## Curing the Hiccoughs in Rabbits

I need to preface this by pointing out it’s all true, which I know make it sound like I’m making it up, but I’m not. Our pet rabbit occasionally gets hiccoughs, which are as adorable as you might imagine, if you’re imagining a rabbit flopped out on his bed and suddenly, without sound, jiggling rhythmically, all over.

So I caught him starting to hiccough, and called out, “Try a folk remedy! That always helps!” And he looked a little bit at me for making such a racket and his hiccoughing stopped right there.

From this I learn that I’ve found an exciting new folk remedy for hiccoughs.

Also, if you enjoy this sort of thing, I found reasons to reprint a Jumble word puzzle over on my mathematics blog, because it mentioned abacuses, and that’s enough for my discussions of mathematical-themed comic strips. Also I explain why I think a magic trick from the kids’ activity page was wrong.

## Math Comics, and the Tree’s End

Once again over on my mathematics blog is a bundle of comic strips that talk about mathematical themes. I use about 1600 words to describe them, although in fairness, some of those words I used several times over, such as “stuff” and “start” and even some words that don’t begin with “st”. Also there’s this neat bit about how you can find where north is by drawing a clock. Honest.

If you’re not interested particularly in how The Lockhorns insult one another, that’s all right. You might be glad to know at least that our pet rabbit did get his chance at the Christmas tree before the adventure of getting rid of it developed.

## The Mid-Winter Fashion

To explain why I discovered only at the end of the day Monday that I was wearing a shirt inside-out I need to give some context. I don’t think I need to explain the wearing of shirts, as that’s been popular nearly my whole adult life, and Monday has been almost perfectly assimilated into American culture since its invention in 1964 as a way to ease the transition from Sunday to Tuesday.

Still, the right way to deal with weather like that is layering, which we start doing around November and let up on around March. The principle of layering is simple: you can stay somewhat less cold by, whenever you find an article of clothing, putting it on. Whenever you find an article of clothing. So just strolling around the house I’ll put on underwear, sure, and long underwear, and here’s a t-shirt by the bed, and a regular shirt that was on the dresser, and a dress shirt that was in the bedroom closet, and the soccer shirt from that one time I played soccer in tenth grade, and the novelty “2010” eyeglasses because eyeballs get cold too and what the heck New Year’s Eve might roll around again, and go downstairs and put on the blanket we put over the couch for guests because that’s kind of a dress shirt for furniture, and then put on the reclining chair, and that’s all before I’ve even got to the closet where we keep the jackets.

If it’s done right, by about mid-February you’re basically a gigantic elliptical bundle of flesh and cloth, and it’s not all that cold as you step outside, trip over your six pairs of shoes, and go tumbling down the road. People from warmer climates may believe that mid-Michigan in the upcoming weeks will be a field of spinning balls of population bouncing off one another until they roll into a snowy creek, all the layers keeping folks from freezing to death until the currents can sweep them into the Grand River. This is absurd. Given the plowed streets, people are much more likely to roll down to the strip mall and into the nearest Michael’s, where they bounce into the folks waiting in the line where, even though there’s four registers open and nobody has more than maybe three things to buy and everybody’s paying cash, the line never advances any. The disruption is appreciated since it gives customers the chance to give up on their plans to buy decorative boxes and plastic flowers and run off to the Petco next door and stare at heaps of sleeping ferrets instead.

You might think this makes laundry terrible, since there’s so many clothes to wash if you got them all taken off at once. And it’s true that the laundry loads are bigger than summer, but you don’t have to wash all the layers at once. The two great sources of dirtiness, in clothing, are the outside world, and only the outermost layer of clothing ever touches that, and the body, and only the innermost layer touches that. Everything else is just touching other clothes so you can let them slide a while or, if you’re wearing enough layers, let the accumulated fabric pressure crush any dirt that might somehow get through into little bitty lint diamonds, which are good for industrial lint needs.

Anyway, so this all gets back to how I discovered I wore a shirt inside-out on Monday: it was underneath that thing I wear that isn’t a hoodie, I guess, but that I call one because I don’t know what else to call it, and I didn’t discover this until I was getting ready for bed by taking off the outer eighteen layers. I feel kind of silly about it, but, I understand how this sort of thing happens and nobody else noticed.

## Trouble In The Yard

And now it’s been literally days since our pet rabbit was last out, and so of course things are going wrong. The weed maples have been brutal, scattering all over everywhere and everything, and now some of the hostas came in to complain that some of the little trees have been ganging up and bullying them. I take this seriously, of course, as hostas are really not drama-prone plants and I just know if they’re driven to complain then some plants with lower self-esteem, like the lemon balm, are probably being driven almost out of their xylem with frustration. Don’t tell our rabbit; he’d insist that he told us so, and he didn’t say anything of the sort when we’ve talked about the yard.

PS to whoever at WordPress is in charge of stuff in general: is “xylem” a plant thing? If not pls replace with something that is. Pref not too sticky; have enough of those things that need weird-colored goopy things to clean. Tnx.

## Our Rabbit’s Cold Demands

“Can I help you?” I said, looking down, at the rabbit who was shoving my shins.

“Yes,” said our pet rabbit, which was enough for him. He gave my ankle a nudge with his adorable little forepaw.

So I put the rest of his morning kibble in the dish, and he looked ready to lumber over and eat it, and said, “What do you need?”

