Friday, August 29, 2014

Meece Tales


Other than having to create a rather ugly and elaborate Gretchen Blocking System, mouse ownership has been very enjoyable and fascinating so far. I love watching them run on the Flying Saucer (sometimes all three at once), choose their favorite pieces of food to eat/hide/bury, build hilarious nests from shredded newspaper, and battle it out for alpha.

Agatha (the brown one) was trying to be the alpha for quite some time. This involves biting another girl on her neck and humping her. There's a lot of squeaking involved. Just as in Real Life, the meece seem to feel that humping gives you power. It's awkward to watch, but hey man, so is Real Life humping. Now, both Alice and Charlotte have been challenging Agatha and humping her. I find this awesome. Stick up for yourselves, girls! You can do it! But other than the occasional Alpha Wars, everyone is getting along, snuggling together, and being downright adorable.

I was initially drawn to this trio because Alice (black eyes/cream fur/brown butt) seemed so friendly. She kept coming up to the glass to look at me in the PetSmart. Not so much now. Now, when she sees me coming, she runs, hides, and gives me the stink-eye. The only brave one is Charlotte (pink-eyed white, or PEW), who has come out of her shell in a remarkable way. That's her coming out of the gourd above, and here she is going straight for the food (which someone else has buried with bedding):


She says, "Yes? May I help you?"


It's really hard to photograph the girls because they move so quickly. Here is Alice peeking out from the stick tunnel:


And here she is wondering why I'm interrupting her grooming session with Agatha:


In order to tame them, I have to get them out of their regular cage and put them in a large storage bin (other people use bathtubs) to have some play time. This involves getting them OUT of the cage without them flying out of my hands. I had a lot of difficulty with this at first because I didn't understand the "scoop" method, where you use both hands to scoop them from one place to another.

The problem was that I was always sitting while I was scooping, so I couldn't get the right scoop going on. I got stressed out each time I tried to move them, and they would go CRAZY. They not only run very quickly, they also JUMP. I was terrified one of them would end up hopping out of my hands onto the floor and go running under the closed guest bedroom door -- straight into the waiting paws of Miss Gretchen. That would have been Not Good.

I've now figured out now to scoop from a standing or kneeling position to get a better grasp on them. They still FREAK OUT when my hands come in the tank because they're wild. I'm hoping they will eventually accept my hands. Right now, they seem to like my face and my voice. They don't understand that my hands are an extension of those same gentle things. As with all of life, it just takes time and patience. It would totally help if I smelled more like a mouse, I'm sure. They still squint and rattle their tails from time to time -- scared or aggressive behaviors -- but they're starting to relax more in the play bin. I've also now learned to blow on their backs after they jump because they REALLY don't like that. I'm very grateful to Pavlov for teaching us his tricks.

Female mice aren't as friendly as male mice because they have each other (I've learned all of this from The Fun Mouse Forum -- THANK YOU). It takes a little longer to get girls to warm up to you, and they might never fully accept you or want to step on your hands for a little petting session. I knew this before I got the girls, so I'm trying to remind myself to be patient and gentle and give it some time. When I put them in the play bin once a day (I also spot clean the cage and give them fresh food and water during this time), I stick my hand in there with them to get them used to my smell. They used to run away from my hand and cower/tail rattle/squint in the corner, but after a full week of trying, Agatha and Charlotte will come sniff my arm. Alice is still in a H*LLS NO phase with me. Meh, she'll get over it eventually.

I'll admit that I was worried I'd made a mistake after I brought them home. Gretchen was SO hard to control, and I thought I had totally screwed up my family dynamic. But now that Gretchen realizes she can't get to them no matter how hard she tries, she's content with just watching them, which is great because she causes far more mischief when she's bored. Webster ignores them entirely. I'm comfortable leaving the house without incessantly worrying about their safety. Overall, it's going quite well. The only truly annoying thing is having to clean the Flying Saucer every single day because they poop on it and then run around on the poop. Sigh. Oh well. I still think the Flying Saucer is better than a squeaky wheel.

And may I just say how FREAKING ADORABLE it is when they're all tucked in the strawberry together? All three are in there in this photo, but only Charlotte is awake/brave enough to stick her head out and say hello:


Good girl, Charlotte. Good girl.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Miniature Shop Prep


Next month, I'll be attending Nebraska State Day to build the "Create a Shop" kit. While I was at the St. Louis NAME conference, one of my guild members reminded me to think ahead about the shop. What goodies might I get now in preparation for the big day? The shop can be anything that you can possibly imagine, of course, so I got overwhelmed with ideas for a while. Then I took a look through my handy tote bag and realized I had almost everything I needed right there. Add in a few kits, and PRESTO MAGIC -- I have an old-school Huckleberry Finn-ish bait and tackle shop. Sweet.

