Archive for the ‘animals’ Tag

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I usually curl up and read in bed for a bit before I go to sleep. It’s becoming a nice family ritual, as James reads science fiction while I read a biography. Now that Cornelius has joined the household, we get distracted and play with him as well. Last night Cornelius and I played a game where I tried to touch his belly and he tried to capture my hand and bite it. It’s one of his favorite games.

(Right now he’s laying up against me and trying to capture my toes, which I’m wiggling just to set him off)

I got home from work this morning and James asked me to not play a game like that with Cornelius before bed. “He kept trying to attack my toes,” he said.

“That’s what cats do,” I said. “They attack toes in the night.”

“I couldn’t sleep,” said James.

“Neither could I,” I said. “He kept snuggling into my back until he nearly pushed me off the bed.”

So yeah, Cornelius is a great addition to our household! Yesterday was his first vet appointment. I told them about my concerns for his ears — they are bald and scaly, and that baldness and scaliness is spreading. The vets for Wake County Animal Center had treated it like ringworm, which definitely helps. But surely there must be a way to make it go away.

My vet thinks that he might be allergic to something. We don’t know what. Most likely fish or gluten. So I had to go out and buy hypoallergenic food.

(he’s purring you guys oh my gosh)

Today I got new, clay-based kitty litter, to replace the wheat-based one I had bought on the foster’s recommendation. Hopefully in a few months the scaliness will be replaced with pretty orange fur.



Posted September 15, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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The future   Leave a comment

After a few serious conversations, James and I have reached a compromise: one cat, once I have a full-time job.

It’s the “full-time job” part that’s frustrating. I have no control over it. Literally no control. As in, there are headlines all over North Carolina reading “NC Teacher Assistants once again rally for jobs” “500+ Teacher Assistants could lose their job in two weeks” “Teacher assistants once again criticize NC legislature for budget delays”

North Carolina is not a good teaching environment. I’m considering just dropping the dream altogether. I won’t drop Latin, obviously (obviously). There’s a community of Latin hobbyists out there, learning it on their own. I’ve dipped my toes in it a bit. Maybe in the future I can pursue more Latin formally. Heck, with the right career, I could even pursue a Ph.D. in Classics. Who knows? Only time will tell.

I’ve been brushing the dust off a few other career ideas. Namely, Library Sciences and Bookkeeping. I think the next step for me is to apply to Wake Technical Community College. Maybe I’ll sign up for an entry-level course in database management (or computer sciences or something?) and in Accounting, and see which one I take to more.

I would also enter as a transfer student from Northern Virginia Community College, which is weird. It’s been so long since I’ve been a starter student.

Looking at the options, I would probably take Basic PC Literacy (for accounting) and CIS 110 (for database management) or something.

Honestly, in this area, getting involved with technical stuff is not a bad idea. I might be able to spin it into an entry-level job at one of the important companies on Research Triangle. Then I’ll be the breadwinner and I’ll be able to get two cats!

This is all just an extended way to say that compromise is terrible and I should get a cat now anyway.

Posted August 19, 2015 by agentksilver in Uncategorized

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CATCATCATCATCAT   Leave a comment

“If you’d like to meet him, I’d be happy to bring him to you. I have a couple weekdays off this week.”


okay calm down there Hancher take a breath and explain

Jonathan’s foster mom emailed me back about an hour after my last post! She wants me to meet Jonathan!


Posted August 17, 2015 by agentksilver in Uncategorized

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catcatcatcatcat   Leave a comment

Even just the idea of getting cats has made me more focused. I’ve paid all my bills and cleaned the bathrooms since I’ve decided that I want to get cats. I’ve even picked out what cats and I want and have contacted their fosters. The only thing stopping me now is that I don’t have a Yes or a No from James.

Ever since I read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell I’ve wanted an orange cat named Jonathan and a grey (or black) cat named Mr. Norrell. So I went and found cats that looked like that.

