Donna Noble, Hazel, MoR, Cheddar, and Vanilla are currently for sale. Waldo, Dexter, Thimblenimbus, Calliope, and Kaelyn will be staying. I do plan to get back into breeding them at some point, but on a much more limited scale. I'm honestly already having second thoughts about putting Cheddar up for sale. I may end up keeping her back too. That would give me an even set of two breeding trios to work with.
It's taken me several months, but I finally updated the rabbit pages. I've been considering downsizing our rabbits for a while but I love them and don't want to get rid of them. I've slowly been working on it, and now we're down to the last ten. I've decided to put five of them up for sale and keep the last five.
Donna Noble, Hazel, MoR, Cheddar, and Vanilla are currently for sale. Waldo, Dexter, Thimblenimbus, Calliope, and Kaelyn will be staying. I do plan to get back into breeding them at some point, but on a much more limited scale. I'm honestly already having second thoughts about putting Cheddar up for sale. I may end up keeping her back too. That would give me an even set of two breeding trios to work with.
It turns out our only surviving Bourbon Red turkey is a tom. We've named him Norbit and he keeps doing his "sexy dance" for all the chickens - who are thoroughly and remarkably unimpressed. I'm hoping I can find a lady turkey for him so he's not so hopelessly lonely. If anyone in the area has turkey hens for sale - while I would definitely prefer Bourbon Red, I'd accept any heritage breed if the price was right... I'd even barter a rabbit!
Well, I've not been doing a very good job at keeping the blog updated as of late. My apologies for that. I think when it warms up again perhaps I will be able to get caught up on everything here. In the meantime, I'm kind of off exploring my own stuff in the background.
This week I went out to coffee with my best friend that I haven't seen since October. I'm hoping we can hang out more - I need a reason to get out of the house and socialize.
I also picked up some earrings. I lost all of my stud earrings between the flood and the move, and it's a nice change to have earrings again that aren't going to snag my hair or fall out while I'm asleep.
We also drove down to Saint Cloud to buy a hamster. Her name is Alba and she's an adorable white hamster with black ears and red eyes. I'm hoping to pair her to Carlos at some point when I have time.
So - yay for a new hamster, new earrings, and old friends.
Happy New Year!
I'm still working on cosplay stuff. I may end up making a different page just for cosplay stuff, since most of the traffic here are folks looking for homesteading stuff (rabbits, chickens, garden stuff, etc.).
Today was Tony's only day off before Christmas, so we did some power shopping to get it all done in one go. Limited pricing means picking and choosing from their wish lists, but I think we got most of them covered. I'll need to order a couple things online yet, but I think we should be done then.
Today was interesting to say the least. I had six people talk to me. Now, this may seem weird for me to count, but for me, its truly remarkable. You see, I've practically perfected being a wallflower since grade school. It's easy to escape schoolyard bullies if they forget you exist. I'm the one the teacher couldn't ever remember the name of... the classmate nobody remembers... The student who could be marked absent while sitting right in front of the teacher... That's me. So imagine my surprise when people today spoke to me - acknowledged my existence.
The first lady wished me a Merry Christmas. I thought she was talking to someone behind me, but I looked up and smiled at her as we passed, only realizing a moment after we passed that she'd been talking to me. The second was a woman who said hello to me as she walked past while I was waiting for my husband to get out of the restroom. Third was a woman in the game isle who talked to me about a kid's version of Monopoly when she overheard my husband and I considering games for the kids. Fourth was a lady who (not very politely) told me to get out of her way because I was standing near the checkout she wanted to use - so I stuffed myself in the corner until we were done checking out and I could walk away. Fifth was a gentleman in the entry area who wished me a Merry Christmas, but again, I thought he was on the phone so I didn't respond until I was out the door and it occurred to me he'd been talking to me. And sixth was a young woman who stopped me in the theater after we had finished watching Jumanji 2 to ask me if I could take a family photo with her grandma as she'd be heading into surgery for breast cancer tomorrow and this was her last outing. I obliged happily. Best wishes for a successful surgery and a full recovery to her grandma.
So - what is it about me today that seems more approachable than normal? Is it just the holiday season vibe making more people be out and about and kinder to one another? I doubt it was my clothing choice because I was wearing the same thing I wore the last time we went out shopping... My Gryffindor colored striped long sleeve shirt, my grey plaid hooded button-up over-shirt, and my black jeans. The first five I had my hair down and the last I had my hair pulled up. Is it my appearance? My husband thinks it's the confidence I'm displaying since losing some weight. He says I'm looking around and paying attention more and looking at the floor a lot less. I guess maybe he's right, but I don't see how that would change someone talking to me or not.
Today was also pretty awesome because I found some really cool stuff. Tony asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Well, I have a short list... one particular costume dress, some stuff for cosplay outfits I'd like, a couple little things here and there. Nothing horribly expensive. But then, while we were at Target, I saw it... Huge standing plushies, of all kinds... but what caught my eye was the grey wolf right beside the deer with antlers. Both were bigger than Moose (and he's not a small dog). My brain immediately referenced Prongs and Moony (James Potter and Remus Lupin from the Harry Potter series - two of the original Marauders). Much to my absolute delight, Tony bought them both for me. I now have half of the Marauders. We tried four stores to find a big black dog to go with them (Sirius Black as Padfoot), but alas, no luck. Moose will have to be the stand-in for now.
I'm such a nerd. Later we went to get a couple of those "mystery wands" that are replicas of Harry Potter characters' wands, but they're blind bags so you don't know what you're getting. These were Series 2, one of the wands possible is Sirius Black, and since I'm working on a cosplay of him, I've been hoping maybe one of the kids will get that wand and let me borrow it. Upon locating the box in the store, one wand had already been opened and returned, so Tony looked in the box and lo-and-behold - Sirius Black's wand. No proper packaging, no bookmark, but there it was. So we bought it. It has manufacturing defects and sharp edges, but it will work for now until I can get an official one (they're much more expensive).
