Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Reawakening

For my entire adult life, up until these last few years, I went out at least once a week. Usually two or three times a week. No matter where I've lived, I've always had "the bar" that I go to. I enjoyed being out, seeing people, making new friends, and having noise in the background. Even when I was happily coupled, I still made it a priority. Because of this, I made a bunch of really interesting friends all across the country. I always loved my fellow barflies. People come and go, change, move, magically appear or disappear -- a townie bar is always the same no matter where it's at, and I've always really loved the experience. And then it just stopped.

There were a few life circumstances that led up to it, but mostly, I got heartburn and my back problems got worse and I got older and had less energy. The last thing in the entire world that I wanted was a beer. I enjoyed waking up in the morning without a headache or the stench of the previous evening floating around me. I got really into my hobby and spent my evenings working on projects instead of going out. Little by little, my barfly friends vanished. I find myself wondering about them from time to time, and I'm always happy when I run into one -- but that's rare.

Last weekend, I went out in town with one of the few remaining Real Life friends I have here in Farmsville. We had a grand old time, and I was happy to see her and her husband. While we were at the bar, I saw a girl I've known since childhood. She was a few years younger than me in school. I went over to say hello, and we hugged and exchanged news about our families. And then she asked me if I live here? Yes, I've lived here for almost 10 years.

*record screeches*

OK, it's 9 years. Right? I moved here at the very end of 2007, so it's more like 9 years. Yes. But still. As the words came out of my mouth, and then I watched the surprise come over the girl's face, I realized whoa, I've lived here longer than I've lived anywhere else. As a chronic mover -- like all the way across the country mover -- this is interesting. I've found a home. This is good! But I knew that the girl lived here. I've known that all along. I know a lot of people who live here. But they don't know I'm here.

It's totally self-imposed. I don't participate in Farmsville events. I'm not on Facebook. I'm not a member of any social groups or structures, such as a church. Since I'm single, I don't have any "other side of the family" obligations or outings. I live in the country and work from home. 'Nuf said. I am my own island. And so far? That's been perfectly fine. Seriously. I needed some down time from society to do some mental health work and figure out some of my dark sh*t and grow into the Adult Blondie that is sitting here typing today. I just needed a break. Plain and simple. At a resting state, I enjoy being a hermit, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Introvert? Check!

Earlier in my life, I sought out new ways to make friends on a regular basis. I signed up for classes at community centers or colleges or museums to try out new things. I was always excited when I signed up for the classes -- hoping I'd find whatever it was that my soul was seeking. Then I was always deeply disappointed when the class or the people didn't fill that hole in my heart. I was always looking outside of myself for comfort, and it backfired time and time again. At the classes, in the groups, at the bar. I spent a lot of time being painfully disappointed. It sucked.

So without really being aware of it, I just called it quits. I quit looking for interesting men to talk to or possibly date. I quit trying to dance the delicate dance of Adult Female Friendship. I completely bailed on meeting fascinating strangers at the local water holes. I focused on work, my online friendships, and my miniatures. I dove headfirst into my miniature guild and busted through a bunch of mini builds and felt very happy and content. I still do.


The other day, my father invited me to lunch during the work week.  

What is this? What is this new-fangled fancy thing called a lunch date?! Wait a second! People leave their houses during the afternoons?! On purpose?! And you would like to do this with me???



  • The best lunches EVER with my girlfriends at the Giant Publishing Company in Chicago.
  • Driving through the Portland Wendy's with Cousin Kira on a random summer afternoon and then talking for hours about something ridiculous and loving it.
  • Meeting up my besties after class in Iowa City for coffee and socialization at Micky's.
  • Having "a table" to go to in high school in the lunch room right here in Farmsville. 

When did I stop having lunch with other people? Or maybe a better question -- when did I stop caring about not having lunch with other people?

Part of this is maturity. As we get older, we don't need as many people in our lives. For my married/kiddo friends, they don't have time for a lot of things because they're growing humans and working on their marriages and GOOD LORD kids' activities these days! I'm listening to hold music with a lot of my momma friends, genuinely hoping that I'll have solid relationships with them again once their children are grown. But it should probably be a bit healthier on my side of the call. I should be living my own life and be projecting my own kind of hold music because I'm doing things I care about and creating a valued and important life despite being solo.

