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Friday, January 27, 2012

Get Back Jo Jo

Oh what a week it has been! So, Meka and Jo Jo, our 2 new baby girls. Except that Jo Jo was a man who thought he was a woman, but he knew it couldn't last. Jakers and I wanted 2 girls to keep Rocky company. The reason we wanted girls was because we thought that introducting young, un-neutured bucks would put Rocky's nose out of joint. Rats are pack animals and in packs there will always be competition over dominance.

We arrived home with Jo Jo and Meka and introduced them to Rocky. Rocky immediately went over to groom Meka (a sign of him showing his authority). Little Meka closed her eyes and let Rocky do what he wanted to do. Jo Jo, on the other hand, was trying to run rings round Rocky and kept leaping up onto his back. This aggravated Rocky and there were a few scuffles.

Jo Jo's behaviour seemed more masculine than feminine and on closer inspection of his gemitals Jakers and I both thought he looked more like a boy than a girl. We took Jo Jo back to the pet shop where the shop keeper who was happy to let us trade Jo Jo for a rat we knew was definitely female.

So, now we have Rocky, Meka and a little white rat, with a ginger head and no name. Our little rat family is complete. All three of them are lying snoozing in the hammock. Rocky definitely likes the new rat better than he liked Jo Jo. Which wouldn't have been hard considering he hated Jo Jo. It had to be what was best for Rocky. He is much more content now and back to eating properly. I'm sure he has not forgotten Pepe but at least he is not so lonely now. I don't have any photos just yet but will post as soon as I can.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Old Addictions and New Additions

Today is day 3 of no smoking. It's going a lot better than I thought it would. I think my week of mental preparation has done me proud. I am doing this without any nicotine substitutes. I don't see the point in prolonging my addiction without the so-called pleasure of actually smoking.

Now I feel that I've got this far it would be complete lunacy to ever smoke again. I feel pleased that I have taken control over my life, rather than letting my addiction control me.

But, more importantly, we have two new additions to our rat clan. Rocky has been miserable since Pepe's departure. He's been off his food and has been looking very folorn. It was breaking my heart to see him so sad and lonely. It's a well known fact that rats can die of depression if they have lost a mate and apparently it can happen quite quickly. So, without further ado, we went down to the pet shop and picked up 2 new babies. Of course, nothing is ever straightforward for me when it comes to rats. We arrived back home with Jo Jo and Meka. But anyway, that's a story in itself and one I will keep for tomorrow.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

R.I.P. Sweet P.

Today is a struggle. Pepe passed away this morning just after 10. I don't care if she was a rat, she was my rat and she was precious. Last night we were hopeful that she'd pull through. The vet had given her an injection and she was taking small amounts of liquid. I set her out a bowl of yoghurt. She had a little. She fell asleep with her little paws hanging over the edge of the bowl and her nose nearly touching the yoghurt.

Later I took her out of the cage and nursed her in a tea towel for a while. She looked a bit more comfortable than she had been but was still frail and weak. I wanted to cradle her all night but I couldn't. Later in the night she had one last little burst of energy trying to get into her main cage, with Rocky. I kind of knew then that she was dying because rats will always want to go back to their nest to die. I couldn't let her though in case Rocky picked up the infection too.

This morning I really knew it was bad. Her breathing was so light and she was a little cold. I had to leave for work but I told Jakers she wasn't making much improvement and that the vet opened at 10. I called him shortly after 10. He said she wasn't good and, while I was asking him a million questions and giving a million orders, he said to me, "Darling she's stopped breathing". At which point I started to cry down the phone, which made Jakers cry. I thought it was very poignant that she held on long enough to take her last breath while I was on the phone. It was the closest I could be to her side. After I cried for a while I told Jakers to put her into to the cage for a minute so Rocky could say goodbye. Jakers said Rocky groomed her for a while and sniffed her a bit. He seemed to understand.

I know it is hard for some people to understand how I could be upset over a rat but Rocky and Pepe have been my babies for a year. Many a night I have gone out drinking and gone home early to see the rats. When they'd sleep top to toe in the hammock together they looked like a ying yang symbol. I used to love poking my finger inbetween where their stomachs met and giving them a little tickle. And I loved the way when I stroked Pepe's head how her eyes would close over in bliss. And, though I'm sad, I'm able to raise a little smile when I think of her biting Jakers nipple a few weeks ago. It was only a gentle nibble, like what they do to each other when they're grooming.

