I’m on reddit today – stop by and say hi, and maybe win a book

reddit-fantasyToday over at r/Fantasy on reddit, I have the wonderful opportunity to promote my writing to a great group of fantasy readers. Stop by for a fun read, and if you’re a reddit user, say hi (or at least give me an upvote).

I’m giving away a copy of my paperback to the user who asks the best question.

You’ll find me here: http://redd.it/311pvu

31 Things, Day 20: Admiring an aquarium

31 things I'd rather be doing right now

My mom bought a 10 gallon aquarium when I was in the seventh grade. We kept a few tropical fish barely alive for a couple months, and every couple of months would replace the poor dead fish with new ones. We really had no idea what we were doing, and thus did just about everything wrong.

Fast forward fifteen or so years, and I floated (ha) the idea of owning an aquarium to my wife. I told her that I would do all the research, would get everything used on ebay (found a local pickup), and a few months later we had 37 gallon aquarium in our apartment. She was hesitant not so much for the expense, but the reason – why? Hard to say, really. They just look beautiful, even cute. Even soothing.

Vitaro Aquarium, circa 2005

The actual Vitaro Aquarium, circa 2005

But owning and and maintaining an aquarium is not a simple hobby. There’s lots of things to consider: best fish for your water pH, fish that play nice together, maintaining water temperature with the ebbs and flows of your own region’s climate, the type of filtration, chemical testing to be sure nothing is out of balance, weekly water changes, monthly tank cleaning, proper feeding so every fish gets something, dealing with ich…. it’s a lot to keep track of, and becomes more of a chore than something fun rather quickly.

And even though we were doing all the right things, no fish we owned lived longer than one year. Was it the quality of the fish we were buying? Were we too lax in our fish mixing? Should we have had a quarantine tank like the book suggested? We don’t know.

When we moved into our first house 7 years ago, the fish had all died a month before, and we agreed not to replace them, to make the move easier. The empty (smelly) tank came with us to the house, but stayed empty, in the basement, for several years. Then the kids came, and when they were toddling around, they got into everything. I kept picturing them knocking the aquarium over, and I just couldn’t bring myself to setting it up again. I wouldn’t care about the water damage and dead fish, I was more afraid of the kids getting hurt. We eventually gave the tank and stand to a friend for his bearded dragon.

Poor Gourami, we hardly knew ye

I do miss those platys, gouramis, rasboras, guppies, corydoras, and tetras we once had. They were soothing to watch. Maybe someday, when the kids are older and can contribute to maintaining it, we’ll get a nice big aquarium, and keep some larger fish like an oscar cichlid. Until then, we’ll have to settle for the local Petsmart.

So that’s another thing I’d rather be doing now, admiring an aquarium.

31 Things, Day 19: Dine out

31 things I'd rather be doing right now

Our family is on a strict budget because we have a goal of being rid of student loan and car loan debt 4 years from now. It means that a lot of luxuries that we absolutely could afford have to be put aside, while keeping our eyes on the bigger picture. But sometimes it hurts! Dining out is one of those things. Both my wife and I enjoy dining out for a lot of the same reasons:

  • You get to eat something really tasty you didn’t have to prepare and cook
  • You get to eat it hot
  • You get to eat it at a pace of your choosing
  • You don’t have to get up to get something, because your server brings it to you
  • You don’t have to wash the dishes, pots or pans when you’re done

Problem is, they charge you money for all that nice service. (The nerve!) So our dining out experiences number only a handful of times a year. A lot of those times involve my children. I love my kiddos, but they don’t make meal time easy, at home or out. Sure I want to treat the kids now and then, but it’s not the relaxing experience I crave.

What I’m talking about here is just me and my wife. I would love to be able to take Bethany out once a week. The ability to do that may not happen for years, but it is a goal I am reaching for. We don’t have really expensive tastes, though those kinds of places are nice once a year. No, for us, a nice dish of pasta at the Olive Garden with a glass of wine and some uninterrupted conversation is a nice little window into the peace that awaits us in heaven.

So that’s another thing I’d rather be doing now, dining out.