Ratties # 3

Ratties # 3

I just finished sitting on the bathroom floor with the rats, letting them have exploration time outside of their cage.  It’s a very quiet time, since they start and bolt at the smallest movement.  I hope to teach them that they are safe so that the edge wears off of that response.

While I sit, and try to be still, I have a lot of thoughts.

I think a lot about brain development.  In a presentation by the Harvard Center for the Developing Child, I remember them talking about the impacts of toxic stress and neglect on brain development.  In order to show the effects, they had scans of rats brains that had had different life experiences.  I can’t find the images now, but basically a rat who had a good mother that took care of it had a much more developed brain than a rat with a mother who didn’t interact or care for it.

I keep thinking that my little ratties are from the neglectful mother, since she was a feeder rat, and had probably not been well socialized.  I like to think that while I sit against the bathroom door that I’m helping to rebuild their brain pathways and teach them a better way to be.

I also think about how different they are.  Blanco white rat has been the boldest and most outgoing about leaving the confines of the cage to explore the bathroom.  Since he was seemingly the shyest when I met them a week ago, this surprises me.  Blanco has shown way more initiative for leaving the cage than Brave Little Toaster.

Last night Blanco white rat spent some time walking around on me, and tonight wouldn’t come closer.   It reminds me of what yoga instructors say, everyday you do your practice the best way you can.  It may not be anything like yesterday, or tomorrow, so just focus on what you can do today.  I’m trying to keep this in mind when really I just want the pet them and snuggle them all.

Last night little Tbone wouldn’t come out of the cage into the bathroom.  He just wasn’t having it.  Tonight he came all the way our a couple of times and I could see how small he is, perhaps only half or two-thirds the size of the others.  You know I will now make a special point to ply him with cheerios and baby food.

Spot is solidly middle of the road when it comes to exploring.  He’s second our the door, but first to find the food I put out.  I want to encourage them to come close to me, and I got Spot to eat some baby food while the plate was on my lap.

Oh!  The other thing I think about a lot is how much I love their noses and whiskers.  then they are checking something out, those whiskers get going and remind me of a propeller plane, gearing up for take off!

I keep telling myself we have made progress, but I think there’s still a long way to go.  For your enjoyment, here are a couple photos from yesterday and today.


Ratties Update #2

Ratties Update #2

The foster rats are making progress towards not being terrified of humans and the world outside their cage.

Tonight I changed the bedding in  their cage.  The cage needed to be. Emptied and scrubbed so i tried moving them from the crate to a spare cat barrier filled with blankets.

In retrospectaybe this was too much moving for some.   Afterwards,  I gave them the rumor the bathroom, but was surprised by who took the most opportunity to explore:  pink eyed white rat was totally into checking things out!  He was the first to find the plate of baby food on the ground,  and the first to walk on me.

Second most exploratory rat was Spot, followed by toaster.   T was not having any of it. At all.  He never left the crate.  More practice to come.

Ratties: Update #1

Ratties: Update #1

Four juvenile male rats came into  my life on Friday, Sept 1.  The day before I had seen an email from the local animal shelter looking for someone to care for and socialize the four rats who are terrified of humans.  Obviously, my first thought was, Hey, I can totally do that!  A series of emails with the volunteer coordinator and in no time at all the plan established.

For background I have next to no experience with rats.  I’ve cared for a couple for friends when they were out of town, and in elementary school I had guinea pigs, and also on occasion took care of gerbils and hamsters.  So, yeah, my credentials here are extensive.

However, in the 24 hours before I picked my new roommates up I watched multiple youtube videos on rats, several articles

on how to socialize rats, and talked with two individuals who are rat fanciers and have rats as pets.  I learned a ton!  I knew rats are smart, and they are also very clean, but only live about three years.  Rats are pack animals and should never be kept on their own, they always need at least one buddy.  They are social, playful, and can be taught tricks.  Fun right?

Then I learned about “feeder” rats.  These are the rats that are bred as a food source for other animals.

On Friday, I talked to the volunteer coordinator who filled me in on what the shelter knew about the rats:  A “feeder” rat had been purchased for a snake, but for whatever reason, the snake didn’t eat her and she had seven babies.  The snake owner couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t feed any of the rats to the snake and called animal services to take them away.  Mom and the three females were fostered out to one volunteer, and I got the four boys.  Another thing I read about rats is they can go into heat every 4 or 5 days, so separating the sexes makes a ton of sense.

