Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ratties and stereotypes

Here's a really cute video of some rats that also explains why it's important to have at least two rats.



I told someone today that I'm getting pet rats, and at first she thought she must have misheard me. Once she figured out that she had heard me correctly she became a little concerned, and eventually told me to be careful to not get bitten.

I guess rats do have some negative stereotypes attached to them.

I definitely would not want to handle a wild rat. They probably would not be very sweet. They'd probably bite me and perhaps give me rabies. But domestic rats that are bred to be pets and who are handled by humans from a young age? They are sweethearts.

That's not to say that they don't ever bite. I can remember being bitten a few times when I had rats, years ago. It was mostly friendly bites that didn't hurt at all, much like when my cat Socks bites our ankles. (Ok, so it can hurt when Socks bites our ankles...)

I can only remember one time when a rat bit me hard enough that it hurt, and that was when Rosie was in pain -- and she didn't even break the skin, despite being hurt and frightened. As for why Rosie was in pain? Her foot was caught between the wires in a 3 level wire cage, she was scared, and she struggling to escape. If that's not a reason to blindly bite a helping hand, I don't know what is.

I'm no more worried about getting bitten by a domestic rat than I am about being bitten by a domestic cat. That's to say that it does happen, but it's nothing to get excited about.

Also when I mentioned to the afore mentioned woman that rats are very social critters and that it's important to get at least two of them she said "Well, I can't imagine any other creature wanting to keep them company." *sigh* More stereotypes...



That's not to say that I'll be trying this at home, since they generally only get along if they are raised together. My cats would probably decide to make a meal of the rats.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rats! :)

Well, I just thought I would share photos of my rat cage...




As you can see Kokopelle was checking things out for himself. :) There are just three more things I need:

1) Something to hold the water bottle properly in the cage -- it can't just keep lying on top!
2) Food, which I'll get when I actually get rats -- I don't want to get food now and then let it start to age while I wait to get rats.
3) Rats!


I suppose I could go out to a pet store and buy their rats today. I've done that before, and wound up with really great pets. This time, though, I want to get rats through a breeder, and that means waiting until rats from a litter are available for adoption.

EDIT on 8/1/11: I should mention that I heard back from the breeder, and it turns out that glass cages don't have proper ventilation for rats. I wish I had known that years ago! So I'm going to the pet store this evening to get a wire cage.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cleaning

Last night I had a sudden urge to go through my junk and get rid of some stuff. This urge came at about 10:30pm, but I get the urge so rarely that I decided to act on it.

And now my room is a mess.

Isn't it funny how, in going through junk to make things tidier and better, you make a mess? It's sort of aggravating since my room was pretty tidy to begin with. So basically I've taken my tidy room and turned it into a mess.

Whoopee.

And yet, it seems to me that things need to get stirred up about every six months. Otherwise energy settles into the corners and just sits there, and somehow that's not something I really like. Maybe I need a besom. :)

Oh yes...

I'm gathering tid bits of my junk, things like show tickets and notes from Girl Scout day camps -- things that have good memories attached to them and that make me smile. I've had them strewn throughout boxes, but I am going to finally put them together into a scrap book. I've never done scrap booking, and what I put together won't be anything fancy, but at least everything will all be in one place nice and tidy. Or relatively nice and tidy, anyways.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bad update on dad

As I mentioned before dad had surgery today for some particularly bad kidney stones. It was a minor surgery, and he was sent back home a few hours afterwards.

He got back home...oh, I guess about 5pm. Or maybe 4pm. That's about 4 or 5 hours ago. But just over 1 hour ago mom had to take him to urgent care because dad started having trouble. I guess you might call it a complication from the surgery.

Prayers and good vibes would be appreciated! I expect he'll be fine, though.

I guess this is the first real emergency he's had since I started blogging, oh, about a two and a half years ago. But from prior experiences I got used to dad being rushed to ER due to various problems, and then I'm used to him always being in pain because of post-polio.

There was the time he fell down the stairs because (I think) he leg gave way. That would be post-polio syndrome related, if I remember correctly the reason for the fall. He wound up going to ER for that one.

A year or so later he had a stroke and didn't call 911. 911 didn't get called until mom and I got home (perhaps an hour after it happened) and mom realized what was going on. Matt had been home the whole time, but dad hid what was going on from him. (And yes, every minute counts when you've had a stroke -- 911 should be called IMMEDIATELY.)