Here’s my Jonathan, currently called Ringley:


Here’s his description on WCAC’s website:

Dude… I am so handsome I just can’t STAND it. Don’t you agree? But these good looks didn’t come easy, you see. My foster mom can explain all that to you, but for now, let’s concentrate on ME. I love to play. My favorite toy is a spring. Oh, and zip ties! Next is my love of Temptations cat treats. Seriously…. they are better than sliced bread. I love to cuddle with my foster mom at night, and maybe get some wrestling in, too. She is such a great play partner. She said something the other day about me maybe not being the best for a home with small kids because I like to play hard sometimes. Wrestling is the BEST! Mom says I have excellent litter manners. And I only sharpen my claws on my cardboard mat. …So have you decided you want to meet me yet? That’s what I THOUGHT you said! Send an email to the shelter to connect with my foster mom so we can hook up and chill. Cuz I’m already neutered, chipped, up to date on my vaccines, and ready to roll! See you soon!

So obviously I contacted the foster with more questions about his health. Apparently when they found him (as a stray), he was underweight and had some sort of fungal infection. They have since cleared it up, and his hair has regrown (and he’s gained weight). His ears are still hairless though.

But he is just the most handsome, personable guy, and I’m so glad we could get him all fixed up so he could show that personality to others.
If you’d like more info, let me know! I’d love to hear about you and the home you’d provide if you are interested in him. And thanks so much for your inquiry!

I responded back two days ago, but I haven’t heard anything since. I’m not sure what to think. Maybe she didn’t like my description of our house? Maybe it was sent to a work email and she’ll reply on Monday? I don’t know. I’m not going to stress, because, again, James hasn’t agreed to this. Although we’ve talked several times.

Mr. Norrell is currently called Boris. (Norris? Hahaha)


Boris is a very beautiful black and white cat, who is also very timid. His desire is to hide but he has been coming out more and more, to play with the other cats. I’m trying now to spend more time just petting him, so as to not overwhelm him. I would suggest Boris be in a house with another cat. He’s still fearful of people but seems to enjoy having other cats around. He does ok with my dogs, but they are laid back and don’t really have any interest. Boris needs a family willing to give him time to learn to trust. Are you the right family to help him?

It took two days for the foster mom to respond to my email.

I believe Boris came into WCAC as a stray. I’ve had him in foster since March. Initially, he was so scared, he would just pancake to the floor in fear. Over time, he now seeks out attention. Loves to be petted and rubbed but still does not like to be picked up. He loves other cats and dogs but will run from sudden movement or strangers. He has come a long way and really wants my attention. I do think he needs to be in an adult/older teen home. He loves to be petted and will play with you but can be a little rough in play. Working on that. No health issues. current on shots, neutered, and microchipped.

I responded a few minutes ago with a description of the townhouse. So…? I don’t know. I can’t help but feel like if I have two cats who play rough, one gregarious, one shy, then best friends will happen. As long as I introduce them slowly.

Oh, I hope James makes up his mind soon.

Posted August 16, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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Well that was anticlimactic   Leave a comment

I received an email this morning saying that Wake County Animal Center is having a cat sale. Cats are normally $45 and $20, but for this weekend only, they’re $25 and $10. Heck, they started out cheap. I could get two cats for $20! Which is what I would want. Cats do best in pairs. And we have a cat-sized house. Two levels, lots of walking space.

I went and looked into the price of my apartment’s fees:

We welcome up to 2 pets per apartment home. The pet fee is $300 for one pet and $400 for two pets. There is a $15 per month pet rent for 1 or 2 pets. Breed restrictions apply, no weight limit.

I’ll be honest: that is incredibly reasonable. I can cover that no problem.

James doesn’t particularly like cats. He doesn’t particularly dislike cats either. He just prefers dogs.

Fuzzy pets are therapeutic. Their affection is calming; engaging them mentally with play and the like is stimulating. They’re supposed to be really good for people with emotional disorders, like depression. I’ve been thinking more and more that having an emotional support animal like that would be nice. I’ve been feeling it in my chest again for the last few days.

Even if I convinced James to let us get cats (or a dog, dogs are $95), I can’t just impulsively do it. What are the things I need?

For a cat:

Litterbox: $20
Litter: $15
Cat food: $19 + $22.50
Cat food dish: $10 (for two)
Toys: moneys
Cat tree: $90 minimum (and I tend to like the ones that are like $150)

…so we’re looking at $200+ for cat(s) + basic cat supplies, minimum, before we even get into vet fees.