Got home, and the tie and the DVD I ordered had come in the mail. (happy dance) Tomorrow I'm watching The Brave Little Toaster when the kids get home.
Last shop tonight after the movie before heading home, I picked up chocolate chips and pretzel rods and I'm going to make some nice chocolate-dipped pretzels for the kids, and if all goes well, maybe I'll pick up some more next week and make some for my extended family that I will be seeing on Christmas evening.
Now I get to work on wrapping the few gifts we have by the end of the week before kids are home on Christmas break and I won't have the opportunity to sneak off.
Goodness, we're just over a week into December already! This year is flying by. Or maybe I think that every December.
I've been working on writing a fanfic. So far I'm about 37 pages in. I think it's good, and I've read it to the kids and they are excited for each new chapter. I mostly write while they're in school so I don't have interruptions. Weekends are a bit of a slow time for productivity.
I need to get updated photos of the rabbits and start actively trying to sell them off. It's something I've been putting off for too long. Procrastination is starting to cost me with ongoing feeding bills. The kid with rabbit allergies is starting to get stuffy with four in the house now. While Dexter didn't cause her any issues (and he lives in the kitchen), when the other three came in she started to have issues. They need to go. We're kind of liking having Dexter though. He's in a cage with an open top. The cats come and go and sometimes hang out with him. They all share a water dish (so the dogs don't slobber in it). Yesterday he was doing his happy bunny hops and dancing around, and then he'd stop and stand next to Mason (cat). Mason would reach out and put his foot on Dexter's head. Then he'd go hop and bounce again and come back to Mason. The kids lament that we didn't catch it on video to put on TikTok with the "you need to calm down - you're being too loud" audio (Taylor Swift).
Our Christmas tree isn't up yet. Am I behind schedule? There's still time I suppose. I don't have any gifts to put under it anyway, so perhaps best not to put it up yet.
The other day I was talking to the older girls about potential cosplay plans if we can afford to go to the Harry Potter convention next year (not likely, but it's fun to consider it anyway). I said I'd like to attempt to cosplay Remus Lupin, and wouldn't it be adorable if #5 could be a part of the cosplay. So I asked him if he'd like to participate. I said he could wear whatever clothes he likes, maybe we could dye his hair (temporary of course), and he'd need a "Hi! My name is..." sticker and we'd just write in Teddy Lupin. He was enthusiastic to participate but then he asked if he played Teddy, could be play a different character on another day? He's never asked to cosplay before, so I asked him who he wanted to cosplay as...
So this week Tony and I were at the store looking for ideas for #5's birthday (he'll be six). He asked "what do you think he'd like?" and I just smiled, went straight to a certain toy isle, and said "No judgement - because I cosplay male characters... he wants to cosplay Owlet from PJ Masks." and they had a mask and top for dress up. Guess who's getting his first official cosplay for his birthday? He already has the Gecko costume from a couple Halloween's ago, but this will be his first requested cosplay outside of Halloween costumes. I hope he likes it as much as I think he will.
Perhaps this will sound backwards to some people - but I never want to meet my favorite content creators. They're my heroes, my role models, and people I really look up to... but I'd never want to accidentally run into one of them at a convention or while out in public.
Why wouldn't I want to meet someone I follow and adore you ask? Follow me down this rabbit hole if you will.
Content creators share a part of their lives with random strangers on the internet. They let us - the internet folk - see a snippet of their reality. It may be through carefully choreographed dances, or staged cosplays, or walks through their manicured gardens. They might share pieces of themselves through their blogs, or insights about themselves through their writing. Followers who relate to their content might feel like they've "gotten to know" the creator through these snippets.
Therein lies the problem. A content creator is also a human (most of the time anyway). They have a life outside of social media. They usually have a real job, a family, and hobbies outside of what they share on the internet. Most content creators appreciate privacy and the ability to live their lives outside of their social media personas.
So when you meet your favorite creator in person - you are a complete stranger to them. Maybe they'd recognize your screen name if you leave a lot of comments or likes or messages, but they don't know you... and you feel like you know them, at least a little. This causes a weird disparity in the social construct when meeting someone for the first time. It gives you the upper hand in perhaps knowing what the creator likes and being able to follow up with questions or topics of interest. It also puts them at a disadvantage, and could potentially make you look a little creepy if you cross the line into too much personal stuff.
I already struggle with social issues. I mean, I can hardly keep up with small talk, and social norms don't come naturally - I have to learn them. So boundaries are always an issue for me. What topics are OK and what aren't? If you put it on the internet, does that make it OK to talk about? Or is it more of a personal nature? And since I also struggle to make eye contact, it automatically makes me look a little shady.
So - as much as I absolutely love this one particular cosplayer right now, I'd never want to meet them in person. I think they're inspirational, they ooze creativity, and they're incredibly talented. I'm learning a lot from watching their videos and reading their blogs. I can relate to them on multiple levels, and I am thoroughly entertained by the content that they provide. As much as I'd love to write them a message or something thanking them for sharing their content with the world, my personal guidelines are to maintain "no contact" with my absolute favorite creators. I'd rather my role models never know I exist than have an awkward interaction that leaves them thinking I'm some kind of a creep or having a negative impression of me. Weird? Maybe. But the idea is there to protect my mental health and save me from feeling like a total dweeb in front of someone I have the utmost respect for.
That said - from the flip side, as a content creator (albeit a much less talented one), I think it's great fun when people recognize me. It doesn't happen often, but I try to be cordial and polite when approached by someone. If you see me somewhere, please come up and say hello.
Special note - If you know the content creator that I'm currently following and absorbing information from, please do not tag them. Like I said, I'd rather be nobody to them than to be seen and acknowledged.
Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. I'm over at my parents' house today to enjoy the big meal with my side of the family.
As is the custom, I'd like to explore some of the things I am thankful for this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
I am thankful for (relatively) healthy children. Aside from a cold or allergies, my kids have been relatively healthy, and for this I am thankful. My kids keep me on my toes every day, and even though some days are frustrating and exhausting, I love them with all of my heart and I am forever thankful they are in my life.
