Tag Archives: Gerbils

Weekly Photo Challenge: Wildlife

13 May

Some of our gerbils.  They are fabulous pets who will interact with you yet remain ‘wild’.  The photo of Pepper on the Hub’s hand is a little blurred, but I include it to show you how she would groom his hair.

With Sincere Apologies To Viv

28 Jun

After years of tolerating the Hub and his tropical fish, I have finally succumbed: my name is Tilly and I love my goldfish. So, apologies to nephew David and his lovely wife for messing you around, but I’ll see to Bill myself, thank you very much.

And Betty, of course; she’s the companion we bought for Bill. Or HE’s the companion: turns out the Hub is not as good a sexer as he thought; on reading the book that came with the new fish tank we bought because the original was plastic, cracked and too small and the plants we bought took up all the room, he learned that his method for discerning the sex was faulty i.e. he had no idea what he was doing and might just as well have held a wedding ring on a string over the tank and decided that male was right twirl and female left.

Then came the accessories, donated by a kindly Freegler. Freegle is the English independent breakaway offshoot of Freecycle; a sort of retaliation for 1776 – no authorisation without representation (no money changes hands so it can’t be taxation).

Bill & Betty now have a castle and some slate tunnels and it’s my bet the Hub is thinking that as soon as Callie the Eternal Gerbil pops her clogs, he’ll have a use for her giant tank and the seventeen other fish castles now residing in the garden in an old carrier bag. I’m sure it has been his plan to get me to keep Bill & Betty all along; he’s always liked owning fish. He has asked me almost every day if I had decided to keep them and I finally said ‘yes’ this morning. He had me out of the house and into the pet shop before I could say ‘I’ll have some chips with that’ and we now have Bill & Betty & Jock & Viv.

Jock & Viv get their names from my good friend Vivienne, who always leaves complimentary comments on my posts, and her husband, who once gave the kiss of life to a goldfish and inspired a poem. I won’t post it again because I’ve posted it twice already, but you can read it here. It was one of my favourite poems I have written and I was really touched by Jock’s heroism, and Viv is just lovely, so I can’t think of a better tribute to them. I hope they forgive me.

We now have a dog, a gerbil, two kids and four fish. We may be getting another dog because Toby is still nervous around them and it would help socialise him. We will definitely be getting two more fish because the boys want one of their own now that we are keeping them; but I draw the line at having any more gerbils or kids in the house.

Which reminds me: I am really looking forward to having my niece and nephew staying for a couple of weeks in the summer holidays. Someone’s got to look after all the pets while I have my nervous breakdown.

Little Bill

6 Jun

I finally managed to secure the goldfish.  You may remember I put him on the ‘At Risk’ register because my blonde friend did not provide plants for his tank.  The Hub and I spent some of our Shop Local winnings on tank plants and then I spent the week trying to co-ordinate diaries with my BF so that I could collect him.   Once she offered me a bottle of wine (bought because it has ‘Silver’ in its name) it was amazing how quickly my engagements dried up.

He is now residing in his tank, surrounded by plants and my kettle and toaster.  There is no room for him in the lounge: the gerbil’s tank takes up half a wall and the dog’s mat, basket, toy basket and antique Woolworths chest containing his treats and accessories, takes up the rest of the room.  No matter – I spend half my life in the kitchen anyway, cooking, cleaning and avoiding the children, so Bill and I will have plenty of quality time together.

I have called him Bill after some discussion with the Hub and Spud (still in Wales but phoning home everyday to moan about his hosts because he’s not here to moan about us).  We considered Bert, Harry, Bubbles, Goldie and Fingers i.e. Goldfishfingers; if he was American it would be Goldfishsticks.  I suppose it’s daft to name him when we are only fostering him until the Hub’s nephew gives him a permanent home, but I like that it will give me the opportunity to say to my BF, when she asks how her fish is doing, ‘He’s fine.  Don’t worry, I’ll be sending the Bill to David.’

He wasn’t fine at first; he seemed to be quite upset at being taken into care and was quiet for a couple of days and off his food.  At least, I think he was off his food: we bought so many plants he couldn’t move and we couldn’t see him.  Once I had thinned them out he started swimming happily around the bowl.  At least, I think he’s happy; he doesn’t talk much.  I’m not sure if he’s shy or standoffish. 

I have come a long way as a pet owner since buying that first goldfish for Tory Boy: I left his bowl in front of the window when we went out for the day, so he would have something to look at.  We found him floating on the surface, having slowly boiled to death.  Tory Boy was upset but at least we had something ready for dinner.


Hairs and Things

16 Sep

I went grocery shopping yesterday and rather enjoyed it. I don’t normally like shopping; I never have, even when we had plenty of money. I am intimidated by bored and rude sales assistants – but at least they are better than hairdressers. Hairdressers are scarier than dentists; scarier than walking Stockport streets at night; scarier even than a doctor’s cold hands at a five-yearly check-up. They hold the key to my appearance in their hands, and I am powerless to stop them having their wicked way with me. I once had a hair cut. I asked the hairdresser to bob my hair to the top of my shoulders, and cut in a fringe. As she was combing it, she remarked on my natural kink, saying that she had one and it was useless trying to fight it. She decided to give me some layers to make it manageable, and then she began cutting, and cutting, and cutting; tiny snips at a time. I was in the chair for at least an hour, but by the time I realised how short my hair was going to be, it was too late to protest. I wasn’t wearing my glasses and her friendly chat lulled me into a state of torpor, and it was only as much time passed that the horror of what was happening gradually dawned on me. She bobbed me to the top of my neck, not my shoulders, so I had what’s technically known in the hairdressing trade as ‘short hair’. Giving in to the kink meant flicking it out at the back, but the sides and front curled under. I have to say that I was really pleased with the whole look for as long as it took me to walk out into the damp British air and the frizz to kick in. The hairdresser later confessed to my mum, who she knew and was therefore another reason not to complain about my shearing while it was happening, that she just couldn’t stop cutting and I was sitting so quietly and acceptingly that she kept talking and cutting and talking and cutting in panic.

