September 30, 2009

The Last Day of September

 

 Out perambulating hellhounds this afternoon, passed a woman and her little boy.  Look at the dogs! he said, pointing at the hellhounds.

            Yes, said the woman.  How many dogs are there?

            Four, he said positively.

            I often feel that way myself.  Darkness and Chaos encompass multitudes:  any good mythology can tell you that.  Odin’s horse has eight legs, Zeus showed up as a bull, why shouldn’t my hellhounds be bipartite in some mortal-confounding manner?*  It might also somewhat explain my life. . . .

           

The story thus far.  I am presently writing a novel called PEGASUS.  I have, in the last few years, belatedly developed a concept of time and the passage thereof.**  I’m past 50 and I have a lot of books left to write so I’d better stop this shilly-shallying and get on with it.  Well, I’m trying.  But PEGASUS was due the end of this summer, that is to say the end of the summer just past and here it is the last day of September*** and I’m still working on it.† 

            Final, positive, no-excuses, firing-squad PEGASUS due date is 8 October.

            Meanwhile, Berkley, my noble†† paperback publisher, is hard at work getting the first softcover CHALICE out plus the next reissue of my backlist.  Which meant that I’ve been reading proofs . . . and CHALICE may be short, but SPINDLE’S END, which is this autumn’s reissue, is not . . . while I’m also trying to finish my overdue novel.

            Also meanwhile . . . last spring, when I had recently decided that PEGASUS was two books, not one (although I don’t think I was admitting it yet—does anyone remember when I confessed that I’d whacked it in half and would be changing pegasi midstream and galloping off with PEGASUS II—tentatively titled EBON—after I turned PEGASUS I in the end of August?), the admin of NaNoWriMo ††† contacted me about being one of the established writers to contribute a pep talk to this year’s audience.   Sure, I said, flush with the knowledge that I’d have the novel finished by the end of August, happy to, thanks for asking.

            You know what’s happened about PEGASUS (I).  You may recall my looking for miracles on the 13th of what is still (barely) this month of September.

            Some time last week I received a bright, jolly little note from the same member of the admin of NaNoWriMo as last spring, saying that while it was fine and everything that they hadn’t heard from me yet, the deadline for the pep talk was . . . 1 October

            No, no, no, no, no no no no NO NO NO NO NO NO.

             Er . . . yes.

            I’d forgotten about it completely, of course.  Well, no—not completely.  I remembered that I’d agreed to do it, but since they’d originally suggested that I get my pep talk in the middle of August, and that was a long time ago and nobody had said anything to me, and my awareness of almost everything became pretty blurry from about mid July, and when was the dratted NaNoWri month anyway?, there are twelve to choose from in the average year, it didn’t have to be now . . . I don’t think I knew that the ultimate deadline was the frelling first of frelling October.   Allow me to reiterate that I warned you you didn’t want to rely on my new understanding of the passage of time.

            And three days ago the ME emerged from darkness and chaos and put its foot on my head.

            I spent today writing the ungleblarging pep talk.  It begins:

 As I write this less than twenty-four hours before NaNoWriMo’s deadline I also have a book due in eight days.  Not just due.  Absolute, final, already overdue, my-editor-is-a-patient-woman-but-publishing-schedules-are-publishing-schedules, due.

             And then I spend a lot of paragraphs‡ rattling on about the derangements of writing, and how this is normal, and that they shouldn’t worry about it, as they watch their first drafts twist in their hands like the fairy queen trying to make Janet let go of Tam Lin.  My peroration reads, in part:           

I got to the end of the third draft of the first volume of PEGASUS on 13 September.  But . . . as I wrote in my blog that day, I need a miracle.  Anyone got one you’re not using?   Out in the garage, up in the attic, in a shoebox under the bed? 

I am going to make it.  I am going to turn PEGASUS in on the 8th of October.

I’m even going to get my pep talk in to NaNoWriMo by tomorrow.

            I sent the pep talk in about three hours ago.  Now all I have to do is finish PEGASUS.

           The countdown begins:  eight days.   

* * *

 * Also, kindly hellhounds might be seeking to disable the conjecture^ that if you catch sight of a hellhound three times you have to die, in a whap-up-longside-the-head-now-how-many-fingers-do-you-see? sort of way. 

