The downside of showing off your terrarium
Having bounced at my friends about my large terrarium (which is beginning to develop nicely: I seem to have a stable population of little flying things in there - larger than a mosquito, smaller than a housefly; and lots of fresh fern fronds unfurling frantically) I have discovered one minor problem, or perhaps, a blessing. You see, people now know me as the place where your old, leaking fish tank goes to die. Rarely a weekend goes past when I don't find a little guppi tank, or three quarters of a marine tank parked just so on the front veranda.
At first I was excited to think that I could so easily develop my hobby with a minimum of expenditure. It wasn't to be. At first I only got tanks that people didn't want any more. A good hour with a brill pad and some cleaning products and I was set.
Then I started to get the tanks that people had left in their garage because they were ashamed to admit to having bought them. The tanks made from slumped brown beer bottles, the old TV set with a replacement tube for goldfish, a rather fancy design with a leadlight surround (shaped like an enormous bosom), and something which could be best described as a jerry can with a hole cut in one side and replaced with scratched perspex. People knew I could do something with them.
And then there are the stands. Some are quite well made, often out of plantation pine painted mission brown, with trendy coloured glass from the old out-back dunny light. There is a fancy sculture made from bent and welded rebar; several dressing tables which have clearly lived with a mushroom drip irrigation system in the top drawer; a fancy carved table which someone had the insight to fix for the uneven floor using a pruning saw (on all four legs); and perhaps a dozen coffee tables with peeling laminate.
My garage is now stacked from floor to ceiling with partially renovated terrariums, dismantled stands waiting for me to get the time to bandsaw out a new drawer runner and a veritable light shop of aquarium lights with mismatched chokes and burnt out starters waiting for me to lascerate my fingers as I attempt to remove them.
The last straw was a rather impressive 2.4m tank that came with hospital bed for a stand. The owner had had an accident with the thermostat and had broiled all her fish on a weekend away. She had clearly decided that aquariums weren't for her and decided to let me deal with the whole thing. She'd wheeled the whole thing into my driveway and slunk back home, perhaps thinking she'd avoid me working out where it was from. I rang her that night and told her I wasn't impressed - "Mum, next time you might at least take the water out, and remove the slimy grey corpses bobbing on the surface."
Lynne, my S.O., put her foot down hard. After I treated her for glass cuts inflicted during my attempt to get her foot back out of the mirror backed lizard ex-home (with built-in concrete cliff face) we decided that we would have to leave a note to our kindly, but unknowning benefactors.
With apologies to Douglas Adams, Norden and Muir.