On not being a sword

I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sat on the edge while she waved her hands about.

“…your body wants to flow, you see,” she said, “it’s being held in place at the moment, but it isn’t happy. That’s why you have so many stressed and tightened muscles. You’re more like water. Water’s powerful, but it’s not a sword. You aren’t a sword….”

I expect she had more to say, my osteopath, but I don’t remember what; I was trying to work out what to do with those ideas.

***

Since then, my thoughts keep wandering back to the image of water trying to fight like a sword, or trying to be a sword.

***

The way I see it, water tends to flow round or over the things that get in its way. It doesn’t fight everything, at least not immediately. I have the feeling that when it does fight, water tends to fight more slowly than swords do.

It’s not weak though, even if it is slow. All the ravines and canyons, all the hilly landscapes, all the washed-away sea breakers and man-made constructs, all the round stones on the riverbed/at the beach, prove that. And the amazing lack of unrounded shards of glass on the beach show that it doesn’t always take as much time as one thinks.

The rain falls drop by drop. Even tsunamis and floods take their time to build up to the finale. But when they go, they go. When they’re ready, they make themselves known, often with catastrophic results.

There are very few ways to permanently keep water from going where it wants to go. Dams break, pipes burst, riverbanks overflow, the tide comes in, regardless who commands it to stay away.

Pretty much eveything natural shows how much water can achieve, given enough time. Not only in big crashy ways, but also in small, hidden ways.

All things need water. Nothing survives long without water. In fact, there’d be no life at all without water. The whole planet only exists the way it does because there’s water on it. The blue planet. our blue planet. The only one I want to live on, even if they reckon they’ve found another 10 out there in space. (But I digress)

Swords, on the other hand, aren’t known for their life-giving properties. l suspect lots of people could imagine the benefits of the public still having swords and swordfights but I don’t know anyone who can’t live without one.

***

When someone tells me I’m not something, I immediately wonder why not, and whether they meant that in a good way (or not), and whether they were hoping I was or are happy that I’m not, and whether I was aiming to be that thing at all and whether I should have been…. (etc etc etc ad infinitum).

In this case, after quite a lot of thought, I think I’m pleased to not be a sword. And if I’m not a sword, water’s not a bad thing to be instead.

🙂

On filling an aquarium / Or preparing one – part 2

Usually, when setting up an aquarium (especially for fussy fish like discus), one starts planning a month or so in advance. That leaves plenty of time to fill it up, and let the pump, the filter and the water get used to each other. There’s enough time for the chemicals in the tap water to lose their strength (please don’t ask me how – I have no idea), enough time for the right sort of bacteria to settle in, enough time for a mini eco-system to evolve – or at least for the water to get a green tinge!

We didn’t have that much time.

Instead, we hung the new filter into the old aquarium for a couple of days.

Usually, in an established anquarium, one changes about a quarter of the the water every 2 weeks (minimum). Ish. The water is syphoned out and replaced with fresh (tap) water. Officially the water you put in should have the same temperature as the water you take out but ours seem to like it a little bit colder – they swim in and out of the ‘jet’ like anything!

While we were setting up the new aquarium, we changed the water approximately every 3 days. We didn’t take nearly a third though, more like a sixth. We syphoned the water into the new aquarium instead of into the garden. The old aquarium was topped up and the process was repeated a few days later.

Once the new aquarium was about 3/4 full, we took the new filter out of the old aquarium and gave it a new home in the new aquarium.

We added the air-stones*, some wood for hiding behind, and a good handful of water plants and waited for the last water change.

Once the aquarium was full, and had been run though the filter for another couple of days, we were finally ready to transfer the fish.

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Fish aren’t really good for the impatient. Unless they’re learning to be patient…

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Even our accelerated set up took a couple of weeks. It was ok, but only just. If you have time for it, I would always recommend letting it settle down a bit more before adding the first fish. I think having ‘ready made’ aquarium water (from the old aquarium) is awesome, as long as you fish are healthy and happy. If they’re ill, and you buy new fish, I think I would rather wait longer and keep the aquariums separate.

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Any advice welcome 🙂

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*air is pumped through a porous stone ao that bubbles come out, circulating and oxygenating the water.

On Perfect days

(Anyone who read my earlier posts – or spoke to me during May – knows I was invited to spend a week “messing about on a river” (and connecting lakes). This post should have been posted directly after getting back (mid June) but somehow wasn’t. I’m going to post it now anyway)

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Some days are just so perfect nothing could make them better. They’re even perfect in the moment you’re living them, not just in your memory afterwards.

They’re pretty few-and-far-between, but they do exist.

The first Saturday of the boat trip was one of them. The rest of the boat trip was fantastic too, but there’s something about doing things for the first time that makes them special.

This post won’t do it justice, but I’m going to write about it anyway in the hope I can convey a fraction of the amazingness to screen-paper.

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I arrived on Friday, was picked up from the station, fed, watered and sent to bed.

I woke to the promise of warm breadbuns for breakfast. By the time I was up and dressed the promise was reallife and waiting for me on the table.

We packed the car and after a brief detour to the workshop to do some last-minute finishing off, we found ourselves parked in a playground on the banks of a huge lake on the outskirts of the city looking at a row of motor and sailing boats, one of which was to be our home for the next week-and-a-bit.