^ Can you disable a conjecture?  Keep reading, I have good reason to have less grasp of my native language than usual tonight. 

** Not that you’d want to rely on it or anything. 

 *** Peter seems to have a very busy October coming up and he keeps turning the calendar over so that the page that shows is October.  I walk into the kitchen of the mews every afternoon and freak out.  It’s not October yet! I scream.  Put it back!   He did it again this evening while I was out hurtling.  There were five perfectly good hours left of September at that point. I turned it back again. 

Aaaaaaugh and so on.  I did say you shouldn’t rely on my sense of the passage of time. 

†† Hey.  My editors read this blog.  Not to mention Merrilee, who will scold me if I get waspish.  Besides, I like Berkley’s reissues, first and foremost of my likingness being that they’re doing them. 

††† http://www.nanowrimo.org/

National Novel Writing Month, which happens to be November.  Brrrrr.  I’m so glad I was already writing professionally before they chose my birth month to torture in this manner.   An entire first draft of a novel in a month?  Do they also provide thumbscrews? 

‡ It’s about 1200 words long.  Just like a blog entry.  This is My Length.  I do a thousand to fifteen hundred words, and I do novels.  That’s it.  Take your pick.

Aggle redux, etc

 

 What I haven’t been telling you is that the ungleblarging ME is back.  Sunday night I was thinking, mmphf, maybe I’ve overdone it a little* . . . and then Monday was a wipe.**   Bad.  Really bad.  Big major ick and bleeurgh which is the sound you make when you pour floppy and gasping off your chair.***  Sigh.  I spent all day Monday and this morning trying to convince myself to cancel my voice lesson this afternoon . . . and about noon-thirty today, having just tottered back in from a rather abbreviated hellhound hurtle, I was fishing my RaspBerry out of my pocket and perversely hoping that I hadn’t got round to putting Blondel’s phone number in it because then it would be on One of Those Little Pieces of Paper . . . somewhere.  And then, rats, there it was, on the RaspBerry.  I stood there (possibly swaying a little) and thought, but I don’t want to cancel.  Supposing I can manage to focus my eyes to drive that far.  And besides, it’s now less than three hours off and unless the house is burning down or I’m in surgery I don’t think I can cancel this late.   

               And . . . well, frankly, the ME was a good excuse.  A desperately needed good excuse.  Remember I said last week that I thought maybe that the hard work had just begun with He Was Despised?  True.  Geezum crow, all that you-against-your-accompaniment thing, as if you’re two different things, it was a disaster.  First few run-throughs we hit the ‘he was despised’, ‘and rejected’, where the singer has to come in all alone, not to mention the on the right note aspect of the situation . . . I just stood there.  Silent as a peak in Darien.†  Siiiigh.  And when I did manage to make some noise . . . it would have been better if I hadn’t.  Well, I had told him I have a slight paralytic stage fright problem.  And I’ve told you I have no voice worth developing—this is just to find out about singing from the inside, so I can write better songs.  I shouldn’t be allowed to come in alone without a nice supportive drowning-out-type accompaniment.  SIGH.  And I had worked on it this week, knowing that I was finding it difficult.

             Next week has to be better . . . doesn’t it? †† 

* * *

 * I even got out in the garden this weekend, hauling out decrepit annuals and stuffing spring bulbs everywhere. 

** I’m sure the adrenaline spike caused by the Attack of the Fifty-Foot Spider didn’t help, but the ME was already on the train to Hampshire. 

Baybelletrist wrote:

 AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH*ahem*

Robin, that’s not NICE. Springing (and I do mean springing) a picture like that on a poor unsuspecting reader. I might suspect you of trying to give me heart failure, but I know you’re not that kind of Hellgoddess.

Well, what do you think seeing it ALL SPREAD OUT ON MY WALL DID FOR ME?   At least it’s in a glass!  And there’s an off switch on your computer! 

Black bear wrote: 

Is this your friend, Robin? http://www.uksafari.com/housespiders.htm 

Ewwwwwww.  Yes.  The thing I find the most horrifying however is that this is . . . the common house spider??  You mean I could find one of these things AGAIN some day?  . . . Maybe my roots in southern England aren’t quite as deep as I thought.  Antarctica.   Antarctica doesn’t have a lot of spiders.  Although you really can’t put them outdoors there if you find one indoors with you. . . . 

