Tag Archives: rodents

Izzy, June 5th, 2008 – March 1st, 2011

My little girl is gone. She had a good long life.

In this photo from a few days ago, she was relaxing after being fed. She went very easily and quickly today.

Izzy was the last of my rodents. Since October of 1997, I’ve been mom to many rodents — rats, mice, rats again. I can’t do it anymore, can’t have my heart broken so often. When my dog died in August of 1997, she’d been with me for 19 years and I could not then bear to get another dog, and ended up with rats. But I’ll be a dog mom again soon, will start visiting the pound and see who wants to come home with me.

At the moment, I feel a bit adrift. I keep feeling like I have to go up to Izzy’s room and do something for her, any of the many things I’ve been doing for her countless times a day for months.

I was wondering the other day just how Izzy came to be so very special of all my rats. When she arrived with her sisters, just a couple weeks after their brother Baby got here, she was always terrified of her shadow, and was a bit of a biter. It took her a while to train me but I eventually figured out not to stick my hand in her nest, or in the cage door when she was “guarding” it. Well, okay, I figured it out but often forgot. But she bit me less often as the years went on, and she became less nervous, too. Baby was always my mama’s boy, always wanting petting and massages and attention. Izzy used to hang back a lot. Their sisters, Feloni and Femali, were just nutjobs who loved to get into every kind of mischief they could, and those two didn’t have much time for me until they got a bit older and slowed down enough to appreciate the occasional massage and cuddle.

Izzy gradually came to appreciate cuddles too, and it got to where I could make her fall asleep on my lap during a massage. Baby never, ever liked being held, even though I could make him fall asleep with massages too — just not on my lap (only a very few times when he was on me with Izzy, and then not for long). He did love being up my sleeve and inside my hoodie, though — they all did. They used to fight over it, and then chase one another around inside my hoodie between that shirt and the two under it. They hated that they couldn’t get inside my shirt in summer because there was no way I was going to let them in there under just a t-shirt and have them use my nekkid ribs as a ladder.

After Feloni and Femali died, Izzy and Baby adapted well to being just a pair. By then, Baby was beginning a very slow slide into degenerative myeolopathy, and Izzy was already on Dostinex for her PT, so neither of them were at their best. They both appreciated massages and wanted them often, at that point. And after Baby died, Izzy adapted very well to being an only rat. She wasn’t doing especially well health-wise then, but she kept bouncing back, as you can tell from all the blog posts she made. She loved being completely spoiled and constantly waited on hand and foot. She slept with two rat-sized soft plush toys that had belonged to her and her sibs and still had a comforting scent for her. She spent a lot of time every day, in her favorite towel, cuddling with me, in utterly perfect bliss.

Izzy and I bonded so strongly in the last 8 months or so of her life that it felt like we were one. When I would hold her and cuddle and kiss her, she would press the top of her head up under my chin, her eyes closed, and brux with love and happiness.

I can still feel that.

Fixin’ to Die, by Izzy

Mommy made me some pastina with butter tonight, so I can’t die yet cos I know I’m getting more of it tomorrow. With cheese in, this time.

But yeah, I’m gettin’ there. End of days, the last hurrah, so long and thanks for all the fish, etc. Okay, okay, I know I’ve been fixin’ to die for like six months now, but I’m serious — this is just about it. I am exhausted. I’ve had the blues all week. Cue tiny violins.

Oh wait. You can’t play the blues on a violin. Now, sit down, and have a listen to this…

There are various formal and informal rules of blues, however, one significant rule that should be mentioned is: if you own a computer, you can’t sang the blues.

And people in Canada don’t really get the blues. What I mean by that is… the kind of blues I’m talking about is the real thing. Take Leadbelly. He killed a man and went to jail. He wrote most of his blues in jail, and he was from the southern US, where it’s always warm. If you are gonna get the blues, you need to be in a place that is usually hot and has its fair share of rain. Humidity helps the blues. Although, so does bitter cold. Not regular cold — bitter cold.

There are certain places where blues thrives. Places like Chicago (pronounced “shy – kago”). You can find the coolest blues clubs in Chicago on Division Street. Guys wear suits they slept in, little sweat rags in their back pockets… they wear shades and have their eyes closed anyways. Chicago is a mean blues town.

The blues do not realistically occur up in Alaska, not matter how cold it gets. And despite its annual rainfall, you cannot get the blues in Vancouver, simply because it is in Canada. Nice, sunny, warm tropical locations are not good blues locales. If it don’t rain there, you can’t get the blues. You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens. Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota are just a depression, not the blues. Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, Birmingham, and anywhere in the Mississippi Delta are still the best places to have the blues.

Good places for the blues:
the highway
empty bed
bottom of a whiskey glass
your front porch
Bad places for the blues:
outlet malls
gallery openings
golf courses

If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, then it’s a blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a blues way to die. So is the electric chair or death from substance abuse. It is not a blues death if you die during a liposuction treatment.

If you ask for water and Baby give you turpentine, it’s the blues. Other blues beverages are cheap wine, whiskey, and muddy water. The following are NOT blues beverages: mixed drinks, kosher wine for passover, Yoo Hoo, bottled spring water, Snapple, and french roast coffee. Beer and likker are reserved for country music, but R.C. Cola is appropriate in both country and blues songs.