Me and Jakers are sitting here now remembering all her ways. Rocky is content for the mean time, eating some banana. Next week will be tough on him when we're out at work but I'm hoping he only has to go a few days without company. The reason we got Pepe was for him. Rats don't do good on their own. As soon as I can I'll get 2 more babies. Rocky is such a gentle, docile fella that I don't think we need to worry about them getting on. He needs someone to cuddle with in the hammock. And he needs someone to keep him on his toes like Pepe did. God rest her wee soul.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Poor Pepe

If you could see a picture of this wee girl right now, it doesn't matter how much you dislike rats, your heart would break. Jakers noticed the other night that she had blood on her neck and chin. Our initial reaction was to assume she'd had a fight with Rocky and he'd bit her neck. I took her into the bedroom to try and clean her up and get a look at her but rat's are such delicate little creatures that I was afraid of doing more harm than good.

She also had blood around her nose and I wondered, if Rocky had bit her neck, why she had blood on her nose. And it seemed strange that Rocky did not have any blood on him whatsoever. I did some research on the internet and found her symptoms to be similar to an upper respiratory infection. Either way she was going to have to see the vet.

Mum and I took her this morning. My prognosis was right. At first the vet thought she did have a wound on her neck but when she cleaned Pepe up there was no gash. I was relieved in a way because I didn't think Rocky could be capable of causing such harm, and if he was, we'd have to keep them seaparate. But she is a very poorly little rat and it's breaks my heart to see her like this.

Pepe is the cheeky one. She's the one we had bother with escaping and trying to assert her authority. Nothing was going to keep Pepe back from exploring and doing her own thing and we had our work cut out with her. Now we have built up trust with her she is the sweetest girl. I'm particularly close to her because Jakers was also the one disciplining her. I got to be the good cop and she bonded well with me. Getting them back into they're cage after a scoot out is a breeze. We either usher them along to the cage where they're happy to jump in themselves, or Pepe will crawl up onto my sleeve and I'll carry her over.

One night, Rocky had already climbed back in the cage himself and Pepe was lurking outside the cage. It was bedtime and I went to usher her in the cage. Even though she was right by it she insisted on doing a full circuit of the living room, running behind the chairs and sofa, eventually arriving right back at the cage and jumping in. This is just another example of how Pepe likes to do things her own way.

Right now she is weak and resting. I managed to force her to drink a few drops of warm water mixed with sugar and salt. The vet sait to try to encourage her to eat. I suggested plenty of fresh fruit and the vet replied "Whatever she wants". I'm going out shortly to get her some yoghurt and cheese. The yoghurt should be easier for her to take but if my sweetpea wants cheese she will have cheese.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today Is A Gift

Yesterday is the past. Tomorrow is the future. Today is a gift, that's why we call it the 'present'

I wish I could cite this quote properly. I think, though I may be wrong, that it comes from a children's animated film, in which all humans have a 'spirit animal'. The reason I'm quoting it is because I've decided to quit smoking. I decided during the weekend that I would allow myself one more week of smoking and then that was it. It has been in my thoughts to quit for many years now but I carried on with my addiction, convincing myself that it was never the right time. There is no right time though and that kind of reasoning is merely a form of procrastination. There's no time like the present when it comes to getting things done.

I have allowed myself a week of mental preparation though. The reason being is I want a week of smoking but viewing it differently. Viewing it less as an addiction and more as just something silly that I do. I am noticing that I don't actually crave cigarettes so much. I wake up in the morning and convince myself that I could go without my morning smoke. I still have it but there isn't the same satisfaction.

I have made several lists. The first list is reasons why I should quit. I managed to come up with 10 reasons. When I feel the urge to smoke I just need to look at all those reasons for quitting. I also plan to keep myself extremely busy next week. When I'm not working I will try to fill my time constructively. I can paint, play guitar, excercise and read. I will go visitng friends in the evenings. Take as many driving lessons as I can possibly get and, basically, mentally and physically wear myself out so that I have no time to think about smoking.