This might sound like I'm beating myself up for being a hermit, but I'm not. There's true value in it. I have time for self-reflection and mindfulness. I get to explore nooks and crannies of my brain that most people simply do not have time to explore. I like being cerebral, and I embrace my weirdness. Adult Blondie has to be her own best advocate.

You're fine, Blondie, you really are. But you could kick it up a notch. Slow and easy wins the race.

At this point in my journey, I truly feel most things are chance, luck, or serendipity. You meet the right friend, partner, boss, job, wife, neighbor just because. You're in the right place at the right time. I used to think that I was in control of everything and so therefore, all of my failures were because of me. Over time, I've figured out it's not me. It just is -- whatever event I'm trying to make happen, it either will or won't happen. For example, my parents who were raised in different parts of the country in different lifestyles and who went to different colleges just happened to meet at a really small townie bar one night in a city that neither of them should have been in -- no family there, didn't go to college there, etc. It just happened. POOF. Ah, there you are. And now they've been married for 40-ish years. They couldn't have planned that. Nope. You can't plan that sh*t. And neither can I.


I can give chance the opportunity to happen.

Right now? For the last few years? No chance. I've had my head buried in my studies and my hobby and my work and my family. It's OK. It happens. Not a failure. Nothing wrong with it. I've been fine. For reals, I've been fine and very content, and I've settled into a very comfortable mental-health zone that doesn't involve crying on the regular. It's good stuff.


I'd like to have lunch with someone. Maybe a couple of someones. I'd like to choke on my food as I laugh SO HARD at something one of those someones said. I remember that. I loved it. It was good, too.

No, I don't need to go stand in a grocery store aisle each day and wait to bump into people. No, I don't need to hit up the local bar three nights a week. No, I don't need to make myself really uncomfortable by forcing myself to do things I don't want to do just because I feel like I should.

But I can sign up for a new kind of class that might really interest me and bring me some joy. I can ask that girl from the bar for her phone number the next time I see her just in case she is also looking for someone to have lunch with once in a while. I can find reasons to go out and be in the world on a semi-regular basis instead of spending so much time by myself.

I can get out more.

In fact, I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Letter to a Dollhouse

Dearest Beacon Hill,

As much as I always want to work on you -- like really truly almost ache to work on you -- I never do it. Why? What is it about you that keeps me from picking up the tools and ending this long game? I bought you in 2006. I cracked you open and was ready to roll. It's been 10 years.

I thought giving myself a deadline of December 31, 2016 would make me attack your naked shell and GET TO WORK ALREADY, but nope. Here we are almost at the end of April. That means I have seven months left according to my personal deadline. It was more realistic-ish when there were closer to 12 months. I don't think I can cut it in seven. Especially because there are so many unpredictable Real Life Events that keep happening to fill up my time.

It's some kind of mental block. That has to be it. I've gone through them in my head.

Is it because I got you to get over my ex-boyfriend, and finishing you somehow puts that relationship to bed permanently? No. I've grown and changed too much since that breakup to let something like that happen now. You are just a dollhouse. Plain and simple. You no longer represent anything to do with that ex or have that kind of power.

Is it because you intimidate me? Kind of. I can own that one. There are parts of you that I have not yet figured out how to master. The main one being that tower:

I didn't originally side you all the way up. Now there are tight corners that are missing siding:

This is not something I can't handle, however. My mini skills have blossomed over the years by working on other miniature builds. Those experiences have given me the skills I need to fudge it. Figure it out. DO IT. I can do it. I know I can.

Is it because I want the top hat to remain removable, but I don't want it to look stupid? Possibly. However, I just learned a really great lesson from fellow miniaturist Emily Morganti via legendary miniaturist Jim Marcus. Emily needed a hinge for her Little Belle and wrote: "I remembered [Jim Marcus] telling me that he didn’t mind if his houses had visible hinges — that you shouldn’t try to hide the fact that a dollhouse is a dollhouse."