I am thankful for my husband, who continues to put up with my ridiculousness every day.
I am thankful for a clean bedroom. It gives me a safe space to dance, lay of the floor, play with the animals, or just sit quietly as I recharge with some quiet time.
I am thankful for my husband's job - which keeps him away from home a lot, but pays our bills.
I am thankful for food in my cupboards with which to make meals for my family. I am thankful for the ability to create meals. I'm not the best chef, but nobody has gotten food poisoning or died from my cooking - it's edible 99.9% of the time. This month my mom called me for my chicken and rice recipe when #2 requested it while staying at her house. Success!
I am thankful for mobility and the ability to exercise. Since feeling better following my extended illness early this year, I've started to be more active. I put on music and dance around. As of today I'm down 33 pounds from my top weight at the beginning of the year. Just increased activity and smaller portions - no surgery, no fad diets and protein shakes, no gym membership, no exercise routine/schedule.
I am thankful for my health. Though I struggle with it sometimes, I am thankfully free of the worst of the symptoms for now. I am thankful for figuring out what I need to change and avoid in my diet to avoid triggering a health issue. I am also thankful that the dietary restrictions are both healthy, and helpful in losing some weight.
I am thankful for my parents. I know I'll miss them when they're gone, so I am thankful for every day I have with them - even if we don't always see eye to eye or agree on things. I love them and have a deep respect for them.
I am thankful for social media. OK, so I may have an odd fascination with TikTok. Yesterday I posted a "story time" and as of this morning there were 2976 views, 258 likes, and I got 26 new followers for that video alone. Wow. I still have fewer "followers" than my kids on their accounts, but hey, the idea that 80+ people are interested in me enough to see what other content I provide is pretty cool.
I am thankful for my pets. I love them, they provide me with endless entertainment, emotional support, and an overall feeling of security. When I see my geese in the yard, my heart is happy.
I am thankful for my creativity. Sometimes it leaks out in strange ways, but I love having it. My current project is crocheting a Gryffindor colored scarf to add to my next cosplay. I'm also learning to use makeup to create a somewhat realistic beard for the cosplay - though I may scrap it because if I can't make it believable, I'd rather risk playing a clean-faced version of the character and not being recognized... but then again, I've only tried it out four times so far. There's still a lot of room for improvement.
I am thankful for my home. I truly live in the most beautiful place on Earth. sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking, even when the lake is frozen. I live in my happy place.
May you enjoy your day, even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving. I hope you can find something in your life to be thankful for, even if it's something small.
We are one week away from Thanksgiving. Where has this year gone?
The three returned bunnies are adjusting to life in the house here. I hope to get photos of them soon, but I've been distracted with all manner of other things. They're all available if anyone is interested in an indoor bunny (or two or three). I'll even send them off with their cages, since those were returned with them. They need to go to indoor pet homes (they're not food). I will warn that two of the cages do not have trays underneath, so two of the rabbits will need more appropriate indoor cages anyway.
I wrote my first bit of "fan fiction" yesterday. I published it on a site #1 suggested, and so far (in 26 hours) it's gotten 125 views. Not bad for a first attempt at writing something in a genre I'm not at all familiar with. And no, I'm not sharing a link. I don't think that anyone on a homesteading blog would be interested in such a thing anyway. I mean, fanfics seem to have a very specific audience for the most part.
There's not a lot going on lately with the homestead. Gardens are all tucked away for the winter, it's too cold for anything to grow, the chickens have stopped laying due to the short days, and we don't breed rabbits in the winter months.
Tomorrow we are taking in three more rabbits. Two came from our colony rabbits (Lapis and Cheddar), and the other is from a different breeder. It seems that last year about this time we had rabbits returned too. I wonder what it is about this time - cold weather and upcoming holidays - that seems to make people decide to return their rabbits. Anyway, as of tomorrow when we get back home, all three of the new rabbits will be available for adoption. The sooner we can move them out the better, since I'm running out of space in the house for rabbits, and one of the kids is very allergic to them...
This past week has been spent working on my next cosplay project. I'm (slowly) learning about make up. I've been trying to do beard make up, with varying success. I mean... it's not great, but it's not absolutely awful either. I have a lot of room to improve. I'm worried that I could actually make the cosplay worse by using the beard make up at this point, so I need to practice and figure it out. I have the basic idea down, but I can't seem to get the chin and under-lip area to look right, despite consulting numerous pictures, videos, and a couple tutorials. I'm hoping we can grab a different color of make up tomorrow while we're in town to see if maybe that will help.
In the meantime, I added a few accessories and a ring light to my Christmas wish list. I'm now working on crocheting a scarf with the Gryffindor (Hogwarts) colors - since I can't afford the $40 they want for an authentic one from Universal Studios. Of course, #1 has the authentic one from our trip there many years ago, so if I totally botch mine, I can still borrow hers... I just doubt she'd borrow it to me knowing I may end up accidentally rubbing my beard make up onto it. It does smear on everything it touches.
Which brings me to a question. Having not been one to wear make up... like... almost ever... how do you make-up-wearing-folks not touch your face!? Good golly! I'm constantly itching my nose or rubbing my cheek or putting my hand under my chin or swiping hair out of my face... This whole "don't touch your face" to avoid smearing or smudging make up is frustrating. Is there a trick to it? If I'm not in front of a camera or mirror, I tend to forget I'm wearing it...
The big seed trade package came in the mail today. Yay! I went through it briefly to make sure everything was in there (as it wasn't closed properly), but I haven't had a chance to sort it all out and update the seed list yet. Maybe Wednesday when the kids are in school and Tony is at work I will have time to spread it all out on the table and get it all inventoried.
Today I learned how to put my hair in a ponytail using a pencil or crochet hook. I guess I need to learn to do the same with a wand for my next cosplay, but I need to buy my wand first. Unfortunately, the two I'm looking at are pretty expensive ($38 for one of $53 for the other). That's why they're on the Christmas list.
