juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Thank you all for your condolences. As always for this sort of thing, that's what I'd be saying each time: Thank you, thank you. I am grateful. I'm just also tired.

So here's the thing. It wasn't until the last year or two that the fact of my grandmother's death really hit me. She'd died some five years before. I've written about this—in some depth when Dink died, and in passing mentions when Alfie died, and I keep meaning to sit down and really explore the issue but, no surprise I suppose, it's one I don't want to explore while I'm coping with it—but: I don't miss people, and as such I find it difficult to comprehend death. I tend to see the past as a bad memory and the future as a terror, but the bulk of my brain lives chronically in the here and now. I don't have a good grasp of trends over time or general histories, and there are some things I find it hard to project forward. And I don't miss anyone. I have a healthy sense of nostalgia and can get lonely, and I can miss the stimulation associated with certain social interactions, but with the exception of Devon I don't specifically miss anyone when they're not there. I can go months without remembering to contact my immediate family, and it's not them, it's me: it just doesn't occur to me that I should. I suppose it's a little hard to explain.

Death is the knowledge that you'll be missing for the rest of your life. Without missing, and with a poor concept of the past and future, I don't really understand death. People go away, but I never really need or expect their return, and there's no sense of loss.

But December last year or so I was talking with my mother about the upcoming (second) cruise and realized that my grandmother was dead. She died when I was a freshman in college, and I went to her service with almost no trace of emotion; there's some uneasiness between my family and my grandfather's second wife, because of how soon he remarried and because she's so insistent on the ease with which we (grown) grandchildren should adopt her as replacement grandmother. I saw those grandparents about twice a year as a child and biyearly as an adult, and (socially) I take after that side of the family, which means we were relatively close.

And it bothers me that my grandmother is dead. It bothers me because of the fallout it's had on my family and my (lack of) relationship with my grandfather, but it bothers me also because while we didn't have the emotional resonance that some people have in these relationships, I was always so much my grandmother's kin; and while she wasn't remarkable in any expected sense of the word, my grandmother was a memorable and irreplaceable woman who I will never see again. It's not a keen sense of loss, it's not like I'm finally cognizant of that loss and just now beginning the grieving process. It's that the grieving process was, for me, all number of years spent not knowing it was going on, and then I came out somewhere near the other end going: Oh. This death upset me.

I'm afraid this will happen with Madison.

It's not unfair to compare a cat to a grandmother. Animals are people, to me; I spent more time with Madison than with my grandmother; I know from my experiences with losing Dink and Alfie that while the circumstances are different, the basics of my grieving process is the same. I also know—especially with the loss of Alfie—that I am better, now, at conceptualizing loss and death, and I know what helps me do that. I know that seeing his body freed me, not because it released me from my pain but because it triggered it, allowing me to experience a more immediate, intense, and timely grieving process. I'm not at peace with his loss now, but I'm so much closer to that than I would have expected to be. Where my sister can still mourn pets we lost ten years ago, I can finally comprehend those losses ten years later; that I have come so far in understanding Alfie's death is remarkable.

Madison is dead and buried. I have no control here, no immediacy. I can't trigger and embrace my grieving process. I barely feel like I'm entitled to one because of my lack of involvement—Devon didn't even tell me that she had died until they had already buried her. I understand that that seemed like a reasonable response of their end, and they're entitled to it. Not everyone finds solace in freezing a corpse for later inspection which, and let's be frank here, is pretty reasonable. And I know it's not as feasible with a cat, no matter how small. I know that she wasn't my pet in the way that the pigs were, and so I can't make demands about the disposal of her body.

But I love this cat. I suggested her name—an M name for a tabby with a classic M forehead marking, and also one of my favorite names, a name I'd always wanted to use for a pet. When she was young she used to be a wild beast (they nicknamed her Kerrigan), but I used to pick her up, hold the scruff of her neck so she couldn't bite, and enforce socialization—and bit by bit it began to work. When they finally spayed her (after years of reminders and promises that it would change her behavior), she became an entirely different cat—calmer, tamer, and fonder too of soft bedding and warm corners. It got to the point where she would purr when I picked her up—she, this half-feral five-pound wildbeast. I was the one that groomed the mats out of her cheeks, and she didn't even mind that.

