Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Road Trip

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 4:40 pm on Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Road Trip, originally uploaded by Folkcat.

On our way to Concord to pick up new foster girls – the Sound FX Girls and Mia.

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New Day Different Rat

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 5:31 pm on Monday, June 29, 2009

New Day Different Rat, originally uploaded by Folkcat.

Laurel takes her turn sleeping in the hose "window".

Sleepy Girl!

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 4:21 pm on Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sleepy Girl!, originally uploaded by Folkcat.

Caught Isabella, sound asleep and hanging her head out a window the rats chewed in their vent hose.

Foster Updates, Part One

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 10:34 pm on Friday, June 26, 2009

I know, I know – I’ve been too long without posting. It’s been kind of a rough time here, and very busy as well.

Since last I posted, we’ve had 10 foster girls come and go that you haven’t even heard about! There were the Mystery Girls: Sookie Stackhouse, Stephanie Plum, KoKo, and Sneaky Pie. There was the fizzy 4-pack that we called the Soda Pop Girls – Moxie, Fanta, Faygo, and Shasta.

Net-Net and Missy

Then there was a very special pair, older girls Net-Net and Missy. Yes, that’s the same Net-Net who, with her litter of babies, was my very first foster case. The one who bit me five times, sending me to the emergency room once.

Net-Net Gets Cozy

Net-Net’s owner reached a point where she had significant changes in her life that made it impossible to give her rats the care they deserved. So she surrendered them all to Mainely Rat Rescue. Since I’d had Net-Net before, it made sense for her to come back. I was promised she wasn’t a biter, now that she didn’t have babies.

Not entirely true. Net-Net and Missy both made attempts at biting Gryphon right away. Me – well, with me they were what I came to call toothy, but not biting. I could pick them up (Gryphon couldn’t), and handle them, and even take them in on my bed to romp under the blankets. And all I ever got was a Tooth Touch to the arm, hand, even the nose or chin – a gentle touching of the teeth to a body part, not a bite.


Missy Explores 

The Tooth Touch sometimes became a Slow Bite. Not an aggressive motion, but a slow and considered one. I took the Tooth Touch and the Slow Bite both to mean they were trying to communicate, not express anger or fear.

The Slow Bite is a case of a Tooth Touch that doesn’t know it’s own strength. If you are quick enough, you can pull away from them. I was slow one night, and Missy actually broke the skin on my ear. Ouch!

So, here we were with a pair of older girls (over 18 months, elderly for a rat), with a temperament issue. And in addition to that, they both developed tumors. What was intended to be foster care in contemplation of finding an adoptive home, became hospice care. Net-Net’s tumor grew rapidly, and it was the ever-increasing size of her lump that set the deciding point for the next phase.

We parted company with Net-Net and Missy last week, sending them on their final journey to the top people at MRR. The head honcho herself is a certified euthanasia technician, so I can rest assured that they were handled gently, with great care and respect.

Net-Net will always hold a special place in my heart. She was the rat who got me started on this path to greater involvement with Mainely Rat Rescue. On her first visit, she instilled in me a great fear of being bitten by aggressive rats. On her last stay, I came to understand her behavior better, to see the toothiness for what I believe it really is – an attempt by an intelligent rat to communicate with the living beings who provide her daily care.

Net-Net and Missy, as cuddly as they ever got

In the end, Net-Net, Missy, and I developed a mutual respect, and dare I say, even a friendship, for each other. I think they knew that in their final home, they were loved and cared for as their own cantankerous selves.

Next time: The Mystery Girls!

Lola Rattie, February 18, 2007 – May 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 10:48 pm on Tuesday, June 2, 2009

mrr raffle prize - mohair spiral scarf-copy_edited I’ve been trying to screw up the courage to write this post for a few days now. This past Saturday afternoon, our best beloved Rattie, Lola, passed away in my arms. Lola was about 2 years, 3 1/2 months old.

As we sat ready to eat our Saturday breakfast (which is around 1 p.m. for us), Gryphon noticed that she was lying in the nest box, gasping for breath. He gently removed her from the cage and handed her to me.

Lola was struggling for air, but seemed glad of the comfort. Her breathing troubles waxed and waned over the next two hours. At intervals she would scramble to drag herself to another spot, as if hoping to escape the pain and discomfort. She was so weak, she couldn’t raise her body and stand.

Finally, a few minutes after 4 p.m., she had a few spasms that appeared to be a final seizure. Her little fists clenched and pawed at her face as if washing it. Then, lying on her side on my chest, with my hands covering her, she went still.

I cried. I have cried at least once every day since. I see her face all around me.

We have lost other rats before. We loved every one of them, and each loss hurt.

But not like this one. Lola was special. Both Gryphon and I feel like we’ve lost a soul mate.

She came to us originally in mid July of 2007. We found her at a local PetCo, a surrendered rat hoping to be adopted. They claimed she was five months old at the time. It may have been true – she was less than full size, but no longer a baby. We ultimately decided to approximate her birthday as February 18, 2007.