Tory Boy decided to grow his hair long when he was fifteen. I had to accept his decision but it drove me nuts, particularly as he is the only person I know who can wash his hair without cleaning it and dry his hair so that it remains wet. Then there was the unexpected side-effect of his unplugging the hairdryer without switching it off. Every time I came to use it, it would explode into action as soon as I plugged it in, leaving me several heart attacks closer to a hospital. I tried telling him politely, and followed it up with a threatening email when that didn’t work; eventually I was forced to hide in the kitchen, jumping out on him whilst simultaneously turning on the hairdryer as he walked in, so he could have the hospital bed next to mine. But it didn’t work; he looked at me as if I was stupid and, when using the dryer, began exaggeratedly showing me he had switched it off, and then secretly switching it back on again to catch me out. My only choice was to ban him from hairdryer contact altogether and wake him an hour early so that his hair had time to dry naturally before school. Lack of sleep on my part meant that strategy lasted one day.

My Blonde Friend once gave me a load of luxury bubble bath as she had developed an allergy, nudge nudge wink wink, know what I mean John? Remember that annoying advert from the Seventies? Eric Idle and Breakaways, if I recall. Aren’t adverts strange? As a child I thought only brunettes got dandruff because there were no blondes in the Head and Shoulders ad. I was astonished when Tory Boy got dandruff: my then scruffy blonde baby never rinsed his hair properly, of course. Anyway, Blonde Friend gave the bubble bath to me instead of her mum because she didn’t want her poor frail mother to slip in the bath. I treated myself to a luxury bubble bath one Sunday night while the menfolk were watching Top Gear (this was in the days before I discovered the strangely attractive midget that is Richard Hammond). Despite three metre-high bubbles, I didn’t really enjoy my bath: as I was getting in I slipped and banged my knee and was in agony for an hour; the menfolk couldn’t hear my howls of pain because they were laughing so hard at TG downstairs.

Hair plays a big part in my life. I wear a full body apron, no sleeves, and a tubee over my head when I cook, a la Yentl, because the favourite saying in our house during a meal isn’t, ‘That was delicious, Mum,’ or even, ‘Well, at least you tried,’ but, ‘I got the hair.’ My hair finds its way everywhere: the usual places like plug holes and bed, but also in all food (even when it’s stored in the fridge) and behind the toilet. I don’t know how it gets there; it’s not like I ever go behind the toilet to clean. The Hub is also affected by hair. He likes to give our pets the best life he can, and if that involves buying brushes to groom gerbils, then so be it…he will ignore my mocking laughter while they sit nestling in his hand for a brush, then take their turn to groom the hair on his arms, and his moustache.

Even Christmas Dinner can be hair-perturbed: one year, things went better than usual in spite of my mild hysteria, first over cooking, then on putting my chair and all my weight on TB’s foot (screaming adolescents are not good for my nerves, no matter how much pain they claim to be in). However, my hat would not fit on my head over my tied-back hair, and I pulled out my clip in a hissy fit, threw it on the floor and tried again to adjust my hat, which snapped back over my right ear, leaving my ear ringing, me sulking, and my family laughing at me. It wouldn’t have happened if I’d been to Mum’s hairdresser on Christmas Eve. That was the year the boys gave me thoughtful gifts: TB bought me a month’s supply of Maltesers and Spud bought me a Christmas pinny, a collapsible washing bag, and a pair of nose hair clippers.

I truly believe that the hardest part of being a parent is letting my children go, which is rather ridiculous, given that I spend all my time preparing them for independence, for a time when they won’t need me. Having said that, there are mornings when I am more than happy to let some of my children go…like the morning when TB berated me for being cruel, wicked and unfair, for not only did I make him polish his shoes and apply his acne cream, I didn’t pass him the lemonade bottle last night when it was me who wanted him to tighten the top after pouring him a drink while he was drying his hair, thus making him late for school fourteen hours later and forcing him to rush. I admit it: I am a dreadful mother; I thought so as I watched him through the window, strolling to the bus stop while fiddling with his mp3 player, hair doing a passable imitation of Jimi Hendrix in a wind tunnel, clearly determined not to miss that bus he was so late for. It was not the first time my teenage son had stressed me out: he once managed to turn a civil invitation to the cinema into an argument that left me rescinding the invitation and stabbing an innocent chicken sandwich. This is the child that I took shopping with me yesterday. Nineteen and determined to one day rule the world (watch out teachers, you’re heading for a colony in Antarctica), he spent the time choosing alochol supplies, riding the trolley, and out-Barry Scotting Barry Scott with his Cillit Bang advert impression.

I enjoyed my shopping because I saved £20-odd. Stuff was marked down by £1-2 – only 19pence for cooked chicken slices! I thought I’d died and gone to pound shop heaven. I loaded my trolly and later my freezer, and we may be eating ham sandwiches for the next three weeks but, hey, it only cost me £1.37 so stop moaning and enjoy the added hair flavouring.

A final word on hair things: the Hub once made pom-poms with our niece, helped her with her cross stitching, made bracelets, and beaded her hair, much to Spud’s disgust at such girlie activities in the man who claims to be his father. It didn’t surprise me. When we were courting in our teens, I sat with my cropped head and watched his mother plait his pony tail, muttering all the while, ‘I expected to do this for me daughters but not for me son!’ No wonder gerbils like his moustache. And don’t start feeling sorry for him because I’m mean: he likes to be kept on his toes by my teasing, believing variety is the spice of wife.

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