Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chickpea died.

Chickpea has been part of our family since Iris opened a wrapped box with holes in it on Christmas Day and found two rabbits inside.

Chickpea was a neutered female, and she and Iggy Hop mostly got on very well, with occasional spats. I suspect they fought because it just is hard to keep on getting on with the members of your household, and because as Chickpea got bigger she thought that perhaps it was
time she was the dominant bunny, but Iggy was happier with the status quo.

Chickpea was incredibly soft of fur and a beautiful golden fawn, but fierce. She didn't like being picked up and she would grunt to remind anyone who tried, but she liked us to feed her treats out of our hands. She climbed the hedge to eat the lemon tree, she snatched food from Iggy and ran off with it, and she taught me a lot about rabbits. Having two rabbits has meant that we are able to see differences between them: Chickpea was a foodie, she liked to try new tastes and passionately ate her favourite things first.

She died suddenly. Yesterday at breakfast she was balancing on her hind legs, eating treats and pawing at Sean's dressing gown. Sometime in the middle of the morning she was in one of her ordinary spots under the hedge. After lunch she didn't come hopping to greet me and
ask for treats when I came out the door, I found her hunched in her hutch. Her nose woffle was slow, so I opened the hutch roof and got her out. I knew something was wrong when she didn't object. Hazel, Iris, and I checked her all over for injuries and we didn't find any, her tummy was soft, but she was obviously sick because she really didn't seem to mind, no freaked staring or anything. The vet had an appointment for 4:20. I put her in the bedroom of the hutch and closed
the door for quarantine. Iggy hopped about the garden. At about 2:20 I was about to take Hazel to Circus School so I went to see how Chickpea was, she was lying on her side, as if happy, comfortable and at ease but she was utterly still. I picked her up and she was still warm so I listened to her chest, but her heart was silent.

Crying, I brought her in to the children. They took turns holding her and we came to believe in her death. Hazel rang Sean, he said "I will be home as soon as possible" and was. I took Hazel to circus school, she was only a little late and went in with the hope it would be very interesting so she could concentrate completely on it.

"At least," Hazel said, "it wasn't Moab, because we only have one cat and we have two bunnies."
I agreed, but warned her not to say that to her grieving sister.

I came home again and took Iggy to Chickpea's appointment, to see if he seemed well to an expert observer. We talked about Chickpea's death, but no conclusions were reached. I had Chickpea in the car just in case the vet wanted to check any hypotheses, but Iris didn't want
an autopsy and Iggy did seem well.

When I came home I asked Iris "How are you?"
"Sad, but a bit calmer since Daddy came straight home from work and
was really nice to me and gave me everything I wanted."

After dinner I asked again and she said
"A bit sad, but not hurt, not in pain like I fell over," and we scheduled Chickpea's funeral for 11am.

We didn't let Iggy back into the hutch but instead he stayed the night in the grand new bathroom. He seemed to quite like it. This morning Iris went in to check on him, alone as it happened. Afterwards she said
"At first when I opened the door I couldn't see him and I thought he might be dead too, and he was quite still in the box, so I thought he might be going-to-die like Chickpea was, but he came out for some treats and was normal, so I was happy."

Later Iris said she was
"Sad about Chickpea, but I'm not crying anymore whenever I think about her"

This morning we hit our main water pipe while digging the grave in our funereal finery. Water fountained out baptising the concrete rabbit we had ready for the headstone, but missing the dead rabbit lying in state in the beautiful wrapped box she originally came in and her
floral offerings. The funeral was delayed while we rang the plumber. At the funeral we said some things, stroked her soft fur, and put her back in her box. We placed flowers all around her and went out to lunch somewhere where the water was on. The interment was after the plumber dug the hole a little deeper, fixed the pipe, and told me he didn't think he'd be needing that hole again until she was long gone. More flowers, a few more words, Hazel and Iris filled in the hole, and positioned the concrete rabbit and more flowers. The finished grave is rather lovely.