Madison is the cat that taught me to be a cat. Dude is the lovable confident man of the house, and he and I get on famously—but in Madison I saw myself: not specific character traits, but the existence of character, the knowledge that each cat is a life, entity, person onto themselves, that they don't always (or often) conform to feline clichés but are nonetheless wholly themselves and wholly cat. Madison was my sister-cat, who taught me about sleeping in a circle and finding hidden corners and having tufts of fur in the ears and a poofy tail.

Intellectually I know that she's gone, and clearly some of that hit home because she I first heard the news my fingertips went numb—there was something there, some realization. And now when I run idle for a few minutes my thoughts come back to Madison is dead or and we found Madison dead earlier and they buried her with this sort of dryness—it's literally just the words, like a line of black type in the middle of a white sheet of paper. I don't know what happens after that, because I just get the white, the blank, the rest of the naked page, or I find something to do (which, today, apparently isn't sleep) so that I'm not thinking about it any more.

But that's it: a few words on a blank page. I cried on and off when Devon first told me, but I've been numb since then and I'm not sure when that will change. I'm worried that it won't. I'm on the fringes of this and not allowed in. I wasn't there, because I'm not her family. I can't turn to Devon for help because he was there and he's hurting from this too, and it's not right to compound or to trample over his grief. I can't engage with the rest of the family because I blame them and I don't want to recieve their comfort or share their grief—they were the ones that decided to make Madison indoor/outdoor and while I know that wasn't malicious, and that you can carry the the guilt of a death and still be a decent human being (as I feel about what happened with Dink), this is still something that could have been prevented and so yes, there is anger there. I will never see her corpse, and never say goodbye.

When I think of her I remember her sleeping curled, but when they found her she was on her side, dead, with blood in her mouth.

I'm angry about what happened, and I feel isolated and denied by my lack of involvement, and I don't want to be brokenhearted and grieving too but I would rather have that—violent and miserable and cathartic—than feel this hanging over my head: the loss I should feel, and can't understand; the experience that I don't know I'm engaging with, and may not resolve for weeks or years. And then I'll finally go: Oh. This is what it means that she's dead.

Maybe it'll make sense the next time I'm in Corvallis and she's not there. I don't know. I feel guilty, as always, about making this about me and my grieving process and my issues instead of about her—because it is all about her. She was a remarkable little beastie and I wish you could have known her. She used to stare at her reflection for hours. She used to suckle on microfleece blankets. She used to curl up so tiny—she was a remarkably small cat, and half of that was still fluff. She was bizarre and beautiful and she's dead, so there's that. But I don't know what to make of it, yet, and it scares me.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I also feel compelled to say—on a halfway clerical note which makes this all seem even more surreal but ah, let's not kid ourselves, my emotions are beyond fucked up right now anyway and so my entries can be too—that:

Except for being dead, Alfie was in pretty much the best shape I've ever seen him: silky smooth, pleasantly plump, eyes and nose junk-free, and according to Devon and his family he was lively and engaged the morning of his death and his breathing was clear even after they began to notice problems. He was five years old when he died. (Guinea pig life expectancy is about 4-8 years.) So what this was is anyone's guess, but at least it was fast.

I am thankful for everyone's support. I want you all to know that—I just don't have the energy for individual replies, and anyway it would just be the same thing, over and over: Thank you. Thank you. Really, thank you.

I am exceptionally lucky with my support structure right now. That Devon was willing to come up during the week means a lot to me and helped immensely. He'll be here this weekend, too. Dee has been an absolute angel and for one I'm not being passive-affectionate because I have thanked her multiple times—but anyone that allow for an open-casket(/carboard box) viewing on her dining room floor and is totally cool with keeping the corpse in her freezer until we bury it in Corvallis deserves an absolute internet shout out, even if this is not necessarily how they want to be commemorated. Seriously, though: the love of others has made this so much more managable.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Yesterday evening, Devon came up with Kuzco and Alfie's body.

