Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Bunniversary!

Wednesday was the one-year bunniversary of having Jo Jo in our lives! She was an unplanned child, but we love her very much! How did this all come about? This is Jo Jo's story.

Seattle's Woodland Park had a rabbit problem. People had abandoned rabbits and the survivors had bred like rabbits (heh) and created a sizable feral population. Seattle-ites and their children loved to visit the rabbits, although the City of Seattle planned to get rid of them. The rabbits were causing great swaths of barren land and undermining landscaping, and the nearby Zoo worried about disease transmitted to their inmates.

We loved to visit the rabbits to watch them and feed them tasty treats. Here are some with some of our friends. The rabbits were tame enough to approach and occasionally touch, but we couldn't catch them. Well once Michael snatched a tiny one, but the rabbit ran away as soon as he could. We used to say, "Oh, ha ha, if we can ever catch one, we'll get to keep it!" I never thought we would.

Last June my Dad was out for a visit. It was June 27th, and it was my Dad's birthday and my nephew Jaiden's birthday. We were on our way back from Jaiden's birthday and decided to show my Dad the bunnies on the way home. We pulled up to bunny central, and it was almost completely deserted except for one white one huddled by the rocks that shelter the warren. "That's the guard rabbit" I said. I trotted over for fun, bent over and ... damn! I picked it up! It didn't run away! I showed Michael, then I put the rabbit down. Michael went over and picked it up and stroked and stroked it. He said, "Remember what we said about catching one? This is no feral rabbit; someone left it here!" You'll notice in the picture above that the feral rabbits are brown -- white ones practically glow in the dark and get picked off by other critters pretty quickly. We decided we couldn't abandon the obviously tame rabbit, so we we all piled in the car, rabbit in arms. Michael quickly named the rabbit Jo Jo, though I admit I was slow to accept the name. Jo Jo seemed to enjoy the car ride.

At home we quickly tucked her in a cat carrier and headed to the pet store to buy a bunny trousseau. Roughly $100 later, Jo Jo had her very own roomy cage and tons of food. We decided to see what kind of rabbit we had, so we turned the rabbit on its back, looked between the legs and ... huh. "What is that?" we asked each other. We are not naive young virgins, but we could not figure out if our new rabbit had boy things or girl things. The next day we took Jo Jo to our regular vet, and the vet couldn't tell either! We didn't feel so bad anymore. Apparently unless you are a rabbit specialist, it's hard to tell. Still, the vet said other signs, such as a dewlap (double chin in the photo) point to Jo Jo being a girl, and that she was probably about one year old and sexually mature.

We had a crash course in rabbit care. According to websites and Rabbits for Dummies, rabbits are fastidous and will use a litterbox because they do not like to soil their living spaces. Although she did basically use a litterbox, Jo Jo's butt stank, she dribbled poop behind her everywhere she went, she fudged her bed every night, and she loved to squirt pee and roll in it. Not what I would call fastidious. She had a thing for men's socks and would nip feet. I made her a fake rabbit buddy to snuggle with, and she humped it. Did we really have a girl? With all the freeform peeing and pooping, we couldn't imagine her really being a houserabbit with freedom to roam where ever she liked. I made a slightly larger enclosure called Jo Jo Ville, but still I hated keeping her so cooped up.

I went to my 20th high school reunion and reconnected with Petula Darling, a rabbit owner. She told me that if I got Jo Jo spayed "it would be a miracle", and I would have a lovely bun for a pet.

We took Jo Jo to a vet specializing in rabbits. We found out that Jo Jo was in fact a girl, and that she was unspayed. She can't have been abandoned in the park more than a half hour or she would have been pregnant. Rabbits work fast. I had secretly been hoping she was pregnant, but I know that it's good she wasn't. We got Jo Jo spayed, and after a dicey week which she spent recovering in her litter box, she did indeed emerge as a miraculously civilized rabbit.

After rabbit-proofing all of the wires in our house and supervising her while she explored, we discovered she is a fine house rabbit. She has three litter boxes which she uses, she sleeps in the livingroom, and runs up and down stairs and through the house where ever she likes. She gets hand-fed bananas, and generally makes herself very comfy. She's also lucky to have supervised the building of an outdoor pen so she can spend time in the yard. I usually just go out with her for "field trips" and let her run around the yard all she wants. Life is pretty good for the poor abandoned bun!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Brad-O-Meter: Front Royal

Brady has just zipped through the Shenandoah National Park with little wings on his feet and has just checked in at Front Royal. He's almost to the top of Virginia, and has now covered about 955 miles.

