Monday, April 24, 2017

Some Recently Received Cards (FD)

Some of these have been waiting a while for me to get around to getting their photos and showing them to you, while others only arrived in the past few weeks. But, anyway, I wanted to show you some of the lovely cards people have sent me - well, us - lately.

For starters, Rita - who, if you don't already know, makes her own cards - sent us these "thank you" cards she'd made. She sent these over the past couple of months, to thank us for things we've sent her:

Also, when we lost our ratty girls, Star and Skye, my brother, Carl, and his girlfriend, Tory, who loved our ratty girls almost as much as we did, and were very sad to hear we lost them (I know Carl, at least, was almost as upset at their loss as we were) sent us a lovely sympathy card, which is brailled inside, though you can't tell that from the photo. Carl is blind too, so was easily able to braille the card himself. Anyway, here it is:

Next are these late Christmas cards. One is from my Mam and her dog, Ebonie, and the other is from my brother, Wayne (and I assume also his dog, Maya). They both arrived in the late Christmas and early Easter package we got a few weeks ago, which also contained a couple of small things Mam had meant to send us for Christmas but not ended up sending - including a couple of things she brought the rodent gang - and some chocolate and Easter eggs for me and Kelly. Anyway, here are the cards:

Finally, here's the card we got for Easter from my Dad and Nan:

That's all of them, so all that's left to say is... Thank you again to those who sent these lovely cards!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

People Go Marching By

A small group of people, complete with a little marching band, came past our place on the evening of March 25th 2017. In fact, they came past a few times, playing their marching music as they went.

We have no idea why though. I checked in all the usual places, but I couldn't find anything mentioned about any event we'd forgotten was on that may have had people marching through the town. Unless, of course, this was an extension of the marches happening that day in London because of how the government has still not figured things out about this leaving the EU thing, and people are trying to influence their decision one way or another. Personally, I just want them to figure out what they're doing, and then get on with doing it... This has gone on WAY too long now! Actually, they do appear to have finally handed in our official notice to leave the EU, though apparently it will take about two years to finalize. It's going to be an interesting two years... *Sigh*

But, anyway, it might have been to do with that, it might have been something else entirely, like a part I didn't know was happening for some of the things happening around here to celebrate Spring (which there were several of throughout March, as I'm sure you can imagine). I honestly haven't got a clue.

Either way, Kelly grabbed a couple of photos during one of their trips past our place, so here they are:

Friday, April 21, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Joshua The #Degu On Learning To Trust Again (FD)

Hi humans, rodent types, and anyone else reading this. This is Joshua the degu.

I'm starting to think these human caretakers aren't so bad. I mean, they could use a bit more training, of course. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the fact I'm starting to think they have no plans to make me disappear after all.

I know these human caretakers know something about where my brothers went, but I'm starting to think that maybe... Just maybe... It wasn't their fault. After all, they're doing all these nice things like giving me pasta and cereal to nibble on, and making sure my food bowl and water bottle stays full, and things like that. If they were to blame, would they really be making this much effort to make sure I'm happy and comfortable? Wouldn't they just get on with trying to make me disappear?

I'm not sure if I fully trust them yet. Like I said, I know they know something about where my brothers went. But I'm willing to accept that they're good humans, and that they care about me.

Of course, I'll never stop wondering where my brothers are, or why they took them away.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - #Poem: Typo #Fairies

Typo Fairies

Smiling a contented sigh
The author rubs her aching head,
Before stumbling sleepily to her
Long desired for bed.
A smile plays upon her lips
As she closes her tired eyes,
Imagining five star reviews
And her book winning a literary prize.

Then in the middle of the night,
While the author’s fast asleep,
From their secret hiding places
The typo fairies creep.
Listen to them giggling
(It makes a tinkling sound)
As they use their fairy magic
To move letters and words around.

By the time the author’s woken up
They’ve disappeared real quick.
She won’t see or hear them;
She’ll know nothing of their trick.
She’ll just shake her head in wonder
While exclaiming with dismay,
“It’s amazing how many typos you find
When you look again next day!”

Then she’ll sigh in resignation
And begin the tedious chore
Of making her precious manuscript
Typo free once more.

© 2017 ~ Victoria Zigler

The above poem is for all my fellow writers out there, and was inspired by a recent conversation with a writer friend about those troublesome typo fairies, and her attempts to catch all the typos they insist on adding to the supposedly completely typo-free and finished manuscripts when we authors aren't looking.