This makes so much sense to me, so now I need to simply find a cool eye hook or clamp or pretty thing to hold the top hat on. That won't be so hard now that I have officially given myself permission to make it obvious. Thank you, Emily. Thank you, Jim Marcus:

Is it because I don't like the light blue? I think I've gotten over that. For a long time, I was bummed about going with this color as an accent. It's Anita Slate Blue, and I've regretted that color choice since the minute I bought it. I wanted that accent blue to look more like the one on this house, which has the color scheme I copied. For a long time, I pondered trying to take apart the bits of the house that have this color, but then I decided meh. It's fine. So I guess it's not the blue:

Is it because you're so giant and f*cking intimidating? Yes, a part of the reason is that:

But on the other side of the coin, I have so many fun minis for you. Like these flowers I bought years ago:

And this sign for the Heritage Room that I bought at my first mini show in Davenport, Iowa, in 2013:

And this furniture for the Crime Museum:

And this copper rooster in memory of Grandpa Blonderson:

And this horrifyingly disturbing yet fantastic X-ray from April (for the Crime Museum -- story for another post):

And this antique quilt and bedding set from Barbara Studebaker that I bought for myself this Christmas. I love it so much:

And who can forget this clock from April?:

Glinda from Brae is ready for the Wizard of Oz rooms:

I've even been diligently dusting off old kits and putting them together. Kitty from Volker Arnold in a resting state:

And then ARMS UP!:


I need to make pretty flowers for this kitty vase that represents Webster. And I need like seriously neeeeeed to simply have this radish from 64tnt displayed SOMEWHERE. I need to look at it all the time for the sake of random silliness:

So my sweet, wonderful, beautiful Beacon Hill. I accept your flaws. I'm fine with your slightly crooked ways. I'm at peace with the fact that you aren't going to look perfect. And I know full well that painting all of your gingerbread trim might kill me, BUT I'll be so proud and happy when you're finished. I will have such a fantastic sense of accomplishment!!!!!!!!!!!!

So why why why why? Why can't I even get myself to DUST you?

Is it because you're no longer in my living room? You were front and center over at Farmhouse Villa:

Hmmmm.... I think there's something to that.

I feel like because I have a Mini Room in my house that I have to use it. It's perfect for storing all of my mini things, but it's hard to shoo the cats out of there (oh yes, the cats certainly have something to do with the BH procrastination, hence the tinfoil) and at night, my gray walls paint choice (that I LOVE) is dark. Too dark for painting. Not too dark for building though. I've built plenty of other things in there already.

I feel guilty not using the Mini Room because it's there and I begged my father to help me fix it up for my minis. Random Internal Blondie says: "You really should go work in that room. Go in there. Go." There's NOTHING wrong with that room. Seriously. It's a perfect room. Especially now that Pa fixed the HVAC issues.

WTF, Self?!


I wonder what would happen if I put the Beacon Hill in the living room for a while?

It would probably bother me. Now that I have a bigger house with so many rooms to store things in, I'm far less messy. I like keeping the house relatively clean. It feels good, better, healthier. I like the ch'i of Briarpatch as-is. I also dislike judgment from random visitors about things like giant, in-progress dollhouses in one's living room. Been there, done that. I know I shouldn't care, but I apparently do.

Devil's Advocate Blondie says: "But wouldn't it also be healthier to work on minis, which you haven't really done in earnest since before Christmas?" Yes. Yes, it would be very good for me to embrace my hobby head-on. And it's true that when the Beacon Hill was sitting in my living room, I stared at it all the time, thinking up more and more grand ideas about how to work on it and decorate it creatively.


Perhaps I'll bring the Beacon Hill out and put it behind the couch for a few weeks. Just to stare at it. Just to see if that will spark my mini-ing fever. I can let myself off the hook with the 2016 completion deadline, but I DO want to work on the house. I love this house. I want to finish it.

