Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

YAMD (Yet Another Memory Dump)

Filed under: Daily Life,Folkcat's Fotos,Holidays,Rats! — folkcat at 9:49 pm on Friday, April 3, 2009

My phone has been busy again!

March 16, 2009: How Holidays are Made

It’s mid-March. You are a supermarket baker. You have a bunch of plain, undecorated gingerbread men, and an excess of green icing. What should you do?

If only there were some holiday in mid-March. With green for a theme color. Where little people were appropriately symbolic of the day.

I know! It’s Gator Man Day!

Yeah.

March 18, 2009: We Have Achieved Acceptance

Laura and Isabella prove that ‘Bella has achieved full acceptance into the family.

March 24, 2009: Let’s Brand Whoever Branded This

Seriously, Betty? What’s up next – Eskimo Helper?

March 25, 2009: It’s PaGino’s Time

The seam down the side of their cups creates some amusing portmanteaus:

Baby-Sitting Tinty Time
Birthday Timnner Time
Night Tids Time
Game TiBirthday Time
Movie Timight Time
Friends me
Tired Timme

and my personal favorite:

Ganward Time

March 31, 2009: And Some May Be Anyhow, Depending on What They’re Here For

Our little Captain Marbles is doing well. In the first two weeks we’ve had him, he just about doubled his body weight. Now he looks more like a normally proportioned rattie, instead of a big rat head on a teensy body.

This past Tuesday morning, he went in for THE PROCEDURE. Yes, that one. The vet’s office was one I’d never visited before, but they work with the rat rescue. While distant (an hour’s drive), they were easy enough to get to.

If you are in the neighborhood for other reasons, however, please be careful where you park!

As for the Captain, he’s recovering nicely. If anything, he’s actually been friskier since the surgery than he ever was before. Which is saying something for our hyper-active little superhero.

April 3, 2009: Useful Supermarket Photo

It’s hard for Gryphon and me to keep milk around. We don’t drink the stuff, we don’t have cold cereal in the mornings to pour it over, and while we will cook with it, the occasions are few enough and far enough between that we always wind up throwing out all or part of a bottle.

We’ve been wanting to keep dry milk in the house, but we’ve discovered a problem with that. Nowadays, the dry milk manufacturers only package the powder in bulk in the giant, makes-20-quarts packages. Not an amount we’re likely to use before it goes bad! Any smaller quantities are pre-packaged into handy, 1-quart, pre-measured packets.

Gryphon and I are likely to only ever need to mix one, maybe two cups at a time. The rest of the quart, if we used their assumptions and made the whole thing, would go bad in the fridge. Or we’d have to measure out the smaller amount, find a way to close up the top of the paper/foil packet, and hope to avoid bugs or spillage.

We finally decided today to buy one of the smaller boxes filled with the 1-quart packets. We’re going to open all the packets, dump the contents into a jar, and spoon it out as we need it.

The only hitch in this plan is the the smaller box doesn’t include directions for mixing any quantity of milk other than the full quart. But…aha! The giant 20-quart box with the bulk powder inside has a chart for making several different volumes, from one cup to the entire 20 quarts at once.

Whip out the handy-dandy cell phone, aim it at the back of the box, and voila! I now have my own directions chart to make any amount of dry milk we want. Here, feel free to take a copy for yourself!

Best Holiday Video I’ve seen Yet

Filed under: Holidays — folkcat at 5:48 pm on Thursday, December 18, 2008

Okay, folks – you know I don’t do this often. But I think this is my favorite holiday video ever, mostly because I’m extraordinarily fond of people who do goofy things with everyday objects.

It’s essential that you play the audio on this one, or it won’t make any sense whatsoever. So be careful if you’re at work or someplace. Or gather everyone around to watch.

Enjoy!

Found via Heat Eat Review

The Return of the Light

Filed under: Daily Life,Holidays,Rats! — folkcat at 6:32 pm on Monday, December 15, 2008

We’re okay. Lots of other people are still without power. There are advantages to living in the heart of downtown, especially when you’re on the same portion of the power grid as, oh, the police department and town hall.