“Seventeen papayas, eight raisins, and three slices of apple,” and then he sneezed, this little buzzing noise that sounds like an old-fashioned roller coaster security bar locking, which is one of his more attractive amusement park-evoking actions, up there with releasing clouds of fur into the air like tiny balloons of sneezing, or selling season passes for next year. “That’s not the important thing.”

So it was going to be one of those talks. “We haven’t got any apples right now, but I can put it on the grocery list for us to forget when we go shopping.”

“Good,” he said, “Now you fix the window.”

There’s eleven windows in the immediate area that we might do something about, and another four that he might have noticed while being taken to the car for one reason or another, mostly to be driven someplace. They’re all in good working order, what with being windows made of glass and continuing to exist like that. “What’s there to fix?”

“The one you broke back when it was hot,” he said, testily. “You made noise and everything and now look what it did.”

That sounded a little more familiar. “The one I pried open back in summer.” He nodded and stumbled toward the food dish, but held back, I suppose so he could scold me. “I just unsealed it, so it can open. It’s not open right now.”

“You made noise and broke the window so it wouldn’t be so hot. And now it’s cold and you have to fix that.”

“How do you even know it’s cold outside? You’ve spent two minutes outside a house or a car in the past three months.”

“And I nearly died!” he said while stomping on my foot. I leaned down to rub his ears, a diversion so obvious he wouldn’t have any of it. “If you’d left me out in that horrible little transit cage and forgot I was there my adorable tail would’ve fallen right off in the cold!”

“We couldn’t possibly forget you. You punch the cage too hard.”

“Because it’s cold and you have to unfix the window so it’s not broken anymore.”

I don’t want to overstate it, but getting that window to open was one of my life’s greatest achievements, household repairs division, far exceeding the time I opened up a desperately-needed hole in the drywall by swinging my elbow backwards without looking, giving me the chance to practice patching holes in the drywall. The window had been painted and swollen shut for decades, and which was sound enough that it could hold an atmosphere against the vacuum of space, or keep water out to a depth of four hundred feet. Getting it opened required hours of hitting the window, some of it with a hammer and chisel, some of it with a hammer and crowbar, and when I succeeded in getting the window to slide open I ran into the street and demanded people bow before me. They ignored me, because it was the middle of summer and about 180 degrees out were climbing into the bags of ice at the convenience store.

“If the window were open, there’d be a breeze. You’d feel the cold air coming in.”

“I know cold when I smell it! The window’s all cold and you come in wearing like forty-squillion things when you come in and you keep complaining it’s cold! Now fix the window so it doesn’t open and make it stop being cold.”

I promised to do something about it, and the noon news was hopeful. The weather guy said that it was going to get above freezing sometime in the next couple days, and maybe into the forties next week. This is crazy talk, of course, because temperatures that warm no longer exist, but the weather guy has clearly been taking a lot of abuse from his co-workers for the last month of frigid temperatures. When the anchor went to give him a high-five he flinched. But I pointed that out to our rabbit, who said, “I’ll believe it when I see it, and if I don’t see it, I’ll thump.”

I know he’s not bluffing.

## Argument With The Rabbit

“You know you haven’t fed me,” our pet rabbit explained patiently while standing on his hindpaws and rattling his cage’s mesh so as to make the loudest din he’s able to.

I gave his complaint proper consideration and said, “I did feed you. It was that bunch of lettuce and parsley and mint-scented stuff that I put in your cage just a couple hours ago.”

He tipped his head sideways, so one ear flopped down, and said, “No, no, that would be really great, but I’m sure that it wasn’t me that you fed. You’re thinking of someone else, that’s all there is to it.” And he went back to rattling his cage.

So I leaned down and puffed a bit of air on his exposed belly, which made him jump backward, onto all fours, and look up with an expression of how dismayed he was I violated the sacred trust between rabbit and non-rabbit in this way.

“Yeah, ah, can I help you, fly?” I asked while swatting the annoying little creature that seemed awfully into my shoulder.

She said, “No, no, you’re doing very well, you’re all big and stationary and blue and that.” I have a lot of shirts, most of them the same blue one.

“I can help,” called out our pet rabbit. “I’m all set to eat a raisin.”

I swatted at the fly again, but she just landed on my ear.

I asked the fly, “If I walked over to the outside, you think you could take off from there?”

“Oh, absolutely,” she said. “That would be great!”

I stood slowly so as not to set off any reflexive extra flying around. Our rabbit said, “Maybe two if I tried. Yes, that’d be at least twice as good.” And I made my way, scooting sideways, to the door, where I fumbled getting the screen door unlatched because that always happens.

“There you go,” I told the fly while swatting at her again, and went back inside, where the rabbit offered to stretch himself out and try eating a whole three raisins.

I sat down, and that’s when the fly landed on my shoulder again.

“Come on, what did I just walk you outside for?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” said the fly. “I thought you just wanted to step out for a second? Anyway, you’re back here now.”

“Four raisins,” called our rabbit, “and that’s my final offer!”

## A Word From Our Pet Rabbit

“Look, big guy,” said our pet rabbit while I was feeding him — while I was feeding him, mind you — “it’s been fun having you around and I like the bit where you hide a sprig of parsley in the cage’s mesh, but isn’t it about time you were going back?”

“Going back where?” I had a bit of a feeling what the rabbit might mean. Also that he might not have caught my name yet.

He shook his head out some and distinctly sniffed. “I don’t know that. Wherever it is you came from. A bit of you is fine but you’ve been hanging around this house forever now and I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds you wearing out the welcome.”

This would have been a good chance to rub my eyes except that probably would have got rabbit food pellets in them. “No, no, this is my home. I married into it.”