I notice that it says these spiders are more active in autumn, as this is mating season. I’d bet you had a gentleman spider there out looking for a girlfriend…

Well, I’ve always learnt that the female spiders are bigger . . . AND IF THIS IS A SMALL MALE I’M MOVING TO ANTARCTICA.  TONIGHT.

I’m not sure I believe the business about house spiders dying if you toss them out, though I’ve heard that also; the main species of indoor spiders we have around here I also see in sheltered areas around the edges of my house (particularly in my canoe.) I usually compromise by throwing them onto my back porch. 

I figure if geraniums and snapdragons can survive (sometimes) snuggled up against the outer cottage wall facing (west) into the walled garden, so can house spiders.   After all, a house spider can move around and find the coziest spot.  To which it’s welcome.  Outdoors.

Bookgal71 

Well, I’m from Melbourne and I think your attitude to Wolf spiders is perfectly rational!

 Oh good.

In fact, my rules for spiders (other than daddy long legs and other weeny harmless things) boils down to if you come inside the house, you are declaring your desire not to live any longer.

I am philosophically compelled to try the glass and cardboard approach.  But you know aside from the fact that we are all brothers and sisters in the unity of the universe . . . I don’t want to squish something that large.  I’d have to frelling repaint the entire frelling wall. 

The large hairy ones (mostly huntsman round here but sometimes other things) give me the heeby jeebys and many of the others are capable of nasty bites and there’s no way I’d be brave enough to do the glass/cardboard route. Plus huntsman JUMP

 . . . and there you have my ultimate worst horror about Things with Too Many Legs.  Some of them JUMP.  AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.  I’m under the impression that wolf spiders jump.  I gave those sitting room curtains a very wide berth.  But really . . . the speed at which most of these things scuttle is quite horrible enough.  And when THEIR LEGS ARE LONGER THAN YOURS ARE. . . .

 (usually towards the poor hapless person attempting to catch them…!!) I’m fine with mice and rats

 I seriously do not do rats 

 and snakes and all other general forms of creepy crawlies so I allow myself one category of semi-phobia. In the interests of fairness, I did announce my policy to the backyard when I moved in and if I spot one outside, I remind it in firm tones *g*. So far it’s worked.

I tried telling the mice eating my flower bulbs to piss off and it didn’t work.  Snarky little frellers.  So now it’s the netting.  And I’m going to try traps in empty cardboard loo-rolls this year too.   I could probably come around to spiders bigger than my hand if they’d promise to eat some mice.

Diane from MN 

I’m not a good eco-greenie either: I see no excuse for houseflies or mosquitoes or slugs or cockroaches.

Quite right, too. And don’t forget ticks and fleas . . .

 And greenfly/aphis/aphids.  And whitefly in your greenhouse.  And those serried ranks of curly caterpillars that eat your rose leaves in late summer.  Yes.  

Audrey Falconer 

I don’t mind the odd big spider 

Do you hire out with a glass and a piece of cardboard?  Have you thought of relocating to southern England? 

 (and yes, they are big here in Melbourne!) in the house and I ignore them, but my husband (who comes from Brisbane) objects to them and imposes a “top two feet of the house” rule on them. If they come within reach (we have 10 foot ceilings) they’re for the glass and paper and outside! 

They JUMP.  They LET THEMSELVES DOWN ON THEIR WEB THREADS.  They SCAMPER DOWN WALLS.  I’m willing to put up with two foot of lush and superabundant spider webs at the top of a twenty-foot bell tower ringing chamber—or I’m willing to  put up with it just until the day that I get a grapefruit-sized spider running down my bell rope at me—but I’m not welcoming anything on my ceilings. 

Mrs Redboots 

Spiders really don’t worry me

 Feh.  One of us is a different species. 