For a dog:

Collar: $11
Leash: $30
Food: $50 + $74.70
Dishes: $10
Toys: moneys
Treats: $10/type of treat

…so we’re looking at $270+ for dog + basic dog supplies, minimum, before we even get into vet fees.

Cats are more affordable, but at this point I’m looking at throwing down $600+ on these cats before we even get into the fun stuff (toys) and vet stuff. And like, I want to say I’m willing to do it, but there is the wedding to think of. There is the fact that James wouldn’t really be on board with this. I’m not sure I’m willing to spend $600 like that all at once. As much as I want a fuzzy, as much as I would benefit from a fuzzy…I can’t do it.

Posted August 13, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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Lately   Leave a comment

James: You were talking in your sleep last night.
Kelsey: I did? What did I say.
James: Ah, man, I can’t remember now. I almost wrote it down. You said something like you were talking to me. Then you said something like I had said something back. Then the last thing you said was “Okay, okay.”

I am disappointed.

Anyway, the weather has been consistent lately. Really, really hot, leading to thunderstorms in the evening. Yesterday it was raining buckets when I walked out of Home Depot, so I booked it across the parking lot. Splashed water all over my butt, but the rest of me was surprisingly dry. Maybe I ran so fast I dried off quickly. Or maybe it was so warm I didn’t notice I was wet. Who knows.

Because it’s been so hot, the new rules for dog-walking at the shelter have us walking the dogs early and quickly, then taking a break during the heat of the day, then walking them later in the evening. When I came in at 10:30 on Tuesday, the dogs had already received their morning walk. I took out the dogs who had been walked first (and who were under 60 pounds).

Dogs who are not desperate to go are really nice to walk. It was too warm for them to walk around a bunch anyway. I ended up walking them over to a shady spot near trees and just sitting with them. I gave them a good back-scratch to get rid of shedding hairs. One dogs, Kendra, desperately needed it. Another dog, Nila, didn’t need it as much, although she had a skin condition of some kind and clearly needed regular attention. Her reaction was to lean into me, and then just plop herself next to me and offer her belly for rubbing. I was happy to oblige. Rocky was too energetic and wouldn’t sit still long enough for petting. Eventually he grabbed onto the leash and started pulling. So I spent ten minutes with him playing tug-of-war.

I actually felt like I had helped these dogs with these interactions. I know that they need to get out and stretch their legs. But they seemed happier when I put them back in their kennels. They looked like normal, happy dogs. Less stressed.

Over at Starbucks, there was a customer sitting in a skirt and a nice ruffled blouse, clearly waiting. Finally a dude showed up, wearing a Big Bang Theory t-shirt and baggy pants. They greeted each other and hugged, and then went to get drinks. They sat in the corner by the door to the back room. They talked for hours.

They appeared to be on a first date. So whenever I had to use the door to the back room, I would take note of what they were talking about.

He: We were playing The Old Republic.
She: I like video games. I play them.
He: Apparently it bothered her that I kept beating her. So finally she yelled at me about it. I was like, why didn’t you talk about it the first time?
She: I do that too.

About an hour later:

He: I’ve had two girlfriends attempt suicide. One of them successful. I had to call the cops on them.

I went on headset and reported that this guy had had two suicidal girlfriends and that this woman ought to run away as soon as she could. My manager made me take out the trash because I clearly didn’t have enough to do. I continued to keep an ear out when I could. Finally they left — together.

I went on headset. “No, don’t leave with him! You can do so much better!”

Dylan replied via headset. “I think they’re related.”

“What? They’re on a date.”

“No, they were talking about family drama.”

I wouldn’t put it past the guy to talk about family drama on a first date. But maybe they were related. Who knows.

Posted June 28, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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Entering the outside world   Leave a comment

I don’t think you guys understand the severity of the pine pollen around here.




It rained and thunderstormed all night, so all of that accumulated within, like, twelve hours. The asphalt is dyed yellow! Fear the pollen!

Although, admittedly, the pollen on my shoes is fairly recent. It’s probably only been there for two hours. I had the great joy of tramping about with a couple of excited dogs. Yes, I decided that, now that I was no longer working all day in the middle of the day, that it was time to start volunteering at the animal shelter again.