Kuzco is indeed 100% fine. He's in the dining room/kitchen area in the travel cage set up atop a table, which will work just fine until we figure out longterm arrangements. He didn't exactly love the drive, but he's already warmed up enough to stand against the side of the cage and sniff out, and he's active and has a big round tummy, and it's fantastic to see him there. Yesterday evening he took a nap in my arms while I watched Dee play Dragon Age: Origins. These things are good.

After we got Kuzco inside and set up, I saw Alfie. This is the part I always feel vaguely apologetic for, because we all cope with death differently and there's a certain awkwardness to a corpse. An embarrassment, really--they become all biology, stiff and floppy in just the wrong ways, and you want to apologize: this is not the guinea pig he used to be, and when I loved him he was alive, vibrant, fucking batshit crazy, curious, wary, he put everything in his mouth, he listened to voices no one else could hear. But that's the point, really. For me, that's the point. That awkward physical body tells me that, yes, he did die; that yes, his body is just a corpse, now.

All of my pigs—Chumley, Dink, Alfie—have died without me. With Chumley I was on vacation, with Dink I was asleep, with Alfie I was in another city. I don't understand death well, for reasons that I talked about after Dink died: I don't have a good concept of time, I don't miss what's absent or gone. I hadn't seen the pigs since I came up here, but I didn't miss them—I loved them, and cared for them, but didn't miss them. Death at a distance is unreal, because it's a change that changes nothing. I hadn't seen Alfie for a few weeks. Now I would never see Alfie again. That difference is huge, but with the way that my brain works it was meaningless.

When I unwrapped him (and Devon's father had wrapped him, so carefully, in packing paper before sealing him in a box) and saw that first little tuft of butt fur, it started to hit home that the change did mean something. And petting him, dead and cold and so soft, made it clear that there was a pig here, and now he's gone. I can see the difference, now.

There's a lot of sobbing emotion tied up in this too, and I know I'm not done processing things. I've been keeping myself busy, consuming games and books and films and making sure my thoughts are safely somewhere distant. I'm taking refuge in the coolness and distance when I can get it, and if that makes me sound uncaring—or more fascinated by my own reactions than sympathetic to his death—I'm sorry. This is how I cope.

That, and by giving Kuzco lettuce leaves and bits of carrot. I'm grieving and I'm numb, but I also have a pig, this beautiful living pig, and he's soft and warm, and curious and hungry, and the glory of his life outshines all the rest. Alfie never did much like Kuzco (oh, is that an understatement), but perhaps he won't begrudge me that his legacy is in my love for that other small, furry monster.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
This is just a quick entry to say that Alfie died a few hours ago. The pigs have been back in Corvallis while I've been staying here, so I wasn't there with him, but Devon and Devon's family—his father in particular—were, so he wasn't alone. Whatever killed him was pretty quick onset—he was fine earlier today, but in the afternoon/evening started showing some signs of lethargy, disinterest in food, and a drop in body temperature. They got in touch with me to figure out what should be done, and at midnight Devon was planning to take Alfie in to the vet when they opened tomorrow; a few minutes later I got a call saying that he had died. This could be possible heart failure; he had no other URI symptoms, but really, it could have been anything. These things can happen so fast.

Devon is coming up tomorrow with Kuzco, who is thus far 100% fine, chipper and stuffing his face full of carrot and otherwise healthy. (Prior to this they were eating the same food and sharing a divided enclosure.) He'll live in the travel/quarantine cage with me for a bit while we figure out where I'll be and he'll be, &c. Right now I just really need to see my pig. Devon will probably also bring Alfie's body, because I think that seeing it may be the only thing which makes this real for me. I imagine he'll be buried in Corvallis with Dink, though.