 – oddly, I prefer those ones with the long legs that look a bit like daddy-long-legses

 I agree . . . BUT THERE ARE LIMITS.  Daddy long legs do NOT have legs (almost) as thick as your fingers WITH SPIKY GOTH HAIR ALL OVER THEM. 

 to the ones with thick furry bodies & legs, 

One of my awful little secrets is that I think tarantulas . . . are kind of cute.  I’m not sure this would withstand meeting one however.  Almost certainly not on my upstairs hall wall at mmph o’clock in the wee small morning.

 but I was brought up to believe that spiders were Nice People

I was brought up to Kill on Sight and then I started thinking, you know, wait a minute, aren’t we all sisters and brothers, blah blah blah (except houseflies, mosquitos, slugs, greenfly, ticks and fleas . . . ).  Practical response was a lot easier when it was just Kill on Sight. 

 and definitely of the race that knows Joseph…. although I do put them outside when I find them in the bath.

 I’ve told you, haven’t I, that I leave my bath mat at an angle, so spiders who fall in the bath can find their own way out?  I have to rescue them from the sink occasionally however.

I gather they are more numerous than usual this autumn, also daddy-long-legses 

This thought didn’t bother me quite so much till Sunday night.

 AJLR 

Could have been this one?
NB Anyone of a nervous disposition, or arachnophobic, should probably avoid clicking the link.

 AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH.  Yes, that’s definitely my . . . friend.  It doesn’t seem to say they bite . . . Trying hard to find a bright side to look on. . . . I am so totally freaked out that this is the common house spider.   

Black Bear, who obviously likes spiders way too much, posts again: 

Now, those who hate spiders generally shouldn’t click this link either–but in trying to find a species name last night, I came across a marvelous video of a male jumping spider trying to woo his lady friend. Jumping spiders are already the charmers of the spider world, in my mind… and this little guy is just trying so hard to impress her! But she is unmoved by his prowess. If you do watch it, turn your sound on, as the little buzzing noises he’s making are pretty hilarious.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D92AUXhYZ0M

 It’s an ak-ak!  It’s anti-aircraft fire!  It’s little teeny anti-aircraft fire!  So now we know where the military scientists came up with the idea!

 ***  Hellhounds say, Sofa?  Sofa? 

† I know I’m misquoting.  It’s a joke.  Mountains rarely sing Handel. 

†† Except that next week it’ll be two days before PEGASUS due date.  I should probably start a countdown. . . .

AGGLEBLAGGLEDORGLE* URK! Also GALVINIZED BLISTERING EEEEEEK!**

 

 Or, there are Serious Disadvantages to Living in a Separate House from Your Husband, husbands being made for dealing with Certain Things.  Look at what I found waiting for me at the cottage last night:IMG_0457

 [insert more strong language HERE.  Blah!  Arrrgh!  YAAAAAH!]

Peter always says ‘oh, poor thing’ and picks it up gently in his handkerchief.  EEEEEEEEI’m not a true arachnophobe;  mostly I pursue a policy of live and let live.***  And I think I told you I had an ethical crisis when I found out—not all that long ago, given my age and my fond belief that I pay attention to crittery things:  while we were still in the old house, AKA Spiderhaven—that house spiders die if you put them outdoors.  Oh gods.  Okay, okay, I can stand a few indoor spiders.†  BUT THERE ARE LIMITS.  This one is clearly and definitively over the limit.††

            I don’t think she was too happy to see me either.  She was spread-eagled—and I mean eagle—on the upstairs hall wall, probably screaming in a little high beyond-human-ear-range, especially middle-aged-human-ear-range spider voice:  Turn that light off!  She was sufficiently dazzled that I had time to race downstairs and grab a glass and race back upstairs again, slap it over her—which EWWWWWWWW required convincing her to DRAW HER LEGS IN A LITTLE EWWWWWWWW—and then stand there, sweating and panting and thinking, uhh, I forgot the piece of cardboard.†††   Gaaah.  Fortunately there were two (or possibly three) empty cardboard boxes sitting on the stair-ladder to the attic‡ at my elbow (ow).  I will leave the details of ripping a flap off one of them with one hand, two feet, and some teeth to your imaginations.‡‡  We got there in the end.

            She was probably further traumatised by the camera flash going off in her face.  I hope it will give her a dislike of the cottage.‡‡‡

            And then I dumped her out the window.  And closed all the windows on that side of the house. 

            And it was cold last night.  I am a bad person.  But just in case you’ve forgotten since the top of the page, this is what she looked like.§  Look at those hairy legs!  Look at those mandibles!  IMG_0460 crop

 Do you really want this hanging down from the canopy of your four poster some morning as you’re groping for glasses/radio/kitchen timer§§/alarm clock/brain?  I don’t think so. 

