Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Castle Rattie

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Rats! — folkcat at 1:16 pm on Monday, July 30, 2007

Well, my hopes to get out to a farmstand on Friday were squelched when Gryphon came home from his morning job and told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want asthmatic, allergic me to go out in the oppressive heat. I’ve seen him express concern about me and the weather before, but seldom with such conviction in his voice. So I respected his wishes and stayed in on Friday.

Saturday was a big day. Finally, all three Ratties would be introduced to the new, spacious home we’d bought them. Here’s a picture of Castle Rattie, in its place by my chair:

Castle Rattie In Situ

First floor, water, loose bedding, and Igloo; Mezzanine, rolled grains, pellets, and produce; Third Floor, sleep furniture and rugs. There are two doors, one located to the right between the first floor and mezzanine, the other centered on the third floor at the top.

We started the day by setting up bedding, food, and everything we thought the Ratties might need. The cage impressed us by how roomy it was – we had space for everything, and to spare. We were even finally able to use a large plastic Igloo we’d bought a couple of months ago for Star and Sable, but which didn’t fit in the old cage.

Star and Sable w/ Igloo
Sable (on top of Igloo) and Star, checking out the new digs

Once everything was arranged, we gathered up the Ratties, and introduced them into the new cage through the same door, at the same time. We then shut the doors, and left the house to do errands. We figured it was probably better for them to sort things out and do their exploring without us watching their every move.

We’d either come home, we figured, to a bloody mess and dead rats, or to a scene of relative domestic bliss. (We didn’t really expect carnage, but Lola is so…fizzy…that we didn’t know if she’d finally push Sable too far when they couldn’t get away from each other.)

We were quite pleased to find this scene when we returned:

Lola, Star, and Sable Sleeping Together
Sable in the Hammock, Star in the Cloth Bowl, Lola curled up with Star

So things are working out. Sable still gets a little annoyed with Lola, but we do notice that they spend more time together – or at least, not running away from each other – than they do apart.

Star, btw, absolutely loves the new cage. The ramps between the floors are much easier for her impaired mobility to handle, and she’s going up and down stairs more rapidly than she was able to manage in the old cage with the wooden bird ladders. Her mobility, then, has actually increased a great deal in the new cage, between full grid ramps with gentler slopes, and simply more space to move around in.

Lola runs around like a banshee on amphetamines. The good news is, the new cage has room to include an exercise wheel for her to run on. The bad news is that it will take a couple of days for it to arrive in the mail.

Meanwhile, I was pleased to remember that we still had a rat-sized exercise ball in the house. We’d bought it last year to try with Star and Sable, and they both absolutely hated it. Lola, while still not sure whether she likes it or not, seems to be quite willing to drive this thing around the floor at high speeds:

Lola In the Exercise Ball
Run, Lola, Run!

Star Watch

We have discovered a new tumor, a large bean-sized one hiding in a fold of skin under her chin. We’ll be watching this one closely to see if it hinders her ability to eat.

Star has already been having issues with her mouth and teeth. Her teeth have been growing in unevenly, and we’ve had to trim them several times now. And the stroke we suspect she had seems to have impaired her use of her tongue – where once she licked yogurt from my finger, she now nibbles it off in little bites, as if her tongue isn’t as dexterous as it used to be.

She’s still eating hearty, though we are cutting her vegetables finer to make sure she can handle them. And there’s been no sign that she has trouble swallowing, no evidence of choking. So fear not – the girl is still fighting as hard as ever!

Apple Crisp

In spite of our failure to get to a farmstand even on Saturday, I did pick up some Braeburn apples from Washington State at the supermarket. Okay, not as local as I’d have liked, but at least from this country. I whipped up a quick apple crisp that night, and, well – there’s a reason there’s no picture! Gryphon and I had inhaled the entire thing by Sunday afternoon.

The Braeburns turned out to be a great choice – not too sweet themselves, but good flavor for a baked dessert. I’m going to remember that. The other thing I did that I liked a lot – after the apples were sliced and in the pan, I sprinkled them with my favorite seasoning for homemade applesauce – Chinese 5-spice. Then I covered the top with the crisp mix – a simple blend of flour, brown sugar, and cold butter, cut together with a biscuit mixer. The recipe is from the Joy of Cooking, the edition from the 70’s. Best cookbook I’ve ever owned!


I’ve continued to make good progress on the PixelHobby picture. There are now eight tiles completed. That’s four each in the top and middle rows of the image:

Pixels In Progress (PIP): 8 Tiles Done, 4 To Go
Two Thirds Done

And here’s a look at the detail around the wolf’s face.

PIP: Detail of Wolf Face
Pixel Detail

Each of those little squares is a tiny piece of plastic that I placed on a peg on the baseboard, using tweezers. The squares are one-tenth of an inch – there are 100 of them in every square inch of the image. The final picture that I’m working on is 12 x 20 inches.

No, I’m not going to do the math. I don’t think I want to know! But I am enjoying this a great deal, and I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together at last.



Comment by Carol

July 30, 2007 @ 1:46 pm

I love the hammock.bowl Ratties curled up together pic! Totally homey. Mmmmm, apple crisp……


Comment by Lynne

July 30, 2007 @ 1:49 pm

That picture of the three little ratties is too cute. I too love the Joy of Cooking cookbook. If I could only take one cookbook with me to a deserted island – that would be the one.


Comment by Sara

July 30, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

They look so cute in their quarters…have to admit you all were rather brave to go off and leave them to get used to the new home…

Lola is a trip!!! More energy than the other two put together…I’m glad Star is hanging in there…she a tough gal!!!


Comment by Valerie in San Diego

July 31, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

I’ve got a 1960s Joy of Cooking and I love it to — literally — pieces 🙂

You must have been so relieved to see the rats are making friends! And what a nice bonus that the cage works so well for Star.

Did you laugh yourself silly watching Lola in the ball? I would! 🙂 🙂


Comment by Elspeth

July 31, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

Wow the Chinese Five Spice sounds good – I’ll have to try your recipe!

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