Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Online Reading Suffers

Filed under: Blogfriends,Daily Life — folkcat at 9:08 pm on Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I am so behind. I haven’t had my laptop to do my online reading with since over a week ago. The backlight on the screen died, and there’s no way we can buy a replacement light at this time.

This was the computer that sat on a little table in front of my armchair, all day long, while I knit and watched tv. I read a LOT of blogs, newsfeeds, and e-mail sitting there.

Now, all my reading has to happen at my desktop computer, in a less comfortable chair, and in a spot where it’s not convenient to either knit or watch tv while I do it. So it gets to happen in small, regulated chunks of time. When I can remember to get around to setting time to do it.

As of now, I’m up to April 23 on e-mails, but only April 20 on feeds. And forget about Ravelry – I only read a couple of groups there, but Remnants, at least, is hopelessly clogged with unread/unignored threads (I do ignore a lot there when I get to look at it.)

If you send me a comment or a personal e-mail, rest assured that I cherry-pick those from the inbox to answer right away. Y’all are more important to me than the latest catalog specials from a week ago!

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Filed under: Daily Life,Gryphon — folkcat at 9:11 pm on Saturday, April 25, 2009

We’ve been having a computer adventure lately. Today was the big climax, though I’ll admit that Gryphon got to have most of the fun.

The symptoms – EverQuest 2 was frequently crashing on me. The blog publishing software I used to use was failing to publish. So was the new software I got to replace it. Attempts to update malware detector and anti-virus software failed. And when I clicked on links online, especially in my Google search results, they were often being re-directed to someplace not related to what the link was supposed to be.

Gryphon has spent a large portion of the day working on this for me. The verdict? Apparently I’m an early adopter of the very latest virus/worm, one so new that it’s only just being identified, and doesn’t even really have a name yet.  Luckily, there are already protocols for finding and removing it, which Gryphon has applied to, so far, apparent success.

For the record, if you suspect something like this, be aware – Microsoft’s Malicious Software detector doesn’t find this one.

If you’re suspicious of your own computer, and these symptoms appear familiar, Gryphon has graciously permitted me to offer you his e-mail address. gryphon@billkubeck.com Write to him, and he’ll give you guidance in identifying if this is your issue, and with getting rid of it.

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.

Knitting

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.

Slow Times

Filed under: Daily Life,Games,Gryphon,Rats! — folkcat at 7:23 pm on Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sorry I don’t post very often these days. Truth is, things are pretty slow here in lots of ways, and very busy in others.

Marbles is as cute as ever. He had his surgery and is recovering well. We expect to be able to integrate him with the rest of the ratties in a couple of weeks.

One of my readers suggested calling the nine ratties The Ennead (en-ee-ad). It’s an ancient Greek term for a group of nine Egyptian deities. I like it. Rats almost look more Egyptian to me than cats do. I can picture them going around being pharoahs, building pyramids, and so forth. Not sure if they’d worship cats and dogs, but I’ll bet they could make an interesting Egyptian society.

I’m knitting a lot. We don’t use my knitted rat rugs as rugs anymore, they don’t cover the larger cage floors as well. But we do give them to the rats to use for nesting in. So I guess they’re more blankets than rugs now. Anyhow, the rats do chew them up, and when they get too ragged we have to toss them. Since supplies were dwindling, I needed to get back to work. The stock of new blankets is growing, slowly, but it’s growing.

We’re still somewhat in limbo on Gryphon’s situation, though there is progress. Still can’t talk about it much here, but know that he’s doing well and we think we can see, if not light at the end of the tunnel, at least a glow-in-the-dark sign pointing in its direction.

I enjoyed the first episode of ABC’s The Unusuals last week. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like Amber Tamblyn as a New York cop after Joan of Arcadia (a series I still, sadly, long for more episodes of). But it worked. I’ve got the second episode in the Tivo, waiting for me to get around to it.

I’m playing lots and lots of EverQuest II these days as well. It’s just really working for me at the moment. I’m hoping to start into Free Realms as well, a new Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) game that’s currently in beta testing. Both Gryphon and I made it into beta. Free Realms looks to be built on more of a Japanese model of an online game, more cute graphics. It’s also designed to be a very family friendly game – young children could play this without any issues. Sure, you fight creatures. But you don’t get killed, you get knocked out.

We pick up our next foster ratties this weekend, and may also be providing transport for another pair of girls to get to their new adoptive home. Still waiting for details on that.

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!

Shazam!

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!

Octo-Ratties!

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Daily Life,Gryphon,Rats! — folkcat at 9:11 pm on Saturday, February 28, 2009

Two weeks ago today, Isabella came home with us.

One week ago today, I did what I always wind up doing. I abandoned my “slow and cautious” approach to integrating her with the other ratties, in favor of the “rip the bandage off fast” method.

