My Rabbits Star on YouTube!

(Something-or-other non-warning: the following 2 video vlogs and blogpost from The-Labyrinth discuss rabbits as pets and rabbit fur used as angora ‘wool’. There is NO graphic or saddening footage. Just fluffy stuff, I promise.)

After writing and publishing the book, Netherland Dwarf Rabbits: taking care of them in Australia—now published at Amazon and Smashwords—I developed an even closer relationship with Tirian and Minxy. You try following two young dwarfs around with a camera for a few days, experiencing the intimacy of their everyday lives, while also getting them to sit in giant coffee cups and wheelbarrows for free food. Chickens and rabbits, never work with them!

"She gave me food."

However, I do have a house to build! Photographing rabbits artistically takes time. And Patience. And it brings in little cash, you can buy my book here. Rabbits want to eat, sleep, play and run a muck up over social order and food. Politics: Minxy gets fed first otherwise he scratches whoever is in the vicinity of his wild, double-paw-claws-sticking-right-out spin. He (the tan Agouti) looks cute but he’s a nasty piece of work.

His dwarf rabbit brother, also from the Netherlands but bred in Australia, Tirian (the Chocolate Otter), is one mild-mannered, cuddly, placid totally chilled out bunny. He’s always up for a pet or a cuddle with fur so soft…

Still, no need to make a jumper out of him! Lucky our boys, Minxy and Tirian, live in Australia and not China! Besides, Netherland Dwarfs are bred for there cuteness, not their fur.

Did you know rabbits are vegan, like, mine are anyway? Like even if they were starving to death I don’t think they would start gnawing on each others raw flesh like ‘human carnivores’ would given that situation… Well, not all men carnivores, only the human ones who are adamant that we mere humans are meant to slaughter animals and eat meat. You know, the ones that say, “Look! at my canines.”, while pointing furiously at their teeth, created perfectly pointy for breaking into nuts.

I’d like to show you a video I made in spring of 2015. It’s kind of embarrassing but I’m getting over that; after all, my world is online and this was my first or second video published online.

Meet Mixie and Tirian (forever immortalised Anne Geddies style on my book cover):

Netherland Dwarf Rabbits: taking care of them in Australia

Netherland Dwarf Rabbits: taking care of them in Australia by Mischa van Loder

I had the most fun ever, all huddled up in my bubble of clean air, the fragrance-free study supplied to students with fragrance Allergy (and other conditions impacted on by chemical sensitivity) by Victoria University, St Albans, Australia. Terrifically good people over there.

I poured my heart and soul into this book; I hid from trauma and heartache in this book. I also got to work with my Established Author and Friend, Kim Cook, who taught me the finer details of the Adobe program, inDesign; while also smashing it with me with a different self-published Author platform, Smashwords. While working on my cookbook, ‘Vegan Indulgences ~ for those transferring to a HCLF lifestyle’, Cook is my role model (for writing not cooking!). Like, especially when I get stuck. It’s like: [I hear Kim’s voice in my head, talking to themselves (meaning ‘self’ in the pronoun of ‘they’)] “Mmm… Google this, do that. Oh, yeah. Ah uh.”, and, vamoose! We have cutest damn rabbit bullet. A. Rabbit. Bullet! (For listing text into a short list so that it’s easy to read in bullet form, in case you don’t use computers much, which I know that is exactly how it is for many of my readers. You can always post me a letter, I do write back on well aired out paper written on in pencil.)


Now, juxtaposed against the cuteness of my adorable, cheeky balls of fluff is the following video, where, just the other night actually, I found out that the jumper, one of my absolute favourites that I just happened to be wearing had fur, in the form of ‘Angora’, sewn, gruesomely embedded in amongst its nylon and acrylic fibres. I took it off to read the tag: Angora, Nylon, Acrylic ‘fibres’. Then I put back on my soft batwing cape and made the following video:

Here is the YouTube link to ‘My Favourite Jumper is made from Angora‘. I’ve not decided on what, if anything, to do with this jumper. Keep wearing it? (Use it to wrap my bunnies in? Sounds good to me.) Or:

Like the scarlet letter painted on the town wench, the jezebel of Melbourne flaunting sin in capes of purple velvet, I’m surrounded by animals skins, their furs. It’s weird waking up to the truth of what goes on with the animals in our world. The specism, I’ve got a collection of ugg boots that I don’t believe could ever keep me warm again. Not without that cold, disconnected sense of being taking over my perception, clouding reality once again. (What am I going to do? I can’t buy new boots. I do own a lot of socks, I could just put on 9 pairs of socks, especially if I am still in this draughty Beach-house this winter. Come on house, just get built will you? No solvents in plaster to outgass. Pray the epoxy grout is going to be okay. Or just kill me now. There are animals dying every minute.

