Monday, November 29, 2010

Rattie Vacation

People who have never been around rodents, particularly rats, are often flabbergasted when I say that one of the things I love so much about them is how each one has a distinct personality. Those poor rat-less ones just don't understand how something as small as my boys could develop into two completely opposite characters. It's hard to believe that they are of the same species, never mind actual litter mates.

Every so often I take the Adams and Calhoun to Provincetown for a vacation. (Yes, they are spoiled rotten. Lots of PEOPLE would like regular vacations in P-Town.).

Thanks to the generosity of my friend Virginia, I'm able to leave their "travel cage" there, so I don't have to haul a big cage every time we go.

Now both rats are very familiar with this travel cage. It's the same one I used for them for the first three or four months I had them, and they use it for 4 for 10 days at a time several times throughout the year.

When I put Adams in it, this is his reaction: (Body language translated for those who don't speak Rat.)
"Hey, this isn't my usual cage.  HOLY CRAP THIS ISN'T MY USUAL CAGE. WHERE'S MY CAGE? HELP! CALL 911! I HAVE TO HIDE! WHERE CAN I HIDE? I'LL TRY HERE! NO, THAT'S NO GOOD, I'LL TRY HERE! OH THAT'S NO GOOD EITHER! WHAT WILL I DO?? HELP! CALL THE ASPCA! I WANT TO GO HOME! THIS GIANT PRIMATE IS TORTURING ME! HELP! OH THIS IS JUST TERRIBLE."

This will go for about an hour, until he finally calms down. For this hour you must walk on egg shells, because if you inadvertently make a loud noise, the process starts all over again.

Next is how Calhoun reacts to the vacation cage:

"Hey, this isn't my usual...oh, look food."

End of discussion about the new cage.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Viva Las Vegas!

Stevie and I returned from our annual Las Vegas trip last month happy, tired, jet lagged, sick (me only) and BROKE. Sweet monkey fritters, did we manage to spend money. It'll be beans and rice for dinner for a few more months for me!
Here are some of our highlights:

Big Elvis.
Big Elvis has a (free!) afternoon show on weekdays at Bill's Gambling Hall. It's great show, and Pete Vallee (AKA Big Elvis) is just the nicest guy around. Stevie brings his Elvis costume every year, and Pete lets him be "Little Elvis" in the show. It just makes Stevie's week! Pete even declared that Stevie is the Official Little Elvis of the Big Elvis Show. Stevie couldn't be prouder!
Right here is where a video of Stevie being Little Elvis is supposed to be. I can't get the #_($# thing to work. So use your imagination. Picture Stevie in an Elvis costume, complete with wig and plastic blow up guitar, shaking his leg and being all-around ultra cool. 



Next it was on to dinner at Bennihana's. Stevie loves to watch them cook, won't eat the food! So basically, I'm out $35 for him to watch a guy throw knives around.

The other favorite thing that Stevie loves about Las Vegas is a show called "Bite", a topless Vampire show. How could it be any better...it has boobs and vampires!
Stevie wore his vampire costume to the show. They were so kind to him, they upgraded our seats to right down front. (Close up boobs!) and gave him a bag of "swag" on the way out, with pictures and some vampire teeth. He was in Seventh Heaven!

We also got together with the Siegfried and Roy North American Fan Club for a few dinners and some fun times. They are a great group of folks. One of the get togethers was at the Las Vegas Police K9 trials, where they have a police dog competition. The dogs are awe inspiring. They are so intelligent and so devoted to their handlers. I always get  a little misty-eyed, seeing how willing they are to put themselves in danger to protect their officers.
We also go to do a little meet and greet with Siegfried and Roy. They are both wonderful men, and have been very kind and gracious to the club over the years. Stevie calls them "The Tiger Guys". He used to love seeing their show. He would act it out in the hotel afterwards, jumping from bed to bed, making imaginary tigers appear and disappear.