This past weekend has been quite the experience. We went to GalaxyCon in Minneapolis (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). We left the two little ones with relatives, the middle child stayed home to take care of the animals, and Tony and I, #1, #2, and two other teenagers went off on an adventure. My very first Con! Lovingly referred to as a Con-Virgin.
While #1 and the other two seemed most interested in running around and meeting other cosplayers and making new friends, I was more interested in the panels. Over the weekend I got to sit in panels and listen to celebrities tell stories... I got to see Alex Kingston (whom I've been a fan of since ER, but loved her in Doctor Who as well), Karen Gillan (loved her in Doctor Who and love her in Jumanji too), Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek TNG), George Takei (Mister Sulu himself), and a panel with David Tennant on live Skype chat from his home (as his wife just had a new baby). I also went to panels about gender-bending in cosplay (and learned what crossplay is). I tried to go to the panel on posing and photography for cosplay, but had a coughing fit halfway through and had to leave. #1 and I went to a panel about Lolita fashion - something I'd never heard of, but it was quite informative. I also went to a panel about how cosplay and fandoms can help with anxiety and depression. That one was pretty good too.
On day 1 and 2 I was in my OC cosplay (yet un-named, non-gendered person), and I had enough confidence by day two to actually walk around and go to a panel on my own. This is huge. As I've mentioned before, I have Asperger's and one of the side effects is that I have such severe social anxiety that I am unable to go anywhere without someone I know being with me at all times. I'm talking about not being able to excuse yourself from a room to go to the bathroom without someone walking out and back in with you. Not being able to go down another isle at the store to check something out, not being able to order food at a restaurant, and having to plan around always doing something with a chaperone - it means missing out on a lot of things because my interests and the schedule for things that interest me do not always match up with other peoples'. But on Saturday, I was confident enough with the layout of the convention center that I went to a panel alone, and walked around a bit. It was something I can't really remember doing (without a service dog anyway) since I was in school. I've gotten so used to being a closeted hermit that I've forgotten how it feels to have a taste of freedom.
Day 3 my dear daughter talked me into attempting to cosplay a known character (Hange Zoe from Attack on Titan). Problem being that I don't own the clothes the character is known for... No white pants, no yellow button up shirt, no Attack on Titan jacket or straps. So all I could do was put my hair up like that character, wear my Hange (Hanji) keychain (the only thing I bought at the convention), and hope people might take a stab in the dark at who I was. I posted videos on TikTok, Instagram, and Tubmlr while we were there, but nobody stopped to say hello. In fact, only three people spoke to me at the convention at all... one vendor to ask what I might be looking for (Hange/Hanji merchandise) on day one, one person asked me what was up the stairs while I was sitting on a set of steps (no idea) on day two, and one person asked if they could use the chair beside me on day three. I admit, I had to remind myself the entire time to keep my head up. I'm so used to staring at the floor and trying to avoid everyone, it was a whole new experience to walk around with my head up and actually look around.
I also found that the first two days when I could easily pass as being male, if I accidentally made eye contact with someone, almost always they'd look away, even before I could. Nobody seemed to feel the need to start a conversation with me because I made eye contact. Something I could never avoid when dressed as a girl. Why is this? But on the third day when I had to wear my hair in a feminine fashion, I became cripplingly insecure again. I think some answers came from the gender-bending panel. Three female cosplayers were hosting the panel, and one of them explained it quite well. She said when she dressed in a male cosplay, and her sister dressed in a female cosplay, her sister got a lot more attention, but most of it was "oh you're hot" and "can I get a picture with you?" kind of interactions. While she got less attention but the interactions she had were a lot more genuine. I think this is a huge part of why I really am only interested in cosplaying male or gender-neutral characters. And besides, let's face it - I do not have the body to pull off an attractive anime girl in any realm, and even if I tried, I don't have the bold personality needed to flash off more skin than can me seen in a Minnesota winter. I'm a prude - or so I've been told.
My dear husband is considering starting a website for our cosplay, since #1 cosplays, and #3 is starting to get into it (she just made an OC Hogwarts Professor on TikTok and has as many followers as I do already). I'm not sure how I feel about that. ... The website idea, not my daughter being more popular than me (no surprise there). I mean, who wants to see my miserable attempts at cosplay? I'm a nobody, and I don't even know how to put on make-up. My "look at me, I'm a girl" phase lasted a couple months at best in high school and I had some hand-me-down eye-shadow (one blue, one silver, both used), and two very used eyeliner pencils (black and blue, about 2 inches long each). That was the extent of my make up - and nobody ever taught me how to use it. I guessed. I mean, I suppose there's got to be makeup and cosplay tutorials on YouTube and whatnot, and if I can teach myself to crochet a scarf and turn that knowledge into making bags and purses for the kids and blankets and stuff... I should be able to get an idea of make up, but the thought terrifies me for some reason. It's expensive (make up in general), and I can't help but think that practicing and trying new things is wasteful. I feel like I'm just way too old to be starting into this. I'm in my 30's now, and I have no idea how to use make up. I'm having body image issues for the first time in my life, I have never dyed my hair, and I don't understand how people can wear a wig all day (so hot and itchy). Besides, I touch my face all the time and would inevitably smear any make up I put on. I don't know. Maybe we could get into making props or making and selling accessories or something on the side to help fund the cosplay expenses.
The convention was fun though and when I asked Tony if we could do another, perhaps one Harry Potter themed - he immediately pulled up a convention scheduled for next year in Florida. Florida? That's a heck of a drive for an amateur cosplayer. He says he's game if I can cut down on my animals so it's easier to travel and we can save up some extra money. Since I was already planning to downsize the animals, it seems like a good motivation. Perhaps I should re-read the books again and take notes on character information. I know #3 wants to cosplay Luna Lovegood. I'm currently enamored with a cosplayer who does an awesome rendition of Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. I might want to gender-bend to be one of them... if I can get my body into shape. No way would either of those characters have a "mom bod." Of course, a trip to Florida would be crazy expensive. I don't think we've ever taken a family vacation. We'd have to save up... a lot. I refuse to beg for handouts, though Tony is considering a Patreon... once we figure out content.
