Zoom Out

Aw! Look at my happy, peaceful little gerbil friend. He is so relaxed and calm and sleepy.

Close up of a sleeping gerbil with his head slightly sticking out of a hole in a wooden gerbil house.Double aw! That calm happy gerbil is sleeping with his buddy.

Camera is zoomed out. Now you see that sleeping gerbil and in another gerbil house cutout, a second gerbil, sleeping under the first.Make that ON his buddy.

Same gerbils as before, only camera is zoomed out even farther so we can see that they are on the second floor of a two-story gerbil house.While those two gerbils safely slumber, another happy, secure gerbil lazily chews on cardboard under his water bottle. They have not a care in the world…

Same as before, but zoomed out even farther to see a brown gerbil standing in front of the house.…except for the giant predator smashed between the gerbil tank and the window.

Camera is zoomed out even farther, showing the three gerbils and then, behind the tank, a black and white cat.It must be unsettling to always have a giant cat on one side of your tank and a giant human on the other. It’s a miracle these gerbils aren’t stampy* little stressballs all the time.

Meanwhile, our predator finds time to pose, secure in the knowledge that no human or rodent will be able to pry her out of her exactly Oreo-sized stronghold wedged between the window and the gerbil tank.

Said black and white cat, wedged into a tiny space between the window and the gerbil tank. In this photo, she is lying on her back.And there you have a photo tour of two feet of my desk. And a good idea of exactly how much time I have on my hands.

* Gerbils do an excellent double stamp move to alert each other of danger. It is très adorable.

Yeah, That Toy Doesn’t Exist

Thank you all for your efforts with the Elemental Guardian. I am now convinced that the toy does not exist and that Jack had some kind of elaborate hallucination last week wherein someone brought in a Barbie and Jack’s brain turned it into the ultimate Hero Factory toy.

I would, however, like to thank all of you for your amazing google skillz. Seriously. You are phenomenal. Jack is very lucky to have all of you on his side. I can’t quite believe all the awesome stuff you found. I have no idea how you found them.

As for the $119 Transformers toy that looked a lot like what Jack was describing, but that was NOT what he was describing, but now he wants said Transformers toy? Well, that one is on me for being dumb enough to show it to him. Also he’s not getting it.

To thank you for all your hard work typing and clicking, I will give you this photo of spooning kittens.

tuxedo cat with front paw around black cat

Awwwwww! Kittens make everything better.

And then I’ll give you this other photo of the cats and gerbils during gerbil tank cleaning time.

three cats clustered around a small, plastic box holding three gerbils

So close and yet still so far.

Let’s all try to not notice that our couch is patched with brown duct tape, okay? It’s embarrassing enough without you pointing and laughing.

I hope the cats make you happy. Let me know if I can ever google something for you.

Algernon’s Army: New Recruits

You guys. You guys. I have no words for you all. You are SOUL FILLING. My mail is such a happy part of my day nowadays. Would you like some examples as to why I love my mail so much? It’s because my mailbox overfloweth with love. And rodents. And other small furry things that are almost rodents.

photos of a stuffed squirrel, otter and round hamster

From my friends Katie, Sherry, and Michal. Thank you. So much.

That first little guy there? She’s a squirrel who came from my 7-year-old friend Katie, who made sure she was all decked out enough to join the rodent brigade. Even better than the squirrel was the note that came with her:

note in child's handwriting on orange paper: "From Katie to Jean. I am sorry that your mouse is gone. So I give you this present to make you happy."

“From Katie to Jean. I am sorry that your mouse is gone. So I give you this present to make you happy.” (And, yes, she did use a sad-girl emoticon instead of a period to end that middle sentence there.)

Is that not the nicest ever? I love that kid.

That otter in the middle comes from my old college chum. She sent this amazing note with it telling the story of the debate amongst strangers that took place in the store as to what animal exactly this was and whether it was, in fact, a rodent. Answers: otter and no.

Nonetheless, otters are one of my favorite animals and he is small and brown and fits in perfectly as a conscientious objector to Algernon’s Army.

Then there is Speedy at the end, who is really not very speedy because he is chubby and round and can’t actually move very fast. He’s like the rodent version of me. He is hilarious. Jack almost passed out laughing when he saw him.

Then there was the very wonderful card from my mother-in-law wherein she posited that Algernon had fallen in love and was off on new adventures elsewhere. Oh, and she wrote that inside a greeting card that had this on the front:

Cartoon drawing of Noah's Ark (with two Algernons pasted on it). There are two dinosaurs sitting on a nearby island saying, "Oh, crap! Was that TODAY?"

I think she is subtly referencing Algernon’s resiliency here.

Do you want to know what else came in the mail today? A photo book about Algernon from my beautiful friend Bec. The book includes the very first post about Algernon that I ever wrote and then photo highlights of his adventures from the past two years.

Cover of a book showing a photo of a small white mouse peeking out of a swimming pool and the word "Algernon."

It is amazing.

Algernon’s Army is so large that I had to dedicate a shelf to it. Because I don’t have a single unused shelf in my house, I had to buy and install a shelf just for my new little friends.

White shelf with all my stuffed rodents and my Algernon book on it.

I think you’ll agree that it was worth the effort.

The shelf is appropriately situated over one of the gerbil tanks.

Algernon's Army shelf over a gerbil tank.

I like how Jetpack and Jefferie are standing at attention here.

I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to look over my left shoulder and see my shelf-o-love-and-rodents. You guys are amazing.

I think that is probably all of my Algernon-related news. Thank you all for continuing to be so awesome. I love you guys.