After the K9s, it was off to the Hofbrauhaus. It's a recreation of a Munich Beer Hall, that has become annual tradition for the fan club. I bet we've had some good times there. If I could only remember.
Stevie likes that place because of Judy, the Jagermeister girl. (You may have noticed a theme in Stevie's vacation preferences. Girls are at the top of the list.) She remembers him from year to year and this year surprised him with a big bag of goodies, including a tee shirt and a lanyard. He certainly is spoiled!
More girls:





The weather was pretty awful for most of the week, so we only got a short amount of pool time in, and I was too sick to be out and about for too long, but we still managed to squeeze quite a bit in. Sometimes I felt so crappy that all could do was hand Stevie some money and watch him while he gambled. Thus the reason I came back so freakin' broke. He's very savvy in the ways of Vegas...he knows how to put the money in, what buttons to push, how to get the slip when he is done and how to find the cash-out machine. He has a slot machine system. My money goes in, and anything that comes out is his. It's a good system, I recommend it.  

  The last night of the trip was our annual Penn and Teller show. What an amazing show! I've seen it many times, but each time they add something new. I got to talk to their piano player, Mike Jones. Our topic of conversation? Rats, of course! Jonesy's wife is a rat trainer, and they have 30 rats, a few chinchillas, a couple of dogs and a few other creatures. He said that he lives in a petting zoo!
Check out his music on his web page:
He's wonderful. 

Penn and Teller always do a little "shake and howdy" after the show. I got to talk with Teller a little bit about the tours that I do at John Adams and John Quincy Adams graves. I invited him to check them out the next time he is in the Boston area. That would be incredible if he did!
Stevie looks little on a normal day. Next to Penn he looked like the President of the Lollipop Guild. 

All in all, it was a great trip. Stevie is already talking about going back. I think it might take me the rest of the year to recover. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time to face reality

Well, my friends are gone,  my hair is gray, I ache in the places where I used to play... (Leonard Cohen)
Time to face reality and change my profile from "nearly fifty" to "fifty".

Never has the excision of six lowly letters caused me such sadness.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Rat Needs help

Since this is a blog called Happy Rat Blog, I guess it wouldn't kill me to post something about my rats once in awhile!

My boy Adams, he of the continuous respiratory infections also has mental health problems, it appears.
He'll do the strangest things, like fight with yogurt. Yup, yogurt. I have no idea what yogurt has done to offend him, but he will swipe at it and run away, sometimes even hiss at it and puff up his fur.

He always eats the yogurt, but he has to give it a good drubbing first. The yogurt always loses the fight.

The newest weird thing he did was when I bought them new hammocks. I thought cotton hammocks would be a nice change from the fleece lined ones for the hot summer months. I was mistaken.

Adams wanted to put the cotton hammock in his little house so bad, that he became obsessive about it. He tried pulling it in there for HOURS. He tried over and over again. It was the most pathetic thing I ever saw.

I tried distracting him, I gave him some other cotton material to use, but no soap, he wanted the the hammock in his house and he wanted it in there NOW.

After a few hours, the hammock was wet with rat spit from him pulling on it.

I couldn't take it anymore, I took it down and gave it to him and he put it in this house, happy as a ... well, rat.

I went back to the fleece hammocks and he hasn't tried it since.

Here's a video.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Is It Cold in Here, or is it Just Me?

I was recently reading an on-line forum, and someone asked the question, "What is the craziest thing you have ever forgotten?"

I didn't have to think long about mine.

A few years ago, I was working two jobs, going to school part-time, dealing with a parent in a nursing home, just generally stressed out. At least I hope it was the result of stress. I'd hate think I was sliding into senility this early.

Anyway, I was headed out one day, and I stopped with my hand on the door knob.

I had a nagging feeling I forgot something, but I could think of what it could be.

I went through a mental check list.

Cell phone? Check.

Lunch?  Check.

House Keys? Check.

Jacket? Check.

Then it hit me.

Pants.

I had completely forgotten to put pants on.

Somehow, I had managed to put on socks and sneakers, laced the sneakers up, and NEVER NOTICE THAT I WAS CLAD IN NOTHING BUT MY DRAWERS.

