Saturday, September 13, 2014

Meeces and Quarters

Today is cage clean-out day for the meece. I got Agatha and Charlotte into the play bin without many problems, but then I got to Escape Artist Alice, and she decided me and my sweatshirt looked very fun, indeed. Trying to get a wee mouse off your back or out of your hood is no easy task. Luckily, I had my cell phone with me because I knew I was going to try to catch the mice standing next to quarters. I was able to flip the camera and watch Alice's progress across my shoulders and on top of my head and such. A few times, she started crawling down my back, so I waved my hand around back there to force her back to the shoulder area. Finally, she came down the front, and I was able to reunite her with her sisters. I know it's not a gorgeous photo, but it sure is funny to see that little mouse butt so close to my face.

On to the quarter shots. The kind administrator on the The Fun Mouse Forum said she could help me figure out if they are full grown by photographing them next to quarters. It sounded easy enough, but getting them to stand still is nearly impossible:

They were also scared, so they kept hunching instead of stretching out their bodies:

This is Charlotte:

Here is Agatha, slightly squinting at me again:

Charlotte got a wee scratch on her ear last week. You can see it here at the top of her right ear. I'm not sure how it happened, but it looks like she's going to end up with a slight notch in her ear. It also looks like that particular area is the end of a blood vessel. Poor baby:

Charlotte peeking out of a toilet paper roll:

So close, Agatha! Just stretch out a bit!

Nope. They just want to huddle in the corner together:

I didn't get any tail rattling today, but I did get the squinting. Despite Alice's ride on the Blondie Jungle Gym, I still had to chase her around and scoop her to get her back in her tank:

The coconut has been a resounding success. It's quite funny to see that the entire front half is bald now from them pulling off the hairs. The back is still fairly hairy:

I don't know if my quarter shots are going to work, but I gave it a good try. Meanwhile, at least I have one animal who knows how to take a good glamor shot:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tales of the Guest Room

The guest bedroom in Farmhouse Villa has long been a source of frustration. I've tried a few different times to make it into a true guest room, but it's never happened. Mostly, it ends up being storage for dirty clothes, stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else, and cat litter boxes. Sigh. After living in this house for SEVEN years, I finally decided to make it into a Real Guest Room. You know, like the kind grown-ups have.

Much to the dismay of my parents, I have an affinity for trolling Craigslist for large pieces of furniture (or dollhouses) that I can't move/set-up by myself. Sometime this summer, I came across an Art Deco bed in Omaha that was incredibly lovely. It had been listed for quite some time, so I was able to haggle down the price. The only problem? It wouldn't fit in the Corolla. So poor Pa had to go with me to some guy's house out in West Omaha to pick up a Deco bed. Then we brought it back to Farmhouse Villa and put it in the guest room. You can see the footboard above. Yep, we just put it on the futon and left it there.

I got that futon in 1999 when I moved to Oregon. At the time, it was mighty expensive. I used it as a sofa in Portland and then as a bed in Chicago when I first moved into a crappy garden apartment in Lincoln Park. Then, for many years, it lived at my parents' house in my old bedroom. When I moved home, I brought it here and put it in the guest bedroom. Over time, I've flipped it up, flipped it down, moved it around, and put it back. Over and over and over. Nothing about the futon works with the guest bedroom. And I have to keep that SUPER UGLY bedspread on it (my parents' late-1970s bedspread) to keep the kitties from getting cat hair all over it. It's Webster's favorite place in the whole house. Something about the bedspread calls to him. Come to me, Webster. I am snuggly.

