Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spining round

The three Huffman girls have always pined for the latest Apple gadget — iPods, iPhones, iTouches… If it starts with an “i,” “iWant” it, they’d say.
But last week one Huffman announced she was saving her money for something a little different.
I want a turntable, she said.
You mean a record player, I said.
Yeah, she said, as if she hadn’t been begging for an iPad just three days before.
Was this a trick? Was she trying to lull me into reliving the 1980s, a decade I couldn’t wait to escape at the time but now look back on with the kind of nostalgia that only 30 years and three teenagers can bring?
Did she really want a RECORD PLAYER — one with a needle and arm? The kind that you plug in with a cord, and turn on with the click of a dial, not the tap of a touchscreen?
Yeah, she said. They’re cool.
So a record player is cool now?
This is it, I said to myself. My generation is so old that we’re new again. We’re so old that companies are reinventing our old technology into “new” technology. They’re reproducing our era, only this time with Wi-Fi, USB ports and iPhone apps.
What’s next? Eight-track players? Gramophones with those cone-shaped speakers? Morse code jam sessions?
A friend has a record player, our daughter informed me. She has fun. on vinyl.
Fun? I knew enough to recognize the name of the newish band I’d heard on the radio. But what band in 2013 is releasing music on actual vinyl? It turns out more than you’d think. Our daughter rattled off a bunch of other current bands that had done the same.
She showed me a photo online (naturally) of a record player. It looked a lot like something you might have seen in my bedroom in about 1978, only it comes in her choice of a blue, green, orange, pink or turquoise case.
This got me reminiscing about my early record purchases. First there was the recorded book “Black Beauty,” complete with illustrated pages, then 45s by Bobby Sherman, and the “Grease” soundtrack, eventually followed by the Police’s “Synchronicity” album and “Whammy” by the B-52s.
I probably would have kept on buying vinyl, but then I upgraded to the latest and greatest technology: a Realistic brand cassette tape recorder bought at the local Radio Shack. It had not one, but two cassette tape players, which the Jennifer of 1983 referred to as “totally rad.”
My daughter told me that her friend has even been going to the thrift store and buying old records to play on her turntable.
Like what?, I said dubiously.
Led Zeppelin. The Eagles, she said.
Hmm … it was hard to argue with classic rock.
I considered the possible upsides to a record player. If she got the turntable, she could start visiting Goodwill looking for old vinyl records. Who knows, maybe she could even run across an old dual-track cassette player. I could teach our girl how to make a mixtape.

Monday, March 18, 2013

This little piggy

As if our upstart bunny breeding business weren’t enough, yet another new animal is now inhabiting the Huffman house.
It seems that oldest daughter and her boyfriend were at the pet store and felt inspired to adopt a guinea pig.
The guinea pig, which looks a lot like an oversized hamster, officially belongs to the boyfriend, but apparently they have joint custody and our home seems to have become the primary residence of said guinea pig.
My husband, who grew up on a farm and raised his own animals, just shrugged at the news.
I was not as excited. With a dog, two turtles, a tankful of fish, one rabbit and likely more on the way, I’d rather get off the train to Dr. Doolittle-ville.
And then I saw the little creature.
Named Turner, and alternatively referred to as Nugget, he’s a brown, white and black little guy, with fur that’s softer than you’d think.
Until I met Turner, all the guinea pigs I had met had that long shaggy hair with crazy cowlicks that seemed to go every which way. But Turner has good guinea pig hair. It’s short and sleek. His black eyes are bright and shiny. His little whiskers are Disney-cartoon cute.
“Take a picture of how adorable I look as I nibble on this piece of apple and post it on,” he all but told me telepathically.
Naturally, the two younger Huffmans went gaga over Turner/Nugget.
Let’s play with him on the kitchen floor, they said.
No, said big sister. He might go under the refrigerator, she said knowingly. Apparently earlier that week Turner had scampered under the boyfriend’s bed at his house.
It took us forever to get him out, oldest daughter said.
Turner was so cute, he even had me forgetting about my normal aversion to pet poop. Turns out that Turner’s little “nuggets” are small and hard, like brown rice kernels. I like a pet with easily scooped poop. I imagine it will therefore be easier for the pet owner to keep a cage clean. And we moms like our pet cages kept clean.
The girls just about died after Turner started chirping like a bird and wiggling his little nose. His tweets, chirps and squeals made him sound like a cross between a mini R2-D2 and a Zhu Zhu Pet.
When one of the girls started petting him and he actually purred like a cat, it was enough to melt the heart of even this “not another pet” parent.
The youngest Huffman saw her own angle. A new pet means a new kind of animal to show at the fair and more ribbons to compete for.
Her hopes were somewhat dashed after she noticed one of Turner’s toes was crooked. He’d be disqualified in the breed category, she said resignedly. But I could still enter him in showmanship, she said, brightening up.
Teenage romances don’t always last forever, but the average guinea pig lives up to eight years. Welcome to the family, Turner, crooked toe and all.