But I digress (a lot).
Today we had a rabbit return. His name is Dexter and he is Peanut's brother (out of Kaelyn and Sushi). He's such a sweet boy. He sat in my lap most of the way home and hopped around at my feet the rest of the time. We have him in the house as he was a house rabbit in his previous home. Their landlord said no pets, so here he is. I'm secretly hoping that nobody buys him and that I can give him back when they eventually move out to a new home... but in the meantime, Dexter will be staying with us and I will casually be trying to find him a home. Of course #1 is highly allergic to rabbits, so having him in the house is not the greatest, but it'll have to work for now.
I wanted to quick tell a story from the convention. I was sitting with a group of cosplayers (for an anime I don't watch - so I was really out of place, but was there with #1). A man walked by with a young child who was in costume. The child was maybe six years old (my guess based on appearance). One of the cosplayers at the table saw them and jumped up. Running up to them she asked the man, "Can I take a picture of (child's character's name)?" and the man stopped and said yes. But she didn't take the photo. First she knelt down to get face level with this little kid and asked him, "Is it OK if I take your photo?" and that is what I love about the cosplay community. That right there. Consent. Not just from the adult, but from the child too. Thank you cosplayer, for asking that little boy if it was OK to take his photo. For giving him bodily autonomy and feeling like he has a say in what happens to him. And yes, the boy agreed and the cosplayer took his photo and then thanked him for allowing her to take a photo. A+ behavior at this convention. A great way to start my cosplay and convention experiences.
Has it really been this long since my last blog post? Goodness, I need to get back into the habit of blogging more often! Unfortunately, I haven't had a lot to blog about. I've been doing a lot, and doing nothing, all at once.
I decided that I want to sell off most of the rabbits. I had been considering it before, but now I'm on board for it. The kids want to keep a couple of their favorites as pets, but I'd like to rehome most, if not all, of the breeders. I want to keep some, but the reality is that I don't really have the time or energy anymore. It's about an hour a day to do all of the barn chores (feeding and watering everyone), and when it's -60 in February, even properly bundled, an hour is a long time to be out doing chores. We didn't do much with them this summer, production is down (again, partly because we didn't really dedicate the time to breeding them) and sales are down due to Facebook banning animal sales. I haven't processed any rabbits in nearly two years, so it's not like they're filling the freezer at this point either. So - if anyone is interested in buying some rabbits - for pets or for breeders - now's the time. Make me an offer.
I've been going through one of my weird mental phases this past week. These happen from time to time, when it's almost like a bipolar high. It can last for days or weeks. I eat less, I'm more active, I have all kinds of ideas, and more energy than usual. This time I'm inspired to change myself. I've been stuck in a rut for years - same clothes, same hair, same everything. While I don't have any money right now to go buy a new wardrobe, and the thought of going to a salon is appalling to me, I've found little ways to change. I parted my hair to the side and flipped it over - it's different but it looks nice and feels good to be a little different. Turns out that when I put it in a ponytail this way it doesn't give me the migraine headaches like I get putting it in a normal ponytail (my only hair style other than "it's brushed."). I pulled a couple of button-up shirts out of the back of the closet that I haven't worn in years and my husband asked why I was dressing up. Well, isn't it about time I wore something other than graphic tees and jeans?
We're going to a convention this month. This is something #1 really wants to go to, and we're presenting it as her birthday gift, though her birthday isn't until December. She's invited a couple of her friends, and Tony and I and #2 are all going. It's about three hours away and we will have to stay in a hotel, but tickets are bought, so here we go. My issue is that I have horrible anxiety in crowds. Terrible anxiety. Crippling. The thought of this convention terrified me. So my daughter suggested I role play. This is a convention of role players, nerds, geeks, and anime folks, so role playing would be acceptable. My problem? My only "character" is my D&D character and she's definitely not an option to role play (she's a thief who's also a merchant so she can sell what she steals). Role playing that character would be asking for trouble. So I've been forced to come up with a new character. Originally it was supposed to be just for this occasion, but really I'm feeling the love for it, so I may stick with it for other crowded scenarios in the future if this works. But oh there's a twist... such a twist...
My new character - my new extension of myself... is androgynous. Now, before anyone gets in a huff that I'm not respecting the LGBTQ+ and/or androgynous folks out there, I was androgynous growing up, but five high risk pregnancies, nursing five babies, decades of misdiagnosed and untreated mental health issues, and a chronic illness that can randomly keep me in bed for weeks to months at a time have left my body in permanent "overweight mom" mode. So I bought a binder. A tank-top style binder to smash everything down to give me a less pronounced "I've had babies" body. It's not perfect, I still have pretty obvious breasts, but my kids assure me "you just look like you have man boobs." Well, that's a start I guess.
I've also been working on losing some weight. I'm not one for an exercise routine, because I'd get bored and not want to keep up with it. So instead, I turn on some music, turn the volume up, and I dance. I dance while I wash the dishes, I dance while I pick up the living room, I dance in the kitchen until I'm good and sweaty, then I take a shower and feel better about myself. So far I'm down something like 7-pounds in the last week. You can't tell by looking at me, but I'm hoping it's just the start. I do have a weight goal that I am trying to reach before the convention. Just a personal one. I want to get back to the low weight I had just before I got sick this last time and gained everything back. And then from there I want to push hard to lose more. With a daily exercise commitment and a good diet, I should be able to get in better shape and keep it off, if I can avoid another chronic pain issue again.
I posted a potential OC cosplay character to most of my social media today (you can find it here on Instagram or here on TikTok) and asked for feedback. I don't really have much of a following, so I'm not getting much of a response. It was fun fixing my hair for it. I've been following a particularly great cosplayer and picking up little tips here and there. It's been a learning experience if nothing else. #1 is already planning for me to cosplay Hange from Attack on Titan... but I don't have any desire to wrestle into the straps or try to keep white pants clean, so I don't know how well it will go.