As well as that I shall indulge in nature's remedies by taking lavender baths and drinking chamomile tea. Anything to take the edge off. I have been mentally prepping myself for dealing with the onset of cravings. I will tell myself that, not only will I be saving money, I won't stink or have stained teeth and I won't be setting a bad example to my darling nieces. So with all that in mind I feel well equipped to deal with whatever this whole stopping smoking buisness has in store for me. I don't assume it'll be a walk in the park but there's no point going into it with a defeatist attitude. Nicotene doesn't have control over me, I have control over me. Who knows what next week will bring though. It's just another big wave that I gotta ride out.

Monday, January 16, 2012

How Big Do You Want It?

I was chatting to a mate about music. Let's call this guy Lenny. He's a bit of a cheese merchant when it comes to music so when he was listing off a few bands that he liked, and he got to Nickelback, I scrunched up my face in disapproval and told him I hated them. Then I said, in all seriousness, "Nickelback, that's a kind of a fish, isn't it?"

"Naw", said Lenny, "That's a stickleback"

And then he went on to tell me that the band got the name Nickelback from when the lead singer worked in a shop and he was always saying "here's your nickel back". For some reason I felt the need to google this to make sure Lenny wasn't spinning some crap but he was telling the truth. The lead singer worked in Starbucks. So, I may become a famous rock star yet. I guess if I was going to name my band after a phrase I use all the time it could be Matt or Gloss? but that reminds me too much of the 80's duo Bros who were brothers call Matt and Luke. Another choice would be How Big Do You Want It? This, of course, is the question you ask when a customer is asking you to enlarge a photograph for them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Life Is Like A Jigsaw

I can't wait to have kids. This is no secret. But it's not children I want to post about. This post is about how we fill our lives up with materialistic goods, a behaviour that is learned, rather than innate.

Jakers had his wee girl up tonight. She wants for nothing. For Christmas her daddy bought her a new phone. One of these android phones that does everything (except walk the dog). She also has a DS Nintendo. Both of which she had with her tonight but when I sat down to do my jigsaw she asked if she could help. So we spent the next hour jigsawing, which warmed wee Jakers' heart. Ok, we couldn't have bonded without some kind of materialistic possession, but surely a jigsaw is much more wholesome than computer games?

The point is though, children don't need T.V. and video games to entertain them, adults need them to entertain the kids. Why? Because life is so hectic and meaningless now that adults all rush around trying to do the things they think they're supposed to do, and they have no time to do the simple things with children. And the simple things really are very simple. I wholeheartedly believe that children will revel in almost any activity, so long as they have the company of others. Adults forget this and think it's better to do things alone because they'll get it done quicker and, more importantly, they'll get to do it their own way.

I've always believed I was born in the wrong era. I benefit form modern technology and I utilise it but I am aware of how souless it all is. I wonder when the term 'escapism' was coined and was there ever a time when we didn't feel the need to escape?

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Taoist That Strayed

You know how technology is, great when it's working, annoying when it's not. The other day in work we had a customer sitting at one of our computers choosing his photos. We do this when their CD or their pendrive doesn't work in the kiosks. Another customer walked in. I heard his voice before I actually seen him. It was a voice I knew as this particular guy has been in a few times and he's somewhat memorable.

I would call him an excitable chap. He doesn't so much speak but holler in a high pitched tone. He likes to chat about photography and how Apple is better than microsoft (a debate I refuse to participate in) and he doesn't like to make eye contact. I say none of this in a hateful way. He is quite the character.

Anyway, it was my colleague who was serving him at the kiosk and as she was finishing off his order the guy was pacing around the shop chatting away to no one in particular when he noticed the customer sitting at the computer. This is when my ears pricked up as I heard him say "I hope that's not Stray Taoist, he's my friend on Flickr"

Well, he didn't say Stray Taoist, what he said was Stray Toysta, but I knew he meant Stray Taoist and I knew that he had never atcually met him in person, just that he had him as a contact on Flickr.

The Man Who Wasn't Stray Taoist finished his order and left and our little friend said "I bet that was Stray Taoist". I sniggered to myself as I knew it most definitely wasn't but I didn't want to burst the guy's bubble.

