My rabbit ate my bag

July 30, 2013

Photo of Robbin Rabbit feigning innocence.

“Who, me?”

This is a tale about how you don’t notice gradual changes when every day you’re around what’s changing. So I realized it was with my well-loved leather backpack.

I live with a rabbit named Robbin. Robbin turned ten a few months ago, and though his body is experiencing typical old-age infirmities, he’s as spunky as ever and maintains his routines. One of the things he likes to do is sit amidst my shoes by the front door. I call this Shoe Bunny. He doesn’t really do anything with them; I suspect that because shoes are somewhat his own shape and size, maybe they provide him some social comfort.

photo of Robbin Rabbit as Shoe Bunny.

My backpack lives at the end of my kitchen island. Since I started working out again, I often set my gym shoes beside my backpack to air out. Robbin likes those shoes, too. A fairly new morning routine for Robbin is to sit and groom those shoes while I’m in the shower and he (and the cats) are waiting for me to serve their breakfast. By “grooming,” I mean he slobbers all over them. Sometimes, he just moves on over to my backpack.

Two Mondays mornings ago, I went to pack up my backpack for the day. I discovered that one of the straps was broken. My first thought was that it had finally worn out. I mean, look at the thing. I replaced the leather drawstring with a shoelace long ago. More recently, I lined the top with fluorescent orange Duct tap when one of the holes tore through. And I swear it used to be black, not brown. But still, just as recently as a month ago, I received a compliment on its “shabby chic” look.

Photo of the old backpack.

The old backpack in its well-worn glory.

But then I remembered that the strap had been intact on Friday when last I used it. I looked at my sweet, innocent rabbit sitting nearby and realized he must have gone for a little leather breakfast appetizer. There would be no way to repair the strap.

I’ve been trying to remember when I got this backpack. I think it was about fifteen years ago, maybe only thirteen. Fifteen, thirteen, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve beat the crap out of it and it doesn’t owe me anything.

So the time had finally come to stress out about finding a new, large, non-nylon backpack. I paid US$50 for the old backpack all those years ago. I wasn’t holding out much hope for finding a leather bag that I could afford but I fired up the internet and went shopping. I search for “large leather backpack.” To my astonishment, one of the first images that came up was of my exact backpack! It’s been so long, I wouldn’t have expected it to still exist, but there it was. But how much would it cost in modern dollars? I figured it would be at least $200. I tentatively clicked the link. SAY WHAT?! Only $100! Was I seeing things? No. A few different sites had the bag and the price ranged from $94 to $115. I chose because they had the lowest price as well as good customer reviews.

The bag arrived Thursday at the office. I was so excited that I forgot to thank Chris the UPS guy when he handed the box off to me. I chased him down in the hall and corrected that oversight. I opened the box and unpacked a pristine, black, stiff, leather backpack. Everyone in the office duly oohed and ahed.

But the real fun began when I got home and set the old and the new side by side for the photo op. Nobody who has seen the picture believes that it’s exactly the same bag! Do you?

Photo of old and new backpacks.

These are exactly the same bag.

Photo of old and new backpacks.

Really, I swear!

Monsters under my bed

September 13, 2011


I still psych myself out about there being some ghouly under my bed that will surely grab my ankle when I get back into bed after a mid-night trip to the bathroom. I don’t know where this comes from. My parents didn’t terrorize me as a child and I’ve never been any kind of consumer of the horror genre. A few “X Files” episodes maybe qualified, and I did watch all of those. These days it doesn’t occur to me very often, now that I think about it. Though now that I’ve thought about it I’ll probably do a number on myself tonight.

A while back, when Bibi the rabbit was living with us, things really did go bump in the night. I’m certain that she started the destruction you see above. Robbin is so well-behaved—he doesn’t chew and he doesn’t dig. But Bibi was a master digger. She scratched up most of the carpet, backing, and padding under the head of my bed. 