So, Friday afternoon I pick up the little guys, and bring them home to my spare room.  Mostly the huddled in a pile in the corner, taking turns to see who got to be buried at the bottom.  Based on their physical appearance, I have given them names to help keep track and so I can tell others about them:

Brave Little Toaster:  he has a heart shaped mark and a black stripe down his back.  He has been the boldest since they first arrived.

Spot: this guy has two spots on his back and is the second boldest, taking a lost of his cues from Brave Little Toaster.

T-bone:  His mark looks kind like a t-bone steak or a filled in capital “P”.  It’s a toss up who is the shyest, but T is definately in the running.

Pink Eye/Blanco:  he is an all white pink eyed rat who think I’m really scary.  He is often at the bottom of the rattie pile.

I tried to leave the little guys alone Friday evening (with some success), and have spent a lot of time yesterday and today going in and out of their room.  Sometimes sitting with them with their cage open, sometimes with it closed.  They are huge fans of cheerios so I drop a few in every time I got in the room so they will associate me with all the fud!

On Saturday I picked up an old fleece blanket at Goodwill to make them a hammock, with some binder clips I had around the house.  I haven’t actually seen a rattie in there yet, but somebody ate all the cheerios I put in it.

This afternoon I sat with them with cheerios on my open palm, and Brave and Spot (Brave first) came up to take the cheerios off my palm in the most delicate manner possible.  If I hadn’t been watching, I don’t think I would have noticed or felt them.

Then after dinner I spent more time with them.  More time, sitting looking at my phone with one hand and the other holding cheerios.  Brave and Spot were wise to this now and had no trouble sniffling around and checking out my thumb, wrist and arm.  The big change was Pink Eye, who just as i was ready to leave, snuck up to grab his own cheerio!  I wanted to cheer, but he was already freaked by his own action.  Once he had the cheerio. he didn’t know what to do, on one side was a rattie pile, and on the other was my wrist.  I moved away so he could escape with his treasure.

It feels good to see so much progress already.  Tomorrow I’m going to take them into the bathroom and try to coax them out of their cage for a little while.

ICSEW Conference

ICSEW Conference

I started my little blog, and then kind of abandoned it.  That wasn’t my intention, but figuring out what I want to do with this space is a bit of a challenge.

Today I have an update on a something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, but haven’t taken any action on.  There’s a group that I’ve been interested in called the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women (ICSEW).  Today was their annual conference, and I got permission from my boss, signed up and paid my entry fee, and off I went!  I don’t go to a lot of professional conferences, so this was pushing my boundaries.  I didn’t know anyone else that was going, and so was totally on my own.

Over the course of the day I saw a few faces that I recognized, but as far as I could tell, I was the only person from my administration to attend the event.  I saw other parts of my agency well represented, but I guess my area could use some work.

My biggest take away from the panels I attended today was the importance of listening.  As my improv teach often quotes from this book, “listening is all there is.”  It’s so simple, but so hard to achieve.  It’s the basis of trusting relationships, of understanding other points of view, and staying focused on the world around you.  Each other speakers today spoke of the importance of listening and how poorly a lot of us are at it.

I know I’m still improving.  Especially listening over the phone.  There are so many distractions that I can let myself be ruled by, particularly email.  Or even just thinking ahead to what I’m going to saw next.   Which means I’m not listening.  How is my response going to be any good if I don’t hear what the person speaking is saying.  It’s a weakness of mine that needs my attention to improve.

Professional development was also a hot topic.  I got some good tips, and need to spend some time really focusing on them.  More on listening and professional development later.

Throughout the day there were references to the horrifying events that have taken place in our country since Saturday morning.  The need for inclusion and diversity cannot be overstated.  I was really heartened by all the positivity I felt today and how supportive the audience members were for these comments.


Hello, but Not much of an update

Hello, but Not much of an update

Hey friends!  I haven’t written anything in ages, because, well, I couldn’t think of what you’d want to read.  Then I realized, since there’s probably 4 of us, it doesn’t really matter.