All eight ratties spent a couple hours together in the bathroom last Saturday afternoon. Gryphon and I cleaned and redressed the main cage during that time.

The Seven Little Ratties and Isabella, having spent the time in the bathroom not killing each other, were placed in the cage together. Isabella soon took up residence in one lower corner of the cage.

She defended her spot, and her right to be there, vehemently. All who approached – and they all did, really – were met by a white rat with bared teeth, reared up on her hind legs and squealing. She did not hide, she did not run. Nor did she attack in return. Merely insisted that she was there now, and they could deal with it.

Isabella rapidly gained confidence over the next few days, expanding her defensive perimeter, finding quiet moments when she could get to the food dish unchallenged, and approaching other rats first, instead of waiting for them to come to her. After a year and a half of living without ever seeing another rat, she was now in a cage with seven furry beings like herself, and she was determined to stay.

By Monday night, Leo was seen intervening between Laurel, Laura, and Isabella. By Tuesday, ‘Bella was going where she wanted in the cage.

Wednesday afternoon, Isabella was seen curled up in a hammock along with her greatest enemy, Lola.

Sadly, I have no picture of that moment. But I did take photos today as all the ratties gathered around the fruit-and-veggie dish.


l. to r.: Lily (almost off screen), Laurel, Isabella, Leo, Laura, and Lola

And there’s Isabella, right in the center of things, making sure she gets her share.

Isabella has already decided that some spots are the most fun. Like this dryer vent hose we’ve attached in the lower levels, so that it snakes around the cage.

Dryer vent hose is:

  • cheap (under $5), so you can replace it as often as the rats rip it to shreds
  • Easily mountable in the cage (we use zip-ties. Poke holes through the plastic of the hose on either side of a wire, and attach to the grid of the cage. Use sturdy pliers to turn the bare ends of the wires into a loop for safety.)
  • Lots of climbing and nesting fun
  • Can be arranged differently every time you replace it
  • And is easily remodeled by the rats, as you can see from the window that Isabella has created above.

For the record, that’s Lola lounging in the hammock below the hose.

The other ratties have been enjoying themselves lately, too. This hammock was a gift from the adopter of Brynn and two of her girls. As you can see, Lola and Laurel find it quite comfy.

Leo has found the addition of Isabella to the harem has made all the girls look fresh and interesting. Here he canoodles with Trixie beneath a child’s plastic step stool the rats use as a hut.

He’s in the true lap of luxury here, as we can see in the end view of the scene. Trixie is giving him a loving, attentive, all-over grooming.

Lola has stood down from being ever-vigilant about Isabella’s intrusion into the cage, and in addition to the sleeping above, she is spending time with her other favorite activity:

Eating.

The other rattie not seen in these photos is doing well, too. He’s just a little more camera-shy. Yuri is intermittently sociable, and most often prefers to stay in his little hidey-huts. Rattle the treat tub, though, and he’s a speed demon coming to get his share of the goodies! The trick is that it’s almost impossible to control a large, hungry male rat, hold a treat, and operate a camera at the same time.

In our personal reality, Gryphon and I are doing as well as can be expected. Gryphon has another change in his medicines to endure, and the transition is being difficult. We’re doing things to improve our diet, like actual meal planning (gasp!). Just a loose plan for dinner, mostly, with me planning my lunches, too.

I’ve always resisted meal planning, because I couldn’t imagine deciding today, for instance, that I’d be in the mood to eat spaghetti on Thursday. What if Thursday came, and I didn’t feel like pasta, but wanted tuna salad instead? So much for the meal plan!

In practice, however, I’m finding it works. Some of the things it’s improving:

  • We won’t be “shopping for shopping at home” anymore. This is where we don’t plan meals, but rather, just buy things we know we like to have in the house in case we feel like eating them. Meal planning then becomes a matter of looking in the cupboards and deciding “what looks good tonight.” Sometimes something doesn’t look good for a while, and it sits idle in the cupboard.
  • In relation to that, we don’t spend time wondering what to have for dinner and simply settling for something because it’s easier than making up our minds.
  • We can know ahead of time how much personal energy we’re going to need for meal preparation. If Sunday night is a more complex meal, we can relax and schedule other chores to happen on other days, saving ourselves for the effort of cooking.

We’ve been at it for most of a week now, and so far, so good. Gryphon’s going to cook a nice baked white fish dish we found in our local newspaper for our Sunday dinner tomorrow. Next week, I’ll figure out what’s good in the cupboards and cook something. The rest of the week, we rotate among dishes that use the current meat specials and things in our cupboard. Some nights we plan for minimal effort – there’s a frozen entree night in the schedule, for instance.

All in all, life is finding its way to work out. Things are still rough, but we’re taking our new reality much like Isabella took the challenge of turning the Seven Little Ratties into the Octo-Ratties. We’re facing it down, refusing to let it overpower us, and taking our rightful place in the new paradigm.

