29 January 2014

Simply Happy Snail Time of a Teacher

I couldn't find any other words to describe this evening. Half of the schoolyear is gone, we are giving the kids their reports with marks tomorrow, I got home early and had a cup of tea with chocolate biscuits from a friend, hung the washing, fed my snails and now I am watching them as they eat their apple pieces and listening to the sounds of their radullae scraping against cuttlefish bones, feeling very contented that they look happy.

Adela, one of my Lissachatina reticulata, has been exposing her/his/its (still confused when talking of the "gender" of a hermaphrodite) penis for a few days now. Given the fact that she is not the only one of that species in the tank, I might be expecting eggs and babies some time soon :) It's been a while since there were newborn (newhatched?) babies in the house, so the thought of them sliming towards their first slice of cucumber (see the picture below) is quite exciting. I am a nutter and a geek, but a very happy geek.

23 January 2014

Snail News

My snails and I are having happy times right now. I took advantage of my parents, who brought me their old juicer on the graduation visit and even though, as my boyfriend described it, "it is a bastard one to clean", I undertake this task after every juicing and I found that the snails absolutely love the leftovers - especially carrot, beetroot and apple mash with some water to make it more moist. Thanks to this, I began feeding my snails more often, spraying them more often and, of course, giving them a source of calcium more often and it has already brought pretty impressive results. My younger snails that have seemed to stop growing have grown visibly in the past few weeks. There is still no change in my biggest (Jedi) or secong biggest (Adéla), but maybe it is too late for them and they have reached their terminal size. After all, Jedi's size is quite impressive.

Two of my "little" snails. The lip of the shell is where the snails grow. Mine were
clearly a bit damaged, but they managed to repair themselves - see the lighter
stripe on the edge? That is new and healthy shell.

As for my aquatic snails, I have some bad news. My apple snail died last week, I am not sure why, but I guess that low temperature was a big factor - it was doing greatly in summer and then from autumn on it started looking bad, stopped growing and so on. I am feeling sorry for it, but I am keeping the shell and the operculum and I composted the body on the school compost. On the other hand, there are many smaller snails that are doing well and breeding like crazy. They were stowaways on some plants that a friend gave me - and they survive almost everything. So far, I have not found a thing that would harm them. I keep many little ones in an aquarium at home (pictures below) and many bigger ones in a five-litre pickle jar from the school canteen in our staff room (and I already have a pending reservation for other jars from the school kitchen when they come - more snails and Daphnia keeping is planned).

The aquatic snails that hatched recently. They are still very small, but crawling around the tank happily

15 January 2014

Sunday Walk in the Čimice Valley

Having not gone out all Saturday, I was ordered to go for a walk by my man. I put on a thin spring jacket (because it was sunny) and went for a twenty-minute leisurely aimless walk. Eventually, discovering the sunny winter beauties of the Čimica valley, its fields and forests, little ponds and streams, I came home two hours later, frozen to the bone... But very mentally and physically enhanced : ) Finally, I enjoyed watching the sunset with a cup of warm decaf coffee in hand. I cannot wait to go back in spring, when everything will be sprouting and bloooming.

Fields a few streets away from my home


Willow enlightened by the setting sun and a gall on a rose bush. I took that home with me - for a biology class.

Natural monument sign


While drinking coffee...

10 January 2014

Those Few English Days....

The first post-holiday week of work is over and - oh boy! - I am so tired. It was barely seven p.m. when I got home and thought I would simply crash into bed, but a portion of six Czech plum-filled dumplings covered with lots of sweet cocoa powder and bathing in a disgustingly huge amount of melted butter gave me a bit of a lift : ) Work is great, as always, but also very tiring (as always, actually) and every time I have a little blank space in my schedule, my mind wonders a week and a few days back, when I was in the UK with my man, resting peacefully and getting my tummy stuffed with all kinds of good things.

We had a few days of classic British weather. That dark and rainy kind of it, which reminds me of holidays somewhere in a cottage, when the best you can do is make a cup of tea and play a board game or read a book.
When the weather was nice, we tried cycling around the town or along the Basingstoke Canal, which was lovely. It was very green and there were many moorhens on it, too. For me, cycling in the UK was scary. My bike was heavy, I rode it wigglily and just the fact that you have to ride on the left side of the road and even the breaks are placed the other way round compared to "continental" bikes... I tried hard to fit in, but I guess there is too much continent still in me : )

We had a lovely lunch in one of restaurants in Woking. My man's steak didn't taste very good, but the mussels I had were absolutely delicious. I love eating invertebrates, but eating so many creatures made me want to eat something vegetarian.

There were many evenings of slow crafting while watching something funny. I made these "gingerbread" Christmas decorations. As you can see on the heart, I learned a few new stitches too. They are very uneven so far, but I think it gives the decoration some of the important handmade charm : )

I also found some time to wind and organise my threads that are now used more for sewing than for knotting friendship bracelets. I have got quite a collection now and will definitely not buy any in some time.

I finally started liking holly. I used to call it "evil plant", because of its really sharply pointed leaves, but only now in winter did I fully appreciate its beauty. The contrast of shiny green or brown leaves with the red berries is amazing. Cutting these while standing on the top step of a ladder, on my own two shaky legs, trying to reach for the pretty bits was also an unforgettable experience. Even more so, when one of the pretty bits landed on my face.

So gone are the days of cozy and snuggly breakfast in bed with my snaily mug and guilt-free five mince pies a days just because "I'm hungry..." (the Englishman can already immitate me with a very fake foreign accent). There was tea in bed, tea out of bed, tea with food, tea on its own, tea with friends, tea with FRIENDS on TV, tea outside and tea with cake... We do love tea  : )
There was also some piano playing, experimental guitar playing and we even got to planting bits of my graduation bouquet into the garden soil and picking old fallen apples... I could stay in the garden all day. I am looking forward to the graduation bulbs to sprout, but right now - resting! : )

04 January 2014

Happy Simple 2014

The last year has been ful of changes and self-realization. Finishing uni, fighting the black dog and learning more about myself and how to work with my thoughts and my life, starting a job, first problems and first joys of it and of course mostly just casual simple days filled with work, family and friends.

So… 2013 is over and I am a happy person. I have a loving and supportive family, a home (even though rented for now), a job, a wonderful boyfriend and a lot of good friends. There are clothes in my wardrobe, cosmetics in my bathroom, plants on my windowsil, books in my bookcase, blankets on my bed and some money on my account and there really isn’t a thing that could make me happier or more satisfied than I am now.

I am coming to think that the more THINGS I have, the more cluttered my home and my mind really is and the more complicated life gets. So this year maybe my most important resolution is to live simply. To enjoy little things, that do not cost money and are nice and ordinary, yet often not fully appreciated. Sunshine on my face, wind in my hair, swimming in a pool, eating good food, reading a nice book, meeting a dear friend, watching the rain fall in the garden, seeing a plant grow or hearing a snail eat in the middle of the night… and being thankful for being able to experience all that.

Have a wonderful, colourful and joyous new year! 

02 January 2014

Eastrop Park, Basingstoke

It is new year now and I am safely tucked in in my bed in the UK, watching Friends, drinking Yorkshire Gold tea and eating a very sweet mince pie, after having done a little cycle ride around the town of Woking and eaten some shells out in a restaurant. This week has been great - a lot of food and sleep, roast lunches and dinners, many cups of tea, reading books and meeting friends.... AND walking in the Eastrop Park in Basingstoke. It was a brilliant sunny day and the park was full of muddy and watery bits, lovely green lawns, lake and fountains (a little bit frozen), trees and also some physical exercise challenges that we tried to pass - it wasn't easy. Here are some pictures.

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