An Illustrated Guide to Life – Featuring Ridley Rabbit


In our society today, a lot of people get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and they often forget the important things; the little things that keep us healthy and happy and human. So today, my little friend Ridley the Rabbit is going to give you some sound advice. He may be just a bunny, but he knows what’s truly important. So here’s our first segment of “An Illustrated Guide to Life – Featuring Ridley Rabbit”



DOOLITTLEING: [doo-little-ing] (verb)

  1. The act of talking to a pet while having a human in the room who believes you to be addressing them and hence asks you to repeat yourself.
  2. The act of holding a conversation with an animal, regardless of reciprocation.

Ember: “Why are you chasing your tail?”
Grimm: “What’s that, Ember?”
Ember: “Nothing, I’m doolittleing.”

My Furry Bucket List


I am a huge animal lover. In fact, I’ll openly admit that I typically enjoy the company of animals more than people. Living in an apartment, I can currently only enjoy the company of your “usual” house pets. Right now, my two fur-babies are my dog, Aussie, and my rabbit, Ridley. Yet, I have big dreams of expanding my furry family someday. We’re not just talking cats, dogs, and rabbits though… I am a very ambitious animal lover, and below I have compiled an illustrated list (in no particular order) of my top ten most wanted future family members. I’ll warn you that several of them are somewhat unusual…

I yearn for the day that I can wake up to this cute little wrinkly snout. I’m not naïve, I know that teacup pigs do not stay teeny-tiny, and I’m fine with that. One pound or 100 pounds, this “little” piggy would always have my heart.


They prance, they bleat, and they have the stomach anatomy to eat just about anything. Plus, they’re just so freakin’ adorable. Pygmy goats first stole my heart when I volunteered at a petting zoo when I was 13. I bonded with one goat named Oreo, and I got him to head-butt a bratty girl that I had a profound distaste for. At that moment, I knew that someday I would be welcoming one of these fellas into my home.


I can’t even deal with the cuteness of these guys. While I could technically adopt one in my current living situation, my apartment is a bit too compact for more than one type of small and furry… Or should I say small and quill-y? And there’s always the concern of my dog thinking that the hedgehog is a ball for him to play fetch with.


Isn’t it majestic? Who wouldn’t be drawn to the world’s largest rodent, weighing in at 100+ pounds when fully grown. Though I can’t imagine what it’d be like cleaning up after him, I’d love to hang out with a capybara. [Side note: I have yet to find anywhere that I can see one of these in person… Can anyone tell me where I need to go?]


When I envision having a sugar glider in my home, I can see it flying every which way from the tops of our many bookshelves to the comfort of our couch and back again. It’d be like chillin’ with Rocky from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. And I would totally buy a pouch so I could carry him with me. Sure, they’re nocturnal and I know that they are noisy little critters at night, but so am I; so I think it’ll all work out.


Here’s another marsupial that I’d love to be in the company of. From my understanding they are carnivorous, ornery, and prefer solitude over interaction… Sounds very similar to my significant other (I love you, Paul!). It’s true; I have no problem with cranky animals. I can completely relate to the sensation of wanting everyone to bugger off and just let me eat and stay up all night without being bothered. This is my kind of animal.


“I shall call him squishy, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my squishy.” I have been wanting one of these for a looooong time. I’ve done a lot of research, and I know they are somewhat high-maintenance pets. So is my rabbit, though, so I got this.


I doubt I’ll ever be able to call one of these my own, as they are pretty rare and thus high-priced and hard-to-obtain…. But one can dream.


SQUEE!!!! Just look at that face! Fennec foxes are sort of like a cross between a cat and a dog. Highly energetic, and open to snuggling, I feel these foxes are way too underrated as companions. And just for the record, they bark — they will never, ever say GERING-DING-DING-A-DING or the likes…. Bonus.


Did you know that alpacas sing? Well, technically they hum, but it’s quite melodic and soothing, Put that in combination with their soft fleece, and you have yourself a perfectly therapeutic animal. Just try to avoid their spit.

So that was my bucket list of pets. I hope you found it equal parts adorable and informative. Until next time….!