Seriously.


I keep this story close to my heart, hoping and wishing that this is indeed the craziest thing I've ever fogotten/will ever forget. If not, it's straight to the home for me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You Think You Know Someone

It's funny how you think you know someone well, and that can be totally changed in the blink of an eye.

Art (my long-suffering) boyfriend and I went up to the Gropius House in Lincoln a few weeks back. (I highly recommend it, it's amazing.  http://www.historicnewengland.org/  )

Now Art and I have been together for nearly four years now. I wouldn't say that I know every single thing about him, but I really thought that I had an idea of his personality and general knowledge of his likes and dislikes. I can usually predict how he'll feel about something with pretty close accuracy.

On the day at the Gropius House, we were walking around the grounds, waiting for our tour to start. I was the most amazing thing...there was a stone wall made out of square stones, and wrapped around the stones was a beautiful, two and half foot milk snake. The snake had wrapped around the stones in a way that made an intricate, geometric pattern.

I cursed myself for forgetting my camera, then I remembered Art had his. I called him over to take a picture of the snake.

Art couldn't take the picture, however, because he was too  busy running for the car  and screaming like a girl at the mention of the word "snake".

At first I thought he was kidding, and I started making jokes about the poisonous rattlesnake. Then I realized he was dead serious. A grown man afraid of a milk snake.  He's a man who routinely camps out, has hiked the white mountains, is really "outdoorsy".  A milk snake.

I nearly laughed myself into a coma. I just couldn't believe it. The funnier I thought it was, the madder he got at me. He threatened to find something I was afraid of and laugh at me. I told him, "Dude, I routinely have rats crawling all over me, you think I'm seriously afraid of any animal?" That didn't go over well.

It wasn't until the big, ferocious milk snake had gone back into his  hole and Art was safe, that he could begin to see the humor in it, but he still doesn't find it as amusing I did.

P.S. Art took exception at me saying that he "screamed like a girl". He's right, he was too busy whimpering to really get out a good scream.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What Kind of Old Lady I Wish to Be.

A friend recently posted a Facebook status about an elderly woman she knows who serves as role model for aging with grace and dignity.

Got me thinking about how I would like to age.

I didn't have to think long, an inspiring role model jumped right to the fore-front of my thoughts.

I don't remember her name, so I'll never be able to properly thank her, but maybe someday when I'm an old lady, I can pass on the wisdom that I learned from her and make a difference to a younger woman.

The story took place at a demonstration of Polynesian dancing. They showed many different types of dancing, from all over the Pacific Islands. It was very entertaining and educational.

There was a woman in the audience celebrating her 85th birthday with a large group of family and friends.

The entertainers called her up on stage and sang "Happy Birthday" to her.  She looked like she was having the time of her life.

When it was time for her to leave the stage, the Mistress of Ceremonies offered her arm to help her down the stairs.

She politely waved off  the MC and called over to a group of half-naked Polynesian Dancing Boys, and requested that they help her of the stage instead.

I immediately sat right up and said, "That's EXACTLY the kind of old lady I want to be!"

So I have live my life in the quest of being like that 85 year old woman, whoever she was, where ever she is now.

Here is a picture of some of those boys. My my my.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stacey, Mark, Stevie and true LUUUUUV


One of my all time favorite musical acts to see is Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart.  www.Staceyandmark.com They have a wonderful sound together, along with amazing songwriting and brilliant guitar work. I've gone to see them at nearly every New England performance they've had for years.

I'm also the legal guardian of a 59 year old man with Down Syndrome, Stevie.

A few years back, I had Stevie with me one Sunday when Stacey and Mark were coming to town. I REALLY wanted to see Stacey and Mark, but the thought of dropping Stevie at home early was giving me fits of guilt. I was afraid if I took Stevie with me, he would be bored and cause a scene or beg to leave early. His musical tastes tend to run toward Elvis or scantily clad Vegas show girls. I wasn't sure how folk music would fly with him.

