Tag Archives: hamsters

Birth, School, Work, Death

OK, so my reference to the Godfathers’ song from 1988, is a bit melodramatic, but what is teenage existence if not melodramatic? Plus, it’s my solemn duty to reference anything 80s, anytime I can.
My kid had a crash course in adult life this week. First he got yelled at by yours truly for not handing in assignments and a lecture about doing what you are supposed to, even if you don’t feel like it. Senioritis has reached an acute stage, and I can use that word because I work at the hospital.
A few days later, our beloved hamster, Marble, who has gotten me out of more than one blogging jam with his cuteness, decided on Wednesday that his allotted two years were up. As one friend said, Marble has moved on and will  forever be remembered with his cheeks stuffed with seeds and carrots. Even though this is hamster #3, the kid was still sad. I am too, truth be told. But we didn’t have too much time to mourn, because at the end of that day, we got word that the kid had received a local scholarship, and we’d find out details at a ceremony next week.

Thursday started with a visit to the vet for Marble’s cremation and ended with a 2-hour wait to get the kid fitted for a tux for the prom. Yes, my gaming, independent kid decided to go to the prom on his own to see what the fuss was all about. On the way to the fitting, he confessed he was nervous and wasn’t sure what he was doing. He also knew the ticket had been bought and the tux rented and there was no going back. If that’s not a “welcome to adulthood” situation, I don’t know what is.

The next day he got dressed up, looked awesome, and I drove him to the prom fashionably late. We agreed he could call me at anytime to come rescue him, and it took him a few minutes to get the courage to open the door after a brief strategy session. I then headed home and sat waiting though the next three hours like a firefighter waiting on the next call.

When I finally got the call at the end of the night, I was jubilant, or perhaps slightly delirious — it had, after all, been an intense week. I thought, “He stayed until the end, he must’ve had a good time!” Of, course, this is my kid we’re talking about, and he tends to lean more to the glass half empty way of viewing the world. I picked him up, and he proclaimed the experience, “Meh.” However, we did have a good discussion about his expectations, and that not everyone has a fabulous time at prom or in high school for that matter. I argued that the main takeaway should be him giving himself credit for facing his fear of going to prom on his own and going. He seemed to feel bad that he probably wasn’t going to have any nostalgia for his high school days, and he compared it to my nostalgia for 80s music. I explained that my love of 80s music and the memories I have of say, my friends and I hunkered down watching this new, amazing thing called MTV — 20 minutes of moon footage interspersed with the Buggles singing “Video Killed the Radio Star” — had really nothing to do with high school. Except that I was a high schooler during that time. I pointed out to him that his nostalgia would be around the video games he’s played with his friends. His spirits seemed to brightened at that idea.

Which is good — growing up means getting your own nostalgia and appropriating anyone else that’s interesting. Long live the 80s.

 

 

Hamster in a Blanket

My friend George told me there’d be days like this. When I spoke with him 3 years ago about starting my blog, he knew me well enough to know I can get too focused on always bringing my A-game to my writing, or at least die trying. Having done social media for his fabulous knitting and crochet pattern business 10 Hours or Less, he also knew some days I’d be lucky to get out of bed and get dressed, never mind post some quality writing that will make people laugh and cry and give them a push to get their own ass out of bed. Some days a B or even B minus-game will do.

George is a wise man, and today is one of those days. So I give you Marble, the amazingly cute hamster in a blanket, because that is all I got this week. Oh, and hey, I’ve been doing this blog for 3 years — thanks for being a part of it.

Marble2

Merry Kwanzachrismukkahstivus

Marble and I wish you a very Merry Kwanzachrismukkahstivus. I hope you had a good weekend celebrating whatever has meaning for you, be it stories from history, a baby in the straw, oil that doesn’t quit, feats of strength, or just being grateful for not doing anything. 

Mercifully, 2016 is coming to a close–we hope with no more taking of any icons, but don’t hold your breath. I remember a stand-up routine Steve Martin did many years ago, where he proposed this ritual to break up with someone. I’d like to perform it for 2016:

You say: I break with thee, I break with thee, I break with thee. And then you throw dog poop on their shoes. 💩

So there, 2016. We’re done.

