Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress


Filed under: Rats! — folkcat at 6:39 pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meet Marbles

Cute little guy, isn’t he? That’s what he looked like on March 15, the night we picked him up from his owner.

marbles back mar 15.jpg

Here’s a look at his lovely markings. Marbles is a black blazed hooded rat. He’s got a lovely spattering of spots, and a beautiful white blaze up the middle of his forehead.

As for Marbles’ story, it’s a bit of a sad one. Marbles is about 4 months, one week old now. He came home from the pet store with another cagemate, Pancake, when he was two months old, to be companions for the aging solitary boy Nibbles.

Over the course of the next two months, Pancake grew about twice the size that Marbles did. In fact, Marbles didn’t really seem to grow at all. Nibbles died shortly after Pancake and Marbles came into the house. And Pancake turned out to be very aggressive with poor little Marbles.

Aggressive, as in, Marbles couldn’t be in the same cage with Pancake without being attacked, immediately and mercilessly.

Their owner, poor girl, was distraught. She didn’t have room to keep two cages. She wasn’t really even supposed to have pets in her apartment to begin with. Plus, she regularly traveled back and forth between Massachusetts and Canada, and her pets traveled with her. She didn’t have room for two cages in her car.

She was able to separate the two boys in a makeshift way, stuffing fabric into the passage between two levels of their cage. I’m told Marbles began gaining a little weight after that. But it was still not an ideal solution.

The easy decision would have been to keep sweet, darling, friendly little Marbles, and give aggressive bully Pancake up to another home. But no – their owner made the difficult, but very loving and generous, decision to surrender Marbles instead. She didn’t want to burden Mainely Rat Rescue with a hard to place rat.

Could I have done the same? I can only hope so, but I’m not real sure. Many karma blessings upon her, she has earned them!

Back to Marbles. He was so sweet when his owner handed him over to me! He climbed right up on my shoulder under my jacket and stayed there for the entire ride home. By the time we got to the house, my left ear had been thoroughly examined, and my arm had been peed on.

Marbles stayed on my shoulder for about a half hour altogether, while Gryphon set his cage up. Before putting him in, we did a weigh-in to see just how little he was. 140 grams, or about 5 ounces. Assuming his owner was told correctly that he was two months old when she bought him, that’s way behind for a four month old. The one chart I’ve been able to find suggests he should have been more like 380 grams. That means he was about one-third the size you’d expect for a normal, healthy male rat.

The primary theory is that he simply didn’t have easy access to food while he was being beaten up regularly. He’s certainly making up for lost time, now that he has his own food dishes and doesn’t have to fight over them. We weighed him again on the 22nd, and in one week’s time, he’d gone from 140 to 220 grams. That’s 80 grams of weight added, over 50% of his starting weight!

We’ve been getting to know Marbles over the last ten days. Not that he’s hard to connect with! I think he’d pretty much bonded with me by the end of that first evening. His owner told us he liked shoulder rides, and enjoyed getting his belly rubbed. I’ve been giving him plenty of opportunities to crawl around on me, under my sweater, and more.

Within the first twenty-four hours, we were comfortable enough with him to change his name. Marbles quickly became Captain Marbles! (Shazam!) Gryphon now refers to him as “Cap” or “Cappy”, and I call him by any or all parts of his name. Or “Buddy-boy”. Or “Sweetheart”.

Tickle chase is a big favorite game. Unlike other rats we’ve played that with, he actually turns around and grabs your fingers now and then to lick them, then runs off to be chased again. If you can catch him in a quiet moment and rub his belly, he’ll flop over on his side a bit and close his eyes while he enjoys it.

No offense to the Octo-Ratties, but Marbles is one of the snuggliest ratties we’ve ever encountered. Is it any wonder, then, that we fell in love at first sight?

That’s right – only a month after Isabella joined the colony and turned the Seven Little Ratties into the Octo-Ratties, we’re adopting a boy. He’ll have to live separately for a bit – as you can see in the last picture above, Marbles still, well – he has his marbles. Those will need to come off before he can enjoy the company of our six lovely girls. There’s a three week wait after surgery, too.

We are fairly confident he’ll be accepted into the colony, however. Marbles has had playdates with both of our neutered boys, Yuri and Leonardo, separately in neutral territory. Both of the big boys showed some slight curiosity, but not a lick of aggression.

As for the Captain, our biggest fear was that he’d be afraid of other rats now. In fact, he’s not the least bit scared – he was the first one to march up to either of the big guys and check them out! Marbles seems to know that his previous cagemate was not quite the norm for rat society, and he’s eager to make new friends.