Finally I thought, what the heck, if I have to leave, I have to leave, but at least I'd get to see Stacey and Mark for a few songs.

We got to the venue, found our seats and out came Stacey and Mark. And out came Cupid with his bow and arrow and shot Stevie right between the eyes. I mean it was love. LUUUUUV. He sat for the entire show, completely enthralled. You could all but see the little sparkles in his eyes every time he looked at Stacey. I had never scene him sit still for anything for more than 10 minutes up to that point.

When the show ended, he sought out Stacey and gave her a hug. And a hug. And a hug. I was afraid I'd have to leave him and go home without him, since he didn't seem to be too willing to let her go.

I knew it was true love when Stevie told me on the way home (Now this is coming from a man who rarely speaks. When he does, it's an event!) that he wanted to see Stacey and Mark again, and next time he was going to wear good pants and a tie! Now THAT'S love!

Somewhere along the line, Stevie took up painting little plaster figurines and plaques at Plaster Fun Time and giving them to Stacey. If she keeps them, their house must be full of such wonders as green sparkly squirrels, yellow sparkly guitars and sparkly Christmas trees. (You'll note the sparkly theme here. If one sparkle is good, ALL the sparkles are  better in Stevie's mind.)


Now it's been years, and we still catch every Stacey and Mark show that we can. Stevie continuously asks me when "Taytee" is coming back. And if it's not for awhile, he gets mad at me, since it's all my fault and I'm not nice to him, and that's why Taytee isn't coming back. (This logic works for him, don't ask)

You can tell what great people Stacey and Mark are (And Stacey's sister Kelly, too!) by how patient they are with Stevie. It can't be that easy to be preparing for a show and having someone hanging on to you, following  your every move. But they tolerate him with hugs and smiles and are just as kind as can be.

So if you're looking for a great night out, check out Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart next time they are in your town. If it's in the New England area, you'll get the extra treat of seeing Stevie's artwork and watching him be in luuuuuv with "Taytee".

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Get Fresh

For any of my blog readers in the Quincy, MA, area I highly recommend the restaurant "Get Fresh" on 1259B Hancock St. We eat there at least once a week, sometimes twice. (OK, sometime three times.)
The food is Asian and American, very inexpensive and wonderful.

Your first assignment, however is find the place. It's in a kind of strange location. Try to explain it to people who are from the area and you get puzzled looks. Try to explain the location to people from out of the area, and they think you are crazy.

The address is Hancock St., but the restaurant doesn't face Hancock St. at all. The front door is between Hancock St. and the MBTA station, facing the park next to City Hall. It's between Quality Dental and (the soon to be moving) South Coastal Bank.

The restaurant is tiny, with 7 small tables. The decor is not your typical Asian restaurant stereotype...most of the decorations (and name) are left over from the previous establishment on the premises. A little bit of rustic country look, with antiqued table tops and farm pictures on the wall.

The owners/cooks/waitstaff/dishwashers/cashiers are couple named Lynn and Phu Nguyen, who are from Vietnam. They are extremely friendly and make Get Fresh a welcoming place to eat. Once people go there, they tend to come back and you will see the same people over and over again.

There is no table service, you go up to the counter and put in your order. Lynn will bring your food to the table when it is ready.

Each dish is prepared to order (except the soups), so it can take a little while to get your food (we have never had to wait an inordinate amount of time, however) But, MAN is it worth the wait.

I would like to be able to tell you all about all the food they offer, but I admit I'm stuck on ordering the Tofu and Vegetable Pad Thai. I probably get that nine times out of ten. For $6.50 you get a heaping plate of noodles, perfectly cooked tofu (something that most restaurants find difficult to do) and a wonderful selection of vegetables, that can vary depending on what's available, but usually include carrots, green beans, broccoli lots of fragrant cilantro. Because it is made to order, there is no problem leaving out any ingrediant you might not like. Lynn remembers that I hate celery, so there is no worry on my part that an errant piece of that hideous vegetable might make its way into my dinner!

