13

The Rabbits’ New Home – Part 2

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Where we are: The Rabbit family went for a walk one winter morning. When they arrived back home, they discovered that the wind had blown a huge drift of snow over the opening to their burrow. The snow was so deep that they were unable to dig through it. Luckily, a friendly hawk came along and showed them the way to a deer shelter.

Pamela Rabbit slowly woke up. She realized that it smelled strange in her room. She looked around. She slowly remembered that she wasn’t home, she was with some deer that had helped them the day before.

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Pamela: Mom! Mom!

Susie: Stop shouting. I’m right here.

The rabbit parents were talking with several of the deer.

Pamela: What’s going on?

Jonathan: They’re trying to figure out how to get us home.

Pamela: There’s a whole bunch of then. Can’t they just help us dig?

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Jonathan: You’re goofy, sis. Deer don’t burrow.

Pamela: Oh yeah. I guess not. What’s going to happen?

Jonathan: They haven’t been able to figure that out. If you go out of this bunch of trees, you can see that it’s been snowing. A lot.

Pete Rabbit, seeing that Pamela had finally gotten up, went over to the children.

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Pete: How’s it going, kids? Get enough sleep, Pamela?

Pamela: It was very nice. One of the lady deer let me sleep cuddled up next to her. It was so nice and warm. Are we going home soon?

Pete: We’ve been talking with the adult deer. The weather has gotten really bad.  The deer have graciously asked us to stay until the storm is over.

Jonathan: We’re not going to stay here forever, are we?

Pete: Of course not. But it’s too windy and snowy to do anything else right now.

Pamela: OK. Then I’m going back to sleep.

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Pete and Jonathan laughed. The storm lasted three days. Finally, the sun came out again. But the snow had almost doubled on the ground. The rabbits were in despair. How would they get home?

Susie: I guess we should have built that emergency burrow.

Pete: You’re right. But it’s too late to worry about that.

Molly: You’re welcome to stay with us as long as you’d like.

Susie: That’s very kind of you. But we don’t want to take up your space and food any longer than we have to.

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They heard a rustling in the trees. The rabbits wanted to run, but there was nowhere to go.

Voice: Hi Ho, Neighbors! What do you think of our lovely weather?

A little more rustling, and a very large badger emerged through the bushes. The rabbits were terrified.

Pamela: We’re going to get eaten. I know we are. First the hawk. Now a badger.

Jonathan: Look how big he is, he must eat a lot.

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Molly: Wally Badger! How did you get here through all that snow?

Wally: It’s not so bad. I just dug a tunnel over here.  It was a little lonely in the burrow.

Wally looked around and spotted the rabbits. He ran over to them.

Wally: Bunnies! I love bunnies!

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Jonathan: Are you going to eat us?

Wally (puzzled): Why would I eat you? I just had breakfast.

Molly: Let me introduce you. Wally Badger, this is Pete and Susie Rabbit and their children, Jonathan and Pamela. They got shut out of their home by the storm, and we’re trying to help them get back in.

Wally: I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe I can help. We badgers are terrific diggers you know.

Pete: I’m not sure. It must be awfully deep by now.

Wally: Well there’s only one way to find out. Let me get some friends. I’ll be back in a bit.

Wally raced off before anyone else had a chance to say anything.

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Next week: Badgers to the rescue.

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

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13

A Mouse in the House

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The homeowners’ association meeting was near its’ end, when the President asked if there were any issues someone wanted to raise.

Mortimer Mouse: I have a complaint to file against the cats in my neighborhood. Some of them stay up all night and hunt right outside my windows. It’s very traumatic.

President: You must have known there were cats in the neighborhood when you moved in. And cats do hunt at night.

Mortimer: They don’t have to do it right outside my window.

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President: You are aware that we don’t generally sell homes to mice in predator neighborhoods.

Mortimer: I don’t actually own the house. I’m visiting.

President: Are you visiting cats?

Mortimer: No, I’m staying with my sister. She lives with cats.

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President: Why is your sister living with cats?

Mortimer: I have no idea. They’re horrible creatures with no sense of humor. I tried to take a piece of kibble from one of the kids, and it tried to eat me. As far as I’m concerned, she should have bought her own house.

The room starts to respond angrily, but Mortimer doesn’t notice.

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Mortimer: It’s probably her stupid husband’s idea. He’s one of those ‘live and let live’ types. I think they should be in an all-mouse place.

President: Your sister and her family are staying with a family of cats?

Mortimer: That’s right. So, will you fix the problem?

President: We’ll definitely look into it.

Matt Manx quickly left the room and went home.

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Sandy: Matt, you’re home early from the meeting. How’d it go?

Matt: Some obnoxious mouse got up and started bad-mouthing cats. Then he said that he was visiting his sister who was living with cats. How many cats do you know who have mouse boarders?

Sandy: But our mice are so sweet!

Matt: I know, but you know the rules. We’re not allowed to have boarders, and they’re obviously not relatives.

Sandy: You mean they have to leave? I’m sure they don’t have anywhere to go.

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Matt: I’m afraid so. This mouse really got folks riled up.