She would have reached up and scratched at the soft and saggy stuff over her head. She probably created a starter hole, and then Robbin and CJ joined in. CJ, being a proper cat, would have noticed a hole to somewhere and gone in. Though she would have stayed on the slats, it wouldn’t have taken long for the hole in the wispy, flimsy material to become enlarged—enlarged enough to look tempting even to an athletic and adventurous rabbit. More than once, after being awakened by the sensation of scuffling down below, I looked under the bed to see a big sag between the slats and had to shoosh Robbin out of there.

I don’t particularly care. What purpose other than cosmetic does that covering over the box spring serve? None, really.

Bibi was a landlubber so she never went up.


Front, Bibi. Back, Robbin. Top, bed in more intact times.

Unintentional iPhone photos

September 1, 2011


I am always taking unintentional photos with my iPhone and what I feel sometimes is the overly sensitive touch screen. But a lot of times I like how they turn out, just a blur of colors or some weird composition, and I keep meaning to make an album of them all. I think this one is my leg through my car’s steering wheel. Here are a few others.


Best day ever? Maybe?

August 13, 2011


It would be hard for me to choose the best ever day of my life. Not because there have been so many, but because I’d probably end up not remembering the one that would qualify as best ever. I can pick out good days here and there, but by and large, none strikes me as the winner. But if I had to say, I’d go with the day last summer when I traveled to and arrived in my beloved London for the first time in six years. I met two friends for the first time and had a week of fun to look forward.

As I was pondering that day in general, I remembered that it was also my birthday. I don’t make a big fuss about birthdays. Maybe that’s because my birthday is smack in the middle of summer and I never had a party in my class at school, so it never got cemented it in my brain as a big deal. 

The celebrations at home were usually pretty low-key. I vaguely remember a couple of little parties. There was the one when Mike C came over and my mom made eierkuchen because that’s what I wanted (recipe, recipe). Then there was the one, um, er … I guess the eierkuchen one is the only one coming back to me at this moment. I’m sure there were other dandy get-togethers with my other friends in other years. Please don’t feel slighted because I don’t remember what happened in the 1970s.

The birthday for which I have the strongest memory for as an “adult” was my twenty-fifth. I was in college and had a part-time job at a service station. One of my part-time coworkers was in a “band.” After work, the lot of us would often go over to his house and drink beer (regular beer, not the fancy kind I like now). One such hanging-out was on my birthday and though I’m sure I didn’t make any prominent references to it, the word got out. I had gone to sit by myself on the front steps for a few minutes and one of the roommate/bandmates came out with his guitar and sang Happy Birthday to me. He didn’t really know me from Adam, but it was very sweet and to this day remains one of my favorite birthday memories. And apparently, also, one of my few concrete birthday memories.

Fast forward to last summer. 

It was intentional on my part that I booked my flight so that I’d arrived on my birthday, once I learned that the discount airfare departed on Thursdays. My birthday seemed like as good a Friday as any to arrive. I knew I’d be wiped out from traveling on the one hand, but that the adrenaline from excitement would keep me going on the other. Dan and Spiros picked me up at Liverpool Street Station and we wandered around on foot from there. I only had a carry-on and my backpack, so I was pretty portable.

I think we ended up in Hodge the cat’s courtyard because Dan’s office is nearby. I was tickled because on my previous trip, I had sought out the statue and now there we were, fairly randomly, at it again. I considered that to be a good omen for a successful upcoming week. We eventually went to Dan’s, where I was staying. I had a shower and we had a snack. Then the three of us went to the Honor Oak to watch the USA World Cup match. 

I fell into bed completely satisfied with the day.

I’m trying to give everybody a little less food because you’re right, they don’t miss any meals!

If you want to come in the morning and in the evening, that’s great, but they’ll also be just fine if you only come once a day, and that’s all I expect.


A scant scoop of food per 12 hours. As you might guess, I give them one kind in the morning and the other kind in the evening. If you just come once a day, give them a little of both.


I’ve really cut him back on pellets because I want him to eat more hay. But it seems Robbin would rather starve than eat hay. His new thing in the last 36 hours is to go after the beer cartons that I have by the recycling. It’s true. He’d rather eat cardboard than hay. I’ve known this about him for a long time, but I keep hopefully trying different kinds of hay. No luck.

