APT: Washington Heights + Four Legs + Life + Health

Weekend to-do.

Oliver, 2001 // Photo by Patricia Katchur

Cute, isn’t he? No, he’s RIDICULOUSLY ADORABLE. That’s my old friend Oliver, the last of 20 pet rats that have been part of my life. He died in late 2003. He was quite a character—a hairless rat with Dumbo-style ears, a white blaze on his forehead, curly whiskers, and mismatched eyes (one red, one black). I miss having pet rats. They really are like tiny dogs, disposition-wise.

My to-do list this weekend is limited to a few odds and ends around the city apartment that I’ve been meaning to take care of for a while now but never seem to have the time, along with the usual errands and such. I only wish the weather were a little nicer. We had a few spring-ish days for a while, but for the past week it’s been quite cold again. There was even a bout of snow and hail a few days ago!

change lightbulb in bathroom
re-mount smoke detector
grocery shopping
clean apartment
buy wood for the top of the fauxdenza
freelance work

Okay, yeah, I cheated. I made a list of things I’ve already done today just so I can cross stuff and feel satisfied. Please, like you’ve never done that!

• figure out whether to stain or oil the wood on the fauxdenza
freelance work
watch a movie
freelance work
• freelance work
• go to bed at a decent time

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  • Reply Monica March 26, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Adding already done things to a “to do” is the best!

  • Reply Maria March 26, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Look at those ears! :) aren’t rats just the most special little people?

  • Reply Ticara March 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    That rat is cute enough to make me forget that I don’t like rats. Although I think I could like rats if I could get past that creepy-looking tail.

  • Reply vee March 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Aw! I had one named pearl! clever little critter. Rats are good stepping stones if you are not quit ready for a dog, for sure!

  • Reply priscilla March 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    His mustache is ridic!

  • Reply Cathie March 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Oliver is *ridiculously* cute! What a great picture too!

  • Reply lau March 26, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    haha, yes. i will totally add things to my teuxdeux that i’ve already done. it makes me feel better. ;>

  • Reply Kristen: Turning a House into a Home March 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I’ve had about 12 pet rats over the years – they really are the sweetest little things! Haven’t had one for about 3 years…seeing Oliver makes me remember how much I miss having a snuggle fest. Good luck with your to do list!

  • Reply rouge March 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I’d never considered rats in that light – you mean they’re curious, affectionate, funny?

    I often wish my Great Dane was the size of a rat.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 26, 2011 at 7:20 pm

      Oh yes, they really are! They LOVE people (which is why they thrive in cities…they’re opportunists!), they love to cuddle, they can learn their names and come when called, and they’re actually pretty easy to train to use a small litter box. I’m sure this will disgust some people, but some of my rats use to try to open my mouth so they could get inside and clean my teeth! Take a look at this photo set on Flickr—rats should usually be kept in pairs or groups because they’re so social, but these picture of Bug really show what a rat’s personality is like. :)

      (And I love Great Danes!!)

      • Reply kelly w March 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm

        Thank you for the Flickr link. ♡ I loved looking through this set.

      • Reply rouge March 28, 2011 at 7:24 am

        I am completely astonished. You’re a very good PR person for rats. The idea of a rat wanting to clean your teeth is …well…I don’t know. Not disgusting at all, but very fascinating. My Dane often tries to stick his paw in my mouth, but I think that’s more to alert me to his need for cuddles/walks/treats than anything else, and he’s so huge it’s just where his paw ends up.

        I shall look at rats with new eyes!

  • Reply Jen @ BeantownBaker.com March 26, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    My Hubby always jokes that I should put “Make list” on the list so I can instantly cross it off.

  • Reply Allison March 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    That photo totally made my day.

    Thanks for spreading the rat love. They really are fantastic pets.

  • Reply Jess * Magpie Paper Works March 26, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Anna, did you hear this piece on Radio Lab a while back exploring how rats actually laugh and play? (They tickle rats and record their laughter. Seriously. It’s *adorable*.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qObklTM5I2Y

    Oliver looks like he was an old soul. Love this photo.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 26, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      I did hear it! (I love Radio Lab!)

  • Reply Janelle March 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I’ll be one to back you up on rats are amazing pets. I’ve only had two rats but they were such amazing friends. One of them loved to sit on my shoulder while during homework and he would also try to do the cleaning teeth thing. He was so smart so we would just let him run around, he would always go back to his cage to go to the bathroom, he was so very clean. The second one came from a mistreated home so he was much more shy but still very sweet. All of this makes me want to get another rat-friend.

  • Reply Kim @ Life Analytical March 26, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Love him! I had two blue rats and a blue hooded before. Adorable.

  • Reply Bromter March 27, 2011 at 5:41 am

    “Okay, yeah, I cheated. I made a list of things I’ve already done today just so I can cross stuff and feel satisfied. Please, like you’ve never done that!” – And I love it!

  • Reply lizzie March 27, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    he is a cutie-patootie. i had two pet rats for 3 years and they were totally like dogs…smart and loving…they wanted to be carried around in my pocket on errands. bizarre.

  • Reply Alicia March 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Does staining require you to first sand it down all the way? How did you ultimately decide whether to stain or to oil? One of life’s many questions, I suppose! :)

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      There’s currently no finish on the wood at all, so there’s not much sanding to do beyond just making it smooth—but I’d need to do that no matter what I decide to coat it with.

      • Reply Merissa March 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm

        How do you decide to stain or use oil?

        • Reply Anna @ D16 March 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm

          It really depends on whether we want to keep the wood (it’s pine) light or dark. Not sure yet!

  • Reply kory March 27, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    awww <3

  • Reply esb March 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm


    i also love to-do lists. and crossing things off of them. (though technically i’m more of a box-checker than a cross-offer.)

  • Reply Izzy March 28, 2011 at 3:01 am

    Do you often do freelance work? Is it something you’d want to do full-time some day?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 28, 2011 at 8:08 am

      I definitely don’t want to freelance full-time (I love my full-time job!), but lately I’ve been taking on some freelance work—both to broaden my design experience and to earn a few extra bucks. :)

  • Reply Laurie March 28, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Aww! Lookit those little dumbo ears! *squee*

    My last rat (also a hairless dude!) also died in 2003, and I still miss having them as pets. They’re probably my favorite pet ever, but I just couldn’t handle the short lifespan and the constant health problems any longer — seemed like one or another of mine always had cancer or some other horrible disease.

    PS Rodentistry!

  • Reply kimberly March 28, 2011 at 8:55 am

    i’ve said it before but it’s worth mentioning again: you are the reason i have my sweet rats today. i saw a post about your geriatric rat adoption a couple of years ago and couldn’t resist. i adopted mine from a woman who “accidentally” bred her rats (put the females and males together – great!) and ended up with fifty rats that she couldn’t care for. we visited her home, she put a bunch of rats on the table for us to observe/interact with and my little guys crawled right onto my husband’s lap to cuddle.

    we now have two brown norway rats: brokk and finn. they truly are a joy to us and each other and make us smile everyday. thank you for showing us how wonderful these little pets can be!

  • Reply L March 28, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Always been a cat-and-dog person myself (at one time five greyhounds and six cats let me live in their house) but you’ve made me consider rats!

    And yes, the ONLY way to make a list is to include some instant cross-offs. Otherwise, the list becomes a passport to the Land of the Unfinished Project — where I mostly live anyhow ;-P

  • Reply Ryan March 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Use Danish oil on the wood for the fauxdenza and get color with the easy oil finish.

  • Reply jacquelyn March 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    hahah i do the same thing with my to-dos. i know i’m cheating, but it’s so satisfying to see a list with things crossed out!

    and holy crap- how cute is oliver? i’ve never thought of rats to be such cuties, but seeing this picture of oliver as well as the flickr photos of bug just completely melted my heart!

  • Reply Kristen March 29, 2011 at 12:48 am

    I used to have pet rats as a child….really sweet animals. My first had a tumor at one point and I took him to the vet for an operation on my parents dollar…they weren’t pleased but he wound up living a long time after that. His name was Rocky and was really big. My second was named Hannah and she was pretty petite. Sorry to hear about that lil fella, he sure is a doll!


  • Reply Annie markantonatou March 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    i love it! so cute. i want one too, but my hubs doesnt. he doesnt want a cat either. he only likes dogs, but i m not a dog person, and i’m really bored of the walks he needs. so no pets at all, and i’m sad about it.


  • Reply Lime March 31, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Oh. My. Goodness. I have never seen a rat with curly whiskers before! I am totally a rat person, I haven’t had one in about 3 years but I seriously miss having them. It’s hard because they’re so short-lived, but they are the best companions! My “best” old rat, Tito, used to try that tooth-cleaning thing with me too! And we would share bananas in the morning, and sometimes I would give her Cinnamon Toast Crunch because it’s rat-sized toast!

  • Reply moparbrownstoner March 31, 2011 at 11:44 am

    For people who have had rats as pets and know and love them, I am just wondering what is your perspective on wild rats who take up residence in the basement/house?

    Also, pine can be tricky to stain a dark color. Maybe use a sealant first so the pine absorbs the stain more evenly?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 31, 2011 at 11:53 am

      My perspective is that you need to remove them from your home, and keep them from getting back in. Debbie “The Rat Lady” Ducommun has a good article on how to do it humanely.

      I wouldn’t want wild dogs (or humans I don’t know, for that matter) taking up residence in my house, and I don’t really feel any differently about rats, mice, bugs, or other unwanted—and potentially destructive—creatures!

      • Reply moparbrownstoner April 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm

        Thanks, Anna!

  • Reply Birdy Popcorn April 9, 2011 at 4:19 am

    haha my my fancy that i thought i was alone with the whole cross off list trick.. capable of so so much once it’s already been done
    you made me chuckle
    it’s thanks to Triple Cee i found you

  • Reply Karen Pedersen April 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I divide a task into smaller tasks so I can cross of more on my list so I feel like accomplished much more than I actually have. So doing laundry becomes sorting laundry, washing laundry, drying laundry and folding laundry. Silly but it works

    Oh and because I love my ratties and always feel like sharing. This is Alfons: http://ploefff.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/b%C3%B8rnevaerelser/

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