Tag: author at home

A Rabbit is My Nemesis

Rabbit from Hell

We’re big gardeners here at Chez Small. It’s in the blood. I grew up on land that had been part of my grandfather’s dairy farm, and even my mom’s family who were poor-as-dirt country folk lived off the land and always had a garden.

So we (me and the husbot) have had a vegetable garden since moving back from Ye Ol’ England. And of course, we’ve battled a whole host of pests over the years: squirrels, mocking birds, bats, carpenter bees, squash bugs, Japanese beetles, green horned tomato worms, vine borers, ants, snakes, black widows, turtles, murder hornets (yes, we had them before they became a thing) and honestly, I could keep going on and on about the wildlife that we encounter in the garden. It’s an in running joke about what we’ll wake up and find on our soapstone porch. 

But this is the first year we’ve had to contend with rabbits.

Scratch that . . . THE Rabbit.

One autumnal morning last Fall, we looked out onto the porch, and lo and behold, the cutest littlest baby rabbit you could ever imagine was hanging out. That’s a lie. He was trying to get into the house and we thought he’d lost his everlovin’ mind, but still, he was cute, and not really scared of us and we thought, “Awww, little guy is nuts, but hey, live and let live. And he’s so cute!” I must’ve said “cute” like two dozen times. I currently hate that word because . . .

 . . . fast forward to Spring 2020. We’re stuck at home going insane during the pandemic, but hey, we still have the veggie garden to get underway and the yard looks great and all is well with the world (or as much as it can be sheltering in place).

That is until one day when the husbot notices that there’s a rabbit in the garden.

Now I should point out a couple of things:

  1. We have a ten foot brick wall, geogrid fencing, and a retaining wall with a 10-12 foot drop that requires a railing system. The only thing getting into this garden is Spiderman or a squirrel.
  2. I really wanted a pet rabbit. The irony is not lost on me that you should be careful what you wish for.

Back to the rabbit.

The husbot swears that the rabbit has created the crater-sized hole in a veggie box that contains my leeks. Skeptical, I place my bet on the squirrel because I’ve had run-ins with those fluffy rats with furry tails before – they are notorious for burying nuts in said boxes. But before I can debate the finer points of my case, we chase the rabbit out, it escapes through a hole, and I make a mental note to fix the fence.

Within 2 days, the rabbit is back and this time, we watch in dismay (okay, I watch in dismay, the husbot feels smug and vindicated) as the rabbit hops in the box and starts digging. Like a screeching harpy, I rush out the door and start yelling obscenities at the rabbit (note to self: small children live next door). It escapes through the fence. By this point, I feel like I’m living the live action version of Peter Rabbit.

Pissed, I then spend my weekend re-doing all the fencing with brand new high tensile geogrid mesh (yes, the stuff they use in construction) then secure it to the ground using landscape staples every 12 inches and even run a piece of geomesh all along the railing and retaining wall until the big wall drop. There. Take that, you weasily rabbit!

We go to have lunch several days later and you know where this is going, right, that little bastard is back inside the fence! And he’s digging another damn hole! It’s like Houdini rabbit. I have no clue how he’s gotten inside. Everything is latched down tight. But by this point, I’ve lost all rational thought. I make the husbot go outside and we corner the rabbit and torment it for a full five minutes chasing it back and forth. I’ve trapped it behind the boxes and I’m determined to a) find out where it’s getting in, but also b) scare the bejesus out of it so it doesn’t come back. 

Come to find out, through the husbot’s strong deduction skills and these wee tiny little wet paw prints that the devil rabbit has been squeezing his furry behind through the closed gate and onto the soapstone porch. At this point, many less stubborn people would’ve given up, but not me, oh no, not today Satan! I’m determined to thwart this rabbit once and for all and so I do what only a sane person would do – I WRAP THE ENTIRE GATE IN FENCING. Exhibit A – 

fence wrapped gate

This time I’m the smug one. I have finally defeated Satan’s little minion. In my mind, it was kinda like this: There is no way he can get the better of me. Ha! That rabbit thought he was smart, but I’m smarter. Stupid rabbit. I’ve got opposable thumbs, motherf*@&er!

You see where this is going again, don’t you . . . 

We sit down to lunch today to have this gorgeous Chinese chow mein that I’ve made from scratch. I’m not six bites into my noodles when the husbot is like, “You’re never going to believe it. It’s the rabbit.”

My back is to the porch and sliding glass door so I can’t see the damn thing right away, but when I turn around, which I finally do with a sigh, there he is. He’s already dug a whole in a pot only 2 feet off the porch (like he was trying to taunt me), but he’s more skittish this time. The moment he sees me get up from my chair, he backs up toward the fence. My first thought is, “that’s not going to help you this time, buddy,” until I realize my error – 



My old fence had been up over five years with nary a scratch on it, but within a week of the new one going up, that stupid rabbit has used it’s titanium-covered gnashers to go through my beautiful, shiny fence.


