“Exploding Goldfish!”

by ESP on April 25, 2012 · 17 comments

I will go ahead and get the “nasty bit” out of the way right off the bat. Actually there may be a couple more in this post, depending on your disposition.

This first “eww” came to my attention some months back when one of my now extremely “in-bred” goldfish in my stock tank started to “put on weight”. I remember thinking that this was rather odd as it was not the right time of the year for them to be having babies. Then the rapid weight gain became more concentrated on one side of it’s body…I knew something had to be wrong with it.

I saw it again recently and well…

…I knew it wasn’t long for this world. A week or two later I was clearing out some water lilies that had enveloped the entire pond as they do this time of year, and I happened to have a flash thought about the little bloated fish, how he was doing, if he had somehow managed to deflate himself.

As if on cue, lurking under the lily pad that I was currently pulling on, out rolled Mr Creosote with impeccable timing in, I swear, slow motion right over the back of my hand, very inconsiderate.

At this point I made my customary freaked out noise, which is somewhat a cross between the strained sound you make in a dream when you cannot seem to escape whatever it is chasing you, and strangely a giggling five year-old girl.

This particular incident also included a notable cross-legging side-stepping swagger away from the direction of the tank and the offending fish.

After my heart rate slowed, I decided that Mr Creosote should receive a decent burial.

I walked to the shed for my shovel, and caught myself thinking about where in the Patch the soil quality required some improvement…his final resting place to be, or so I thought.

I quickly dug him a shallow grave and went about my business albeit a little more cautiously in and around the pond.

The following day we were all hanging out on our back porch when the air got thick with the most ungodly smell (oh yes), it was the sort of smell that had us all instantly looking at each other, wide eyed, in a sort of desperate – you have to figure out where this is coming from and take care of it immediately sensibility.

We did not have to look far…

He had resurrected Mr Creosote and must have been rolling around on him, lodging him up into his collar.

Bad, stinky Kumo! 

Kumo, among many other creatures and birds, has also been tucking into the now very ripe / rotting loquats. I keep finding the seeds that he has carefully nibbled and discarded in neat piles everywhere. And here was me thinking they were a Naboo god-offering.

Jeff, your eyes are bigger then your belly!

“Yes, yes…they are ESP! I just can’t stop myself”

“Shomeone…shave him from himshelf.”

Lots happening this week in the ESPatch.

I have witnessed fights in the feather grasses, even

feathers in the feather grasses.

My mature sotol is growing a spear…

“Ach, is that what yer callin’ it ESP, look at it mun, its no even twice the length of a mun!”

Enough William.

Must not look at the sticker…must not look at the sticker…you are looking at the sticker aren’t you?

The Battle continues:

“On this day the 25th of April, 2012, I report that the battle between the dwarf papyrus and the horsetail reed is holding fast. The pairing appears to be at a stalemate, at least for the time being. I fear for our safety with the ever increasing threat from the Persian ivy front, it is now constantly threatening our borders and appears to be deeply dug in, no doubt lying in wait to flank the opposing artemesia.”

This area is going to be redesigned as a Patch Tikki bar in the not too distant future and this stock tank may very well have to be moved, an event that I am not by any means looking forward to. More on this potential Darwin award later.

Moving on, and away from the Patch to a client’s house for a moment.

I was in the process of taking out a dead tree (as you do), when I saw a rather “unnatural” stick clinging onto the side of a limestone boulder.

This is

Megaphasma dentricus


or as it is more commonly known, the walking stick, it is one of the largest insects in our area. Female giant walking sticks can be as long as 6 inches and this one was all of that. Walking sticks spend their lives up in oak trees eating leaves and are generally only seen on the ground if they have fallen out of one.

It is the longest insect in the United States and, taking the above shot, my hand was positioned directly below it.

If it had dropped, I would have required some serious counseling for a very long time. 

Slow-moving and defenseless creatures, they rely on their incredible camouflage to avoid predators.


