The hamreport is overdue. It's like when you don't write to a friend for ages and then you can't write because there's so much catching up and apologizing and grim knowledge that you'll likely be this remiss again, except I also have the guilt of not taking traditional-with-candle onesie photos of over half of our hamster population these last six weeks. Blame a combination of laziness and lingering remorse over never taking Barnard's twosie photos last year because I had the flu... last weekend was the one-year anniversary of him and Snout leaving. I'd say I miss them, but that seems selfish. All small friends go to the best places when they leave.
And now, the dutiful update!
Maudine is an old girl, but she is still a girl. For some reason she ignores the sand bath unless her hamitat is 100% fresh. She runs most nights, sleeping hammock-style in the wheel in-between. She likes corn and isn't much for the snuggling. She likes to pee in cardboard toilet paper tubes, so I hear her going scritch-scritch-scritch afterward like she can cover it up. Maudine is at least 14 months.
Henry is, of course, a marshmallow and lives in the marshmallow bin with two of his half-dozen sons. When you're wondering where some of the young ones get their sense of humour, look to Henry. He still tussles and runs and takes a great interest in the hand, being curious about the world and not threatened at all by the smell of other hamsters. Henry is at least 14 months.
Hammond has become a true brother to Helix and Owl. The other day I witnessed him and his two younger opal roommates all come out of Ambrosia's old pumpkin, one by one, and the thought of all three of these sizable lads conked out for a nap together was almost too much cuteness for me. I think he's drinking less, but I'm not sure. He's not always first for seeds anymore, and he's rumply, and he's at least 13 months.
Janet's fur is growing back! I switched her from the usually popular Kay-Tee Soft Sorbent to some Carefresh Ultra and her tummy is fuzzing up nicely again after many months. For one who supposedly gave up running in the wheel or walking normally, she can climb the bars and scoot up to her loft, although usually she stays in her little television, producing segments that traditional media fails to touch. Sweet and soft, that's Janet, who is at least 13 months.
Almond is our largest marshmallow and not at all an angry snowball, despite the amusing comments on Flickr. Being a chef, he does most of the shopping and meal planning (usually resulting in a nice seed medley with some fresh vegetables), and I always take care to consult his good opinion before choosing a buffet. He is quiet and not one to run immediately to the hand, but he is kind and happy once he makes it there. Almond turns one this week.
Toss is, of course, the other McHenry living with his father. We have many fine wheelers, but Toss remains one of the most constant, and he is still small enough to be tossed from a wheel, with the fact that he never is just proving his skills. The wheeling takes up a lot of his time, so I try not to have hurt feelings when he chooses to keep running instead of paying me any mind, but he is a polite boy and curious, and he trusts the hand on those rare occasions that it seems more interesting that the wheel. Toss turns one this week.
Tumble remains the other half of the Toss 'n Tumble set, even though he lives in the old Annie Daffodil place up the road (and on the endtable). Tumble's wheel is the Snowflake wheel, the wheel that would keep me up whenever I finally turned out the bedroom light and shut up, as Snowflake used to put it. Perhaps one day I'll get around to changing it for something quieter, for it's usually Tumble's vroom vroom vroom that limits my prized in-the-bed sleep to 3-hour naps. Poor Tumble, he pees like the Ganges and accepts a soaked existence, and it's a blue moon when he'll come to the hand, although he'll eat from it without complaint if that's how it has to be. As with Toss, the wheeling is everything. The wheeling, and the ducky bottle. He was skeptical at first, but now it's his favourite. All water tastes better with a rubber duck in it. Tumble turns one this week.
Feta is possibly our most handsome white hamster. I can't say he's the cutest or most sweet-faced, for he still has the look of a shiny, dear pig to him sometimes, but he has a certain look that would make him a sure thing with the casting agencies, right down to a Harrison Ford-like imperfection near his nose. We often refer to him as Lord Feta, so noble is his bearing. Lately he's been bulking up and sitting pensively on the log, welcome to callers, but still demanding a single nip before any conversation can take place. Once abused by the now-repentant Tumble, hence the nickname "Feta Notchear," there will perhaps always be trust issues, but after that little identification bite he is always go for smooches and scurries. Ranch Feta Clarkson turns one this week.
Elizabeth Joy may or may not be a marshmallow - this was debated earlier in the week. Can girls be marshmallows? We're not sure, and frankly? She's never going to tell. Elizabeth Joy is, of course, one half of the highly secretive pair of Henry and Maudine's first set of daughters, the other half being Sparrow (see below). Elizabeth Joy is a smooth, soft white with large, watchful eyes. Still waters and all that, for there's clearly more to this one than anyone's telling. She who used to adore Janet, she who helped raise her little brothers and sisters, she who comes shyly to the hand to sit quietly and take in the world but, more usually, sleeps tightly in a ball against her sister, two peapods in a wheel, always together. Elizabeth Joy is one of the most mysterious hamsters, and she turns one this week.