Shenandoah sounded like a literal walk in the park: fat tourists, tame bears, and deer who wouldn't budge off the trail. Actually, you could probably interchange all three descriptors and nouns to describe the park.

bears .............won't budge
tourists .........tame


As a Maine girl, I'm a fan of the Red Sox, so when I heard they'd be coming to town to play the Mariners, I bought tickets. The day of the game (Monday) was beautiful, but alas, Michael had come down with the crud. I called in Miss Baseball as a pinch hitter, and off we went! I've only been to about 6 or 8 Red Sox games in my life, and I think they've lost each time. I shouldn't have gone Monday night, either, as they lost then, too! I apparently jinxed the entire run as they lost all three games to the Mariners. Dang. Oh well, it was fun, and Miss Baseball got see her team win. There were a ton of Red Sox fans at the stadium, and if you judged by volume of cheering it seemed about 60% Mariners 40% Red Sox.

We had good seats, and I thought I'd take a photo or two for my brother Brady who's hiking the Appalachian Trail and missing the season. Ooops, forgot to check my battery, and I only got one picture, but it was of Manny!
Miss Baseball got some shots for me though. Here's Manny and Big Papi at bat:
Thanks Miss Baseball!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brad-O-Meter: Waynesboro, VA

Several days ago Brady checked in from Waynesboro, VA at the southern end of the Shenandoah National Park. That's about 850 miles, or 40% of the way to Mt. Katahdin.

He's met up with a bunch of pals, eaten enormous amounts of food at the Homeplace Restaurant in Catawba, and was almost hit by lightning. A two-tour Iraq Sergeant almost threw him to the ground when the booming started, but thought better of it, and they ran to safety. I'm not worrying about my leetle-tiny brother out there with so many friends to stuff him full of food and throw him to the ground when he needs it.

I've sent him another goody package for his next stop in Linden, Virginia

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I Shall Now Moon You

I finished my moon mosaic! This one had a few more problems than the sun, but I have *ahem* learned from these mistakes (I hope). One problem I couldn't get around was my favorite tile no longer being manufactured. I had to start over with a new color and design. The tiles are all iridescent so it's hard to take a good picture, but here's the mosaic compared with the real thing.
It looks better from a distance, and if you squint.

Next up -- the earth. It will be difficult to come up with a design that is not too complex and busy, yet not too cartoony. We shall see.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cloudy, Cloudy Night

I have a new toy! The Discovery Channel Stores are going out of business, and everything is 20%-40% off. I went to buy myself a telescope, and came back with a Meade ETX-80BB Backpack Observatory Telescope. It was only 20% off, but I've always wanted a telescope, and I did save $60.

Do I know anything about astronomy or running a telescope? No sir, I do not! But I will learn. I also bought the Astro Pack Astronomy Starter Kit. I kept trying to take it out and test it, but this is Seattle, and the nights have been overcast. A few days ago I focused on a really bright star shining between the clouds, thinking it might be a planet. It just became a slightly bigger really bright star. It was purplish, so maybe it was Venus. As soon as the moon comes around by my back porch I'll have a look at that, but I think I need to go back to the store and buy some extra lenses.

This telescope is pretty cool in that once I zero it out, point to North, enter my zip code and time, little computers and motors whir and click and it will automatically find stuff for me. Excellent for a know-nothing like myself. I'm looking forward to learning how to use it and then taking it away from the city where I can actually see stuff. I plan to take it to Fiddle Tunes in early July and then later to Maine.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Creature Feature

I'm going to play blog catch-up again today.

Good fashion sense in the wild
This toad is one of many animals newly discovered in the Amazon.

The toad reminds me of a fantastic worm I read about once in the book The earth moved: on the remarkable achievements of earthworms by Amy Stewart. An earthworm specialist named Sam James found an iridescent blue one in the Philippines.

"One is deep indigo blue," he said. "Eighteen inches long and about a thumb's width in diameter. It's got big white spots with yellow centers, like fried eggs, all over its back, if you can imagine that. And get this -- it crawls on the forest floor, doesn't burrow in the ground, and its infants live in trees until they're mature. Amazing." (pg. 38)
Unfortunately, Amy doesn't mention the name of the worm in the book, and I'll be danged if I can find a picture of it. I'd love to see one. But you know (and this is surely a thought unique to me), considering this beautiful toad and the shimmery worm reminds me of a turquoise, purple, and black sequined Mexican skirt I have. My toad and worm skirt.

Well. Moving on.

Little princes?
Michael thinks he may have seen some young Bewick's wrens in our yard! He heard one of the parents' buzzing mini-squawk and saw these two on the fence. It's pretty damn hard to tell from the picture exactly who they are, but I think they just might have a stripe on the eyes. I like to think they are the little wrens that grew up in the bird house mounted on the fence a few feet away. The parents may have come back to scout out the house for a second brood, but there's a good chance they won't like it. I had to prune away all the vines surrounding the home because my red trumpet vine never came back to life this spring. I had to plant a new one.