How does that sound, Beacon Hill? Want to come out and play? I sure hope so because I have so many fantastic minis waiting to be displayed inside of you:

We'll keep the foil handy to attempt to deter Gretchen. We'll deal with kitty hair sticking to your siding. We'll say: "I don't care," over and over and over again if the dollhouse makes the living room look "messy" in some way. I will put you where I can't ignore you and let the staring begin. Yes, let's see how that goes. It's worth a shot.



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Planning Ahead for Meow Loss

So about a year ago, when Webster was 16 (if we can trust his initial adoption papers), I took the meows to the vet for an annual visit. I asked the vet how long he thought Webster might live. He felt Webbie's kidneys (said they were getting smaller), checked him over, and gave me the verdict: Webster will probably live to be 18. That was one year ago. So now Webster is 17. Somewhere in the depths of Briarpatch, a clock has started ticking.

Now, of course, no one can predict death. Webster could go on to randomly live to be 25 or something. [Hell, Alice the mouse keeps going like an Energizer Bunny despite being like 125 years old in mouse years.] But somehow I doubt Webster will last into his 20s. He's been losing weight for the last few years and now has a very bony back and hip area. He used to love for other people to snuggle and pet him, but now he only likes it when I do it. He used to play a lot more. He used to be shinier.

My little old man is going to break my heart when he goes.

Because I'm all about mental health now, I'm forcing myself to not pretend that Webster will live forever. Slowly, ever so slowly, I've also been working on this skill regarding my aging parents. (HI PARENTS!) Thinking about the grand circle of life has led to discussions about cremation -- both human and animal. And a lot of other conversations that I never ever ever wanted to have, but I've been making myself do it because it's important. I've been adulting lately.

But back to Webster, who is on my lap as we speak because that's where Webster is when Momma is working. Always. On. Momma.

What will I do when the time comes for my cuddlebug? How will I sleep without him right beside me? How will I heal my heart?

OK, there's a fine line between adulting and Preparing Too Much. For now, I'll stick with the logistics. I've been worrying about this ever since I talked to the vet about realistic indoor-cat life expectancies.

When King died back in 2010, it was smack in the middle of a really brutal winter. The ground was FROZEN. There was no way King was going to have a proper farmie burial, so I had him cremated. King was the very first pet in the Blonderson family to have such a froufrou ending. Most of our hamsters, kitties, and goldfish ended up somewhere in the back 40 -- even now I have no clue where my childhood cats are buried. King was different though because he was my cat. Lives-in-the-house cat. More-like-a-roommate cat. I ordered the little box for his ashes, which now lives in the bookshelf with other meaningful objects.

King's box is very pretty:

Naturally, when I moved into Briarpatch, I lost the key that opens the box:

The people at the vet's office gave me quite the shock when they presented me with King's paw print, which I was very grateful to receive. I also have this little memorial that I made in his honor. It has his last rabies registration tag and his favorite mousie toy in it:

When my mother's farm cat died at age 19 in 2013, I asked for a paw print for her as well. Girlfriend had front claws, yes she did:

So what to do about Webster?

Last month, I got a postcard reminding me about Gretchen's scheduled vaccinations. When I called to make her appointment, I asked about bringing in Webster, too. It turns out that they no longer give kitties distemper shots once they reach a certain age, so Webster didn't need to come in for anything.


This was the moment where it really sunk in. I packed Gretchen up in the carrier to go to the vet solo. After her shots, I decided to put my big girl pants on and ask the administrative assistant about their kitty death options. This is my old Farmsville vet, but he has a new office in a neighboring town, so I wasn't sure about their protocol. She assured me that they do the paw prints -- but reminded me to make sure to ask just in case. And then she showed me the box. The box was not very pretty. Economic? Yes. Pretty? No.

Webster and I have spent far more time with each other than King and I ever did. The little, simple wooden box just seemed Wrong in comparison to King's.

The next evening, I ended up having a discussion about this with my sister. Dorothy knows how much I love thrifting and being crafty, so she suggested that I buy/make my own box for Webster. Because I have time on my side, this is something I can do -- fabulous idea. Of course, this then led to a discussion about my parents' ashes/urns, which led to a conversation about my parents living in my bookshelf with my dead cats, but that's all for another blog post...

