, I read something about Africa on the signs.  We were on some kind of deck above the enclosure, so perhaps the elephants appeared smaller.  Regardless, they were gorgeous creatures caught red from bathing in the Carolina clay.  

And how difficult it must be for a giraffe to eat grass when it feels so inclined!  We saw first-hand how they do it.  

We concluded our day with a visit to Erick’s uncle’s 18th century stagecoach house where the girls enjoyed tractor rides around the property while we sat on the front porch sipping iced-tea.

 

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On August 24th, 79AD, one day following Vulcanalia, the Roman festival for the god of fire, Mt Vesuvius erupted and buried the town of Pompeii in layers of ash and pumice.  At the time, those living in Pompeii were not even aware that the beautiful mountain dominating their horizon was an active volcano.  In fact, the hadn’t even a word yet for volcano in their vocabulary.

Charlotte, NC was one of only four cities in the United States granted permission to display for the next few months artifacts and the body casts of people, pets and even livestock uncovered in Pompeii.  

Today I took the girls to the exhibit.  I knew I couldn’t fully explain the devastation, so I did my best to help them understand what we would be seeing once we entered the exhibit by showing them a BBC film about the disaster and also by talking about what life would have been like for people living 2000 years ago.  

Inside the museum we saw frescos – (and we learned the word fresco translated into English means “fresh” and described the method of painting murals while the plaster was still wet, or fresh) – preserved by the hot ash ovens with bread still inside, jewelry, currency, and several types of amphorae which were large ceramic vessels that held oil, wine, fish or grain.  Inscribed on one of these amphora was the Latin word “Auctus” which gave rise to our English word meaning auction.  The writing also described the day the piece was sold at auction, “under a blue sky” and the name of either the buyer or the seller.  This information was relayed to us by a scholar and actress dressed as if she had just walked out of the first century.     

I didn’t realize we would be seeing the body-casts.  We were lead down a dark hall into a darkened room where only the eerie white casts of bodies could be seen.  These casts were made by Giuseppe Fiorelli who excavated the site during the nineteenth century.  According to Wiki, “During early excavations of the site, occasional voids in the ash layer had been found that contained human remains. It was Fiorelli who realised these were spaces left by the decomposed bodies…”  Fiorelli devised a way of injecting plaster into the molds thus preserving the bodies of victims of Vesuvius down to the expressions on their faces.  

Even I was not prepared for the emotions that swept through me.  And my youngest begged to go home.  The sight was both compelling and humbling:   The dog chained and without hope of surviving; the couple holding each-other in one final embrace; the slaves whose legs were bound; the woman who tried in vain to cover her face with a cloth against the toxic plume; the pig whose ribs shown through patches of thick skin.  The images will haunt me for some time.  Not in the bad way you might imagine, but in a way that reminds us of our own mortality and keeps us present in the moment.  These casts are the ghosts of our history and they tell their own stories to us individually.  

A walk through uptown concluded our day in Pompeii where our cityscape, though taller, is not all that different.  We still build monuments to ourselves of marble and adorn these buildings with art and sculpture.  We walk the crowded streets full of bustling commerce.  And we walk among those more or less fortunate than ourselves in that imaginary hierarchy that means little in the scheme of things; for the slaves of Pompeii are remembered and revered alongside the wealthiest and most influential members of their society. 

Above: Bronze statues at Trade and Tryon, the Hearst Tower (my favorite building)

And I can’t leave out the gals who had a splendid adventure.  I love that Wolfy is just fixated on the Bank of America tower.  You can’t see the top when your standing at street level – it’s pretty magical for a little person.

Plastic bags are very difficult to recycle and very few make it to the recycling phase.  Most end up in landfills, or scattered across the country-side and in our waterways where they are ingested by smaller and smaller creatures until there’s a level of petroleum detectable all the way up the food-chain.  SO, the next time asks you whether you prefer paper or plastic, bring them cloth or tell them paper because it’s easily recycled.  Donate bags, if your store will accept them, or encourage a friend to bring his/her own bags when shopping.  It all makes a difference.  