Next week I’ll do my top 10 or 11 or 9 posts from the year, as the spirit moves me. Then I’ll be ready for 2017 with new words, a stout heart, a rapier wit (or maybe just the rapier–I believe flexibility is called for), some serious dance moves, and a case of wine.

We’ll find our way together. 

The Hamster’s All Right

I wrote a while back that our current hamster, Marble, needed to have surgery to remove a growth on his nether regions. Now you shouldn’t confuse this with the post I did about our previous hamster, Hamphrey, who also needed surgery in his nether regions, resulting in, sad to say, no more nether regions. I admit, many dollars later, I may be a little bit over having male hamsters at this point. 

However, Marble not only got to keep his hamster manliness intact, he’s doing fine and swaggering around, taking his antibiotics like a champ. The biopsy came back, because you know in a world where a hamster biopsy is possible, why wouldn’t you have one? A friend suggested perhaps they just throw it away and pick random things to tell you from a spinning wheel. I choose not to be that cynical. At least not at $200 a pop. Turns out it was cancerous, but they think they got it all. We’re supposed to keep an eye on him, but he’s a hamster, so there’s probably a good chance he’ll live out the rest of his 2-year life span with no more more trips to the vet. Or at least at that point I can look into hamster hospice. 

They are cute and pull at your heart strings, so what can you do? Here’s to a long hamster life Marble. 

I Would Have Gotten Away with It, if It Weren’t for that Meddling Hamster

So I published this two years ago, and I’m having deja vu. I took the new(ish) hamster, Marble, to the vet this week, and he needs to have something removed from his balls. He’s adorable, but I would like to say for the record that I’m done with male hamsters and their ball issues. And before you ask, as a number of my friends already have, my kid is waaaaay too old and attached for me to put Marble down and get a new one because it’s less expensive than surgery. Look, I get he’s a hamster and doesn’t register much in the pet kingdom, but in the kid kingdom, he is the bee’s knees. So, in honor of laying out yet another three figure amount in the name of pets, here’s the post from two years ago.

This week I joined the ranks of what I used to think of as the Crazy Pet People, but now think of more as the Concerned and Highly Responsible Pet Owners. I grew up in the time when the only reason you took your pets to vet was to end their misery, and you’d hear your parents complain about the bill for months after. I owned my last cats in 1990, way before people were spending $56 billion smackers a year on their pets. And for the record, I did NOT take them to the vet then—I became allergic and sent them to live a good friend. I like to hide my secret relief at not having to lay out serious cash on pet wellness and health care that rivals humans by secretly shaking my head at those crazy pet people, acting like their pets are people. I’ve gotten away with it too for quite a while—long enough to foster some hubris on the topic. When my son reached pet-wanting age, my and his father’s cat allergies and my incompatibility with dogs left him with a pretty short list of possibilities: fish, turtles, and small furry creatures. We started with two successive goldfish. Dorothy lasted about a year, but Baby Dorothy had some digestive issues that required a special diet. Despite the fact that I hand-fed her mashed peas, she left the mortal coil after a few months. That should have been the red flag for me. I was hand-feeding. A fish. Peas. Why? Because she was my son’s pet, and he loved her. That, I told myself, was much different from what those Crazy Pet People do.

Two fish funerals in a short time took its emotional toll on my son, and so we laid low on the pet front for a while. When the hamster request became frequent and steady, we agreed to get him a hamster for his birthday. He picked Nibbles, who was up for adoption at the pet store; his previous owner was no longer able to care for him. I was brimming with pride, both at my son’s compassionate choice, and at Nibble’s exceptional talents; he placed third in the Petco Hamster Ball Derby that year. Mostly, Nibbles was a healthy and maintenance-free hamster. At least from a vet’s perspective. He did escape from his cage numerous times, holing up under the dishwasher for 36 hours once and getting specked with black gunk after about 6 hours of roaming under the baseboards. But he was none the worse for wear. One weird episode involved us cleaning his cage during the day. Hamsters are nocturnal, so we had to wake him up to do it. He wasn’t right for three days after that—sleeping day and night, except for a few feeble attempts to walk in his wheel. He’d walked for a few minutes, then seemed confused at why he was there and retreat to his house. I lay awake listening for the sound of the wheel, and then convinced we’d killed him, I checked on him in the middle of the night. He finally perked up all on his own, and the only other help he needed was when he was very old (at age three) and we turned his cage into a one-level assisted living facility for him. But, you know, none of that was crazy, it was logical animal care.