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 2017 #Vegetarian Friendly #Food Themed Thoughts (FD)

Happy Easter Monday! If you did anything to celebrate Easter, I hope your celebrations went well. We didn't really do anything, though chocolate eggs were involved, of course... Any excuse for chocolate, right?


In mid February, Deanna posted this recipe for Easy Cheesy Black Bean Enchiladas, which I liked the sound of. So, a couple of weeks after she posted the recipe, I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did, since it was very tasty. Not my favourite way to do filled tortillas, but I really enjoyed it, and it's a great option for something different that's easy to make.

Also, a few months ago - though I don't remember if it was just before or just after Christmas - Kati gave me this recipe for Vegan French Dip Sandwiches. The version I made didn't have worcestershire sauce in it, because I don't know of anywhere where I can buy - and couldn't be bothered to make - vegan worcestershire sauce, and am not about to use the regular one, since it's not vegetarian friendly. Also, I did add some cheese, and the cheese I used wasn't a vegan cheese, so I suppose mine would be a "Vegetarian French Dip Sandwich" instead. Either way, I enjoyed it. It was at the high end of my spice tolerance though, but I expected that due to horseradish being involved in the recipe. Still, I enjoyed it, and it's another nice easy to make meal for when I want something different. It's a messy one though, so be warned.


In case you don't know, and are interested, you can find more recipes - most of them vegetarian friendly, and some even vegan friendly - by going to my website's recipe section.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Keeper For The Day - Part 4 (FD)

If you missed them, you can read part 1 here, read part 2 here, and read part 3 here.

When I was able to tear myself away from the animals I could cuddle with, we headed back in to the rain to make our way to the Lemur house to feed and meet them. They were indoors when we approached...

I don't remember all their names, but it was mostly a group of males, apart from one female, and her baby, Shadow.

This is Shadow:

And here's another photo of the Lemars in their house:

They soon came out of their house when they realized we had the food bucket...

...Especially Shadow, who seemed to be everywhere at once...

Then they realized Julie was holding the food bucket, so tried to help themselves...

...Except for this one, who jumped up beside Kelly to say, "Hi," to him... Or maybe to check out the camera...

Then they realized we were putting out food, so were everywhere again, trying to get as much of it as they could...

I hand fed one of them. Well, actually, I technically hand fed them all, but anyway, here's a video of me hand feeding one of the Lemurs:

After we were done in with the Lemurs, we went to feed the Racoons and Coatis. We were meant to get a "meet and greet" with them too, but they weren't in the mood to come and say, "Hi," to me.

This Racoon was sleeping:

The Coatis were keeping their distance...

...And so were the other two Racoons...

But I don't blame them, because they'd had new sawdust laid in their enclosures earlier that day, and the tractor-like machine that does it had scared the poor things. I'm sure they were grateful for the food we left for them though.

There were several other animals there, but I didn't meet any more of them, and Kelly didn't take photos of any others either. So, that was basically it for my day. After that, we stopped in the staff room to sit down for a bit, and for Julie to give me my keeper for the day certificate. Then we went home via Hello Kitty's house...

Apparently, Hello Kitty visits the park regularly. The day we were there didn't appear to be one of the days she visits though, so we didn't get to meet her.

So, the last place we went before we left was the gift shop where I got this cuddly Peppa Pig:

After that we aske them to call us a taxi to the station, so we could catch the train home, since we didn't know the number of a local taxi company, and there was no chance of us walking all the way to the station (I couldn't have done that walk even if I hadn't been exhausted by this point). We had another taxi ride to go after the train ride too, but thatwas a much shorter one, and the local taxi office is right outside the local train station.

Anyway, it was an amazing day... Despite the pouring rain... But I was very glad to see my bed that night, let me tell you! I was so tired! In fact, as I said to a couple of people afterwards, I was so far beyond exhausted that I'm not even sure there's a word for how tired I was. I never even bothered to eat dinner before I went to sleep. I did wake up hungry four hours later, but I literally had something to eat, and then went back to bed. I didn't get up until almost 10:00am the following morning. Anyway, like I said, that's it. I hope you've enjoyed the photos and videos.

Also... Thank you again to those who made the day possible!

Friday, April 14, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Maizie The #Chinchilla On Noisy Human Caretakers

Hi everyone! This is Maizie the chinchilla.

I think the human caretakers have forgotten that Mollie and I are nocturnal again.