Captain Marbles says, “Will you be my friend?”

Marbles is probably going for his operation next week. Three weeks later, it will be safe to start getting him better acquainted with all the Octo-Ratties. Soon enough, they’ll all be one big, happy family.

The only thing I’m not sure of – what do we call them when there are nine? Any suggestions?

Camera Phone Picture Dump

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Folkcat's Fotos,Shopping Adventures — folkcat at 9:37 pm on Monday, March 9, 2009

Wow, some of these go back a bit.

December 8th, 2008 – Target store at the north end of Nashua

Click for larger image

We found these fused plastic recycled totes for sale for $5.99 each. I was amused and slightly annoyed. Fusing shopping bag plastic together to make a sturdier plastic to make totes, and even clothing, with has been a big deal in the indie craft movement since at least Spring 2008. This can be done at home with a simple iron and ironing board, and maybe some teflon pressing sheets.

Target’s tag claiming that “It took a combination of ingenuity and technology to create the Retote bag.” gives no credit to the source of that ingenuity – the independent crafters out there who are always finding new ways to use items that would otherwise be discarded. As for the technology required – like I said, an iron, ironing board, and teflon pressing sheets. Not exactly high tech. And certainly not invented by anyone at Target.

December 24, our living room ceiling:

A few years back, we had a nasty leak in our living room ceiling during the winter. The roof was bad, and there was a weak seam along a wall where the apartment above us is a couple feet shorter than our living room. Ice formed and backed up into the roof space there, and came in over the spot where my desktop computer was sitting at the time. (Fortunately, over to one side. Only a box of tissues and two thick books about HTML coding were soaked.)

The roof got fixed at some point, but massive amounts of ice and snow still accumulate in the area. I get paranoid about it every year, and every so often I’ll take a picture of the ceiling stain so I have a reference point in case I suspect it’s growing again.

February 19, Nashua Social Security Office:

My first time ever Kinnearing someone. I don’t know that I did it right, though – the picture is straight, in focus, and you can see my entire subject.

While Gryphon and I waited for our SS appointment, this delightful older woman came in. The colorful details on her coat are entirely handpainted.

I believe it’s a safety measure – the coat is full length and black, and the handpainting is all in metallic paints, which would provide some reflection for headlights at night. Brilliantly and stylishly done, and it gave me a nice smile.

March 8, My head:

View One

View Two

Yes, we cut that much off. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long, long time.

I grew up with long hair. I remember that my mother never cut it until I was in grade school some time, and then she did it before my father got home from work because I think he would have protested.

Most of my adult life, I’ve kept my hair somewhere between chin and shoulder length. For years now, I’ve cut it myself, with whatever scissors I had at hand, and working entirely by touch. No one I’ve talked to about it ever thought I did it myself, or at least they were too kind to say so.

Lately, though, I’ve been annoyed by even the chin length hair. It can still flop forward and get in my face and eyes, still get caught in my mouth. Still bunch up oddly under my head and irritate me at night.

Sometime around a year ago, Gryphon had found a professional grade electric clipper at a rummage sale for $1, complete with manual and everything. He bought a little of the oil used to maintain it, and ever since has been cutting his own hair. When I decided I was ready to go short, I asked him if he’d be comfortable tackling my hair.

He said yes. And so, a couple of days later when the stars aligned and we both felt up to it, I sat down in a kitchen chair with a towel around my shoulders, and he started cutting.

On that first attempt, we didn’t go short enough. My hair has a natural wave to it, but an asymetrical one. As a result, the hair on the right side of my head did a nice little wavy dance towards the back of my head. But the hair on the left side of my head stretched out into the atmosphere, like a cantilevered balcony. I seriously considered adding some hair product for strength and building a little woodland diorama up there.

So the next night, we sat me down again, and removed more length. And the cut you see in these photos is where we wound up. There’s still enough length that my waves look kind of cute and flirty, but I don’t have any architectural structures flying off the sides of my skull.

For the first time in my entire life, I can wake up in the morning, run my fingers over my head, and I’m done. In the shower, “a little dab’ll do ya” is finally true for me. The first hair washing after the cut, and my hair dried faster than it ever has.

Best of all, it’s a look that works for me, is versatile, and we can do it ourselves at home, without having to spend money on it.

Nothing new to report on the ratties. They continue to eat and play and squabble. Isabella is definitely just one of the crowd, no two ways about that. We love them all so much!