Monthly Archives: January 2014

What do you mean, ‘as shy as a mouse’?

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Are mice really shy? I used to think so… until I saw this little guy!

These are a few pics my dad snapped of a teeny striped fieldmouse that’s taken up residence in my parents’ garden. The pics were taken in the middle of the day, a few metres from the house.

Mouse 1

Mouse 2

Mouse 4

Mouse 3

He doesn’t seem shy at all! Every day, my parents report, this cute mouse races around their garden in broad daylight, following a set path next to the boundary walls and through the shrubbery.

My folks very sweetly leave tasty tidbits along his route, and they own no prowling pets that might discover the little interloper. No wonder he’s quite happy to call that yard his own 🙂

When he passes by my mom and dad as they walk and work on the property, they call out and talk to him. As you can see from the pics, he doesn’t seem to mind their presence. It’s adorable!

I love his smart stripes, just like some tiny rodent version of a jock’s Ford ST. I think he has a cuter face than a rat’s, and of course he’s way smaller – if you look at the long paving brick he’s sitting on, our smallest rat (Moon) would take up that entire brick with just his body length, never mind his tail.

So although when we move there this cutey will be our new neighbour, we’ll make sure he never gets to meet our rat pack 😛

Goal #25: Design decor themes

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The exciting thing about moving into a place we’re not renting is that I can finally put some effort into decorating my home 🙂

Realising my dream of a fully decorated house, however, will be a slow process… For example, when we move into the cottage we’ll be stuck with the paint scheme (pretty though plain) that my parents have chosen. This is to save us the effort and expense of repainting when they eventually move into the cottage themselves. But at least (Lord willing) when we take over the main house, I’ll finally be let loose with a paintbrush!

In the meatime, my decor ideas will be limited to all the finishing touches rather than the walls, carpets or tiles. I don’t mind, though. I can’t wait to start collecting stuff 😀

To help me plan properly, I’ve laid out my ideas in what could loosely be called ‘mood boards’. They don’t have actual swatches of fabric or splashes of paint like proper mood boards would, but they do group colours and elements that will inspire my eventual purchases. (In creating these boards, I’ve also accomplished Goal #25 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.)

I’ve put together the ideas on black cardboard because it brings out the colours, but the actual palette I have to work with is: white ceilings, pink-white walls, purply grey carpets, peachy-white tiles and purply grey doorframes. I’m hoping that that base won’t clash monstrously with the colourful themes I have in mind 😛

First off, the bathroom:

Bathroom: Lavender and lemon

Bathroom: Lavender and lemon

Our cottage bathroom is beautifully light and airy, with large windows that face both east and north out over the garden. That inspired my lavender and lemon colour scheme, to reflect the sunshine and the garden views.

To me, a bathroom also has two main functions: to relax and rejuvenate. The varied purples I’m grouping under ‘lavender’ will bring a sense of calm into the room, while the cheerful zesty lemon yellows should inspire and revitalise us. And of course purple and yellow are complementary colours, which means that when placed together they really make each other ‘pop’!

Although my husband has generously said I can freely decorate the entire house except for his computer/hobby corner, I still don’t want to go overly feminine or floral. It’s important to me that the decor makes him feel relaxed and at home in the space too. So far he seems to like my ideas 🙂

Next, we have the lounge (or living room as you may call it):

Lounge: Robin-egg and rust

Lounge: Robin-egg and rust

This is going to be a fun one to decorate! In the cottage our lounge area is very small, but I’m thinking of the long term too – these themes can also be carried over into the main house one day. So, for this family-oriented space I’ve picked a soft robin-egg blue and a striking rusty orange. Of course, my idea is not to get every item bang on the exact same shade… so the blue includes a range of soft sea-blue and mint-green shades, while the orange items will go from coral to rust to tangerine.

I’m hoping that even though the cottage lounge is small, it will be a welcoming and relaxing space for us and our family and friends. I also trust that the colour scheme I’ve chosen here will make it an area that feels both warm in winter and cool in summer.

In case you’re wondering, in the cottage our open-plan dining area is part of both the kitchen and the lounge. While I don’t expect the kitchen or dining area to have much of a colour scheme (I’m still waiting to see what my folks decide on), I do think I’ll introduce some of my wonderful ratty-themed items into those areas. That will make for an interesting welcome to the house, especially since the entrance door is in the kitchen and the ratties’ cage will be in the dining area 🙂

And finally, the bedroom:

Bedroom: Charcoal and cherry

Bedroom: Charcoal and cherry

I’ve waited a long time to make a beautiful bedroom, so I look forward to this decorating job! Here I’ve chosen a base of charcoal grey to bring a manly and restful tone to the room. Then the feminine side will come in with light cherry-blossom pink, accentuated with splashes of sumptuous winey-cherry-red here and there. The feel of the room should be elegant, private, peaceful and sexy all at once. Hmm! 😀

In this room I can get away with a bit more emphasis on the floral cherry-blossom motif, thanks to my Ninja’s interest in the Orient and especially Japan. It’s going to take some careful selecting to balance the minimalistic Japanese touches with the rich luxury of the boudoir accents, but it’ll be worth the effort, don’t you think?

