I'm finally surfacing, making some commitments and changes and finding my way. These are some things I'm excited about doing in the coming months...

I'm happily following Holly's Creativity Series on Decor8. I'm still working on the mind mapping since I don't seem to have many memories of childhood (weird, I know!) And I don't have the physical exercise thing figured out yet, but it's going in the hopper as well. But per her suggestions, I downloaded the Gratitude iPhone app, and that's been a small dose of goodness each day. And then I'm seriously thinking about doing the Unravelling class with Susannah Conway. I'm a little nervous about digging too deep right now, but it is just the kind of thing I've been wanting to do with photography and I could use some guidance, plus some blogfriends. It also kinda goes along with mine and Mad's Maid's Room project, which I'm looking forward to thinking more about and getting into.

I'm also taking a real-live class starting next Thursday. I hope it'll jump start my brain, and also help me start connecting with real people again. I'm not quite as excited about this as about the other things, but it seemed like the thing to do. There was another class that looked enticing, but the one I signed up for is sort of a prerequisite to other courses in the area, so I thought I should start with this one. Thinking about it though, I am wondering about trying to switch to the other one since it seems more fun, and I definitely need to stay enthusiastic. This is for my own personal interests - there will be enough real work...

I've also now committed to a schedule for finishing my dissertation, and school too, for that matter! I had a helpful talk with my advisor who was very engaged, just like an advisor should be. We agreed on timing for turning in chapters, and I'm so psyched to think that it could be basically done by June 15. The schedule will totally motivate me and make me do what I would otherwise drag on forever. More on this later.

Hub is also moving forward full-speed with his (our) business plan, although it's too early to share. We're still in research and planning mode. He is so dreamy and thrilled at the prospect of this particular plan, and I'm so happy for him. It has nothing to do with my rabbit avocation, that'll be mostly all me, if it happens. My brother said that I should call myself a "rabbiteur," even if that's not really a word.


I got this beautiful cooking/gardening book (take a look at this great ad for the show). Interesting choice of still life, don't you think? I've never eaten rabbit, but it's just so darned cute that it almost makes me want to try the recipe for E.F.R. (Essex Fried Rabbit). I guess it's part of Jamie going back to nature, and he talks a fair amount in the book about game hunting in the U.K. and the horrors of factory farming. But he walks a fine line with the photos of gutted bunnies and hanging pheasants. I guess it's nothing though compared to the Anthony Bourdain phenomenon with the romanticized blood-smeared natives (an antidote to Fast Food Nation?) Looks like there is probably some interesting discourse going around in the cooking world in relation to meat. Now that we have all these channels I'll have to take a peek.


Bunny family

From The Selby. The watercolor is wonderful too. The Selby is always so great anyway, but this was some good inspiration for living the bunny lifestyle.

I've had so many mixed feelings about integrating a bunny, or bunnies, into our lives. In a way, it seems so simple, and I can imagine friends just saying "For God's sake, woman, just get a freakin' rabbit already!" And I'm sure I will. But I do want to look before I leap, so to speak (this blog is likely to be full of bad rabbit puns), because I just haven't been sure that rabbits were such great pets. I mean, that they were happy being pets. Don't get me wrong, I hate PETA as much as the next PETA-hater, and I'm a big fan of pets in general. But as I've alluded to before, I didn't have great success with them. One escaped, and probably died, and the other died in a terrible way. She was very old, and I think she had a pretty good life as captive rabbits go, but she died badly. I'm working myself up to tell that story, but I'll have to have a few drinks first and screw up my courage.

We hardly need more pets. I have dogs - too many dogs, really, although I love each and every one dearly - as well as donkeys (yes, other longears) and chickens. We used to have cats, fish, birds, an iguana, and I've even had goats. Just a few months ago, we just lost my 16-year old cat, and found a home for our foster cat who hated dogs. We also placed our huge iguana in a reptile rescue. My hub would have continued making iguana salads for years, but I was the bad iguana owner who didn't want to deal with such a big, boring, labor-intensive, tail-whipping, finger-biting pet. We were also ignorant - Maurice turned out to be a girl after we'd had him a year. All this transpired due to a radical lifestyle change where most things were overturned. So with all the downsizing and the move to simplify and go green, blah blah blah, whence comes my desire for rabbits? It just seems like one more responsibility, one I'll handle poorly and that will become a huge drudgery, but that will live badly and suffer unlike my other neglected responsibilities. Bad, bad idea, right?