* * *

* Peter wishes me to point out that words like ‘ungleblarg’, ‘dranglefab’, and ‘aggleblaggledorgle’ are clearly derived from the Dickinson vernacular.^  This is true.  They are directly inspired, not to say stolen, from the sort of thing Peter says when he drops something or trips over something or is otherwise confounded and discomposed by the material world.  Some of us just swear

^ The urk is mine. 

** It is a source of continuing sorrow and frustration to me that WordPress titles won’t go bold or italic. 

*** And one of this summer’s peak experiences—have I told you this already?—was whapping a housefly midair—sometimes you can knock one down long enough this way to finish the job—and having it sail straight into a spider’s web and stick there, buzzing furiously.  The spider got it.  Yaay.  I’m not a good eco-greenie either:  I see no excuse for houseflies or mosquitoes or slugs or cockroaches.  Most things I’m willing to negotiate with/about. 

† Especially if they catch houseflies, even if this does result in having to clean the corners of remarkably adherent remains of dinner and spider effluvia. 

†† I’ve got a UK things-with-too-many-legs guide somewhere but I can’t find it.  So I’ve been cruising the web^ hoping to find a good UK spider ID page and what I find instead is a cheery site saying, hey, we bet you think that you’re safe in the UK.  Wrong.  There are all kinds of UK spiders that would loooove to sink their fangs into your flesh!  Let us tell you about them! 

^ Shudder 

††† And before anyone, for example, from Australia, wants to laugh condescendingly and send me some links to Australian spiders . . . I don’t live in Australia!  The wolf spider that lived in the sitting-room curtains^ of the house we were staying in when we were in Melbourne “oh don’t worry, just leave it alone” cured me of ANY lingering romantic feelings I might have had about further exploring the territory that produced Elyne Mitchell!^^ 

^ I know I’ve told you this story before.  I will tell you again too.  There are certain milestones in my life you’re just going to have to get used to seeing here occasionally.   If you say Melbourne to me I will still say kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, dingoes, Healesville+, mangoes++, bougainvillea, eucalyptus, wolf spider in the sitting-room curtains. 

+ http://www.zoo.org.au/HealesvilleSanctuary   Nice bats too.  Note:  I am not a koala fan. 

++ The memory of fresh mangoes almost overcomes the memory of the wolf spider.  Almost. 

^^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elyne_Mitchell  I spent a sizable proportion of my preteens being Kunama, Daughter of the Silver Brumby.+

            Elyne Mitchell probably had whole packs of wolf spiders in her sitting-room curtains.  She wouldn’t have minded.  I am a wuss. 

+ I’ve probably told you this before too.  See above. 

††† You all know the glass-tumbler-over, piece-of-cardboard-under method of dealing with unwanted wildlife, yes? 

‡ As there often are.  I have a love-hate thing with cardboard boxes.  When you need one, you never have one in the right size.  This leads to hoarding behaviour.^  I had managed to break myself of this addiction when we moved into two little houses but Third House’s attic is affecting me like offering Green & Black’s to a someone on a slimming diet.  No, no!  The attic is for backlist!  —Oh, I’m sure there’s room for just a feeewww cardboard boxes! 

^ In the old house we had an entire attic devoted to my cardboard box collection.  No, really.  But we did have five attics. 

‡‡ Moments like these I get a little wistful about Lassie.  I’m sure she/he knew how to rip cardboard flaps off boxes if Timmy asked her/him to.  Hellhounds say, What do you want cardboard for?  She’s no fun to chase in a glass! 

‡‡‡ Er.  Not the kind of dislike that results in her and her sixteen Godzilla-sized friends coming back for a rematch. 

§ I had two service rings yesterday, the second one for the harvest festival at Old Eden.  While we were waiting for our last stragglers we were looking up at the ceiling, as we often do at Old Eden, where the cobwebs are thick and luxurious—and well beyond the reach of anyone but a tall person on a ladder with a broom-handled duster, and life is short.  Vicky was saying that it has been a particularly good summer for spiders, and I was nodding sagely. . . . 

§§ Best alarm clock I’ve ever had.  Except I occasionally have a little difficulty with the adding and subtracting thing.  Let me see, six hours from now would be. . . .