Looking for Wildlife in the Big City


I am a Chicagoan, born and raised; and even when I have tried to live elsewhere, this city has always drawn me back in. I love my hometown. We’ve got the best pizza, hot dogs, and Italian food; we’ve got two of the best MLB teams; even our accent is cool. The Windy City certainly has a lot to envy, so choosing something that I feel it lacks is a bit difficult. I wracked my brain to decide what, if anything, I would incorporate into Chi-Town to make it better, and I could only come up with one thing:

Pure and simple nature. I’m not talking about forest preserves or man-made parks… As phenomenal as our Zoological society is, that still doesn’t quite do it for me. I miss virginal nature – the kind that has not been tampered with at all by our species. Simple, untouched, and wild. I don’t want to walk on a decorative path… I’d much prefer the feel of wild grass beneath my feet. I’d love to roam the areas where the native wildlife has not been cast out. I’m willing to risk the potential of cougar attack just to get some one on one time with Mother Earth. And I’d like to see the stars laid out before me; not just the few white specks that shine through the glare of millions of lights reflected off of our lovely ozone, but the galaxy in all of it’s distant glory.

But alas, there just isn’t enough room for these things in the City of Big Shoulders… Guess I’ll just have to get in my car and drive off the map for awhile.

[original prompt @ – ]

When Words Fail


There are certain days when organized thoughts are lost upon me. I sit down prepared to write something noteworthy and epic, and as I look at my screen my mind goes as blank as the word processor I’m staring at. Today is one of those days. Perhaps it’s a case of the Mondays (though I do believe you’d get your ass kicked for saying something like that, man)… Or maybe it’s because I carb-overloaded at lunch. A fourth cup of coffee may be what I need to get my creative juices flowing; yet, somehow I doubt that. It’s just one of those days. So rather than write nothing, I’ll write a haiku. I’ll even gear it toward my Writing 101 prompt for the day… Here we go:

the thinker awakes
deep thoughts have left him famished
which way’s the café?



The Cryptic Message


It was lying on the hot asphalt path as if someone had simply dropped it without realizing; a plain white envelope with no return address and no stamp. There was not even a mailing address on it, it was simply addressed to “YOU”. I looked around, as if the person who had possessed this letter might still be within sight, but there was no one. My curiosity was piqued. I crouched down and plucked it off the ground. It was thin and light, so I knew there couldn’t be more than a sheet of paper inside. Peering around once again, I nervously picked at the corner of the envelope. In that moment, I decided I had to read it.

Continue reading

When Impulse Shopping leads to Lifetime Committment


This is the story of how I ended up with Aussie. He was born on a ranch in western Colorado; the runt in a litter of nine Cattle Dog puppies. Nine unplanned puppies, as far as the rancher was concerned, so the litter ended up at a local farm and feed store that also doubled as a shelter for unwanted farm dogs.

I did not plan on getting a puppy when I went into the store that day. I was simply going in to buy rabbit food and litter for my bunnies. The way the shop was laid out, though, made it impossible to enter any area without first passing the wall of dogs. I refer to it as ‘the wall of dogs’ because it was literally a wall made up of large dog crates that housed several puppies in each… Each except for one. One crate in the middle had only one puppy inside. He was black and white with sad brown eyes and a round little potbelly. He sat very still near the front of the crate and rested one oversized paw on the door. As I walked by, his eyes followed me. I tried to look away, to ignore the pleading gaze, but an invisible force stopped me. I stared at him. He stared back at me.

“Hi,” I said.
*thump. thump. thump.*  Went his white-tipped tail slowly beating against the floor of the crate. Other than that, he remained still and continued to stare at me. A shop attendant approached me from the front desk and asked me if I wanted to handle the puppy.
“Yes!” I blurted out; though my brain was saying ‘NO! You don’t need a puppy. Get the rabbit supplies and run away!’

