Seven

wintering

I suppose I should get this out of the way: I hate January. Yes, yes, the light is returning, creeping back into the days a few minutes at a time and eventually it will be spring, but it's not happening soon enough for me. There are no snowflakes here to gloss over this whole winter thing with beauty and magic. Just endless, dreary grey. I have been lamenting that my thickest, wooliest socks won't fit in my wet-weather boots. However, this winter has also been lovely, comforting, unexpected, just right. Here are some of the best and most beautiful moments:

 

  • Acres of red blueberry stalks stretching out to blue mountains under bright blue sky.
  • Hundreds of bald eagles overhead, filling all the bare trees with black and white.
  • Hoarfrost encrusting everything in lavish crystals- quartz and selenite grown overnight- rough spikes in the morning sun. The pond frozen, goldfish circulating slowly under thick ice.
  • Nights when the stars came out and the moon glowed cold and bright, all icy pricks of light above dark trees.
  • Many rosy sunrises- more breathtaking mornings than I could keep count of- puffs and pillars of pink lighted clouds on the eastern horizon.
  • That long slow golden light of the afternoon on a clear day, honey frozen in the air.
  • When we happened to drop by an old friend's just for a moment, and ended up staying for the evening. We arrived as she was pulling a dish of ultimate comfort food from the oven, and just happened to have two pies in the car, left over from an earlier occasion.
  • Snow on Hurricane Ridge, driving through mist, salal-filled roadsides.
  • The usual warm and chaotic times of family Christmas, a turkey that refused to cook and late nights chatting in the kitchen.
  • How the streets of Seattle felt like home would if home were more exciting, and how thrilling it is to feel at home someplace exciting.
  • Reading a new cookbook on the couch in the evening with a mug of hot tea and sweet Seven the bunny snuggled in next to me on the wool blanket. Also, how we've spent several many evenings since in the same way.
  • A quiet ringing in of the new year, with good friends and glasses of frothy homemade eggnog. Also, a surprising and excellent snack of raw sliced fennel with cheese and crackers.
  • A new IKEA kitchen island, where I drink kombucha out of a brandy snifter and read food magazines, and feel grown-up. Jeremy likes it too, and has anointed the oak top with beeswax and mineral oil.
  • The flooded field behind our farmer's market grocery store, frost ringed and filled with trumpeter swans.

Hearty Hazelnut Shortbread with Apricot Jam This is not melt-in-the-mouth shortbread; rather it is dense, rich, nutty and sustaining. Good to tuck into a mittened hand when heading out the door for a winter walk. The shortbread recipe that this is based on (my mother's) sustained me through several long overnight bus trips from the coast to the mountains in my early twenties.

1 c butter 1/8 c coconut sugar 3/8 c cane sugar (1/4 + 1/8) 1 c AP flour (all purpose) 1 c WWP flour (whole wheat pastry) 1/4 c hazelnut flour apricot jam for thumbprint

Preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium-large bowl, roughly cream butter and sugars with a sturdy wooden spoon. Add flour one cup at a time, or in smaller increments if that feels easier. Gather dough into a ball, and roll out on a floured surface to about 1/4"-1/3" thick. Cut into fun shapes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The cookies won't spread so can be placed close together. Bake 20-25 minutes. About halfway through the bake, remove cookies to oven and make a depression in the center of each one, either with a spoon or with your fingers. Spoon enough jam to fill depressions and return cookies to the oven. The cookies are done when they are lightly browned underneath. Let cool on a rack, and store in tins for a week or more.

 

fullness

I'm feeling pretty good about things right now. I've been working overtime so have a big paycheck coming my way. Jer has been in the kitchen a lot lately, making us gourmet dinners, and at the moment I'm writing this, has strawberry vanilla ice cream chilling in the freezer. My elderly cat and my dentally and directionally challenged rabbit have both been improving by leaps and bounds, and it is beyond heartening to see them looking healthy again. When I left work on Thursday, the wind had picked up and was whipping around me as I crossed the bridge. The walkway was almost empty on the way home and the fullness of the wind hurt my ears and wrapped around my legs as I walked. I came across a toy dog staring devotedly at an older man on a bench with a twist-dial radio playing crackly old French music and I felt like I had stepped into a scene from Amelie. 

The next morning was clear and sweet and summery, blue sky vaulted high and the sea calm. Rose petals, blown by the wind, were scattered all through the dry grass, red on sun-bleached gold. 

A family of Canada geese swam by, the goslings fluffy with soft down. I also saw an otter, frisking about on the point. 

This week I made herbed cheddar bread; I am so looking forward to having more spare time for baking projects. For now, bed. 

        

silver lining

Hi there! The sun has just come out here. This morning was almost dark, so thick were the clouds. Seven is doing okay. We're giving her pain medication and she seeks out her food-sludge and kale pesto on her own now. I've had the great fortune of being able to stay home with the rabbits these past few days, which has meant a lot of time on the sunset-striped blanket on the living room floor, monitoring and supervising and doing art. Not being able to clean the house or rearrange the kitchen (Zephyr would find something to destroy/remake- my yoga mat has been on her list of interesting objects for sampling) has been a surprisingly wonderful opportunity to sketch and paint and cut and glue and generally revel in a world of imagination and colour.