This isn't to say that I haven't been a sobbing shaking mess. I have. I also have Dee here with me (staying up until 2a to watch a comfort movie, and otherwise being so beautiful and sympathetic and full of hugs) and I'll see Devon tomorrow. I've just exhausted myself for the evening, that's all. My plan now is to sleep for as long as humanly possible and fill the rest of the time with movies, and to throughly take advantage of whatever degree of disassociation this is. As I've said before I have a poor concept of death, but I think I understand this one better in lieu of Dink's not-too-distant passing. It's all unreal and heartbreaking and, unless I indicate otherwise, I don't really want to talk about it online right now. (Condolences are welcome; questions less so.) But I feel like it needs to be recorded and so, here: it is.
juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Haven't done one of these in a while, have I? I come bearing pigspam. With bonus cat! and dog! and video!

Alfie, outside
Om nom nom nom nom. )

Woof'll do that more or less endlessly when they're outside, pausing only to sit by their cage and stare at them while she catches her breath. The pigs are her babies, her beloveds, and few things bring her more joy than pseudo-herding them. (Woof is currently fighting a skin infection, and so has irritation and missing fur on her rump. You probably didn't notice it before, but you will now; regardless, rest assure that she's being treated.)

The outside enclosure is the top of the travel/temporary pig cage, stuck in the middle of the yard; Devon's dad mowed around it so that the pigs would have lush burrowable grass within.

When uploading the video I wandered back to my older guinea pig vids, which include Dink. As much as I don't miss, I don't mourn, as much as these concepts are to me foreign ... I miss him. Not constantly, not daily, but watching him—my lovely, my sweetheart, chocolate-brown with that pointy nose and his big ears and his little white spots, his intelligent eyes, his liveliness—my heart breaks all over again and I want nothing more than to hold him. All the better reason to celebrate the pigs that remain, but—

But what, I don't even know. I love him and wish he were still here.

The irony (if that's word for it) is that the other day I took Kuzco out and he was acting listless and sleepy, and I was instantly worried. I kept a close eye on him all day, but his eyes and nose were sparkling clear, he was pudgy, and mostly it just seemed that he wanted to sleep. I was checking on him late that evening when I found out that Devon's father had taken the pigs out earlier that day, and Kuzco got fifteen minutes more than Alfie (because Alfie started being a butthead). He wasn't sick. He wasn't off his food. He was full.

So, yes. The blessing is that I still have batshit crazy pig and adorable tiny pig, and even if my baby has left me there is still great joy to be found in those two boys, and they are healthy—and well.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I only answer this because the answers that have been appearing on my flist delight me.

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Woof (the dog): OMG! I love you. Touch me. Touch me more. Is it guinea pig time? OMG I think it might be guinea pig time! Let us pet the guinea pigs! Together! Hey are they gonna eat that?

Maidson (the cat): For I am great queen of the universe, and all lower beings must bow down to me. I think today shall be "sleep on the paper bag day." The paper bag does make beautiful noise, which delights my even-more-beautiful ears. Oh, hello. I didn't realize you were listening. Pet me?

Dude (the cat): I love you. I looooooove you. I love you more than I've ever loved everyone before. Pet me. Hold me. Allow me to climb upon you and shove my purring love in your face. I love you. You are my favorite person in whole world until someone else enters the room. Hold me...

Kuzco (the guinea pig): Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you, that's all I'm saying. Also: FOOOOOD! FOOD FOOD FOOOOOD TIME FOOD!

Alfie (the guinea pig): ...

Okay with Alfie I admit I'm stuck. I can't even pretend to imagine what Alfie is thinking, much less what he would say. I believe he thinks not in desires or thoughts as we know them, but in alien beeps and pauses—like Morse code, only undecipherable, and constantly punctuated by desires for carrots. So if he has words, it is a loud call for food. But the rest is nonsense not even Kuzco could understand.