I haven't had any time for miniatures lately, and it's been quite depressing. I dug through my goodies from the convention recently and got started. Above, you can see a 1:12 Huck Finn Birdhouse by Barbara Thornton-Hill that was sold as a roundtable kit. It went together like a dream, and I think it's ridiculously adorable. It will be the perfect birdhouse to sell in my shop.

In my tote bag, I found another little raft given to me by the Wisconsin River Rats -- a big thank you to that group! I was supposed to use super glue to attach the mast, but I cheated and used regular tacky glue because I was too lazy to go locate the good stuff wherever it is in my house:


My favorite roundtable kit will also make a lovely addition to the shop. This 1:12 Bug Box kit was designed by Fay Liner. It's hard to tell, but there are itty bitty ladybugs in there:


There's also a stick, leaves, and butterflies inside:


So freakin' cute:


It felt very good to flex my miniatures muscles again. And it's a great reminder to force myself to MAKE TIME for my hobby no matter how busy I get. I always feel invigorated after I work on wee things.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Different Kind of Mouse Invasion


Some people get husbands. Some people get children. Some people get large houses that they own all by themselves. Other people? We get mice.

I've been wanting another pet for quite some time. A while back, I got on a hedgie bender where I REALLY wanted a hedgehog. I'm a researcher, however, and after reading about hedgehogs long enough (and their often poop-encrusted feet), I decided against one. For years, I've also been wanting a bird. But after more extensive research on the various types of pet birds, I decided not to go that route. I've already lived with a bird before (cousin Kira's lory), so I know they can be very demanding. Mostly, I wanted a pet I could just sit around and watch. Kind of like having a National Geographic special right there in your living room.

So I spent quite some time researching pet mice, or "fancy mice." I even joined a forum so I could ask questions and learn everything I needed to know up front. (You can find all of the basic information on the The Fun Mouse site or in their forum.) After doing all of my research, I went out on a quest to find three girls from PetSmart. For various reasons I won't go in to on the blog, you want to get your girls from PetSmart -- NOT Petco. Just sayin.'

Above, you can see the girls I chose in their PetSmart cage. The employee was kind enough to open the cage for me so I could see them close up. We discussed many options, and I told her I wasn't sure if I wanted three girls (you need three for social/colony reasons) or one boy (who has to live alone or he'll fight/kill the other males). She suggested that I go over to Petco to simply LOOK at the males and see if I like them. Nope. No likie. I went straight back to PetSmart and bought my trio right then and there.

They were terrified on the ride home, but I coo-ed at them to keep them calm. I also briefly wondered if I'd lost my mind:


I put them in a 10 gallon glass tank with a hard, strong mesh lid on top. The problem? I didn't trust Gretchen with just the clips. Luckily, my father had a handy, long piece of HEAVY steel. Nobody is getting in or out. No, they are NOT:


I tried a mesh wheel at first, but it was quite squeaky, so I switched to a Flying Saucer. The girls were unsure of it at first, but now they LOVE it. They run so fast that their little legs blur. And -- this is crucial -- it barely makes any noise at all. WHOOT!

Can you find anyone in the strawberry?


My favorite is Alice (named for Alice in Wonderland). She's the white one with the brown rump. She's the most sociable and least skittish. She always seems happy to see me. The brown and white one is Agatha Christie. She's clearly the bossy alpha. She's also an OBSESSIVE nest builder. I put some newspaper in the tank, and Agatha spent a whole night dragging large pieces of it into the strawberry with her:


Agatha also likes to climb up the sides of the tank like this. She's incredibly dramatic:


Charlotte (for Charlotte's Web) is the most skittish. She runs away and hides when she sees me coming. But if I sit there long enough next to the tank, she'll come out and say hello:


All three of them sleep in the strawberry together. It's so cute, isn't it??? I know. I got the strawberry and a few other things at Petco. I'll say this for Petco -- they have great mousie SUPPLIES. I'll need to get a few extras of these because Agatha has been chewing up the inside, of course:


There's also a ceramic gourd house. They like to go in there to eat their food. They also totally crack me up by peeking out of the very top when they have enough bedding piled in there:


The problem? You guessed it. Gretchen went BONKERS that first night, and I was so worried. Did I make a huge mistake? Webster also had his hunting instincts kicked into high gear. Oh no!!! But I figured they would calm down with time, which they have done. Gretchen now realizes the mousies are for watching, not eating touching:


I tried to get the cats a new, little hut to make them happy, but it was too small. They both tried to crawl in, but only their heads would fit:


So I returned it and splurged on this puppy:


Now Gretchen rests peacefully, despite the sound of meece shredding newspaper and running around in the cage nearby. I also got the meows a fancy, new scratcher that looks like a lounge chair. They love it:


And this guy? Webster doesn't even notice the girls anymore. He's happy if he's with/near me. That's just how he rolls:


So the Great Meece Experiment of 2014 is underway. I'll work with the girls to tame them a bit and see how I feel about being a mouse owner in general. They have an average lifespan of about 1-2 years and right now are roughly 2-4 months old (my guess), so if this doesn't work out for me, I won't get them again. But right now, I'm having a blast, and I'm REALLY glad I got them. Their wee paws and little noses touch my crusty, black heart. And I think it's safe to say that everyone in the household is enjoying Mousie TV.

You may think I have indeed gone crazy, but you know what? I'm happy, and that's all that really matters. It's all about small pleasures, my friends. Very, very small pleasures.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Mini Acquisitions


My blog has been very INTENSE lately, so let's take a break from All Things Serious and enjoy some minis, shall we? I'd like to share some more of the goodies I got at the NAME conference in St. Louis. I broke my wallet there, but it was totally worth it.

Above, you can see a Marigold in a Milk Carton kit from true2scale. I've always admired the one Brae has in her Haunted Heritage (scroll down here and look for it in the window above the sink), so now I have one all of my own. It remains to be seen if I will be successful with this little kit. I have high hopes!

I got this beautiful copper rooster statue from Smaller Than Life. It reminds me of Grandpa Blonderson, so I will treasure it: 



I found some more fun things from William Cambron Designs. I got another Art Deco beauty:


He also had a bunch of nice garden statues, so I got some flower holders and a wee version of Winged Victory. I had no idea what the statue was until Morrigan told me -- thank you for that tip! The flowers were made by a friend of mine from OCBMG. She was also at the conference, so she gave them to me there:


I love these Art Nouveau pedestal tables from William. So classy:


I used a bunch of birdies from mini-gems in Karu's Kitchen, so I needed to get some more. I also picked up a garden gnome and a sock monkey. SO CUTE. I'm on the hunt for a really great 1:12 scale birdcage for the budgie. I know I'll find the perfect one eventually:


At this moment, I honestly can't remember who I got this little elephant from, but I love it:


I also made some "big" purchases. I might never get to a NAME conference again due to distances and finances, so I decided to take advantage of the experience while I could. I LOVE this little 1:48 Nautical Emporium Kit from The Quarter Source. I got a bunch of goodies to put inside as well. I'll save those for the eventual reveal of the completed kit:


And my absolute favorite purchase, Briarwood from Robin Betterley. I've seen the kit on their site, but when I saw the bibliophile bunny in Real Life, I knew it had to be MINE. No regrets whatsoever. I also got to meet Robin and Shawn Betterley in person, gush over them, and get a photo all for myself. Whee! Feel the bunny love:


Now I need to remind myself to actually work on these kits instead of just petting/hoarding them. I will soon!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Whooshes: I'm Afraid


I recently joined Facebook (with the dummy name LaBlondie Tales -- it wouldn't let me use Blondie Tales) in order to join whooshEr's group for people with PT (private, safe group): Pulsatile Tinnitus "Whooshers" Unite! It's a fantastic group. I'm really grateful that I finally got up the nerve to dip my toe in the FB ocean to learn more about my fellow whooshers. However, I'm also HORRIFIED that I joined FB because I've been ranting about the evils of FB for years, so now I'm a Huge Hypocrite. Oh well. I'm desperate, people. And just a note to my friends and family: I'm not on FB to participate in anything except the whoosher group. I don't want you to think I'm not friending you or being mean or something, I'm just hiding out over here in this one little corner.

ANYWAY...

I'm scared.

I'm really, really, really scared.

I've been reading about CURED WHOOSHERS!!!!!!!! and SURGERIES!!!!!! and crazy wackadoo PROCEDURES!!!!! and this is all very exciting and interesting and WHOA HOLY CRAP I COULD BE CURED!!!!! but at the same time, my old friend, General Anxiety Disorder, has kicked into high gear. I've had to limit my time in the Facebook group to only a little bit here and there because the panic begins at my fingertips as I type and works its way up my arms and into my chest and then it's flooding into my hamster-wheel brain.

