Dasha’s Diary: Entry 002

Chinchilla’s Log, Entry 002

Dasha here.  The humans’ behavior continues to baffle me.  I have noticed some inconsistencies since my last entry.  First, the humans walk around in The Great Habitat, the floor of which has no bedding at all!  I know they have access to bedding, because the small human provides my home (the Lesser Habitat) with a fresh supply of it every week.  I watch her do this from my runabout ball, so I know it is the small human who brings me provisions.  It is bad enough that they walk around with all their weight on their hind limbs all the time, which must be a great strain and very hard on their back paws, but to do so on the bare, hard surface of the Great Habitat must make it even worse.  I know their hind paws need protection from such abuse, because they wrap their lower limbs in tubes of fleece to help alleviate the problem.  However, when I try to help them by sharing the bedding from my Lesser Habitat – and make no mistake, it requires effort and athleticism to get the majority of my own bedding spread as far out into the Greater Habitat as possible – the humans are unappreciative.  The small one makes a kind of cooing noise by blowing air through her mouth and nose at the same time, and uses the “brume” (a large chew toy with a wooden handle attached to a bundle of dry grasses) to take away all the bedding I so generously offered.  The big human makes a loud noise, STOPIT, if he sees me at my work.  I don’t think they understand that I am trying to help them.IMG_2400

Additionally, I have noticed that the humans do not get enough exercise and that they seem lethargic much of the time that they are in the Great Habitat. They do spend a lot of my sleep-day Outside, so it is possible that they exercise while I am asleep.  However, when I have been Outside with the small human, I have not seen any human-sized exercise wheels, runabout balls, or other athletic equipment, so I fear that this is not the case.  I know from experience that lack of exercise can lead to an unpleasant state of mind and body, so I try to encourage them to play now and then by unexpectedly dashing from the Lesser Habitat when they open the door, leading them in a merry chase around the Greater Habitat.  Strangely, they seem to appreciate this even less than when I share my bedding with them.  The big human gets loud (his usual tactic) and the small human gets agitated and grabby if I don’t respond when she calls my name.  It is particularly strange that it distresses them for me to demonstrate my agility, speed, and gymnastic prowess under such conditions, but overjoys the small one when I display these skills while in The Hallway (i.e., Playtime).

Still, they pet me and feed me and sometimes carry me around so I can look at things not visible from the Lesser Habitat. The big one makes music for me and the small one controls the radio, and usually plays things I like. The small human looks after my needs, and the big human sneaks me extra treats when the small one isn’t looking. Even if they are strange and tend to interrupt my meditations upon the nature of the cosmos, I enjoy their company, and they are my family, whether they accept my help or not.

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A Chinchilla’s Life – By Dasha

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Toys are no substitute for hours and hours of your attention while I run around and do Olympian gymnastics, human.

Dasha’s Journal, First Entry:

I have managed to take over the small human’s laptop.  This is my first opportunity to communicate with the humans in a way they might (I hope) comprehend.  Humans, if you understand this entry, please take note:  My playtime yesterday was woefully insufficient.  Since you don’t seem to respond to my obvious behavioral communications of ignoring you, gruffing when you try to pet me, and staring pitifully out of the bars of my cage, I feel I need to make this point more clearly.  No, the toys and wheel in my cage are not a consolation.

To the small human:  I do not understand why you make high-pitched noises every time I bark to tell you and the big human to be quiet while I’m trying to rest.  I wish I could figure out the strange noises you and the big human make, because most of the time it sounds like gibberish.  The noise you address me with most often sounds like Noe, and seems to be your attempt to request that I ignore my instinct to chew on everything in sight.  I try to be polite and only chew when you aren’t looking, but you still make loud noises when you look in my direction afterward.  I feel that giving me a treat would be a more appropriate response.

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Of course I have plenty of my own things to chew on! But if I am kind enough to make sure your things are chewed on, too, you should thank me, not scold me.

Thank you for turning off your swing jazz music long enough for me to hear some AC/DC the other day – I hope you could tell by my intense expressions of acrobatic appreciation how pleased I was, particularly once the volume was up loud enough for my liking.  Bon Scott’s voice is a joy to hear, and I am sad to learn (through the boxes on your laptop, small human), that he is no more.

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I’ll just mourn Bon Scott by chewing on something for a while…life does go on… *sigh*

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Cage bars block the proper grooming of the scritchy-spot. For best results, give me an opportunity to escape and run around chewing on things!

To the big human:  The chin-scratch, as practiced by the small human, can only be accomplished with the appropriate cage door open.  Through the bars, you can’t possibly reach the scritchy-spot properly.  Also, you haven’t been producing enough music with that thing that makes the sounds of absolute joy and wonder whenever you’re chewing on it…I think I have heard the small human refer to it with the noises Harm-on-a-cow, which makes no sense because there are no cows harmed in the making of that beautiful music.  I like the music you’ve been playing on the Get-her, however.

The small human makes loud sounds at me if she sees me sitting on the laptop, and she may not understand what I’m doing if she finds me here.  So this is Dasha, signing off.  

(Sort of) Guest Post

For years now, my mom (Marian Allen) and I have been obsessing over Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, and specifically over the cat Behemoth (our favorite character in the novel).  My mom is also obsessed with Hello Kitty.  So yesterday, I spontaneously decided to draw Hello Behemoth for Mom.  Today, she posted the picture on her blog for Caturday, and I’m counting that as a guest post because it means I don’t have to write a real post.  Ha!  (By the way, dear Readers, something about all this does relate to the sequel….)

The Steampunk World’s Fair

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Steampunk Welsh Corgi

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This girl’s costume is beautiful! She’s already hooked on a kids’ supernatural book by my fellow author, K.A. Davur!

This weekend was a whirlwind road trip to the Steampunk World’s Fair in New Jersey.  Armed with 3 bags of snack food and 16 bottles of Powerade, Zak and I made the 11.5 hour drive through thunderstorms and hail and mountains, but arrived safely and met up with the rest of the gang at the 3 Fates Press tent.  Saw some incredible costumes, but unfortunately only got a couple of photos (including this fantastically cute and well-mannered steampunk corgi!) because I was otherwise too preoccupied with selling books!  I’m sorry, but the whole world stops when a cute animal walks by.  We sold out of our anthology, Circuits and Steam, before the end of the day (it will now only be available in electronic format), and Erica Flynn was selling itself by the evening.  Cutting up with my fellow authors, my cover artist (a.k.a. boyfriend), and my publisher was a blast!  My own costume was sadly lacking, compared to the other attendees, but at least it was comfortable!  Unfortunately, I didn’t take any selfies, so I can’t post my combat-boots-and-khakis style “steampunk lite” outfit.

Thankfully, the drive back contained no major storms or sliding down a mountain grade on marble-sized ice, so we actually got to enjoy the beautiful scenery through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia on our way back to Kentucky.

Next weekend, May 24-25, Erica Flynn will be much closer to home, at the Howard Steamboat Museum’s Art and Antique Jubilee (a free event in Jeffersonville, Indiana!)  Whether I will be there in person or not depends on how far along I am with arrangements for my departure to my archaeological field school in Spain next week!  Even if I don’t make it to the Jubilee, 3 Fates Press will be there with copies of the book.  I can promise many pictures and stories about the field school experience will appear on this blog in June, after my return!

Somewhere gorgeous in Maryland or Pennsylvania, I’m not sure which

Dasha’s New Digs

Dasha in her “house”

For a long time, I’ve been planning to build a “playhouse” for Dasha, my chinchilla – something that would attach to the top of her cage and be full of fun for a little furball to climb around…and which would allow her to have access to her wheel at all times.  Chinchillas are energetic and smart, which means that they get bored easily in their cages, and an hour a day of out-of-cage playtime just wasn’t cutting it for poor Dasha.  It helped when we started leaving the radio on for her at night – tuned to the

The new, improved cage…which is almost as tall as I am…

classical station, because although hair-band metal is Dasha’s favorite, it makes her hyper (and therefore even MORE determined to get out of her cage to run around).

I went to the pet store, and by chance found the exact same cage she has now…on sale for less than half price!  So I bought it, and Zak and I spent all day last Saturday wiring the two cages together over a cardboard platform.  Dasha was none to pleased to be awakened during the middle of the day (she’s nocturnal), but when she saw her new home, she decided it was worth it.  She now has double the cage space, extra places to climb and hide, 24 hour access to her wheel, and many more things to chew on.  This is her idea of heaven.

Bottom of cage – now with wheel!

Top of cage: perches, chew toys, shelves, and a toddler xylophone keyboard

She’s much calmer and happier now that she can burn energy running in her wheel, and she likes to squish herself into the little crawlspace between the top of her cardboard “house” and the shelf above it – how a fat thing like Dasha can fit in that space is a mystery to me…I think she’s made of quantum particles that exist outside of normal space and time.  She’s much more snuggly during her out-of-cage playtime, curling up in my hoodie and letting me pet her – although her exuberance at getting to run around the hallway has certainly not diminished.  She still does plenty of hopping and running up the walls and sliding across the hardwood floor and bouncing off the doors.  That’s the best measure of a happy chinchilla!

My plan is to get her a little basket nest for the top half of her cage (more hiding spots makes her feel more secure) and some sisal rope toys (she has a sisal rope ball with a rattle in it that she tries to carry around the hall with her during playtime…which works until she tries to leap through the air and land while still holding onto the ball.)

Dasha attempting to eat my homework

Next post:  In answer to a comment on my previous post, I’ll be writing about my visit to Pushkin’s apartment while I was in St. Petersburg, plus a little background on Pushkin’s contribution to the European Romantic movement.

Chinchilla Monday!

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Since rainy Mondays are pretty depressing things, I’m posting about my chinchilla today, who is cute enough to cheer up just about anybody.  I’ve only been a chinchilla owner for about four months (I’m normally a cat owner), but I definitely enjoy getting to know this little critter.  Her name is Dasha (of course I named her a Russian name!) and her favorite things in the world are chewing on everything, bouncing off of solid surfaces, trying to dig out of her cage, falling asleep curled up in my hoodie, and hard rock guitar solos.  She’s especially fond of AC/DC, Guns ‘N’ Roses, and Led Zeppelin.

Here she is with her “salad bowl” – which is made of woven grass and is therefore edible for her.  Her current favorite toy is an inclined cat scratcher that my oldest sister gave me.  For Dasha, it constitutes a ramp for jumping off of, a hiding place to nap under, a chew toy, and something fun to roll around on.  She has her own toddler xylophone keyboard, but as soon as she figured out how to play it, she stopped being interested in it (except when she’s in trouble for chewing things she isn’t supposed to, when she plays itIMG_0007 to get praise and attention back).

Her natural habitat is the Andes, so she likes the cold and can’t tolerate much over 72 degrees, and she also can’t get her fur wet (she’s secretly a Gremlin).  She takes dust baths in volcanic ash, which she gets everywhere unless well contained while she’s bathing.  She’s mainly nocturnal, although she wakes up periodically during the day and is most active at dusk and dawn (when she begs for treats incessantly).  Her favorite treats are raisins and craisins, although she will get bored with any treat if she gets it multiple days in a row (no, no, she isn’t spoiled, I swear!)  She also likes dandelion treats, dried papaya, rosemary, plain oats, and puffed rice.

And that’s Dasha in a nutshell!

Guest Post

I’m guest posting at my mother and fellow author’s page.  Go read my Caturday post about Audacious Henry!  Marian Allen (a.k.a. Mom) has published books and short stories electronically and on line, on the labels of coffee cans, and on the wall of an Indian restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. She is the author of the SAGE fantasy trilogy, the science fiction farce FORCE OF HABIT, and four collections of short stories. Free stories and samples are on her blog.