Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rabbits Get a Bad Rap

The ASPCA made an outrageous claim in the Spring 2012 USAA Magazine that a rabbit is the most expensive pet costing $730 per year to feed and maintain.

I've seen too many tiny pampered pooches dressed in designer duds to know that can't possibly be true.  And how about finicky cats?  The one that adopted us will only eat certain kinds of Fancy Feast moist food at $ .70 a pop.  Then there's dry food, litter and vet bills.  On top of that, he grabs the best place on the couch!

Those of us who love House Rabbits know they're not at all like dogs and cats.  They don't go for walks on the trail or the beach, nor do they jump into the car for a ride to the store.  And yet, their silent presence in our lives gives a special meaning to every day.

Their naturally down-turned mouth signals disapproval, but daily soft cuddles, purring when they're happy, and jumping into our lap for nose licks shows us a different side.  In return, we end up catering to their every need.  Why?  Because they're just so darn cute!  This is The Princess wondering what could possibly be holding up breakfast.

We have eight rabbits living with us.  My guess is that now we spend about $300 on each one per year, with the largest cash outlay for bananas for breakfasts and organic greens and veggies for nightly salads.  Other regular expenditures are for special rabbit pellets, hay purchased by the bale, and litter made with re-cycled paper.  Unlike other pets, most healthy bunnies can live just fine without annual vaccinations or medical procedures -- except for initial spaying and neutering.  The last thing the world needs is more rabbits!

The large cash expenditures for our increasing rabbit family were in the beginning.  We started ten years ago with a "free" little brown bunny, The Princess.  She was free, but her set-up in the kitchen was not.  There's a solid barrier, a gate and as you can see in the picture above, a special bunny door that goes outside.

It's the outside area that cost us the most.  Our entire second story wood deck, originally built for people, has been completely converted into eight penned areas, separated by double 4' fences and gates.  We believe that bunnies thrive with fresh air and exercise every day that weather allows.  Here's Goldie and her brother, Little Blue, enjoying some outdoor dining in their area a few years ago.

Another expensive excursion down the rabbit hole was our rescuing five week-old kits abandoned by their mom near the Fed Ex office at our little airport.  We named them the Fed Ex Bunny Quintet.  Daily feedings relied on life-saving Day One powdered formula and dozens of tiny nipples shipped from Connecticut via over-night express.  Special food and hay and a pen for our dining room rounded out the cash outlay.  But what an experience that was.  Especially since all five survived and found inside homes with their adopted families.

Based on our experience of having many rabbits binky their way in and out of our lives over the last decade, there's no chance we have spent $730 a year on each one.  Although ... even if it were true ... how do you put a price tag on love?

What kind of pet shares your life, and how much do you pay for that pleasure?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mrs. Peacock in the Library with the Candlestick

Whenever grandchildren visit, we always find time to play a couple of games of Clue.  It's one of the few timeless games that we adults, who grew up with a black and white Dumont or Emerson TV in the living room, can enjoyably share with contemporary masters of smartphones loaded with apps.

In concept, the game hasn't changed since it was purchased by Parker Brothers from its British creator in the 1940s:  who killed Mr. Boddy, in which room, with what weapon?  It's all a matter of logic, elimination and luck. 

New techniques on the Internet virtually ensure winning, but they bog down the game so much that only a couple of our visitors use them.  Most of us are happy to roll the dice, cruise around the board or slip through secret passages, voice our suspicions, and jot down clues on our detective notepad.

The best thing about two or three generations sitting around a table playing a board game that was invented more than 60 years ago is meeting on common ground.  Ground that is simple and focuses on the people at the table in the present moment as we all concentrate on finding the logical solution to the mystery before us.

The last time we played with a fourteen-year-old grandson, he added a whole new dimension to the game by making a compelling case for how the color of the characters represented their true identities.

The stodgy Mr. Green was the epitome of envy and jealousy.  Mrs. White represented simplicity and purity, enhanced by an adeptness with carving knieves.  Mrs. Peacock reeked of royalty and wealth, a member of the rich upper-crust of society.  Colonel Mustard, of course, was stuffy steadfast authority at its finest.  The winsome Miss Scarlet was lust, pure and simple.  And he claimed that Professor Plum was not only the brooding intellectual, but might also be the one gay member of the cast.

He pressed on by drawing parallels to the various sins in Dante's "Inferno" the first part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy.  That was a bit much, and he lost us completely when he started in on the Nine Circles of Hell.

Do any of you still play Clue?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Speak up, Post, Tweet and Vote

A nasty backdrop on the stage of the 2012 elections is an escalating assault on a woman's most basic right:  control over her body.  A movement, cloaked in ultra conservative and religious rhetoric, is challenging those same reproductive rights American women fought for and won more than sixty years ago.

An amendment allowing bosses to call the shots on covering birth control for female employees was tacked onto a transportation bill.  Talk of imposing invasive, unnecessary medical procedures on women before they can terminate a pregnancy is targeted solely at the female side of the reproductive equation.

How about this instead?  Let's mandate that sexually active single males be forced to ingest saltpeter between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five.  We can test it on Rush Limbaugh to ensure it'll work without lingering side-effects.

A feisty friend in Texas is appalled that the whole issue is being dragged into the political limelight,  "I feel like we have moved back to the Fifties with these ridiculous conversations about abortion and birth control ..." she writes.

Her response?  Posting this in facebook and ordering the t-shirt!

In fact, anyone who wants to win elections this year needs to back off from messing with women in any state.  June Cleaver doesn't live here anymore.  Women today fill more slots in college, capture more spots in medical school, and earn lucrative salaries in the workplace.  They simply won't tolerate politicians more interested in what they do in bed than how their tax dollars are spent.

Women make up 51 percent of the population in this country.  And they made enough racket a few weeks ago that even Helen Reddy heard them roar.

When Komen for the Cure severed funding for Planned Parenthood, women instantly reacted on facebook and twitter with a level of outrage that was amazing to behold.  Komen's organization reversed its stand, fired the executive responsible, and even the group's founder wound up on shaky ground.

This powerful group of citizens needs to voice their indignation over assaults on their rights, and then swamp the voting booths in November.  Misguided politicians who ignore the majority will be sent packing.  Back to the Dark Ages where they belong.

Sensible people in this country care about jobs, the economy, energy and education -- not tinkering with women's health care.  Those who wish to represent us need to wise up and focus on the big picture.

Women standing up for their rights vocally and in the voting booth will not only preserve their own freedom of choice, but also that of daughters and granddaughters.  In this 21st Century Time of Enlightenment, how could anyone want to return to the days when women were forced to either give birth to a dozen children or endure back alley abortions in unsanitary rooms?

Speak up, post, tweet and vote!

Image created by Tony Crider