Sometimes, Ya Just Gotta Ask: “Why?”

My friends over at Theme Thursday have had some upheaval in the past week, and the Theme Thursday fun hasn’t been, well, fun. I’m happy to see there is new management. We’re back on track!.

And that leads me to today’s theme for this faboo Thursday: Fish

As usual, I started with a Google search to see what’s what, and I stumbled across the latest fad in China and Singapore: Tattooed fish

Wait. What?

Yes indeed. Tattooed fish.

From my knowledge of Chinese culture, I do know that fish are seen as a symbol of good luck and also symbolize wealth, so to capitalize on this belief, someone has figured out how to laser dyed characters and symbols onto the side of parrot fish.

These tattooed fish are called “Fortune Fish” and are said to bring good fortune and happiness to their owners.

Here’s an example:

Image from People’s Daily Online

Evidently, a normal, unmodified parrot fish costs about 10 Yuan (about $1.50 USD) but a tattooed fish costs about 25 Yuan (roughly $4 USD), so this is a bit of a money maker. If you want your fish with a customized personal tattoo, it’ll run ya more like 100 Yuan ($15 USD).

The tattoo is applied using a “low intensity” laser to apply dye which, it’s claimed, doesn’t cause the fish any pain. *ahem* Sure. Ask the fish, I’ll bet he’s got a different story.

Capitalizing on superstition is nothing new, but this one seems pretty gosh darn wrong to me.

What’s next! Tattooed pigs!?!?!

Oh wait. Nevermind. (<- also found in China, I might add).

$13 Buys a lot of Love

I have a fish. His name is Benito.

He’s a Half Moon Betta and I paid the princely sum of $13 for him. (most regular Betta fish go for about $5).

This is what he looked like when I first got him at the fish store:

He was little. He was scrappy. He liked his food to be delivered with alacrity.

Way back in May 2010, Benito almost died. The Good Man saved his life and now Benito has been a happy, scrappy, crazy fish in our home for the past year.

This is what Benito looks like now. He’s not only handsome, he’s a work of art. Right at this moment, this photo hangs in a Bay Area photography show where all may come and worship the handsome fish.

Last night, it was time to change out Benito’s water. We are very responsible fish owners and work very hard to make sure our fish are happy and swim around in good clear and conditioned water.

Doing a full tank change is tough because it requires us to dip the fish out of the tank (which can be stressful for the fish) and hold them in a small container while we replace the water in the tank.

Last night, I had completed this water change and I had returned Benito to his home. He’s always a little bewildered after the water change and has to reassert that his tank is truly his home. I decided to give him some food because if he can get a couple pellets down, he’ll go calm and all will be well.

For some reason last night when I reached over the tank to drop a tasty Hikari pellet his way, he got spooked and started darting around the tank.

This is not unusual behavior for a frightened Betta. What is unusual, however, is that he dove straight down and slammed his tiny fish noggin on the rocks.

He was visibly stunned and floated there for a moment with blank eyes and hardly any movement.

“Honey?” I said worriedly to The Good Man, “I think we have a problem.”

Benito did not look good. At one point, he stopped moving his fins at all and began to list to one side. Betta owners will know that laying on the bottom and listing to one side is NOT a good sign.

The Good Man and I crowded worriedly around the tank and watched him. His gills were still working and occasionally a side fin would flap. But it didn’t look good. It didn’t look good at all.

I became inconsolably depressed. My fish. My little fish! How could this happen?

The Good Man thought Benito was just stunned and would be all right. I wasn’t so sure. I fully expected to find him floating at the top of the tank in the morning.

I’m happy to say I was completely wrong. About a half hour later, Benito seemed revived and back to his usual self. This morning he was swimming about and hungry as usual.


When did I start to love a little $13 fish so gosh darn much? A silly, scrappy, easily startled, concussed fish?

I don’t know. I just do. He may only be a pet store fish but he’s a part of our family.

I’m Not Really Sure What Happened There

So I got to thinking about snakes the other day.

(What a way to start a blog post)

It started with this amazing photograph of a cotton mouth in the damp pine plantations of North Carolina.

Which got me thinking about how much I really, really don’t like snakes. I mean, I’m not out to cause them harm, but I really deeply, profoundly dislike snakes.

Which makes it tricky to be a little ol’ girl from New Mexico raised right smack dab in the middle of all sorts of robust desert wildlife.