Our power came back Saturday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m., 37 hours after it went off. During the interim, we had no lights, no internet, no television, no heat, no hot water. We kept one room warm with an oil lamp with a mantle, but could only burn that while we were awake or present.

The good news is we saved all our perishable foods. We woke up – artificially early for us – at around 7:30 a.m. on Friday, resolved not to open the fridge or freezer, and immediately left to find ice. We moved quickly enough on that to find the nearest supermarket open in emergency mode. Three 15-lb. bags of ice were stuffed quickly into the compartments, one in the freezer, two in the fridge, and we didn’t open the doors again for the duration. After the refrigerator had a while to run again once power came back, we checked – everything is still okay.

Otherwise, Friday was spent in a series of forays into the outside world, hoping to find news, batteries, restaurants that had power and could serve food, food we could eat at home without refrigeration or heating. We weren’t very successful in most of these efforts – many of the places we hoped for were in some power corridors that were severely damaged, and so they weren’t open. Others ran out of supplies quickly. We never did turn up the spare bottle of lamp oil we wanted.

We did get Friday brunch at a local diner – all the fast-food places were in pockets that had no power. Friday dinner was eaten at a Chinese restaurant in a plaza that was on.

By Saturday, after all of Friday’s fuss, I was feeling unwell enough to refuse to go anywhere. I stayed huddled in the one warm room, the living room, with the oil lamp and the Ratties and a battery-operated radio we’d dug out, listening to Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, while Gryphon took an insulated lunch bag and fetched burgers and fries home from Wendy’s.

The power came back on while we ate those.

Sunday was spent in pajama-day mode, relaxing and taking comfort in being able to do normal things. Today, I’m still trying to catch up on feeds and reads online.

We did venture out this afternoon for a rehab appointment for Gryphon and some errands. Along the way, we could see many spots that were still without power. One stretch of the main road coming into Wilton was closed through Friday and Saturday, but had been reopened by this morning. Still, you could see the homes there were dark. In one spot, the power feed had ripped off the house and was laying across the road for cars to drive across. The street light on that pole was hanging at a sad, unnatural angle.

Another utility pole on the same stretch had snapped in two halfway up its height, and the top half hung there, precariously leaning on the lines. A fresh pole appeared to be standing next to it, so the pole crew at least had been through, but now we need the electrical experts to actually move the connections and lines over.

Everywhere, there are piles of splintered branches along the road, ripped limbs hanging off lines, snapped tree trunks glaring in the midst of wooded patches. Businesses that are open have put out signs especially for the occasion. One natural food store/greenhouse read “Hot Coffee, Warm Greenhouse, Only Slightly Smelly Staff”, an allusion to the fact that so many people are still without hot water or heat at home and have trouble showering. Other signs were as simple as “We Have Power”, “We’re Open”. Spots that advertise “Free WiFi” have full parking lots.

The first topic of conversation among strangers – and we’re all chatting with each other as we wait in long lines at fast-food counters and supermarket checkout lanes – is “Do you have power?” The answer for far too many is “no.”

This storm has done a lot of damage. Friday we encountered one man in the supermarket who told of how a tree came down and took out half his house and two vehicles. This was in a part of our town called Wilton Center, which used to be where town hall and everything were located until the railroad came through by the river. Wilton Center is up on a large hill, connected to the rest of the world by twisting, winding roads. He told us his family had to “four-wheel it out” to get to civilization.

I am sure the impact of the damage hadn’t really hit him yet, because he seemed to be in amused amazement as he spoke. Almost even giddy, I thought. I hate to think what’s happened to him as the reality of it all sank in later.

Bottom line, though, we’re okay, the Seven Little Ratties are okay, we have food, heat, electricity, and we’re starting to feel like things are almost normal again. Such as they are. Oh, and we also did one of our few bits of holiday shopping today – we stopped into the local candy maker and each picked out an assortment of special treats to enjoy through the season. Including Gryphon’s traditional giant candy cane – I’d guess about eighteen inches long, an inch or more thick, and all handmade, hand twisted peppermint goodness. It’s excessive, but he wants for so little that we go for it.