Ditto went off to her new home today. The house seems quieter. The remaining kittens seem more subdued than usual. Are they sad she's gone? Or is it just that she instigated much of the running-through-the-house-at-full-speed play time and she's not here to start the stampede? I guess we'll wait to see if they perk up tomorrow. The hamsters will sleep without a watcher tonight.
I'm wrapping up the big year-end seed swap for one of the Facebook groups I'm in. It's far too stressful, and I think this will be my last year participating. Every year they add more rules and more hassle to the process. It's getting to be a bit much. I really should have bowed out this year, but I'm going to stick with it and get it done to add some new varieties to the collection.
After that I'm going to take a break. I'm stretching myself too thin and I'm stressing out more than I should. Between social things and kids and pets and seed swapping and my own brain being a bit of a butt (stay on task.... resist the urge to wander off.... resist... aaaand my mind has gone off track again....)... I just need a couple days to go nuts with crafting ideas, or watching educational videos, or doing something fun that doesn't involve cleaning the house, replying to emails, or fighting to get kids to clean their bedrooms or go to bed at night. It's time for some re-set time. Like, a few days of reset time. I plan to be a complete sloth most of this weekend. Yes, I'll have to suck it up and catch up on what falls apart while I'm down and out, but it'll be worth it to reset my sanity.
We picked up a box of mini Pringles cans for the kids' after-school-snacks. I took one of them (after the chips had been eaten), and filled it with soil, then sprinkled some Tom Thumb lettuce seeds in. I put the lid back on and set it in a window sill. If sprouts come up, the lid will come off and hopefully I can grow my own salad for over winter. I do love fresh home grown salad. Yay for indoor gardening during the harsh Minnesota winter months!
Yesterday I siphoned and refilled both the aquarium and the turtle tank. For those who don't know, that's quite a rare occurrence. I only clean out the fish tank maybe once a year, and I only siphon off the debris on top of the gravel. That tank has been up and running longer than I've been alive. It belonged to a relative who left it to me when they passed away. I am honored to keep it running. The tank is 100% natural. I vastly under-stock it, which means the two fish in the 30-gallon tank don't need frequent water changes. The long established beneficial bacteria in the thick gravel takes care of almost everything. Aside from topping off water lost to evaporation and cats drinking from it, and the occasional addition of live bacteria cultures, the tank is largely self sustaining. We have one female bristle-nose pleco who keeps the algae in check (as the tank is in a window), and we have one weather loach (technically a bottom feeder) who cruises around and entertains us.
The turtle tank needed to be siphoned as the water was turning orange. I added a piece of driftwood we found down by the lake. I didn't bother to sanitize it because it wouldn't fit in my oven and the shape wouldn't allow for it to fit into a pot to be boiled. Inevitably it leaked tannin into the water. Totally normal, not a big surprise. It didn't seem to bother Minnow, but I want to make sure she had good clean water. It's still tinted yellow, but I'll give it some time to see if the driftwood leaks any more tannin before I change out more water. I ended up taking out eight gallons. She lives in a 55-gallon tank that was about 3/4 full. If I did my math right, an 8 gallon tank change was roughly 20% of the water. I also added more water (now the tank is nearly full) and pushed the driftwood down the rest of the way to fully submerge it. It had about 1-inch sticking up above the water before. It looks nice over all and I think once we add more goldfish for Minnow they'll have a nice natural area that will make a little more of a challenge for Minnow when hunting. Overall, not bad considering I was changing the water with a gallon jug by hand, walking back and forth across the length of the house.
Yes, I accidentally created a blackwater aquarium for my turtle. Which wouldn't be so bad really - it does mimic an aquatic turtle's natural environment. This is why I am not overly worried about siphoning it again right away. So long as she seems happy, and she's still eating and basking, it's really more about the aesthetic of the tank.
I've been exploring some creative outlets I want to try. The main one I'm really looking into right now is creating aquarium decor. We live on a lake and have beautiful trees all around us. There is ample access to driftwood (pieces weathered by water or by wind and rain on land). I've never worked with silicone before, but I'm still in the research phase of all of this. I've been out of the aquarium world since leaving the pet store job in 2013. I'm quickly getting back into the swing of things.
For example, did you know that plecos need wood in their diet to remain healthy? There should be driftwood in any aquarium that also houses a pleco. The pleco will pick at and clean off the drift wood, and in return will be healthier. Did you know that plecos and cichlids (and lots of other varieties of fish) love to have a cave or a tube to hide in or swim through? I knew this one but it had never occurred to me to actually build one myself.
My first planned project will be a simple one meant to build my confidence and give me a simple start with using silicone in a caulking gun. I plan to make an above-water shelf for the fish tank to allow the cats to perch in a safe place to drink from the aquarium. I'm hoping to do this project within the next week, but it depends on if we have the extra money for the supplies or not.
Once I've got that project done and I'm feeling a little more confident, I do plan to start trying my hand at a couple different caves and/or other hides with different materials. I have so many ideas! I want to incorporate all kinds of materials that have been suggested in numerous hobbyist videos and forums. I'm so excited. And if all goes well, maybe I'd even offer some of my creations for sale. Again, timeline on this depends on when we have some spare money to buy some supplies.
I finally got some photos of the new rabbit. We're still awaiting his official name, as #2 hasn't picked one out yet. He's a handsome bunny, brown eyes, pointed grey fur, and his left ear is torn (old injury). Yes, it looks like he has a dewlap, but when I tried to check gender it looked like a buck down below. Perhaps I'll have one of the kids help hold him so I can check again without so much squirming.
All of the former barn kittens got their rabies vaccinations on Friday, plus Netherquartz. He was due by Halloween anyway, and since Mercy already went off to her new home, I had a space open. Either way, they're all set now until January when the little ones are old enough to go in for spay/neuter surgery.
Ditto is set to leave on Tuesday. We will miss her. She's been a great companion and we've grown to love her.