But this war is not over. It’s on like Donkey Kong. I’m getting chicken wire tomorrow. The husbot has pointed out that rabbits can dig, but I’ll deal with that later. For now, it’s full steam ahead. There can be only one victor . . . and it’s going to be me.

xo – shawnee




Things to do during a pandemic (Part 2)


We’re finishing off Week 5 of sheltering in place at Chez Small.

I have to be honest and say that this last week was probably the hardest by far. I think it’s the same as writing a book: the first 1/3 and it’s still new and shiny, but then you get to the next 1/3 which we call “the saggy middle” or why did I think this was a good idea for a book syndrome and oh god, I’m the worst author on the face of the planet neurosis.

This last week has been just like that.

But this morning, I woke up and decided to kick my own ass and stop feeling sorry for myself and to implement the same method I use when writing, which is the the only way through it is through it philosophy. And in that vein, I’ve had a couple of more things that I’d like to add to last week’s list of what we can all collectively do at home to keep from going insane.

Here we go . . .

6) Take an Online Course

screensYou know that thing you’ve always wanted to learn, but never seem to have the time to learn it? Well, now’s that time. The Internet has exploded with online course options. From make-up classes with Bobby Brown to learning a new language, there are more online classes than ever before and many of them are free. Check out Coursera or EDX for hundreds of free choices. There’s also MasterClass if you want paid content and many many more. I personally am thinking about taking Korean, but languages have never been my strong suit. We’ll see how it goes. Either way, there are many things out there waiting for me (and you) at just the click of a button. 

7) Play a Board Game

Put the joystick or controller down and rewind back to a time when the whole family would sit down and play a board game together. I know, mind blown, but these days, board games are more than just Monopoly or Scrabble and they’re not just for children like Candyland. Board games are a perfect way to entertain the whole family at once without everyone being glued to an electronic device. It’s old school – way to go hipster!

Board games have made a comeback and there as many flavors of games as there are icecream – that is to say a ton. If you’re feeling intimidated by Settlers of Catan, why don’t you try Ticket to Ride? Or if you’re looking for something in the adult variety there is always Cards Against Humanity. There are many options for easy to pick-up-and-play games that don’t require you to read a manual for an hour to set up the board. But if all that seems like too much effort, pull out Connect Four or even Game of Life or Clue. You can never go wrong with a classic and you might just reconnect with your family along the way.

8) Clean the House

There are audible groans everywhere, but let’s face reality, with all those people living at home under one roof, cleaning is inevitable. When Benjamin Franklin said ” . . . in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” he should’ve added cleaning to that list.

But here’s the deal – cleaning is good for the soul. Having a proper tidy up not only gets you off the couch and burns off calories, but it also gets you out of your head. Recite poetry as you clean, wax on and wax off like the Karate kid . . . whatever way you wanna do it, get the rubber gloves out and grab the vacuum. In this time of germ and disease, a tidy house is more than just a tidy mind. It’s also a way to keep your family healthy. It’s a win-win and you’ll feel better for it.

9) Send a Letter

Today, I’m writing my British father-in-law a letter. He’s stuck quarantined in his studio apartment in his senior living facility, which is not great for any senior. You think we’re going crazy being stuck at home with our Netflix and snacks and spacious living space? Try being an 80+ year old 6’3″ nimble man with macular degeneration who has no internet streaming, no ability to read books, no contact with the outside world except for someone bringing your meal on a tray in an assisted living center in a space that is smaller than my garage.

It’s grim and in a bid to lighten his spirits, I’m going to compose a letter. I have no idea what I will say and I have to be very careful to make sure that my handwriting is large and legible for his poor eyesight, but I feel like it’s something I have to do. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s something that I would encourage all of you to do especially for the seniors in your life who might be scared or frightened of the changes that are happening around them right now. 

Like journaling, you don’t need fancy pens or paper. Even copier paper will do. Jot down a quick note, let them know how you’re doing, or send them a poem if you’re feeling creative. You’ll be surprised how much of an impact your small missive will make in someone’s life. And by using a stamp, you’ll also be saving the USPS. Two good deeds in one!

10) Try Something New

I’ve left number 10 blank because this one is up to you. This is your chance to find out what makes you tick and once you do . . . are you ready for it . . . TRY SOMETHING NEW. It doesn’t matter what it is – whatever you try will alter you even the tiniest itty bitty bit. And that’s good in my books. Never stop being curious about the world. Never stop seeking to enrich your life because once you do, what’s life about at that point? To be healthy and happy is to stay engaged, to be involved, whether in someone else’s life or your own . . . but let’s focus on you here. Let’s make it all about you. Make time for yourself. Figure out what interests you and try it out.

And whatever you do, whether it’s something on my list or not, keep your chin up, and hold onto hope. This is just a bump in a very long road and you know what we do with bumps? We hold onto the steering wheel, drive over those little bastards, and keep on trucking.

Stay sane. Stay safe. See you on the other side.

xo – Shawnee