Then there was the time that a cut on his foot got infected, which is bad because he's diabetic...

I guess that I've just gotten used to it. I mean, it's not like I don't worry, but...I'm just used to it, so I'm not as excitable as I was before. If that makes sense. I'm used to things happening, and he pulls through.

And now I'm rambling.

Anyways, thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.

UPDATE at 11:44pm: Dad's home, and is ok for the moment. He'll see his doctor tomorrow.

Scary -- DC40

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13:34-35
If only all Christians would follow Christ's teachings.

Yesterday I learned about DC40 and looked around their website: http://www.dc40.net/. They will spend 51 days praying and fasting for our country to get back on the right track. Unfortunately, to them this means that every religion they disagree with needs to be stamped out. Oh, and they've renamed the District of Columbia the District of Christ because Columbia is a Pagan goddess and therefore evil.

I have no problem with Christ. He's a god that I love, and I think that many of his followers are great people. HOWEVER, I do object to renaming DC because it contains the name of an "evil" goddess. And as for the "siege" (their words) that these people plan to launch on our country?

Other concerned Pagans have said that what they're doing is a magical working, and that because it is done in intolerance and hatred that it is by its nature black magick. I'm not completely sure about that, but I won't argue. DC40 will definitely be spreading bad energy, and I guess that's all that magick is, isn't it? Energy that is being manipulated.

These people are no longer following the Prince of Peace. They've turned Jesus into a God of War. (There was actually a king who once did that once...I can't remember who it was...) I mean, since when does a Prince of Peace lay siege to a country?

If you want to read what other Pagans have written, here is some of what I've read:

Prayer Warriors Plan to Invade DC -- About.com Patty Wigington
**This contains links to other Pagan's responses
Spiritual Warfare Is Essentially Black Magic -- Star Foster
DC40: Darkness Upon Your Doorstep -- Anne Johnson
This Time, It's Personal -- Hecate
**Very very good, and it contains more details

Of course there are many more out there. I just have a limited attention span at the moment (ah, ADHD!) and I can't read them all right now.

Oh yes, and how could I forget? These people have labeled October 31st as Reformation Day.

Although there are many different Pagan paths, most of us regard October 31st, or Samhain, as our most special celebration. How would these people like it if someone declared December 25th to be Day of the Anti-Christ? What they've done is just as bad.

I think I'll end with the same Biblical line that I started with. I guess you could call it a prayer for peace, and understanding, and for people to accept each others differences. And a plea for all those involved in DC40 to pick up their Bible and read it -- and not just the words, but to understand what Jesus was really talking about. I don't speak for Jesus, but I guarantee that he does not approve of what they are doing.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13:34-35

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dad

Last week dad had a visit to ER because of some particularly bad kidney stones. He's had kidney stones before, and they're always very painful, but they've never landed him in ER before.

After doing what they could for him the ER people sent dad back home with some super strong pain killers. He's going back to the hospital tomorrow morning for some minor surgery because of the kidney stones, and he should be back home again tomorrow evening.

And then he'll start coming off the super strong pain killers, and that will not be at all pleasant for him.

Good vibes and prayers for dad would be appreciated. Especially for when he starts coming off the meds! He'll have gotten used to them and will go through withdrawal. :(

Thunderstorm!

We don't often get thunderstorms around here, so you can imagine my surprise when I woke up at dawn to the sound of thunder.

Actually, at first I didn't realize that it was dawn, and I was trying to figure out how the lightning could make the sky just a little bit brighter at a time. Obviously I wasn't completely awake.

The storm must have passed directly over my house because the second thunderclap I head was so close that it made a car alarm across the street go off. I'm pretty sure that I have never seen that happen before!

This was an unusually big thunderstorm for this part of the country, which means that there were about seven-ish lightning strikes that I noticed. Yes, I know some of my readers will be laughing at me saying that seven strikes is a big storm, but around here it is. lol It also traveled pretty quickly. I'm not sure how much time there was between each strike, anyways it wasn't too long, but each time I saw the sky light up I started counting and discovered that each strike was about five miles further away.

I went back to sleep quickly enough and when my alarm went off four hours later (dawn was at 5am and my alarm was set at 9am) I learned about the effects of "early morning thunder boomers" -- I had such a bad headache that I absolutely refused to get out of bed. It turns out that thunderstorms at dawn can do that to a person. And the fact that I was reading without my glasses last night probably didn't help.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Taking out my bike

I know I haven't been posting much in the last couple weeks. I don't know why not.

