Friday, October 16, 2009

My dear Sweet P has left us.

This morning I took her and Victoria out of their cage for play time. They ran around on our bed, exploring and hiding under blankets and sheets like they always do. Playing peekaboo with their little pink noses. Then Penelope laid down. She sat very still next to my pillow for several minutes, only looking up when I stroked her back. I thought maybe she was tired. It was pretty early and they usually sleep most of the day. So I took them back to their cage to let them rest. Ten minutes later I checked on them and Penelope wasn't breathing. Her body was still warm and her tiny black eyes were still open when she went limp in my hands.

I don't think that it had anything to do with the tumor or the surgery. She was just very old and very tired. Her death was quiet and peaceful, and I'm glad that she had a chance to play and tunnel through the sheets one last time before the end.

Penelope was a wonderful companion. She was sweet and shy and never said no to a scritch behind the ears. She loved carrots, applesauce and her pink fleece blankie. She liked to snuggle on my chest and eat treats out of my hand. She was so brave when she battled cancer and went through surgery, which she bounced back from beautifully. No matter how bad my day was, she could always cheer me up. Her fuzzy little face and her velvety ears always made me smile. I loved the way her whiskers tickled my face. I loved the little patches of white fur above her paws, how they made her look like she was wearing dainty little gloves.

She was a good rat, and I miss her so much it hurts.

Penelope Rosado

the plague comes to baltimore

On Wednesday night Adam and I headed to the Bourbon Street Ballroom in Baltimore to see Emilie Autumn on her very first North American tour. Not only was it a good excuse to dress like an escaped tightrope walker from a goth circus, but it was one hell of a show.

Emilie and her Bloody Crumpets put on a stunning, elaborate performance that combined her music with acrobatics, burlesque and beautifully choreographed dance. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Emilie's voice is just as lovely live as it is on her albums, and she can shred on that electric violin like nobody's business.

And would you get a load of those outfits? Amazing. I don't know how anyone manages to prance across a stage spinning hula hoops and walking on stilts in a corset, but they made it look easy. All of the costumes they wear are handmade, which makes me all the more inspired to add some of these looks to my own wardrobe. Seriously, who wouldn't want a pair of stripey bloomers? I went to bed that night with my head full of dreams of painted parasols, tea stained dresses and lace ruffles.

If you're not familiar with Emilie and her music, you need to be. Seriously, look her up on YouTube or something, and then get yourself to the nearest stop on her 2009 Asylum Tour. You can't see this woman live and not fall hopelessly, utterly in love.

Friday, October 9, 2009

ain't no party like a back yard faerie party

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of birthday parties. Whether it's an elaborate affair with pony rides and moon bounces or a cake-and-balloons night with a few friends, birthday parties always feel special. Sure, other holidays are nice, but only once a year can you invite your pals and loved ones over just to celebrate how awesome you are.

On Sunday we had a belated birthday party for a certain awesome six-year-old. The yard was decked out with handmade decorations, including ribbon and tulle garlands and the ubiquitous Martha Stewart pom poms.

The piece de resistance was this set of mushroom stools, handmade by Adam and yours truly. I'm not even going to tell you how much blood, sweat and tears went into making these bad boys, how many times I muttered profanities at my sewing machine or had to run to Home Depot for yet another can of spray paint. The idea was inspired by similar stools we saw at the Maryland Faerie Festival. There they had about a hundred of them, but eight was more than enough to make me want to swear off crafting for the rest of my life. They are pretty awesome, though. Who knew a few plastic buckets, some plywood and felt could look so dang cute?
The cake was a devil's food tree stump, topped with a tiny faerie and magic wand candles. I'm not winning any awards for cake decorating, but it was delicious. It disappeared faster than you can say "domestically challenged."

Our lilliputian guests pretty much kept themselves entertained, with a table full of craft supplies and dollar store faerie wings to decorate (an outdoor party is the perfect setting for messy, glittery crafts. do not attempt indoors), hula hoops, and giant bubbles. As the sun set there was a glow stick lit treasure hunt for bags of party favors, which sadly I didn't get any decent pictures of. Each friend was given a bit of homemade play dough (tinted blue and sprinkled with glitter), a hand sewn mushroom hair pin, and, of course, a few Pixy Stix, all in paper bags that the birthday girl decorated herself.

Good friends, good food, and good weather made for a perfect Sunday afternoon. It was worth all the hard work in the end, but maybe next year we'll throw a party that involves a little less carpentry.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009


You are six years old today. You can reach your toothbrush by yourself. You ride your bike with no hands. You make pipe cleaner sculptures and excellent peanut butter and honey sandwiches. You sign papers with a tiny drawing of a flower in place of your middle name. I am so proud of the person you're becoming. You are bold and smart and unabashedly you. You charge into every new experience with confidence and enthusiasm as if to say, "Here I am, world! What can you show me today?"

You are the person I wish I could be more often. I was born an old woman. At your age I was already tired and bored with the world. You are a new soul, thrilled to just be alive. I have learned so much from you. In the glow of your spark I am able to look at the world around us in new ways, to appreciate life much more than I ever did as a child.

Your energy, your sense of wonder is what makes you you. Never ever lose that, my sweet girl. Hold onto it for as long as you can. It may seem like nothing to you now, but when you've grown up you will do great things with it.