The guest bedroom is small, and it has no closet. It has this wood plate thing on the wall that you can take off to fiddle with the shower next door if needed:

It's hard to tell in the photo, but the carpet is actually pink. The walls are also a light shade of pink:

After I found the bed, I happened upon an Art Deco vanity that was being sold locally on Craigslist. So I begged my parents to go look at it with me, and we came home with that, too. The vanity got put behind the headboard of the bed:

The problem? The vanity didn't have a chair. And every vanity needs a good chair! So then I trolled Craigslist some more, found one I liked in Kansas City, and picked that bad boy up on the way to St. Louis:

In the meantime, I found a small nightstand at Goodwill for $1.97. It has rock band stickers on the side, so it's no doubt from some teenage boy. All of this got put in the guest room and left there for a while:

In the meantime, I started the Great Home Office Clean-Up of 2014. I moved around some bookshelves and made a corner nook area for the litter boxes. I figure no one would want to spend the night with cats stopping in in the middle of the night for a poop. So now I have those litter boxes about five feet away from me as I type this, and it's NOT fun. But we do these things for our guests, or our invisible guests. I had my parents drag the futon back to their house. Ah, the circle of life:

I kept the futon mattress for the bed. It went together easily (with a few fixes from Pa), and now it looks quite lovely in the room. I found a Deco-ish peacock-ish lamp at Goodwill to add some flair:


The "shabby chic" nightstand is from TJ Maxx in Chicago. I got it when I was trying to give my old bedroom a face lift. Sadly, it looks more shabby than chic, and it has not aged well. I knew I'd have to put it somewhere else now that I have this pretty bed there:

My sister gave me her old guest bedroom bedding, which has a wheat design on it. It's lovely, but it's NOT Deco. Hey man, we do what we gotta do:

Yes, Gretchen insisted on marking everything. Multiple times:

The headboard and footboard both have black, metal decor:

It's really the footboard that sold me though. So pretty:

It curves around the edges. At some point, I'll figure out how to make the bedding look nice with this:

The dresser has one of those faboosh circle mirrors on it, but there seems to be a piece missing. Pa is going to have to create a new board to hold it up in the back:

This won't stop anyone from primping if needed:

I finally moved out the shabby chic nightstand and replaced it with the green chest of drawers that I got in Portland at a thrift shop. I found a cheap vase at Goodwill for the room, but Gretchen gets everywhere, so I had to clutter it up with a few other things to keep her off of it. Then, sadly, I had to put that awful bedspread back on the bed:

All of this got finished just in time for Kira's annual summer visit from Oregon. I invited her over for a sleepover, and we watched a movie, chatted, and then I tucked her in. Webster did sneak in there, but it wasn't for the litter boxes -- it was to STARE AT KIRA and see if she would snuggle him. Nope. So he came back to my bedroom. (Kira tolerates my meows, but she's not a cat person.) She slept well (as far as I know), and the bed was rock solid from Pa's repairs. Overall, the sleepover was a resounding success!

Now, I estimate that it will only take maybe three years to get the vanity put together all the way. And it will probably take far longer find a good, cheap Deco nightstand because this Deco stuff is EXPENSIVE (I have NO idea how I got ALL of that furniture for roughly $150, but I did). And at some point, it would be very nice to take down the random art/mirrors in there and put up some some real art, so we'll see.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Joys and Pains of Mouse Ownership

I recently got the girls a new toy. I saw a coconut bird house at one of the pet stores, but it was $20. Um, no. So I looked around online and found this much cheaper version on Amazon: the Prevue Hendryx 62801 Naturals Coco Hideaway with Ladder Bird Toy. It was only $8.99. It pays to shop around, friends.

The new coconut is much larger than the girls' favorite thing ever -- the Multipet Small Strawberry House Small Animal Hideaway. I swear, they spend more time in that strawberry than anywhere else. Ma actually asked, "Do they ever come out of the strawberry?" Yes, but not that often. Really only for drinking, eating, and wheel running. They're obsessed. They chewed through the back lining, so they have pockets in there that they snuggle in. Someone accidentally went all the way through the back, so there's now a small hole. I've noticed they have NOT chosen to enlarge the hole, which is a tribute to their Extreme Strawberry Love. I'll be a good momma and order them a few extras for when the strawberry inevitably falls apart.

I'll be honest. My first week of Mouse Ownership was NOT good. Gretchen and Webster FREAKED OUT the first night. I love my kitties, and I was so worried. Day 1, Webster got that kitten look in his eye, which only happens when he's hunting a toy. Gretchen was all over the place trying to GET IN THERE. Her natural hunting instincts went through the roof.