Jamie (the dog): As far as we're concerned, James does talk in the best human-decipherable English she can manage in silence and as a dog.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
Madison still has not left the guinea pig cage, which she entered when we cleaned it last weekend and filled it with Carefresh bedding. Well she has, of course, but she's chosen it as her new home and bed and comes back there whenever she's done running around for the day—despite family attempts to remove her from the cage (she just jumps back in a few minutes later) and despite Kuzco's perhaps-accidental, perhaps-targeted habit of peeing in her spot whenever she does vacate (she finds a new one, or else waits until it's dry again).

What can I say, the cat loves her Carefresh.

So I have pictures, of course—of Madison, with cameo by pigs, although somehow this largely turned into a illustrated devolution of Madison's grace and dignity. For those who are forgetful or new, since I've visited these subjects in a while: Madison is my boyfriend's family's cat, a batshit tiny gray tabby who's just learned to appreciate people-beasts; Alfie is the pink-eyed-white guinea pig and Kuzco is the honey and brown pig, and they live separated by bars because they have never, ever gotten along: Alfie has the self-awareness of a rock and Kuzco has a Napoleon complex, and that's a poor combination.

Madison asleep in the guinea pig cage
+2: the motley crew, and Maddy's face. )

Alfie was restless today so I gave each of the pigs a paper bag (and then threw the cat outside, because while she ignores the pigs I don't think she could ignore a vibrating paper bag, and I don't need her batting at a guinea pig toy), and for the first time since Dink died I saw Alfie popcorn—and then he immediately can to the cage bars and tried his damnedest to break through to Kuzco's side. It was heart-stirring and heart-breaking all within just a couple of seconds: he's happier but he's lonely, and I have no fix for that. I can offer him things to chew and hide in which help keep him occupied at least, but I can't give him cuddles to replace a cagemate (Alfie sometimes tolerates but never enjoys human company) and I can't give him a cagemate either. The split cage is a decent compromise, but it's hardly perfect.

I don't mourn—missing beings that are gone just isn't a skill I possess—but I am well-practiced with guilt and I still feel so much of it over Dink's death. Alfie, love, how I wish I could bring him back to you.

They are adorable beasties, though, all of them. (Kuzco was thrilled with his bag too.)

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
I come bearing cute pictures, the likes of which may never be seen again. No, really:

Kuzco and Alfie
Because on a whim, I put Alfie and Kuzco on a chair together: +2 pictures. )

Apologies for the shitty quality, but it's autumn in Oregon—we haven't a lot of natural light to go around. (And not only do I abhor flash above all things, trust me you do not want to see pictures of Alfie taken with it. He looks like a demon-pig.)

Alfie is definitely lonely without Dink—Mum compared it to losing a life partner and I think she's right. Alfie and Dink were rarely snuggle buddies but they were cage mates for years, and you can't get much more intimate than that. When Kuzco started living alone he grew a lot more human-oriented, coming to the cage bars for attention. Alfie, on the other hand, not so much. He's neurotic and distrusts humans entirely, so while he definitely desires contact he will never, ever ask for it. He has gotten better about out-of-cage snuggle time though, so that's something. Ideally he'd have a cage mate but I don't want to take on another pig, and Kuzco is a no go. So it's a split cage and begrudged snuggle time for him, poor boy.

On a related note, the boys are healthy and well. My headspace is much improved, as well—I think I am finally at terms with Dink's death.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
To even out Kuzco's outside time and pictures from the other day, I come bearing some more picspam of Dink and Alfie with a side helping of Dude.

Dink outside

+1 Alfie, +1 Dude )

Dink: This photo quite mimics the previous shot of Kuzco, which at least illustrates how different they are. Kuzco's awareness of humans stems from fear; the more comfortable he is, the more peacefully oblivious he is to his surroundings. Also he's as cute as a button. Dink meanwhile is more of the handsome sort, and his awareness of humans is based in intelligence and companionship. He'll never take his eyes off of you, but he's not frightened either—he's just waiting for you to do something interesting.

