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Alas, poor James, I knew thee well... Well enough to feed you a diseased cricket, at least.
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Just calling to let you know my mini-garden isn't doing so hot. Octopus plant is moldy, Venus fly trap is anorexic, pitcher plant is... crispy. Everything else in the terrarium is doing hunky-dory. Wish I could say the same for my snails, too... they bit the dust as well. Didn't see it coming. Maybe someday I'll stumble upon more aquatic shelled creatures with a new sense of adventure. And hopefully a new tank for which to put them in. 

But I digress. 

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I, on a recent trip to the thrift store, stumbled upon this solar-powered flower. (Gee, that's redundant!) It's the same little nick knack you see at street fairs along with a slew of other solar-powered dancing cute things, like waving lucky cats and pandas. The flower was calling to me. It said, "Hey. I dance in the sun. Get me out of this badly-lit thrift store." So I did. For two dollars. 
Now "Gunther" sits in the windowsill, dancing the days away, mocking my gardening failure in the cheeriest of fashions. He is happy to remind me that he is the only type of plant I am able to not murder. He is just so darn cute, though, I can't stay mad at him. 

In other news, SCHOOL. So posts will be a bit less frequent and a pinch more whiny. Hopefully not, though! 
 
 
Good news everyone
My friend, who happens to work adjacent to a floral department, bought me three carnivorous plants. 
Not one! But three carnivorous plants. And boy are they cute. 
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This is Grabby, an octopus plant. He has sticky tentacles that curl up around unsuspecting fly victims.
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This is Nibbles, the ITTY BITTY flytrap. He already got a mosquito dinner!
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And finally, this is James, the pitcher plant. We fed him a tiny cricket already and seems pretty contented. As contented as a plant can seem, I guess.
(Those weird white things are apple slices we put in there to attract the hoards of fruit flies in our kitchen. It isn't working.) 
We had to leave James and Nibbles in their pots, because they're going to be removed in November so they can hibernate. Grabby is a permanent resident of the terrarium, however. 
I'm sure that a pink-toed tarantula would also be permanent, too, if the one at my pet store hadn't been bought already. Foiled again! My dad was epically disappointed. I bought him a Halloween dog toy (fuzzy black and pink tarantula!) as a surrogate tarantula. He says it's his "practice tarantula". At this point I think he's serious about getting a tarantula. Time will tell. 

In other news, I painted a picture of Levi! I've been watching a lot of Tanked lately. It's basically a show about AWESOME FISH TANKS. So I had to paint a fish. And Levi is the best kind of fish. 
Unfortunately, I painted it on a crooked scrap of paper, so it's not exactly very... sharp looking. OOPS. I'm over it. 
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And there's Gary Oak in the corner. Of course.
 
 
If you know me, you know I am always looking for a new thing to take care of. Be it an animal or plant, I love to care for living and growing things. Also, eating granola and hugging trees. But that's besides the point. 
My point being... a video I saw on YouTube inspired me to keep tropical plants in my spare 10-gallon fish tank. Mostly I was interested in keeping Venus fly traps, hoping my newfound determination wouldn't result in the black, shriveled mess my old one was reduced to. Oops. 
So anyway, I did some research, and after copious amounts of Goof-Off to get rid of the duct tape residue, my tank was ready to be filled with terrarium materials. 

First, I filled the bottom with a spare bag of polished stones I had lying around. (What, doesn't everybody have bags of rocks just lying around?) 
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Tres magnifique!
Then my mother came in. She was pretty upset that I was using these pretty rocks. I mean visibly upset. She was right, though, since I covered it in sphagnum (spagnum? stthhhpagnum...) moss, coconut fiber, and then dirt. You couldn't see the pretty rocks at all. So we picked them out one by one and used some old aquarium gravel instead. 
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Looks like a craft store vomited in it.
So now here it is, all layered to perfection. Ready for plants! Lovely! 
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Bon apetit.
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Well now I want a layer cake. Great.
Then I was off to find plants. I needed some good groundcover, like a moss. Then some creeping plants, broad-leafed ones, and maybe some sort of long-stemmed thing. As you can tell, I certainly know my plants. "Yes, you know, the green one... That one there with the leaves..."

I stopped at the first hardware store and left with a cute little moss-like plant. I have high hopes it will cover the bottom of the tank. I got three more nice looking tropical buddies at the next stop... 
But I really wanted me a Venus fly trap. It seems that it was not written in the fates, however... 
I went to two more hardware stores, three general stores, three grocery stores, a local nursery, and an "indoor garden" store. No Venus fly traps were to be found. I spent three hours looking for the little buggers. Speaking with one floral department worker, I learned that shops have to pre-order them six months in advance. Six months?! I'd have better luck ordering them off the internet! 
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Can you hear them? THEY ARE LAUGHING AT ME.
Not deterred by my failure, I began to explore other options. If I couldn't have a carnivorous plant, then by golly, I'd have some sort of carnivorous something in there. I stopped by the nearest pet store and browsed their reptile sections. 
I initially thought of a frog. They love tropical places and plants. None of the frogs there would suit the tank I had, though. Then I thought of anoles, those speedy green lizards that Florida is infested with. But finally, I thought on a whim, "I wonder what a tarantula would like to live in?" It turns out, tarantulas would very much like a humid, heavily-planted 10-gallon, thank you very much
I sent my mother and boyfriend a text: "Would you murder me if I got a tarantula?" My boyfriend, being afraid of spiders, replied, "No, but you have enough pets." (Italics = imagine him squinting angrily as he said it.)
So I went home with no carnivorous anything. I did a great deal of pouting. 