STOP PRESS

 

This just in! 

 Important critter news!*   

With photos

* * *

* And two guest posts in a row.  This has never happened before.  But I didn’t get Jodi’s email till after I’d gone to bed last night. ^  However it couldn’t come at a better moment as, as a result of not writing a post tonight, I have successfully slopped, thrashed and struggled through the sucking bog that opened out before me and PEGASUS yesterday, and tomorrow—I hope—it and I are back on firm ground again.^^  Thank you, fate and Jodi.  

^ See, I do go to bed sometime(s).  Perhaps not at night.  But earlier . . . um . . . Sunday morning than other mornings, on account of service ringing.  If I didn’t have to wind myself backwards every Saturday night/Sunday morning, I would start working round all 24 hours, and that way madness lies.  The manifold uses of bell ringing. 

^^ I say nothing about schedule.  Or deadline.

Guest post by Jodi

Baaaaaby ferrets!

On Friday, we only went to Charlottesville to hang out, I swear. We didn’t intend on buying anything major. After running to a couple stores to see if we could find anything to lift a piece of furniture a couple inches off the floor,* and eating dinner, we popped into the pet store so Jeff could ask the fish people there a question.**

When we walked in, there were two women playing with their granddaughters on the floor — and a pair of baby ferrets. I’m less interested in fish, so I stuck around to watch the little girls play with ferrets, chatted with people for a while, and admired the boys. One was dark and seemed calmer, and the other was light and had all the energy in the world. He was curious, pounced on things, and I fell in love right away.

Eventually the grandmothers and granddaughters left and returned the ferrets to the enclosure. I stuck around since Jeff was still busy. After a while, a teenage girl and her mom walked in and zeroed in on the ferrets. The mom hated the idea of ferrets (like a lot of people), but the daughter and I had a long talk about ferret behavior and needs. She was thrilled to hear about mine, and had a lot of questions about if they could be litter trained and whatnot.

Jeff returned and held the dark ferret, the calmer one. I’ve only seen him look that way about a ferret once before, and that was Austin when we got him six years ago. Austin turned out to be Jeff’s ferret. Jeff’s favorite ferret. The king. I could see him falling in love.

It was getting late, and we still wanted to make another stop. We wished the girl luck in convincing her mom to let her have the ferrets, and left the shop. As we pulled out of the parking lot, we said, “We don’t need more ferrets. We have five already,” and, “The plan is to keep it at three or four when we lose more.” We both nodded at the wisdom of our decision and got in the car. I asked about his fish question as we pulled to the end of the parking lot, he answered, and then he said, “I really liked that dark ferret. I thought you were going to ask for the other one though.”

“He was really cute,” I said. “So playful and ferret like!”

Jeff paused and said, “If you’d asked, I was going to get them for you.”

“TURN AROUND NOW.”

But our light was green, so we left the parking lot. “What happened to not needing more? What about what we were just discussing?”

Yes, well, that one not-so-innocent statement destroyed what little self-control I was clinging to.

We decided to give it a while, and give the other girl a chance to convince her mother she needed those ferrets. If they were still there when we went back, then we’d get them. That decision made me a little calmer about the whole thing. So we ran the rest of our errands and headed back to the store.

Guess who hadn’t convinced her mom to buy the ferrets for her.

We told the boy at the counter we wanted to buy both ferrets. He left to get a box, and another guy rang us up, checking to make sure we had everything we needed for baby ferrets. (Of course we did.) The first guy came back with a large box (much larger than I’d have liked), put the ferrets in there, and a girl in line behind us muttered something to her companion, “Oh they’re getting ferrets. That won’t turn out well. Remember what happened to our ferret?” But as the employee put the ferrets in the box, she said, “They’re so cute!” and I felt like our new little friends had dodged a bullet with her.***

The box the first young man brought for us was wet on the bottom. We didn’t realize this until we were in the car. We should have gone back in and asked for a less huge box, and a less wet one, but we were stupid and didn’t. So when we stopped at a convenience store for Jeff to buy something for me to drink, the ferrets, who’d been scratching at the box, escaped. One plopped onto my foot. I wrestled him back in and turned the box on its side, but then the lid was facing sideways, so they scratched at that.