Matt went downstairs to talk to John and Josie Mouse. He explained what had happened at the meeting and told them that they would have to leave.

Matt: I’m really sorry this happened. If that mouse hadn’t made such a fuss, no one would have known. But we’ll get kicked out if they verify that we have boarders.

John: I understand. It’s not your fault. You’ve been more than kind. We’ll get our things together and go.

Matt: Do you know where you’ll go?

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John: Not really. Probably into the fields for a bit so we can think it through.

They shook paws and Matt left.

John: I told you not to let that moron stay here. Look at what he’s done! We don’t have a home and Matt and Sandy are in trouble.

Josie: I’m sure Mortimer didn’t cause trouble intentionally.

Mortimer comes in.

Mortimer: I can’t believe you live in this neighborhood. They didn’t care that cats come around at all hours disturbing us.

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John: Of course there are cats around, you idiot. We live with cats! Or rather we did, until you moved in. Now we’re homeless.

Mortimer: What do you mean, homeless?

Josie: Matt and Sandy Manx let us live here as a favor. They aren’t supposed to have non-family members stay for more than a few days.

Mortimer: Well, you’re better off without them. These animals are rude and thoughtless.

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John: You didn’t have any right to go to that meeting. We’re going to have to live outside. Are you happy that your sister will be living a field because of you?

Josie starts to cry. She had always been a house mouse and now she was going to have to live in a field.

Mortimer: I’m sorry, Josie. I guess I didn’t think it through very well. I haven’t been getting much sleep lately.

John: A lot of good that does her. We’d better pack.

Mortimer: I’ll fix it. Just give me a little time.

Next week: find out what Mortimer has in mind.

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Pictures courtesy of Google Images

2

Bring Me a Figgy Pudding

Pudding – [UK] a sweet and usually hot dish made with pastry, flour, bread,or rice, and often fruit: a stick toffee/treacle pudding  › [US] a sweet, soft food made from milk, sugar, eggs and flavouring, eaten cold: chocolate/vanilla/butterscotch pudding (Cambridge Dictionaries Online)

When I was little, I heard about plum pudding at Christmas. It sounded like a strange flavor, but grown-ups eat strange things sometimes. Imagine my surprise, while watching A Christmas Carol with my dad, to find Mrs. Cratchitt using a towel not to burn herself while serving the plum pudding. It looked like a brown lump of bread with raisins in it. I was close.

I found a recipe for it. The ingredients include whole wheat flour, fresh bread crumbs, shredded suet, eggs, carrot, apple, dark brown sugar, blanched almonds, preserved stem ginger in syrup, ground almonds, walnuts, candied cherries, raisins, dried currants, golden raisins, candied mixed fruit peel, plums, lemon, mixed spice, baking powder, and ale. Wow! This sounded a lot like my mother’s fruit cake recipe with suet added! Yum! Not only that, you have to steam them for 5 to 10 hours to set them, baste them in brandy or rum regularly, and steam them for 2-3 hours to reheat them.

I don’t care how much rum or brandy to add to it, that pudding is not coming to my table much less to my recipe collection. I wondered how the people who created the language had attached such an attractive name to such an, um, interesting set of ingredients. Of course, my mother’s family (from Cornwall) made tons of fruitcake every year. They liked to brag that they only used enough batter to hold the fruit together. I’m not sure it should be allowed to be called fruit once they petrify it like that.

With this background, I dreaded the thought of what figgy pudding might be. As near as they can tell, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” originated in England sometime in the sixteenth century. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that figgy pudding really does sound like a dessert. It’s a kind of souffle made with figs and walnuts. They say it tastes a little like spice cake. You will have to either take their word for it or try it yourself. Sticky brown lumps do not made a tasty base for any food as far as I’m concerned. However the serving suggestions include topping it with whipped cream or ice cream, which speaks well for it.

Thinking I was on a roll, I decided that I would look into one more “English dessert”, mincemeat pie. Silly me. I was thinking pumpkin pie when I should have been thinking meat pie. My grandparents from Scotland loved meat pies. Based on smell, I had never asked what was actually in the pie. Since all the jars of mincemeat I have seen in markets here have no meat, I figured it was some sort of substitute for people who couldn’t afford real meat. At least I think that’s the idea.

The Victorian recipe I looked at has the following ingredients: lemons, tart apples, raisins, dried currants, citron, candied orange peel, beef kidney suet, nutmeg, mace, ginger, salt, brandy, beef (optional). You mix it all together and let it set a couple of days for the flavors to mingle. More time with no beef. I am not a huge fan of beef, but in this case I think it would be a positive addition. My first image when I read the recipe was fruitcake mixed with suet (kidney suet at that). I now understand why the American supermarket version emphasizes that it is made with raisins and walnuts. I think the brandy manufacturers had a role in developing these recipes; I’m sure the more brandy you use, the better they taste.

For as long as I can remember, our desserts on Christmas have been hot-fudge sundaes and home-made cookies. A couple of times, I got really motivated and made a buche de noel. I was pondering the idea of making a more traditional dessert to go with the roast and Yorkshire pudding (yikes – I never made the name connection). Upon further thought, those molasses cookies are sounding pretty good.