My first dog was Arianna.


I chose her because obviously. Look at that dog. Look at that face. Her ears are two different colors! She has an eye patch! She was so sweet too. She did tend to jump a bit and she was a little mouthy, but she never bit. I was easily able to get a collar on her and get her outside. She was good on a leash, too, and she had this weird tendency to just sit randomly, and then look at you, waiting for a treat.

big boy

I was hesitant about walking Big Boy, although he was next in the kennel order. He’s 61 pounds. But he sat calmly in his kennel, so I gave him a shot. It turns out that I can’t handle 61 pounds of boxer energy. He pulled me without even trying — his stride was just that long. But he was a sweet dog. He stopped just so he could lean into me and demand pets. I was very happy to oblige.



Huxton is my new buddy. He’s an eight-year-old beagle, and he has something important to say. When I came into his kennel and tried to put the collar on him, he started howling. Then he would stop howling and give me a serious look, like he was trying to gauge my opinion on whatever he had just howled about.

I would pat his rump and say, “Yes, you are a good dog.”

This was apparently not what he was howling about, because he would start howling again, then look at me to see how I reacted. This happened several times before I was finally able to get the collar and leash on him.

The biggest problem with the kennel is that we have to walk all of the dogs past all of the other dogs in order to get them outside. All the dogs go nuts, both in the kennel and out. Some of the walking dogs get scared and won’t walk. Some dogs in the kennel jump and snarl at the walking dogs. We try to pull the dogs as close to our bodies as we can and get them out into the sunshine as soon as possible.

Huxton was totally chill. He ignored the other dogs and heeled perfectly. Once outside, he padded along nicely, sometimes next to me, sometimes in front of me. He sniffed things like he was a connoisseur. He maintained this air of perfect dignity mixed with asthma. He would walk, then stop and pant, and then walk some more. I brushed his back with my fingers as best as I could, and he would look at me as if acknowledging that yes, I had done something, and he appreciated it.

Huxton was the best.



Tiffany was the last pup I walked. She was all about playful energy, so I prepared a toy to distract her while I got the collar on her. It worked perfectly. Tiffany was all about playing. She wanted to be everywhere, to sniff everything. It took a lot of energy just to keep her from running us into the road.

While we walked, I noticed another dog following us. It was a smallish dog, mostly black, but with a brown chest. It had huge, pointed ears. It stared at us. Tiffany ignored the dog. I walked along and kept my eye on the dog. It was definitely following us, and I couldn’t see a collar. It slowly closed the gap on us, but I could tell it was going to keep its distance.

I walked Tiffany back a little faster than I would have otherwise. I walked her to the front of the shelter, rather than the back. Ricci Kearney, the volunteer coordinator, was standing in the reception area with two boxers and a tawny pitbull; three administrators were at the front desk. One of them was on the phone, talking about trapping kittens.

I wasn’t sure who to speak to, so I just said, loudly, “There was a dog following us.”

The administrator asked, “Who was the dog following? You or Tiffany?”

“I couldn’t tell,” I admitted.

Ricci took charge. He put the boxers and the pitbull in the volunteer office and emerged with treats and a leash. Tiffany and I went with him. I described the dog; he said it was a shepherd mix, probably. But the dog was at the field across from the shelter. “That looks like a Chi,” he said.

Tiffany pulled at the leash, trying to run to the stray. The stray began to back off. Ricci had me take Tiffany back inside so he could focus on catching the dog.

I put Tiffany and all my volunteer gear away and then emerged from the Center to find Ricci and another volunteer trying to slowly encircle the dog. I decided to join them. So did another volunteer, an older woman bearing dog treats. The sheer amount of us frightened the dog and he disappeared into the woods. I felt guilty; I should have just left. Ricci said that they would put out traps for the dog.

Posted April 10, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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Though the truth may vary this   1 comment

During my Week Without a Phone, I received a phone call from one of the Starbucks I had applied to. I obviously missed the call, but when I got my new phone —



–I was able to get all the voicemails. I missed at least 5 calls.

So I called the Starbucks this morning. I introduced myself to the manager.