In Rattie news – five out of seven ratties have been observed running in the Wodent Wheel on more than one occasion each. That’s everyone except for Lola, who may be a little plump to fit inside comfortably, and Yuri, who’s slow to accept new things. Who knew?!?

Shhhhh!

Filed under: Holidays,Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 4:51 pm on Saturday, December 6, 2008

Don’t tell the kids, but we picked up an early Christmas present for them today!

Yes, it’s really that big. And it will actually fit in the corner of the living room where we traditionally keep our rat cages.

And no, we didn’t have to lay out any money for it. Mainely Rat Rescue has us signed on as a regular, ongoing foster home now, in exchange for which we get the loan of this amazingly awesome Ferret Nation cage. Sounds like a fair deal to me!

Gryphon and I need to do a little cleaning, then outfit it with hammocks, a Wodent Wheel, and all sorts of hidey-holes, nests, and places to climb and crawl. The Seven Little Ratties will move in sometime later tonight or tomorrow.

Here’s the frightening part – this cage is actually big enough to hold twelve rats.

Yeah.

We’re going to try not to use its full capacity. But it’s nice to know that, if rats that belong with us come our way, we’ll have the space to accommodate them.

Many, many thanks to Kim at Mainely Rat Rescue for offering us this opportunity. We feel like we’ve had a nice Christmas gift here, not just for the Ratties, but for ourselves, too. Once we’ve established the Perma-Ratties in this cage, their existing cage will be available for our next fosters, whoever they may be.

And don’t worry – I’ll get pictures of the gang exploring their new home, I promise!

Just Putting This Out There…

Filed under: Daily Life,Games,Gryphon,Holidays,Rats! — folkcat at 5:28 pm on Tuesday, November 18, 2008

…since I know several family members now read this blog, at least on occasion.

Here’s the link to my Amazon Wishlist .

In case it matters, I’d say the most desired item on that list is the three copies of the new EverQuest II expansion, The Shadow Odyssey. With Gryphon currently on at least temporary disability from work, and without cable television, EQII is our number one entertainment source, and the only one we’re still paying for in this tight budget. We derive so much pleasure from it, and the cost-per-hour for the value we get from it is dirt cheap compared to what a lot of people spend money on, so we consider it a totally worthwhile expense. We’d need a separate copy of the expansion for each active account – between us, that’s three.

We can still play and enjoy the game without having the expansions right away, but The Shadow Odyssey does add a lot of content that will enhance our online reality.

For What It’s Worth. No obligations, no worries. Just putting this information out there for anyone who wants it.

In other news…

Gabby and A.J. went to their new foster home on Saturday. Caitlin has already had such success with them that I’m calling her the Rat Whisperer. Within 24 hours, she had handled them multiple times without a bite, and had them hanging out on her lap.

I am humbled, and in awe. And simultaneously immensely pleased that the girls have such a wonderful place to live now, and totally curious how we managed to get off on the wrong foot with them.

To use a phrase I really hate, but which seems appropriate, “it is what it is.” I’m really glad that it’s all working out for the best for them, at last.

Gryphon

Still out of work. Still waiting for disability insurance to kick in. Still immensely grateful to my family for all the help they’ve been able to give us.

We are closer to answers regarding Gryphon’s health. He has, apparently, more than one lung-related problem. We’ve begun treating for the one, the other still has some tests needed to determine how bad it is.

Meanwhile, we passed a threshold today. We went to the DMV and picked up temporary disabled parking tags for him. Given that he can hardly walk from the living room to the kitchen and back without stopping to catch his breath, he needs them.

We’re still wrapping our brains around that.

Freebie Friday Hiatus, and Thanksgiving Break

Filed under: Announcements,Contests,Holidays — folkcat at 3:53 pm on Friday, November 16, 2007

Sorry, folks – I know how some of you look forward to Freebie Fridays now, but I’m afraid it has to take a bit of a break. I’m having one of those days.

