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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-19-2013, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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Winter Memorials 1/2/13

I finally got around to writing memorials today. As sad as it is, it's become so necessary to my grieving process and moving on.

Blind Melon and Lynyrd Skynyrd 10/26/10 - 1/2/13
Black Pete 11/2/10 - 1/2/13
Zanna 10/1/10 - 1/2/13






We went on a nine day long planned vacation to Disney for the New Year this year. I had some wonderful friends caring for my rats while I was out of town. Sometimes though, even with the best of preparation and intentions, the worst happens. My dinosaur of a thermostat malfunctioned that week. So even though it was set on a comfortable 75 degrees, the heater temperature gauge thought it was freezing, and started working overtime to compensate. The house became a sweltering 95 + overnight and before my rat caregivers could arrive to realize the extent of the problem, four of my crew succumbed to heat stroke. Three girls survived, only because they were in the bottom cage unit closest to the cooler floor, and were rescued in time. Losing so many at once was sad to everyone involved: Me, my kids, and my rat sitters. Saying goodbye to so many is a hard memorial to write. We lost my hairless boys Skinner and Melon, and lost my big boy Black Pete and my motherly girl Zanna.

Blind Melon and Lynyrd Skynyrd 10/26/10 - 1/2/13
Skinner and Melon came to me as a matched pair, born October 26, 2010. Following my macabre naming scheme, I named them after dead rocksters (who coincidentally had great naked rat names). I went to pick them up on the road just past Atlanta on a chilly day in December. They were my quarantine pair, so they spent the first two weeks with their adopted Auntie and Uncle pending a clean bill of health. Since all of my other rats had come from one location with zero outside exposure I’d never had to quarantine before, but this ratty tatty pair had come from a new source, hence the small precaution. They were spoiled and demanding of their new relatives, and remained so when they came home with me. Some of my funniest rat moments revolved around this pair of pinknecks.

As scritty little babies, they made themselves known right away. They had crooked dumbo ears bigger than their bodies, fanny packs bigger than their ears, and faces only a warthog mother could love. We introduced them with tiny baby Black Pete, and another juvie boy Zmei to our original pair of massive black manrats Jeffrey and Tucker.

Black Pete quickly fell in love with Jeffrey, and Zmei settled in with everyone. The bald brats were having none of it. As far as they were concerned it was the two of them against the world, and as long as they never left each other’s side, that was true. The rare times I had to separate them, they both went into hissy fits trying to find one another. I learned that if one had to go to the vet, both had to go so they were calm enough to handle. They squeaked, and eeked, and screamed at every perceived slight. At half Jeffrey and Tucker’s size, they stood up to the big boys like they owned the world. During intros it was a constant marry go round of hip bumping and face offs. It took me four weeks of daily persistence to integrate them into the main colony, and reliable peace wasn’t achieved until I took them in to the vet’s for a personality adjustment.

The eeking and squeeking diminished but never completely went away. They were equal parts snotty nosed street urchins, and persnickety little married couple. They stayed together and took care of one another through thick and thin, sickness and health. They picked fights together, and ganged up on adversaries together, be it one of their brothers or big giant me.

They enjoyed scuffling inside my shirt like demented offspring of a gummy bear and the Tasmanian devil. They often liked to stash treats inside my clothing while I was wearing it, which made for awkward discoveries later. If I tried to walk away from them, they would sit on my feet to keep me from moving. They would often try to steal my fingers and pull me into the back corner of the cage into their stash pile.

Physically, they were almost identical. Initially I painted Skinner’s tail to differentiate them. Later it was their very distinct personalities. Melon was very shy around me, and cranky around everyone else but Skinner. Skinner always wanted in on the action and made sure to collect both his and his brother’s share of treats when food was being parceled out by me. Later still it was Melon’s collection of superficial scars collected on his thin skinned little naked hide.

I thought they’d welcome the addition of girls into their world, but my devoted gay married boys wanted nothing to do with them in any shape or fashion. I finally put them in a cage by themselves. They were much happier than I’d ever seen them, so I let them live as they preferred: Alone with each other.

In later months, Melon began having breathing/heart issues. I dreaded the day when one had to leave because I knew I’d have to say goodbye to both of them. Neither would have continued living without the other. So, in the end, if they had to go, I’m glad they went together, which of course is the only way they’d have it.


Black Pete 11/2/10 - 1/2/13
Black Pete arrived December 6th of 2010 with his older cousin Zmei. He was an adorable tiny little kit of a rat who had been weaned a mere day before he came home. Since he came home on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, I named him after St. Nicholas’s devilish keeper of the naughty list, Zwarte Piet, Black Peter. Fuzzy black with a perfect pair of white kid gloves on his front paws. He was selected from an identical pile of siblings because he chose my husband. My hubby didn’t care much for rats, but indulged me my quirky passion. I was excited when he said he was coming with me on this trip, and even more so when Pete warmed up to him so quickly. Pete sat in his hand as content as you please, eating his treat and grooming his tiny ears, letting us know he was ready to go.

He first distinguished himself by being a perfectly well mannered rat boy. He got along with every rat in the cage within minutes of introductions. He was singled out by my Indiana Jones manrat Jeffrey, and once bonifides were established, they were best friends. My husband unfortunately found out he was allergic to our rats, and what had promised to be a budding heart rat situation, became unrequited love on Pete’s part. For his entire life, he would seek out my husband attention, and though the husband kept his distance for the most part, I would sometimes catch the two of them chatting through the cage bars.

As Pete grew, he distinguished himself in other ways too. He proved to be the healthiest rat I have owned. I never had a tumor, cyst, URI, or other similar problem in his entire life. I was honestly hoping to see him live well past his third year. Temperament wise, he surprised me with how discriminating he was in his affections and how attached he was to familiar routines. Though he was always gentle and easy to handle, he never warmed up to me or my oldest son. He saved his love for my husband, and to a lesser degree my younger son. In his cage, he devoted himself to his big brother Jeffrey. In the beginning he was a tiny shadow protected from unwanted attentions by the worldly Jeffrey. As he grew, he was an eager shadow, trying to learn everything he could from his mentor, and following his lead faithfully. As Jeffrey aged, and tiny Black Pete attained his full, massive, two pound girthiness, Peetamungus began looking out for his favorite brother tenderly. He was always by his side, grooming him, keeping him warm, and making sure he had something to eat.

When Jeffrey succumbed to an unfortunately situated non-malignant bone tumor, Pete showed the extent of his devotion with a sudden and uncharacteristic personality shift. He clearly grieved his best friend, and took it out on every rat in the cage. I ultimately neutered him to see if it would help with his confused feelings, which it did. He settled more calmly into alpha rat of the cage, but true to his discriminating heart, had little to do with the remaining boys other than to remind them of their place.

Soon I was asked to bring home a quintet of girl rats, who I dubbed the Skittle Girls for their colorful and varied personalities and coats. One of these girls was a younger half sister of the earlier mentioned Zmei. Zmei had taken a dark folklore dragon name. So, I named her after the poem Custard the Cowardly Dragon. Custard my little butterball of a black eyed Siamese girl loved people. A sweetheart and lovebug to humans, she was terrified of rats. She had been kept isolated her entire life and didn’t understand other rats. I decided to try her with my well mannered reserved gentleman Pete.

Pete fell in love for the third time in his life. From the first kick to the face, he was devoted to this prickly and insecure little girl. He spent hours soothing his pretty angel. He tolerated every hiss and hip bump with bemused besottedness. It was Pepe Le Pew and his Le Femme Le Skunk Le Petite Flower. After a couple of weeks he wore her down, and she accepted him tentatively into her circle of ‘acceptableness’. I anticipated many long months of Morticia and Gomez style love from these two sweet rats, but unfortunately a mere four months after bringing Custard home, I had to let her go because of aggressive mammary tumors.

Pete was alone again. I decided to try introducing him to the my four remaining females, who had remained separate only because of Custard’s rat phobia. Initially things seemed promising, but Pete, with his love of routine and suffering from one upheaval too many, retreated from these girls to hide in his hammock. The youngest girl was indifferent, but the two middle Skittle Girls grew increasingly offended with his marginal presence. Zanna, my oldest skittle girl took to him right away. A mere two weeks before we lost them, I chose to separate Zanna and Pete from the rest of the girls, and let them live out their lives as a couple. Pete, though he didn’t take to her as completely as he had his previous loves, seemed to find comfort in her presence.

Zanna 10/1/10 - 1/2/13
Zanna was one of three rats I didn’t name. She, and long time cage buddies Darcy and Devon I’d known for a long time, so to me, they were already named when they came into my care and nothing else would fit. She was littermate to Zmei, and half sister to Custard.

Zanna was a pretty little satin Burmese girl, and presented herself as quiet ‘spiritual’ leader of the trio at first- the calming influence. My other two girls were more opinionated. Black Aggie and Custard came to me not yet members of this cozy trio. While Custard never warmed up to them, special needs Black Aggie soon found her place with the Skittle Girls, and Zanna showed her how to settle in with the rest.

Other than her striking good looks and quiet sweetness, Zanna never really stood out from the rest of the girls. She was reserved and content to lounge in her favorite places in the cage. She just struck me as the ‘old lady’ of the bunch. Occasionally running her wheel with Devon, and just generally being a sweetheart.

It wasn’t until she met Black Pete that she really showed her mettle. Pete was thoroughly henpecked by the three younger girls. He quickly retreated to his hammock and refused to come out. Over the course of two days, the girls became more and more aggressive in their attempts to push him around. At some point during all of this stress, gentle Zanna decided that she liked this big pushover lump of a manrat. So, when no one was looking, she climbed quietly up into the hammock with him and cuddled over him like a blanket.

Then I watched the most extraordinary thing. She draped herself across him for an entire day, and if any other girl came close enough to try to climb into the hammock she would nip the pushy offender in the nose. She refused to let any of her sisters near enough to do her sweet Petey harm. When I saw that the aggression was increasing to the point of being a problem on the part of my two D girls, I gave Zanna and Pete their own cage. They were as happy as they could be. Lifelong caregiver Pete finally had someone to take care of him for a change, and Momma Zanna was more than happy to do her part. Once again I crossed my fingers and anticipated that finally my Petey boy would have a happy ending and live out his days with his girl. Two weeks was not nearly enough. But, in a way, I got what I’d hoped for. They were together until the end.

We are left with our final three Skittle Girls. I am for the first time without A Ghostboy. I am enjoying their evolving personalities and the closeness between them. I am enjoying whatever time I have with them.


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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.

Last edited by Storyseeker; 01-19-2013 at 04:50 PM.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 04:04 PM
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WOW. Story, I just now read your memorial and it was so wonderful and brought back so many memories of your ratty clan's adventures and episodes, and yes, it made me tear up a bit too...can you blame me?

Of course I always wish, as do you, that your kids had more time with us, and that always seems to happen with our babies. A completely worthy and fitting memorial to your wonderful bubs. I miss them all.

Trying to be happy that they are all doing well at the Bridge, and I know they are, but down here on Planet Earth we are all saddened by their leaving.

Vlad

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You will always be with me, my sweet boys. I will see you at the Bridge.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 04:52 PM
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Your memorial has me thinking so much about Melon, Skinner, Pete, Zanna, Custard and of course your original Alabama Ghost Boys that have left us that I think I am going to pull up some of your photos of the kids from the past that you posted. I can think of nothing better than taking a photo trip through memory lane of your wonderful kiddos. I think they would like that.

Vlad

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You will always be with me, my sweet boys. I will see you at the Bridge.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 10:36 PM
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Oh my gosh, Storyseeker, I am so so sorry to hear about this. I have been out of town and haven't been on the forum in a couple of weeks, and this is the first post I am reading. I am heartbroken for you. I hope you and your family are doing okay, and I will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace, sweet ones.


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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-20-2013, 11:34 PM
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TWO RATTY SMILES for STORYSEEKER

Story,

I am hoping this will cheer you up and make you think of good things.

Achilles and Maximus, who are one month shy of their 1st birthday, and posed with their Hammy Ham stuffed toy buddy, send their well wishes and cheerful ratty smiles to you, with all their love. They hope this photo makes you smile, and feel better, even for a few minutes.



With love, from Achilles and Maximus, my love bubs.



Vlad

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You will always be with me, my sweet boys. I will see you at the Bridge.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 06:46 AM
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That really was beautiful hun, very worthy of your special rats.

To the world you are only one person, to your rat you are the World
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 07:35 AM Thread Starter
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Vladdy my love, you really are a jewel. And Breyer and Lilspaz you guys are so special. You don't know how much I appreciate and need the ratty love and understanding. I'm usually so very stoic and sensible when it comes to my rats in real life, and very sympathetic of the difficulty others have understanding that they really are special pets. But it would be nice if once when mentioning the loss of my rats to people in my life who know them personally, I got more than the spiritual equivalent of "Ah. So are you going to finally get a real pet now/get over this bizarre and rather disgusting fixation/at least you can go pick up more by the dozen at the snake store unlike a real pet".

But that's just me feeling maudlin. If I could describe my rats in real life conversation the way I can online, maybe they /would/ understand. In the meantime, it's so...relaxing and healing to be able to come online and know that the fuzzies really do have a human (and ratty--kisses to Max and Achilles, your smiles make me smile) family.


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Originally Posted by Vladina View Post
Story,

I am hoping this will cheer you up and make you think of good things.

Achilles and Maximus, who are one month shy of their 1st birthday, and posed with their Hammy Ham stuffed toy buddy, send their well wishes and cheerful ratty smiles to you, with all their love. They hope this photo makes you smile, and feel better, even for a few minutes.



With love, from Achilles and Maximus, my love bubs.




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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 10:52 PM
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Storyseeker,


So glad that we made you feel a bit better and I know all of us are already very familiar with how much of a difference it makes to have others here on the forum to help us grieve when we lose babies, and we have all lost them, so we know how that feels.



You were all such a huge comfort to Marc and I when we lost Klausse and Wolfgang...it made all the difference in the world to have others know what you are going through and who know how truly special rats are in our lives. So, I am glad you feel the same.




I read your variety of inconsiderate comments that you have gotten from people when you lose one of your babies and it is such a shame, I know. It made me wonder if different parts of the country have different attitudes to rats, because for some reason, here in the Seattle area, I have never really had a single person act like a jerk or make any rude comments about my babies, if you can believe it.





I am always complaining about the lousy weather here and often wish I lived in a warmer area of the U.S. but people in the Seattle area always seem to surprise me when I mention my rat kids. I am always prepared to defend my ratties and turn like a rabid dog on anyone who dares (gasp) to say anything less than kind about my furry kids but people always seem so interested and fascinated about them and are actually quite kindly with their questions.




When we lost Klausse and Wolfgang, I was continually amazed at how people (friends, family members, musician associates of Marc's) were sincerely sorry for our loss, and sent emails, phone calls and cards to say how sorry they were. It stunned me in a wonderful way. (Actually, come to think of it, they were the same way when we lost our two wonderful gerbil boys, Mick and Keith.)



I think the worst thing anyone ever said when I mention my ratties is something along the lines of, "Ummm, do they bite?" and that's nothing at all, just a nervous question from one who does not know about rats. So it got me wondering if location/city/area has any bearing on attitudes towards rats as pets. Or it may not have anything to do with it.



Or maybe Seattle area people (at least the image they seem to have) are grunge/beatnik/Starbucks swigging liberal types that think rats are cool? Ha ha. No idea. I guess that is a topic of discussion for a different thread, but anyway, I digressed.... I am glad that you can take comfort in coming to the forum for shoulders to cry on. It is a great place for it, for sure. And Maxie and Achilles are so glad they made you smile.

Vlad

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You will always be with me, my sweet boys. I will see you at the Bridge.

Last edited by Vladina; 01-21-2013 at 11:16 PM.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-22-2013, 03:15 AM
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**There are rude/ignorant and nice/knowledgeable people everywhere in the world no matter where you go.....so I have probably just been coincidentally lucky so far with people's comments about my rats!**

Vlad

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You will always be with me, my sweet boys. I will see you at the Bridge.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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You know, there's probably differences all over the place. Most people are good as we know, but some are more educated on certain things than others. Your neck of the woods and mine are opposite ends geographically and ideologically in some ways.

Rats just aren't valued as much by conservative, small town, farming and hunting rednecks. Like I said, I'm fine with it most of the time, but when you feel sad, you feel sad, and some days you just don't want to have to minimize your feelings in respect for others' sensibilities and understandings.

Things are getting better day by day. My girls are being spoiled. I've taken to calling them my Iron Skittle Girls because of their survival spirit.

Since I'm snuggling so much with Max and Achilles in their sweet smile picture, here's one of my One of a Kind Aggs the Aggalicious offering her own teasing smile:




Lemme poke around too. This sad thread needs a photobomb. What better way to honor my lost loves than to show their sisters living life to the fullest.


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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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I opened up the big cage so my three girls have both big critter nation levels to themselves. I also created the beginnings of an open play area on the top of the cage, which they explored for the first time today. I'd been wanting to fix the critter nation so it could be open for them to play from day one, since that's what they'd been used to at their previous home. But, with questionable relations and high chances of tail biting by cranky neighbors, I never did it before now.

First Aggie Bombs:











I love her little Derpy right eye. LOL. It always looks like that thanks to her head tilt.


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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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Darcy Bomb:

I'm about convinced she is a velveteen. Look at that thick glossy coat. It looks almost satiny in the light but it's not. It's plush and feels like baby rat fur with no guard hairs.










Darcy is pulling a Max and Achilles pose here.





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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Devon didn't want to Bomb, so she only posed for a handful of pics:







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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 07:12 PM
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Ahh, wonderful Aggie photos! I love that rolling eye too..it just makes her that much more charming. What lil cutie pie she is. I know your Iron Skittle Girls (great new name for them, and it so fits) are helping to cheer you up. Rats are just wonderful at cheering us up and making us smile.


Yes, regarding geography and how you described your neck of the woods, that makes sense about how different areas might perceive pet rats. Well, as you said before, you always have the forum to go to for understanding, compassion and love when it comes to your babies.

LOVED the photos, so much.

Vlad

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Play Strong and be at Peace
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You will always be with me, my sweet boys. I will see you at the Bridge.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-23-2013, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
Official Loofah Tester
 
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: SE United States
Posts: 1,365
Blog Entries: 13
 
And Magellan and Columbus exploring their new play area:


Whatchu wanna do tonight Darcy?
Same thing we do every night Aggie...


You realize mom left the doors open. She's left her guard down. If we're going to take over, it's time we explored new territory. Isn't this the North East Passage?



For honor! For England!


Through hardship and heartache!


We shall achieve the summit!


Um. Now what?


Yeah, um...kind of spartan.


Go back down?


Are you crazy?


Hey, no bogarting the condo Dar.


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Hanging out in the Land of New Feetsies:
Melon, Skinner, Black Pete, Zanna, Custard, Tucker, Jeffrey, Zmei, and Windham.
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