After a few months of mourning Nibbles, my son was ready for a second hamster, and why not? Since we’d weathered one hamster’s life vet-free, the idea of it went completely out of my head. And for our first year with Hamphrey, we continued in that self-delusional fantasy. That is, until last Tuesday. My son picked up Hamphrey and said, “What’s that?” There something slightly larger than a Cocoa Puff on him, and the color was not any color a mammal should be sporting. Although I previously had not consciously defined for myself what size a weird growth needed to be for me to consider a vet, apparently it’s slightly larger than a Cocoa Puff. So there I was, making awkward calls from work, first finding a vet who treats what one vet website called “pocket pets” and then describing the problem. I was acutely aware that to people who don’t own pets, on the scale of legitimate pet issues, Hamphrey’s was just above fish digestive issues. Lucky for me the Concerned and Highly Responsible Pet Owners at the vet fell over themselves when I showed up in the waiting room with the cage. All dog owners, they oohed at Hamphrey’s well-timed,head poke out of his house, exclaimed his cuteness, and peppered me with questions about him, including his ailment.

The vet examined him thoroughly, which I was very grateful for. But it was also kind of hard to take seriously, I mean, when she looked in his eyes, ears, and even in his tiny nose, what could she possibly see in there? I was mildly amused until she started talking about surgery, the risks, and a specialist south of Boston. And there I was, in that place I’d avoided for so long. Trying to make a difficult, expensive health care decision for a small animal with a three-year life span and hold on my son’s heart. Of course I considered it, because I’m a Concerned and Highly Responsible Pet Owner. What made me hesitate was that surgery was probably just as risky as doing nothing—the anesthesia alone could kill him, and how the heck do you administer it? With a little mask? So as my mind was racing about how I would explain this all to my son, we came back to the more basic approach, trying to clean up the Cocoa Puff. So they took him off for about 10 minutes. When they returned, the Cocoa Puff was gone, there was a small wound, and I swear Hamphrey looked relieved. Seems like it was an infected cut, and not some big scary tumor. Phew. And $107 later, that is how I joined your ranks. Now if you’ll excuse me, Hamphrey needs his antibiotics, ointment applied, and a foot rub.

Photo: Marble the newish hamster in all his cuteness.

Back to School Salute: 6 Questions You Won’t Get Answered in the Classroom

Many kids don’t go back to school until after Labor Day, but mine started this past Wednesday. Yes, the body of August isn’t even cold yet, and the grind has started. And no, it’s not starting this early because of Boston’s record snow fall last winter. The district decided to be democratic and give all the religious holidays off—Jewish, Muslim, and Christian, so the kids are only going to school for like five days during the month of September. I wish I could get me some of that for work. If we all got all the religious holidays off and participation was optional, we’d all be a lot more tolerant, don’t you think? Politicians, if you can take a break from nay saying and being extreme, maybe you could get working on that idea.

But I digress. Regardless of the start date, for many people back-to-school means posting annoying (to the rest of us) pics of your favorite student all bright and shiny with a brand new back pack and big smile. I’m not jealous in the least, and don’t worry, you won’t find me clogging up my Facebook page with that rubbish. You see, for my teen school has always been a grueling event to grimly endure like a Dust Bowl farmer. Believe me, nobody wants or needs this documented, with the exception of the Dust Bowl farmers above. We’re both just waiting for it to be over.

But I didn’t come here to bellyache about school, well I did a little, but I did want to acknowledge that school is starting and in honor of that and in lieu of smiling happy students, I present here 6 questions my friends and I have been pondering lately. I submit to you that they are way more useful and interesting than questions you get in school, which is why we never got the answers.