Those of us in America will be celebrating Thanksgiving next Thursday as well. I know that Turkey Day itself isn’t until Thursday, but planning and preparations will throw off every day between now and then, and on until the following Monday, too.

Crafting Jen, then, will be taking a break until November 26. Freebie Friday will return at the end of that week, on November 30.

Don’t be surprised if you see some short messages here over the coming week. Depending on what I wind up doing, I may not be able to resist posting now and then.

The somewhat beleaguered book review that I’ve been promising all week may pop up on Shopping Jen in the meantime, too. I really do want to tell you about this title – once the publisher fixes some problems, it could be an essential reference for many fiber artists.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, however and wherever you celebrate it! Gryphon and I are planning a quiet meal for two at home, with special snacks for the Ratties.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Too Many Disconnected Things For Me To Come Up With A Good Title – And No, I’m Not Going To Settle For Random Wednesday

Filed under: Holidays,Knitting,Rats!,Second Life — folkcat at 3:22 pm on Wednesday, October 31, 2007

With the Rattie Sisters living more peacefully together, I have more time that I can spend doing other things. One of those has been knitting on the Rusty Entrelac Bag.

I’m now into the 8th round of squares. I started using black a couple of rounds ago. Imagine a black iron pot getting rusty from the top down.

Rusty Entrelac Bag, Round 8

At this point, I’ll be using black through the rest of the bottom of the bag. Then I’ll probably use one of the reds for the handles, maybe with some yellow here and there for an accent.

Mind you, the Rattie Sisters are still getting adequate time out of the cage, and all the attention they ask for. Something is changed, though. Lola, last night, sat under a blanket on my lap for 15 to 20 minutes. Not running around like there’s too much to see and do and she has to try to see and do it all in the next 15 seconds or she’s going to just die. Just sat quietly under there, enjoying my lap as a different, warm nesting spot.

My personal theory? Sable has gotten strong enough now, emotionally, to give Lola the attitude adjustment she needed to divert herself from her bullying ways. Fingers crossed, anyhow. We’ll see how things proceed in the days to come, but so far, so good.

Another thing I’ve been spending time on is Second Life. In a recent and interesting turn of events, I’m becoming a 2-d artist. That means I’m creating posters, paintings, and photographs to sell, for people to hang on their walls.

I’m currently setting up a small shop in the marketplace on Ex Nihilo, the sim where I rent my home parcels. And I have some photographs in an art show up in Yule, too. I’m afraid I don’t have landmarks handy for either of those locations, but you can use the map in-world to search for either sim, and the places in question aren’t hard to find once you get there.

I won’t be sharing the images I’ve turned into art here, but once the shop looks presentable, I’ll post a picture of it. Imagine – me, running an art gallery! Way cool!

Other than that, today is, of course, Halloween. If it were a weekend, we’d be waiting for the hundred or so trick-or-treaters that we normally get – we’re in a downtown residential neighborhood within a couple blocks of the elementary school. But it’s a weeknight, and Gryphon is at work, and I just don’t have it in me to be up and down to the door all night long. (Nor is there a convenient way to keep a chair at the door to sit in.)

So my evening, at least during the official town trick-or-treat hours from 6 to 8, will be spent with most of the lights in the house off, curled up on the bed and watching some good tv. And eating a few treats myself.

Which works quite well for me. I hope you’re having a good Halloween, whatever that may mean for you!

Monday…What More to Say?

Filed under: Announcements,Contests,Holidays,Knitting,Rats! — folkcat at 1:17 pm on Monday, October 8, 2007

It’s a gray, dreary Monday here in New Hampshire, rainy and not much to say for the outdoors right now.

As for the indoors, there’s a plumber ass-end up in our bathroom (sorry, the quarters are too close to sneak a photo), replacing the faucet mechanism for the shower/tub; cold, but freshly made (yesterday) apple crisp in the refrigerator; and me, sitting at the computer, trying to figure out what I’ve got to talk about today.