Yesterday, when I asked the Home Economist about going to paper, I learned that this is the first week they are plastic-free!  I spoke with them about bag donation (since I think slowing the purchasing of paper bags (which come from beautiful CO2-absorbing trees) is a good next step).

Erick and I were having an argument earlier over time-travel.  I was arguing that one cannot go back in time prior to the exact moment the time-machine was turned on, but Erick countered that if one could travel about time it would not matter when the time-machine was built because at any moment you would be present inside the time-machine whether in 1988 or 2008.

If testing my time-machine, I would travel first to 1984.  Great year, good music, good movies and fun fashion – plus it’s a safe distance from the present and yet with many modern conveniences.  Following a visit to 1984, I’d pull back to 1884 for a reference and then I’d come back to the 1940s and bounce back and forth down the space-time continuum until I found a prehistoric animal or Atlantis or something that couldn’t be outdone.  

Erick is obviously bored with coming home from work and not working, so he’s now reading about wormhole propulsion and bending space-time:

Special relativity only applies locally. Wormholes allow superluminal (faster-than-light) travel by ensuring that the speed of light is not exceeded locally at any time. While traveling through a wormhole, subluminal (slower-than-light) speeds are used. If two points are connected by a wormhole, the time taken to traverse it would be less than the time it would take a light beam to make the journey if it took a path through the space outside the wormhole. However, a light beam traveling through the wormhole would always beat the traveler. As an analogy, running around to the opposite side of a mountain at maximum speed may take longer than walking through a tunnel crossing it. You can walk slowly while reaching your destination more quickly because the length of your path is shorter.

That said, my mind has wondered to another wormy topic…  Has anyone been reading about these feet washing up on shore in British Columbia?  I blame Ogopogo.  Would you eat sneakers?  

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A dear friend’s sister was married this weekend in the same spot Erick and I were married seven years earlier.  It brought back so many memories and at the same time, we made more.  We danced until the DJ packed up and then we had a bonfire, staying up far too late and enjoying every minute of it.  (And each table had a goldfish bowl at its center with 2-3 goldfish in each bowl – neat since the people holding the wedding will make sure each fish is placed in a loving family)

Last night we held ceremony for the peach tree I’ve been fretting about all summer.  It’s amazing already the improvement we’re seeing just increasing the biomass out beyond the drip-line.  She even produced three fruits to show us how strong she is.  And the fungus is completely gone already.  New leaves have appeared and she looks fantastic.

Following the ceremony, some friends came out to the house and we brought out the saxophone, mandolin, banjo and guitar and did a wee bit of picking and playin.’  I’m thrilled to know good folk who are learning to play.

I’m taking the day today to recover from all the fun and festivities.  Taking the downtime to work on the guilds conceptually.  I received the map of our septic system/drain field from the Health Department yesterday and am going to have to map it out and change things around in our planning of the guilds.

Oh!  We took my sister-in-law up to see the farm yesterday.  She had never been on a working farm and had never picked anything fresh from the garden and eaten it, so I showed her the raspberries and watched her take it all in.  That’s my favorite part of working on a biodynamic farm: the pure wonder and discovery made in those first few minutes when people unplug and see in their own world, unlimited possibilities.

Tea and fishies

Erick made me tea around 3 or 4 in the morning and we snuggled on the couch to watch the fish in the livingroom tank. Last night we had our first visitor – Alden, a scientologist, who helped me get back in contact with my body. That’s the thing I’ve noticed most about my experience with chemo – an uncomfortable disassociation with my physical self. While crawling back into bed last night, I caught a glimpse of my shadow and it took me a moment to identify it as my own. This morning, I’m still feeling tired, but stronger.

