Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meet Romulus and Remus

So we finally decided on names: Romulus and Remus!
That's my arm that makes the shot look odd. Romulus is licking it.
Romulus is the black one and Remus the grey. These were the names that just seemed to stick while we were trying out all of the names. Though I personally call them "Bounce" and "Scurry" when we play. Romulus' playing style is to bounce around and Remus' to scurry away and come back.

They are very fun. They like to rough house and I can rough house with them. Romulus is not very shy or easily scared (he sometimes acts like he is, but he isn't). So he likes very much to be in the middle of things. He is pretty brave about coming out and being held and running around. Remus is a lot more withdrawn and shy. It takes him longer to want to follow Romulus out to run around, but he is curious enough to try eventually. Sometimes I make him come out so he can get used to it. The picture above was during a game where they ran up and down my arm. Sometimes they tried to chew on my shirt and my jewelry, and Romulus likes to chew on my hair. He also tried to use my glasses as a springboard to get on top of my hair... Remus didn't get that adventurous, but he did get to my shoulder and chew on my earrings and stick his nose in my ear. Then he promptly ran away when I laughed. He was brave enough to try again, however.

It is fun to watch them grow and learn. They are smart little critters and very playful. Remus has started to be more pushy (but sometimes Romulus lets him have the upper hand). Romulus is already a little bigger and heavier then his brother, so I try to sneak Remus a little extra food.

We are ordering a large cage for them. Male rats can get pretty large and since there are two, they definitely need the space. Also, males can be more prone to laziness (and maybe a little to over-eating) so if they don't have the space, they won't run it off. Appropriate cages are difficult to find and are often expensive. Camarattery has a lot of information about appropriate cage sizes. We are going with a Martin's Cage called the Rat Tower which can be found on this page: It is a little pricy, but worth it for the boys. Side note: according to Camarattery (and I believe them), the galvanized finish will absorb urine and therefore are harder to clean than the powder-coated. I know it is more expensive, but if the smell is important to you, go with the powder-coated finish.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Welcome Autumn!

This is just a short posting to welcome my favorite season: autumn! And to show off my new colors.

"Hear how the wind begins to whisper.
See how the leaves go streaming by.
Smell how the velvet rain is falling,
Out where the fields are warm and dry." -"Soon it's Gonna Rain" from The Fanstasticks.

-I love the colors. The leaves changing is one of my favorite things to see. And I love to step on the crunchy ones that fall. It is best when the sky is a little grey.
-I love the temperature. Nice and cool, but the afternoons are perfect for walking and lounging outside.
-I love the smell. Like leaves. Like fall. I always know.
-One word: HALLOWEEN! My favorite holiday! I celebrated the Fall Equinox by putting up Halloween decorations.
My homemade Halloween wreath and my Autumn bear in Halloween garb.
"Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow." -"Try to Remember" from The Fantasticks

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

If You Buy a Rat...

 Then you have to buy his brother, too!

Meet our new rats! They are only about 5 weeks old. They are Dumbo rats- named for the larger ears which are placed more on the side of their heads. They are both boys with HUGE feet. Like puppies, they will grow into them.

The black one is very outgoing and likes to play and be in the middle of everything. The grey (he's actually called an "American Blue") is a little more shy and not as playful, but very sweet and gentle. They make a great combination (except that the black one will push the grey one around). I just picked them up yesterday, but they already seem to be settling in. They are so fun! You can rough house with them and they will bounce and run around and come back for more. Then they get riled up and wrestle with each other. Sometimes they sleep together in a "rat pile," which is sweet. The most precious thing thus far was the grey one washing the black one's face. Adorable!

The only surprise, for me, was how mouthy they are. When we stick our hands in, they just lick and lick and lick our hands. It's very interesting. And they will grab hold of fingers in surprisingly strong grips and just lick away. They nibble on finger nails (but are very careful not to bite) and sometimes they just touch the skin with their teeth. Even when they are riled up they do not bite. Us or one another. So if anyone comes to visit them, be prepared, but know that they won't hurt you. Honestly it took me a bit to get used to that and not be afraid that I would get bitten, but that's just part of how they interact.
Licking away!
At the moment they do not have names. Our favorites so far are Thor and Loki, but we have gotten other suggestions. A couple were for Calvin and Hobbs. I liked Beelzebub and Baal. Castor and Pollux was a great suggestion. Miguel and Tulio I liked a lot. Mario and Luigi would be cute. I like Calo and Galdo (the twins from The Lies of Locke Lamora). Pinky and the Brain was suggested a couple of times, but I don't think I like those as much. Just doesn't fit the boys.