We also almost always get the Vietnamese springrolls. You get two large springrolls with your choice of chicken and shrimp or tofu, for $3. They are soft wrapped rolls, filled with lettuce and herbs and pieces of chicken and shrimp, absolutely delicious.

I've also tried the shrimp stir fry with black bean sauce, (amazing), the crispy noodle with tofu (delicious at well as so beautifully served, I wish I took a picture!), the Pho Do Chay with tofu and veggies.

The Pho is an wonderful noodle soup that they serve in many different forms, including beef brisket, meatballs, seafood and several other styles. It comes in a giant bowl with a side of vegetables, sprouts and herbs that can be added at the table. It can cost between $6.75 and $7.25, depending on what style you get. The bowl is so huge, you would be hard pressed to finish it in one sitting. But, no worries, Lynn will pack it to go for you, if can't eat it all!

The menu is very large for a small place, with American dishes like BLTs and Cheeseburgers offered, along with the Asian cuisine. You would be hard pressed to not find something you like on the menu. They offer wraps, salads, sandwiches, Vietnamese subs, fried rice, curry, and may other specialties. They also have a board in front listing specials of the day. They have sodas, iced tea, Vietnamese coffee, juice as well as an assortment of smoothies.

As soon as the warm weather gets here to stay, they will put tables out on the side walk in front of the restaurant, enabling you to enjoy the food and people watch as folks heading out from the train station head over to Hancock St.

All in all, Get Fresh is a wonderful experience, and I highly recommend it. If you decide to go, drop me a line and maybe we can meet up! (If I"m not already there!)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Story That Probably Only I Find Funny, but I REALLY Think it's Funny, About Death, Car Accidents, Blizzards and Broken Knees.

I swear to you that as far-fetched as this story sounds, every word of it is true.

It all started with my sister falling down her attic stairs and breaking her knee. She had to wear a big brace on her leg, and she couldn't get around too well. Luckily, she had her husband to help her out.

About a week later, I'm in work and get a call from my sister saying that she just got a call from the police, and they told her that my aunt had died. It was a sudden death, probably from a heart attack, and she was found by a neighbor at her senior housing complex.  As sudden as it was, she was older so it wasn't a complete shock.

Because of my sister's hurt leg, she couldn't drive up to my aunt's apartment, and unless she took the brace off, she couldn't even fit in her husband's car, and she wasn't supposed to take the brace off. So I agreed to shoot over to the senior complex, to meet up with my uncle (my aunt's brother), and with the police. My sister said my brother-in-law would meet me there in about an hour.

I go over there, and the undertaker has already taken her away, so there is really nothing for me to do but sit and console my uncle, and wait for the police and my brother-in-law.

And we wait, and wait. No police, no brother-in-law. I try calling my sister, but there is no answer on her cell phone, nor her home phone, which is really odd, since she supposedly can't leave the house.

My uncle and I are starting to get worried now, since there is a big snow storm coming, and we want to be home before it hits. Finally, I tell him to go, and I'll stay and wait for the police and my brother-in-law.

Two hours later, neither show and no one is answering my sister's phones.

I give up and go home.

I stop at the grocery store along the way home, since a blizzard is about to hit and of course, no one else will think about going to the store on a night like that.

After I fight my way through the mobbed the store, I get home, put my feet up and hunker in for the big storm, still wondering what happened to my sister and her husband.

Then SHIT! I forgot the groceries in the car. I head out to get them. I live on the tenth floor. The elevator is broken. Double SHIT! I hike down 10 flights, only to realize I locked my keys in my apartment. Triple SHIT!

I called all the phone numbers I had for people on the board of directors of my condo building, to get someone to get my extra key out of the office and let me in. Of course, no one is home, because the are all out shopping to prepare for the impending storm.

I use to work in a group home on the first floor of the building, so I went in there to wait out the return of someone who could help me with the key situation. I walked in, and I guess all the frustration hit me at once because I burst into hysterical sobbing and couldn't even tell them what was wrong. I finally managed to get it, and they were so wonderful and so sympathetic to me. They fed me dinner and let me wait it out.