Well, those are my ideas. It will probably be years before it all comes together like that (if ever!), but at least it gives me a shopping guide and something to work towards 🙂

Do you have cool colour schemes and decor themes in your home?

These things happen in threes…

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Sorry I’ve been so quiet, friends.

Each week of this new year has brought a new distressing event in our lives. I’ve already mentioned the retrenchment we’re facing; then add to that some upsetting family news over the past few days and now my poor Vodka ratty has a broken paw 😦

Sigh… they do say these things happen in threes 😦 (Though I far prefer the German version: ‘aller guten Dinge sind drei‘!)

Voddy before his injury

Voddy before his injury

Anyway, the accident must have happened sometime during his free run last night… Vodka did seem uncharacteristically skittish afterwards, and just before bed I noticed he was holding up his right front paw. At that stage it wasn’t swollen or discoloured, and he still let me touch it gently without squeaking.

But this morning the poor little pink foot had developed purple stripes over the toes and was clearly swollen. He couldn’t put any weight on it and held it very close to his body, walking with a pronounced limp. Turns out it’s a simple closed fracture on his little leg. My poor bub!

After doing some internet research and chatting to the vet, I’ve now isolated him in a cage without levels, switched his meals to easy-to-eat-with-one-paw foods and given him a tiny drop of the painkiller and anti-inflammatory, Metacam. I’m making sure he stays hydrated, too: squeezing fresh grape juice and mixing it with honey or vitamins before feeding it to him with a syringe.

We’re going to keep an eye on him over the next few days, but from all I’ve read online there’s not much more we can do – or even need to do. Thankfully ratties usually heal fairly quickly, and we’re boosting his diet with extra protein, carbs and vitamins to help him recover. I did put his best friend Moon in the cage with him, but Moony was not impressed with having to play nurse! So for now Voddy’s alone and it’s more peaceful that way.

It’s ironic that it would be Vodka – the rat I usually get most frustrated with – who goes through this horrible experience and needs my help. It’s changed my view of him completely. Sometimes when he’d senselessly attack Mishka I’d see him as a mean little critter, but today seeing him so slow, cautious and in pain has melted my heart. He’s an innocent animal in my care, just like each of our other sweet boys, and I’ve been wrong to love him less. Well I sure plan to make it up to him from here on in! 🙂

…oOo…

The last few weeks have really worn me down. With each new development I’ve seen more clearly that it’s only God’s grace that’s carrying me through. I certainly have no human strength or energy reserves left to face each new wave of bad news. I know it’s the time I spend praying and reading God’s wonderful Bible that renews my hope and faith each day. I may often be weak and discouraged, but I serve a great and faithful Father, who knows exactly what I need and supplies it abundantly!

And on my heart are the words of that lovely worship song from Matt Redman:

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord…

Prizes and ribbons

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Remember when two of our little lads won first place in categories in our rat club’s online show?

Well, their prizes and ribbons have arrived:

Generous prizes: ribbons, fleece tunnels, a double rat hammock, a keyring and a rat harness!

Knight: Best Wannabe

Knight: Best Wannabe

Moon: Prettiest Markings

Moon: Prettiest Markings

So proud of our cuties! I hope we’ll be able to enter them (and Voddy and Teddy) in many other rat club shows during their time with us 🙂

2014 storm predictions

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Roses

Shewwee! We’re only two weeks in and already 2014 promises to be a hectic and interesting year for Ninja and I.

For starters, we’ve just heard that retrenchments are planned at Ninja’s company for the first quarter of the year 😦 So we’re now pre-emptively on the search for new work for him. (We’re very grateful that my own contract has been extended for the year.)

Surprisingly though, it’s not nearly as stressful as you’d expect. I feel as though I’ve landed softly in a spiritual and an emotional safety net of faith. Of course retrenchment is disappointing and disruptive. Changing jobs is a stressful adjustment at the best of times. But we truly believe that it’s our Heavenly Father, and not our employers, who is our ultimate Provider… and He is eternally trustworthy, having promised not to put us through more than He enables us to handle.

Still, a retrenchment would have a knock-on effect on our other major plans for 2014: moving into our new home (a cottage we’re building at my folks’ place). We were originally planning to move somewhere in early spring (that’s September for us down here in the southern hemisphere), but now we’ve all agreed to aim for early May instead.

And that in itself is scary and exciting, stressful and rewarding. If we were very eager before to finish building and move in, now we’ll all be doubling our prayers and our efforts 🙂

All of this may also have an effect on the Sunshine Scrapbook, because as we get closer to the time of relocation I’ll probably have to take a break from blogging in order to tidy up our old home and sort out the new one. Will keep you posted on that.