My handsome boy.
My cuddlebug.
My snuggles.

I love him so much.

It would feel weird to bury Webster somewhere on the farm and then keep King on the shelf. But it would also feel weird to cremate Webster when he could simply be buried naturally on the farm. I suppose it depends on what time of year it is and whether or not my father is available to help me. There are too many unknown variables to know for sure what I'll be able to accomplish. But this much I can do: I can look for a special box. Just in case.

The day we took Maggie in to the vet to have her put to sleep (she went downhill fast in a 24-hour period), I mentioned that she was SO bony. Her hips and backbone were sticking out. The vet tech told me that's how you know that a cat is getting really old and doesn't have a ton of time left. As I sit here now, petting Webster's bony behind, I wonder how long that mysterious clock will keep ticking.

I knew all along that Webster would need another cat. With Gretchen, I'm not sure. She'll let me know, and I'll figure it out when the time comes.

There. Now I've written about it. I've acknowledged the worry and fear inside of me and have given it room in the world. Now, hopefully, I can stop thinking about it and simply enjoy the time we have left.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New Mini Tools, Old Mini Kits

This lovely pig is one of the critters that lives in my niece Little's dollhouses/roomboxes. As you can see, Green Pig has a very lovely chair (made and donated to Little's miniature stash by April).

Aw, minis. I need you, minis. Real Life has been hard, frustrating, and completely filled with ridiculousness lately. It's time to prioritize the one thing that can always distract me and make me feel better: wee creations. I have yet to actually touch the Beacon Hill (that I'm somehow supposed to finish by December 31 according to my own WTF self-imposed deadline), but at least I've started preparing.

First up: a paper cutter. All this time, I've been cutting my templates and wallpaper (mostly cardstock) with scissors. I had no idea that paper cutters could be so damn handy. I can't cut in a straight line. Period. I like to blame this on the fact that I'm a leftie, but I was raised on right-handed scissors, so maybe that's why my cuts always veer slightly off-course. Or something like that. (Yes, I realize there are left-handed scissors in the world and Ma actually bought me some when I was a kid, but I can't use them because after 38 years of using right-handed scissors, left-handed ones feel wonk.)

Anyway, I picked up a Martha Stewart paper cutter at Hobby Lobby one day and WHOA my whole world changed. Except then I only used it to cut like 10 pieces of paper before it started tearing the paper, and then I read a whole bunch of online reviews about how much Martha Stewart paper cutters suck because the blades go dull immediately (and so do the replacement blades), so I got all sad because I really WANTED to cut paper straight.

Solution? Return to trusty Fiskars. Martha only got chosen in the Hobby Lobby aisle because the paper cutters were on sale, and the Martha one was like a dollar cheaper. Huge mistake on my part. So today, when my lovely Amazon order arrived, the Martha paper cutter went straight in the trash, and the bad boy Fiskars (along with a thinking-ahead package of replacement blades) took its place.

Take THAT, Martha Stewart:

This doesn't mean that all of my paper cuts will be straight for sure from now on though. I can be honest.

Speaking of Fiskars, I should have known to go with them because of the best pair of scissors I've ever owned. I specifically requested that Santa Claus bring me these scissors last year, and Ma came through. Little -- who pays attention to everything Auntie Bon Bon does, often to my shock of OMG SHE SAW/ HEARD/ REMEMBERS THAT!?!? -- asked me about the scissors the last time she was at my house. Do you still like your special gold scissors you got for Christmas? Yes, yes I do. (And no, Fiskars isn't paying me, and I swear this is NOT a Fiskars commercial). But come on, look at these bad boys. How can you not be impressed? They cut everything. Perfectly:

Moving right along. Now it's time to get out some of the goodies I've been hoarding keeping for YEARS in preparation for the Beacon Hill Completion. Well, some of these things are only like one year old. So that's progress.

