Bunnies and Young Children

Although I do seem to have acquired the nicest, most friendly bunny on the planet; still, I have never thought one should press one's thoughts about one's bunny on others, or boast about him in everyday conversation…just as one should not do with one's children…but it is quite difficult not to just mention what a good bunny he is every now and then. Except I am now going to do more than that. Feel free to make a graceful exit now. It's just that I feel a solemn duty to counter some of the information you might find online about bunnies. I do not claim to be the world's leading expert on bunnies (that would be boastful) (and I was not, till recently, a bunny owner), but I have loved them for many years, you know, and I have studied them quite a lot since getting one.

This is the trouble with what some people say about bunnies: it's wrong. Because I read many, many sources that said: "You should NOT have a bunny as a pet if you have young children." This is written by bunny-lovers who, presumably, imagine a harrowing life of fear and suffering for a bunny at the hands of these hypothetical young monsters. "Perhaps you might consider getting a bunny for one calm, responsible, older child (10 and up), with constant adult supervision. But NOT if there are young children around. Certainly not if there is MORE than one child! If you have more than one child, consider getting a fish. A bunny is not for you!" they say. (I'm not entirely sure they approve of even HAVING multiple young children at all, these people. The very idea seems to hold a kind of horror for them. If they had known we were getting a bunny to come live with us and our six children, they probably would have gone down in sorrow to their graves. And then turned over in them.)

I understand. They want to protect bunnies (as do I). They want bunnies to have happy, stable lives (as do I). But in their well-meaning-ness, I'm afraid they give the wrong idea. They make it sound like the very existence of bunnies and small children in the same room is asking for total disaster. When in reality, kindness and love and gentleness can be taught to young children with bunnies—just as it can to young children with babies. Of course it takes effort and time. And of course I wouldn't turn the entire care of a bunny over to a four-year-old. But a loved, well-cared-for bunny is not only good for children—but they are also good for him! Our Nutmeg loves the children. He plays with them and hops around them and snuggles in happily when they pet him, and he misses them when they're gone. He likes his big family! 
How do I know he's happy with us? Well, he does all the things a happy bunny does. He comes running to greet us after we've been gone. He hops around and around our feet in circles and follows us around until we trip over him. He leaps straight up in the air and turns sideways while he's leaping. He bounds around the room and then boings up next to us onto the couch and bops under our hands with his nose until we pet him. I honestly can't imagine a happier bunny.
And now that we have had him all these months, I sort of feel like I need to evangelize for pet bunnies. They are such delightful, good pets. I feel bad that in years past they were mostly just thought of as the boring kind of animal you put outside in a hutch and forget about, because they can be so curious, and loving, and playful. I know I've only had one of them, but one is enough for me to see these things.

And in saying this, I understand that some people get tired of their pets and don't treat them with love and just give them away when they're tired of them, and maybe for crabs and lizards that's okay, I don't know. I feel instinctively that that would be wrong for a bunny, but I know pets don't always fit their owners. I'm not an expert on the morality of animal ownership, and I never really wanted other pets anyway, because it would be one more thing to do. And I don't want anyone to have a bunny who won't take good care of him, of course, but I'm afraid that maybe people are being scared off by these "NO-BUNNIES-AROUND-CHILDREN" sources when they could be enjoying and loving a sweet bunny of their own. So let me tell you some things that are good about bunnies. And why you (and your young children!) could love one.

First of all, they are clean. They are SO easy to litterbox train and they LOVE to be clean. It's my favorite thing to see Nutmeg washing his little face and paws and ears.
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Storm Mountain

That title sounds dark and foreboding, but it's really just the name of the campground. We love this place! Some of the trees are bare by now, but many are still holding on to their vibrant leaves. Such pretty colors and such surprising contrasts!
Tiny Abe, across a meadow
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Memorials

I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately. I'm not sure why. Actually, I do know why: it's because our friends from down the street just had their sweet little three-month-old baby pass away, so I suppose all of us in the neighborhood have been thinking about death and resurrection more than usual. (As if I need any more encouragement to be pensive and thoughtful in the Fall!) It's been five and a half years now since Dad died. But grief is such a strange, incomprehensible thing, isn't it? With my dad, I've always felt like I should restrain my sadness for his sake, because he was so ready to be free of his body, moving on. With baby Tommy, I feel restrained because he's not mine to grieve.