Earlier this week I noticed the new hairless hamsters seemed to be a little lethargic, so I set up a space heater near their cage (several feet away pointed in their general direction, set to keep the area just a few degrees warmer than the room). They still looked like they could use a little more help, so I took the seed starting heat mat and put it under their cages. It's conveniently just long enough to go under both side-by-side cages and cover about half the space (so they can also lay on the other side away from the heat mat). The way the ten gallon tanks are set over the edge of the cupboard gives the under-tank heat a natural vent so things don't get too hot under there. Since then the hamsters have been active and seem happy. I've named them Carlos and Sally. Carlos prefers to sleep in the pine shavings, despite having half the tank with fabric cloth. Sally prefers to stash all of her food in her little house on the fabric side and sleep there. Sally loves to run on her wheel, while Carlos only sometimes uses his.
Ditto spends a good portion of every night sitting beside the cages watching the hamsters. I'm sure she'd love to eat them if ever she figured out how to remove the screen lids.
I re-potted several pothos and wandering jew plant cuttings today. I've got four plastic cups that I rigged up with sisal twine to hang in windows, and two larger pots. One has a mix of pothos and wandering jew, the other is just fresh cuttings of wandering jew as the plant is starting to take over the kitchen sink and needed to be cut back a bit. If the plants take well to being in soil, I do plan to sell some of the cuttings. I also took more pothos cuttings and have them in water now to get roots started. I've found the pothos roots better in water, while the wandering jew plants tend to prefer being in moist soil. I'm still trying them in water though as it's more convenient overall.
If anyone would be interested in some variegated pothos, or some wandering jew cuttings, or rooted plant starts, let me know. I'd also be happy to barter with them.
The exotic auction was yesterday. I took #2 with me. We saw all kinds of interesting critters, and a vast majority of the people there were from out of state. I only saw two other buyers there that are at the regular exotic auctions. This one was largely advertised to more exotic-type buyers and sellers, and less to the common local folks. You could tell by the types of animals brought in for sale. There was a bottle-fed Eland, a Patagonian mara, an emu, miniature cattle, an Arctic fox, several tortoises, English Angora rabbits, and of course more normal critters too.
My eye was on those hairless hamsters though. About a decade ago I was breeding hamsters for the pet store I worked at, and it was so much fun. When I learned about hairless hamsters I did a ton of research on them and wanted to get into them, but couldn't ever find any for sale. I managed to get some tricolor hamsters and was breeding some pretty interesting colors. Then I got into Satins just before the store closed down. With no pet store and no place to buy hamster cages and supplies, people stopped buying hamsters, and the market went dry. I had to sell them all.
I loved having hamsters. This is the first time in a decade since I first heard of them existing that I found hairless hamsters for sale anywhere near me. Now, you have to have a quick basic knowledge check here. The gene responsible for hairlessness is interlinked with the genetics for mammary development. This is why hairless female hamsters cannot produce milk, and thus all of their babies die. In order to breed hairless hamsters you have to cross a hairless male to a furry female, and then take a carrier female (furry but carries the hairless gene) and breed to a hairless male. The resulting litter will be half hairless and half furry that carry for hairless. All I wanted was one single male to try my hand at breeding again. Imagine my frustration when I found the hairless hamsters in the warming house... two cages, each with one male and one female. Why would they do that!?
The first cage came up and I was quickly outbid and bidding went fast. There were about five people in the crowd vying for them. The first cage sold for more than I could afford to a guy two rows ahead of us. The second cage... I knew this was my only chance. Tony had given me a spending limit (for these hamsters specifically - he thinks they're ugly) and I was pretty sure that wasn't going to cover it. I decided on the spot that I could go hungry and use the money we'd set aside for food to boost my buying power a bit. I bid and hung on for dear life. The bidding wasn't as aggressive this go round, and I managed to sneak away with a winning bid at the highest end of what I could afford.
Between the cost of gas, the seating fee, the money we did spend on food, plus the winning bid, we ended up spending over $100 to bring these babies home.
We did buy one other critter while we were there. A lop buck. Sweet looking rabbit, #2 wanted him to pair to his doe (Quince). Quince is half French Lop and part English Lop. This new guy was labeled as Mini Lop, but there's no way - he's huge. He's currently in quarantine (as all incoming rabbits go through), but we already have a cage space picked out and waiting for him in the barn once he's cleared his hold time. I have not snapped a photo of him due to the cage he came in not really allowing a clear photo and not getting him settled into a decent cage until after dark.
Back to the hamsters though. The photo above was taken in the car on the way home with them. This is the cage they were sold in. The gel and Live Animal sticker on the side indicate they came from out of state. On our way home we went the long way to stop at the pet store to pick up a female furry hamster. Much disappointment - it turns out the local Petsmart only sells male small animals... Male mice, male gerbils, male hamsters, male guinea pigs... no girls at all. When we got home, my husband got on the computer and found that the Petsmart an hour away does have female hamsters, but we were too exhausted to drive anymore.
That's all I remember before I passed out. Husband says I was in a feverish delirium all evening. I didn't eat dinner, I even turned down a cup of coffee one of the kids made for me (and I never turn down a cup of coffee). I passed out on the couch and around midnight my husband had to coax me to go up to bed, where I passed out before waking up feeling much better. These auctions take a lot out of me.
For now the hamsters are still in their little box they came in, though now they have food and water. Tomorrow I plan to dig out all of the supplies to get their permanent homes set up. They will be in glass aquariums to keep out drafts, with lids to keep out the cats. Their bedding will be fabric to avoid scratching their delicate skin, and to make cleaning that much easier. Yes, they will have to be separated. They're both young right now. The female is probably just past weaning age. I'm hoping they're not old enough to have bred yet (but yeah, they're hamsters so...). The plan is to buy a furry female the next time we have the ability and time to go the hour trip (two hours round trip) to the other store. Until then, we're just going to enjoy these two and get them used to handling. I think the little girl may be available for sale soon, since she's of no use as a breeder.
In other news, today little Mercy went off to her new home through the rescue. We will miss her, but we're glad she found a good home that will treat her well.