Then there's the fact that I feel like I'm betraying the dogs. They need me - they want way more of my time than I give them. And what willing companions they are - none could be better. I probably do need to deal with my dog-related guilt before taking on anyone new. And it seems like psychic betrayal too, somehow. I've been obsessed with pit bulls for years. And now, rabbits? What about the poor pitties who need adoration and advocacy as much as they do a warm bed?

Part of it has to be that I'm tired and traumatized by the whole pit bull thing. The web (and the whole world, it seems) is just chock full of pit bull controversy. As much as I love them, the concept of them and their real-live wiggly warm selves, they stress me the fuck out. I will never willingly get rid of my pit bulls, but having them has led us to have some extreme problems. Extreme. And the lifestyle choices we've had to make as a result have been significant. I'm wondering if we'll ever be able to adopt a child during the lives of these dogs. Can you imagine our home study being approved when we have more pit bulls than you can count on one hand, two hounds and a chi?

And the dogs, they don't have anything to do, really. We're just not into show culture, although we tried, and we don't really get into weight pull either. My husband raised them in a past life, I did pit bull rescue, and neither of us is interested in doing either of those ever again. But we love to play with them, take pictures of them, and go on walks and car rides. While I totally support the rights of pet owners and responsible breeders, I don't think that just hanging out is a great life. Our dogs long for a job to do.

Which brings me back to the rabbits. Compared with pit bulls, rabbits are pretty apolitical. Their status is so ambivalent. Even in this culture people eat them, wear them, harvest their fur, and litterbox train them. Probably not the same people, but still. And all decisions regarding pets and animals are fundamentally political any more - if one farms them, makes money off them, they live in the house or outside, there will be someone there to judge.

The two rabbits I had as an adult, they depressed me. They didn't look happy. They hung out in their hutch looking annoyed or scared. They came in the house sometimes and that didn't seem to help much. I just had to wonder if the whole rabbit-keeping prospect was just fundamentally flawed. The thing about them being a prey animal makes for such a different relationship. There doesn't seem to be the same sort of mutuality as with a dog or cat, who generally seem to really enjoy human companionship. Maybe they shouldn't be pets, not for me anyway. And then with angoras, I've heard the theory that they are basically mutants and their bodies don't work right. They can't throw up like a cat, but they clean themselves and ingest wool, and easily get wool block, and so they are just genetically doomed. I need to research that some more, because then plenty of people swear that their rabbits never get wool block and they live out healthy, happy lives.

The thought of raising rabbits is completely different from getting one or two just for pets and spinning, but it's not off the table. Part of me just wants to farm and raise animals, it's a pretty strong urge. Not dogs. I started reviving my sheep and fiber farm fantasy from years back, but the economics of sheep are not easy. I don't want to sell any animals for meat, and I don't want to mass-produce anything. Then I got the glimmer of rabbits in my mind's eye, as if they would be part of my future. Maybe it's because rabbits couldn't be more different from pit bulls, and something in me needs to heal all that pain, I don't know.

We visited a rabbit lady today. This was a big deal for me, the first time I've seen angoras in person in years. It was a well-kept fiber farm, with a knowledgeable shepherdess. Her rabbitry had about 25 French, German and German cross rabbits outside that we could see (she said she had clipped rabbits in the basement so they could stay warm). The rabbits were all suspended in cages about waist-high in a pole barn with a top and lattice sides. It seemed functional, clean, and the most striking thing was that the rabbits seemed happy. Most of them came to the front of their cages to see what was up. And they were gorgeous, of course. I didn't take pics because I had just met her and was afraid it would seem intrusive.