Alfie: Alfred's default expressions are terror (quite often—he's a skittish little bugger), spaciness (he lives in his own little world, and often acts as if he can hear and see things which, for whatever reason, the rest of us can't perceive), and this—the stink eye. Hes not a hateful creature, indeed he's not quite bright enough to hold much of a grudge, but from somewhere deep within his crazy hair, red eyes, and innate distrust of humans comes a peevish "I see what you did there" view of the world.

Dude: I realize that most of the pictures that I post of Dude are of him sleeping, but what can I say? He sleeps an awful lot, and he's quite adorable when he does so. (Pictures of him grooming always come out fuzzy; if I didn't post pics of sleeping or grooming, I'd have nearly no pics to post at all.) Dude is often so like a dog that it's surreal. He follows me around the house, he begs for my food; when I go outside he waits at the door for me to come back in. He camps out in my room and sleeps the day away. He's my buddy, and I love him for it.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Water on the windowpane

This is what autumn and winter usually look like where I live. (That's condensation on the bedroom window, looking out at a pine tree.)

But not today. We have snow! Enough to cancel school, and even Devon stayed home from work today. It is beautiful, so light and fluffy that you can barely feel it (though the freezing fingers don't help.) Furthermore, Woof would like to say that that snow is awesome. Despite the temperature, there's some beautiful sun rays for the pigs to bask in. As always, click through for larger pictures.

Snow! Three pictures. )
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I haven't done one of these in a while, so: I come bearing pigspam!

Crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] guinea_pigs.

One pictures, of Kuzco in the travel cage, peeking out from behind his blanket and into the sunlight. One video, of (mostly) Kuzco exploring his fresh, clean cage. When I'm cleaning the cage, Kuz goes in the travel cage and Dink & Alfie go on Kuzco's smaller side of the C&C cage. They can't interact from that far away, so it's rather lively when everyone goes back in the big cage. There are some adorable shots of Kuzco popcorning for joy, and also some shots of how they all interact through the bars of the cage: Kuzco teases Alfie, Alfie is a jerk, but they can't fight.

The second video is an amusing recent phenomenon, exhibited by Alfie: all three of the boys have a certain spot, just on top of their bums, that makes them spaz out if you scratch it. It's not unlike a dog's scratch reflex, but guinea pigs groom by scratching, licking their paws and rubbing it against their faces, and bending around to nibble at offending body parts—so when you find their scratch spot, their particular brand of crazy reaction involves nibbling, paw grooming, and squirming attempts to reach their faces around to their backs. It's funny to watch.

Onward, then, to the cuteness.

Kuzco peeking out
+2 videos. )
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
The house I am currently living at is Devon's grandparent's old place. They built a new house on the lot behind this one, and moved there; when they did, Devon's family set out to move into this old house. Devon has but his parents are some ways off from that, so for now I live here. Devon's grandparents, meanwhile, are our next door neighbors, and you can go from our backyard into their driveway—and the boys do, often, to visit.

Devon's grandparents have two dogs: a year old Golden Retriever named Joy and a Toy Poodle named Itty—as in Itty Bitty, because of her size. The other day, I was out cutting grass for the pigs, came in through the back door, shut it behind me, and then saw a white fuzzy small thing run by. Itty had been let out to go potty, seen me, and come over. I let her in, and she got to see this house again for the first time since she moved out—as see the pigs in their cage. Tonight, Devon was over there doing laundry and let her out, and then found her in our backyard again. We let Itty in to visit, and this time I took pictures. She got to run around, investigate, get plenty of love and attention (since she never has enough), and I let her meet the pigs in person for a bit. She does need to be supervised with them, because she's not quite sure if they are or are not toys (she tried to bat at Alfie, and then tried to clean him), but she's gentle and inquisitive, and thinks they smell fascinating. She's a lovely dog, tiny and adorable, very people-centered, quite intelligent, and I adore her.