First up is a Jeannetta Kendall strawberry plant kit that I got at last year's Tom Bishop Chicago show. At this point in my mini-ing career, I've made very few plants, so I've been too afraid to actually put this together until now. I know a lot of people who own this exact kit, but I have yet to see anyone actually put it together. Because I'm a visual learner, I need to SEE the plant. Jeannetta Kendall kits are mostly made for people who are experienced miniaturists and don't need directions for things like simple plants. (Her kits/minis rule though, just sayin.') Luckily, I found this image that shows what the strawberry plant should look like. I also got a strawberry pot at Bishop for the plant. When this is finished, it will live in the Plant/Orchid/Flower Room of the Beacon Hill:

While I was looking in my plants stash container, I found this Marigold in a Milk Carton kit from true2scale. I got this at the St. Louis NAME National Convention in 2014. It's about time I put this one together!! It will also live in the Plant Room:

At Bishop, I also picked up this Bi-Color Pothos Leaf Sheet kit from Pepperwood Miniatures. I've been procrastinating with this one because the backs of the leaves aren't printed on the sheet, so I have to paint them and then carefully cut them all out. It's fairly intimidating to someone who has made so few plants, so this kit always gets put back in the stash. I'm bound and determined to work on it now though. My wee plant skills need flexing! I can do it. I just have to find the time and the right paint. And some fingernail scissors. Methinks the Fiskars scissors are TOO MUCH POWER for these tiny leaves:

While I was investigating things I bought at Bishop, I remembered two kits I have from Volker Arnold. I got the English instructions from him via email, so I'm all ready to go. You can see the tiny animal toys below. I also got a hanging cat puppet thing that reminded me of a bear Cousin Kira had when she was little. Where will these go? The pull toy will go in the Heritage Room of the Beacon Hill, but the animals will probably be divided up and used in many different places:

Then I sniffed out my Lucy Iducovich petit point (a.k.a itty bitty needlepoint) pig pillow kit. I've been REALLY excited to do this kit ever since I got it, but I'm terrified. I don't want to ruin it or mess it up in some really wonk way. Her real pillows (no web site, sorry) are GORGEOUS, and I want to do this kit justice. However, I didn't get a picture of the pig pillow when I bought this kit, and now I can't really remember what it looks like:

The kit has obviously been photocopied one too many times because this is the image of the pillow that came with it. EEK:

So the visual learner? She haz a fail with this pig pillow. Lucy's address is on the kit, so I've been meaning to send her a SASE for a whole year to ask for a picture of the front and back of the real pig pillow. Maybe since I wrote about it here on my blog, I'll actually remember to do it.


As you can see, there are many Beacon Hill goodies climbing out of boxes and hiding places to get their moments in the sun. YAY I LOVE MAH MINIS!!!!!!!

*drools on self*

In the meantime, I picked up a few more tools so I am fully prepared for Beacon Hill-ing. I've had this knife for a while now, but I thought I'd share it with my crafty peeps. For a long time, I used my X-Acto knife (silver). But then I discovered the glories of the Excel knife (purple). If you look carefully, you can see there is a hex nut on the bottom of the Excel blade, which keeps it from rolling around, off the tray, or off the table onto the floor just out of reach while you're in the middle of gluing something delicate. It also unscrews at the bottom to switch out the blades so you won't stab yourself repeatedly by putting in the blade at the top. I love this Excel knife so hard. It's truly changed my whole "hobby knife" experience. (No, this isn't a commercial for Excel, either.) I think it might be time for the X-Acto knife to go to the hobby tool graveyard:

I am sharing my knives with you because of this next prepper purchase. I shall never run out of blades ever again!!!!!! Or at least I shouldn't for a few years:

Since I knew I was going to be making a lot of plants/flowers, I decided it was time to invest in a really good pair of fine-tip tweezers. They didn't have any reallllly fine-tip ones at the stores I visited locally, so I went all Mad Tweezer Research Crazy Person and found this pair on Amazon with amazing reviews. It can pull out ticks OR put together tiny flowers. Double points for the cap AND a little envelope thing to store it in:

Gretchen is ready:

Too bad I have all this Real Life work to do right now or I could get started on these kits right away!!!!

