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One Cobble at a Time

Snippets from a Day at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

Snippets from a Day at Monterey Bay Aquarium

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responsible woman

I still love jellyfish. We walked into the room with the stinging nettle tank and I began to cry. A few years ago I wrote a post explaining my love of jellyfish. Those reasons still apply. It was powerful to stand in front of that tank with Link, who is now taller than me. He remembers the jellyfish too, but his memory is a mild nostalgia. He was glad to see the aquarium again though. All of it.

***

Gleek continued her habit of communing with animals. She had a penguin following her fingers to the point that it toppled off the rock where it had been perched. I caught it on video. Gleek also figured out how to get the bat rays to surface and come close where people could pet them. She also coaxed them to hold still for a minute instead of swimming past.

***

Gleek goes through exhibits very slowly. She wanted to really absorb each tank. Patch skims more lightly over everything. Fortunately there were enough hands-on activities that engaged Patch’s interest. So he’d play with the lever that let him bury and unbury a plastic flounder while Gleek would stand with her hand to the glass of a tank focused on the fish inside.

***

Link, being sixteen, and with a cell phone in his pocket, made his own way through at a pace that was not dictated by his younger siblings. Any time my mom sense got to tingling, I’d text him and he’d either rejoin us, or tell me where he was.

***

I’ve fallen in love with the map and GPS features of my phone. I’ve traveled all sorts of unfamiliar cities and routes in the last few days. I haven’t felt lost at all.

***

They handed us a map as we walked in the door. It was bewildering, just shapes and labels on a piece of paper that intended to communicate where things were, but at first we had no context for any of it. I kept all the kids close for that first hour, worried that someone would get lost in the crowd. Then we began to know the lay of the land. We correlated places we’d visited with the labels on the map. My kids settled in to their usual museum behaviors. They wandered within an exhibit, but we only move onward to the next space together. The kids watched for me as much as I watched for them. By the end of the day, we’d been all the places and the aquarium did not feel so bewilderingly large.

***

I’ve added leaping blennies to my list of world’s cutest fish. I didn’t really have such a list before today, but I was so charmed by blennies that I guess I need one now. I found a video of them on youtube, because you have to see them jump to appreciate them. Listening to the audio, I’m pretty certain this video was shot at the exact same tank in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can hear the penguin feeding time in the background. Blennies are like adorable pinky-sized aliens who live on our planet.

***

The minute that Gleek saw a sign for cuttlefish, she announced how cute they are and how much she loves them. I’d no idea that she even knew what a cuttlefish is. Yet before the end of the day a stuffed cuttlefish came home with us. (Patch acquired a small blue octopus. Link requested that his souvenir money be put in the family fund that is saving up for a Wii U.)
Cuttlefish are indeed cute.

They are particularly cute when they use their little tentacles. Perhaps there is a second resident on my newly created list of world’s cutest fish.

***

Going to the aquarium was expensive. The tickets have to cost so much to pay for all the maintenance. And when you see a giant sunfish, bigger than a person, swim by only inches away, the cost doesn’t seem to be quite so much. The accounting part of my brain keeps counting that cost. Yet had we decided not to go, I would be regretting it in the same way I still wish I’d jumped into the waves on our beach day. I can’t remember who said it, but building a good life is picking the right regrets. Pretty sure we picked right today.

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