My cell phone rings (thank goodness I had that with me.) It's not someone on the board as I had thought, but my sister's neighbor. Seems that my sister had decided to disobey the doctor's orders and take off her brace and drive up with her husband. Then her husband had a coughing fit in the car, passed out and hit another car head on. They were both taken to the hospital in an ambulance. She couldn't call until then, because she couldn't turn her cell phone on in the hospital. They were keeping her husband in the hospital, but sending her home. Her neighbor was going to go get her, but she would need someone to stay with her until her husband got out of the hospital. Which, of course, would be me, but I can't get into my apartment.

Finally I get a call that someone is coming to help me.  She comes, gives me the extra key, and I have to climb the ten flights to my apartment. Then back down ten flights to give her the key back. Then go to my car and carry groceries up ten flights. Then pack a bag, then head down ten flights again. At this point, I'm completely out of breath and wheezing like an old steam engine.

I was beginning to worry that my aunt's funeral wouldn't be the only one my family would be attending that week.

Luckily, the storm hadn't started yet, so I'd have plenty of time to get to my sister's house before it started.

At least that seemed like it was possible. Really, the way things were going, what made me think that the drive to my sister's house would be easy? Naturally, the snow started when I was about half way there. I literally could NOT see where I was going. I judged that I was on the highway by crawling along the white line on the break down lane. I was honestly never so terrified of a drive in my life. I nearly got out and kissed the ground when I got to her house, but I would have been immediately buried in snow and they wouldn't have found me until spring.

And apparently the police had been to my aunt's building, but despite the fact that my sister told them at the scene of the accident that the needed to find me and tell me what had happened, the went into the office of the building and left without ever looking for me.


Now staying with my sister was an adventure. We are very different people, it's hard to imagine that we are even related. The weekend started off nice, but ended like "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane".  I was never so happy to see my brother-in-law walk through that door as I was that day, and thrilled to put that weekend behind me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

R.I.P. Mr. Rat


Mr. Rat was the first rat that I had. I got him from my friend Jim, AKA "The Rat Daddy".

Jim travels a lot, and as I have found out, getting a 'rat sitter' isn't easy. He put out an email asking if someone would be willing to adopt Mr. Rat. I had hamsters before, and I've always been a big fan of the rodents, so I thought, "What the heck, how much different could a rat be from a hamster?" Hamsters are easy to care for, so a rat will be a breeze.

Yeah, sure.

First I did my research. I read every web site about pet rats that there is. I could hardly find two sites that agreed on anything. Crap. But I soldiered on, because really, how hard could this be?

Several of the web sites said that rats need big cages. So I bought a big cage. A great, big, cage. That was completely impossible to put together. I mean really impossible. It had 50,000 parts and none went together like the badly written instructions said they should. Luckily, Art has more patience than me, along with strong arms so we got the stupid thing put together.

Next the sites said that rats need lots of toys. So I bought toys. All the toys. I couldn't make up my mind, so they all went in the cart. Balls, houses, hammocks, shells, nests, ladders, name it, Mr. Rat had it.

His favorite toy? The cardboard box one of the toys came in.

Then there was food. Everyone has a different opinion about what rats should eat. I went to the New England Wildlife Center http://www.newildlife.com/ and bought some fancy-shmancy rat food that cost $11 for a bag. Apparently, it was made out of rat poison. At least according to Mr. Rat it was. He wouldn't touch it. Back to the pet store for cheapo food. Which he ate begrudgingly. He just wanted bananas and grapes and spaghetti, but if he was hungry enough rat food would do.

I was such a neophyte about rats that I really did a lot of experimenting with poor Mr. Rat, trying out all kinds of things on him until we hit what he liked. I tried letting him loose in my kitchen, but he wanted to go behind the stove, and he didn't like me to stop him. He liked running around in my bathroom, but chewed on the door so he couldn't be alone in there, since it had varnish on it and that wasn't good for him.  He liked the play pen, but just like Calhoun, he would jump out and take off over and over again.