“What’s your availability?” she asked.

“I have open availability,” I said.

“Do you have any plans?”

Assuming she wanted me to come in for an interview, I said, “I’m available today, Thursday, and Friday.”

“That’s your only availability every week?”

“Well no,” I said, feeling confused, since I had just said I had open availability. “I have open availability.”

“Right, and you don’t have anything else to take up your time?”

“I’m thinking about going back to school, but I don’t know what the class schedules around here are yet.”

“Well then, why don’t you call me back when you do know when you’re going to be available.”

I thought quickly, wanting to recover the conversation. “When would you like for me to get back to you with that information?”

“I don’t know, sometime next week. Or maybe April. Do you have anything else?”

“No,” I said.

“Okay then, have a good day.”

I puzzled over my Colosseum puzzle. I reran the conversation in my head. I thought that maybe if the manager acted like that, I maybe wouldn’t want the job anyway.

Twenty minutes later, my phone rang. It was the same manager. She gave a full introduction of herself this time. She asked what I thought made me qualified for the barista position (I have literally been a barista before). She asked what I do for Harris Teeter and if I have other customer service experience. This was a question I was prepared to answer; I gave a basic rundown of my last four years of work, emphasizing the customer service experience. She asked about my availability.

Hadn’t we been through this before?

“I have open availability,” I said.

She went into an explanation of shift times for Starbucks; was I able to come in at 5:00 AM? Would I be able to work evening shifts? She asked more and more questions about this, pressing more and more on the 5:00 question. She eventually explained that she was trying to hire full-time worked for the morning shifts. I said that as long as the hours were consistent (always working morning or always working evening) that I could do it.

So I have an interview at noon on Thursday.

After the phone call ended, I wasn’t really sure what to think. I had just had two very different phone calls with the same person.

On one hand, Starbucks would probably pay me better than what I make at Harris Teeter; I would work with a team of people instead of doing it by myself; it would be work I had done before and felt comfortable with; Starbucks has a tuition-paying program so I could go back to school in January (with no limit on what courses it covers, unlike most retail tuition-assistance programs). If I worked only morning shifts, I would have time in the evenings to pursue outside activities, like theatre, gaming, school, volunteering, or a movie-watching club (there are some of those on meetup). Also: free Chai Tea Lattes.

On the other hand, this would be just another “settling” job, rather than a job I was truly interested in; the manager was potentially insane; I’m not interested in being a job-hopper. I want one job and I want to stick with it for a good long while.

With this on my mind, I drove around Raleigh for a bit, trying to find someone to donate my garbage bag of teddy bears to. My immediate thought was police and fire station, so I visited the Morrisville town hall, but neither service would take them. They only accept toys in their original wrapping. Teddy bears don’t come in wrapping, but whatever. I just ended up driving it to the Raleigh Rescue Mission on the east side of town. I thought about writing. Mostly I thought about Ghost Hunters, even though I only have 18 days left in my self-created deadline for The Adventures of Pizza Boy and Maggie.

When I got home, James was clearly dressed to go on a walk, so he and I went on a walk. I told him about the two phone calls with my potential new manager. I told him about my concerns. He didn’t have much to say beyond that I was correct to be hesitant.

I found a new path into the woods behind our apartment complex. James refused to follow me in. I managed to pick my way across the creek and turned around to shout in triumph, but he had walked away. I crossed back over the creek and found him sitting by the pond.

“I looked for you but you weren’t there,” I said. “Are you mad at me?” This is always my go-to assumption for some reason.

“No, I just didn’t feel like slipping and falling into the creek,” he said. He pointed at nearby geese and said, “I wonder how close you can get to them?”

I stayed far back because I’m scared of geese. James walked slowly, crossing closer and closer to the geese until he was maybe four feet from one of them. It honked gently at him. He honked gently back. He squatted down and stared at it. I watched the two of them eye each other. Behind them was the creek, brightly colored in the late afternoon light. I told myself I would remember this moment forever.

Posted March 11, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

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I still remember when I first posted about lizards on this blog and my professor showed it in class   1 comment

Sonny had a very exciting day yesterday! After months and months of brumating, he was finally perky enough that I decided to take him out for the day (“perky” being a relative term for a bearded dragon — he was keeping his head up most of the day).