I coaxed her onto another (real stick) and placed the creature into the safety of some nearby shrubs.

Some other notable insects in the Patch of late:

An eight spotted forester moth in a variegated pittosporum,

and this rather Wile E. Coyote looking villain skulking on the stem of this sunflower.  This is a Lucerne moth.

Nomophila nearctica


Lots and lots of these Bilobed Loopers, they have been very common across Texas this Spring but really hard to photograph…they hardly ever keep still.

Red Admirals also are showing up in large numbers.

Vanessa atalanta


And to wrap things up on the insect front: a Little Yellow (Pyrisitia lisa) on milkweed.

Larkspur has put on a mighty fine display this year,

along with the white-water rapids of artemesia,

here it is flowing past a couple of copper canyon daisies to heat up the scene and some Mexican feather grass for movement.

The blowing of the datura trumpet signaled that it was once again time for our annual school Daddy – Daughter dance

 I had fun miss p. and I promise I will try the limbo dancing next year.

pinocchio urban art by OakOak

Stay Tuned for:


“They’re under Starters Orders…”


All material © 2012 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.


Coming soon to a theater near you:


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1 Robin April 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I am still laughing out loud at that pic of Kumo with the fish head in his collar!!! OMG, that is so hilarious. I had a terrible “fish event” at my home the first year I owned it, and ended up with over 50 dead koi and goldfish. It was quite the holocaust and painful to recall. I buried them at night because I couldn’t stand to watch, but the beds they were buried in came alive and fertile quite quickly, once the smell went away that is. Kumo!!!!!!

Quite ridiculous!

I could not believe it when we finally figured out the stench was emanating from Kumo’s collar, needless to say the offending collar was immediately removed and discarded. My son stood on the deck in a perpetual gagging motion – he has a rather acute reflex to anything gross (especially Bear Grylls’s exploits).

Sorry to hear about your own devastating “fishy-event”, that must have been terrible Robin.


2 katina April 25, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Oh. My. God.

Kumo would make a good Tomato dog (though it sounds as if he would eat the fruit instead of just leaving them at the back door like that dog I had growing up).

3 ESP April 25, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Hi Katina.
Kumo tries everything!
He has already been in surgery for his rather colorful culinary tastes, and just the other day he was majorly “tripping” on one of the many psychotropic plants he got into in the Patch. It took two days for his pupils and demeanor to return to normal!

4 Steph@RamblingWren April 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Ha, ha, ha! Your dog cracks me up. Didn’t you know that wearing fish heads around your neck is all the rage these days? LOL:) He is such a trend-setter. I love how he looks completely clueless to the fact that he is rocking the dead fish head around his neck. Love your eight spotted forester moth picture.

Hi Steph.


He does have his moments…in-between getting chased (or running away from in this case) and screamed at :-)

That eight spotted forester pic was my best capture of one to date, the blooms on the mock orange referencing the wing pattern.



5 Toni - Signature Gardens April 25, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I’m crying I’m laughing so hard — at your poor exploded fish’s expense. Your description of your reaction was hilarious!!! That little Kumo is the cutest little thing. He is just a constant source of entertainment and excitement, isn’t he? Never a dull moment. We are seeing Red Admirals by the bazillions around here. Pretty cool. I was at a client’s the other day, and there were hundreds in her oak tree. Also very cool to see that walking stick!! I can only imagine the conniption that would have ensued had it dropped on you. That’s a whole ‘nother post, I imagine. Thanks for a good laugh.

Hi Toni.

Glad you found it funny, I was laughing writing it…but trust me, no one was laughing on that back deck when it was happening! Never a dull moment indeed.

The walking stick was very cool and I think, if I had to choose, I would go for the lolling dead fish over the prospect of one of these large insects landing on my arm. Yes, that would have made for a conniption to end all conniptions, and I have had my fair share.

Thanks for dropping in.