I chose to place the mouse tank right next to my television so I could easily watch the meece when I'm sitting on the couch. The problem was that my giant dollhouse work table was right next to the tank. Gretchen could watch the meece from the top of the Beacon Hill or the table, but she couldn't get to them. I naively thought this was OK. Because there is a heavy steel plate sitting on top of the metal mesh lid, I ASSUMED everything was fine. Then, out of nowhere, Gretchen started jumping onto the back of my old-school television. NO! In the four years I've had Gretchen, she's never tried to go on top of the TV. There's a first time for everything. So I had to do this:

Excuse the dust on the TV and the overall messiness. I'm busy, people. So anyway, this is a tray I got for a few bucks at a garage sale a few years ago. I usually use it for my dollhousing work. Now, it's blocking Gretchen from getting to the meece. Pooooor Gretchen. Momma is just no fun:

Gretchen REALLY likes watching the meece. Especially when they decide to tear up the newspaper liner on the bottom of their tank. To keep them from going bonkers on the lining, I rip up large pieces of newspaper and drop them around the tank. They take these pieces and shove them in the strawberry. Nothing is funnier than watching a little mouse trying to drag an over sized piece of newspaper through a small opening. It's hours of entertainment, people. They get so much newspaper in there sometimes that I can't even see them. I know they're in there, however, because the whole strawberry vibrates with the movement of three happy hearts beating together. Meanwhile, Webster now doesn't care at ALL about the meece. Totally ignores them, as I figured he would.

The Beacon Hill has been in the living room since I brought it to Farmhouse Villa from storage. It's always been in the same place, and it blocks The Door That Leads to Nowhere (for my new readers, that door has a large drop-off outside, so it never gets used for anything). I enjoy being able to listen to the television while I work on the dollhouse, and I also love staring at it from the couch to think think think of things to add to it. However, it really was a hot, cluttery mess there in the living room, and my parents had to sit in odd locations when they visited. My living room started to really annoy me over time. Everything has to be SO HIGH UP to stay safe from Gretchen, but all of my furniture is Too Short, which led to cluttering. Sigh. I decided it was time for a major change.

So I went from this:

To this:

And from this:

To this:

Now the dining table -- which is NEVER used for dining and is always a cluttered mess anyway -- is cluttered with the Beacon Hill. You can see I've also put foil on it to deter Gretchen from going up top. I'll arrange this all better when I have a little more time. But one thing is certain: Maine Coon on top of Beacon Hill = Over. No more dollhouse perch. I'm glad to break the habit now, however, because I need her to stop climbing on it when I get a little further along.

The Beacon Hill is still on its turntable, so I can move it around to work on it. That other house is my early Christmas gift from my sister, and it will be moving into the guest room once I get the vanity mirror attached in there. Then I'll easily be able to sit and work on the Beacon Hill -- and still hear the television. It's not the ideal situation (in a perfect world, I'd just have a much larger house), but it will do. And now that Gretchen has no way to stare at the meece long enough to get fixated, she ignores them, too. She'll watch them on my lap from the couch, but her desire to eat them has gone from 110% to about 5%. Progress!!

So back to the meece.

I spot clean the tank throughout the week and then do a full clean-out once a week. Today was cleaning day. Today was also the day I decided to try giving the girls broccoli and cauliflower for the first time. Agatha (brown) was quite interested, and went over for multiple sniffs and a wee nibble. But then she started sneezing or coughing quite a bit. She's never done that before, so I yanked the food out of the bin and threw it away. Methinks girlfriend must be allergic to those vegetables. After a while, she stopped coughing, but her eyes got red and swollen. Poor baby. My mice are still quite wild, and none of them will sit in my hands, so I was unable to comfort her. Instead, I added in part of the small wheel that had vegetable oil on it because I know she likes to lick that, and she doesn't have an allergy to it:

She usually doesn't have the redness or swollen look around her eyes, but this is her version of stink-eye -- when she squints at me to let me know She Doesn't Like My Hand Near Her:

In the corner, you can see Alice doing the stink-eye:

When I put them in the bin for playing, I add in some toys and things. I was doing extra work today to get the coconut prepared, so added the water bottle, which usually doesn't go in the play bin because all of the girls know how to get on top of it. I also dismantled the small wheel. It's too small for them, so they shouldn't run in it. I've learned from The Fun Mouse Forum that wheels that are too small can lead to Wheel Tail -- which is when a poor mousie gets a curved spine from running in a cramped space during development or after, and its tail bends up and flops down on its head. No good. (I also have a large mesh wheel like this, but the girls run on it so fast that one inevitably gets caught with centrifugal force and then eventually goes flying out! So I'm now exclusively using the Flying Saucer.) Instead of tossing the whole tiny wheel, I just took off the back and put it in there for them to play with:

They like to run around and be silly in the play bin as long as my hand is NOT in there with them:

Meanwhile, I've now realized I need some kind of mechanism to hold the Flying Saucer in place because it's started shifting around. I've woken up a few times in the middle of the night to hear the saucer bonking against the wall of the tank or something else in the tank, and it's REALLY ANNOYING. No more! Now I've made this handy brace to keep the saucer where it should be. And yes, that IS a rooster tray. Thank you. I know it's gorgeous:

Enter the new coconut house. The girls seemed a little afraid of it at first, but they quickly got over it. I think they are missing the ceramic gourd hide that was in this location before. They're used to going inside the gourd to eat and hide food, and I can tell they're a bit confused. They'll get over it:

The pieces of cord at the top of the ladder stuck up quite a bit, so I cut them off. Here, you can see someone chewing on the long piece of cord that's hanging down from the top. If they chew everything all the way apart, it will be easy to fix with hemp string I have around here for miniatures:

Today, Alice confirmed her desire to be an escape artist by jumping all the way up to the edge of the bin while she was playing. I got her down right away, but I'm going to have to keep an eye on her. She's hopped out of my hands twice in transfer and gotten onto the guest bed. FREEDOM. Not so fast, little one. Here, she's inspecting the top of the new house. She LOVES going on top of the strawberry, so I knew she'd get a kick out of this one, too. The cord on top was too long, so I tied a knot in it and put the clamp through that. Then I attached it to the metal mesh lid with paperclip:

Agatha is nomming on a Cheerio in the corner. Where is my food-eating house? Poor Agatha:

I would LOVE to get a bigger tank for the girls, but I've learned on The Fun Mouse Forum that three-female colonies need to be in this size tank -- 10 gallons. If you get a bigger one, they can have territory issues and start fighting. It's actually best for them to be in a smaller, confined space. So I'll just have to keep switching in and out their toys so they can play with all of them:

In the background, you can see the Gretchen Blocker Tray from the TV. Charlotte and Alice are enjoying the squeaky clean saucer while Agatha investigates the coconut. Shortly after I took this photo, she ran back to the strawberry. No surprise there:

A family portrait:

Afternoon snoozing:

Actually, Snoozing Almost All the Time:

I just went to check on them, and Agatha's eyes are back to normal. Yay! I'm cracked up that a mouse can have a food allergy, but there you go. She's in the strawberry with both of her sisters and some fresh newspaper again:

What can I say? The heart wants what the heart wants.

Also? Tomorrow will officially be 23 days since I got them. I've learned this is the exact amount of days you need to tell if you mouse is preggo. I got them at PetSmart, so I was 90% sure they weren't pregnant. They were in their own cage, and that PetSmart ONLY sells girls. (If they were from Petco, I'd be 100% sure they were pregnant.) However, there's always a chance when you don't know where your meece came from originally. If no babies pop out tomorrow, we're all good. No one looks pregnant, but that doesn't mean much. Full-grown women have gone 9 months without noticing they were preggo, either. However, since all of the girls still look relatively trim, I think we're in the clear.

*crosses fingers*