Are you vegan? How have you handled your guilt over past atrocities committed against the animals in the name of luxury brands? If you’re not vegan, how do you feel about fur used in clothing. Leather?

(If you feel misaligned, maladjusted and marginalised to the point of invisibility; if you feel subjected, effected and rejected my society because of 3 letters, MCS (or EHS (Electrohypersensitivity)), then imagine how animals right now right this very minute are feeling. Is that okay with you?)

Yes, I’m using oxygen in this video, which I might make another video (vlog) about later. It’s helping me by giving me relief from painful upper airway inflammation. It’s nearly as good as going to the beach!

The Guardian: Can Angora fur ever be ethical? (Warning: Graphic Footage that needs to be shown in schools)

(This post has been updated)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

How to Begin Building a House… with Ganesha

We bought our block, out on the Surf Coast of Victoria, Australia, back in 2011. In 2012 we engaged the services of EcoDesigner and Draftsperson, Quin Wyatt, hoping he could help us create an allergy-free, eco-friendly home made from non-toxic, low VOC materials: a safe home capable of protecting my immune system from mould spores; a home designed with passive heating and cooling in mind; a home that’s mindful of climate change and our precious planet.

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From 2012 up until this present day, we’ve been testing materials: glues, grouts, paints, silicones, waterproofing materials, wood, cement sheeting, plaster, magnesium board—even tiles. In August 2014 we finished the design. I began the mammoth task of organising quotes and tradespeople; however, after completing this task, we ran into some foreseeable financial hiccups and have had to return to Quin Wyatt asking him to make our house more affordable: we resized our footprint. When we first designed the house, we had another family member to provide for. Now that we are empty nesters, it makes even more sense to downsize. And it will cut costs:

(Before we go any further, here’s our running joke on this situation: my partner, Dan, and I took so long designing, planning and testing materials for this house that we grew older, therefore, as empty nesters, we’ve had to downsize.)

Costs: Just a hardwood house frame—in comparison to the traditionally used terpene-emitting pine frame—costs double that of an ordinary house frame. Include all the double-glazed, thermally-broken windows, and the price has tripled in comparison to ordinary windows. But without these two factors (there are a many others too, but these are the $bangers!), the house won’t be safe for me to live in. Like most chemically sensitive people I desperately need a safe house that won’t impact on my health. My main issues are moulds (outdoor and indoor), solvents, petrochemicals, wood-smoke (PM2.5 particles, particularly). I’ve also had to organize fragrance-free and chemical-free workpeople. It’s been a buzz! And I’ve been diligently taking notes so I can share them all here, at The Labyrinth ~ and finding my way out, with you.

I’ll give you a run-down of the completed plan as soon as I can; otherwise, if I do this now, this post will be my usual 2000 word essay! [For now: think tiles, magnesium board, brick, colourbond, rainwater tanks, balconies and sea air. A vegetable garden set in the front yard—with a duck lurking in amongst the broccoli. Rabbits running free. Two boxers laying out in the sun with me: Freedom: an allergy-free eco-friendly home]

The good news: just like the draftsperson we found, we’ve managed to find some compassionate and understanding tradespeople who’ve agreed to do what absolutely has to happen for this house to ever be a safe, health-tolerable place for me to live.

(When I meditate each morning, gratitude flows from me like the flush of pink petals from a lotus flower in full bloom.)

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And, get this: we’ve rented a composting toilet and placed it on our block so the workers (and Dan and I) can use it. No obnoxious chemical fragrance fumes! (More on this in another post. You will love this!)

And luckily, I’ve just experienced a blissful summer and autumn where my health improved enough for me to have actual consecutive days where I was well. (This has not happened since 2011.) Every morning I exercised, then spent the day on the phone organising every detail I could think of; nights were on the computer, compiling notes for my book, the soon-to-be-completed book, Freedom: an allergy-free, eco-friendly home. Thankfully, during this time, most products were already tested for safety—ergo, not all, though (We are stuck at the waterproofing (balcony and bathroom) stage!)

