My Bike ๐Ÿšฒ๐Ÿ’•

Today I went out on my bike. I hadnโ€™t ridden my bicycle for a long time.

I began to ride it in earnest about two years ago, not very long after buying it, when I was going to therapy at the worst of my depression. My therapist told me to ride it every day, early in the morning if needed (because at that time it was raining every day except in the mornings). Just ride it regardless of whether or not I felt like it.

I did it, and it helped with my depression, mostly because I would ride until I hurt all over, for miles and miles under 90ยฐ+ heat and sun, punishing my body with the effort and the exhaustion, and then that occupied my mind instead of the emotional pain I was going through. But it also hurt in other, non-physical ways.

My Trek bike will always be intrinsically tied in my mind to the girl who helped me choose it, helped me choose my helmet, helped me choose a variety of supplies for a trip we were going to take together on our bikes, a trip of a lifetime that was fated to never happen. For a long time, I couldnโ€™t ride or look at my bike without immediately thinking of her, which brought me some pretty horrible heartache.

Eventually my friend Mwako would get me my kick scooter, and I rode that a lot more, and set my bike aside. No sad memories attached to my scooter, only happy ones. Iโ€™m still deeply fond of it, and ride it often.

As time went by, I completely redecorated my bike. I repainted some areas where the paint had chipped. Added a brand new pink basket and made a second, makeshift backseat basket with a hot pink milk crate. I made a huge heart with the pansexual flag colors out of Perler beads and attached that to the back of the crate. I attached artificial sunflowers to both baskets. I added an obnoxious, yellow squirrel-shaped horn (in addition to the existing, more traditional squirrel bell I already had). I added a rainbow wind spinner. Add to all this that the spokes were covered in hot pink plastic. It looksโ€ฆ as interesting as you might expect.

But even then. I still didnโ€™t ride it for a few months. The pandemic happened, and I think my feelings were still a bit complicated when it came to my dear Verve. But itโ€™s been two years now, a little longer actually, I think. Today I told myself, letโ€™s see if I feel any different.

And blissfully, unexpectedly, I did. Maybe it was just the right kind of day. But I sped down the street like I used to when I was a kid, back when I had my ugly, second hand, rusty little bike, on flip flops, no helmet, going way too fast and not being careful enough. Except of course as an adult I had a helmet, and sneakers, and I was careful. But I had that same happy thrill of feeling like your bike is part of your body, of gliding so effortlessly, and the wind spinner was moving so fast too, and looked so pretty. There was nothing in my mind but that moment. No sad memories.

And then I kinda let my brain go there, tentatively, to the memories, and I realize they donโ€™t hurt anymore. You feel that, and you let your mind go deeper, remembering it all, and then comes the overwhelming relief of realizing painful wounds are healed, fully healed. It used to be if I thought hard enough, I could make the pain come back, like picking at a scab. I guess I wanted it to come back, I knew I did, because the pain was all I had left from those days. If that was gone too, it meant my heart really gave up, and I didnโ€™t want that.

In the end, my heart gave up and moved on without me even realizing it. And thatโ€™s okay, I guess. Itโ€™s strange to let my mind wander and realize certain memories donโ€™t make me cry anymore. Itโ€™s like, that happened, like other things in my life. And now itโ€™s the past.

And with stuff in the past, I can move forward and be happy again. I have a feeling that once these turbulent days that we are all going through are over, some really happy days are coming.

Of course I may be wrong. I could fall down the stairs tonight and die or the house could catch fire or a host of horrible things could go wrong. But itโ€™s all probably going to be okay. And Iโ€™m really looking forward to days ahead, to the holidays in whatever form they come, to the election even, bring it! Let it all be done with. And to next year. To conventions whenever they return, and seeing my old friends, and above all:

Making new ones.

Snaily Books ๐ŸŒ ๐Ÿ“š

Recently Iโ€™ve started to collect snail related books, since there arenโ€™t a whole lot. Some of them have begun to arrive:

Snail Trail by Ruth Brown is definitely a winner. Only a fellow snail lover can really understand the utter love and observation the author has, and put into, snails, in order to create this book. Snails are surprisingly expressive and easy to anthropomorphize, not necessarily visually (though the author did a superb job) but rather, to someone who loves and watches them, itโ€™s impossible to miss all the little ways in which they move their feelers, how their eyes often look in different directions, how they stretch, etc. You can tell the author took careful loving observation of these traits.

I can not recommend this book enough. Look for it on Amazon. Itโ€™s very short but it is lovely.

Iโ€™ve placed it on display in my studio. Thereโ€™s a little snail toy Iโ€™m expecting, which I will display next to it:

Ten Shiny Snails by Ruth Galloway has been another favorite. Inside, there is a lovely page featuring the snails with a squirrel! I was so tickled by this, that I gave it prominent display in my studio as well:

I donโ€™t expect to share all of the books I ordered but thought these were cute enough.

Snail Update (Mites/Etc) ๐ŸŒ

I havenโ€™t talked much about how my snails are really doing. I wanted to give you all an update on that.

As you might recall, I am dealing with a mite issue with only some of my snails. These are 9 of my Helix Aspersa, and my 3 milk snails. Sadly, the milk snails got the mites from the Aspersa. I wasnโ€™t worried about putting them together because I had the hypoaspis miles (predatory mites) to treat the issue. But while those helped, the issue is ongoing. With that said, the milk snails are doing okay and eating.

The Helix Aspersa are not doing well. One died, another looks weak, and most are not eating. I would put food all over the tank, all sorts of enticing things, and nothing. I became very depressed over this.

Two days ago I had a lightbulb moment. I put the snails in an extremely small container full of food. The snails do not have much room to roam. Basically anywhere they move there is food, and perhaps since itโ€™s not so hard now to get to it, they are eating. I do believe they became so weak over the mites, that they were too weak to get to the food. If I tried to put them on the food directly, usually they instinctively tried to climb to the top rather than eat. But if I leave them be in the container full of food they seem to start eating pretty soon after I leave them. Not all of them, but more than before.

I think perhaps my tank was too big for the number of snails. They even mated in that tiny tank lined with paper towels, but didnโ€™t in the massive tank with soil. I think right now it is best for them to have a very small space while I continue to treat the mites. And continue I will.

Today while cleaning the container two of the milk snails climbed onto my hands. I was surprised to find that removing them was completely impossible. I would have had to pull so hard, I would likely have injured them in a way that would have caused them to die. They are SO strong. Their shells are also very thick and strong.

My Helix Aspersa adults, all of which I got from eBay seller lucky_gary, are nothing like this. Their shells are thin and weak, and so are the snails. I think perhaps due to poor husbandry on part of the breeder, these were already weak snails, and the minor mite issue threw them all over the edge. But Iโ€™m not giving up on them.

Their babies are doing amazingly, as are my wild-caught snails.

Here are some more baby pictures:

You can see how much cuttlebone they eat. My other snails never ate so much.

This is my big boy, my favorite little potato, so much bigger than any of the others (though theyโ€™ve caught up to him a good bit.)

I took a little video of them eating last night.

Thatโ€™s all I have to share for now. I will soon offer more commissions in exchange for money for good mites. I just keep adding more until the issue is gone. Wish me luck.