Then all the web sites said that rats need friends. They shouldn't be alone. And you're not just supposed to go to the pet store and pick out any old rats, because apparently pet store rats have can have the plague or something. So off to North Andover to pick out two little friends for Mr. Rat from a rat breeder.  http://annsrats.com/

I brought them home and settled them in to a little cage right next to Mr. Rat, where he could get to know them and learn to love his little friends and live happily ever after in their rat commune.

Except Mr. Rat hated the little ones. I mean HATED. With an unholy white-hot passion past all hope of redemption. Hate. Serious, all-consuming, unending hate.

I tried over and over again to introduce them. I switched cages back and forth to get them used to each other scents. I poured perfume over on them to cover their scents. I put them in neutral territories so no one would feel like they had to protect their area.

I only ended up with two terrified little rats and one angry big one.

So, off to Craig's list to find another cage, this one used and already put together, but even bigger than Mr. Rat's, and squeezed it into my tiny condo. Back to the store to buy more toys and more hammocks and more food.

Play time became like a constant version of the "shell game". Mr. Rat couldn't be out of his cage at the same time as the little ones, and my apartment is small, so I had to make sure that one was in the cage while the others were out, and no one's paths crossed.

About four months after Mr. Rat came to live with me, I went on vacation to Las Vegas. I had Art and another a friend check on the rats every morning and every night. While I was gone, Mr. Rat died in his sleep. I felt awful that I wasn't there and he had to die alone. Worse, he had to die with no one around but those little rats that he hated so much.

I just recently found out that Mr. Rat was probably pretty old. He had been returned to the pet store where his "Rat Daddy" rescued him. I like to think that (with the exception of those evil little rats) I made the last few months of his life happy.

Life is a little calmer around here with only one rat cage and two rats, but I do miss him every day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How I (Almost) (Potentially) (Could Have) Saved Mr. Chekov from Getting Arrested

You probably all heard about the tragic death of Andrew Koenig, the son of Walter Koenig who played Mr. Chekov on the original Star Trek series. It was a horrible, senseless tragedy and my heart goes out to his family. I can't even imagine how they must be feeling.

Thinking about Star Trek and Walter Koenig made me think about the days when I used to go to Star Trek conventions.  I had a flash back to a story that I had forgotten all about. (To all those people who only know me as as cool, sophisticated, and suave person that I am now, it must come as a complete shock that I was once a geek. Take a moment to compose yourself, then read on.)

Anyway, I was attending a convention, maybe in New York, and Walter Koenig was checking into the hotel at the same time I was.

A gaggle of little boys, maybe 6 or 7 of them, around 8 years old or so, were in the hotel lobby at the same time.

They spotted Mr. Koenig, and near hysteria erupted. Cue a bunch of little boys running around the hotel lobby, barely able to contain their excitement:  "MR. CHEKOV!!" "IT'S MR. CHEKOV!!" "LOOK, LOOK, IT'S MR. CHEKOV!!!".

Mr. Koenig was just as sweet as could be to them. He signed autographs, answered their questions about how the Enterprise ran, and generally had the patience of Job.

While all this was happening I saw a couple walk in with their little boy who was about the same age as the other boys. The boy was walking a few feet behind them, and they walked right past the gang of boys who were hanging around Mr. Chekov.

Walter Koenig, not knowing that this boy wasn't with the original group,  he reached out, toussled his hair and said, "How are doing today, buddy?"

The little boy looked up with him with a look of terror that I'm sure Walter thought was awe at meeting one of his heroes, maybe a little speechless and shy over seeing a big star in the flesh.

Only I knew it was a look of "Oh-my-God-this-is-one-of-those-guys-my-parents-warned-me-about-and-here-he-is-grabbing-me-in-hotel-lobby-while-my-parents-walk-away-obliviously" looks.