I suppose, of course, that I should tell you who the winner of last week’s Freebie Friday was. It’s Sara! Congratulations, Sara – you should already have e-mail asking for your mailing address.

I did get some knitting done on the desert-themed entrelac bag for Christmas.

WIP, Christmas 2007 #3: Desert Entrelac Bag

As you can see, we’re working on lots of the mottled green/brown yarn for the ground. It looks like a large portion of the bag in this picture, but remember, this will be felted and a lot of the mottled section you see will be the bottom of the bag, so it won’t be fully visible from the sides.

I did pick up another skein of the variegated blue Malabrigo to do the handles with, so I’ll be able to get on with that as soon as I finish the next few rounds of the bag. Which should go quickly, once I pick it up – we’re down to squares only 6 stitches across now, and each round gets smaller until we’re only 3 stitches across. Won’t be long now!

As for the Rattie Sisters, Sable seems to be going through a phase combining loneliness and discomfort. There have been signs that she’s a bit constipated, and we’re making changes to her diet to help that along (more juicy greens, some canned pumpkin, etc). Most significantly, though, she seems upset whenever we’re away from her side for too long. Her appetite was down on Sunday, too, and I made an extra effort to find something, anything, that she would eat.

When she came out of the cage, she spent lots of time sitting on my knee with my hand cradling her, and covered by the corner of a blanket. Or on the back of my chair, curled up against the back of my head. She seemed to be desperately craving comfort and contact.

I spent Sunday taking her with me everywhere. When I worked at the desk computer, I brought her cage to a small table at my side. I went to the kitchen to make the apple crisp, and carried the cage in to the counter, so she could see I was there for her. The only time I didn’t take her with me was when I went to the bathroom.

By the end of the day, she had eaten some food, and seemed a little more chipper. Today, she’s got a better appetite, though she’s still craving company.

I did an experiment Sunday. I let Lola out of her cage, and allowed her to go into Sable’s. Sable was huddled in a nest bag on the top floor. Lola explored everywhere, then crawled in the bag with Sable and pounced on her – classic dominance play. But Lola quickly tired of that, and went back to poking around all the corners of the cage. She alternated between the two activities, cage and Sable, for a while, then seemed to settle in just as if they were always together. Sable even came out of her funk enough to come out of the nest bag, and interact with Lola some.

It’s looking good that we may, possibly, be able to put them together again one day. I’ll be allowing more visitations like this, and we’ll keep them separate at night for now. My fingers are crossed that this works out – it will be so much less work if the girls don’t have to be kept separately!

Songs Not Old Enough To Be Old

Filed under: Books,Daily Life,Holidays,Knitting — folkcat at 2:14 pm on Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Okay, maybe you’ll only agree with me on this if you’re among my more…let’s say, seasoned readers. But am I wrong to think that REM’s Losing My Religion has no place on a radio station that I’ve always thought of as an “oldies” station?

The only radio station I can tolerate around here is Frank FM, 106.3 on the dial. They advertise themselves as “#1 for classic hits,” and typically play music that dates from the late 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s.

So I get into my car yesterday, and turn on the radio, and what I hear is Losing My Religion. An REM tune from 1991. I’m so convinced it couldn’t possibly be right that I push the pre-set button to get my radio station back.

But no, Frank FM is playing it, and my whole evaluation of their playlist changes in a heartbeat.

Maybe I’m just being an old fogie here, but I have some notion in my head that any song that debuted after 1990 should never be considered an “oldie.” Even if your euphemism for it is “classic.” Maybe that seems like an arbitrary cut-off date, but think about it – the bloom was off the rose for MTV, which had debuted a decade earlier, and we had a whole new decade and a new sound upon our ears. It wasn’t much longer before MTV even abandoned the live Veejays format, changing even the nature of music on the video screen in the 90’s.

Okay, that’s it for the soapbox – if I don’t step down now, it will crumble under my weight. On to what you really come here for, which is the crafting.