They're keeping us awake all day with what they claim is essential repair work. We're not sure whether it really is essential, since we don't actually know what they're doing. All we know for sure is that they have people in and out making noise and poking about, and it's stopping us from getting our whole day of sleep.

Things went a bit quiet for a couple of weeks, so we thought they were done with all that, and that they'd remembered that some of us sleep in the day. But apparently not. Apparently it was just a lull in the activities or something.

We're trying to figure out how to make them stop all the noise so we can get our proper rest in. Any ideas?

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - April 12th 2017

The three legged stool of writing is an interesting way to look at the elements you need to make a good story, and illustrates what I always say about these elements being just as important as one another.

Are you planning to self-publish? If so, here are some self-publishing and formatting quick tips to help you out... Especially if you're on a tight budget. Also, here's how to save money with a DIY copy-edit. Oh, and here are some tips on choosing your keywords, to help readers find your book once it's published.

Whether you're self-publishing or going the traditional route though, if you plan to have your book - or even just a phrase or two of it - in multiple languages, make sure things don't get lost in translation. In other words, if you plan to just use the odd word here and there (like J K Rowling did with the Latin words she used for the spells in Harry Potter) then it's OK to rely on something like Google Translate. Otherwise, if you don't speak - or read - the language yourself, make sure you get someone who does to help you. There are only two books of mine where I used anything other than English. Well, three if you count one of my poetry books, which contains a poem where a bit of Welsh is included. Anyway, one of the books is "Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt" where I took a leaf out of J K Rowling's book and used Latin for the magic spells. The other is "Cubby And The Beanstalk" where the magic words are actually Welsh words. My early education was in Welsh, so I can use that one more freely, since I speak it well enough myself to be able to recognize if things sound correct, hence there being a whole little rhyming chant for the spell in the book where the magic words were Welsh, where as the book where I used Latin words had no more than a couple of words strung together, since I couldn't be certain of being entirely correct in my translations for more than that.

Anyway... Moving on...

If you've ever wondered... Yes, robots will change the way we write, but not in the way you might think. Read the post to learn more.

Last, but certainly not least, if you're feeling burned out, here are six ways to recharge your writing batteries.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Keeper For The Day - Part 3 (FD)

If you missed them, you can read part 1 here, and read part 2 here.

After lunch, we stopped to say, "Hi," to this very wooly sheep:

I forget what Julie said the sheep's breed was. It certainly was rather wooly though, as you can no doubt tell from the above photo.

Then we fed Peppa Pig, who lived in the pen next to the sheep. Here's a photo of Peppa Pig standing in the mud:

Then we stopped to say, "Hi," to some Dwarf Mongoose...

...On our way to go cuddle some animals.

First I cuddled Maize the Corn Snake:

They also had a female Corn Snake named Sweetcorn, who Maize was trying desperately to go pay a visit to. Not that she cared, since she was curled up in her little rock house thing, sleeping soundly, and ignoring Maize's attempts at getting her attention.

After Maize went back in his cage, I cuddled Prince the Royal Python:

While I was holding him, Prince gave me a kiss, so I said, "I can say I've been kissed by a prince now." But Kelly said snake princes don't count. Personally, I think that's unfair, since frog princes count, and if frog princes count, shouldn't snake princes count too?

Anyway, next I cuddled Roland the Rat Snake:

Or, I should say, "tried" to cuddle Roland the Rat Snake, since Roland was living up to his nickname of "Wriggling Roland" by wriggling so much I could hardly hold on to him.

Once all the snakes were safely back in their cages, we washed our hands before heading for the next room of things I could cuddle, since they wouldn't have appreciated our hands smelling of snake. Well, we'd washed our hands a few times throughout the day, but we did it this time even though our hands weren't officially dirty, for the sake of the animals.

Animals like Gary the Fat-Tailed Gerbil, who I'm holding in this photo:

Our boys were Mongolian Gerbils, and much more difficult to handle than Gary (and his brother, Gerry, who didn't get a photo taken of him). They did have Mongolian Gerbils too, but I didn't hold one of them. Apparently Fat-Tailed Gerbils are always easier to handle, since they're a LOT less active. I'll have to bear that in mind for if we ever decide to get gerbils again.