So, everyone, meet Itty!

+4 of Itty, Itty & me, Itty & pigs, and a bonus shot of sleeping guineas. )
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
I've said before that the pigs eat as if this meal is the only meal and the last meal in this wide universe, but why talk about pigs eating when pigtures would be so much more effective? Granted, it's not the same as seeing a pig scarf down a leaf of romaine lettuce which is longer and wider and he is, but still. I bring pictures of Dink speed eating (shutter speed was 1/8th sec.), Alfie guarding his lettuce (sometimes he uses those bright red eyes of his for a very good end), and for fun, as shot of Dink&Alfie prim and proper, just out of the bath.

Strange how much picspam there's been lately. I just keep finding new things that seem worth a photo, in my ever-biased opinion. (I'm still collecting pictures of my hair to do a proper length update.)

+3 )

Yay, my mood icons are back up! Likewise my website, but it's so out of date as to not matter anymore.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
It's recently occurred to me—from taking the boys outside—that Dink and Kuzco are satin pigs: they have smooth, shiny fur. Alfie's not: his fur is matte, no matter how bright the sun or the camera flash is. So to be more specific, Dink is a American smoothcoat chocolate satin agouti, Kuzco is a mixbreed Abyssinian banded honey and brown satin agouti, and Alfie is a pink-eyed white American, Peruvian, and Texel cross.

One day I even sat down and did approximate gene mapping for the boys. Yes, it is an obsession.

Somewhat more interesting: if it's too cold to go outside, or if I don't want to spend an hour sitting on the grass, I bring grass inside instead of bringing guinea pigs outside. An ordinary kitchen knife (especially the ones with small serrations on one side) makes a great grass-cutter, by the way. The pigs can eat enormous amounts, and they do so with the anxious concentration of someone who hasn't seen food in weeks and may never see it again, even though—and I swear this is true—they get fed multiple times every single day. Fortunately, their avid love of food is adorable. Photographic and video proof:

Alfie's piggy lips, and a video of all three boys stuffing their faces. )

Unfortunately, the last third (with Kuzco) compressed really dark, because he's furtherest from any of the light sources. But you get the idea.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

It's strange: Alfie is my least-loved of the pigs, and yet he appeals to me most, lately. I don't say "least-loved" as a bad thing—I adore all of my boys to pieces and beyond, but while I'm quite close with Dink and am Strong Protector Mommy for Kuzco, Alfie and I have a much more distant relationship. He's not particularly people-centered and to be honest he lives in something of his own world, where I think there are random noises (which no one else can hear) and random shinies dangling just over his head (which no one else can see) and ever now and then a chorus of chirps which he joins in with despite the fact that no one else on this plain can hear it. Really, that's the only explanation I have for many of his behaviors.

In a way, however, Alfie's oddities make him the most interesting of my pigs. I've been finding it quite enjoyable to observe him lately, and to learn to interact with him on his somewhat distant level. He may not love me the way that Dink does nor need me the way that Kuzco does, but the fact that he lives in his own little world makes him a wonder to watch. It grants him exceptional personality. (The hair helps.) He's always a little amused, always a little active, always finding something new to poke his nose into, even if the rest of us can't see it.

An example, though not stellar (as there is no over-the-head watching or chirping) is a video I took earlier today. It was a monster to upload on this horrendous internet, but that's neither here nor there. It's just a few minutes watching Alfie in the cage while he ignores me, wanders around, bothers Dink, antagonizes Kuzco (often by stealing his bedding), and so forth. (He also scratches quite a lot, but I swear his skin is fine and no one has mites. In the half dozen videos I took this morning, all three boys itched and groomed like crazy the whole time. Before and since, they've shown no urge to do so. Little buggers, I swear they do it on purpose.)

Three minutes of Alfie doing nothing special in his cage. )

I promise that the other boys are getting love too, as well as grass time outside. I just haven't gotten any good vids or pictures of them recently.