  • What if I get a surgery, and it gets worse?
  • I'm now realizing I might need two different kinds of surgery (because each side of my head seems to have something different). One surgery seems scarier than the other. They both look/sound awful. Do I really want to spend months of my life getting two different kinds of surgery and recovering from them only to have them not work/make it worse?
  • What if I have a major complication during surgery and end up with a Really Bad Problem in my head/neck veins/arteries/groin (one of the procedures goes in through the blood vessel in your groin area)?
  • How much is this going to cost me? 
  • How could I EVER possibly afford it?
  • Do I really want to fly to across the country and live in a hotel for a long time with my parents to get this taken care of?
  • Do I really want to put my senior-age parents through this?
  • I'm so terrified that how will I even get in the door of the hospital?
  • What if I get MRSA in my head? What if I get MRSA in my eyes and go blind? I'm an EDITOR. That can't happen!
  • What if I have some other wonk complication that only happens to like .000000000006% of patients, but it's AWFUL?

Even though my Rational Brain knows that these fears and questions are quite out of control and ridiculous, I can't help it. I'm hard-wired to PANIC. This is how my mental health rolls. Then there's the other side of the equation.

  • What if I DON'T get the surgeries, and this gets worse and worse as I age?
  • What if this problem -- left alone for decades -- causes new, far worse problems over time, and then I beat myself up for not just taking care of it when I was young(er)?
  • Can I seriously live with the double whooshes for the rest of my life without going Certified Insane? (I'm not exaggerating there. I'm actually worried about losing my grasp on reality from the whooshing.)
  • How can I possibly get this done and still work enough to keep a roof over my head?
  • What if I wake up one day, years from now, and all I can hear is the whooshing so loud that I can no longer hear anything above it?

 And then all of these questions trigger my other old friend, Depression:

  • Why am I alone in this decision-making process? 
  • Why can't anyone tell me what to do for sure? 
  • Why don't I have a magic ball to help me? 
  • Why am I so terrified? I'm a grown woman! Why am I letting this fear hold me so tight?
  • Why do I have to be solo? Why can't I have a boyfriend or a husband to calm my fears and help me get through this? 
  • Why is this my lot in life?

I'm now bawling. Really bawling.

I share this on the Internet for all the world to know because I just have to get it OUT of me. I've been holding in my fears, panic, and sadness about this whooshing problem for so long. Every time I get the tiniest bit of hope about this situation, something else happens to shut it down hard and fast. I'm SO excited about talking to/learning from Dr. Possibility and my fellow whooshers on FB, but at the same time, all of the hidden anxiety and stress from this NIGHTMARE WHOOSH WHOOSH WHOOSH WHOOSH SOUND is bursting up through me.

I'm also having the life-energy sucked out of me by the NOISE. I have no urge to work on miniatures. I've been cleaning/reorganizing my house as distraction so I don't have to sit still and listen to it. I no longer enjoy reading, which is my favorite thing in the whole world -- or it was.

I no longer remember silence. It's foreign to me. Despite all of my creativity, I can't even imagine silence anymore.

I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm stalling on asking Dr. Whooshsaver to prescribe the MRV I need because I'm scared. Frozen in the headlights. I'll just put it off for a while. It will be OK. My whooshes aren't life-threatening, so there's no rush. It's already been 8 years, after all. But then again, how STUPID am I to live for almost a decade with a debilitating physical condition, then learn about a cure, and then stall it out? It's a Catch-22.

It may be possible that I could have fantastic, easy surgeries and be whoosh-free and then look back and ask myself: Self, why didn't you do this earlier and save yourself all of those years of suffering? I don't want to live with regret either way.

I don't have to make a decision today, so I'm not going to. I'm going to shut down the computer after I finish this post and walk away. I don't actually have to work today, so I'm going to take advantage of it. I'll run errands and Be Outside and cut myself some slack and maybe work on minis. I don't know.

But I do know that I feel a HUGE weight has been lifted off of my chest from simply writing this post and allowing myself to ugly-cry (which I never let myself do when I'm alone because it's scary and lonely). I did it anyway, and I feel so much better.

Words -- secret words inside of us -- have so much power. The "what-ifs" are detrimental to one's mental health -- especially when that one (----> ME) has an anxiety disorder. This is how I'm fighting back.

Here are my fears, no matter how crazy they make me sound.

I offer them up to the Universe and release them.

Thank you for listening.

----------------------------------

HEY WHOOSHERS:

Go to whooshers.com for more information and follow their site on Twitter: @Whooshers

Join other whooshers on Facebook HERE and HERE.