For anyone who is interested, these two came from a local rat breeder. You can go to her page, Camarattery. In addition to breeding and selling rats, she has amazing resources. Lots of info about good cages, beddings/litters, best diets, etc. It is a wonderful resource that I use all the time now. I also am using her food mix and will start making my own in the near future using her recipe. As a breeder she has been able to collect a lot of information, so she is a great authority. If you have rats or are interested in getting any, I recommend her page for info and her animals for adopting.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Final Cosplay Results for NDK 2012

While my Jareth costume did not happen even remotely, here are the results for both Kurama costumes and our Katamari cosplay.

Costume number one: Shuiichi Kurama:
The girl standing next to me is cosplaying as Botan from the same anime.
Compared to this:
(Side note, those twisty-things around his ankles and wrists are not part of the outfit, they are part of a power his opponent was using in the scene, which I would not have used if I could find a better full body picture of this outfit. It is also hard to tell that the cuffs and collar are dark blue.)

Thoughts: I love this outfit of Shuiichi Kurama's. Almost no one knew who I was because Shuiichi Kurama has two, arguably three, more popular outfits. I have never seen anyone else wear this particular outfit. Even doing a Google search turned up no others like this Also, the wig was awful! I couldn't get it right, so I just did the best with what I had. If I ever bring back this outfit I will commission a new wig. The one I made (sadly) belongs in the trash. I had to hot glue parts of it, which means it cannot be taken out and re-done better. The hot glue happened because I was running out of time and options. I don't really recommend hot gluing your wigs.

Costume number two: Yoko Kurama:
(Also, forgive my weak poses and half-smiles. I am a cosplayer, not an actress... And I am sad that my tail cannot be seen in this photo.)
Compared to this:
Thoughts: This one was much more of a hit. My one main problem was the ears slipped if I looked down. Otherwise I liked it very much.

Costume number three: June from Katamari (plus my friends as the King, Prince, and other various cousins):
Notes on making our costumes: We made the cardboard frames and wrapped those in quilt batting. I believe that we all used some interfacing (I did because mine is white and I didn't want everyone to see through the cloth and such) and sewed the cloth like a pillow case which could be slipped on. Due to the irregular shape, they had to be hand sewn shut. I left a hole for my head to go through, but my friends, being wiser, did not and cut it afterwards (which made the case fit better). The linings around faces and edges are hemmed and hot glued on. The cones and balls for the antennae are foam. The cones are covered in yellow cloth and the balls are painted and we hot glued them on last. The faces were made with a cross-stitch mesh covered with two layers of a chiffon dyed a flesh color. The eyes, noses, and mouths are felt that we did together for consistency and are hot glued on. For my dress I used a pattern made for me by Cat and the gloves I winged and did not do a good job on. Tights were purchased and I painted old white shoes to match the rest.

Compared to:
Thoughts: I LOVED this cosplay! It was fun and we were a big hit! Unfortunately it is hard to see much unless there is a lot of light (which there usually wasn't) so we didn't always know when people were taking pictures or finished taking pictures unless someone told us. It was a little hard to hear. We had the King and other friends herd us around the hotel in a big linked chain, stopping occasionally for pictures. Also, it gets very hot inside those heads! But totally worth it! Even after spending about 10-11 hours painting all those circles (yes, 10-11 hours for the whole head and dress-just for circle painting, though I worked 12 hours total including putting the lining on the head and making the gloves) was worth it.

Ending Notes: Wearing so much white at NDK was sort of rough. It is not the cleanest of places and it is hard to keep them white. I got some makeup on my Shuiichi costume and a little drop of chocolate on Yoko's tail (not sure how, but that's OK). Something to keep in mind for the future and for those thinking about white costumes.

For next year we are talking about doing a large Ghibli cosplay! I hope this one pans out because I would love to be Nausicaa! Have to plan these things in advance you know!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nan Desu Kan 2012

I have been going to Nan Desu Kan (aka NDK) for about 10 years now (wow, crazy) with many of my close friends.

This year we were talking about how much has changed.