I’ve been making good progress on the desert-themed entrelac bag for Christmas 2007. I’m now on, I think the sixth tier. My blue Malabrigo for the sky has run out a little sooner than I’d hoped, but I think we’re okay – I simply substituted the mottled green and brown and started the scrub brush on the desert floor a little sooner than intended.

The bag is also getting big enough that I have to photograph it in two pieces:

WIP - Xmas 2007, #3, Side 1
Side One

WIP - Xmas 2007, #3, Side 2
Side Two

You can see how the two rocky outcroppings are different shapes. I’ve also put more of the golden yellow on one side of each, to look like the sun is shining from that direction.

The very observant among you might notice the dapper man with the colorful afghan standing behind the bag. That’s Kaffe Fassett, as shown on the cover of his new book, Kaffe Knits Again. It’s due to be released next Tuesday. I’ve got a copy from the publisher that I’ll be reviewing later this week, both here and at Shopping Jen. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, in case you haven’t looked recently, I’ve been very busy cranking out reviews over at Shopping Jen. I post there every day from Monday through Friday. Recent reviews have included:

And much, much more. I’m having a ball writing for Shopping Jen, and I hope you’re enjoying reading what I have to say!

Charting Rocks; Juggling Everything

Filed under: Daily Life,Games,Holidays,Knitting — folkcat at 2:11 pm on Thursday, September 20, 2007

I did get my desert-themed entrelac bag charted yesterday. It helps a lot to have already decided where the squares of different colors will be going.

WIP - Christmas 2007 #3, Desert Bag, Chart

The bag is knitted from the top edge down to the bottom, so the chart actually shows the rim of the bag at the bottom. The rocks are arranged so that there will be at least one good outcropping on each side of the bag.

There are more tiers of squares in the final bag than are shown here, but most of those I didn’t chart will be less visible on the bottom of the bag. I’ll probably use the variegated, desert-floor color until it runs out, then alternate colors that remain from the other balls of yarn. And maybe I’ll finish up with one more little patch of sky, with a sun in the middle.

Juggling

The knitting itself probably doesn’t look like I’ve done much since yesterday’s photo. And that’s the absolute truth, I haven’t. I’m finding things just a little more difficult to juggle at the moment.

My active day usually starts with Gryphon and I doing chores and errands together before he goes to his job at 3 p.m. After that, I focus on getting blog posts written, spending time evaluating products to review for Shopping Jen, and doing any shopping I need to take care of by myself.

I take a break for something to eat now and then. I don’t eat three big meals – rather, I might have a salad at one sitting, then sometime later I’ll have an entree-like item, and so on.

After I’ve finished the blog work for the day, I try to squeeze in a little Second Life Time. Or Knitting Time. Of course, often enough, I’m finding that the instant I sit down for either of those activities, the Rattie Sisters are awake and clamoring for Mommy Time. Which, of course, they have to have separately, since Lola doesn’t play nice with Sable.

So Second Life and Knitting wind up waiting until I’ve fulfilled the Rattie Sisters’ needs. By which time, I’m probably ready for another installment on the day’s meals, further delaying me from getting to the crafting and virtual reality.

Television Time is a haphazard thing at the moment, and the Tivo is starting to feel clogged, even though the season has barely begun. I can watch television while I eat, or craft, or play with the rats. I can’t watch television while I do anything else. And since I’m trying very hard to spend time doing those other things – blog-writing, reviews, Second Life – Television Time is suffering.

It’ll all work itself out, I’m sure. Second Life is a new component in the equation, as are the review blog and the separation of the Rattie Sisters. I’m aware that the current imbalance is mostly because I’m in a transitional phase, as my daily schedule shifts to accommodate these new elements. One thing I may wind up doing is having concentrated, longer Second Life sessions on the weekend, so that I won’t feel so much need to go in on weekdays. (Not that such a plan ever slowed me down when I played EverQuest or Star Wars Galaxies…)

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep tossing all these balls in the air, one at a time, and try not to drop any. But if I do, and any of them roll over by your feet, could you do me a favor and just gently throw them back?

Pleaseandthankyouverymuch!

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