Soon, Self, soon. The time is nigh.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Found Objects: An Old, Meaningful Greeting Card

Sometimes, I get confused by something in life, and then I write about it on my blog and figure it all out quite easily. I guess I should have written about this Random Room in the Beacon Hill a long time ago! After writing here, I was looking for something in a drawer, and I found an envelope filled with cards and notes from my past lives. The items were mostly from my time living in Chicago, but I also found the card above, which is from my time in Iowa City. It's a very old card, indeed. And it's perfect for this Random Room project.

At the end of college, I had a house fire and lost my apartment. That specific house was the first time I'd ever lived all by myself without any roommates, and I really loved it. I had a lot of emotions about the whole ordeal, but the biggest thing I noticed was the loss of my identity. I didn't have my own space anymore. I was staying with Chicago Cousin, who also lived in Iowa city, to finish up the school year and graduate. She was a wonderful and gracious host, but I didn't like being there. I wanted MY apartment. MY place. MY room. One day, I was in the local bookstore, and I found this card.

The quote says:

"Most women need a room of their own, even if it is outside their home." 
-- Germaine Greer (b. 1939)

I related to the woman petting the cat, sitting outside to enjoy her day. That looks pleasant. But then there is the statue in the cramped niche -- maybe that is the statue woman's special room. Maybe that's the only room she ever feels whole inside. Something like that. I was very dreamy and overly-writerly in college. I also had a HUGE thing for Virginia Woolf.

I made up all kinds of stories about the statue in that little box. I bought this card and put it in my purse and decided I would carry it around always until I had my own room again. It took quite a while, but I finally got my own room months later when I moved to Portland. I taped the card to my new wall and that was that. The card kept moving with me from room to room for a long time, and then at some point, I tucked it away in this envelope to be found all these years later.

So the Random Room in the Beacon Hill shall be A Room of My Own. I will fill it with things that are "just for me." I already have a few things in mind that will work perfectly there...

Miyuki Kobayashi fishbowl:

VĂ©ronique Lux bunny:

Unsigned German toy based on an Erzgebirge miniature swing from Cinderella Miniaturen:

Hmmmm.... I see something interesting going on here. If I had made A Room of My Own earlier in my life, it would have been dark and crusty. Depressed. Bogged down by self-hatred. Hidden and closed in. Now look at me -- filling up my room with Childlike Joy items. I love it. I see how far I've come.

*pats Self on back*

I'm sure a few questionable items might work their way into this room, but overall, I sense happiness. It's about f*cking time.

(And thank you SO much to everyone who contributed ideas. I'm inspired to make even more Random Rooms in the future.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Random Beacon Hill Room

I have this one random room in the Beacon Hill that I can't figure out. It's gone through about 10 different themes. Each idea has fallen apart because of limitations -- not enough space mostly. It's a tiny room (for BH standards).

When this room was wallpapered, it was still the Mini Makers Room. I was going to use it to showcase minis that my friends had made. But now that time has gone on, I realize I want to use things from my friends in other places and will eventually need much more space for such a thing because I have very talented friends and acquaintances in the Mini World. So whatever I choose now has to go with the existing wallpaper and ceiling paper. Hmmm...

[Here are the other themes for the house.]

Hmmm... I'll keep thinking about it.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Farewell, Pippa Blonderson

Sweet, little Pippa passed away on February 25, 2016. She was an adorable, wee creature, and I miss her very much. Above, you can see Pippa the day I brought her home. Pippa was purchased as a replacement mouse after Charlotte passed away. She was SO tiny -- the youngest mouse I'd ever had. She was roughly 6 weeks old and was still figuring out how to be a mouse at that time.

