May 3, 2015

Smelly Bunny Lady

I have allergies.  The kids know this.  Individuals who suggest hypoallergenic pets in the presence of my animal loving brood receive the hairy eye ball look from me.  The kids still talk about what pets they would prefer, if their lives were perfect and they had a different mother.  It's good to have dreams.

A few days ago, Mini piped up with her wish to have a bunny as a pet.  When I reminded her of the foul smell, she admitted that she wouldn't be able to tolerate the odor.  She still thinks bunnies are cute.  Fair enough. 

We encountered evidence of the rancid smell that accompanies housing bunnies a few years ago.  I decided to save money and prove a point all at once by making Mini a new Irish dancing dress.  Our dancing teachers at the time suggested that we invest in one of the used dresses that they had available.  Mini tried on a few.  The cost was staggering.  Just a year before I had purchased a used dress for Mini at a competition.  The teachers were furious, because they had shown me dresses that they felt suited my dancer.  While Mini may have been happy with one of their selections, my bank account would have struggled to recover.  I felt these dresses were grossly overpriced, and I realized that I had very little hope of getting much resale money out of them when Mini outgrew them.  They threatened to refuse to let Mini dance because I purchased a dress without their approval.  I was shocked.  None of this controlled dress sales was detailed in writing anywhere. 

A year later, the rules changed in our region for dancing dresses.  No more bling for girls under 10 years old.  Translation:  Mini needed another new dress.  She couldn't wear the used dress that I bought for her because the dress was decorated with bling.   Of course the dancing teachers (who I now recognized expected dancers to purchase dresses from their jacked-up-price-supply-closet) informed me that I couldn't make a dress.  That was all the fuel I needed to feed my fire.  I made my own pattern, shopped for fabric, and chose Celtic designs for the embroidery.  Without an embroidery machine, I realized I would have to hire someone to do the embroidery portion for me.  I searched on line for an embroidery shop near my house.  I discovered a woman named Laura in my town who embroidered for people out of her home.  She agreed to meet with me to review the project.

I stopped by her house on my way home from Irish dancing practice.  I carried a laundry basket with various fabrics, dress sketches, and Celtic design print outs.  While we waited for her to answer the door, I reminded the four youngest kids that I needed to talk to this woman and I expected their best behavior.  I apologized to Laura for bringing the kids along, but she waved us in with a big smile.  She told us to follow her and then she remarked that the kids could check out the bunnies while we talked.

We barely made it a few steps before it felt like we hit a wall.  When I say 'hit', I mean it felt like a serious slap in the face.  It was offensive.  The kids were ahead of me.  My hands were supporting the laundry basket.  As they spun around and looked at me with pinched expressions and wrinkled up faces, I was helpless.  I couldn't motion to them with my hands not to mention the inescapable odor and Laura was within ear shot.  Curly was about 3.  She held her nose and moaned loudly.  She called over the laundry basket to me, 'What's that smell?'  I hoped that Laura's hearing was failing her.  It was obvious that her olfactory senses were no longer functioning.  Who could live this way?

Laura opened a baby safety gate and led us into the downstairs of her split level home.  Bunnies darted beneath the furniture as we approached.  The kids squealed with delight.  Laura's workshop was just beyond the laundry room that housed several enormous cages.  Straw littered the laundry room floor that was separated from the rest of the lower level with another baby gate.  The kids giggled and delighted in touching these unique pets while I explained to Laura what I needed done for the dress.  I tried to maintain my composure.  I struggled not to hold my breath, gag, or display any facial twitching.  In the end, Laura agreed to work on the embroidery for a fraction of what I was willing to spend.  My promise that they could return someday to see the rabbits again was key in easing the gang towards the door and away from the six rabbits.  Six of them.  These people live with six, free-range, enormous rabbits.  I suspected a hidden camera.  Who was playing such an elaborate joke on me? 

Tetonka asked a zillion questions in the front hall.  I sensed fresh air on the other side of the front door.  Oxygen.  If a skunk had sprayed my car while we were inside, it would have been a welcome fragrance.  I begged Tetonka to save a few questions for our next visit.  At last the crisp night air embraced us as we moved away from the house.  We dissolved into fits of laughter once we were backing out of the driveway.  On the ride home, the kids babbled endlessly about the six rabbits.  Of course this excitement ensued only after we all expressed our utter shock that the woman and her husband were able to live that way.  "Do you think they know that it smells that bad?" Mini asked.  I can't imagine how this couple could invite other people into their home without first apologizing for the mind boggling stench.  Even if they are accustomed to the odor, do they not notice it as they reenter the space after spending some time in non-bunny infested air? 

I dragged Eddie and Laddie back with me when I returned to pick up the swatches of fabric that Laura was working on.  They couldn't be denied the experience.  I was grateful that in the end Laura and I had decided it would be best for her to create patches that I could then attach to the dress.  Otherwise how would I have removed the bunny smell from the dress if it spent any time in the house?  The kids frequently ask, 'Where are we going now?' when they jump in the car after soccer games and dancing practice and I don't head towards home.  It became easiest to explain my next errand by simply stating: 'I have to stop at the smelly-bunny-lady-house.'  Enough said. 

The following summer, I purchased several new beach towels.  Since the Shenanigan kids habitually lose beach towels, I brought the stack over to the smell bunny lady and asked her to embroider our last name on the towels.  To my breathing satisfaction, I learned that she had a drop off/pick up bin on her front porch.  I didn't need to enter the bunny zoo.  I washed the smelly towels before we brought them to the pool.  Obviously. 

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