Posts Tagged ‘hamster’

Ringing in the Holidays, Literally

I usually put my Christmas tree up on the day after Thanksgiving.  I was a Christmas tree perfectionist. I placed an ornament on the tree, then stood back to see if it looked ok. It took me hours to decorate the tree. I popped popcorn days earlier, because stale popcorn is easier to string. I would sit and string popcorn for a very long time. I also made my own 30 foot garland by cutting strips of material and tying it onto a jute rope. My tree was beautiful if I may say so myself.  My children would be home, out of school for a few days over Thanksgiving, so I thought I would start our very own holiday tradition. I believe this began when they were six or seven years old.

One Thanksgiving day, after our big meal at my in-laws, we were sitting around, relaxing, when I said, “Wow, did you guys feel that cold air come through here?”  I shivered. The kids shook their heads and they went about their business. Adam got up and walked through the kitchen, into the Hearth Room, where he had been playing with his Lego’s before we left.

I heard him yell to me. “Mom! Dad! Come here!”  We got up and walked into the Hearth Room. The Hearth Room, by the way, is our living room, which I refused to call a living room. I wanted to be a little more creative than that. I dubbed it the Hearth Room when we built the house, and that’s what we all called it. When we walked into the room, I could tell Adam was excited.

“Look!  Santa dropped it down the fireplace!”  It was a vhs movie. I can’t remember what the movie was called, maybe Otis and Milo. I then added, “Maybe he dropped it down the fireplace at the same time I felt the cold air. Santa was here!”  And that’s how it started.

Every Thanksgiving evening I would say different phrases: “Boy, I have the shivers………Is it cold in here all of a sudden?”…….”Did someone  just open the door?…… I would say it nonchalant like, and they would look at each other, get up, and try to beat each other to the Hearth Room. There would be a movie waiting for them every time. Score one for Mom.

One year, I had just decorated the mantel and tree in the Hearth Room. I must have dropped a little elf hat that came off of a stuffed elf  that I usually left in the box of unused decorations. Adam felt the breeze before I said anything, and ran into the Hearth Room. The movie was sitting in the fireplace, on logs like it had been dropped down the chimney. But, Adam also found the little elf hat and about freaked out. I guess it would be scary to think that there was a little man in your home.

“There was an elf in the house. He dropped his hat.”  Adam looked a little unsettled. I just got him to be able to sleep after being scared by an R. L. Stine book weeks before. He would wake up, yelling for me because the “Green Witch” was in his room. I think they were watching “Are you Afraid of the Dark” also, so that didn’t help. And now there was a freakin elf in the house. Looks like his sleep patterns were going to be disrupted again.

That night, my husband had to go to work and set the security alarm. He never set it on “Instant”, which meant the lazers would be on and anyone moving inside the house would set off the alarm. We used to set it that way when we would go on vacation. I was in a deep sleep and all of a sudden I heard the alarm go off AND Adam screaming at the top of his lungs. I jumped up and ran out into the hall. He wasn’t in his room. His screams came from downstairs. It was about 3:00am, so I thought for sure someone was in the house and was trying to take Adam.

I quickly shut off the alarm and noticed that the Hearth Room was breached.  I rushed downstairs, a mother on a mission. I didn’t have a gun or a knife or a shoe. I had adrenaline. My son was screaming. I ran into the room, and found Adam, clad in his cute little Ghost Buster pajamas,holding his hamster cage in his arms.

“Chuck was making too much noise in his cage and so I thought I would bring him down here so I could sleep.” He was scared. Adam, I mean, not Chuck. I looked around and noticed that the alarm had been set to “instant.” There was no intruder. Adam walked through one of the lazers and set off the alarm. My poor little guy.

I walked Adam back to bed and tucked him in and assured him that his dad set the alarm by mistake. Adam seemed to think that the elf set off the alarm.  Just great.

All was well the next morning and the kids watched the movie that came down the chimney. They seemed to enjoy our new holiday tradition and I hope they pass it on to their kids.

I just hope they leave the elf hat in the box.

Elly May Clampett

I have always loved animals. And they didn’t have to be real.  One Easter, when I was very young, I received a chocolate lamb in my Easter basket. My mom said that I opened up the box and carried that lamb around with me for days. I guess I was 2 years old. That was my first pet.  She said I cried when it broke at the neck.  I mean, it was my pet lamb, and now it had no head.

