So long, Robbin Rabbit

November 9, 2013

Robbin was less than a year old, but this is still the best photo ever.

Robbin was less than a year old, but this is still the best photo ever. Quintessential Robbin—friendly, curious, outgoing.

Robbin Rabbit exceeded all expectations. I’ve had rabbits with bigger personalities, but no one was king of the house like Robbin. This is his story.

Perhaps you wonder about his name. There used to be this place, the Robbinsdale Farm & Garden. It’s where I had been going to purchase my fifty-pound bags of Purina Rabbit Chow and I knew they sold animals. I was in the market for a new bun.* I chose the adorable little squirt with great grey splodges on white with a faintly orange stripe down his spine. In the car on the way home I wracked my brain about what to call him. I wasn’t feeling too creative, apparently, because Robbin after Robbinsdale is what I came up with.

Robbin's ears would wilt in the heat during his first summer.
Robbin’s ears would wilt in the heat during his first summer.
Yul, Dhia, and Robbin
Yul, Dhia, and Robbin
Dhia naps on Robbin
This photo made it onto cuteoverload.com 
Dhia naps on Robbin
Contentment

I had two cats, Dhia and Yul, and the three of them fell in together pretty quickly. Both cats had lived since kittenhood with my previous rabbits so having a hoppity brother was nothing untoward. They welcomed him into the family.

The rabbit cage had a front door. When I was around to supervise, my bun could come and go as he or she pleased and have the run of the place, all the while being able to return to the cage for refreshments or bathroom breaks. Every rabbit was reliable, and once he or she discovered the location of the cats’ litterbox were very good about using it as well. However, I never felt like I could completely let down my guard because they were, after all, chewing machines.

The family that poops together…
The family that poops together…

That changed with Robbin. He had impeccable toilet habits and, strangely enough for a rabbit, seemed to have no interest in chewing on anything except cardboard. As a good rabbit mom, I always provided hay but Robbin couldn’t be bothered. I always joked that he would rather starve than eat hay (and he would—I tested him a couple times) or that he’d rather eat cardboard than eat hay. That was borne out by the evidence.

I grew bolder and bolder with leaving him out overnight while I was sleeping (no problem), with leaving him out during the day while I was at work (no problem), with leaving him out all the time (few problems). He had earned it. He was a free-range rabbit!

bunny date
I took Robbin to the Humane Society where he chose Bibi.
Robbin and Bibi
Hanging out
Robbin and Bibi
Matching buns

I had learned that rabbits are social creatures within their own rabbitdom and so I took Robbin on some bunny dates. He picked out Bibi and they quickly became best friends. Dhia and Yul welcomed Bibi and it was one big, happy, furry family. It didn’t take long before Bibi, too, earned her free-range stripes. But the joy was not to last.

The happiest family
The happiest family. Believe it or not, they lined up like this all on their own! Best photo ever! Dhia, Yul, Robbin, Bibi.

We said goodbye first to Yul and then to Dhia. Soon, CJ Cat came into our lives. She is a sweetheart but she was already about two years old. She hadn’t had the advantage of growing up with a rabbit like the other cats had. She just didn’t know what to do about Robbin and Bibi.

CJ would nip their ears or swat their tails, tactics cats use successfully to provoke each other into playing. As a prey animal, Robbin would become very defensive and chase CJ, comically so. They’d run back and forth until finally the rabbit treed the cat on the bed or the windowsill or any place where the rabbit wouldn’t immediately go. He was very protective of Bibi, too.

Dasie and CJ were never sure what to make of the rabbits.
Dasie and CJ were never sure what to make of the rabbits.

So Dasie the cat was added to our family for CJ’s benefit. Dasie a friendly goofball who also had no idea what to make of rabbits. After being chased around enough times both cats developed the technique of giving Robbin, and to a lesser extent Bibi, a very wide berth when they needed to pass by.