Folkcat & Gryphon, Plus Seven, Plus One

Filed under: Daily Life,Mainely Rat Rescue,Rats! — folkcat at 7:06 pm on Friday, February 20, 2009

I seem to drift further and further between posts. Things have just been very hectic for us lately.

I’ve been meaning to get to the main subject of this post for almost a week now. But before I do, I should talk about today.

Today, February 20, is our sixteenth wedding anniversary. Gryphon and I talked this afternoon about how neither of us has ever managed to keep anything – a job, a friendship, anything – going as long as we’ve been together. I think I’m safe in saying that we love each other more with every passing day, that I am his reason for getting up in the morning, as much as he is mine.

We’re going to celebrate quietly at home. Going out takes more money than we can spend, and besides, these days we’re too worn out by excursions for it to seem like a happy thing to do for fun. No, we’ve bought a couple of gourmet chicken pies at the local supermarket, and a prettily decorated rum cake to have for dessert, and we’re going to bask in each other’s company and spend time with the rats.

Speaking of the Seven Little Ratties, I’ve taken some pictures this week that you might enjoy.

We have an exercise ball for the rats, but it’s never been a success. At least, as long as we tried to make them use it as an exercise ball.

Turn it into novelty bedding, however, and they pile in:

Only four rats are visible in the photo, but by my count there were six rats in the ball at this moment. It’s so tricky getting them to hold still for a photo I had to take what I could get!

Meanwhile, if you’ve wondered just how Lola works her magic on me and gets me to take her out for a snuggle anytime she desires, feast your eyes on this photo:

Believe me, it’s absolutely futile to attempt resisting that look!

Lola herself turned two years old on Wednesday, making her officially our oldest rat yet. She shows few signs of slowing down, although she is more inclined to desire time out of the cage without those young whippersnappers climbing all over and walking on her head.

At last, the big reveal!

And now, the news we’ve been sitting on for almost a week.

Hold on a sec.

Darlin’, could you turn around please?

That’s better! Everyone, this is Isabella. Isabella, these nice people are going to become your newest fans.

Here’s the story. Gryphon and I were so taken with Persephone, the little “going to be Siamese one day but now looks like a PEW” girl who was adopted along with our Perignon, that we started thinking. Pink-Eyed White rats (PEWs) have a hard time finding adoptive families. A lot of people find their color boring. Others think their pink eyes are creepy looking.

MRR deals with this by having a policy that PEWs in their care are always adopted out with a more colorful rat as a partner. They also occasionally offer specials on adoption fees for adopting rats with pink-eyes.

Gryphon and I decided we had room enough, and love enough, for another rat. We made up our minds that we would do our bit by always trying to include one PEW in our rat family.

I went looking at the available animals on the MRR site, and spotted Isabella.

Isabella’s story is special. She was rescued from a laboratory when she was only 21 days old. That’s only about a week after her eyes would have opened. She would have just started eating solid foods.

The young woman who rescued her is a college student. She clearly took good care of Isabella. ‘Bella lived in her human friend’s dorm room for the first part of her life, allowed to free roam. She became very attached to her person, and is very friendly with every human she meets.


Isabella explores her new home

Sadly, her human’s circumstances changed. As her person went to school in New York City, she wasn’t able to bring Isabella with her. Isabella learned to live in a cage, at her grand-persons’ house.

Her human came home whenever she could, and gave Isabella a lot of attention. But the grand-persons’, as much as they like her, weren’t able to give her as much socializing as she was used to. ‘Bella’s human decided the right thing to do was to let Isabella go to another home that could play with her as much as she deserved.

Isabella is an older rat (1-1/2 years), a pink-eyed white, and a solitary rat. She hasn’t even seen another rat since she left the laboratory, though I’m told she once met a pet rabbit and tried to play with its nose! All of these qualities make it harder to find a home for her.

Until Gryphon and I came along, wanting a pink-eyed rat to love.

We first saw her listing on Thursday. Saturday afternoon, Valentine’s Day, we met Isabella’s owner, and collected our new Rattie.


Grooming my fingers

All the photos you see of Isabella were taken within the first ten minutes we had her home. I played with her in my arms and on my shoulders while Gryphon set up her temporary cage. In no time at all, she was licking my fingers, and when I made little clicking noises with my tongue, she turned her head and gave me kisses on the lips.

It is our hope to have Isabella move into the main cage with the Seven Little Ratties. It’s a slower process than usual, however. As an older rat, she is considered a larger threat than a younger one would be. And as a rat raised in isolation from other rats, she has some social instincts, but no practice at inter-rattie social skills. She probably comes across as “odd” to the other rats.

So we’re taking the integration as a slow, steady process, trusting our instincts and making small improvements where we can. One day, they’ll all be together.

Of course, we’ll have to stop calling them the Seven Little Ratties then. How does Octo-Ratties sound?

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