THE VELVET CURTAIN IN THE SKY

ImageOne of the most wondrous sights in the night sky is the aurora boreal us. Like a shimmering velvet curtain, it shifts and moves as if blown by a gentle breeze. Scientists explain that what we are seeing is solar particles falling into the planet’s atmosphere and exciting atoms to fluoresce. Though I believe that explanation, the poetic side of me imagines velvet curtains moved by heavenly breezes.

I had never heard of this phenomenon  until I was thirteen years old. From the descriptions I had heard from my teachers, I thought it would look like a psychedelic light show. Not until a cool October night in 1970 did I actually see the real thing.

My radio seemed strangely unable to pick up distant stations that evening. As I tuned the dial, my sister Diane came into the living room from outside and urged, “Come look at this aurora, Bruce.”

I felt a sense of awe as I stared up at the spectacle of the greenish curtain. Its movements mesmerized me. Then it changed from green to purple.

I ran into the house and shouted, “Hey Mom, you’ve got to see this. The aurora turned purple.”

“You’re just seeing things,” she replied. “Your eyes haven’t adjusted from being indoors.”

I begged her to come out but she refused. Shrugging, I ran outside. The Aurora had turned green again while I had gone indoors. Though I felt cold, I continued watching the spectacle until it began to fade.

Even today, I enjoy watching the northern lights. In fact, I don’t even have to see them to know that they’re there. Just listening to the AM radio tells me whenever they make their appearance.

I wrote about other sublime experiences throughout my two previous books. Check them out on the Bruce Atchison’s books link of my Blogspot page.

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BUNNIES AND CARDBOARD BOXES.

ImageOne of many things that non-rabbit folks don’t know about is that bunnies love cardboard box houses. This simple-to-build toy keeps rabbits occupied for hours, as I found out with my long-eared friends. Even better, they can be made for free.

Since rabbit warrens have multiple entrances, box houses should have two doors cut in their sides. Any tape or stickers should be removed as well since bunnies love to chew on the boxes. To make it even more fun, remove the covers off of an old telephone directory and place that inside the house. For some odd reason, rabbits love to shred paper. If they ingest any, it won’t hurt them as soy-based inks are used to print the books.

These cardboard houses also act as a safe place for bunnies to nap. Since their instincts tell them to rest in enclosed or covered spaces, they naturally gravitate toward areas where they feel secure. Often rabbits will stretch out inside the box with their heads at one entrance.

An important benefit of these houses is that rabbits are able to relieve their urge to dig and chew. Instead of damaging carpets and furniture, bunnies with box houses can gnaw and shred the boxes to their heart’s content.

In my When a Man Loves a Rabbit memoir, I wrote about the many variations on this toy that satisfied my long-eared companions. Please check it out at my Bruce Atchison’s books link. Please visit the House Rabbit Society for further information on house rabbits.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS.

Of all the fiendish tricks I’ve ever played on a rabbit, this one would take first prize. Gideon was the sort of bunny who couldn’t resist snooping around where he wasn’t supposed to be. One day, I foiled his exploratory expedition to my kitchen table. From When a Man Loves a Rabbit, here’s how it happened.

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Nothing seemed to stand in Gideon’s way, and even though I was in the habit of pushing my kitchen chair in, he still found a way to get onto the table. My recycling bin, which was next to it, was full of junk mail and I had put off emptying it. My clever lad figured out that he could hop onto the pile of paper and then onto the tabletop. Once, I caught him in the act of hoovering it.

After that, I emptied the bin and set it in its customary place.

One day, I rushed over when I heard a loud thud. Gideon, suspecting nothing, had leapt up and found only air. I arrived just in time to see him staring up at me from the bottom of the bin.

“Why me?” his pitiful eyes asked.

He jumped back out and never tried that again.

That taught me that bunnies can learn if something is to their advantage. It was a useful thing to know?especially when preventing opportunities for mischief.

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When a Man Loves a Rabbit is packed with humorous vignettes like this one. Please check it out on my Bruce Atchison’s books link. It’s at the top left hand corner.Image

HOW WE SURPRISED MOM.

ImageKids not only say the “darndest” things, they sometimes do them. Diane and I loved to mess around with Mom’s appliances when she wasn’t around. Suffering from the greener-grass syndrom, we were never content to play only with our toys. Our mischief actually benefitted our mother once.

Mom had gone uptown one dark evening, leaving Diane, Roy, and me to amuse ourselves.  I suppose she was tired of being cooped up at home with us and felt we were old enough to look after ourselves.  Diane got out Mom’s old Hoover vacuum, plugged it in, and started mooving it around the kitchen floor.  Somehow, the rubbing of the vacuum made those cucumber green tiles  shinier.

“Let’s make the floor really shiny for Mom,” Diane suggested.  It seemed like a great idea to me. I couldn’t wait until she came home to see what we’d done.  

We took turns with the vacuum until the floor shone like glass.

Finally the big moment came.  “Look Mom!  Look what we did for you, Diane excitedly proclaimed when Mom came home.  

“How did you get the floor so shiny?” mom wondered, clearly touched by the nice deed we did for her.  