A sad Seattle bird note: there is an outbreak of salmonella killing wild birds in Western Washington. I cleaned and bleached my feeders today, but I suppose I should stop putting them out at all for awhile. I hate not to attract and feed birds, but I'd hate to cause any to get sick. I suppose they have plenty of food this time of year.

Ferreting out the fleas
Tuesday night when Michael came home from Kung Fu, I heard the rustle of grocery bags, and he yelled, "Can you come help me!" I figured he needed help getting something inside. I go to the door, and Wow! He's got a ferret! The ferret was a beautiful, friendly, perfumed/musky little guy. While driving home, Michael had seen him wandering around about 5 blocks from our house. He hopped out, and with lighting fast Kung Fu reflexes, snapped him up. Michael couldn't locate the owner, but a neighborhood woman nearby who had been trying to catch the ferret took Michael's number in case she saw someone out looking.

We let the guy crawl all over us, I brought him up for Bijou to smell (her eyes dialated into black holes), but then we stashed him in a cat carrier until we could get him some food and water. Michael used to have ferrets, and he said they can worm their way into anything and then you can't get them out. Well, it's a good thing we didn't let him roam around. Once he was safe in his cage and didn't have new sights and sounds distracting him, he started flailing around and itching and biting himself like mad. "Uh, Michael? I think he's got fleas." We decided to give him a bath. We don't actually have flea bath, so we used Bunny Bath.

Oh. God. I have never ever ever seen so many fleas on an individual creature. Once we dunked him in the water they all started fleeing (fleaing? hyuk hyuk) up his body and onto his face. His little eyes and ears and mouth were just swarming with them. It was so nasty. We kept washing and rinsing and combing and picking, and about 30 minutes later we had sent about 150 fleas to Davey Jones' Locker. His poor little body was covered with tiny pink flea bites. Even after the bath he was still itching like mad, but if you've ever had a flea bite you know they itch like crazy for days.

Just after we finished all the hard work, the owner called and we returned the ferret to her. It turns out he'd only been missing for an hour or so tops, so he didn't get those fleas outside, he got them from home. We mentioned how many fleas he had, and she said she'd "cleaned" him the day before, whatever that means. I wanted to keep the guy just to save him from going back to a house infesed with fleas. Poor li'l dude.

So ends today's creature feature.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A Piece Of the Jurassic is On My Front Porch

On my front porch I now have an extremely rare tree that dates from the Jurassic! The oldest known fossil examples are 175 million years old. The Wollemi Pine was discovered in Australia in 1994. Less than 100 adult trees are known, and I'm doing my part to propagate them. How cool is that! There was concern that unscrupulous dirt bags would try to steal or cut down the rare trees in order to sell them on the black market. Someone had the ingenious idea to just make a bazillion babies and sell them all over the world, thereby reducing their rarity and making them a non-marketable item. The National Geographic Society has spearheaded the effort to sell these ancient babies, and that's how I got one. You can also get one from the Ancient Pine website. Yes, they're a little pricey, but it's the Jurassic, man! How cool is that! I can't help repeating myself! Here's my little guy on my Seattle porch, aeons away from its little fossil matey on the right.

Brad-O-Meter: Pearisburg Plus 50

My brother Brady has checked in again on his trek up the Appalachian Trail. He's made it to Pearisburg, VA which he says is 640 miles on his way, but which the Appalachian Trail Distance Calculator says is 622.1. I'll split the difference for the Brad-O-Meter. Oh, and then he hiked a certain 50 mile segment twice just to hang with some buds. That's dedication! Or maybe he'd just lost his mind after hitching a ride back to Damascus for Trail Days AKA Trail Daze. It looks kind of like a combination of Folklife and the Fremont Fair with camping. I don't see Brady in any of the online photos, but then he could be so trail-grimed that I wouldn't recognize him anyway.

In my tracking of his progress on the maps, he's made it off the GA to NC map, and is now working his way up the NC to VA map.

An Iced Bun and Pretty Flowers

When I say "iced bun", you may think of this:

but you'd be wrong. It's starting to get hot in Seattle, and since rabbits don't cool down well on their own, we ice our bun. As you can see, Jo-Jo loves it.

Our other girl, Bijou, stays cool in the shade in the backyard.

Meanwhile, my garden is loving the sunshine and is blooming! Amaryllis, peonies, jasmine, delphiniums, and dianthus.

Busy Bees

I've been sick lately, so sorry for the lack of posts. I've been sick since last weekend when I missed Folklife! Crud! I'm hoping to get caught up later today. I've still got a sore throat and a tweaked back, but I don't care anymore! Life goes on.

Meanwhile, enjoy this video of a man capturing a swarm of bees with a simple box and no protective gear. I happened on HeatSeekingMedia's videos after he posted a comment about my Manly Bush Tit video.