Unfortunately, Bibi was soon departed. Her malady was gut stasis, a common ailment of rabbits, but I still wonder if it wasn’t brought on by the stress of dealing with two new, semi-hostile cats. She came from a multi-species household when I adopted her, so I’m probably making that up, and yet the timing was so coincidental. Robbin reverted to being an only rabbit.

Robbin the mountain goat
Robbin the mountain goat
Is it suppertime yet?
Is it suppertime yet?

Robbin was a very athletic rabbit as opposed to Bibi, who was an utter landlubber. There was no bed or sofa that was too tall for him. It warmed the cockles of my heart to walk in the door after a tough day at work to find him folded up on the end of the couch in the front room. When we moved to my current place, all the stacked boxes waiting to be unpacked provided a nice climbing range for my mountain goat rabbit. Sometimes I believed that he thought he was a cat. He had, after all, grown up with two. He loved jumping up onto things, including the tin in which I kept his food, a not-so-subtle hint that I should feed him now.

Robbin camps out on my dad's bed
Robbin camps out on my dad’s bed
Getting a banana fix from his dealer
Getting a banana fix from his dealer
relaxing in the sheepskin basket
Relaxing in the sheepskin basket 

Robbin also always enjoyed my parents’ visits. Not only would he follow my mom around because she was his banana dealer, but he also would spend most of the day lounging on the poofy surface provided by my dad’s improvised bed of my big sleeping bag laid out on a futon. Robbin did enjoy luxury. While we had it, he could often be found in the sheepskin cat bed that I had put in a wicker basket.

A few years ago, Robbin had a health incident which I think was a seizure of some sort, and one hind side was temporarily weakened as a result. He seemed to recover fully but in the last months it was his back end that failed, particularly on the side that had been affected by whatever that episode had been all about. As he aged his flexibility declined, which inhibited his ability to do everyday rabbity necessities, and his quality of life gradually diminished.

Finally I could no longer deny that it was time to say good-bye. February 2003–October 2013.

Robbin, CJ, and Dasie
Robbin, CJ, and Dasie, the uneasy detente. Note the ear that remains cocked toward the cats.

*Disclaimer: Don’t worry, I long ago learned about [insert cute baby animal] mills. Robbin was my last pet not acquired from a rescue/foster organization.

Watertower_weather

I feel like I might have mentioned this before in my blogging life, but I’m really glad that the desk I sit at for eight hours a day affords me a window view. And I’ve been having lots of fun with that view via my #watertowerweather series on Instagram.

This I know I’ve mentioned, that at one point in college, I was a meteorology major until the actual science got in the way. But my fascination with the weather has never waned. My work window faces the direction from which the weather comes and Instagram has been providing an outlet for the ever changing views that I’m privy to. In addition, a building in that view has a throwback watertower on the roof, and that has become the framing device for my Instagram photos.

Media_httpspydersdenf_wgghw

As I am writing this, I have going on the television Part 1 of the new Ken Burns documentary, “The Dust Bowl.” I was going to turn it off because, though the photos are dramatic, I haven’t heard anything in the narration that isn’t depressing or despairing, and that’s depressing and despairing. But then I decided that I should leave it on (even if it is uncomfortable) and perhaps add a crumb to my woefully lacking knowledge of American history, particularly from the last one hundred years. I learn a little about the World Wars from the shows on Masterpiece Theatre, but that’s not from an American perspective.

One of the women interviewed for the program, who was a child at the time, related that they knew that “we were being visited by Oklahoma today or we were being visited by New Mexico today” because the dirt from each place was a different color. (1)

Dustbowl_jackrabbit_cull

There was also a “plague of rabbits” when their natural coyote predators were wiped out, The landowners would round up the jackrabbits and cull them, pretty much by grabbing them and clubbing their heads. I perked up when I heard the rabbits part but was rather repulsed by the footage of what happened subsequently. (2)

The Dust Bowl program put in perspective my recreational and harmless views out my office window. The approaching weather is certainly dramatic sometimes, particularly in the summer (especially that one time when a nascent tornado passed across our building), but it will never be the horror of an approaching “black blizzard.”