When most of us first started going, we were in 8th or 9th grade and it was held in a building out by the airport. We couldn't even drive yet. Our parents dropped us off in the morning and picked us up at night. We didn't sleep much, hardly ate (no food within walking distance), and were always running around giddily. Many of our inside jokes started here. We spent nearly all our time in the game room because it was usually pretty empty and we could sit and talk and play Apples to Apples to our hearts' content. There weren't a lot of rules. "Will yaoi/yuri for Pocky" signs everywhere, people carrying and making odd jokes about paddles. "Glomping" was when someone ran up to you and gave you an abrupt, crushing hug, usually without warning so any personal space you had was not there for the weekend (and you just had to accept that). There were more games and events to participate in (like Anime Olympics). If you got too bored, there were always a couple of viewing rooms where they showed (usually dubbed) animes. Scott McNeil used to come almost every year. I remember when he stopped, there were petitions all along the walls that said "Save our Ma(Scott)." He hasn't returned since, which is sad because he was always a favorite. I have his autograph and a picture with him. He read and talked to me. I saw some of his shows with other voice actors and he was always so dramatic and funny. (I mostly know and love him for the roles of Duo from Gundam Wing and Kouga from Inu Yasha, even though I generally hate watching dubbed anime.

On that note, I want to share my treasured Scott McNeil stuff:
With Scott McNeil, 9/20/2002 (WOW! 2002?!?!)
I know it is difficult to see, but this is the cover of the second Gundam Wing Manga. It says "Samara 'I may run and hide... but I never tell a lie.' Scott McNeil <3" (Yes, there is a heart :) ). And he read page 62 to me (I know because that is where I keep the photograph) and it is Duo (duh) saying: "Piloting a Gundam has special meaning. Am I right Deathscythe? You don't qualify to pilot Gundam unless you're prepared to self-destruct! I wonder how Heero's doing.." <3
These days, NDK is held at the DTC Marriott. We stay there or drive home. We have easier access to food. Parents now accompany kids and pre-teens instead of dropping them off (and some of them are probably shocked by the antics that the societies socially awkward kids get up to). There are rules against everything above: no paddles, no yaoi/yuri references, no glomping. I wouldn't be caught DEAD in the gaming room (now that technology has taken over it is always packed). There are insane numbers of people and fewer events to participate in. There are more panels to attend and the cosplay contest and AMV (Anime Music Video) contest are popular as ever. If there are viewing rooms for animes, I do not know where they are. (As a side note, this video won Drama/Romance — Best use of emotion and feeling this year, and I loved it, so here is a link: Creating Something Beautiful by siny)

This all sounds very negative, but it isn't entirely. The positives: I have lots of friends to attend with and we all love to dress up and make costumes. Also handy for big group cosplays, like our Katamari one (see my next blog post). We are old enough to drink so we usually begin Saturday morning with mimosas and end evenings with beers. It makes for great conversation and a laid back atmosphere. By staying at the hotel we don't have to stress as much and with atrium rooms, we have a GREAT spot to people watch. Some people have incredible costumes, which is fun. I think we are in a great position to have a good time (once we are finished stressing over last-minute costume preparations).

Also, one of my friends, Wyatt, has a video blog, often with another lovely friend, Eli. Here are a couple of links to the special NDK videos they made. The second one is especially good because you get a pretty good taste of what NDK is like (and they filmed it on the atrium balcony, which is awesome--you can see where we liked to be). The second also mentions a couple of interesting sites to use if you are an anime/cosplay fan.

Video one: RAW: NDK! The First Night!
Video two: Brain Cheese: ALL TEH ANIME!!

Also, here is the main NDK website:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NDK Checklist and a Moment to Myself

Kurama Shuiichi wig styled: check (and it was very difficult).

Yoko Kurama wig styled: check.

Happy to report that both Kurama costumes are complete.

Under-dress for my Katamari dress: check, but not well done. Since it goes underneath the actual dress, I think it will be OK.

Dress for my Katamari costume: partially sewn together, but still needs trim and paint.

Katamari head: still need to finish covering and trim and paint.

Katamari shoes: still need paint.

Katamari gloves: haven't even started. Or exactly figured out how to make them...

Basically my Katamari costume still needs way more work that I want to think about. One thing at a time.

I would like to take this breather to say that my Aunt Jennifer passed away yesterday, September 12. She was only 40 years old. She was a very spunky red-head, adventurous, and funny. She is leaving behind two daughters, a husband, a mother, siblings, nieces and nephews, all of whom will miss her greatly. Her father and my grandfather passed away exactly six months ago, so my step grandmother is having a difficult time and year. My heart aches very much for my step grandma as well as for Jennifer's husband, and very much so for her girls (the eldest of which has already experienced more trials in life than she should have). I feel a little guilty, pushing her death and the grief of my family (as well as my own) aside for a fun weekend, but I know how much Aunt Jennifer valued a good time. My best memory of her was from many years back when she came with my brother, sister, and me to an amusement park and worried me by rocking our Ferris wheel cart as much as she and my sister could manage. My other favorite memory was of Christmas 2003, a few years after marrying Rodney, with their new baby girl in her arms and seeing that she was more at peace than I had ever seen her before. I hope that your thoughts (and, if you are so inclined, your prayers) are with her and my family. You are so missed, Aunt Jennifer. And I hope that you and Grandpa are happy and together. Peace and love to my family, especially Elizabeth and Abby who I cannot stop thinking and worrying about.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

NDK Countdown

For those of you who don't know, NDK is this coming weekend: Friday through Sunday! The main thought going through my head as we rapidly approach the weekend: YIKES!!!