Sparrow, soulmate to Elizabeth Joy and just as commonly called Dart, is going to be nippy until the day she dies, and probably even thereafter. Little Sparrow, the only opal in a whole shoebox of white hamsters, must have suffered quite a few curious pokes in her early days for being different. That, and she and Elizabeth Joy were separated from Maudine far too young. Or maybe I'm just making co-dependent excuses for her freaking savage bites. She doesn't completely mean it, I'm sure. I mean, yes, she likes to bite things (and yes, I regularly examine her teeth), but she also likes to be petted and picked up and other things that hurt me a lot. This is one reason Elizabeth Joy doesn't get half the petting she should - the hand is always on the run from Sparrow's pert demands. But Sparrow tries to be sweet despite this bad habit, and she takes good care of her sister, and I dread the day either one leaves because we've never had such a bonded pair. Dart turns one this week.
Helix is, as the famous inscription reads, your friend, and time isn't changing that. He's an all-around good guy and reliable for sugar and cuddling. He's full-out darker than his siblings these days, perhaps out of solidarity with Hammond. He's just that thoughtful. If life is kind and keeps our cheery fellow safe, Helix will turn one next month.
Owl becomes softer and rounder by the day, making me wonder if I need to start etching tracking lines on my bottles of conditioner. Maybe it's the fourteen sand baths he takes each day; few love a spastic churn in the sand as much as our Owl, even when he's whipped the bowls (they have two!) down to little other than a few grains and a lot of wishful thinking. Owl may never be as forthcoming as his popular brother Helix, but he's always game for time in the hand and as many kisses as you have to offer. Owl turns one next month.
Milkdrop, proving to be Owl's sister, is delighted with the recent return of the sand bath to the triplet's hamitat. They used their last one, along with every available nook and pouch, to amass such a seed collection that all wheels were raised by several inches due to their millet landfills. Milkdrop is extra white these days thanks to the bath, and like her sisters (well, her litter-sisters), the hand is one of the most exciting events of the day. Milkdrop turns one next month.
Bode has a little white spot on her nose. I hope it isn't a scuffle-wound or a fungus or something vet-trippy or miserable because it's been great being able to tell Bode and Coal apart without interacting then thinking hard, nowadays changing my mind a few times before being 95% sure who is whom. (Darn that Coal for becoming more outgoing as Bode became more homey.) Like her sisters, all of them, Bode is an industrious seed archiver and, like the other two of the triplets, she finds swinging from sleeves to be great fun. She doesn't like to get involved in Milkdrop and Coal's business, but she'll hold her own if she wants them out of the wheel when it's time to run. Bode turns one next month.
Coal is now the one without the spot, the one who used to wheeze and think twice before getting in the hand. All of the triplets are vocal chitterers, but the wheezing is more rare. Coal likes wheels and hands and seed collecting and putting back all the seeds after the stupid hand moves them and squabbling of sand and other property rights. She's more likely to sleep with Milkdrop than alone or with Bode, but whenever I decide something like that, they all switch places. Coal, like the other two girls, giggles on behalf of all of us. She turns one next month.
Peter is our fine young hamster whose birthday is celebrated with Henry and Maudine's youngest, although we didn't get him until August. Back then he was cynical and kept to himself, but today he's one of our sweetest. It's a pleasure to wake from sleep and look across the room only to find Peter watching me, waiting for me to get up and deliver kisses and conversation. He always takes a taxi (one of the hand-shaped ones) from his slide to his seed dish, even when he's so eager that he's already at the bottom. It's our thing. Peter is large and soft and light and completely trusting, and he turns one next month.
Holly sleeps all day, like a traditional hamster. Unlike the others, he doesn't come running for seeds. It's like the already full seed dish is good enough, or something. Holly likes to sleep in his little house rather exclusively, waking up to vigorously wheel and play his fall-over game, patent pending. The fall-over game involves Holly running up to the almost empty loft and falling on his back. Over and over. He loves it. Sometimes he wiggles, like he's in the sand bath, but mostly he falls and falls and falls and gets so happy you almost have to take the day off work to stay up all night and cheer him on. His bottom-regions are still "not right," and if he didn't have a "dust ruffle" I don't think you could sex him, but he seems well other than being a little more sleepy and docile than we usually see around these parts. (The other day someone didn't fasten his door properly at bedtime and it came open, but in the morning he was zonked out as always in his house... whatever his story is of that night, it must remain untold.) Holly is at least four months old.
Patricia is rarely called that. She is almost always "Patricia-mouse" on account of her big ears and her complete lack of obedience. "Don't run at warp speed around the apartment, Patricia-mouse," I say, but it takes planning, skill, and a certain amount of foolish wand-waving to keep Patricia in authorized territory. She runs, she scamps, she will be up your arm and in your hair and down your back faster than you can scold, but she has developed a slight case OCD - or O seed D - where she must immediately pouch all new seeds and take them to her silo, so it is possible to pet on Patricia without first strapping her into a GPS tracking band. (Possible, but still not recommended.) Patricia is still small, and she is at least almost three-and-a-half months old.
In other news, I'm exhausted, having woken from a bad dream. Half of my lesson plans have to be redone on the fly tomorrow due to unforeseen issues. Mike's mom is having surgery in a few minutes that should be routine, but wouldn't you feel guilty if you thought of it like that then something happened? I've signed up for more training this week, now at the last minute, and I can't seem to get enough sleep to finish grading, and here comes the end of the quarter. Also, I accidentally spent $10 on chocolate pudding at Whole Foods - DON'T ASK!
I'm going to try for a few more hours - last night I woke up, saw I had ten minutes left until the alarm, and I was so glad for those ten minutes that I didn't regret getting up at all. Stupid half-full glass.
15 March 2006 | Permalink