By way of example….Scorpions? Ffft. I don’t like ’em but they don’t bother me that much. I dislike spiders but tarantulas don’t bug me terribly. I mean, I stay away, but whatever.

But there’s something about snakes. I don’t care if it’s “just an ol’ harmless bullsnake,” I’m NOT ok.

So this presented some, how would you call it, issues, during my summers spent in the rural paradise of Logan, New Mexico.

Logan, located a bit up and to the right of Tucumcari, is home to Ute Lake. My folks bought a mobile home that had the wheels taken off and it was placed permanently on a concrete pad.

We called this tin tube our “Lake House.” It sounded kind of grand to say that my family had themselves an honest to goodness lake house.

During the hot Albuquerque summers, with three kids bouncing off the walls, my folks would plan a getaway to the lake. We’d usually get to go for at least a week at a time.

It was great to get out of the city and clomp up and down dirt roads. My mom would slacken up the Maternal Grip and let us run around on our own. It was great.

But since where our little house was located was truly rural, no paved roads, open lots, shrubs, tall grass and the guy across the road was a gentleman farmer, this all added up to, you know…snakes.

Many is the day I’d be meandering down the dirt road, my flip-flops both flipping and flopping, and I’d spy the last bit of a snake slithering off into the dry grass. I wouldn’t stop to assess what exactly kind of snake that was, I’d simply take off running.

You gotta know something about me: I’m not a runner. This ample body wasn’t build for speed. I’m more of a cruiser than a racer, ifyouknowwhatImean.

But just the whiff of a snake on the wind and I’d best Carl Lewis in his prime getting back to the house.

So all of this is to lay the groundwork as a positively perpendicular view to the event that has been on my mind.

While visiting The Lake, one of my main daily activities was swimming in said lake. All day, every day it was “mom, when are we going to the water? Mom? Mom? MOOOOM!”

I loved swimming in that lake. Before leaving Albuquerque, Mom would buy us each an inflatable swim mattress at the local K-Mart which was supposed to last the season, or longer if possible.

These vinyl mattresses often fell victim to the vast amount of underwater branches and stuff in the lake.

See…in 1963 a dam was built which created the lake. When the water rose, a lot of trees and underbrush were covered up, making swimming both a skosh dangerous and a little interesting.

In addition, the water in the lake isn’t exactly clear. It’s a nice muddy brown all of the time, so running aground in my hot pink swim mattress because I couldn’t see what was below wasn’t unusual.

So there on a hot summer day in something like the month of August, I was swimming and flopping and splashing and having fun. I was in the water but draped sideways across the mattress, kicking my feet below when suddenly I noticed very small greenish brown snake come swimming by. Like, right at me.

And in my abject fear of snakes, they are all rattlers to me.

I jerked back and got out of its way, but in those three seconds the following things went through my eight year old mind:

1. There is a snake in the water!
2. If it goes underwater it might bite my leg!
3. If it goes underwater it might bite my butt!
4. If it goes underwater it might bite both my leg and my butt!
5. I should just ignore it, it’ll probably swim away.
6. But then I won’t know where it is!!! (see points 2, 3 and 4)

What happened next is something I still don’t fully understand.

I reached out, grabbed the hind end of this little snake, and I gave it a fling towards land. I may or may not have screamed “gaaaaghhghhh” as I did so.

Evidently I had a good arm back in the day, cuz I got a pretty good Tim Lincecum whipping action going and that baby snake traveled a good long distance, clearing the ten feet of water and a good eight feet of land. It bounced off the bluff and landed somewhere nearby my mother who was on a towel on shore, reading a book.

Uh oh.

So I hysterically informed my mother that I’d slung a snake her way, and she admonished me, but reported that she’d seen the offender slither on up the bluff and disappear into the grass.

The immediate danger was over, but I never could get comfortable again that day.

It wasn’t until later that night that the gravity of the situation really came home to roost. I’d actually touched a freaking snake? Oh. My. Gawd.

Whatever in the world possessed me, I’ll never be able to comprehend. I’d never do it again, I’m fairly sure.

I get an involuntary convulsive shudder just remembering it.

Photo found at

Whadderyoo Looking At?