Monday, March 04, 2013

28 days later

We need to move Bonnie inside, our youngest daughter announced last week.
She was referring to Bonnie, her bunny. Normally, Bonnie lives in a rabbit hutch in the backyard. But apparently, Bonnie’s living quarters needed an upgrade.
Inside? I asked. As in, inside the house?
Our daughter sighed and gave me one of her “mom needs to get with the program” looks.
Yes, she said. According to her, it was only five days till bunny D-day.
About three weeks earlier, Bonnie had a “romantic encounter” with a boy bunny named Willie. Bonnie was predicted to become a mommy 28 days later, subsequently tripling the pet population at the Huffman home.
What about the garage?, I said. Surely the garage would be a nice spot for a temporary bunny obstetrics ward. There’s plenty of room. She could make a nest out of all the paper towels from our latest Costco run.
It’ll be too cold out there, said my husband, who is also the family animal husbandry expert.
Where in the house were we going to put a bunny cage? We’re talking about a 1,700-square-foot space that’s already bulging at the seams. We have a hard time squeezing the Christmas tree in every year, let alone a pregnant bunny and her offspring.
We’ll put her where the Christmas tree goes, our girl said in an “Isn’t it obvious?” tone of voice.
Great. Somehow I didn’t think Bonnie’s cage would smell like a pine tree and winterberry candles. Bonnie is cute and fluffy, but her bunny byproduct isn’t. I’m talking about bunny poop. This rabbit poops. A lot. And I was not looking forward to waking up to the scent of bunny droppings. Or the sound of bunny droppings dropping.
But there were the baby bunnies to think of. Soon afterward, Bonnie’s new roost was installed inside. The bunny baby watch had begun. We waited. And waited some more.
It turns out that it’s not obvious when a bunny is pregnant or not. She doesn’t complain of swelling ankles or demand a Big Mac first thing in the morning. Target doesn’t sell bunny home pregnancy tests.
As the due date got closer, everyone was on bunny birthing alert. Relatives from Texas and Missouri were even phoning in for updates.
After Bonnie was seen hopping energetically around her cage one night, a short-lived rumor of impending labor spread through the family, but it turned out to be a false alarm.
One afternoon, I came home to find Bonnie sleeping on her side in her heated indoor palace. Maybe she’s just resting up before the big event, I thought. Or not.
Human mothers-to-be often do that “nesting” thing where we clean everything in sight right before we go into labor. Bonnie wasn’t doing any cleaning. Just a lot of lounging. And pooping.
By days 30 and 31, there was still no sign of baby bunnies. Reluctantly, our girl concluded that the bunny breeding was a bust.
Disappointed, but resigned, she emailed bunny breeder Jessica.
When would Willie be in town again?, she asked.
If they could mate this weekend, we could have bunnies by Easter.