Anyway, after Gary and Gerry were back in their cage, I cuddled something you may think would be unpleasant to cuddle. He really wasn't though. His name was Sonic, and he was a Hedgehog. Here he is:

Cuddling a hedgehog is surprisingly nice. Also, Sonic is only just learning to like being handled, and usually when anyone but the keeper training him tries to hold him, he either will only tolerate resting on their hands for a moment, or curls up in a ball. As you can see from the above photos, that wasn't the case with me. Sonic even forgot to make the huffing noise they make when they don't like something at one point (he usually makes it the whole time he's being held). Julie actually said he could do with someone like me to gently show him that being held and petted isn't scary. As you can imagine, it made me feel good to have such a compliment.

Harry Potter fans will love this one... Because of the noise they make being a huffing noise - which is actually called a "Huffle," or something like that - they named their other hedgehog Hufflepuff.

So... When Sonic was back in his cage, I had a cuddle of Edward the Long-Tailed Chinchilla:

My girls, Mollie and Maizie, are Short-Tailed Chinchillas, so I got to see the difference. Also, Edward being a few years older than my girls, he was that bit calmer, and easier to hold for more than a few seconds. I'm hoping I can have cuddles that long with Mollie and Maizie one day.

Next for a cuddle was Bert the Bearded Dragon:

Followed by Greta the Armadillo:

Now there's something I never thought I'd be cuddling. It was like cuddling a turtle with a slatted - and slightly bristly - shell. Interesting experience.

Speaking of things I never thought I'd get to actually cuddle... Here are a couple of photos of me cuddling Oleg the Meerkat:

Who took a nap in my arms...

Oleg has been hand reared from birth, hence him being so tame. He loves cuddles, and started jumping up and down in his cage squealing to be picked up the moment we entered the room. He was quite upset when he had to go back in his cage. Well, he was until he heard someone bringing his food, at which point I was no longer interesting to him. Still, I enjoyed my cuddle time while it lasted. The whole day was amazing, but I think cuddling Oleg the Meerkat was one of my favourite parts of the day. In fact, I'd say it was my very favourite part. I mean, having the meerkats jumping and climbing over me was awesome, but actually getting to have a proper cuddle with one was so far beyond awesome I'm not even sure what word would fit the experience!

Favourite part or not, the day wasn't over at this point though. But I'll tell you about the rest next time.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Keeper For The Day - Part 2 (FD)

If you missed it, you can read part 1 here.

After the Meerkats it was time to feed some Penguins.

Some children who were at the park came up to see the Penguins while we were in feeding them, so Julie left me throwing fish for the Penguins while she did the talk for them. Here's a video of me feeding the penguins while Julie does the first part of her penguin talk:

Kelly also took some photos of the Penguins...

...Including a couple of Slasher the 25 year old Rock Hopper Penguin...

It was fun, but I have to admit I was glad to have gloves between me and the fish I was throwing for them. Also, throwing fish to penguins is hard on the back and shoulders... Just saying.

Anyhow, they never did decide they'd had enough fish. But when Julie decided they'd had enough, we headed off to see some other animals.

We said, "Hello," in passing to some of them, including these Sacred Ibis:

This Eagret:

These Lop-Eared Rabbits:

And this Flamingo:

Then we went to have our "meet and greet" with the Beavers and Capybaras, and to feed them. Well, mostly to feed them, since they decided it was too wet to come out and do the "meet and greet" part.

This Beaver did brave the rain long enough to check out what was on offer for breakfast:

But the Capybaras were not coming out of the sheltered spot they'd found, even for food. Julie tried everything, but they weren't having it. She did offer to try and take me across to them, but since she almost slipped herself trying to get over there, we just thanked her for trying and said it was OK. We did leave them their food though, and Kelly grabbed a couple of photos:

Even the Beavers thought being in their den was better in such wet weather:

So, we left them to sleep in the dry, and headed off for our next animal encounter.

Next was feeding time for the bats. I forget what kind of bat Julie said they were, but here's a photo of some of them:

This Common Marmoset was in with the bats, so we fed him too:

Here's another of the bats:

Also in the same enclosure was this Sloth. Julie did tell me his name, but I don't remember what it was. Anyway, here he is:

None of them came quite close enough for me to touch, but a bat flew so close to me as it passed that I felt the draught from its wings, and being able to say I fed them is cool, anyhow.

After that it was time for our lunch, so we headed to the cafe where I had pizza and chips (fries) and Kelly had lasagne. Let me tell you I was glad for the chance to sit down by this point! I'll tell you next time what I did after lunch.