So he gets a half or so scoop of pellets per 12 hours, one generous full scoop if you only come once a day. In the unlikely event that he should eat all the hay in the crock, the bag is on the other side of the cookbook shelf thing.


I’ve dug out the pitcher. In lieu of pellets, hay or cardboard, Robbin is drinking more water. The bowl lasts half a day.


Oh, the litterbox.

Bags are on the end of the top of the bookcase. There’s a dustpan and whisk broom on the floor by the litterbox.

The exciting news is that I got a super-dooper industrial-strength scoop. It’s on the bottom shelf of the bookcase.

The bad news is that Robbin still just gets to the area to pee rather than all the way into the box. The puppy pads help somewhat; I change them every couple days. He leaves turds wherever he happens to be. Pooping isn’t an intentional activity with rabbits. They don’t take magazines to the litterbox.


Even if you have the coupon for a $14.99 oil change and 7¢ per gallon off on gas, you still get a deluxe car wash for naught.



I interrupt my regularly scheduled post (which was to be an account of how I came to love salads so) to gloat. There’s no sugar-coating this—I WON!

I have never been part of any “in” crowd. Every now and then I’ve gotten to the cusp, but I can’t honestly say that I ever completely broke through. That’s not to say I haven’t had my groups of friends. Of course I have. But if you know me away from here (or even, possibly, if you’ve been reading along for any amount of time), you’ll know that I mostly don’t give a flying fuck what other people think, so that’s probably a good indication that I’m not going to shmooze my way into very many cliques.

One time during my senior year in high school, I tried, sort of. The school was large enough to have both cheerleaders and a dance team and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to try out for it. My two or three friends and I worked up our routine and performed it on the day. When we were finished, I took off with some other college friends who had come to watch. I got to school the next day only to be greeted with queries of why I had left early. It seems I had been unaware that there was a second part to the try-outs. I did not rise in social standing, not that I was particularly bothered about it. I went back to band and every thing was as it was before.

For the last four years I have felt vicariously popular. I’ve mentioned on other occasions that my friend Rob left me here in Minneapolis for the sunshine of Silicon Valley. He works at Yahoo! Inc. and has fancy friends who work at other high-faluting companies or invent things or start start-ups. They like me (I think) (I hope)(don’t answer). This makes me feel good, even thought they’re half a continent away.

The context tonight is close to home—bowling. I think one of the reasons why I enjoy my leagues is because the people in them like me. I wouldn’t say people liking me is important to me, but every now and then I ponder why I do enjoy it so much and that’s a large reason I come up with. I do alright with the execution of the sport, which helps, but I’m not an elite bowler (averages over 210 or 220). I’m just good enough (average in the 190s, usually) to hang with the crowd I hang with.

A few weeks ago the league secretary asked if I’d be interested in filling the vacant vice presidency for next year. That’s not as important as it sounds. The secretary does all the heavy lifting and if he happens to be absent the president fills in. The vice president is actually only third in line. Also, because it is a mixed league at least one officer must be a woman, and since I am one of only a handful of women in the league, I am an instant forerunner by default.

My gut response was to laugh in his face because I shirk responsibility, however slight, whenever possible (even though I’m good at being in charge). But after a while I realized that I was flattered that he had asked me, so I said sure, I’d do it. Tonight at the banquet, when it came time to (re-)elect officers, my and two other names were put forward. Two others? So much for feeling hand-picked. But I immediately understood that it was a good thing after all—because it would be a popularity contest! And I felt a high degree of confidence that I would prevail.

The nomination was opened and from all around the room I heard “Kelly,” “Kelly,” “Kelly.” I didn’t hear one “Julie” or one “Ann.” I felt smug. And popular. And good.

So I can’t actually lay claim to any special amount of social apathy, loath as I am to admit it, and I probably sound rather shallow at the moment. The affirmation of my peers is important to me after all. 

I just won’t go around admitting it in public.