I still have yet to style my wigs. At least the Yoko Kurama one doesn't require much work.

Jareth did not happen at all. The only thing I did for that costume was to find a perfect wig (which I did not purchase) and make the sparkly belt.

Contacts did not happen for any costume.

I haven't planned make-up yet, but I want to try to cover my freckles.

I need to find the caps that go under the wigs (but I think I know which box they are in).

My Katamari costume is not finished. The head is mostly covered, but still needs to be trimmed and painted. The costume is still in a couple pieces, needs clasps in the back, and needs to be trimmed and painted. I haven't even started the gloves yet. And the shoes need to be painted. And we need to make and put on faces and the piece that goes on top of our heads.

Proceed in full panic mode! Step one: sew like a maniac. Step two: paint like a maniac who knows how to paint lots of perfect circles. AHHHH!!! And take a deep breath. I will be at my sewing machine if anyone needs me.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Recent Goings-on and Thoughts on Marriage and Kids

Hey all. So sorry about the delay and gap between posts. Isaac and I just moved to a new place (and may move again soon, but that is not certain yet). There was about a week and a half without internet, which was not fun. But I am back and hoping to get some postings going again.

But onto my recent thoughts.

Lately I feel that all of my friends and acquaintances are engaged, recently married, or having babies. While I am very happy for all of them, it makes me think of these things, as well.

Isaac and I have been together for more than six years. That is longer than most of my friends have known their husbands. Despite the fact that Isaac and I are in a serious relationship and have made our commitments to each other, I feel that our relationship goes unrecognized because we are "boyfriend and girlfriend." I feel like there should be something in between the "boyfriend and girlfriend" stage and "married." Since we've been living together, we have a common law marriage, but that sounds funny. It's not something you tell people. "Are you married?" "Oh, yes, I have a common law marriage." ... Right? Haha.

I guess I've been thinking about this a lot because a lot of people have been asking me about us getting married lately. One of my old customers and friends asks me every time I see him if Isaac and I have set a date yet. Another old customer told me there was no way I should be single. Girls at work keep saying "You guys are going to get married, right?" (Some of that, I think, stems from religious upbringings which I do not personally subscribe to). We are at that age where all of our friends are getting married and having babies, so it is logical for us to do the same, right? Social expectations and all that. Which I also do not usually subscribe to. Except for the irony that society is causing me to think of such things.

Even when Isaac and I decided that we were in this together for the long haul, I still never really wanted to get married. When I was younger, I didn't want to get married (supposing I even found someone to share my life with, which I did not ever expect nor want back then). I did always want kids, despite how utterly awkward I am around them.

I am not sure where that leaves us. Isaac and I have decided that one day we will get married, but it doesn't seem to be a big priority, which I am alright with most days. Other days I want our relationship to have that recognition and then feel silly for wanting marriage for such a silly reason (but the only reason we seem to have, besides the fact that we really love one another). I definitely do not think that you need to be married to be in a committed relationship. And then I find myself filing away wedding ideas. I feel like something is wrong with me. And I blame society entirely. And I want there to be a label for the "I-am-in-a-serious-committed-relationship-but-am-not-married" people like me.

When the talk turns to children, I feel a little differently. As some of you know, Isaac's sister recently had a little girl (who I love to pieces in my awkward, incompetent way). Instead of drawing the pressure off of us, it seems to have increased it. Isaac's mom has mentioned us having children more often since then, and even my mom has. Isaac and I have thought about maybe one day having a kid, but we are just not ready. Not that we don't have more than enough time. Ugh. Oddly, I would like to be married before we have a kid. Why? No real reason. I usually think of marriage as a sort of security blanket if you are having kids because it holds a man more responsible. It is easier to get child support from an ex-husband than an ex-boyfriend (and I do know of guys who knocked up a girl and took off. Without paternity tests and court, it is awful hard to hold "this guy I was with once" accountable). I definitely do not need to worry about such things with Isaac, don't get me wrong.

These thoughts have just been rolling around in my head. Thanks for reading my nonsense.