On the upside, my dad seems thrilled with the idea of a pink toed tarantula. Which is awesome. It's mostly because he thinks the very idea of a tarantula with pink toes is hilarious. When we expressed our interests to mom, she rolled her eyes and said, "Well, I guess a tarantula is next on the list, then..." As if she could not stop my insatiable desire to own more living things. I love my parents. 
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What? Is it too scary?
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Is this better?
Anyway, here is what the terrarium looks like now. 
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Now all that's missing is some BUG-EATING CARNAGE.
Tune in next time, when I will probably have a pink toed tarantula, probably won't have a Venus fly trap (still), and continue to abuse italics with a reckless abandon. 
 
 
I would like to start out by saying that I love thrift stores, second hand stores, flea markets, and antique stores. Shopping at them is like treasure hunting, but without the dirt and mummies and flesh-eating scarabs. My most recent trip to such a store scored me the bargain of a lifetime-- a new house for Jomo, my beloved mountain horned dragon! 
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Ain't he cute?
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That's my boy, Stark, to the side.

And no, it wasn't a glass tank-- it was this. An Ikea, um, cabinet. I guess a normal person would keep plates, wine glasses, or collectible paperweights in it. The first thing that I thought was, "This would be a perfect house for Jomo!!" You can blame the members of HerpCenter.com for that. They were the ones who planted the reptile-obsession seed in my brain. They appealed to my inner bargain shopper by mentioning that old entertainment centers, glass cabinets, and similar furniture make awesome reptile enclosures and are usually 1/4 the price of a glass tank. Knowing this, I bought this sucker for $40. A tank for a reptile of this size would usually run somebody about $250-$300. Yikes! (The cords at the bottom belonged to the crappy little light installed in the top. We sawed that part off to make room for mesh, anyway. )

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I think taping is the worst part about painting.

Welcome to the garage, which now eternally smells like paint and Kilz. This is the first stage of the operation.  The top is sawed off and the inside is cured with Kilz (basically, "cover your bathroom with this if you don't want no nasty mold on yo' walls"). We (my boyfriend and I) weren't too worried about being tidy at all: there's smears everywhere and little lines on the inside of the glass. It's a good thing lizards aren't known for being particularly snobbish when it comes to the aesthetic paint job of their enclosure. At least this is what we're hoping. Sorry, Jomo, your new mansion isn't a work of art. 

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Pay no attention to the car in the reflection!


And hey, look, paint! We chose a nice shade of DeviantArt-Green. Sort of grey, sort of green, the perfect color to imitate a misty tropical rain forest. It's also left over paint from my parents' kitchen remodel, and it was either this or a pale cream. (Like I said: I'm a bargain shopper. "Free" is the ultimate bargain.) At any rate, the paint job is pretty much done here. We globbed* paint into the cracks and seams to seal it up. Since Jomo is a tropical kind of guy, he likes it really damp. We had to make it water tight to keep the humidity high. I'm sure my mother also appreciates our efforts as well. ("What, that small fungi garden growing in the corner of my room by Jomo's tank? It's for... um... Biology. Yeah. It's an experiment. Not because his house leaks. No sir.") 

*Technical painting term. 

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We were watching George Carlin.
Oooooh! Now it's in my room! Pardon the mess. Here the mesh top and lamp are installed, the paint is dry, and all that's left to do is put stuff in it! 
But first: A Gruesome Tale
I had just finished cutting up the mesh cover and was taking the remnants out to show dad. I was just going to ask him if it was recyclable or not. As I was gesturing to the mesh-- freshly cut and very sharp-- and not half a second after dad said, "don't hurt yourself", I found that I had a piece of wire stuck in my finger. Literally, stuck. It wouldn't budge. I stumbled into the garage, dumped the mesh into the recycle can, and felt woozy. I guess it was then I decided to tell everyone I got a piece of wire lodged in my finger. I'm turning this into such a hyperbole, really, but believe me when I say that I yanked that sucker right out of my finger. It was deep in there, too, and it hurt. But now I can say that I spilled blood for this project. That is dedicated pet ownership right there. 

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Woohoo! After countless afternoons spent in lieu of studying, the Jomo house is complete. Over the course of its preparation, my boyfriend came up with the name "The Reptangle" for it. Reptile + rectangle = best name ever. This is after putting the shelf and water dish in. I propped his sticks inside it and wove the bendable vine around... 
It holds humidity quite well. I am so pleased. Before this, Jomo was stuck in a 20 gallon tank, wider than it was tall. For a tropical arboreal lizard, this was like living in a bathroom. A really crappy bathroom. To give him climbing room, I nailed sticks and vines to the wall next to his tank, but that let all of the humidity leak out. I'm really happy that Jomo now has a humidity-rich, nice and tall, custom built enclosure to live in. His skin will be healthier, his appetite will increase, and he'll probably live a lot longer. Hooray! 

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He started climbing around as soon as we put him inside.
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Those humidity and temperature readings are music to my ears... er... something like that. That thing that looks like toast in the water is a rock to hold down the airstone.
Thank you, thrift store, for having what we needed to give Jomo a better home. I have a feeling he'll be a much happier and healthier lizard from here on out. And he'll hopefully cause me less stress! With his conditions in better shape, I won't have to worry about his dwindling appetite or flaky skin. Things are looking up in Jomo's world. ♥