Yikes! It sure has been ages since I last posted! As always, I’ve missed my sunny scrapbook. Here’s why I’ve been quiet:
While we wait for the new rats to arrive (it seems to be taking forever… not that I’m all that patient 😉 ), let’s take a closer look at their new cage.
I placed the rats’ gardens (one with grass and lettuce, the other with flourishing lentil sprouts) on top of the cage just for the photo. Naturally, these will be placed on the floor when we let the rats roam free. (You can see the small wooden log ladder there too, which we’ll use to connect the gardens.)
At the top of the cage we have a black plastic Sputnik, a plastic ferret tunnel and a makeshift hammock (an old PJ pants leg held up and open by two dowel rods). We’ve also found our best-yet solution to the question of cage levels. This time around we’ve laid thin sheets of white perspex across wooden dowel sticks. These are all removable and should be a cinch to clean each week – much better than either the metal trays or the cloth levels.
Most of the rat toys and accessories are on the two middle levels. This cage setup is an improvement over our previous layouts because we’ve squeezed in an extra level. Here you can see cardboard and plastic boxes lined with shredded unprinted newspaper, a rope walkway, metal ladders, a mini dome (part of a Sputnik) and an egg carton.
It’s so exciting to picture four little ‘scurries’ (as Ninja has dubbed them) exploring this cage!
And finally, the ground floor:
This is where the mealtime action will be. On the left we have two water bottles and a water bowl, strategically placed over the tile so they have to wear down their nails a bit. In the back left corner we’ve left space for their toilet (did you know rats can be toilet trained? Yay!). And on the right is their food bowl under another piece of grey Sputnik (rats like places to hide). Not visible in this pic but hanging from the front right side of the cage is a metal stick used to skewer fruit and veg for the rats. They love the challenge of that kind of treat 🙂
And what about Flea, I hear you ask?
She has her retirement home right below the mansion:
Since the old lass can’t climb anymore, we’ve limited her quarters to food, water, toilet and sleeping dome. By God’s grace we found the perfect-sized cage for her, which fits on the bottom of the main cage’s stand. This way Flea is kept off the cold floor. All through winter she’s also had her pink blankie to block out draughts and a hot-water bottle under her bed to keep her snug. So though her nose may be out of joint with the newcomers, at least she can’t complain that we love her any less 😉
The Christmas in July gifts for me and Flea finally arrived in the post! I raced home from the post office to unwrap the box… with Flea’s help 😉
Our Secret Santa (SS) was very generous!!!
Inside the box we found…
- two small boxes (a pink one and a blue one, for Flea and the new boys respectively) filled with all manner of tasty ratty treats: mini Marie biscuits, choc-coated sunflower seeds, yoghurt drops and rooibos biscuits
- three cute rat-themed decals
- the Ratatouille movie DVD (which we’ve never watched before, shame on us!)
- a fleecy tunnel for the rat cage
- and a stunning necklace for me!
That was the best fun I’ve had in the middle of winter in a long time
Count me in for next year’s one!
I’m probably doing this all wrong, posting a hearty winter dinner recipe when most of you are enjoying a long-awaited summer. But deliciousness must be shared, no matter the season! You could always bookmark it for wintertime in your hemisphere 😉
Oriental pie filling
1 onion, chopped (or 2 T dried chives)
1 T oil
1 t curry powder, heaped
½ t ground ginger, heaped
1 garlic clove, chopped (optional)
±350 g mince
1 bay leaf
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
¼ C vinegar
30 ml brown sugar
Salt and pepper
1. Fry onions/chives in oil.
2. Add curry, ginger, garlic and mince. Fry until mince browns.
3. Add rest of ingredients. Cook on medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Place in a casserole dish. Prepare the topping.
Oriental pie topping
1½ C flour
1 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 t curry powder, heaped
40 g butter
1 onion, grated (or 1 T dried chives)
1 garlic clove, chopped (optional)
1 egg, beaten
½ C water
1. Sift dry ingredients together.
2. Rub in butter.
3. Add onion/chives and garlic.
4. Mix egg with water and add to mixture.
5. Mix well. Spoon over oriental pie filling.
6. Bake at 180 °C for 30 min.
- I’m not sure of the origins of this recipe; I suspect it was a Cape Malay dish, but my version comes from my mom.
- As you can see, I’ve used dried chives because Ninja and I are allergic to onion and garlic.
- You could make this dish as mild or as spicy as you like by varying the flavours to taste.
- I always enjoy curried dishes with avocado, banana and fruit chutney on the side. We use the South African classic, Mrs Ball’s Peach Chutney – loved by South Africans and imported by expats everywhere!
Today is the autumn equinox in the southern hemisphere (and it will be spring tomorrow for those of you in the north). Although the weather is rather breezy today, I haven’t yet seen any of the trees turning yellow or orange. However, the weather is a notch or two cooler than it usually is in summer, so the change of season is definitely on its way. I’m so grateful that God didn’t create a monotonous world in which there was only one season!
Autumn and spring are my favourite seasons, more for what they symbolise than for the weather they bring. I love autumn because it’s an ideal time for reflection and introspection. Following on the heels of summer, which is usually a lively, chaotic season, and coming as it does just before the lockdown of winter, autumn is like the yellow bulb on the traffic light – a warning that it’s time to slow down, to look around, to pause and consider.
This pic is one I took this time last year, when Ninja and I took a weekend break to a log cabin a couple of hours’ drive from here. I think the bales of hay epitomise the beauty of autumn: the bundling up of summer’s goodness and the preparation for winter’s harsher demands.
Each year when autumn comes around, I long for a completely different life. One far, far away from the city. A life on the land, the way people used to live, experiencing the seasons firsthand. I’ve felt that way for as long as I can remember. I was born into a standard suburban life, but if I give myself quiet time to muse, my heart always longs for something more natural and homegrown and earthy, somehow.
As if I’m remembering a life I’ve never actually lived, autumn conjures for me images of cornucopias filled with the season’s best; the smell of homemade jams and preserves packed away for the winter; long walks in vast golden meadows; shorter days and evening fires; a sense of shedding summer’s excesses and looking forward to winter’s lack and peaceful silence. It seems more beautiful, for some reason, if I picture myself in another time, another place, another life.
I’m convinced that autumn (or fall) is far more striking in the northern hemisphere than it is here down south. The blazing glory of Japanese maples or the timeless beauty of New England’s deciduous trees is something I’d love to see in person. We do get some pretty leaf colouration here, of course, but Jo’burg also seems to have far too many evergreens 😛
This year I want to appreciate this short season to the full. Autumn seems like a good time to unplug from technology and step outside instead. In the middle of my busy, boxed-in urban life, I want to stop to acknowledge the changes in the natural world around us – and to notice how those changes mirror the inner seasons of my heart.