When I asked her about her rabbits being so friendly, she said that they were handled but that it was mostly genetic. I'm not sure I get that - and hub says that's friendliness toward humans is not supposed to be a genetic trait - but it would be important if one wanted to raise rabbits. There's only so much time in the day and if every rabbit had to be handled extensively to be tame, that wouldn't be possible, and then grooming time would suck. She said a lot of the temperament and health problems were resolved through good breeding, and that she had no trouble with wool block or fly strike. I would so love to believe her.

Of course, what is a big deal to me is probably not to most farmers. Farmers are used to seeing gross stuff. But she seemed very real and trustworthy. I had no plans to bring home a rabbit today, but I was drunk on all that softness and couldn't help but ask if she had any available right now - even one that was old or couldn't breed that she'd like to see in a pet home. And she said no! She said she'd have some babies ready in April, but none right now that she could let go. So she's not money-hungry or desperate. She likes her bunnies.

Overall, it was a nice window into how rabbit-raising might be done successfully. And if I can work through my doubts here, get my shit together and make sure I'm worthy, I'll bring home little French Angora babies in April. And then we'll have our own bunny family. I'm thinking that all this soul-searching, researching and dreaming are some of the more pleasurable aspects of pet-keeping, and actually part of the relationship we have with our pets. I mean, relationships with other humans are partly in our own minds - even sex is mostly in our heads. So why would it be any different with other animals?


Flickr faves

Posted today, one of many gorgeous photos by esoule.
And an older fave:

Originally uploaded by lauren schmauren.

Very good and then very bad

Speaking of distraction, we went to Pet Supermarket last night to see what they had in the way of doghouses. The hounds, they just refuse a normal plastic house or dogloo, and Pet Supermarket had a suitable cedar doggie McMansion. I was surprised that they had live animals, and made a beeline for the bunnies, and cooed over one in particular. They had four bunnies at $25.99 each. Three were dwarf bunnies with short ears and one looked more like a wild rabbit. I have only focused on angoras and so don't know much about other breeds of domestic rabbits. I exercised great self-restraint though and did not bring home bunny.

When we got home though, I comforted myself with tea and ordering this much-coveted ring, which was supposed to be my Xmas gift from hub, but I felt guilty and so delayed finding my ring size, so he could not order. Last night, I went ahead and splurged, ordering it in the gunmetal. The pics are not great, but I'm assured that their work is amazing.

Here's the thing

Maria Kalman puts it so well.

These were in the room down at the recycling center where you can leave stuff you think other people might want. I just wanted to cry looking at the figurines with the photo. So strange to see the real-life inspirations. I couldn't help but wonder if this person passed away, and what happened to her Siamese cat and one-eyed Pom. I've seen so many pets dumped when aging parents pass. The little Pom looks so much like Max, the dog I grew up with (except Max's eyes were intact). I almost brought all these home, just to try to give them a place in the world, but then I thought no, I can't be rescuing someone else's memories too. I'm trying to clear out my own, to make room for something new and good. But I hope someone took her pets, and takes her little tchochkes, and treasures them.


We finally got out today. We dropped off almost a van-load of donations. It was sad when I peeked in those boxes and saw things that I couldn't help but reconsider. Little things my Mom gave me that weren't terribly meaningful, but still sweet. But I just steeled myself and turned my head and drove off. I have such a love-hate relationship with stuff, and over the last few weeks I've been sorting through my stuff with the goal of decluttering my house and my brain. And then we went and looked at teapots, but didn't buy one yet. I've been on the search for the perfect teapot for so long. They are always either too expensive or lacking in charm. There is a place we may go tomorrow though that has virtually every tea-option imaginable. I'm looking forward to that excursion, and to getting out a bit more.


This is the beautiful rabbit I had back in the early part of this decade. Before getting rabbits again, I need to examine why on earth I want rabbits, and whether I really should have rabbits. But just looking at Hazel, it's hard to question it. Isn't he just a magnificent creature? It's too late and I'm too tired to tell the story of Hazel tonight, but I wanted to admire him again, here.