Somewhat less related to Alfie: I took a picture of my cage set up for [livejournal.com profile] justsurvive earlier today, so why not share it here? For my records if nothing else.

One picture of the guinea pig cage. )

The guinea pig cage is 4x5 cube sides, which by internal dimensions comes out to about 23 square feet, in other words, huge. It is of course an C&C cage, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I put the coroplast inside the cube sides, and I use fleece and towels for bedding. Kuzco's section is on the left (5x2) and Dink and Alfie share the enclosure on the right (5x3). They chatter at each other through the divider, but can no longer fight, which is a blessing. The size gives plenty of room for running around, pooing (everywhere—I took this pic 40 minutes after vacuuming the cage, and they were already repopulating it with poo), and hiding places, and hay—which would be in the middle of each enclosure, except that I ran out last night, so we have to run and pick some up. I've gone through a few cage set ups at smaller sizes and with lofts, but this is my favorite by far. It's huge, but otherwise ideal for this ornery little herd.

I promise pictures of the other pigs sometime, but I think that's plenty guinea chatter for now.
juushika: Photograph of the torso and legs of a female-bodied figure with a teddy bear. (Bear)
Two days ago, spring arrived. I don't put much by calendar dates for the seasons, even those that are less arbitrary (such as solstices and equinoxes), because while they are good general guidelines, they sometimes reflect little about actual local weather patterns, temperates, and seasonal change. So February 1st (the "traditional" date for Imbolc) passed and I didn't blink—it was still very cold, here, just a week past our only snowfall of the year, cloudy and overcast. But yesterday morning, Devon and I awoke to brilliant sun streaming in in the gaps between the blinds and, more importantly, a wave of heat washing over the bed. We opened up the window and the air that came in was temperate and green—not the dryness of Oregon summer or the moist thickness of the winter, but a vibrant life-colored breeze, just this side of cold, rich already with the life of the sun.

So calendar date be damned, spring showed its first signs on February 15th this year. No doubt the sun will recess again soon, and we'll have the heavy deluge of spring rains, but that's how the weather functions here—when in doubt: rain. Nonetheless, if there ever was a time for Imbolc it's been these last few days.

To celebrate, since I don't quite have my life in order (yet? again?) to say nothing of my religious practices, I just took the guinea pigs outside for some fresh grass. Therefore a picture: that's Alfie, chowing down on fresh growing green grass, outside and in the sun. The sun indeed was almost blinding bright—Alfie and I share very sensitive skin and eyes, so we spent our time largely covered in long sleeves/towel and turned away from the sun. He was also adorably skittish, scrambling up onto my lap whenever he heard a door squeak or a power tool from one of the neighbors turn on. Alfie and I aren't that close, so being Protective Pig Mommy today was a good bonding experience.

Dink on the other hand has fewer reservations. A loud squeaky door makes him jump onto my lap, but otherwise he eats eats eats like—well, like he had just found a treasure trove of grass, and he would be damned if he wasn't going to find a way to eat it all, right now. Dink doesn't freak out about much, really, and he does love his grass. I took Kuzco out separately, after putting Dink&Alfie away, and he spent the whole time climbing on to me and looking scared. He's always like that, to tell the truth, but you think his love for fresh grass would outweigh his OHMYGODI'MGOINGTODIE fear of, you know, everything else.

Pig neuroses aside, it was lovely out and they were happy to fill their fat tummies, and spring has indeed shown its first light. This isn't my favorite season by far (that would be autumn) and indeed I'm terrified of the sun, but even I can appreciate the cycle of the seasons and the light and growth and warmth of these first warm days.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
I come bearing videos of myself and my pigs. Having finally found my proper flash card and the card reader (which were hiding in about as close to plain sight as they could have been without dangling from the ceiling to hover over my keyboard), I figured I should make up for the fact that I've gone so long without a proper picspam. You were deprived, I know.

Therefore: Videos of me with Dink and Alfie, me with Kuzco, and me with ... my hair. )



juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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