To read all of my posts about my whooshing journey, go HERE

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Goodies for Ollie and Luna Lair


Poor Ollie has been very frustrated by the lack of progress on his house. It's really hard to explain to a wee not alive fake miniature owl that I HAVE TO WORK AND STUFF. I've been getting more glares than I need from the cranky, old bird.

I tried to do him some justice recently when I went to the St. Louis NAME convention. First, I have difficulty putting together the itty bitty wood kits, so when I saw this tiny gluing jig above, I knew it must be mine. It's from Smaller Than Life, and I picked up extra magnets just in case. I also got an itty bitty self-sealing mat from A Mini Thing. Love these goodies!

I got these 1:12 ojime beads from Jar/Jaf Miniatures. The detail on them is incredible. You can use them to make lamps, but I'm going to use them simply for display. I will see how the owl looks in Ollie's house, but I'm sure it will be too big. Then I'll just have to use it elsewhere:


Aren't those feathers amazing?? I know:


I can't say enough good things about the ladies from A Mini Thing. They are a FANTASTIC resource for 1:24 or half scale miniatures. They had TONS of building supplies, books, doodads, accessories. It was half scale heaven. I got Ollie a pot with a lid, a bowl of fruit, candlesticks, and a couple of plates:


I also got doorknobs for his door and the tiniest glass jar I ever did see:


It's hard to find half scale things that really ARE half scale. This jar is for sure. SO tiny and wonderful:


I seriously really love the A Mini Thing team, and they had a bunch of things available that might not be listed on their site (not sure -- I haven't dug through the whole thing yet). If you are seeking half scale, shoot them an email to see if they have it because they probably do. Again, EXCELLENT customer service. Can you tell I really like them? Good, cause I do.

And the most important thing EVER I could get for Ollie is a 1:24 Scale Card. Sadly, these cards aren't made anymore, so I was really excited to find both 1:24 and 1:48 from Pam's Supply Source. And it was even more wonderful that they were $2 a piece:


Now, I obviously have no excuse to not get going again with Luna Lair.

*Ollie squawks in background*

Thursday, August 07, 2014

A Gift from the Heart


I recently had an epidural/steroid injection in my lower back to help with my herniated discs and my lower back arthritis. Sadly, this time, the epi failed. I'm not too happy about that because my out-of-pocket costs for these injections are RIDICULOUS. The first one worked so well! Why fail this time? Well, I have multiple things going on back there. My doctor felt the joints/arthritis might be the culprit. So while I was in the office for a simple check up, he suggested giving me a Medial Branch Block, which is when they go in and shoot up a bunch of your joints to see if it helps. I got shots in six different places along my spine. Multiple shots of things in each place. Total, it was 18 shots. And you know what? Afterward, it f*cking HURT. Worse than it did before.

*sigh*

So yesterday, I was having a rotten day. My ears were whooshing loudly, I was behind on this crazy work schedule, my back hurt way worse than it did the day before, and everything was overall BOO HISS HATE.

And then a package arrived in the mail. What is this? It's a BELATED BIRTHDAY BLANKIE FROM APRIL. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEE! Ma just happened to be here when the package arrived. We ooooohed and ahhhhhhhed together, and then I asked her to take a few photos of me with the blanket. I looked like a$$, but I really didn't care. I HAZ A NEST BLANKET!

Above, you can see my loooong self stretched out on my couch with my new gift. April knows I'm 6' tall, so she had her Very Tall Husband be a body model to get the length right. It's THRILLING to have a blanket that is truly long enough for me -- with room to spare. I can't even begin to describe how soft and cozy this blanket is. And it has bobbles!! I know how to crochet, but basically only in a straight line. April is a Master Crocheter. She rules.

The sweetest and most thoughtful part of all of this is that she actually searched my blog one night and found this post about my new, colorful bedding. She wanted to make sure it could match my couch AND my bed. It was so touching to have someone care about me enough to make a specialized blanket just for me that my face started leaking a bit. My crusty, black heart melted. I splayed myself and all of my pains and whooshes across my giant bed and groaned with happiness:


That's Brutus. Don't mind him:


The bobble work is truly incredible, and I'm crazy in love with the colors:


Here are some photos from April herself. She gently washed the blankie and hung it on the line to dry:


So perfect:


So loving:


So generous:


April, thank you SO MUCH for making my day brighter yesterday. I turned down the AC and cuddled under my SUPER SOFT perfect blanket last night. I slept so peacefully and did NOT want to get out of bed this morning. Thank you for this cherished gift. But most of all, thank you so much for being my Real Friend.