“With that,” Diane said as she pointed to the Hoover.  

Mom couldn’t believe it but we kept insisting it was so.  We’d used a Hoover to shine the floor.  This was one of the first things we ever did that was useful with her appliances.

In my Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I mentioned many incidents of mischief which my dorm mates and I caused. Please check the Bruce Atchison’s books link for details.

MY LONG-EARED HAIR GROOMER.

ImageI sure wish people would stop treating rabbits as if they had no minds and emotions. Gideon, my first house bunny, taught me many astonishing things during the seven and a half years he lived with me. As a tribute to my fur-clad companion, I wrote When a Man Loves a Rabbit. Below is an excerpt that shows how affectionate Gideon became toward me and how much I loved him.

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All my friends at alt.pets.rabbits, EtherBun, HouseBun and PetBunny said that the dominant rabbits present their heads for grooming by the submissive ones. Since Gideon and I were such close friends, I decided to try it out. I’d just had my semi-annual haircut and I knew that my short hair wouldn’t be much of a problem for him to lick.

Taking a break from writing, I stretched out in the hallway and Gideon hopped onto my back. Those little feet of his felt funny as he moved around while he hoovered me, and I tried hard not to laugh and frighten him off. Finally, he hopped over to my head and started licking. He did that for about ten minutes before taking off in search of new mischief.

For a week or so, Gideon would groom my hair while he sat on his brick. All I had to do was lay on the floor and he would start licking enthusiastically. It was hard to get that shot of the grooming session on video, yet I somehow managed.

Once my hair started to grow, he lost interest?even when I shoved my head in his face. I tried to see if he’d be interested in licking my arms. He wasn’t. He did groom my pants on occasion, although he stopped washing my hair after the first few
months he was with me.

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If you enjoyed this story, I’m sure you’ll love the rest of When a Man Loves a Rabbit. Please click on the Bruce Atchison’s books link at the top left of the page to discover more about this book.

BREAKFAST IN JERICHO.

ImageBefore my parents sent me to a school for the blind, I was accustomed to eating breakfast with my siblings at home. The occasions when I spent time in hospital after surgery on my eyes were relatively short. I knew that I’d be going home soon.

Being used to public school, I assumed I’d be leaving Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind that afternoon. Not until the first school day ended did I learn the horrible truth that I had to stay there for three long months.

In my Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I related my innocent observations of this institution in which I spent much of my childhood. Below is an excerpt that shows how naive I was about my situation.

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Miss Boyce woke us up the next morning promptly at seven and told us to dress. When I saw the boys lining up in the hall, I joined them.

“You boys with sight hold the hands of the boys who don’t,” Miss. Boyce directed. I did as she said and waited.

Next, our supervisor led us down a road to a white and teal-coloured dilapidated building with grey shingles.

“That’s the Dining Hall,” one of the boys informed me.

The structure was similar to a gymnasium. Its vaulted ceiling and walls were painted pink. I felt the floor shake alarmingly as we walked across the brown linoleum to our tables.

I forget what we ate but it was most likely the usual porridge and toast with hot chocolate.

I was about to place a spoonful of porridge in my mouth when a boy said, “Uuuuuuuuuummmm! You’re supposed to wait until we say grace!” Not only did
I not know what he meant but he had that gleeful tone in his voice which said he caught me committing a mortal sin.

“What’s grace?” I inquired.

“We have to thank God for our food or we’ll get in trouble.”

I immediately put down my spoon and stared covetously at my breakfast.

After we waited for what seemed like ages, we all said the simple prayer: “God is good, God is great, Let us thank him for our food, Amen.”

Waiting to eat and then saying a prayer seemed odd to me. I supposed that it was merely one of those activities I would have to endure until I returned home that afternoon.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many vignettes of life in that residential school. They range from the poignant to the hilarious. Check out the Bruce Atchison’s books link for more information on this paperback.

FUNNY FOOD GAMES.

I certainly played plenty of tricks on Gideon, my first house rabbit. They weren’t mean ones, just humorous. As I wrote in my When a Man Loves a Rabbit memoir, Gideon was one bunny in whom lived the spirit of mischief. Below is one of many vignettes regarding my inquisitive fur friend.

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I had another game that I enjoyed playing with Gideon. I would sometimes put a carrot end in a small box with a hole in it. He could smell the tantalizing aroma, but he would have to squeeze into the box to get his snack. It was fun watching him try to figure out how to get that coveted treat. I could almost see the wheels turning in his head while he studied the problem from all angles. There was no other solution, except to crawl into the box and nab the treat.

So he did.

Then he hopped away to a spot where he felt safe. I could almost hear him saying, “This is mine! All mine!”

About a year after I adopted Gideon, I placed a paper bag filled with weeds in front of him.

“Here’s your bag lunch salad,” I said as he sniffed, confused. The poor rabbit had never seen his treats in such a thing. Gideon carefully examined the bag, but he just couldn’t understand the new form of food container. Finally, in frustration, he ripped it open. I chuckled at his dilemma as I made a video of him.

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If you enjoyed this story, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the entire book. Please click on the Bruce Atchison’s books link for more information.