While takayla‘s away, I have been doing more of my “bottom of the to-do list.” I decided I would clean a part of our bedroom where stuff just keeps piling up. That was harder than I thought. The space is right next to the door along the left wall as you come in. I don’t know how long it’s been since I gave these areas a good cleaning, and I don’t know how so much crap ends up there. Most of it is trash: like magazine inserts, bits of catalogs, wadded up tissues, and dust bunnies the size of capybaras. Most seemed to be trash that was easy to get rid of, no “will I need this anymore?” for most of it. I don’t need a box of Styrofoam peanuts Latte threw up in. I don’t need a wad of dry cleaner bags, the lid to a hamper long since thrown away, or a crushed poster from some sci-fi con. There were a lot of “big items” which cut the cleaning down rapidly, like huge coats and some pictures that fell off of walls and need to be put back up (which I did). But I cleaned to the left and right of the “elephant in the room,” hoping to avoid the inevitable cleanup task that dominates that wall.
The Tank of Doom.
I used to keep fish. A lot of fish. When I was a teen, I have up to 3-4 tanks going at the same time at the peak: a 35 gallon tall, 20 gallon, 10 gallon, and small 5 gallon breeder tank. All but the 35 ended up with Bruce (which later got wiped out in his garage fire) after I moved out of the FanTek house. I was really good at aquarium care: both tropical and pond care.
Then I lost the “blue thumb.”
I don’t know how it happened, but I know when it did. It happened during one of the floods of our old town home in Reston. The first flood, I think, where the tanks was filled with water poured from a leaking drywall. After those fish died (almost all in a few days), nothing would survive in that tank. Even when we converted it into a terrarium. So we tossed it before we moved to this house in 2000. I watched a garbage truck crush it like a wineglass under a steamroller.
When we moved here, we got all new stuff: new tank, stand, gravel, light, plants, and filter. Not a single thing from the old setup was used. And the fish died anyway. None would last more than a few months, and I had goldfish for chrissakes. The “pet fish for dummies” that people keep in bowls in Hong Kong markets. I once had a goldfish that lasted 7 years! Grew from a pea-sized thing to one the size of a grapefruit.
I tested the water weekly, measured the pH, kept the temperature even, conditioned the water before I poured it in. What the hell? And they wouldn’t die right away, either. They would wait a few months and then, BAM! Half the tank would go in a week.
So after several waves of what I would call “The Auschwitz of Goldfish,” I gave up and left the tank there to just give us some even humidity. I don’t know when the last fish we had in it died, it must have been several years since the last flushing memorial. And the water in the tank got lower and lower. And slowly minerals crept up the side as the water evaporated. The overhanging filter went dead, and it just sat there. Even algae didn’t grow in there.
So last night, I cleaned the hell out of the tank and brought it “back to life.” That’s hard because you can’t use cleaning chemicals of any kind: just elbow grease and maybe a little salt if you rinse whatever you cleaned thoroughly. I drained the icky water that was left, put in fresh water, but I didn’t condition it because... well, I don’t know if fish will ever go in there. I did turn the filter on, and now as I type this, I have a pristine-looking aquarium.
But it’s a lie. It’s waiting to kill any fish I put in there. I just know it. Waiting like Norman Bates to spy on unsuspecting fish, and then kill them in the water with some high-pitched Psycho violins. So for now it’s a humidity stabilizer that looks a lot nicer than some acrylic see-thru display of what happens to pots left in the sink for a week.