Happy sixth birthday, Autumn Rose. I love you. So much.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

down on the farm

This weekend we took advantage of the last of this year's warm weather with a visit to nearby Clark's Elioak Farm, one of our favorite local attractions. The storybook inspired concrete buildings and characters scattered throughout the farm are pieces salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, a now defunct amusement park that was featured in a certain John Waters movie in the early 90s. Their sweet vintage charm--along with the petting farm and pony rides--is what keeps us coming back several times a year. Later in October we'll return for our Halloween pumpkins and local apple cider.

When I was a kid I read every one of the Little House on the Prairie books and became enchanted with the idea of a simple country life, living off the land and taking only what you need, walking outside to nothing but a big blue sky and endless fields of green. I wanted more than anything to live on a farm, braid my hair and call my parents "Ma" and "Pa."

Now that I'm an adult the idea of waking up at the buttcrack of dawn to shovel poo has somehow lost its charm, but I still hold on to the idea of a modest homestead with a big back yard and a vegetable garden, a few chickens, maybe even a goat or something. Visiting places like this makes my soul ache to move someplace quiet and green that we can call our own.

Will it ever happen? Maybe one day. Until then I'll keep coming back to this place to pretend.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Happy birthday to me!
Today I learned that...
Wine tastes exactly like it smells, which is to say that it tastes like cough syrup and olive juice. I don't think I'm going to be much of a wine connoisseur.Birthday vegan banana macadamia nut ice cream in a bowl made of sugar and awesome > birthday cake. Also, in candlelight you can totally see my bra through my shirt.
Flat ironed hair + rain = Tim Burton's rebellious teenage sister.

Adam had to work so we didn't get to do a whole lot, but it was a good day. Tomorrow will be Birthday Part II, during which it will hopefully not rain, some friends will be visiting, and I'll have a proper picture to show you of the awesome birthday skirt I made myself.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

before and after

before: big mean tumor

after: badass scar

Yesterday Miss Penelope went under the knife to remove that big ol' baddie on her belly. The surgery went smoothly and her vet is optimistic about her recovery. She's on medication for the pain and she needs to be separated from her sister for a couple of weeks while she heals, but she has been quite the little trooper through all of this. She is just as sweet and friendly as ever. Even the staff at the animal hospital couldn't help but fall in love with my Sweet P. I don't know if she understands that the surgery was for her own good or not, but she is handling it much better than I expected her to, and I am relieved.

I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. My 21st birthday is tomorrow, and I couldn't ask for a better gift than knowing that my little fuzzbutt is okay. After all the joy she has brought me, the old girl deserves a fighting chance.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

sweet p

A few days ago I noticed a strange lump on Penelope's belly, near her left hind leg. Knowing how susceptible fancy rats are to tumors, I took her to the vet the next day to have it looked at. After some poking and prodding and testing he concluded that, yes, she has cancer.

He told me that I have three options. I can have the tumor surgically removed, with a high risk of the cancer coming back. I can let the tumor run its course, growing in size until it eventually kills her, or I can have her euthanized.
From the outside this may seem like a simple choice, but it isn't. What if she has the surgery and it does come back? Then I'll have put her through a painful operation for nothing. The last thing I want is for her to suffer in any way. If I put her to sleep to avoid the risk of any pain I don't know if I can live with the guilt of never knowing if she could have been saved. A tiny living thing is depending on me to do what is best for her. A living thing who can't tell me what she needs. The way I feel now brings back strong memories of the way I felt six years ago, when my doctor told me I was pregnant. No one tells you how to handle these things. No one prepares you for the day you need to make these choices. It's a heavy load to carry, especially when you've got to do it alone.

Penelope is the sweetest, gentlest little rat I've ever known. When she looks up at me with those beady little eyes it breaks my heart to think that there is something inside her tiny body that is slowly killing her. The vet says she isn't in any pain right now. She acts like she always has, like nothing is wrong, but I wonder if she knows. I want to scoop her up and plead, beg her to tell me what I'm supposed to do. I know that she can't. It would just be so much easier that way.

Cancer is a bitch.

Monday, August 31, 2009

autumn blogs: school time (as dictated to alternamom)

It was great! We read a book and I had a sandwich for lunch. I went outside for recess. I went on a slide, and I also played in a sandbox. We played with a parachute at art class and we also drew pictures in art class. I made a friend before I went to art. She likes to swim. My teacher is the one who read the story. She also let us out for recess. She's a great teacher and I hope I see her again. I like the other kids. The bus ride was awesome and great. I have a mosquito bite on my head.

there she goes

Hey, see that kid up there? The one with the fuzzy skirt and the Cthulhu backpack? The one who grew up in the blink of an eye? That's my kid, and she's in kindergarten.

Yes, today was the small one's first day of school. Alarm clocks went off, french toast was eaten, a sappy note was tucked into a chartreuse lunch box and a tiny little girl walked off into the world without us.

We've been waiting so long for this day. Now that it's here I find myself at once breathing a sigh of relief and wondering where the time went. Wasn't she just learning the alphabet yesterday? Isn't she too little to ride the bus? Where the hell did these size 12 shoes come from? I've feared becoming one of those clinging, blubbering mothers who can't let go. You know, the ones who wail "They grow up so fast!" and use words like "blossoming." Yet, alas, here I am saying goodbye to my kiddo, mostly proud and excited, but a small (teeny tiny) part of me wishing she didn't have to go. I didn't cry, but I am mom enough to admit that I teared up just a little as she walked away. Just a little.

They really do grow up so fast.

P.S. As we were dropping her off, another child asked me if I have purple hair because I'm a mad scientist. I said yes.