A while ago—maybe last summer or the summer before, or maybe the winter in between—my friend Jim who is fluent in sarcasm and snark, made a thusly-flavored comment disparaging the “dildo-sized” zucchinis that appear here in Minnesota grocery stores. 

My esteemed work colleagues know that I am very impressionable. All it takes is a word or sometimes a mere syllable to pop a song into my head, which I then start whistling. Half the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. And if I hear someone else in the office eating potato chips, well, you can bet that I’m suddenly craving some, too.

Way back in the recesses of my mind, I remember vague rumors from high school which involved a couple of female classmates and carrots and wieners. 

So the zucchini-as-dildo comment stuck with me. I find it impossible to fondle them while making my selection without feeling a little bit dirty and a little bit self-conscious. I’m convinced that at least one person is watching me and questioning my motive as I pick them up one by one, choosing those that are similar in size and giving them a gentle squeeze to test for firmness, deciding yea or nay.

Of course, my end use of them is as pure as a petunia. I most often cut them in half the long way and broil them (or grill them, if it’s summer). Sometimes, I’ll make them the way my mom did when I was small, slicing them thinly and frying them in butter with pepper and finely chopped onion.

Today, they were part of the dinner pictured below, a celebration of this spring’s recent release of Bell’s Oberon Ale. It isn’t any better than when it’s paired with steak, especially if that steak is topped with sautéed mushrooms. Add the zucchini, some asparagus (this time with Hollandaise sauce, which I never do but it sounded good today), and a salad, and you’ve got one of my favorite meals.

It’s delicious enough to make me forget about the shame of shopping for the zucchini in the first place.


April 3, 2011


This is the story of an unlikely, wonderful houseplant. It began life as a science experiment for a book I wrote. I needed to sprout some seeds for a growing experiment, so I got one of those little pots from the dollar area of Target. It had clover seeds.


February 24, 2010. I sowed the seeds and used the incandescent bulb in my swing-arm lamp as the light source. The office air is very dry, especially in the winter which this was, so I made mini-greenhouses with sandwich bags to keep the dirt moist. The seeds sprouted in just four or five days and never looked back. Clover, it seems, grows very quickly and very enthusiastically.


March 16, 2010. It wasn’t long until it outgrew its starter pots. I transfered the seedlings to somewhat larger pots sat back for the ride. At times I almost felt like I could see the growth happening before my eyes! (That’s garlic in the foreground that I grew from cloves for a separate experiment.)


May 11, 2010. Even in the now too-small pots, the clover thrived, and became a tourist attraction for visitors from outer space.


July 13, 2010. I soon moved the clover into its permanent home. I put the plants from both small pots together in the new large pot and that’s where they’ve been ever since, growing the heck out of it!


April 8, 2011. For over a year now, I have enjoyed this yard weed as a unique and conversation-starting desk plant. It has been perfectly happy under my lamp and I love how hairy and wild it is. Because of its success, I started some strawberry plant seeds the same way (in the small cup on the overturned pot) and though they have sprouted and the leaves are taking on the serrated quality of mature leaves, it just doesn’t grow quickly at all. The seeds took about two weeks to sprout and the growth you see in the photo above is about two months’ worth. Quite a bit less satisfying. Yesterday I transplanted them to this slightly larger cup in hopes that they would find the extra leg room inspirational. If they ever become worthy of it, the overturned pot will be theirs. Time will tell.


My desktop garden also includes several philodendrons which love the conditions. And just recently, I started buying a stem or two of cut flowers at a nearby florist because it adds a nice element of gaiety—a touch of fancy, if you will—to the environment.

In case you’re wondering, my clover has not yet produced any four-leafers.







I go out walking

April 2, 2011

Today, I recorded myself walking. Once again you’re thinking, oh how perfectly fascinating. Well, I think it actually is pretty interesting. The environmental noise is wonderful. It’s the everyday soundtrack to my walk home from work, though I hardly ever actually listen to it. There is something a little different to hear in each of these short clips, which change, roughly, with every change of pavement during my mile and three quarters journey home. The movie is about five minutes long. Thanks for watching!