James saw a “no exotic pets” note on the lease, and had been concerned that our new apartment complex wouldn’t allow bearded dragons. When he called up the leasing office, though, all the staff demanded to meet our glorified pieces of furniture, so that was settled. Sonny got to run around and do some human business with Mom for a while. He likes being in the car.

First Sonny visited our current leasing office. He sat on my shoulder while I signed our 60 day notice. The leasing manager didn’t even seem to notice him.

Then Sonny got to sit in the warm car for a good long while as I bought gas* and then drove to our new apartment complex. Or should I say townhouse complex, because we’re getting a toooowwwwnnhooooouuuussssee.

The leasing agent greeted me as nicely and professionally as she had done before, and then she noticed Sonny sitting on my shoulder. She went nuts. She went nuts over how tiny he is. She went crazy over his harness. She picked him up and tried to put him on her shoulder, but he settled more comfortably on her boobs, which made her laugh. Then she brought Sonny and I into the leasing manager’s office. The leasing manager was talking with a maintenance guy. As soon as Sonny was there, though, the conversation immediately switched to borrowing Sonny for a prank on one of the residents. They all cooed over Sonny and asked about the proper way to pet him. The maintenance guy asked me questions about how old he is and how long he is and stuff like that.

Sonny was perfect and sat still and took in all the attention. He sat patiently on my lap while I went and signed the lease. The townhouse is now ours!

Because he was so good, I took him to Petsmart afterwards and got him 20 crickets instead of 10. I probably would have gotten him 20 anyway. He’s looking a little skinny after a long brumation. Time to fatten him up for spring!

*I stepped in a small puddle of what I assume was gas, and then had to do a little dance to try to get as much of it off my shoe as possible. Now I’m scared to wear those shoes.

Posted March 3, 2015 by agentksilver in Lizard

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Apartment Hunters: Season 2, Episode 3   Leave a comment

James investigated Waterford Forest apartments by himself on Sunday. I asked him what he thought.

“The living room area was really small,” he said. “I’m surprised you liked it.”

I confessed that it was literally everything else about the apartment that I really liked. The living room area was really small, but the bedrooms were nice and big, and the kitchen was nice and big, and it had a sensible floorplan. The location was fantastic, and the staff was nice.

“The staff person I talked to was sort of impatient,” he said. “But maybe that was because it was the weekend and she was by herself. She just sort of showed me the apartment and then walked me back to the office. We didn’t really chat much. But again, maybe she just didn’t want to leave the office for too long.”

The other place he had investigated was a place called Treybrooke.

Option 1

Option 2

“I like the living room in the apartment, but I like the bedrooms in the townhouse,” he sighed. “If only they could be combined!”

“What the property like?” I asked.

“The staff was very nice,” he said. “It’s right next to an elementary school.”

“Oh, no,” I said.


“Traffic is going to be ridiculous.”

Despite my hesitation, we went ahead and checked the place out today. It turned out to be across from a Montessori school (a really nice-looking one too, holy crap); the elementary school was around the corner and had separate turn lanes with a huge winding parking lot, so the traffic wasn’t too bad even though it was peak pick-up time.

The grounds were surrounded by trees, although there wasn’t much in the way of trees inside the complex. We were within walking distance to the Greenway, so there would be a lot of walking paths. There was also a large pool, tennis courts, and a half-basketball court (!). The leasing agent remembered James and was delighted that he had come back (always a good sign).

First we looked at the townhouse. James had said that he didn’t like how small the rooms were, and I’ll admit they were smallish, but the place was so light and open. There was a fireplace with a set-in nook over it. I thought it was adorable. The kitchen was great, with lots of counter space. No pantry, but lots and lots of shelves. The dining room area was big enough for our table. The half-bath was functional (there’s not really a whole lot you can ask from a half-bath).

The upstairs was indeed very spacious. The huge bedrooms were great. There were vaulted ceilings. I had visions of putting shelves up there with potted plants or something. The master bedroom closets were somewhere between standard and walk-ins, and very nicely laid out, with a separate shelf for shoes. I was very impressed overall. And there was a fenced-in backyard! Perfect for woodworking projects or painting or just sitting outside.