Anyways...

The house I'm house sitting is inconveniently located, mass-transit-wise. I can easily walk to the bus, but it's a little further than I really like walking when I'm going someplace. (I'd be happy to walk that distance just for the heck of it when I don't have a place to go, but that's different.) So I decided to bring out my bike!

So I got out my bike, brushed the cobwebs (and one spider) and dusted off of it (literally) and got it fixed up. That is, Tall One fixed it up for me.

I was able to put air in the flat tires myself, but it wouldn't even have occurred to me to check how the gears and breaks were doing. Furthermore, even if it had occurred to me, I would not have had any idea how to tune them up.

(The gears could still do with more of a tune up, but they're in working order now which is all I really cared about.)

After Tall One fixed up my bike I baked him brownies. Oh yes, and I ground up some dried peppermint leaves from our backyard to put into them. :)

And the awesome thing? I didn't even ask him to help me with my bike. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Free shipping!!!

You can get free shipping at my online shop Dragonfly's Laughter with the coupon code "freejuly" -- this coupon code may be used throughout the rest of this month.

If you didn't already know about my shop, I sell jewelry and needlework (and a few other things) that I made myself.

You can also find Dragonfly's Laughter at:

My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/DragonflysLaughter

My tweets: http://twitter.com/#!/DragonflysLaugh

My blog: http://dragonflyslaughter.blogspot.com/

If the helm doesn't fit...

The local SCA people were at the Skagit Valley Highland Games a couple weeks ago. While I was in their tents I heard this story about why it's important to wear a properly fitting helmet.

...

A guy, we'll call him Thom, showed up for an SCA war, but had forgotten his helmet. Fortunately he was able to borrow a helmet that fit him nicely!

Well, ok, so it didn't fit him quite so nicely. It fit him a tad loosely. To be completely honest, it kept twisting on his head just a little bit at a time so that he had to keep righting it.

But no matter. It worked.

Or that's what he told himself.

Thom was running from one end of the field to the other at one point, and the helmet moved just enough that he was able to glimpse something out of the corner of his vision. He decided it was an enemy, and so WHACK!!! He hit it with his practice sword.

...when a referee came to stand over where Thom, who was now lying on the ground, this is what the ref told him: "I have good news and bad news. You're dead. The good news is that the tree is also dead."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Drum majors

This week I saw a new side of drum majors.

What are drum majors? They lead the bagpipe bands and they have this awesome thing called a mace. Here's a bunch of them lined up ready for massed bands last year.



I'm used to them, and I'm used to them signaling to the band with their mace. But I'm not used to them doing fancy stuff with their mace.

Then yesterday I saw Jason Paguio, who is currently the worlds reigning best drum major. I found the following video on YouTube, and it shows what kind of fancy mace work I saw yesterday.



...wow. I'd had no no idea that they could do that.

The above video is of a drum major competition. The next one highlights Paguio, although it doesn't exactly have bagpipe music in it.



On a semi-related note, yesterday I had a revelation about those things called maces. Well, they're called maces, and there's also a weapon called a mace, and weapons are used to get people to do things, right? Well, maybe drum majors started using their stick thingies to herd the unruly pipers and drummers out of the beer tent for massed bands, and maybe that's how they started being called maces! Makes perfect sense, right? ;)

(Ok, so that was a joke of sorts, which someone will only laugh at if they already know that pipers do not like massed bands.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Portland Highland Games

I'm going to the Portland Highland Games tomorrow, and I just thought that I would share the following video which is on the home page of the Portland Games' web site.



FYI, I disagree -- you can wear pants under the kilt and still be a Scot. It's not traditional, but whatever.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Misadventures with cooking

"Brighid, please," I detected a whining note in my voice but I couldn't be bothered to remove it. "You're a goddess of the hearth, which encompasses cooking. And you're a goddess of fire, which is also relevant to the current situation." True, there was no fire, but there was smoke. And smoke comes from fire, right? "Please..." I don't even know what I was asking for.

Maybe I was asking for the burnt rice to disappear and for the smoke to miraculously vanish.

My first time doing real cooking while house sitting and I freak the cats out by burning the food and making the smoke detector go off.