Sean and the children had horse-riding to learn, so I spent all afternoon at home disinfecting and cleaning the hutch for Iggy, who would sit still enough that I'd want to give him a treat to check he was okay and not about to die too. I'd get a treat and go to him, but he would run and hide. "Running is good" I would think, sadly, and I'd go back to my services for the unappreciative rabbit. I thought he hated the smell of the cleaners I was using and so I washed my hands in his pee and then in plain water. After that he allowed himself to eat a treat I'd given him, but only if I put it on the ground and retreated. So I think he feels I am culpable because I was the one who
found her, who took him to the vet with Chickpea dead in the car, and who was trying to clean their hutch of all traces of their shared life. I was cheered when he started grooming himself (Chickpea mostly groomed Iggy and Iggy occasionally gave her a bit of a lick too).

I hope Iggy forgets this theory by tomorrow, surely he's not alone in his hutch plotting revenge and bearing a grudge. I also hope it will all help with Iris's fear of death, as it was so surprising that there was no time to dread it, and afterwards there's been kindness, compassion, flowers, funerals and cards.

Goodbye Chickpea, I will not forget you. You jumped in pure joy, and when you flopped down in the backyard the whole household was at peace.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

On the joys of having bunnies in the family.

  • When we let the rabbits out of the hutch they binky about the garden, this move is a pure and infectious expression of joy.
  • Herbivores chomping away in the borders makes the cat and me feel at peace
    1. If they are at peace then there are no threats to big tough us.
    2. Our hunting-ground is happily full.
  • The cat also likes that they always cede him the higher ground, they seem to appreciate that he always cedes them the choice spots under things.
  • They show evidence of becoming happier to be held.
  • Rabbit poo is like goat poo; "almost appealing".*

* Holzwarth, Werner, The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was None of his Business, (Chrysalis Children's Books) 1994.

Pet rabbit links:

Kids and Rabbits
my favourite introductory text

I needed to know rabbits can show joy before I would consider living with them and this vid did it for me
There's a whole lot more communication stuff out there, my favourite is

Sean found this article quite winning

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Too busy living.

I've not written because I've been enjoying the summer holidays. Hanging out with Hazel and Iris, Moab and Iris's rabbits Chickpea and Iggy Hop. It's been lovely, better get back to it as they'll be at school again in a week.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dinosaur feather notes.

Wikipedia's dinosaur clades Saurischia and Ornithischia are the two basic sorts. 
Wikipedia on dinosaur feathers, maybe feathers arose with Ornithodira, the last ancestor of both pterosaurs and dinosaurs (which includes birds). 
Wikipedia's beautiful tree of life

Fossil feathers head to toe on a dromaeosaur, a close relative of velociraptor and thus, with Tyrannosaurus Rex, a part of the advanced therapods who have bones like modern birds (and sharp teeth not like them). (Science Daily, April 2001)

Tianyulong confuciusi, a feathered Ornithischia. Ornithischia includes armored herbivores such as Triceratops and Stegosaurus. (National Geographic News, March 2009)

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Small naturalists.

Iris is crying bitterly in the bath, neither Hazel nor I can staunch the tears. Suddenly her attention is caught by a Disney figurine of a seagull,
"Seagulls don't normally have webbed feet."
"Don't they?" I ask, wondering again whether being constantly corrected or discovering that you've been patronised for years is worse, "we could look at the beach," she brightens further,
" I hope there's a dead one", Hazel enthuses, "to look at really closely."
Iris is completely cheered by the thought.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007


We're a little further from the darkest day.
The kids have not been 100% well much of the last few months. We went on holiday and all got sick.
The silvereyes love the dripping in the bird feeder in our back garden.
I'm knitting a zip cardie and I dyed my sports-bras very purple (I'm finding these Berlei High Performance Underwire Sports Bras simply excellent but, as with all bras, I think it depends greatly on the competence of the person who fits it).
I run through Otari most Fridays. It's lovely there.
I've become an ENFJ. I don't think I've been that before, not that I can remember what I was I'm afraid.
I found a pseudo-scorpion, it is very dextrous with its long front claws.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

I traded my blog for ...