My first real pet was Victor, a little green turtle. He came with a plastic lagoon bowl with a little palm tree. Victor didn’t stay in his plastic lagoon bowl and I was constantly searching for him. He was usually found in a corner covered with dust bunnies. (which, by the way, aren’t really bunnies.)

Then came Annie the hamster, that was really Cheryl’s pet, but I played with it most of the time. We always had hamsters. I never knew for sure where hamsters came from.  I read that theyoriginally came from Syria. Syrian hamsters. لي صديق أهلا قليلا  (That translates to “Hello, my little friend” in Arabic, or so says google translator) No wonder my hamsters never listened to me. They understood Arabic.

On a side note, did you know that there are people who show hamsters..like a dog show, but for hamsters? I am serious. Seriously. I imagine you would need binoculars if you are sitting in an arena so you can see the people running in the circle with the hamster.  Well,I guess they wouldn’t be running, or the hamster would be up in the air, hanging from its little hamster leash. I am visualizing that right now. That would be pretty amusing.   They would get little hamster trophies.  Best of  Show at the Westminster Hamster Show…Maybe they even have Best in Habitat. Maybe HGTV’s Design Star show can have a project where they have to design the best hamster habitat.

We always bought a “fancy” hamster.  Our hamsters were usually put in one of those plastic clear balls so they could exercise around the room and torment the dog. Sometimes we would leave them in there too long and they would have pee all over them.  I’d have to get a wet washcloth and clean the hamster. Can’t use a blow dryer on a hamster. Tried that one time on my guinea pig, Quincy Bozo. (You don’t want to know….)

After my mom saw that we could take care of hamsters, we got our first dog, Susie. Susie was a terrier and she slept with me. All the dogs slept with me because they all loved me the most. It’s true. I am an animal whisperer. After Susie, we had Heidi, who was retarded, (dogs don’t understand being politically incorrect, so again, can say the word, “retarded.”)  Heidi was sideswiped by a car one day and was never right after that. She played outside all day long, running around in circles, and then would come into the house and use the bathroom as soon as she got inside. Mom gave her away to a neighbor girl who loved Heidi for who she was..like the Velveteen Rabbit.

We then had Smokey the chihuahua. We brought Smokey home and told Dad we found him in a meadow. Smokey was probably the ungliest dog in the world. His teeth were bad, for some reason, and had the most God-awful breath of any living thing. Mom had to have all of his teeth pulled out. And it broke his jaw or something, because it was crooked when he got home. Sometimes his tongue hung out on the side. Anyway, when you tried to pick up Smokey, he would bite you, or gum you, which was so gross. So, of course, when we had friends over, we would say, “Pick up Smokey.”  Smokey was best friends with a German police dog, named Scheherazade, or Sherry as we all called her. Smokey would walk down the middle of the street most days and they were the strangest sight. One day the school bus hit and killed Smokey.  I guess bus drivers can’t see chihuahua’s walking in the middle of the road too well.

We had other dogs too. Cricket was my favorite. I loved that dog. I would put her on the couch and tell her to stay and then go hide and yell, “Ok, Cricket,” and she would then jump off the couch and try to find me. We also had Sparky and Whiskey.

Stinky

It wasn’t the dogs, but the weird pets I bought when I got a bit older.The summer before I was a  a freshman in college, I bought a skunk at KMart. That’s right, Kmart sold skunks in the 1970’s. It was deskunked, but still had a bit of a skunky odor, but I liked that smell. (Yeah, I’m that weird.) I bought Thumper for $40 and took her home. My dad loved Thumper. She would curl up like a cat and sleep during the day and bother and chase Cricket all night long. She would go to the bathroom in my mom’s plants. I don’t know why it wouldn’t use the kitty litter box. Maybe I never bought one. That would explain a lot. Anyway, I left for college and a few weeks later when I came home, Thumper was gone. Mom sold her for $35 to a realtor friend of my dad’s.  She sold my skunk and took a $5 loss on the deal. Stupid woman. I loved that skunk. Several years ago, I tamed a skunk to put her paws on our kitchen nook door and take a peanut from my hand. I named her Stinky. We could open the door at night and yell her name and she would come running. She used to hang out with a Oppossum we named Poopy Butt.

The next pet I bought was an iguana named Igor. Igor commited suicide in its water dish. I then read where iguana’s get depressed. Seriously. One of my roommates boyfriend said he saw him walk over to the water dish and just stick his head in the water. When I asked why he didn’t help it, he just looked at me and said, “I was really high.”  Wonder what he does for a living these days?