Rarely does my brain get much say in the matter… About 30 seconds later I found myself in a room behind the wall of dogs, and the attendant was placing the puppy in my arms. As calm as the little furball had been behind bars, he erupted into a frenzy of excitement as soon as I was holding him. He wiggled and flailed around, rolled on the ground and contorted himself so he could bite his own tail, and then he hopped up and rammed into me like a charging goat before spinning in a circle and plopping down in my lap where he began to gnaw on my hand.

“I’ll take him.” I told the attendant.

I won’t go into the adopter’s remorse I felt for several weeks after this major life decision… Not now at least. I won’t talk about the heathen beast this puppy was for the first two years of his life, or all of the work it took me to mold him into a socially acceptable companion. I will save that for another post at another time.

I will say, though, that I learned more life lessons from this puppy than I learned from most people I’ve met. He taught me patience through his relentless refusal to obey me; loyalty and commitment – because I promised to care for him no matter how much of an ass he chose to be (and he often chose to be a BIG ass.) Most importantly, though, he taught me unconditional love.

Six years have passed and Aussie is now a well-behaved and loving, albeit ornery and overly-communicative dog. You will hear a lot more about him if you follow my blog. It’s been an interesting relationship between my pup and I, but I regret nothing. The best things in life are worth working hard for. And the greatest of characters can never truly be tamed.

I Can Hear my Childhood, and it Sounds Like British Pop


It never ceases to amaze me how certain things can spark one’s memory. Scent, for instance. When I smell the musky aroma of burning leaves, I am virtually transported to my childhood when I would go on weekend trips to Michigan with my Dad and our neighbors. At night, we would come back from swimming in the lake and have a bonfire at the cottage. The Dads would grill sausages, and us kids would run around barefoot in the yard having water balloon fights. When I catch a faint whiff of gasoline fumes in the wind, I think of summers spent in Lake Geneva and my Aunt and Uncle’s speedboat cruising along the water. I’d always lean over the side of the boat near the back and try to catch seaweed as we’d coast by. My mom would yell at me to stop, always afraid I’d fall in.

Scent is one thing that has that power. Another is music.

I was born in the mid-80s, and I can honestly say that I still gravitate more towards the music of last millennium than most anything I hear on the radio today. I hear “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure and I have fond memories of going to the roller rink with my friends when we were in elementary school. I couldn’t skate for shit. Still can’t. But listening to that music, laughing and being pulled around the rink by my friends just so I could stay upright for more than two minutes… That’s the kind of thing that stays with you and brings out your inner child even as you’re sitting at your desk paying utility bills and researching what kind of medical care you should have when you turn 30.

I could list countless songs and albums that conjure up a lifetime of memories, but I won’t do that right now. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Instead, I encourage anyone out there who’s having a blah kind of day to turn on some music that brings them back to happier times. Bonus if you can recreate some happy aromatherapy too. Everyone today gets caught up in finding prescriptions to make them happy, stocking up on meaningless possessions, drinking until you reach the illusion of euphoria…. I can tell you, channeling your senses instead is a much easier, cheaper, and satisfying way to tune into those feelings of contentment. Plus, no hangover or credit card bills to haunt you later.

Until next time, I’ll leave you with this gem:

Why, you ask? Because this is the song I was listening to when I was partying like it was 1999 and thought that the world was going to end at the stroke of midnight Y2K. The world didn’t end, though. We just ended up pissing the night away 😉

Extreme Jeeping with Ember


The air is a refreshing 68 degrees even in mid-summer, and the light breeze carries the scent of Aspen and Juniper. A quaint little Victorian town tucked away in the San Juan Mountains; Ouray, Colorado is possibly one of the most underrated destinations in the Rocky Mountain State. I spent several years living in CO, and Ouray was always my favorite spot for a weekend getaway. Year round, there is a wide array of activities to occupy your time: In the winter, ice climbing is one of the main attractions. If rock climbing isn’t extreme enough for you, you should experience the rush of scaling a frozen waterfall with a pickaxe. In the warmer months, off-roading on one of their many jeep trails is all the hype.