Leslie Norris has it right, of course:
If I were young I could
     Make eager grief of this grave
And let the warm sorrow come
     And cover me like a wave,
The cathartic tears ease out
That soothe the constricted heart. 
It would be over and done –
     A romantic memory made
Out of this drift of rain
     And the passive part I played
But spontaneous youth is gone;
The moved heart is a stone… 
So I'll not denounce this death
     Nor embitter the ordinary air
With blown words that my breath
     Is now too small to wear.
Sufficient that he is gone;
The great man dies alone…
And yet I've also been thinking about memorials; about remembering and making real those things, and people, who are sliding ever more to the past. Wondering how to do it. How much to do it. I've always had such a horror of being overly sentimental, or of coming across as shallow or trite in the things that matter to me so deeply. But this article has made me think a lot about the power of simplicity in grief. Speaking of the little roadside memorials you sometimes see at the site of traffic accidents, it says:
…They testify to a deep human need for memorials. It is a new form of folk art, and it is extremely conventionalized in its expression. For one thing, its repertoire of forms and materials is very narrow: crosses, flowers, handwritten signs, and heartbreakingly, in the case of a child, stuffed animals. There is very little else, and no striving for originality. Their creators look for widely-understood symbols, and they yearn for resolution and closure…In a way, these anonymous roadside sculptors understand what many contemporary artists do not: that monuments, because they are public art forms, must be legible. And this requires a great degree of convention…Not long ago it was fashionable to sneer at such things…But true momumentality has everything to do with simplicity…
And I think it's true. You learn it in poetry: how the simple details say so much more than the sweeping pronouncements. True, they have to be honestly put forth, not manipulative (unlike stuff like this, which is almost a whole photo-genre in itself), but transparent allegory serves such a useful purpose: as that article says, it "uses interlocking symbols to comment on the things we care about"– and those symbols don't have to be less meaningful for being common: The fallen leaf. The soaring bird. The rain.

So I guess I'm allowing myself, these days, to think about those simple things, and let them form part of Dad's "memorial" in my head, whether or not they are powerful enough or all-encompassing enough to truly, adequately, "memorialize" him. I'm trying to let myself explore what space he left here, whether or not it was "too soon" for him to leave it. Thinking about things I have almost forgotten, things I wish he could be here for, things I wish I knew about him. Why did he love that e.e. cummings poem he had printed and posted above his desk? When and why did he start the book of photographs he took of Timpanogos from his office window, spanning years and years, in every light, in every season? I wish when he had asked me what I meant in my poems, I had tried talking about it instead of insisting that it couldn't be quantified. I wish I could hear what he thought of Sebby making speakers and Malachi playing astronaut. I wish I could see him eskimo-kiss with little Goldie. I wish I could ask him to tell me more about his parents, or about his job. It is strange to think how little I really know about what he thought and who he was.

And for little Tommy, too, I'm allowing myself some sentimentality, for all I didn't earn it by truly knowing or loving him while he was here. I'm watching the light on the mountains, the abbreviated flare and fade of the gold sunsets, and letting them remind me of hardship, and separation, and the hollow spaces that sometimes take years to soften and fill in.