Cats vs. Gerbils

Cats vs. gerbils, but not in the “cats eviscerating gerbils” sense that you might be thinking. No, the cats are saving the eviscerating for the mice that are apparently living in our basement unbeknownst to us. Well, formerly unbeknownst. Their little corpses dangling out of our kittens’ mouths alerted us to their presence.

No, what I am trying to do is contrast group sleeping patterns.

To wit, kittens:

A three-shelf cat tree, with a kitten on each shelf.

A kitten for every shelf and a shelf for every kitten.

Versus gerbils:

Three gerbils kind of stacked on top of each other

It’s like Yertle the Turtle, but with gerbil stacking instead of turtle stacking.

The cats cuddle with each other, but not quite in the same way the gerbils cuddle with each other…or rather, how they use each other as beds and to prop themselves up.

I like how the guy on top there was all, “Now I’m going to use you to prop me up to the water bottle so I don’t have to expend any effort.” Meanwhile, middle guy was very earnestly cleaning his feet with his teeth.

Come to think of it, the kittens clean their feet via mouth as well.

I’m glad I don’t have to clean my feet with my mouth.

And there you have the first in what will no doubt be a long line of cats vs. gerbil posts. We can only be so lucky.

Warm Fuzzies

It has obviously been far too long since I’ve posted an update to let you know how my kittens are doing. Also, in lieu of actual words coming out of my brain, I thought I might show you some cute photos. They might make you feel better. I know they make me feel better.

Seriously, Starfire does this thing where she climbs up on a lap and starts meowing, regardless of how much you’re already petting her, then shoves her face in your nose. It is awesome. There is nothing like a cuddly kitten to make you feel better.

Jack holding two black kittens.

I think Jack would agree.

Even the gerballs seem to have determined that the cats are harmless. For a few days, they would hide when the cats climbed on top of their tanks. Now they just kind of hang out. Sometimes they even investigate the cats right back.

Gerbil sniffing at cat on top of her tank.

Or maybe they’re teasing the cats. Those gerbils have schemes.

Either way, they seem pretty relaxed.

Gerbil drinking from water bottle while lying on his back.

This gerbil, for example, seems to have found a way to hydrate whilst sleeping. RELAXED.

The kittens, on the other hand, are anything but relaxed. I mean, sure, they sleep a lot, but they also stampede through the house in a manner that is quite possibly louder and more disruptive than when my kiddos do it. For tiny animals, their little padded feet are LOUD when they run.

My kids are always trying to find new ways to have fun with/exploit the kittens, something that Quinn quite aptly did a few days ago when he went fishing for the phone and called my mom. He told her that he was having a kitty-a-thon and wanted to know if she wanted to pledge some money.

AND SHE AGREED TO DO SO.

AND SHE ACTUALLY SENT HIM FIVE DOLLARS.

Quinn has powers.

We took our kitty-a-thon proceeds (total: $5) to the store to find a cat toy. Jack and Quinn checked out all of the toys before deciding on a mouse-shaped laser pointer, which turns out to be the best $4.75 ever spent by anybody anywhere.

The cats are powerless against it.

Powerless.

Three cats staring at a red dot on the wall. Cat jumping in the air at a red dot.And I can sit on my couch and exercise my cats at the same time, which is perfect for my current levels of lethargy.

So, consider yourselves caught up on Team Stimey’s four-legged gang. I’m going to try to do something exciting/fun/crushingly disastrous with my kids soon so I have something to write about that isn’t covered in fur.

Co-sleeping

What is it like to have one of your offspring climb into bed with you in the middle of the night? Well, if they are anything like my children, they will squirm around until (a) they find a comfortable spot, (b) they are sound asleep, and (c) you are wide damn awake. Usually their comfortable spot means that they are perpendicular to you and have a foot in your face.

Now that I think about it, it is EXACTLY LIKE WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THAT POOR FATHER GERBIL IN THIS PHOTO BELOW.

IMG_0193

That is Mouse on the right, with son King all over his face. If you look carefully, you can see other son Creeper between them. This is EXACTLY what it is like to sleep with Jack and Quinn.

I’ve finally found some real, solid common ground with the gerbils. Yay, us.

Gerbil-go-round

So, I know that many of you like gerbil posts. Unfortunately, the gerblets have grown up and now look just like every other gerbil in the world. I tried to get them to smoke cigarettes to stunt their growth so they’d stay small and adrable, but they don’t have opposable thumbs, so they kept dropping them.

They totally looked cooler while they did it though.

I do still have many photos. The boy gerbils have a whole bunch of houses in their tank, but they like to sleep in a pile in a corner where I can laugh at them and take photos.

I actually think it's kind of lovely that they snuggle like that.

I actually think it’s kind of lovely that they snuggle like that. Although I can’t imagine that it’s super fun to be on the bottom there, like King is.

They also like to prank me. Mouse plays dead really well.

He's such a jerk.

He’s not; I promise.

You should also know that Quinn has been looking out for you gerbil lovers out there. He regularly disappears with my iPhone only to return with blurry photos of gerbils—and sometimes video.

He took the following video the other day and insisted that I put it on the internet. In his defense, I think he might be right about its internet worth. My gerbils continue to use their exercise wheels all wrong, but in all kinds of different and interesting ways. See how Spike (or Jefferie—it’s hard to tell) does it.

Also, based on suggested videos that appear after this one plays on YouTube, there are a tremendous number of people taping their gerbils running on horizontal wheels. A lot of those people even have better camera skills than Quinn.

I’m going to go feed and give cardboard tubes to the little furballs now. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s gerbil interlude.