(1) Dust storm photo is from spydersden’s blog article, which provides a good, short overview of the crisis.

(2) Jackrabbit images are screen captures from the Ken Burns PBS documentary “The Dust Bowl.” I suspect it’s all public domain footage, but I’ll cite it anyway.

My family crest

October 19, 2011

Familycrest-sm_tweak

A couple of weeks ago we were challenged to draw a family crest for ourselves. I scribbled mine out during brief interludes in the relatively autopilot production project I had going at work. Usually I like to hand-draw (as much as you can call what I do “drawing”) with my navy Sharpie, but I don’t have one right now. Nor do I have my other favorite color, the brickish-maroon (I’m sure I’ve horrified some Sharpie executive with that description). I used a lowly graphite mechanical pencil for the initial line drawing which turned out to be a good thing, in this case, because then I could get it right (as right as what I call “drawing” can be). Usually I like to do free and easy gesture drawings on which I don’t waste too much brain power, but a little more care was called for in this case. I had intended to color it with the bazillion colored pencils we have at the office, but they seem to have disappeared in the last clear-out, so I was left with fabric paint markers or crayons. Crude crayons it was!

It will come as no surprise what I included.

Animals. Crests often have some beast of valor. I used beasts of favor, the rabbit that has become my symbol, and the closest I could come to a cat in the same style. Interesting side note, I only ever draw the rabbit facing to the left, so it was utterly awkward to draw the cat the other way.

Activities. You will often find a weapon on a crest. I included my weapons of choice for the zombie apocalypse, a bowling ball and bowling pins. Oh wait, no zombies? Bowling is the quest upon which I embark twice weekly. Still appropriate for a crest. The pins give the animals a platform for sitting.

Foliage. What crest would be complete with some kind of viney, leafy thing sinewing its way around? You guessed it. I gave my crest a few hop vine leaves and hop flower cones, representative of the beverage that keeps me going strong, beer, in particular, hoppy ales.

Shield. The above elements will be arranged around a central anchor, usually some kind of shield shape. I decided to use a beer bottle, upon which the cat and rabbit can lovingly gaze. I took poetic license with perspective and had the thumb hole of the bowling ball double as the opening in the bottle.

Banner. Well, isn’t there always some wavy thing containing the family name? This is my least favorite part at the moment. It’s like a big old cummerbund around the bowling ball’s beer belly. And it’s my username not my real last name. But it serves its purpose.

I am mostly so pleased by how it turned out, and I fully intend to create a more refined version on the computer. Then I can adjust some of the things that bother me. 

It was a very fun little project. I challenge you to make your own family crest. If you do, post a link to it in the comments!

 

October 3, 2011

Citiesivevisited_tweak

Today I gave somewhat more than a passing thought to all the cities I’ve visited in my lifetime. A few childhood locations made it in but, naturally, it was easier to remember the second half of my life than the first. I chose to include only bergs in which I’ve spent the night because if I counted every place with a “Welcome to XXX, home of the 1972 County Champions” sign that I had ever passed through or bought a Diet Coke at the gas station to assuage my guilt at really only needing the toilet, the map would be solid blue.

I made the map at the office so I didn’t want to spend too much time on it. I was just about feeling satisfied with the effort when I realized that I had almost forgotten to drop a pin on one of my favorite cities, Victoria, British Columbia, which I met in 2004. I loved Victoria for two reasons. It is very British and a population of feral rabbits lives at the University of Victoria. I was there with a group tour, but we had one afternoon free and I took that opportunity to hop a city bus to go to the campus in order to commune with the rabbits in person. 

Uvicrabbits_blog

They were all over. These are just three of the oodles of photos I took in the hour I was there. The fellow on the left was very outgoing and moments after I took this picture, he had hopped right up to me and was nibbling on the outer ring of my camera lens.