I haven’t made it to the thrift store to drop off donations.  That’s a totally achievable goal, that I just haven’t made happen.

I’ve been getting in the my C25K runs in between the many raindrops.

The most progress to date has been on my the goal of knitting a sweater ….. Have I mentioned that?  I haven’t ever knitting a whole sweater, so I’ve started a baby sweater.

The pattern is from one of my favorite pattern books called, “60 quick Baby Knits.”  Since I’m on a mission to use up yarn and not buy new (with few certain exceptions). To make it, it takes a front and back rectangle that match one another.  It has a basket weave pattern on the sides, with the simple cable up the middle.  Then, place them together, pick up stitches and make sleeves, which also have a cable pattern.  The back piece is complete, so that’s 1/4 of the way done, maybe?  I have pictures, but I need to figure out how to add them.  Soon!


Other things that need to happen soon:  planting dahlia bulbs.  Now that the weather is starting to warm up and maybe possibly drying out there is spring planting to get done and in the ground.

For the 4 of us that are reading this, are you making progress on any of your projects and goals?



As I’m looking for more things to load up and take to the thrift store, I am reminded of a new-ish service in Thurston County:  Threadcycle.

Threadcycle is a clothing, textile and shoe recycling program through Thurston County Solid Waste that partners with local thift stores to keep textiles out of landfills.  Only have one sock, donate it instead of throwing it away.  Worn out shoes or gloves?  Donate them!  It’s such a cool program.  As long as it’s free from chemicals, and not wet or mildewed, they’ll take it.  Old sheets can go, too!

This bit of info of their page always give me pause, “In the United States the average person throws away 70 pounds of clothing and textiles a year.”  70 pounds! That’s more than the checked baggage allowance on an airline flight.  That’s more than what a Kindergartner weighs (maybe? I’m guessing here).  It’s around the size of a full grown Labrador or German Sheppard.

I’m astonished we could have so many textiles per person to get rid of.  Then I think of books like “Overdressed: The High Cost of Fast Fashion” and “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster” that describe the radical change the clothing industry has gone through in the last 20 to 30 years.  The shift of manufacturing to overseas factories with lower costs lead to a spike in clothing that was cheaply made and and could be changed out swiftly.  It also cost less to purchase, making it more accessible to a broad clientele.

The result is we end up buying more clothing than we need, because it’s fun and doesn’t feel like it’s breaking the bank.  Also because we have a need to be on point and fashion forward, even if that means we only wear the item for one season, or even just one time.

While it’s always better to reduce than recycle, the Threadcycle folks make their program each to access.  According to the information on the website, you don’t have to sort your items specially, just drop them off like you would anything else to a designated partner location.  (Personally, I do set aside a bag for the Threadcycle items, but that’s just how I am.)

So maybe give a thought as you are cleaning out those closets and drawers, instead of tossing the old, worn out clothes in the trash, toss them in a bag and let them be recycled into a new life.



I’ve been meaning to share this TedTalk on time (it isn’t very long) and how we use it.  We do what we prioritize.  We also do what we write down.  We like to measure our accomplishments (think regularly weigh ins on your scale).   This video covers it all – basically, in one week we have 168 hours (24 hours x 7 days) at our disposal.  Figure we spend 40 hours at work and 40 hours asleep (if we are that lucky), then that means we are left with 88 hours for other things we want to do!

Okay, so that’s an overstatement.  In order to get to our 40 hour minimum per week job, most of us have a commute, so we lose maybe 10 hours a week to that.  Okay, 78 hours!

Grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, housekeeping, and pet care take up additional time, but the whole point is that we have more time than we realize.  I know I frequently lose time on Facebook or playing a silly tapping game  on my phone.  When I sit down to figure out how to spend my time, much like when I figure out how to spend my money, I realize I can do more than I thought, just by paying attention and making something a priority.

Lots of nights after work, I just don’t want to do anything.  Just go home and hang out with my cat, crafts, and the internet.  The result is that I lose out on all sorts of neat opportunities.  In the last few months I have prioritized taking some classes at my local community center, the first was an improv class, the second an art/journaling class, and then another improv.  These have been great for me since they are stretching my comfort zone.

It can be hard to leave home after work to go and do things, but it’s so worth it.  And even if you don’t think you have the time, you really probably do.