  1. Are blue balls a real thing? My friend insists that this is a real and dangerous condition, and I say it’s a condition guys made up to get laid. So I looked it up, and yes, it can happen and involves restricted blood flow and oxygen getting absorbed during an extended erection, blah, blah, blah. But it won’t kill you, and the website I consulted described it as more of a “minor pain.” Soooo I’m going to give you that it’s an actual medical condition, but that it’s dangerous? Um, yeah, no.
  2. Do hamsters change their sex? Another friend as a kid had two hamsters that were both female, and the next thing he knew there were baby hamsters everywhere. Based on that experience, he claims hamsters can change their sex by necessity. I seriously doubted that because it’s such an anomaly, it would have been used in a biology class as an example of whatever that’s called, and we all would have remembered it, even a word girl like me. When I Googled it, you’d be surprised at how popular that question is. Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not a freak of nature. The main culprit seems to be pet stores’ lack of skill in 1) identifying males and females correctly and 2) the corollary result of that misidentification, which is that you can bring home a hamster that is already pregnant. Hence, the amazing sex-changing hamster. Not.
  3. If a tree falls in the forest and you see and hear it, does it count as a philosophical event, or is it just falling deadwood? Yes? No? Discuss.
  4. What does a typed period look like in italics? In a discussion about whether to italicize the punctuation that goes with italicized text (the answer is yes), my friend and I wondered about this. I made the font really big and in Palatino it looks ovally. My friend used Times New Roman and described it as not oval, but rather “smaller and more delicate looking.” Typeface and word aficionados could easily while away an entire afternoon doing this. Left side of the internet room, serif; right side, san serif. Get crazy with it, and bonus points for posting the description of what it looks like.
  5. What exactly does “telling tales out of school” mean? As opposed to telling tales “in school”? And why is that OK? What tales are we talking about? Gossip? Literature? Urban legends like alligators in the toilets? Tails? Inquiring minds want to know.
  6. When you go to a bar’s “underwear night” and they say to wear something you could wear out in public and not get arrested, what does that mean? Can you get arrested for wearing actual underwear on the street—say, tighty whities or women’s Hanes? Or a bikini swim suit for that matter? And if so, what is the difference, besides the type of material? I see people wearing their pajamas in public and see through tops, is that also a crime? I mean besides a crime of fashion?

Some these queries like the one about the tree falling in a forest may be unanswerable, but I think it’s still important to ask these piercing questions. After all, isn’t that what education is all about?

Photo note: I mean no disrespect to people who lived, struggled, and died during the Dust Bowl. The image is a good reminder of how lucky  we all are.

Introducing Our New Furry Family Member: Marble

A few months ago we said goodbye to Hamphrey, our beloved hamster and occasional muse/savior of this blog (Hamphrey snoring in the cutest way everSanta Hamphrey and Hamphrey inspiring me to be one of those pet people). We recently decided we were ready for another furry friend, so here he is making his blog debut: I give you Marble.

He’s already proving to have some spunk. I had to take 37 photos of him before I could get the one above, and this was in the morning, when he’s supposed to be sleepy and more susceptible to my Jedi mind tricks, or at least the promise of a carrot. Here’s what most of the other pictures look like:

Marblemoving1 marblemoving2

 

marblemoving3

I’m thinking he will be more like our first hamster, Nibbles, who was a poster hamster for being active. My theory is he lived longer (for a hamster, anyway) as a result. Nibbles would always rather be rolling around in his ball. The few times we left the cage door open he escaped and set up his man cave underneath our dishwasher, complete with food and bedding, or we found him in the room furthest from his cage looking disheveled and dirty as if he’d hiked through the Himalayas.

Hamphrey on the other hand was more of a homebody, and it was even money whether he’d go in the ball or sniff it politely before turning away and settling on his couch with a clicker and a bowl of sunflower seeds. He also needed surgery and just made it to his second birthday. Just sayin’.

So, welcome Marble; thanks  for taking part in my unscientific observations on the impact of exercise on hamsters, and we look forward to your general adorableness and any blog-worthy antics.