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in appreciation of kale and my fianceé

I was sitting crumpled in front of Seven yesterday evening in the rabbit pen when it hit me that she might not be eating or pooping. Rabbits have sensitive digestive tracts that need frequent input of long fibres (like hay) to keep things moving, and things need to keep moving or their good gut bacteria turns to bad bacteria, a toxic and potentially deadly situation. It's called GI stasis and is feared amongst rabbit people, but usually a good supply of hay will prevent it. The way Seven's teeth are currently, she can't eat hay, or much else from the looks of things. She keeps picking up hay like she really wants to eat it, holds it for a second and puts it back down. She grated at a carrot for a while last night but ignored dandelion greens and spinach, then she huddled up making chewing motions without anything in her mouth. Internet research on trusted rabbit sites confirmed symptoms we were seeing. Jer got to work making a slurry of rabbit pellets and water. As I said at the time, if I had any doubt in my mind about marrying this man, watching him feed our rabbit with a syringe erased it. I teared up a little. She turned out to be really hungry and lapped up a fair bit of slurry, then perked up significantly. Thus began the kitchen experiments. More slurries were made, employing various techniques and achieving various viscosities. The hay slurry was sadly a fail, as was grass. Somewhere in my reading I came across kale. Aha! A fine, fibrous green with decent moisture content (we also need to keep her hydrated). Jer, already established as savior of rabbits, ventured out to the late-night grocery store for an armload of kale. To quote his description of the experience: << Misunderstandings at the grocery store. I put down three heads of kale and nothing else. Clerk says "Eating healthy?". "Nah, It's rabbit food' says I. "I know right" says the clerk.>> To our enormous relief, Seven is still able to eat kale, and ridiculous quantities were consumed. At some point after midnight I fell asleep on the floor with the rabbits nestled in front of me. We set alarms throughout the night and got up to coax some water and food into her. At four am she was still eating kale, and at six she had a little more. Adding to his repertoire as top-notch caregiver, Jer also learned to give a bunny tummy massage. Mid-morning, the worries began again as she repeatedly refused water, kale and slurry. Just moments ago, Jer got her eating more slurry. Once she starts, she seems to realize that she'd like to eat more, and went on to eat swiss chard too. Yay! We just have to keep this up, I guess, until she can eat normally again unless our vet gives us another approach. Good news is that the dentist will see her on Wednesday. We're crossing our fingers that we'll have the funds for it. We have a decent amount saved, but specialist sounds expensive. So, with all of the above, today is kind of a strange day. It's beautifully sunny outside. The wind is blowing down the chimney making our living room smell like lapsang souchong. The rabbits and I are sunning on a blanket and we're just taking it easy. We'll get through.

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Seven

I'm hoping to crowdsource healing vibes for my bunny. Seven's misaligned teeth are long and jagged and have started cutting into her gums where they've caused at least one abscess, possibly two. We're waiting for a call from the veterinary dental specialist to find out how soon we can get her in. It looks so painful. I am hoping desperately, fearfully, that she will continue eating despite the pain. She's hiding in a cardboard box right now and I am terrified and anxious and so sad to see her like this. She is the sweetest little curious creature. Please send love her way. Welcome spring, new moon, eclipse. I hope you will be kind to my rabbit. This morning began enjoyably, at least. We had a friend visiting (though I had completely misunderstood when she would arrive so was ill prepared to host), and went for a walk in the drizzle. We were soon joined by coffee and butter danishes, as can happen in our neck of the woods, and paid a casual visit to the ocean's edge. My mum came by with gifts and treasures from my beautiful, quirky late grandmother, and seeds for our garden. We ventured out to the theme of more coffee and pastries (oh what a way to spend a Friday!), and Jer and Ana came back from downtown with more gifts and delectables. Then we wrangled the bunnies into their carrier for their check-in with the vet. Ever since the vet looked in Seven's mouth and found that the situation we thought was six months away and that we were going to prevent by getting her teeth done in the next few months had sped up and was already happening, already urgent, the afternoon has crept by dark and tearful. I picked up more strawberry antibiotics in town and, in a sorry daze, made my way towards the Solstice Cafe for tea and solace. Alas, they'd closed for a special event, so I trudged aimlessly into the square. I almost sat on a bench in the rain to eat chocolates and read my sad and beautiful book - did sit for a moment, but some boys were horsing around on the high railing and spitting and I really didn't feel like listening to them so kept going, into Green Cuisine, where one can be nourished for $6. It was soothing. I sat in a booth near the back, facing a poster of Green Tara and a tree mural. I ate small tidbits each of baked falafel and steamed kale, curried tempeh, vegan lasagna, squash, beans and apple crumble (comfort me with spiced apples please, yes). Afterwards, I sat, unable to read, and gave myself a headache panicking about it all before picking up a pen and doodling in my journal. Never underestimate the therapeutic benefits of making art. It didn't fix everything, but it helped. I drew some trees, gave them leaves, then filled in ground level with flowers and leafy sprigs, and got the idea of drawing Seven in, happy and well. I drew Zephyr too, to help anchor her in this world and because they are constant companions. Next a field of wheat and flowering clover, both bunnies settled happily in the center.

I'm drinking strong peppermint tea, adaptogen extraordinaire. I'm hoping it will help me cope. It's hard to stand up straight under the weight of this, my fear and sadness for my darling pet. The vets know what they are doing, this I trust. I hope that we can get her treated sooner than soon. Now, to think positive and give my bunny love. May she be well.

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