We unloaded the contents of the car into a heap on the pier and I misused a kid’s trampoline while R parked the car where it wouldn’t disturb anyone. I love trampolining, even if the sign forbids anyone over 14 the pleasure of bouncing. Luckily the trampoline police were on duty elsewhere and I got off with being laughed at by R as he came back to start loading the boat.

The only way onto the boat was a thin wooden plank leading off the wooden pier and across the water.

The plank wobbled.

Also the boat rocked if you touched it. I don’t balance better when holding onto something unstable.

I’m not particularly scared of walking on curbstones, and the plank was considerably wider than a curbstone. However. Something in the knowledge that the plank was at least a metre above the water, whereas the curbstone is a maximum of maybe 10cm above the road, made walking along it that much more nervewracking.

Having made it to the boat carrying considerably less than I could carry along a curbstone, R wisely decided I ought to stay inside the boat. He fetched the rest of our stuff while I stowed it somewhere it’d be out-of-the-way yet accessible for the rest of the week.

As soon as the pier was empty we were off 🙂

R’s friend A and A’s nephew D were already onboard A’s boat and waiting for us to get our butts in gear and catch them up.

The first port-of-call was the filling-station.

Filling a boat is very strange. For starters you have to pull up alongside the fuel pump in your boat and then tie it up before you can fill it. I don’t drive, but I’ve never seen anyone tie their car up, and I don’t remember ever tying my motorbike up. I clambered out of the boat and stood on the ‘bank’ out of the way.

When the tanks were full, we untied the boats, moved 50yards up the river and ‘parked’ (involving more tying up) so we could go shopping. We didn’t want to leave the boats unattended, so A and D went shopping first, then it was our turn. The shop was a good 5 minute walk from the river so they brought the shopping trolley back with them. We laughed, took photos 🙂 and walked the empty trolley back to the shop. R refused to walk the trolley back after we’d shopped, so we left it in its trolley shed and carried our shopping back to the boat.

We now had food for the boat and food for us. We needed water. We stopped at a very small port, where a man threw the end of a hosepipe at us and wished us a good day when we threw it back to him.

All things being sorted, we were finally ready to go.

 

It didn’t take long before R suggested I drive. Drive? Steer? Whatever one does to boats to make them go where you want them to go.

As I said above, I don’t drive, but I was curious and 8km/h is a speed even I can handle, so I agreed and he set about telling me how it works. I slid onto his side of the ‘sofa’ and took the wheel. A drove in front of us setting both the speed and the direction, so I just had to follow him without ramming him, the banks of the river, the other boats, or anything else really. There’s also a guage to tell you how deep the water is. Running aground does you no favours.

It seems I am surprisingly good at steering a boat :).

Having discovered this, R relaxed and lay back in the sun. I can’t watch people being lazy if I’m not 😉 and I was supposed to be revising for my upcoming Glass-Theory-Exam, so I dug my 400 painstakingly written 13×7 cards out and handed them to R with the request to go through and ask me the questions. The rest of the day was spent with me behind the wheel and R behind the cards.

Turns out R is dyslexic and, apparently, my handwriting is appalling. Reading is something that came pretty naturally to me, so I don’t really understand how it must feel not to be able to, even if I can understand not making out other peoples’ handwriting. He stumbled through the question while I tried to work out what I might have written, then I answered and he tried to work out what I might have written and whether it coincided with what I answered.

R knows loads – often more than the teacher – and can [usually] explain it in a way that makes me want to listen, so each card became the starting point for a mini-lesson.

 

After a while we arrived at the lake. A threw the anchors out and R and D attached our boat to theirs and we all went swimming (very cold, but okay once you were in).

I lay on deck “to dry” ;). R brought me a Thermarest which meant I lay there a lot longer than strictly necessary.. 🙂

A started washing his boat, I can’t watch people being lazy when I can’t, but I can’t watch people being quite so active while I’m laying around doing nothing (actively watching them be busy doesn’t count) so I washed ‘our’ windows. I’d been irritated by all the dead flies and gunk on the windscreen while driving but hadn’t wanted to say anything… This was a fantastic opportunity to do something about it – and prove my year of washing school windows was good for something.

R sunbathed – apparently watching people clean stuff helps him sleep ;).

As soon as everything on A’s boat and the windows on ours gleamed and glistened (wonderful words :)) we settled down for a BBQ and an evening in. Our boats were joined together so that we were practically all in one ‘room’. The BBQ was on theirs, so we were able to relax (even more) and wait to be served :).

In our supermarket dash it seems R and I had stumbled across the best lamb ever. I wouldn’t recognise the packaging if I was looking for it, and I don’t even remember what the shop was called, which is a bummer, but maybe its bestness wasn’t entirely due to the sheep…

 

D is clumsier than I am 🙂 He was our dinner-entertainment, dropping and spilling things to the amusement of all (and he laughed with the rest of us, so either he’s a fantastic actor or he really didn’t care).

A washed up, R lit the oil lamps and anti-fly-candles and I sat with a Baileys-and-milk listening to the Irish country band giving a concert on the far side of the lake (even if I didn’t believe R had booked them especially) and watching the stars come out.

 

I don’t think anything could have added to the “idylle” (idyllic-ness).