Loving my wrist worms. Thanks Sandra!


slowly melting

It's still so incredibly cold. Its our second day of being snowed-in, which is pure luxury. Still, I'm feeling so hibernatory and anti-social that it's slightly worrisome. Surely it's cyclical, and one day soon I'll be ready to write again.



I'm obsessed with rabbits. I've only got a hundred or so websites bookmarked, and I'm on at least ten rabbit listservs and as many message boards. My feedreader is chock full of rabbit blogs. I have no idea why, but rabbits, they speak to me these days. This whole thing started months ago, around the time of comps, and then with the necklace which I can't find, and now with the fantasy of an angora rabbitry. There's the thrill of new words, like agouti and kindling. But I haven't had good luck with rabbits in the past.

(From the end of my old, private blog.)


um, so, ok, i did something minorly productive today. i did a crappy draft of my fellowship application. there's lots more to do, i mean, it is not good. i'm so tired of describing my work to people rather than just doing it. it would do me a world of good, i bet, to just write the damn diss. but what's the hurry? who needs fame, or fortune, or a tenure-track job - what would i do with it?! hee.

i did finally get warm today, after getting properly attired. wool, wool and polarfleece that had to be pulled out of the laundry. the water is frozen in two places.

my obsession with rabbits might be waning. did i forget to tell you about that? i've only got 300 websites bookmarked, and i'm on at least 10 rabbit listservs and as many message boards. my feedreader is chock full of rabbit blogs. what do you think i've been doing with my time? i have no idea why, but rabbits, they speak to me these days. am i kin to a prey animal? this whole thing started months ago, around the time of comps, and then with the necklace which i can't find, and now with the fantasy of an angora rabbitry. there's the thrill of new words, like agouti and kindling. ok, maybe it's not waning. but i haven't had good luck with rabbits in the past.

here's a little rabbit it a yuri norstein film:

part 2 of the cutest thing ever, here.


nothing else to do but stay close today. still, you can see the whole world in there.

ps. this was my 500th post!


points of not-so-general interest

-my new young rooster has started to crow!

-i am not sure where to hang the trio of cat clocks i've had since i was a child. my dad gave them to me when i was 3 or so and they still work! they are the kind where the eyes and the tails move. they are adorable, but they all require plugs. pics will follow when i hang them.

-it is supposed to get quite cold tonight and i can feel the temp dropping. very cosy knowing there's a huge stack of wood on the porch.

-still have not put together the new kitchen island. it's laying in pieces and boxes on the floor.

-we broke down and put down a glue trap yesterday after seeing a mouse in the kitchen. some of you know about my previous issues with rat infestation, so my tolerance for rodents is nil. the poor mouse lasted about 3 hours and then the glue trap (with mouse) was in idgie's mouth. sad but necessary, i guess. can't think about it too long.

-the invisible fence we installed recently for the hounds is working incredibly well. much better than when i tried it when they were pups. the chickens literally dance right outside their fenceline and it drives the hounds crazy, but they don't cross it.

-there's a fellowship i need to apply for, and i need to get my advisor my statement asap so she can get her letter written in time. i keep thinking i'll feel like doing this, but now three days have passed and i mustmustmust get it done.

-i have felt fluish last night and all day.

-i went through all my books yesterday, a huge undertaking. the criteria for keeping were if i would ever read the book again, use it for reference, it was a beautiful object, or was given to me by someone important. also might veto a book if it had been chewed on by rats. i got rid of about half my books, in 16 boxes. i hope i won't regret it, but i am so into having less crap. i categorized the rest into: farming, crafts, art/media/film, religion/celtic stuff, southern studies, literature, on writing, old yearbooks, kids books, series (like HP etc.), psychoanalysis (why i'm keeping so much freud, i have no clue), anthropology, dogs, other animals.

anthro love



This is from "Roamin'" by Wiley Oakley, a book dedicated "To the Golden-Haired Bride of Scratch-Britches Mountain."