The cats are currently in the garage, which is smoke free, and I'm airing out the house. They aren't holding a grudge against me after the smoke detector, which is a relief. I ate my dinner (what wasn't burnt, anyways) sitting on the garage floor to keep them company. I figured I owed it to them.

On the upside, at least I didn't catch a pan of boiling spaghetti on fire, like my mom once did.

Now I suppose I should head back to the kitchen and deal with the ruined rice.

*sigh*

Sunday, July 10, 2011

FB status's

I was looking over my status posts on FB for the last few days and I think they give a good picture of what my trip to the Highland Games were like.

Friday at 8:22pm: Mom took us to the wrong hotel.

Yesterday at 12:33am: Insomnia insomnia how do I loath thee? Let me count the ways...

Yesterday at 12:42am: Insomnia is when you really want to sleep bit your body says "nope! For some random reason I am going to be mean and keep you up. Bwahahah!"

Yesterday at 12:46am: There's a light outside that keeps flickering on and off about once every minute. It keeps changing the quality of light in our room -- the light will have a bluish tint, then a red, then bluish again...

An of course I wouldn't pay any attention to this if I could only SLEEP. Dang insomnia.


Yesterday at 1:07am: Reading comics since I can't sleep and trying to not giggle like crazy. It would bother the members of my family not suffering from insomnia.

I did eventually get to sleep, and then I only posted two things while at the Games yesterday.

Yesterday at 12:26pm: Something a kid said: "I love dirks. You can put them in your socks and then kill someone with them."

Yesterday at 1:14pm: I heard this in the food line: "I don't eat animals. Except for their meat."

Then on the way home...

21 hours ago: The post-games discussion in this car is what the protocol would be for when a piper throws up while playing with the band. Really, um, interesting topic.

21 hours ago: I can't believe I'm going on only 4 1/2 hours of sleep. I'm not wide awake but I'm not exhausted either.

I also can't believe that I got sunburned. I used my moisturizer which has sun screen in it, darn it! It's always worked before! Well except for the time I used it the night before, but that doesn't count.

20 hours ago: FYI if it weren't for two minor details:

1) we have enough cats already
2) I start house sitting tomorrow


I would be bringing home a new cat tonight.

Highland Games

Yesterday was the Skagit Valley Highland Games.

Ok, so I suppose I should say this weekend is the Skagit Valley Highland Games...they're still going on today, and I would have begged my mom to let us stay for the whole thing, except that I start house sitting this evening!

The Skagit Valley Games are my favorite. It's the atmosphere. Each of the Games has its own unique flavor and I just happen to like Skagit Valley the best.

Of course there are the usual piping competitions, dance competitions, heavyweight athletics competitions, food, and the vendors. (Yes, that's a lot. Too much to see at any single one of the Games!) But the Skagit Valley Games have some more fun stuff that you don't see at all of the other Games.

There's a sheepdog competition, in which sheep dogs -- mostly border collies -- herd sheep. There's the land it's on. (Just try recreating that anywhere else!) In the past there has been a particular vendor selling locally grown strawberries, but they weren't there this year... And there is also a tent where women demonstrate how to spin yarn and weave. It was in this tent that I learned to use the drop spindle two years ago, and the spinning wheel last year.

Oh, and the local animal shelter has cats and dogs up for adoption.

And I fell in love.

If it weren't for two minor details...

1) There are enough cats in this house already, and
2) I start house sitting this evening, and as such the timing is just plain wrong for adopting new pets

...I would have brought home a new furry feline friend. She was a petite one year old girl named Penny, and was just adorable. I'm sure she'll find a good home.

All in all, it was a good day. :)

ps. I also got sun burned. Note to self: next time reapply sunscreen every four hours.

pps. I also discovered how to get the attention of a kitten who had previously been ignoring me: eat a messy steak and mushroom pie, getting everything all over your hands. Lick your fingers clean, but don't use soap and water on them. Revisit the kitten, and prepare to be licked and bitten.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This and that

I think that today will be a day of randomness.

...

My family leaves tomorrow for the Skagit Valley Highland Games...but we have no idea when we leave. This is a fact that is annoying me.

...

I start house sitting this Sunday. I'm mentally creating a list of what to bring...