But in the meantime I can say that I stand facing this new year with a deeper faith than I would have a few years back. Not so long ago I was completely disillusioned about what God was doing in my life, and I regarded each new challenge with suspicion, fearing that my precious little plans would be thwarted!

Praise God for growing me past that point, so that now I can stand firm. Where do I get this firm foundation? From childish airy-fairy hope that there’s a Good Guy Up There who’s going to make all my troubles go away? No.

Jesus said, ‘Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.’ (Matthew 7:24–25)

Storms will come – that’s a given. I’m definitely expecting a few in the year ahead. But God’s Word and my practical application of it are the two things that ground me during trials. May He give me grace to build my life on that firm foundation through 2014 and beyond 🙂

Banksy rat photographer

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My Banksy rat gift from a very talented friend

My Banksy rat gift from a very talented friend

Thanks to the generosity of a very artistically gifted friend, I can now add another ratty-themed decor item to my collection! (Are you tired of this yet? I’m not! I think this collection is just gathering momentum.)

Looking at this picture, you’ll probably recognise my Robert the Rat teapot on the right and Cheddar in the middle… and now on the left is a tribute to the clever graffiti art of Banksy’s rat photographer.

It’s so accurately painted that when a shop assistant saw me carrying it he immediately said, ‘That looks like Banksy art!’ Indeed. In fact, it’s so good I hope it doesn’t count as plagiarism, haha! 😛

But I reckon this case falls well within the bounds of fair use for personal purposes; just a little replica of street art that resonates with me because it represents both my love of rats and my love of photography in one eye-catching statement.

So I’m grateful to Banksy for making rats the subject of art, and to my beautiful friend for pouring her talent into such a special keepsake for me 🙂

Six months later…

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Remember these little guys?

Boys from Litter 1

Well, six months later they’ve grown into four very handsome young adults:

Moon Rover

Moon Rover

‘Moonymoonymoonbeam…!’ I call out, and there comes a blazing streak of black and white dashing towards me 😀 Moon is the littlest boy in our bunch, but weighing 440 g is still decent for a male rat. In the four months he’s been with us he’s earned lots of random nicknames, including ‘Opposite Rat’ (for always being awake when the others are sleeping) and ‘Pliable’ (for accepting pretty much whatever cuddling you subject him to). He’s my second favourite ratty 🙂

Voddy Vodka

Voddy Vodka

Oh dear, poor Voddy! We have a bit of a tumultuous relationship, he and I, because I get fed up with his senseless biting of my Mishka’s ears :/ He still picks on Mishka daily (his favourite time to strike is when the helpless dumbo is sleeping), but when he’s not being divisive he’s a really cute rat. He’s also very smart and the quickest to learn the few tricks we’ve tried teaching him. Ninja has a special place in his heart for this rat; we often joke that we should swap so I can call Moon mine and he can have Vodka! But of course they all belong to both of us 🙂 Vodka is our second biggest rat, weighing 500 g.

Sir Knight the Polite

Sir Knight the Polite

Ah Knight, the little gentleman 🙂 The pose in the pic above is typical of Knight’s polite, if-you-don’t-mind-I’ll-have-that-tidbit-now kind of attitude. He weighs 480 g at the moment, and feels so solid and well muscled in our hands. If you think you can resist the cuteness of a black rat, it all changes when those adorable white socks are clinging on the cage bars and begging for a run! Sometimes we still call him Tiny Tot even though he isn’t anymore, and I also call him our little Black Roof Rat 🙂

Squishy Mishka

Squishy Mishka

Awww Meeeeeshka! He weighs 520 g now and has carved out a cosy nest for himself in the middle of my heart 😀 He seems to slowly be outgrowing his reticence during free runs, but occasionally we do still see him peering cautiously around a corner as in the pic above 🙂 His attitude in the cage with his brothers is gentle, though he enjoys a good scuffle like the rest of them – and his policy for dealing with upstarts is simply to sit on them!

I’m very pleased with the progress our boys have made. They’ve all been neutered and Vodka and Knight recovered from the infections they got from the ops. They’ve all gained weight at a good rate and so far they’ve had no respiratory issues. At six months they’re officially mature, and it’s hard to believe they’ve already experienced about one quarter to one fifth of their expected lifetime.

Looking ahead, I hope that we can start taking one or two of them on short trips with us, as I’ve heard many rat owners do successfully. I also plan to add vitamins to their diet this year, and to keep up the regular clipping of their nails (that’s always fun!). As you know, Moon and Knight won prizes in our rat club’s first online rat show last year. In 2014 the club is hoping to host their first live show, and I’d really love to enter our boys in that competition if possible 🙂

And now enough blogging about the bubs… time for me to go clean their cage and give them that free run they’re begging for!