They finally did settle down on the way home. It was a long drive. I immediately traumatized them with a bath (for which one thanked me by pooping on the bathroom floor; the other had already gone in the box), put out towels for them to dry off in…not that they obliged. They chose the least absorbent surfaces to rub themselves on. Of course.

We’d discussed names on the way home. I thought the light one looked a lot like Simon, who died a couple of months ago. He doesn’t behave like Simon, which is a relief (that would be too confusing), so I tried to think of a name that didn’t sound at all like Simon. Todd was the first name that came to mind. Jeff went through several names before settling on Bobby for the dark one.^


The boys ran around the room for a while, drying off on non-absorbent objects and exploring. Kippy ventured in. She wasn’t too impressed with them. In fact, she gave us a look as if to say, “We just got rid of two. Now you bring in more?” This is the first time we’ve gotten new ferrets since we’ve had her. I imagine she was a bit surprised.

The other ferrets reacted in their usual ways. The only one we weren’t sure of was Oscar, since he’s the youngest. Well, was. He only seemed disturbed to realize these new little invaders were playing with his trash^^ and things smelled funny already. Diego and Stewie didn’t care about the new kids much. Austin smelled both of them and sat on them to prove his dominance. (Austin is king. Never forget.) And Miss Suzi tried to murder both of them.

Well, that was expected. Suzi is made of meanness. We decided not to let her out while the little ones are out, and they’re staying in a different cage. They’ll never be together unsupervised until the boys are big enough to sit on her.

Aside from carefully monitored introductions, I have learned the following things:

1. You (I) forget how much work kits are until kits come into the house.

2. The boys firmly believe the litter box is for sleeping, and the clean t-shirts are for pooping. This is because the enclosure at the shop only had wood chips and nothing else. Training them out of this is going to be…um…

3. They like soup. Until Todd stopped to eat soup, I was certain I was never going to get a photo of him that didn’t involve blurs.

4. Of all the ferrets I’ve had, none liked chewing quite this much. One of them chewed a hole in the full bag of litter. Recycled paper pellets everywhere! Jeff taped it up, and they went back to try removing the tape. I ended up putting the bag outside the room so I didn’t have to get up every five seconds and remove Bobby.

You know, in spite of my intentions to keep a group of three or four ferrets, remembering to say “I have six ferrets” and then “I have five ferrets” has felt wrong and unnatural. I miss Leanne and Simon, and that’s not going to change, but I have seven ferrets again. And that feels right.

*We have a small bathroom, and no shelves, so we bought a space saver, which goes over the toilet. It has shelves! Unfortunately, the bottom shelf sticks out, and it’s low enough, that we can’t open the lids all the way. Even the top lid slams shut. We need to give the unit a couple inches of height so we can use our toilet again without lid issues.

**He wants a special kind of fish. I don’t even remember what the question was anymore. Something about would the fish eat other live fish.

***Years ago when we got Diego, we’d decided to think on it, like this. We called the store ahead to tell a friend who worked there we were coming to get the ferret, and she said she couldn’t hold him for us, but she didn’t think anyone would buy him while we were driving. Well, when we arrived at the store, a girl was holding Diego and our friend was watching over them. The girl said something about how he was biting her (he was a kit, and kits nip) and he was a mean ferret and she’d train him out of that by smacking his head, but she was going to buy him anyway. At this point, our friend spoke up and said, “He’s actually on hold for these people.”

The other customer shot me death looks, but I didn’t care. I’d just saved Diego from a life of abuse. The girl would have been severely upset by him, too; he turned out to be the best behaved ferret we have, but he’s also deaf. While deafies aren’t hard to train if you realize they can’t hear you, I imagine it’s frustrating, wondering why a ferret is ignoring you even more than ferrets usually ignore people.

^We thought about Sam and Dean, who are characters from one of our favorite shows, SUPERNATURAL. But we had hamsters named Sam and Dean, who actually started following the characters’ plots…and it doesn’t go well.

Todd is a secondary character from STARGATE: ATLANTIS. He’s a helpful wraith whose motivations you’re never totally sure of. Bobby is a secondary character from SUPERNATURAL who is made of awesome; he always has answers and saves the day when Our Heroes screw up.

^^Oscar’s favorite toys are trash. He loves water bottles, full or empty. He loves spray bottles. He loves those orange prescription bottles.

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