Pippa had to go through a three week quarantine by herself, which I'm sure was quite jarring. She had two tankmates at the store, but I only needed one mouse, so she was suddenly all alone. I took her out every day to play with her:

The poor thing made me so sad because she didn't quite understand nesting. I knew my older girls would show her how to do this, but Pippa mostly fell asleep in the middle of the tank floor at the beginning. It broke my heart because I knew she wanted to snuggle with another meecer somewhere warm:

She liked to snuggle up in my elbow crook and just sit there:

I started packing this little hide with shredded newspaper and bedding to encourage her to go in there and perhaps make her own nest. It started working right toward the end of her isolation period:

Then came The Great Trauma. Meeting Alice was the worst thing that ever happened to poor Pippa. Alice chased her to the top of the coconut while screaming and biting at her. Pippa lived on top of this coconut for a few weeks -- barely daring to come down lest she get attacked again. I finally ended up removing Alice and putting her in a time-out tank for two weeks. In the meantime, Agatha took Pippa under her wing and became a good mother figure. Here is Pippa INSIDE the coconut instead of on top for the very first time. Agatha is in there with her:

These two were just fine on their own. They bonded quickly:

Pippa still enjoyed being with me alone, however:

She started to become more inquisitive and eager to explore the world:

After a long period of chaos, the girls were reunited. Alice gave in and accepted Pippa. It's better to be with meecer sisters than it is to be alone. Mice are pack animals, and females do best in trios. It's very hard for a mouse to be alone, so Alice learned her lesson. Here they are on their first day all together again. Pippa is climbing on the rope bridge:

And after a few days, SNUGGLES. Yes, that is Meanie Alice snuggling ON TOP of Pippa. My heart melted:

SO much warm, wonderful snuggling:

After Pippa settled in, girlfriend started to get... fat. She put on a ton of weight, which was adorable. Very quickly, she grew larger than both of her sisters:

Oh my, how curvy:

I love her little paws:

A long time went by without anything odd happening. The girls all aged quite gracefully. Then in November, we lost Agatha. Pippa seemed lost for a few days without Momma Aggie. Alice and Pippa didn't interact for about a week. I understand. Agatha was very loving and sweet -- and was the Ultimate Nest Maker. Alice and Pippa didn't make any nests. But they tolerated each other:

After a few weeks, they started being really nice to each other again. Here, they're holding hands for balance while they drink together. TOO CUTE:

Over Christmas, my niece Little was here. She was able to hold Alice and Pippa for the first time (before, they were too wild to be held by "strangers"). Here are Little and Pippa together -- two gorgeous redheads:

But very quickly, I noticed something was wrong with the girls. Alice started scratching her right eye so much that it bled, and Pippa started scratching her inner ears and around her eyes. I took them to the vet, and they were treated for mites multiple times, but nothing helped. It might just be an OCD reaction to losing Agatha. It made me sad. Pippa didn't look well:

Pippa got better about the scratching, but then she started to lose weight. Each time I took her out to play, she felt lighter:

Mice -- especially pet store mice -- don't live very long. You have 1-3 years for their lifetimes. According to my best estimates, Agatha was 2.5 years when she died. Pippa was 1.5 years. Alice is currently a little over 2 years. So the lifespan varies quite a bit. I think Pippa either got sick with some kind of cancer or her genetics didn't make for a long life. I'm not sure. It was around the time of this photo below that I realized Pippa was nearing the end of her life. She was becoming "little old lady-ish." Still adorable but definitely geriatric. Alice also looks old, but she's like the Energizer Bunny. She practices for the Meecer Olympics on the wheel each day and could probably outrun any wild mouse on the farm:

Pippa continued to lose weight and energy, but she was still SO cute. She got so tiny at the end that she looked much like the baby version I brought home from the pet store:

This is the last picture I have of Pippa -- being groomed and snuggled by Alice. At the end, they were very close and kind to one another:

One evening, I went to give the girls some Cheerios as a snack, and Pippa didn't come out. I knew she must be deceased somewhere in the tank because girlfriend LURVED her Cheerios. I searched all around and finally found her buried under shredded newspaper and bedding. I felt SO bad for Alice. Alice has watched three sisters die now. It breaks my heart. This is why I won't be getting a new trio of mice. For someone with an overly-squishy animal-loving heart like me, the lifespan of mice isn't long enough. I can't handle how quickly they pass on. I'd love to have them again in the future, but for now, it's me and Alice.

My folks let me bury Pippa in her strawberry in their backyard around the same tree where Charlotte and Agatha are buried. I will always remember her as the tiny, baby mouse from those first days I had her. Thank you for bringing joy to my life, Pippa. Goodbye, my darling: