Operation Bath Time for the Guinea Pig Crew

hiding in the towels - Soot and Misty1
hiding in the towels – Soot and Misty1 – taken by my daughter

 

Mouse’s ‘A Story of a Tree’ and Michael Lloyd’s family ritual tales remind me that often family life is made up of small rituals that over time become richly significant.

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One of the small rituals of our family’s life is bath time for our champion guinea pig crew; champion because they survived Cyclone Yasi as calm as could be. Animals amaze me with their resilience.

Before bath time with – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty – the children make them a warm, comfy and portable home – a plastic tub generously equipped with pet towels.

They lay out pet towels for afterwards – ready to dry and warm them.

Their cage is normally cleaned by the children not involved in the bathing, so they can return there when the whole operation is finished, newly washed, lovely to smell, and glossy.  They rotate this less enjoyable task because it can get mighty smelly in the cage.

The children have made bath time a precision operation, littered with a huge number of comforting cuddles, as not all the guinea pigs like water.  Misty needs the least amount of cuddles because he loves bath time. He still receives plenty!

Prebath - set up
Prebath – set up – June Perkins

There are three main stages to the bathing phase; stage one – place the crew in a box with carrots, their favourite food.  There they wait to be washed.

Stage two – a patient child gives each one a dip in the low run bath (most often my daughter or our eldest), and then lastly one by one they go into the warming area to wait for their other guinea pig chums.

Calico in the bath
Calico in the bath – June Perkins

Once all the guinea pigs are together the children swaddle them for a while in towels to warm them, and then take the time to cuddle and chat with each one of them.  They take great joy in the guinea pigs hiding in the towels.

Then there is a thorough clean of the bath – for the humans who must follow the guinea pigs to use it.

But Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty won’t make it back to their cage for a while, as now they are so clean they are especially enjoyable to play with.

One of my favourite memories from when we first had the guinea pigs is the children placing soft toys all around them. They discovered that the guinea pigs loved snuggling into bears.  They’d run around in a circle if a ring of toys was put around them and ‘popcorn’, that is a little guinea pig jig.

They are not quite as playful as that now, but they are just as cute and interesting to observe.

It’s hard to imagine family life without the guinea pig crew – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty.

after the bath pampering - Chocolate2
After the bath pampering – Chocolate2 – June Perkins

 

If you liked this blog, you might enjoy reading  these  Family Ritual Stories featuring pets.

One of the Family – a dog that believes his place is in church but he also has a few religious arguments and creates a classic embarrassing moment for his family.

Woman’s Best Friend – a dachshund, with personality, who can never catch the pet cat, except in his dreams

Missing the Bus: A ritual – just what you need if you want to miss Sunday school, a loyal pet dog to walk with in all seasons.

For more on the Guinea Pigs check out their very own blog Adventures with Our Pets.
 
To submit your Family Ritual Story  to this awesome project head over to ABC Open 500 Words.  

Listening Divas – A Family Ritual Contribution

You can find Listening Divas over at the ABC Open project 500 words.

It’s day one of the project and we already have twenty contributions.  These began coming in this last week.

There are some beautiful stories arriving into the space.  My present favourite has to be Helen’s Puftalons.   The combination of rain, food, and overcoming drought is just mesmerising.

I like writing about the everyday that elevates it to some poetic level and I think Helen has achieved that.

There are lots of others to appeal though on themes from holidays to christmas and I’m sure there’s many more stories on their way

Yesterday I began work on my memoirs.  Some of the stories I’ve written for the ABC Open challenge will be in there, others are from the blog here, and my personal blog challenges, some are written for writing challenges over at Write Practice and some are never before seen stories.

I am so excited about it.  As of this morning the memoirs is at 25,000 words.  I have listed several more titles for story/passages  I wish to write, have a structure that I think is working. I’m not going to share it all here. You will just have to wait for the book.  After all you need some surprises!

I might give a sneak peak now and then of the work in progress, but I’m having a ball writing it, so  I hope you’ll have a ball reading it.

Listening Divas
My Dad – with us as Kids- by Anna Ako
When we were young, Dad told us bed time stories. They were always silly with us in starring roles.
Dad liked Spike Milligan and AA Milne. Sometimes he’d recite his favourite poems and direct them to one of us.
Snatches of AA Milne come back to me at the oddest times, with his poetry of children whose parents run away and cautionary tales to not step on the cracks in the footpath.
Dad’s stories were funny and satirical but sometimes we protested about the way he portrayed us. We were unruly characters, tiny divas, jostling for bigger and more complimentary roles. We directed our storytelling Dad just so.
Our favourite thing was Dad giving us magical powers. We told him the names we wanted and what we should be doing.

‘No I wouldn’t do that.’
‘I should be taller’
‘I need to run faster’
‘I’d jump to … the moon’

We loved to take over his stories. Sometimes our diva listening ways were so out of control they would make our storyteller abandon his tale and he’d grab out the Muddle Headed Wombat book to read to us and do all the characters voices for us. Tabby Cat, Mouse and Wombat became our friends. I read all the books when I had mastered the art of reading.

These stories were important because when we were very small our Dad was often away for long periods working as a labourer. Partly because of not having qualifications from his years in Papua New Guinea and partly due to prejudice over our Mum’s race he found it difficult to get and keep other work.

Our Mum told us when Dad came home after long labouring jobs my little brothers had forgotten who he was, and would hide behind her crying as the strange man with the overgrown beard came to hug us.

When Dad was finally home again for most of the time, we were able to know him again through the storytelling ritual.

Just as we were getting used to on tap Dad, he was away again to study and become a teacher and then later a librarian. Luckily I could read some of the books he had read to us so I didn’t miss him too much. Dad lived in another town with a landlady and sometimes we would visit him.

Dad hitch-hiked home to see us when he had a chance. This time when he came home we would come running out to meet him and my younger brothers would pipe up with ‘a story, a story.’ I listened for old time’s sake.

I was less of a listening diva because by this stage I was writing my own stories – partly thanks to my Dad’s early storytelling efforts to reconnect with his children.

For more on the ABC 500 Word Project Head to ABC Open, and check out  rituals families have.