Friday, January 26, 2007

Simple Gifts

The Purple Possum received two fifth birthday presents of particular note.

The first to mention is a fish tank, smallish, I think, although I know absolutely nothing about fish, but cute. It has a blue plastic base and top, with a light, and a filter, and a heater. The effect is a fish take designed by the same designer as the iMac. The bottom has been covered with blue and green gravel. Originally, there was an adorable snow scene background drawn by the girls, but that didn't stay up long after fish were introduced to the tank. The fish are two black mollies, Blackie and Molly, two guppies, Cameron and Goldie, two swordtails, Peter and Susan, one catfish, Splee, and one snail, Gary.

The snail moves around much faster than I would have guessed, probably because there isn't a lot for it to suck off the walls yet. The catfish is fun to watch, bottom feeding, because it's whiskers waggle when it eats. Peter and Susan are the only mating couple, the Spouse tells me, so to me it seems a little like the Smurfs, with only the one female in the group. Or, as Geena Davis would remind me, like most programming for kids. Susan has a bulge, which may be eggs. Yes, I am speculating on the baby bump of my non-celebratory fish. One of the original black mollies didn't survive the transition into the new tank. I've just learned that this is a common problem for new fish. One of the guppies also had problems, and we couldn't find it for a while. It was either trapped in the filter, or under the filter, or just hanging out. Fish are inscrutable, their actions and motivations opaque. After being re-released into the tank as a whole, the guppy in question was noted to be missing a portion of its tail, which the Spouse said would grow back. Said guppy spent the rest of that evening getting caught in the filter some more, or floating in ways that are not good, belly-up, for example. So, after the girls were asleep, the Spouse went back to the fish purveyor to replace the two unsatisfactory specimens.

Yesterday morning the girls woke up, and the Purple Penguin asked right away about the struggling guppy.
"Go look," I said, "Pop got new fish." You see the problem: "fish" is both singular and plural. She went, she looked, she ran back to tell me.
"The guppy's tail grew back! And there's a new black one."

By the time I came home from work, it was understood that no miraculously quick tail growing had occurred. That there were two new fish. I went to look at the newly-named Goldie, and couldn't spot it.
"Sweetie," I asked the Spouse, "I can't see Goldie." He leaves off cooking dinner to check. A couple of long pauses later, he comes back, with something in his hand. He found Goldie. She managed to jump out of the fish tank. Through an uncovered area this small.

No more guppies, the Purple Penguin has decreed. She didn't specifically mention that she didn't like their dying/suicidal ways.

The second gift I wanted to mention, was a real electronic keyboard. The Purple Penguin's favorite toy from Christmas was a tiny plastic harmonica that came in a cracker, so we all agreed that something musical might be the way to go. By a happy coincidence, a second-hand keyboard became available. The Spouse demonstrated its use by plunking out Linus and Lucy, a household favorite. My mother and the girls were all terribly impressed, unaware that he could play piano, too.

After supper, the Possum went off to play Ascendancy with her father, a game which has recently delighted her no end, not only because the Spouse has customized his version by naming all the alien races from classics of science fiction.

The birthday girl spent about two minutes playing with a magnetic paper doll with me, before she came up with a new idea. I was to pick out a background, dress the doll in one of the costumes available, and she would play appropriate music on the piano.

My five-year-old invented for herself the idea of a musical soundtrack. Huh.

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