There is so much I have yet to learn about making good photographs. Each step along the way seems like I’ll never sort it out, but I keep at it. I snap photo after photo until I finally understand what makes a particular aspect work. It’s usually one photograph that turns out just right, and I say “hey, maybe I’m starting to get the hang of this.”

My current studies are about macro photography. I’ve owned a macro lens for a quite a while now, but have used it only rarely as I’ve never happy with the results. It’s the photographer’s fault, not the lens. It’s a fine lens, but a macro in the hands of an inexperienced photographer can yield some funky stuff (and not in a good way).

To me, a macro lens is amazing because you can get such detail, but that detail can come at the cost of clarity if you don’t have it focused just right.

Well, the practice continues, and since my pets must suffer their fate as the subject of my ongoing photography education, today I present to you another photo of my beloved male betta named Benito.

Last evening I pointed the macro lens his way when it was his turn to cool his fins in a holding cup. Freshly treated water in his tank was warming up to a comfy level while he waited.

Snapping him in the holding cup helps because he doesn’t have as much room to move and spin and twirl and turn his body into a perfect u-shaped form, thus creating ever more blurry photos of half a fin or an out of focus gill.

He’s very responsive when I speak to him and comes right up and looks at me. Sure, he wants me to feed him, but I like to think it’s because he knows I’m his human and here to take care of him.

I like looking into his little eyes, and wanted very much to capture a photo where you could see the clear domes over his little fishy eyeballs.

I think I succeeded. He was very patient while I fiddled with the focus and turned the knobs on my camera and cursed and snapped away.

For this photo, I used a very shallow depth of field and I like how his head is very clear and the rest of his body blurs to soft focus.

Benito is not really a fan of having a camera aimed at him, so I only took about eight photos, but I’m pretty pleased with the results.

I’m learning!

click image for larger size

This week’s Theme Thursday assignment is turn.

Photo by Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons license, as posted in the right hand column.

Haaaowww, Might As Well Jump!

Oh hell, I did NOT just reference Van Halen for today’s Theme Thursday topic of jump, did I?

Oh wait. Yes I did.

Ahem. Let’s move on. Quickly.

The topic of jumping has been on my mind lately. The Good Man and I have been discussing this in hushed and worried tones.

You might remember this post from back in May where I described the miracle of my betta fish named Benito. Bubba almost died on us, but he was miraculously saved by The Good Man.

After that rough spot, our little Benito thrived but was fairly timid. The Good Man did some reading up and found that a male betta will become more aggressive as he becomes comfortable with his surroundings.

Well, we’ve had Benito for nine months now and Mr Fish has become VERY comfy in his own little fish house.

So comfy that he’s become a very naughty fish.

When we feed him, he loves to make sport of it. He’ll leap at the food nuggets like he’s got Jaws-like delusions of grandeur.

He’ll hide back behind his heater, and when I drop a pellet and then point to it with my finger, he’ll come charging out ignoring the food pellet and leap to bite my finger.

I swear I hear a tiny “rowrrrr” every time he nips my finger.

Feeding him has become a chore because he’s too busy trying to bite me or do a flying leap onto the food pellet that he misses the damn thing and has to chase it around the bowl.

The Good Man thinks this is funny and encourages him, making his own “rowrr” sounds. Must be a guy thing….

Anyhow, the other day, The Good Man was on feeding duty and he had the packet of pellets in his hand. TGM turned to say something to me, and when he turned back, Benito had jumped clean out of the water and landed on the table.

He’d seen the pellet pack and his buddy TGM and it was ON!

We scooped Benito up and put him back in his bowl and he’s no worse for the wear, and no less ready to leap for his food pellets.

We have to keep his water level a bit low and keep the lid down so we can contain his exuberance. I knew that bettas were notorious jumpers, but come oooon.

An aside for you fish folks who might question: yes, we tested to be sure he wasn’t leaping because his water was ammoniated. Nope, he was just being naughty.

This morning I decided to try to take a photo of my little fish. Having the camera near the bowl stresses him out, so I try not to do it very often or for a very long at a time. Plus, he’s a fast little bugger and hard to photograph.

But here is my little bubba fish (terrible angle, makes him look huge!). Don’t be fooled by the cute eyes…he’s ready to jump. He’d already flared at the camera and leapt at my fingers by this point.

Boys can be so rude! Our other little fish Margaret is such a sweet little girl and easy to feed.

Not so with this troublemaker: