Sunday, March 27, 2011


Today I went to the Tropical Fish Store where I bought Maxie. I told a young lady about Maxie's conditions, and described his behavior and appearance. She questioned me for a quite a long while - an interview on my care of Maxie.

Is the water heated? How often do I change it? What do I clean the bowl with? How much water do I leave in the bowl? Do I have gravel in the bowl? Do I check the acid content? I answered, as they say, to the best of my knowledge, but with each question I began feeling more and more guilty of neglect, mishandling, abuse.She also asked about Max's age so I told her two years, and, trying to make her feel a bit guilty also, informed her that I bought Maxie from their store, but he hadn't come with a birth certificate, so his real age is unknown. She shrugged that off and said two years is a good age. Betta fish, she informed me, are inbred and so suffer from genetic mutations! Without seeing Max she can't say exactly what he has.

Eventually I left the store having spent $24.11 for mineral salts, some kind of drops which apparently may help, and a thermometer. I had a heater I had never used for fear of boiling Max. I promised I would heat his little home. She said he may improve within three days - on the other hand,he may not. Whatever, I should return in three days to report on his condition.

I have scrupulously followed her instructions, and will let her and you all know in three days how little Max is faring.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I returned from a glorious time friendwise, weatherwise, and otherwise in New Orleans very very late Monday night. As soon as I entered I greeted Max, my little Piscean companion, who normally greets me by coming to the side of the bowl,undulating happily (or so I imagine - the happy part, that is.) This time I had to look for him amongst the artificial fronds and leaves. He seemed to be resting amongst the plants. I tapped the bowl, called his name, but there was no response. Of course I was alarmed. I did notice slight movement in his fins, so I knew the worst had not happened. After quite a while I observed him trying to come to the surface, then sinking down. He attempted to come to the surface several times, then eventually I saw him inhale some air and then, shockingly, he sank down, belly up! He remained like this, not moving at all. I tried praying, still no life. Then I wondered how to dispose of him, in a dignified fashion. I even said Kaddish for him. I was exhausted after a long day of airport 'hopping' and flight delays. I thought he could remain in the water until the following morning, besides, I couldn't deal with removing him.

The next morning I saw he had moved, and was no longer belly up. He had almost propped himself on one of the plant leaves. I gave him his food, but he ignored it. I called my neighbour who cared for Max in my absence. She immediately said that he hadn't eaten the whole weekend, and said that he does not look well. This pattern has continued until today. I thought that either he is too cold and is hibernating, so to speak, or that he is getting old. He has been with me for two years, and I don't know how old he was when I bought him. One of my patient's moms gave me two books on bettas today when I told her of my concerns. I looked at The Guide to Owning Siamese Fighting Fish, subheading, care, breeding, combat raising, varieties, diseases - that is what I needed, diseases. After careful observation of Maxie he appears to still have good coloring, and there are no signs of fungal infections, fin rotting, swelling, or popped eyes. All signs point to Maxie as having swim-bladder trouble, and there is no cure! Infrequently, apparently, a fish can come out of this condition spontaneously, so I am praying for Maxie's recovery, and ask all of you to keep little Maxie in your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Without hesitation I would say that my friendships are the most important aspect of my life.

I grew up with a group of girls (The Great Girls Gang). Our friendship began for some of us, in kindergarten. We were carpooled to Temple Shalom. The others from the Gang we met in Grade 1. We remained friends from then on. There was a core group of us - we would meet at school, and play in each others' homes after school and on weekends. We formed the Great Girls Gang and we met in the shed in Sandy's garden. We painted the shed and made curtains, and gave each other exotic names like Njanga. We took minutes of our meetings. What exactly we met about I forget now. We remained together throughout our school years. When we began having boyfriends we always had a cardinal rule - never to go out with another's boyfriend after a break up. Our friendship was always paramount, and so we remained friends ... forever.

After Matric we went our separate ways, to University, traveling. We married, had children, went to live in far away countries, but always kept in touch. The moment I heard my husband was killed my friends were there for me, they reached over continents sending telegrams, and phoning. They were always my backbone, my support. We meet over the years, and as soon as we are together the years we have been apart slip away and immediately we carry on just like we did all our lives.

And of course over the years and the countries, new friendships and bonds were formed, but the old ties are forever there. We meet ... in South Africa, in London, in Israel, and now ... on Skype.

Why this entry? Because this weekend I am going to meet one of these friends, and her husband and son, in New Orleans. And I am so excited. She is a professor of English literature at Wits University in Johannesburg and will be presenting at a conference in New Orleans. Her husband survived a horrendous accident in South Africa last year, and he will accompany her. Their son lives in LA and he will be meeting us all. The last time I saw them was five years ago, in South Africa.

So ---- here is to friends, and to reunions, to love that abides and sustains.