The most astonishing thing was that she kept jumping out of the tank she was kept in, to climb onto my shoulder, then jump back down and repeat the process. Over and over again. Clearly, she didn’t want us to leave her.

So we didn’t.

lola portrait
Lola’s First Picture, July 21, 2007

We brought her home, a spunky young teenager, to live with our aging girls Star and Sable. Star had clear health issues – a growing tumor, and a history of seizures and possibly even strokes. Sable was getting up there, but still functioning well.

ratties together 
First Morning Together:
Lola draped over Star below, Sable in the hammock above. July 28, 2007

Star succumbed to her health problems on August 14. By then, Lola was able to keep Sable company. Their companionship kept Sable going until January, at which point the older girl passed away in our arms from respiratory failure.

Lola became very depressed. We don’t know how long she may have been without rattie companionship before we adopted her, but she had come to love Sable, and she missed her big sister. Anxious to ease her loneliness, I got in touch with Mainely Rat Rescue. We adopted a pair of neutered boys, Yuri and Leonardo, a week after losing Sable.

First Meeting with the New Boys, 01/29/08

Lola had, from the start, been friendly, affectionate, and cuddly. Her personality had shown through at all ages, from her days as a bratty teenager picking on the old girls Star and Sable, to the flirty girl getting to know the boys we brought home for her. She became a protective mother figure when new girls were added – while still making sure they understood she wasn’t just a mother, she was The Queen Mother, thankyouverymuch.

Since the start of 2009, Lola had started showing her age. She slowed down. She asked for more cuddles, spending up to an hour at a time just snoozing in my arms. She took on the role of curmudgeonly old woman, becoming more annoyed at the young whippersnappers she shared a cage with.

In her most shining display of her true nature, when we tried to introduce Marbles into the colony cage, Lola turned out to be the only rat who accepted him. Every other one attacked him at every opportunity, but Lola slept with him, sometimes fended off his attackers, and kept him company when no others would.

A short time later, we noticed a bulge starting to develop on Lola’s chest. Female rats are prone to mammary tumors, and at Lola’s age, surgery would be both costly and risky. So long as she had a reasonable quality of life, it was best just to help her live with it. She didn’t seem impaired, but did lose some weight and slowed down even more.

The end finally came on Saturday, as I gave her what comfort I could, and told her if she had to leave it was okay, that we didn’t want her to suffer. I believe she went fairly peacefully. I hope she did.

She was Lola. She was our love.

She was a Clown:


A Cuddler:

Lola and Lily, March 2009

A Gourmand:


A seeker of love:


And a lover of yarn:


She was our best friend, and sometimes a very nice neckwarmer: 

 Gryphon and Lola, together.

Rest peacefully and well, our dear friend. You will always be in our hearts.

Lola’s Last Picture, March 5, 2009

Lola Rattie

Feb. 18, 2007 – May 30, 2009


Four Years, and Two More Rats

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 12:42 am on Friday, April 24, 2009

I almost didn’t post today. Then I looked at the calendar, and realized that it’s my blogiversary. Yes, folks, it’s been four years now that I’ve blogged.

The blog has changed personality many times during those years. I used to post every day, used to do reviews when the opportunity arose. I frequently posted progress reports about my crafting.

Nowadays, it’s all about the rats, mostly. With a little knitting sometimes. For the rats.

My frequency is way down as well. What used to be a daily blog, now is lucky if it’s weekly. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt less of a need to “tell the world” about every little thing I do. After several years, it’s a bit tedious to be saying, yet again, “here’s a picture of the sock I’m knitting. It’s gotten a couple inches bigger. Aren’t the colors cool?”

The rats, however, are another matter. As a foster parent for Mainely Rat Rescue, we see enough new rats in and out of our house that there are frequently new stories to tell. Here’s the latest!

Summer and Giselle

Last Saturday, we picked up our latest foster rats. Summer (the blonde in the back) and Giselle, the dark faced girl in the front) came from a home in Massachusetts. This seems to be a case of a teenager who had pets, then went to college and couldn’t bring them along. So they’re with Mainely Rat Rescue now, in our home, hoping to find a permanent home.

Summer & Giselle 41809

They’re both a bit shy. Summer will come to the cage door and sniff my hands, even lick them a little. She steps onto my fingers with her front feet, like she wants to come out, but she’s not quite willing yet. I can take her out for a moment, but she squirms hard and wants to go back.

Giselle is another matter. Giselle is very shy of people, and a bit cage aggressive. She doesn’t like being picked up AT ALL. She wriggles out of your grasp very quickly, if you can manage to get your hand on her in the first place.

With Giselle, we’ve progressed to the point that, when I sit by the cage and talk to them, she’ll poke her nose out of their igloo and check on me. If I open the door and offer treats, she’ll come over and take one from my hand.

It’s going to take a little time gaining her full trust.