I have been thinking about Geeks on Dates, and I've even got a little further on writing a few of them, but not far enough on any particular one. I could try to blame the virus or viruses that have been plaguing my partner, or whatever it is that has been plaguing my children (each other?), also, I've been going out, I saw both Ed Byrne and Dylan Moran (I doubt they saw me). But really it's probably the new overlocker.

... a new overlocker.
"Yeah, I think I saw a geek crawl out the back door."
sew sew sew.

My next dilemma is, now I'm here will I stay, I should be making fabulous circular skirts of happiness for the children? Just think how much the utter joy of a three year old is worth when stacked up against a snort of laughter in a thirty year old or two? And that snort's if I did anything but read.

Also, while we're doing a little philosophy, what about those choosy fruit flies with their free will? How bad does that make insecticide? (Seems like there might be a brain region evolved to produce "spontaneous variations in fly behaviour").

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Whale Winds.

"Between the coast and the end of the world is what we are here for. Because, here be monsters." Deb has lived in strange place, inhabited by whales. Have a read, I like her non-fiction for the same reasons I like sf. If you like it she's written a book too, it's called The Whale Road by D.K. McCutchen. Now she's raising daughters with my mate Tim.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Shallow grave.

Wish my rodent was imaginary; I had a tug of rat with Moab, the rat's tail-skin stripped off, the shiny naked tail bled on the carpet as the rat tried to flee from us. I took the rat outside and convinced Iris it wouldn't make a good pet now, not with its tail smarting and its internal injuries slowly killing it. I explained we had a choice, it could die slowly or I could kill it fast. We decided I should kill it. I picked it up by its poor naked tail and swung its head hard and fast onto the concrete step to snap its spine.

As it quietly died Iris called it a cutie and admired its perfect little pink feet.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006


There was a hedgehog in our sitting-room! Moab nosed it for form's sake. I scooped it up in a yoghurt container and put it down on the lawn. I suppose it just ambled in, searching for a quiet spot to snooze.


Monday, November 06, 2006

If he really wanted it he'd say "Please".

Like many cats, Moab uses a series of short cries when he sees a bird "iiiiiii".

We ran out of Moab's normal cat biscuits during the weekend and so this morning when we woke up he'd had two meals of tinned food in a row. Usually he asks for breakfast "mraoww? mraoww? mraoww?" but this morning he asked "iiiiii-aoww? iiiiii-aoww? iiiiii-aoww?" instead, I can only presume he's noticed the wet food is made of chicken.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Drizzly Labour Day at the zoo.

The bear's learnt to throw things; he balances bark chips or small chunks of lichen on his front paw, sniffs at them a bit and then flicks them off. I think he thinks it's funny. He seems more interested in the people than before, perhaps because his mate is busy. She's sequestered in the den with their month-old cub.

There's a cool primate exhibit near the lions: the more energetic ones disport themselves impressively all over some rounded concrete formations while the older more staid ones merely make vocalisations to each other and do some little enrichment activities where they have to get food out from containers before they can eat it. They look very happy and natural. I think it ought to have a Homo Sapiens sign.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Perhaps someone braver.

My cake was almost finished when Gabriel slid onto the bench opposite me, dropping a satchel at our feet, eyes rolling to the cracked ceiling of the old coffee shop and I knew it was couple trouble.