6 Cheryl April 26, 2012 at 5:06 am

Hilarious! I love your artemesia planting and I’m for the tikki bar! We had a looper incident last night, I counted 9 in and around the majestic sage and larkspur…they are so huge and noisy! Great post Phillip…as usual!

Hi Cheryl.

The artemesia is in for a good pruning any day now, it is on the cusp of legginess.
When the Tikki bar is built you will have to come over and make some of those mean loquat margaritas (I have some in the freezer). I suspect though, if I build it as heavy duty as my bench, that it will most likely be finished when the fruits are appearing next year.



7 Diana/SharingNaturesGarden April 26, 2012 at 8:00 am

I feel your pain! I’m sure Kumo thought he was quite the gentleman with his stinky fish cologne! Another good reason not to have a tank. I think my dogs would have helped themselves to fresh fish! Your garden is looking lovely.

Hi Diana…you must have a tank!
There is always so much going on in there…and what is one fish-corpse rolling hauntingly in slow-motion over the back of one’s hand in the grand scheme of things :-)


8 Linda/patchowrk April 26, 2012 at 10:49 am

Kumo is a never ending source of entertainment….hahahaha.
Our dog eats the Texas persimmons….black fruit is not so good, when you have white whiskers. No fish heads here. But, I have found lizard heads, left over from the cat, on the living room rug. Dogs are such a joy.
We had a Walking Stick on the ceiling of our porch. A strange place, we thought. We did the same as you, and got him/her onto a real stick and off to safety.

Love your father/daughter picture.

Hi Linda.
He is indeed…in fact as I type, the dog has just had a bunch of baby powder poured over his head for yet another unmentionable odor!
Walking sticks are an amazing evolutionary feat and I had no idea that they got this large…only in Texas :-)


Look at those feelers.

Thanks on the picture.


9 Cheris April 26, 2012 at 11:07 am


That is a perfect summary Cheris!

10 renee (@reneesroots) April 26, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Very funny, ESP. You are quite the storyteller, and your pooch certainly knows how to wear a fish head.

There is never a dull moment in the Patch Renee :-)

11 sandy lawrence April 26, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I can just hear the noise you made when that dead fish washed over your hand. Probably pretty close to the one I made when I sleepily stumbled to the kitchen and found the cat’s gift to me in front of the refrigerator with my bare foot – one-half of a dead mouse! She failed to leave any crackers, however. Thanks for another hilarious post.

Hi Sandy.

That noise is really quite ridiculous, words do not do it justice. It even disturbs me whenever I happen to make it…and then the whole ‘trying to integrate the sound business’ (to make the complete freak-out appear more normal)? Where does that even come from?

Glad you found the post funny.


12 Linda Lehmusvirta April 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Well, shoot, if you weren’t going to eat the dead fish, Kumo wanted to show you what you were missing! I take it he has a new collar?! Yowsers. Lovely pictures, and such great information, as always. And Daddy/daughter dance just makes me smile. Your Patch is such a wonderful place to be, exploding fish and all!

Hi Linda
He is still waiting for his fresh-smelling new collar.

It was amazing to me just what an impact this little dead fish had on me over the course of a couple of days both psychologically (with the slow lily / white eyed roll over) and then the whole

Pet Sematary

thing. Brrr.

13 Les April 27, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Oh Kumo! What a darling little dog. Did he get a bath after he went fishing? The only dog I ever owned that had a pedigree was a basset who never missed an opportunity to roll in something expired or excreted.

Hi Les.
Oh yes…bathed and powdered, just to be on the safe-side.


14 Nicole April 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

Oh that was nasty! Learned my lesson about NOT burying fish to fertilize plants when one has dogs some years ago. In that case I also lost several plants that were dug up in the process.

Hi Nicole.
It was indeed.
From now on any future dead fish will be going in one of my sealed rotational composters…shallow graves and a part-beagle nose is a disastrous combination.

15 Lori May 1, 2012 at 12:03 am

OMG…I cannot stop laughing. KUMO!!!!

16 ESP May 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm

KUMO!!!! Indeed.

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about.”

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