Uvicrabbitsstreetview_blog

Well, as soon as I dropped the pin on my Google map, I had a light bulb moment. What is a component of Google maps? Why, Street View of course. I set off on my journey around the Ring Road that encircles much of the campus in search of rabbits. There were quite a few!

Monsters under my bed

September 13, 2011

Underbed_tweak

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.

Underbedculprits_blog

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

Litterbox_blog
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.

CATS

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.

RABBIT

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.

WATER

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

LITTERBOX

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.

Rabbit_tattoo-drawing_blog

Perhaps you read the tale of how I came to the decision, despite having professed for years that I’d never ever want one, to go ahead and get a tattoo. Here, then, is the account of the experience, from designing the perfect rabbit suitable for permanent emblazonment to, tee hee, Sparky McFuzznuts the squirrel.

Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_001Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_002Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_003Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_004Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_005Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_006Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_007Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_008Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_009Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_010Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_011Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_012Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_013Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_014Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_015

I have drawn this rabbit a lot in the last year and a half, yet when it came time to draw one for the tattoo, well, I guess I experienced some performance pressure. I thought I’d whip one out in a maximum of ten rabbits. Turns out, it was fifteen pages of twenty-four rabbits. That’s just under one rabbit for each day of the year.

Rabbit_tattoo_drawing_016

I didn’t love any of them on paper, but I picked the ones that passed as my favorites, cut them out and taped them to a single sheet of paper, and scanned them in. As a graphic designer, I was confident in the digital magic that could be done. I narrowed it down to parts of three or four rabbits that I knew I could Frankenstein together for The One.

In choosing The One, I practiced what I’ve preached to my mother on many a Teddy bear shopping excursion. It’s true that there are ten or twenty Teddies to choose from. And I know you want to choose the one with the cutest face. But once you get any one of the ten or twenty home and away from the other nine or nineteen, you won’t know the difference.

Once I got the rabbits to where I liked them, I employed the same strategy. It came down to one rabbit with two minor variations. I knew that once I got one away from the other, I’d never know the difference. Having also learned from playing Trivial Pursuit, I went with my first instinct.

Rabbit_tattoo_sizes

The final decision was the size. After I had drawn a bunch of the rabbits, I started to think that maybe it didn’t need to be quite that big. I printed out the final rabbit in a range of sizes and decided to go just a little bit smaller.

Jers_card_img_011740

Jers was my tattoo artist at Saint Sabrina’s. I tried to draw him out on some advice—he was the professional, after all—but he kept insisting that it was my tattoo and my decision about anything I asked him. Then I realized that the squirrel he was holding on his business card was actually his furry companion, Sparky McFuzznuts. Then I saw the back of the card.

During the process, I quizzed Jers about Sparky. I refused to look at what he was doing. It’s not that I’m afraid of needles or blood, but I just have this habit of psyching myself out and I didn’t want to take any chances. Learning about Sparky was the perfect distraction.

Jers said he rescued Sparky as an orphaned youngster. He nursed him to adulthood and tried to set him free, but Sparky just hung around the yard so Jers accepted him as an indoor companion. Sparky is about three.

It wasn’t too painful. I had figured it would be akin to when my cat CJ is in her basket just to the side of my mouse arm and decides that she needs to be in physical contact with me. She reaches out and doesn’t exactly dig in, but still she kind of grapples my arm and hangs on and it’s prickly. I anticipated that the tattoo would be heavy-duty prickly. It was more like CJ was scratching. Not painful, but quite noticeable.

I endured—adrenalin was definitely in play—but I was very happy when Jers let up and it seemed like he was taking a break. Then, before I could remark, he said, “You’re done!” What? It didn’t even take fifteen minutes. It is a simple design and I had no previous experience to judge by, but I sure wasn’t expecting to be finished that quickly.

It’s been a week and a half and, thankfully, I’ve not had a moment of buyer’s remorse. Jers did a wonderful job and I love my tattoo!