I really thought that when the kid caught up with his parents, he would start screaming about some pervert who tried to grab him in the hotel lobby, so I stuck around to be a witness to let the cops know that Mr. Chekov wasn't groping random boys who walked by him.

But the boy caught up with his parents and didn't say a word about the strange guy who manhandled him in the foyer.

But I hope Mr. Chekov knows that, even if it wasn't needed that day, I'll have his back if need be.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

About a year and a half ago, my boyfriend Art and I were driving home from Montreal through some back roads of Vermont. The scenery was really gorgeous, it was a beautiful summer day, and I got to reminiscing about all the great car trips I've taken through Vermont and Maine over the years.

"You know, in all the trips I've taken through Northern New England, I've never seen a moose in the wild. Everyone I know has a moose story except me. I wish I could see a moose."

Less than two minutes later, traffic slowed and stopped on both sides of the road. People pulled over and got out of their cars. Why? A huge, beautiful female moose had meandered out of the woods and was moseying across the street, taking her sweet time.

Well, hell.

I had a wish and didn't even know about it. AND I WASTED IT ON A MOOSE.

Something seems very unfair about that. To this day I've often thought of all the cool, fun, practical and humanitarian things I might have done with that wish, but NO I had to blow it on a stupid moose.

So the moral of this story is: Don't ever wish for a moose. You'll only be disappointed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Happy Rats


I have rats in my house.

This is not the horrible scenario is would seem like.

I'm really happy to share my home with these two little rodents.

It's a long story how they came to live with me, and that will be a tale for another blog entry.
They are two little boy rats, Adams and Calhoun. Adams is mostly white, but he as a black head with a streak of white on his forehead. Calhoun is nearly entirely black, with some white on his stomach.

Adams is tiny, cute, sweet and lovable. He's happy to see me coming, runs to greet me, loves to have me tickle his tummy, and loves to snuggle with me. I love him and he loves me. Poor little Adams is susceptible to respiratory infections, and spent more time at the vet and taking medications than I would like. Especially since it costs me a small fortune everytime!

Then there is Calhoun. Calhoun only wants two things out of life. Food and "out". And if you are unwilling or unable to comply with his wishes, he has no use for you. He is smarter than me, and can escape from very nearly any enclosure. I wish I had a dollar for every time I searched the house in a panic, thinking this is the time he's gone for good.

I wouldn't be surprised if Adams thinks his name is "Where's your brother?"

I should have known from the start that Calhoun was going to be trouble. When I went to the breeder to pick out my rats, she suggested that I put my hand in the cage to see which ones were the friendliest. I think there were about 12 or 15 baby rats in the cage. I stuck my hand in, and the all scattered, terrified of me. All but Calhoun. He jumped into my hand, ran up my arm, across my shoulders, and took a giant leap from my shoulder to the door of the cage, where he rode the swinging door back and forth. I swear I heard him yell, "weeeeee". In my naivete, I thought that was SOOOO adorable, I just had to have this rat. Yeah, good plan. He went from a tiny little bundle of energy, to an enormous bean bag of energy. He's driving me to an early grave. He completely and totally understands the concept of my back being turned, and will wait for the right moment to make his break. I can't tell you the number of times I just turned around for a second, to turn back and discover that he has jumped out of the 2 foot high play pen and has made for parts unknown.

He also has criminal tendencies. One day he was climbing all over me, and he kept poking his nose in my pocket. I has some dog biscuits in my pocket earlier, and I thought that was what he was after. All of sudden, he JUMPED up and BOLTED away, with a dollar bill in his mouth. I don't know where he was going to spend it, or what he was going to buy, but he was heading out with it.

"My boys", as I like to refer to them as, live in a giant cage in my little living room. They have a big "play pen", which is really just a big plastic corral that is full of rat toys that is supposed to keep them entertained. The play pen works great for Adams. For Calhoun, not so much. He's in, he's out, he's in, he's out. That's the routine, over and over. It's at moments like these that he's earned his nickname, "Rat Bastard".