The steroids are what are giving me the most trouble. I haven’t had more than 6 hours of sleep in 4 days. I’m sure this is where most of my anxiety is originating. I also heard stories of people driving themselves home from treatments or playing tennis afterward and so yesterday when I felt like my world was ending, I realized I needed to stop comparing myself to others. Chemo is not the same for everyone and immunotherapy used in conjunction with chemo can be hell for people of smaller stature – or for anyone, really. So, I’m declaring myself wimp-free, but maybe a little weak around the edges. And edgy around the edges too until I’m done with the steroids.

Celli is my ever-faithful companion in all of this. She must realize something because since my diagnosis, she follows me around and rests her head on me, nudges me, snuggles close. You gotta love a beagle. The girls are also being great. They make a pretend breakfast each morning and bring it in for me to eat. Lucy has been sleeping well, so it isn’t like I have to deal with anything other than my own restlessness at night. And Erick is my hero (some things never change).

It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day and already after some toast I’m feeling better. We still plan to celebrate Lucy’s birthday. It won’t be quite the way we’d planned it, but I think we’ll have lot’s of fun. Lucy is going to be a witch (like me! 🙂 and Kennedy and Ava have not yet decided what they’re going to be. Suggestions are welcome – I’ll pass them along.

Yar.

With the bone marrow biopsy complete, our treatment has been set in motion. If the spots on my liver shrink with treatment, my doctor will order three more rounds of chemo. I’m banking on those spots behaving themselves.

In the meantime, we’re getting everything in order (or doing our best) before Thursday, the day I’ll begin chemo/immunotherapy. It’s strange to imagine the next two months. I’ll be as bald as the Thanksgiving turkey and I worry sometimes about what Christmas will be like. Will I be healthy enough to travel and see everyone?

Erick set up the 90-gallon and the family room is all in order. I’m writing this from my desk downstairs which pleases me more than I can adequately express. Trumping our feelings of a loss of control is our desire to prepare for what lies ahead and in our preparation, we feel we’ve regained some sense of control.

As for the bone marrow biopsy, it sucked. They drill into your bone and take the bone marrow and then they remove the core (the remaining bone). It feels like a bad trip to the dentist, but all of the pain was quick and my doctor was fantastic. He actually dropped the core and I had to endure the drill a second time, but I felt pretty good about everything when it over.

After the first core was lost, the doctor said, “Yar.”

I said, “Yar? Yar as in yay??”

“I’ve never lost a core,” came his reply. “Don’t worry, it’ll disolve and I’m really sorry.”

“So what does that mean? We have to do it again?!”

“Yes, take another deep breath.”

I love the directness of this man. He’s out to get cancer and he’s a great man to have on your side (unless, of course, you’re a mutated b-cell).

That’s my update for now. Treatment will include radiation, which I hadn’t realized before, but that will come at the end. I can’t wait to be done with all of this. I have so much gratitude these days for life just as it is – I’m smiling more, laughing more and appreciating all of those wonderful people who surround me with warmth and love.

POLYPTERUS SENEGALUS

senegalus5.jpg

I have a dinosaur. A real live dinosaur, or at least a very, very primitive fish. Actually, I have two of them. They are related to the lung fish and are able to survive in or out of water thanks to their swim-bladders which have evolved an ingenious dual funcion as either bladder or lung.

A semi-aggressive fish, my little dinos are already eyeing (or smelling, as their sense of sight is poor) the other fish in the tank. Fortunately for their semi-aggressive tank-mates, these Senegal Bichirs are still babies and their mouths are not yet a threat [note: or so I thought, please see 3rd comment below].

They are curious creatures, out of Africa, that may survive in all types of water conditions, or on land, living an amphibious lifestyle. Bichirs look something like lizards, snakes, eels and fish all rolled into one. They crawl along the bottom of the tank, or slither through the water, gulping air at the top. (The tank must be sealed because, in addition to their artful swim-bladders, bichirs are master escape artists.)

Polypterus (many fins or wings) Senegalus are one of the most fascinating land/sea creatures alive today. The Senegals will grow to approximately two feet and will require 80-100 gallons of water and sandy substrate. Other polypterids can grow in excess of four feet.

And yeah, in case you were wondering, it’s best not to stick a finger in the tank.