I've been working more on researching my seed collection. I've gotten through over half of the cucumber varieties now. I love reading the grower reviews when I can find them. It's fun to compare them and get a real perspective rather than the generalized one from most seed companies, which are really only describing the positive qualities to make more sales.
Despite having seeded the aquaponics tank this go round with an assortment of lettuces, basil, watercress, peas, and such... Again, only the basil came up. Don't get me wrong, I do love our home grown purple opal basil. It's my secret ingredient to make all pasta sauces sing. I can't have enough of it. But I'd also like to have some salad, and maybe some chives or peas too. Last time we tried tomatoes and peppers, and they didn't come up either. Probably for the best, since the basil tends to grow so rampantly that it takes over the entire system and chokes out all the other roots in the underwater area.
The fall exotic auction is coming up. I really want to go, but I couldn't figure out for the life of me why. I don't need any more critters. I'm trying to downsize. There's nothing I can think of that I'd be looking to get. Until I looked at the consignment flyer. They have hairless hamsters! I always wanted one years ago when we bred hamsters, but none were to be found. Now that I've sworn off indoor caged pets I finally have the opportunity to buy some. I'm sure they'll go for well over my frugal budget. But hey, one could wish, right? I still have all of our old hamster supplies tucked away in the garage. Well, the ones that weren't destroyed in the flood anyway. It's tempting.
Ditto has found a potential home through the rescue. I'm so excited! She's set to leave on the 22nd after her vaccinations. It looks like Mercy has a home lined up too, but she may be heading off sooner. Possibly this weekend at the earliest. Yay for new adventures for them. I'm so glad we got to love and spoil them for a while before they go off to new homes. Now if we could just find suitable homes for the four remaining kittens. I say four because I'm still discussing keeping Lucio with my husband. That just leaves Tracer, Hanzo, Genji, and Mei.
Tony has requested the days off to go to Galaxy Con. I've never been to a convention before, but this is what #1 wants for her big 18th birthday gift (though Galaxy Con is not on her actual birthday). Grandma is going to pay for most of it. My daughter has been trying to explain to me how other conventions she's gone to have worked. Panels, often led by celebrities, photo shoot times (for an additional fee), autograph opportunities (again for a fee), vendor areas, Cosplay contests, and all manner of other things. I'll be honest, as much as I love some of the celebrity line up (cast of Doctor Who, members from the original Star Trek, etc.), I do not do well in crowded places with a lot of people, nor do I do well in big cities. I am scared out of my mind to have to go to this convention. I keep checking their website hoping they'll release a list of available panels so I can at least feel a little more prepared. Asperger's anxiety kicks in and I spin my wheels. I just hope he gets the time off and we can go. It will be fun, even if I'm stressing about it now. It's a new experience that I can learn from and say that I've done.
Yesterday I was standing at the kitchen sink to wash the dishes. You know that feeling when the cat walks by but just the cat's tail fur brushes along your leg? That's what I thought I felt, but when I looked down, instead of a cat, there was a spider climbing up my ankle.
A note here, I have arachnophobia. I am terrified of spiders. My typical response to this would be to fling my leg around and scream until it went flying and they avoid the kitchen until I was sure it had wandered off... but for some bizarre reason, that was not my response this time.
Instead, I calmly reached down with both hands, put one hand on either side of the spider, let it crawl onto my hand, and then raised my hand up to the mass of houseplants in the kitchen window over the sink. If I'm going to share my home with spiders, I prefer they have one area they can safely be in. But it wasn't that easy... no.
When I reached up, the spider fell. I didn't see where it dropped, but below the area was a stack of dirty dishes in the sink that I was preparing to wash. I carefully moved the dishes around, but couldn't find the spider. I decided I'd just have to me watchful as I reached for the dirty dishes to wash them.
As I do when home alone and washing dishes, I pulled up my favorite YouTube guy for an educational video, and set my phone to the side so I could be educated while I washed. As I turned to the left to set the phone on the counter, a movement caught my eye. My little spider friend had managed to get onto my shoulder. Perhaps she'd never actually fallen but had caught herself on a web thread and stayed attached to my hand. Whatever the case, there she was... in close proximity to my face.
Again, my normal response would be to fling it as far and as fast as I could and probably escape the room for a while, but again - I reached up, let her crawl on my hand, and carefully released her above the sink onto the mess of pothos vines. She almost immediately started her spinnerets going and started to string her way down. I caught her by the web line and put her back in the plant. This happened several times, until I decided I couldn't have her repelling down into my face or the dish water, so I grabbed an empty water bottle and prepared to catch her in it on her next descent.
She came down again, but upon seeing the looming water bottle, decided to climb back up. I observed her for a couple minutes more as she traveled along the pothos vine and found a nice spot where a leaf met the stem, and seemed to curl up for a nap. If spiders take naps anyway.
I decided to call her Clarice, since she wasn't forthcoming with her actual name, and it would be unlikely I'd be able to pronounce it anyway, since arachnid is not my first language.
I watched my video and washed my dishes, all the while checking back in to see Clarice, tucked away, appearing to be comfortable and napping. I finished my dishes, cleaned out the sinks, and went to dry my hands. Clarice woke up and again decided to come down. I grabbed the bottle and she climbed right down into it. I put the lid on and set the bottle aside. I can't have a free-roaming spider in the house and it's clear that Clarice is not happy in the plant.
When the kids got home from school I relayed the story to them, and at first they were horrified that I had a spider in a bottle in the kitchen, but once they stopped to look at her, they softened. I asked for suggestions. Where can we release Clarice that she might be happy? It has to be somewhere with food sources where she won't get eaten by the cats or the chickens.
After some thoughts and suggestions, #3 suggested the garage. There are other spiders in there, and plenty of bugs. Sure, it'll be cold soon, but spiders don't typically live that long anyway, and it would afford her protection from predators. So #3 released Clarice into the garage. Good luck Clarice! We wish you well!
As far as I can tell, Clarice was just a typical House Spider (that's the actual name). She had a lovely copper stripe over her ample bottom, and her legs were striped.
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.