When I was a sophomore in college I bought Beepo and Geepo. They were African frogs. I also had some sort of chameleons, salamanders and newts. I was like Elly May Clampett.

I had the best time living out on our property after I

Sweetheart

MonkeyShines

Most, if not all of my adventures when I was growing up in Weirton, West Virginia, were with my best friend, Ramaine. She lived down the street from me, and we were attached at the hip.  We were in Camp Fire Girls together.  We rode the school bus together. We had a cabin in the woods together.  It seemed like we were laughing all day long.  My childhood was great because I had a best friend who was just like me. We lived outside the box, and had some very creative days.  And, boy, were we stylish… We even  bought white pants with pictures of the Monkees faces all over the pants.  We were weird, but knew how to laugh at ourselves.  We did that quite well. Sang the definition of “lima bean” into a tape recorder.  The word, “bored”, was not in our vocabulary. The only difference we had was that she was a gerbil person, and I was a hamster person.  Which lead us to the pet shop.

We used to visit the pet shop often.It was at the Weirton plaza, a little strip of stores near our homes. The guy had a lot of different animals at the pet shop.  One particular visit to the pet shop concluded in uncontrollable laughter, one that I can say  was the hardest I ever laughed in my whole life. Ramaine reminded me that we were in 8th grade when this happened. Dear God, she even remembers what she was wearing that day. Well, it was a day for the record books, that’s for sure.

The pet store was small, with a long counter with rows of animals in their little cages beneath it. The place was jammed with critters. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the snakes, though. There was even a mynah bird that cussed like you wouldn’t believe. It always amused me. But, on this particular day,  I was on my knees, looking at a mother hamster and newborns on the bottom row. Ramaine was standing, bent over a little, looking at something else, when all of a sudden she asked, “What’s on my head?”  I stood up, and my mouth dropped open.  I didn’t or couldn’t say a word. A spider monkey  had stepped off the top of the counter right onto her head. I really think I could have put my fist in my mouth.  “What’s on my head?” she repeated. Well, hell, I couldn’t answer. I mean, there was a monkey on her head. Just sitting there. Ramaine reached up to feel what was on her head, and the monkey swatted her hand away. “What’s on my head?”  She was expecting her bestest friend to give her an answer. She was panicking a little, starting to pace, and I  was not answering, but standing there with a big smile on my face. Ramaine tried to bend over, and that’s when the little fellow grabbed her hair with both little hands to hang on. That’s when I first started laughing.

“What’s on my head????”  Everytime her hand went up to feel what kind of creature was sitting there, he would release one hand from grasping onto her hair and slap it away. I couldn’t speak. I was laughing so hard. It was one of those silent, belly laughs, where you shake, but no sound comes out of your mouth. Now, Ramaine was pacing faster and moving her head, and bringing up her one leg for some reason, and that monkey was hanging on for dear life and I just couldn’t tell her that there was a monkey on her head.  It reminded me of  a little monkey jockey, riding something. I was in awe.  I had never seen a live monkey.  I did look around to see if a little old man with an organ grinder was standing nearby.

“VICKiE,  GET IT OFF!!  WHAT IS IT?  GET IT OFF!”  That monkey must have liked the view, because he had no intention of leaving Ramaine’s head.  She looked like she was having a seizure. Her arms and legs were flailing all about,  and the monkey was leaning to the left and then to the right, and would only take his hand off of the death grip on the her hair to swat at Ramaine.

I had to sit down on the floor. I started laughing so hard, I peed my pants. This is a recurring theme for me. Laugh. Pee. Repeat. “It’s a monkey….”  I finally was able to speak. “I peed my pants.”  Ramaine didn’t care. She had a monkey on her head.   The owner finally came over and had to pry the little monkeys fingers from her hair. It wasn’t working too well..  Finally, a banana (I think I am making this part up) was waved in front of  the monkey’s face and he left her head and went to sit on the owner’s shoulder. I found out later that the monkey’s name was Ginger. Ginger, I wish I had my camera that day.

I’m glad Ramaine was able to laugh about the whole thing on the way home. But, it was a nervous laugh, I could tell. I was sitting on a towel my mom brought for me and had to explain why, once again, I peed my pants. “I’m going to have to make an appointment for you to see Dr. Harper. There must be something wrong with your kidneys.”  No, did you not hear me?  There was a MONKEY on her head. I mean, come on.  Urination justification.

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