Enough of the brochure talk, though. I actually own a Jeep. My Dad bought it for me shortly after I moved to Colorado because my lemon of a Dodge Neon self-destructed on me and I desperately needed a car. I never actually intended for my Jeep to be used in extreme off-roading. It’s a Liberty Sport and it’s trail-rated, but I pretty much chose it simply because I knew it would be good in the snow. At this point in my life, all but one of the friends I’d hang out with were guys. Consequently, as soon as they saw my new ride they decided we were going to be using it for it’s full rock-crawling potential.

“No, guys.” I’d say, “I don’t want my tires and whatnot getting messed up.” (whatnot is my go-to term when I really don’t know WTF things are called, like most car parts for instance). “You all have SUVs, why do we have to use MY Jeep?” I’d ask.

The answers were always the same: “Because we can.” and “Because my jacked-up 4Runner is too big for the narrow mountain trails.”

And because I liked adventure as much as the next reckless college kid, I went along with it. Sure, I’d bitch and cuss people out when my Jeep would get hung up on a boulder or stuck in the mud or driven through a river that “seemed a lot shallower from over there”… But it was all in good fun. Mostly.

There is one particular trail that stretches through the highest parts of the mountains… 13,200 feet to be exact…. And it takes you through abandoned mining sites and untamed wilderness all the way to Telluride, CO. I never wanted to experience this trail. I am not that much of a thrill seeker, and I’m kind of afraid of heights. We’re talking about a narrow rock-and-dirt path that often runs beside a drop-off of ten thousand feet or so. I’m all for dying in a blaze of glory, but I’d prefer it if that blaze were not from the flames of my exploded vehicle after careening of a cliff.

So, I can’t really explain why I allowed the guys to talk me into it… Well, scratch that… It can easily be explained by a night out with Jim Beam and friends, and the [empty] promise that I would get to see wild stallions at the top of the mountain. So one July morning I found myself loading up my Jeep and getting into the back while my friend took the driver’s seat. I absolutely refused to be the one operating the vessel that would potentially lead me to my demise. I didn’t even want to sit shotgun. I was as comfortable as I could be in the safety of my back seat, sandwiched between a cooler and my excessively slobbery dog.

I had a system worked out. I hugged my dog and drank beer with my eyes closed until my friends told me that we were “safe” – i.e. not on the edge of a giant cliff. This system worked well for me, and I still got to see most of the stunning scenery. There were vast meadows of wildflowers, old mine shafts, caves, waterfalls, natural springs, and animals that you wouldn’t normally see at sea-level. If you’ve never watched a bighorn sheep hurdle your car, you really haven’t done enough living.

So I was actually having a great time. Until about 3/4 of the way through the trail when we ran into some trouble. At this point, my eyes were closed because we weren’t in a “safe” zone. I heard my friend yell “Oh, shit!”, my enormous dog jumped into my lap, and I was jostled and jarred out of my seat as we hit what I imagined was a hole or a rock. My eyes still closed, I then heard my friend ordering me to slide as far right as I could and to take my dog with me. He told me whatever I did, to keep my eyes closed. So, of course, I opened my eyes.

Looking out the left back window, all I could see was sky and the village 11,000 feet below. I then noticed that the Jeep was not stable. The front passenger-side tire was suspended in the air over the drop-off. I said nothing, and I held my breath. My friend squeezed himself out the driver’s window (the road was so narrow, he couldn’t open his door without hitting a rock wall) and started to work on pushing the jeep back onto solid ground. He kept telling me it would be okay, that he could get us back up. I took a deep breath and let it out, chugged the rest of my beer, and resumed my breath-holding. As he and another friend worked on pushing the jeep back up, my dog and I were being tossed around the back seat like pieces of chicken in a shake ‘n bake bag. It felt like a lifetime before the tire squeaked back onto the road, and I’m fairly certain that this very experience is what started my hair prematurely turning white in certain areas. But nonetheless, we survived. The rest of the trail gave us no problems, and that was officially the last time I allowed my Jeep to be used for any off-roading excursions.

*(all pictures seen here were taken by me with a 5 Megapixel camera that was pretty damn advanced for it’s time. The photo below is a real sign in Telluride, CO. If anyone knows why there is a question mark, PLEASE explain to me…. I’ve been trying to solve that mystery for the past 8 years…)