Summer and Gisell are about one year old, give or take a month. They were rescued from a tank of rats that were going to be fed to a snake. Talk about a scary start! Luckily, they’ll never need to worry about being snake food again.


To help with the trust issue, I’m working on knitting a bonding pouch. A bonding pouch is a small, soft pouch with a neckstrap, just big enough to comfortably hold one rat (or sugar glider, or other small rodent). You place the shy rat in the pouch, and they feel safe and cozy inside while you wear it around your neck and go about your business.

Most bonding pouches are made of fleece, quilted flannel, or other soft fabrics. I, of course, immediately thought about knitting one. So I’m working up a pattern or two now. Once they’re done, we’ll get some test knitters to try them out as they knit bonding pouches for our foster homes to use. If the patterns work out, we may find a way to use the patterns to raise funds for the rescue. I’ll be sure to let you know what happens with that.

Once I have a bonding pouch made up, I’ll be taking these girls out one at a time to spend quality time with me. The idea is that they’ll get used to being close to me, but will feel protected by the warm, soft little pouch they’re snuggled in. Cross your fingers that it works!

And That’s The Way We Are

Thursday, April 23, 2009, four years of blogging. Four years during which my life has changed a fair bit, and you’ve been along for the ride. Thank you to all my loyal…I don’t want to call you merely readers. You are my loyal friends, tried and true, who have been with me here through thick and thin. My life is richer because you’re part of it.

Thank You!

Substitute Post

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 10:38 pm on Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today is my blogiversary. I’ve been trying to post all day. But the offline post editor I used to use won’t publish successfully anymore, and the new one I tried will work for Gryphon on his computer and his blog, but not for me on my computer and my blog.

Hopefully this short message will be clean enough that it will post. If not, pretend you didn’t see it.

Icy Adventures

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 3:32 pm on Friday, December 12, 2008

Icy Adventures, originally uploaded by Folkcat.

250,000 w/o power in NH. Or so my dad in Syracuse told me. I wouldn’t know for sure, ’cause Gryphon and I and the Seven Little Ratties are among those numbers.

Ice on everything. Melting fast now, but the utility crews have their work cut out for them.

Can’t cook – all-electric kitchen. Heat requires electricity to pump water, same w/hot water.

Most of the nearby towns are in same boat, so no restaurants to eat at that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

We managed to gather some basics to eat w/o cooking. Aladdin oil lamp w/mantle puts out enough heat for living room. I’m off to shelves soon to find a book to read.

We’ll be ok here. Back when I can.

Thanks to flickr for making this post possible from my cell phone.

Guess I Come By This Purple Thing Honestly

Filed under: Uncategorized — folkcat at 11:57 am on Monday, July 14, 2008

you are mediumorchid

Your dominant hues are red and blue. You’re confident and like showing people new ideas. You play well with others and can be very influential if you want to be.

Your saturation level is medium – You’re not the most decisive go-getter, but you can get a job done when it’s required of you. You probably don’t think the world can change for you and don’t want to spend too much effort trying to force it.

Your outlook on life is brighter than most people’s. You like the idea of influencing things for the better and find hope in situations where others might give up. You’re not exactly a bouncy sunshine but things in your world generally look up.

the spacefem.com html color quiz

Clearing the Air – or, at least, the shelves

Filed under: Announcements,Daily Life,Movies,Uncategorized — folkcat at 5:41 pm on Sunday, May 25, 2008

I’m still alive. Life is stressful. Costs are rising, and Gryphon is still looking for that extra income we need. The rats continue to do well. I continue to enjoy EQ2, also. Lola’s Ratonga doppleganger, Lolah, is now level 25 and climbing.

I continue to craft, slowly. The sock I was working on has been started over. The smaller gauge on the size 1 needles wasn’t working out, so I went back to my old reliable size 1.5’s. The new sock is about 6, maybe 7 inches along the foot, which is about an inch or two more than I’d gotten to on the first try.

The Adult Surprise Jacket is on hold for the moment. The weather has been warm enough not to want the bulk on my lap. That’s okay – I’ve got the socks to work on, and I’ve started knitting a small supply of dish rags again, too.

Video De-Cluttering

VHS. VCR. I still have a VCR, and multitudes of VHS tapes. Since DVDs and TiVo entered my life, however, the VCR gathers dust, and the tapes take up space on shelves and in boxes.

I’ve actually started weeding out my less viewed DVDs by putting them up at www.half.com. If you want to see what’s for sale there, you can look for the seller folkcatart. The movies are generally good ones, viewed once and kept nicely. They’re just not movies I want to have available to watch over and over again.

Half.com will also list VHS tapes. But from what I’ve seen, I’m not sure how well those move there. So it occured to me to wonder – would any of you be interested in an opportunity to acquire my VHS tapes? I was thinking I could offer them once or twice a week, for the cost of shipping. Maybe I’ll put them in sets like theme packs, tapes all of a similar genre in a bundle.

What do you think? Any potential takers?

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