Ode to a Shrimp

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Our cats have been a well documented part of our family here in the Butler-Deitch household, but we have housed another pet for over 14 years – a shrimp.  Kim bought this shrimp and snail ecosystem for me in 1998 after I expressed fascination with it. The glass sphere came in a huge box – carefully packed for obvious reasons.  You’ve heard me express concern about kitties and breakables (Happy Life Toy and Fear of Celluloid) and this was a red alert concern.  My then cat, Otto, was absolutely entranced by it and Kim would take it down from a high shelf to show her occasionally (yes, Otto was a girl; that’s another story) until he decided it was undue stress on the shrimp.

And I do mean single shrimp! Due to either our own ineptitude, poor design, or bad luck, most of our shrimp died pretty quickly. We were ultimately left with one (suspiciously large) shrimp.  We put him on a darker shelf than what is recommended, so that the algae wouldn’t grow too quickly since there were no snails to help consume it. (Yep, they died too although it took a bit longer to figure that out as they are a bit inactive by nature.) So there he swam, year after year, living out his shrimp life. Kim was the best at tending him – taking him out and checking on him periodically.  As the years grew longer our amazement deepened.  He rapidly exceeded the expected lifespan and headed into uncharted longevity. A Methuselah of shellfish. Cats came and went and recently Cookie in particular was itching to get a little closer to this situation.

And then, the other day, Kim checked on him and alas, he had finally gone to the big shrimp round-up. As someone interested in Buddhism, I have to wonder if he (I always thought of the shrimp as a he) had some strange karma to work out. I know it is ridiculous to say, but I never really thought he was unhappy with his solitary existence. Perhaps even harder to believe, the house seems just a tad quieter and sad without his tiny shrimp presence.

A musical tribute below!

Or if you want to adopt some shrimp yourself you can buy one here.

Postscript: My mother was given one as a gift and is, frankly, sort of horrified by it. (She is such a fierce protector of animal welfare that she cannot stand the idea that the shrimps and snails are unhappy in their habitat. We differ in that I think it seems like a pretty good gig for a shrimp or a snail.) We will probably adopt hers if we can figure how to get it from NJ to NYC in one piece. Update to follow!

Up a Tree

Treed Cats

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: My personal experience with a cat up a tree is that it is an anxiety induing experience for both the human witness and the cat. To me it is a perfect metaphor for that dreadful mistake we all make once in a while – who hasn’t found themselves at least metaphorically up a tree? After all, everything about a cat is well designed for getting up the tree – and poorly outfitted for getting down. Having said that, many a cat’s hide has been saved by a quick run up a tree where a dog or other predator could not follow. While I have never had to resort to calling the fire department, nor even taking out a ladder, growing up with cats in the suburbs we periodically would find ourselves standing in the backyard trying to convince one kitty or another to make the slow trip back down the slippery trunk of a tree.  These fellows look like they might make the trip up this tree on a regular basis however. It did not excite my anxious nature.

The back of this photo postcard is a bit hard to read.  The postmark is Boston, November 3, 1909, 9:30 AM. It is address as follows: G A Orustredt, Bridgeport, Conn, general delivery.  It reads: J. P. 11/2/09; Friend Gus [sic] Received your Postal last evening and feeling o.k. Indigestion better, the girls are all feeling fine they all send Regards. [sic] So you are on the old camping ground again hope you wont stay too long. We will expect you back in Boston by xmas anyway. I am Forwarding Letter and Postal. hope you will receive them O.K. Friend G.A.G. I guess maybe the indigestion had a negative impact on his punctuation? And no mention of the cats in the tree in the photo.