I'll end with Leslie Norris, again; this from his poem "Autumn Elegy":
September. The small summer hangs its suns
On the chestnuts, and the world bends slowly
Out of the year. On tiles of the low barns
The lingering swallows rest in this timely 
Warmth, collecting it. Standing in the garden,
I too feel its generosity; but would not leave.
Time, time to lock the heart. Nothing is sudden
In Autumn, yet the long, ceremonial passion of 
The year's death comes quickly enough
As form veins shut on the sluggish blood
And the numberless protestations of the leaf
Are mapped on the air… 
                               Yet, if I stare
Unmoved at the flaunting, silent 
Agony in the country before a resonant
Wind anneals it, I am not diminished, it is not
That I do not see well, do not exult,
But that I remember again what 
Young men of my own time died
In the Spring of their living and could not turn
To this…
                             Now as the trees burn 
In the beginning glory of Autumn
I sing for all green deaths as I remember
In their broken Mays, and turn
The years back for them, every red September.
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Canyon leaves

What with one thing and another, I was afraid we'd basically missed Fall in the mountains this year. There were some cool, rainy days where all the trees looked dull and I thought maybe the leaves would all turn brown and fall early. But then the sun came out again, it got warm, and to our great delight, there was still plenty of Fall beauty to be found. If we can manage it, we'll be out playing in the leaves again this week and hopefully next, because we know how fast all this will be gone!
It was the most perfect Fall weather!
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Papery

If you've been anywhere near Sebastian for the last six months, you know he's been saving up his money to buy a digital camera. I got my first digital camera from my parents when I graduated from college. Several years later some of the functions on it broke, whereupon we gave the camera to Abe to use. Several years after that, it stopped working altogether, and Abe gave it to Seb to play with and take apart. Which Seb did---repeatedly. After taking it apart and putting it back together and disassembling the lens and unraveling the electrical wire millions of times, Seb decided he also wanted his own WORKING camera. We impressed upon him repeatedly that he should NOT take his new one apart, once he got it, and he insisted that he wouldn't. (We'll see!) He found a used camera on Amazon for $20, so he's been working and working to save up for it.

It was a long wait for him, and while he waited, he was constantly pretending to take pictures with his old camera, and making dozens of model cameras out of paper. Every day there would be a bunch of new ones lying around (each iteration slightly modified, as Seb added a telescopic lens here or a battery compartment there).
And now he finally got his actual camera! He loves it and keeps it with him constantly. I am going to miss those paper cameras, though!

More paper construction: Seb made this paper "California Screamin'" roller coaster model after we got back from Disneyland. It is meticulously constructed to mirror the curves and loops of the actual roller coaster (he looked up pictures and satellite views until he got it right). Seb gave this to Abe for his birthday.

And, Seb has spent HOURS and hours making these paper speakers. He read somewhere that you could make a working speaker out of a paper plate, so he's been trying to do that for months. I was amazed at how persistent he was—adjusting the length and gauge of his coils of wire (he was raiding everything in the house for wire: flashlights, his radio, his CRT!), trying out different shapes and strengths of magnets, experimenting with paper shape and thickness. I would have given up on it after the first few tries, but he must have made twenty of them, until finally, he got one to work! Then he was even more obsessed trying to make adjustments so it would be louder and work better. This speaker pictured above is one of his best attempts. It played the music loud enough for us to hear it several feet away. He was so proud of it! And rightly so.
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Everyone is getting bigger.

Does this sight strike fear into your heart? It ought. Goldie drags the stool around and does things atop it. Luckily the stove was off, at this time. But who does she think she is, anyway?!?
See, she's still really quite small. If someone could tell her that, I'd appreciate it.
This is the sun coming through the fingerprints on the glass door and casting its glorious pattern onto the wall. It's like a fresco or an abstract work of stained glass. That's what I'm choosing to believe, anyway. :)
Everyone moved up a bike size, which means Junie finally has her own vehicle! She's so pleased.
Daisy is working on learning to balance a two-wheeler. Malachi has been a sweet little helper for her.
And THIS picture just flabbergasts me. Our little Abey, grown up into a great hulking Abraham and going to Priesthood Session with Sam! How did this happen?! They are both so handsome.
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Hats and leaves

I made hats this year during General Conference, as is my custom when I'm not currently working on some other crocheting project. Not this Daisy hat above---I made that ages ago for Daisy---though I suppose it works for a Marigold too. I want to make Goldie a new one that's red and orange and yellow at some point.

Anyway---the hats I did make were a pink penguin for Daisy:
(I got a pattern here.)
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