So Mr. Taoist, if you have a wee random contact on your Flickr list that sounds like he might fit the bill of our delightful little customer you can let him know that it was most definitely not you sitting in my place of work. And you can thank him for brightening up my day.

Friday, January 06, 2012

In Which I Climb Through A Window

When you get to a certain age you begin to enjoy going back to normality after the festive season. Sure, work's a bore but you need that boredom to appreciate the calm and relaxation when you're not working.

This year is an important one for me. For no other reason than I've decided it is. I now have a goal for my driving. I aim to have my license before I turn 30 in April. This will also be the year that I save up so I can do some further education. I am sick of dead end jobs and caring way more than I am paid to care. But that's not my employer's fault, though it doesn't stop me hating them for it.

Basically, I hope to change my whole philosophy on life. I have spent long enough thinking about the things in life that make me happy. Now it is time to stop thinking and start doing. This involves being pro-active. It involves a healthy body and healthy mind. I have a tendency to get caught in negative thought processes. I need to learn jedi mind tricks to break the vicious cycles. Before Christmas I cut out sugar. It no longer has the hold it once had on me. The next stage of the process is excercise. And the stage after that is overcoming the evil beast that is nicotene.

If it doesn't happen this year I shall not be too hard on myself. We never know what's round the corner. The day before New Year's Eve I had a knock at the door. It was the Polish lady who lives in the flat below. She was anxious and asked if my boyfriend was home. Jakers was at work. She grabbed my arm asking me to come with her. As we rushed down the stairs she explained that the man that lived in the flat next to her wouldn't answer his door and he'd left his oven on. She had noticed when she was outside and she could smell burning. His kitchen window was slightly ajar and when she opened it smoke billowed out. She showed me quickly before dragging me into her flat to get a step ladder. Even though she was anxious she was eager for me to see her cosy flat and show me her bible. She needed me to to help because I was thin and she wouldn't fit through the window.

So, she held the step ladder for me as I climbed through the window to switch off the oven. The smoke was pretty bad. The kitchen door was closed and she reckoned the old man had fallen asleep. After she was sure that the oven was off she told me to come out. She thanked me and said that we had to do it because one day it could be me, or her, who was in need of help. I am sure that if I hadn't climbed through the window someone else would have noticed and helped, at least have called the fire brigade. But I suppose there's something kind of heroic about nipping it in the bud before it gets to that stage. And the old dude downstairs has his lovely Polish neighbour to thank for that. I often have chats with her on the stairs. And one day I walked in and she had a bunch of flowers. I commented on how nice they were and she plucked a few flowers from it and gave them to me. We should all strive to be as neighbourly as Gabi.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Like A Pack Of Teenagers

I love Dirt Bird. You could tell her that her favourite band was playing a special, private gig and you'd got her tickets to go but she'd still want to spend New Year's out at the Dreen with Nellybert. It's tradition now. Just the same as Boxing Day dinner is a tradition. Another tradition is the entertainment provided by Nellybert and Mr. and Mrs. Banjo. If you don't believe me here is the photographic evidence.

Mr. Banjo is on the prowl. At first Mr. Banjo tries whispering a few sweet nothings to Nelly. She is mildly disinterested.

Mr. Banjo tries a more hands on approach but Nelly, clearly, thinks that he is only after one thing, her precious bottle of wine.

Mr. Banjo is really trying his hand now. He goes in for a peck on the cheek, right in front of Bert, who is red with anger behind that big hand of his.

All of a sudden Mrs. Banjo appears, seemingly disapproving of Mr. Banjo's advances towards Nelly, Bert's anger has been replaced by an envy of the attention that Nelly is receiving. Nelly is red though not through anger, just sheer utter excitement.

Mrs. Banjo decides to give Mr. Banjo a taste of his own medicine and Bert's envy is replaced by joy and glee. Nelly is just mildly amused.

So that is how we spent the New Year. That and a bit of harmless New Year Planking. Mr. Banjo juinor received piano lessons off Dirt Bird and played chopsticks repeatedly for at least an hour and a half. She then taught him Auld Lang Syne just in time for the clock striking 12. He was under presseure too as we only asked him to learn it at twenty to twelve. He done great.