*Spinning wheel
*Drop spindle
*Roving (no point in bringing the first two items without this one!)
*Guitar (but I can't bring my piano D: )
*Blankie (I don't care that she has plenty of blankets, I want my own blankie that grammie made!)
*Lotsa clothes
*Aromatherapy thingy and essential oils
*Toiletries
*Lotsa love for her kitties
*Bag balm
*Some books
*Netbook
*Diary
*Needlework

And the list goes on.

And I might try to smuggle the movie Tangled with me as well... (If any of my family is reading this, please disregard what you just read.)

...

It's actually been a while since I've touched my guitar. But I intend to change that! I figure that since I can't bring my piano I may as well bring my guitar, and that I will pick it back up again!

Now I'll have to figure out how to do the chords without my left hand cramping up...that was quite a problem for me, and it was very discouraging.

...

Fa la la la la la la la la!!!

...

I just discovered this guy today, and I love him.



I'm not sure how he actually got that as the picture for his video since I don't actually see that shot anywhere in his video.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Of philosophical questions and fireworks

What do Pagans contribute to the United States of America? What do we give to this country that is unique to us? This is something I hadn't really thought of before, and so I was interested to read this brief article on the subject. It's definitely something worth thinking about on a day such as this.

For that matter, you could substitute any religion/spiritually and any country into that question: "What do ________ contribute to _______?" Try inserting your own beliefs and country into that question. :)

Now, on to fireworks!

We celebrate the fourth with fireworks, and these are the best fireworks I know of:



By the way, Tall One and I watched this movie recently. We had a lot of fun saying "Mr. Anderson" after most of Eldrond's lines. We said it a few other random places, too. :)

While we watched the movie I made a really cute dress that didn't fit me (oops), and pajama bottoms that do fit me. And the dress would have fit me if I'd made it with stretchy material that would expand over the chest area. Oh well. Live and learn!

Edit: Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Breeding rats

Yesterday I shared how Tall One and I got our first rats, now I'm going to share about breeding them.

When I realized that Rosie was pregnant I was so excited. We separated her from Beauty, who was Tall One's rat. (Actually, back then Tall One was truly Short Stuff.) I was a little worried because I knew that things might not turn out well with this first litter. Sometimes new rat mothers will eat their young. I expected that everything would be fine, but I was a little worried.

Rosie and I had different ideas about what kind of place would be best for her to give birth in. I thought nice soft bedding would be ideal, but she kept clearing a corner of her cage of everything. Fortunately for her I eventually gave up. I say "fortunately" because it turns out that Rosie had the right of it.

Rosie's cage was on my bed (I think it was there because I wanted to keep a close eye on her, even at night) and one night soon after we realized she was pregnant I noticed some unusual movement in her cage. I grabbed my flashlight to check it out...and oh wow, I saw a little baby rat that she was licking.

I turned on my bedroom light and got my parents. I also woke up Short Stuff but he turned out to be more interested in his sleep than in new baby rats.

My parents and I watched Rosie give birth to more than fifteen pups. Yes, that is a lot, way more than you usually see in rat litters. But Rosie was patient, and licked each one clean as they came out.

The pups were hairless and their eyes were closed, but they were so cute. And Rosie turned out to be a good mother.

I'll share about the rat pups later. :)

Also, don't forget to enter my photo giveaway!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Our first pet rats

As I mentioned briefly in my last post, I bred rats once. This was years and years ago, I think I must have been a pre-teen.

I had a friend who bred rats, and I got my first rat from her: a female who I named Rosie. She was so sweet and adorable that Tall One (who at the time was Short Stuff -- small for his age at the time and already younger than me by two years two months and eleven days) soon enough just had to get his own rat.

I don't remember where Short Stuff's rat came from. Probably a pet store. It was a male who he named Beauty, and he was younger than Rosie by a few weeks.

At first when the pair were introduced Beauty only succeeded in annoying Rosie. I have a clear memory of her restraining the younger (and smaller) rat's exuberance by holding him down with a hind leg while she calmly ate. But rats age quickly, and soon enough Beauty figured out that Rosie might be more fun if he didn't annoy her.

(Actually, mom says that he figured that out while they were both perched on her shoulders, although I didn't realize that at the time.)

Even though I wanted to breed the pair and I was looking for signs of pregnancy in Rosie it wasn't until a few days before she was ready to give birth that I realized she was pregnant. When I did realize it, I was excited.

Stay tuned, I'll share the rest of the story in another post.

EDIT: Ok, I'm sharing the rest of the story in more than one other post. Also, don't forget to enter my giveaway!