Most blues songs begin with “woke up this morning.”
“I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line:
I got a good woman
with the meanest face in town

Blues lyrics are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it (sang it twice), and then find something that rhymes. Sort of.
Got a good woman
With the meanest face in town
Yeah, I got a good woman
With the meanest face in town
She got teeth like a dinosaur
She weigh two hundred pound

Blues cars are Chevys and Cadillacs. Other acceptable blues transportation includes Greyhound busses and southbound trains. Pickup trucks are reserved for country music. Walkin’ (in shoes with holes in them) plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. It has to be walkin’ with the appropriate blues attitude. You have to be fixin’ to die.

Teenagers can’t sang the blues. Only adults can sang the blues. Especially adults who feel like they want to die or are fixin’ to die. You are an adult if you are old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis. Teenagers can’t sang the blues because they simply aren’t old enough. They ain’t fixin’ to die yet. Besides, teenagers have lots of choice in their lives. Blues is not about choice. With blues, you have no options. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch. Ain’t no way out.

The following colors do NOT belong in a blues song: violet, fuchsia, beige, and mauve.

No one will believe it’s the blues if you wear a suit, unless you’re Dan Aykroyd or an old black man, and you slept in it. You should also be wearing shades, and your eyes should be closed.

Musically, the key of E is the proper key to sang the blues out of. The key of A is acceptable, but not if you use a capo on your guitar and chord it in G; the key of G is reserved for country music. Talkin’ blues can be done in C. Never, ever in a blues song use a chord with a name that ends in “sustained” or “augmented” or “diminished to the 7th” unless you are a communist sangin’ a song about the bourgeoisie.

Don’t play the blues on an instrument that doesn’t have its own personal name. Heather, Caitlyn, and Allysia are NOT good names for blues guitars. Lucille, Betty, and Doris are. Elvira is reserved for country guitars.

Guitars from Sears & Roebuck or Montgomery Ward play the best blues music. Unless you get one from a pawn shop. Or shoot a man in Memphis and steal his woman and his guitar. A guitar from a chain store, mall outlet, or one custom-made by an expensive craftsperson should NEVER be used to play the blues. Brand names such as Ibanez, Epiphone, Tacoma, and Yamaha are of doubtful blues authenticity; Fender, Gibson, and Martin are probably okay. If your guitar is so cheap that it doesn’t have a brand name anywhere on it, then it’s a blues guitar. Unless it has a label that says “made in Korea” stuck on it somewhere. If you are a communist sangin’ about the bourgeoisie, then you probably don’t even have a guitar to play on. Bumper stickers placed on a guitar are reserved for country music.

People will listen to your blues if:
your first name is a Southern state (like Georgia);
you’re blind;
you shot a man in Memphis;
you can’t be satisfied.

They won’t listen to your blues if:
you once were blind but now can see;
you’re deaf;
you have a trust fund or stock portfolio.

Once you’ve got all that down, you need a blues name.

Some good blues names:
for women: Sadie, Big Mama, Bessie, Fat River Dumpling.
for men: Joe, Willie, Lightning.
Persons with names like Sierra or Sequoia are not permitted to sang the blues, no matter how many men they shot in Memphis. Those with names of physical infirmities (blind, cripple) and persons whose first names are the last names of presidents (Jefferson, Johnson) are okay to sang the blues.

Blues name have three parts.
For the first name, always start with something descriptive, preferably some form of physical malady or shortcoming; if it has to be something happy, make sure the next part is nasty.
When possible, combine the first name with a piece of fruit or sweet desert dish, a state name, or something nasty as mentioned above.
Try to have the last name related to a former president of the United States.
Ensure that the overall name implies despair, a sense of sorrow, and above all, hopelessness.

Some examples of good blues names:
Blind Lemon Jefferson
Sweet Fatass Jackson
Jakeleg Lemon Johnson
Broke Mellon Polk
Toothless Georgia Parker
Ugly Pie Rivers
Note: citrus fruits tend to work better for blues names.

Now that you know the rules and have got your blues name… sang it, baby.

So — anyway… oh, yeah, fixin’ to die, havin’ the blues, that’s what got me goin’ on all that. I didn’t write that, by the way. Neither did Mom. It’s all over the internet. We just tweaked it a bit.

Well, after I ate that pastina, I just about fell asleep in my towel on Mommy’s lap. I got a bit restless after that, though, cos I ate a bunch of other stuff, too — Mom kept coming into my room and cuddling me and stuffing my face — so I had to work off some of that food, and I figured I’d drop you all a line.

Writing all this really kinda knocked me out, though, so I’m off for yet another nap. Not a dirt nap — not quite yet. But sleep, yes, sleep… mmmm.


Love, Izzy

The Evolution of a Rat’s Name

Frizzy Izzy
Dizzy Miss Izzy
Miss Business
(from here on out most of the vowels are Continental)
Schnubi-do-be-do (at which point I start singing to her “Strangers in the Night”)
Schnubert Dip

I’m sure I’ve forgot a few. And tomorrow, I’m sure there’ll be a new one. She inspires me every day. My little beloved miracle girl.

You can see Izzy in all her glory in her own set on Flickr.