"I'm so had it with Taylor! Going on and on about wanting me to have babies. You'd think I was some kind of stay-home frumpy earth mother!"
"Wow. Taylor's so ambitious I thought they'd be planning to do it both ways simultaneously and you'd be staying home with the twins." It's old ground but I'm compelled to cover it anyway, "Maybe they're sick of you going to clubs and shooting darts into strangers."
"Hey; I wouldn't let anyone knock me up who didn't love me."
"Yeah, but I don't know how much Taylor cares about that when there's probably half a dozen little Gabriels running around that you don't know about," very old ground.
"Hah! We met at the Lactuca, Taylor so knows we all use birth control. No-one wants a club baby, such a hassle and no idea whether the father has any talents besides slow dancing." Gabriel's beautiful mouth isn't smiling but the bright brown eyes are crinkling in the way that every partner, from me onwards, has found so addictive.
"Baby'd slow your dancing down for sure." I get a sharply amused glance, and a jab of alertness to the pulse. I flush and remind myself I have too much to lose. I take a long sup of my latte. By the time I look up Gabriel's looking out the window, watching the old river flowing past. Above the curve of the cheekbone I can just see where the fine lines of a crow's footprint would be if they were still smiling. I lick my finger and pick up the delicious last crumbs with surface tension.

Still examining the optimistic fish rising for the orange leaves that drift past on the river's current, Gabriel asks, not quite lightly enough for the line,
"You think I'd be an okay Mum?" and turns to look at me. Why do you care what I think? What is the right answer here?
"... with the right person as a Dad, you'd be fabulous."
"Do you think Taylor's the right person?"
"Oh, I don't know. I do think you need someone who'd look after you and the children. Someone who would love them because they were yours as much as because they were theirs. Someone who would stick by you when you were sick and grumpy and all touched out for a couple of years."
"Someone like a best friend?"
I can't not meet those brown eyes, they light, and the question between us burns my words away.

(In Tim's loo there's a copy of Science News with an article about Nico Michiels' research on internally fertilizing, simultaneous hermaphrodites. It tells how, as Nature usually favours the parent who puts less effort into children and has more of them, if you were a hermaphrodite you'd want to be the sperm donor rather than the mother in any given sexual encounter.)

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Friday, October 06, 2006

She's so cool.

Hokio is still the softest cat ever there was, she caught a garter snake today, we all looked at it, sniffed it, let it twine around our fingers, and let it sine-wave off into the flower-bed.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Today was a good day. I fell in love with a polar bear.

The polar bear was swimming in Central Park, huge and beautiful beyond belief. It likes to push off the glass with its perfect feet.

Iris was sticking her bottom out and pointing at it despite a polite request not to,
"Put it away!" I yelled at her across the park,
"She doesn't know where it goes!" said Hazel.

We threw the frisbee to each other once we got to Sheep Meadow. We were totally outclassed by three groups of frisbee throwers close by. I was totally outclassed even by the return throw from the poor bystander I almost hit with it, but I'm feeling pretty good about my catching, and Sean reckoned my throwing wasn't bad. On Gillian and Dave's lawn in Pennsylvania I caught it after having slowed it down with the bridge of my nose (now slightly bruised) and bouncing it off my head. Today I slowed it down with the end of my nose but didn't catch it. I don't know which was better. I hope I won't make a lot of experiments trying to determine this.

I came to New York City eleven years ago and twelve years before that. It's a lot cleaner now. The Brita pitcher (water filtering jug) only has a few dots of black when I go to refill it. My skin hasn't got a tiny black dot where each pore is. This is a big difference.

I bought a DVD today, there's a guy hawking them outside the movie theatre on the corner. He directed, produced, and starred in it apparently. I bought it for luck for The Great Snail Chase (the movie my cousin Edward's making at the moment.

I also bought Anansi Boys again, and some other things, including the DVD and more new sandals for Iris, but no birthday or wedding presents. It seems that one night we set off to drive from Gillian's to our hotel with one of Iris's sandals on (rather than in) the car. The replacement sandals wore a hole in her heel, despite their beauty and Manhattan requires a lot of walking.

I wonder if I'll do some of the driving tomorrow. I've not done as much as I thought I would. It's been more like going back to being a beginner-driver and less like trying to drive while balancing a cup of water on my head than I expected and I've found that a bit nerve-wracking.

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