Die Where You're Planted

Oct 7, 2016

Credit Heather Curlee-Novak

I have a deep, dark, brooding confession….I’m not good at keeping tiny things alive. And what I think a thing will be like may vary a great deal from reality. There is a movie that deals with rehab and when the people leave to go back to their real lives, the clinic has a suggestion. The person should try to keep a houseplant alive for a year before dating or making any other big changes. Well, I’m mostly sober and I can barely keep my houseplants alive. My beloved husband calls me a serial plant killer. About five years ago I confessed that although mentally I love having houseplants, my mother had tons of them, realistically I do not care for them well. I finally gave away all but three to someone with more space and active interest in keeping them healthy. It felt so great to stop pretending I could do better and just be honest with myself. I then moved on to little creatures. While on vacation a few summers ago the hotel was selling little colorful painted hermit crabs in a cute little cage for $20. I thought it was a darling souvenir for us, the girls would love watching it and learning to care for him. He even had a bee painted on his shell and my dad is a beekeeper so it was perfect. We named him Buzzy. OH! I should add, I did have to sell the idea pretty hard to my husband….and some of you are very clever and knew where this was going the moment I said “Hermit Crab” . My husband is dedicated to doing things The Right Way, which I deeply value and appreciate. As soon as we got Buzzy home, he started looking into the proper care and feeding of the little fellow. For those of you without your own pained hermit crab ownership story, let me share the $200 lesson we leaned. Painted shells are hard on the little hermies. They like to have several natural shells to move in and out of as their inner fashionista desires. They are liars, and not hermits all but prefer company. Unless they do not like each other in which case the little suckers become cannibals. Oh yeah, they also want a particular warm temperature and humidity. And fresh water to drink and salt water to bath in. They will want YOU to give them a bath once a week, too. And one may have to go to two different pet stores and buy a jillion stupid crabs before you give up, realizing that the original guy is in fact quite hermity, thank you. My dear husband ended up taking on 95% of the responsibility and care of the simple $20 souvenir I campaigned heartily to have. And after a year or two even Buzzy keeled over. I had him on the front porch in a box to have a service and bury him because our girls took it pretty hard…but then he started to smell bad and I …uhhh made other arrangements. Our littlest daughter Libby asked again when we would have service for him just last week….he died about four months ago. Maybe her memory was jogged when her goldfish died? You know the free prize goldfish from the school festival Goldfish Game. I’m pretty sure any of the cool moms serving in the PTO know before the carnival not to allow their children to play the game with the goldfish prize. My guess is the goldfish game is their revenge on the rest of us parents who hate PTO meetings. Of course I was new to all this when Portia was in kindergarten and I was not in the PTO. She and Libby played the game. A lot. And won. A lot. We went home with our goldfish prize. The prizes were coupons for what turns out to be fifteen cent feeder goldfish. Guess how much two small goldfish bowls, one bag of rocks, two decorations and food cost: sixty bucks. Thanks Goldfish Game. I’m already a grouchy, mean mom so I wasn’t going to say no here. Maybe it would go well, you know? We went through three rounds of goldfish deaths before we called it and gave up as fish owners. One bowl went to the basement and the other fishbowl became a terrarium for the five dollar flytrap plant on special at Aldi. And yes, I realize if you want to be malevolent here; a flytrap is kind of a pet and a plant all in one. And I must admit it is not looking very good this week.