Next we visited the apartment option. The living room here was huge. The kitchen was small — we wouldn’t have any more counter space there than at our current apartment. The second bedroom was also in a weird spot, kind of a thumb that turned the other way from the entryway. The leasing agent said that it had been designed for a “roommate” situation. The parents and kids wouldn’t have rooms next to each other, or two roommates would have their own little nooks and just share the common areas.

She asked me what I thought. I said that I had really, really liked the townhouse, with the cute little nook above the fireplace, the backyard, the separation of private and public spaces, and all the counter space. This place wasn’t bad — oh my goodness, the living area — but it just seemed to have less of what I wanted and more of what I didn’t really care about.

Back at the leasing office, she consulted availability. A townhouse was available when we needed it to be, but it would be a middle unit; a backyard and a big kitchen, but no fireplace and no wall nook. A two-bedroom would be available, and it would have a fireplace with a nook, but it it was a second-level apartment, so no backyard. But fortunately, we have two months to decide.

Next we visited Harrison Grande, the place that James really liked during our first apartment search. The woman we were able to speak to explained that they were about to upgrade literally all of the currently-empty apartments, when were we looking to move in?

“April,” I said.

The relief on the woman’s face was palpable.

“I can show you a Biltmore floorplan,” she said.

“We’ve seen it,” I said.

“She hates it,” said James.

“Really? I live in one of those,” said the woman. “It’s fantastic.”

“I know!” said James. “So much space! But she doesn’t like the bathroom right at the front entrance.”

“Oh,” said the woman. “But the bedrooms are so far apart, so my son and I don’t have to share a wall. I suppose that doesn’t make any difference for you two.”

“We were hoping to see a Monticello,” I said.

Well there weren’t any cleared to see — the renovations, you see — tomorrow there would be some big corporate people coming to look at the whole apartment complex — they were in the middle of renovations — just cosmetic changes — maybe next week — they were doing renovations to all the empty apartments — maybe next week a Monticello would be cleared to look at — maybe she could get our information and call us — so sorry, but it was because of all of the renovations.

“Yeah, we can do that,” I said.

“What are your names?”

“Kelsey and James.”

“Is that the same last name?”

I hate that question. Casey and I had gotten that question asked all the time when we had gone apartment hunting way back in 2008. This was the first time I’d been asked that question in a while, and I’ve never been able to figure out why that question bugs me. I had to spell out my last name (which is spelled how it sounds?) and she guessed James’ last name on the first try. I gave her my phone number, and she wrote on top of it Monticello view. She apologized again for the renovations, and we left.

We visited a few local shops while we were out and about. First we looked at Pet Supermarket, right across the street from Harrison Grande. If we ended up living there, that would be our pet supply store, and we needed to know if they had crickets for the beardies (they do). Then we looked at a local fish store, just to see what they had for our future aquarium. I pointed out all the cool fish I like, all the coral I like, and all the marine fish I like (wrasses and damsels, the whole lot of them — but they had chromis! I am definitely getting a wrasse or two and some chromis in like ten years or so when I do get a saltwater tank). We looked briefly at their selection of driftwood and substrate. Then I asked the guy running the shop for advice on fish.

“I’m getting zebra danios, and I’m having trouble thinking of tank mates for them,” I said.

He nodded.

“I know they’re pretty community-friendly fish,” I said. “I was thinking about putting cardinal tetras in there.”

He didn’t think that was a good idea; zebra danios are just so fast and busy. They might not nip, but their antics might make the small, placid cardinals timid and stressed.

“Cardinals aren’t small,” I said, surprised.

“They’re about the same size as neons,” he said.

“They’re like twice the size of neons,” I said.

He shook his head no.

“So like bigger tetras then? Lamp-eyes? Buenos Aires?”

“They’re still way too busy,” he said. “I wouldn’t mix danios and tetras at all.”

“So what about barbs?” I swallowed the suggestion of tiger barbs and said, “Maybe cherry barbs?”

“Cherry barbs would be great,” he said.

So that’s that. Our future tank, whenever we build it, will have Glofish/zebra danios and cherry barbs.