Unluckily, due to moulds and bloody wood-smoke, since winter began—and now the Solstice has passed, which means we’re half way through—I’ve had chronic illness as my companion once again. At least this year, I can deal with it. Some days I even accept it: Yoga, meditation, a supportive partner, energy from a plant-based diet, my latest treatment: the NSP Protocol, my dog, dwarf rabbits, my internet friends, and the faith in building a safe home are getting me through.

At times though, it’s not been easy: hesitation, trepidation, apprehension: a three-headed beast has eaten me alive.

Since I’ve had these well-documented mould symptoms: upper-respiratory inflammation (dry eyes, sinus pain, facial pain, sore throat), fatigue, vagueness, headaches, depression and sadness that mimic actual depression and sadness—all dispelling once the chemical exposure and the mandatory recovery period have passed—not only am I too physically and mentally exhausted to continue in the bull-at-a-gate manner I thrive on, but my confidence, my self-advocacy—swallowed by the inability to follow even my own internal conversations, let alone ones with carpenters/plumbers/manufacturers on the phone—have deserted me. Leaving me alone, plugged into a light socket, buzzing with paralysing fear, emanating through me as I lay in my bed. Unlike the previous times I’ve lost my cognitive abilities (cognitive symptoms started in 2012) I’ve learnt to accept the capabilities of my own brain and memory, especially over the last few weeks; instead of fighting it, I press pause, take the phone off the hook, put a movie on.

It’s okay, this time. I’ve been here before. It, too, shall pass…

I’m lucky, I’m in this build with, and only because of my partner, Dan; and even though, because I’m the chemically sensitive one, I want, need! to be in control of all the materials (for testing and research purposes) and speaking to tradespeople, putting the particulars into writing (for legal reasons), yet, I’ve relinquished this miracle work over to him. He’s actually more assertive than me. If you can imagine that [just add hyper-masculinity and swear words]! I have to trust in his capability. (Of course, I’m still doing the testing; he’s just organising the products and samples for now.)

Here’s how to build a safe home:

Have Faith…

I admire people who believe in God. Any God. The closest thing I have to God is meditation and exercise; and my Dog, which we all know is God spelt backwards. Yoga has been my thing lately. Even my dog has got some type of pose going on:

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Enter Ganesha:

This is the brass statue we picked up while searching for this exact statue. We wanted an actual large stone statue for the garden but only found this: still, a statue for the garden. To be buried there, actually.

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In the book, 99 Thoughts on Ganesha—Stories, Symbols and Rituals of India’s beloved elephant-headed deity, the author, Devdutt Pattanaik, describes Ganesha as an organic god, one who has transformed throughout time, space history and geography. Pattanaik reminds us:

“Of all the gods in the Hindu pantheon, he alone allows his form to be re-shaped and re-imagined and recreated as devotees will it. Thus, he reminds us constantly that:

Within infinite myths lies the eternal truth Who sees it all?
Varuna has but a thousand eyes Indra, a hundred, You and I, only two

Pattanaik explains how Ganesha takes the form of the self-created Supreme Being, also known as God, declaring that “whenever social order (dharma) is threatened, he descends to set things right. He offers his devotees three paths to reach him: the path of intellectual introspection (gyan yoga), the path of passionate devotion (bhakti yoga), and the path of detached action (karma yoga).”

During the 7th century CE, after some dudes who just happened to be Tibetan kings married some Buddhist princesses from China and Nepal, Buddhism spread to Tibet. This form is known as Mahayana Buddhism, in which, Ganesha is also known as Vinayaka.

Ganesha of Tibet has two forms: when in the benevolent form, he is the remover of obstacles; in the malevolent form, he is the instigator of obstacles.

Two weeks ago, during a weekend when I was ill, we drove the five minutes it takes to get to our block and held a ceremony: we buried a brass statue of Ganesha, asking for his help to remove any obstacles that may be placed in our way.

I feel better now…

Do you have any beliefs, rituals or deities that get you through the tough times? If so, please share…

Oh, and if you know of a low VOC, waterproofer for balconies (that are to be tiled) and for placing under tiles in the bathroom, please let us know. It has to be inert once dry (it’s the chemicals that outgass, not the actual smell, that’s the problem.) and it must be non-toxic to someone sensitive to chemicals, please.

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

My Book on Rabbits

Netherland Dwarfs: taking care of them in Australia

This year, after four years of studying, I have my Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing. It’s been a slog that I’ve been documenting along the way, and will post more on later (in the interest of helping others) (and as a reference point for next year when attempting to start my Degree… Wait, am I really going to do that? Yeh. I reckon.) I’m pretty sure I’ve passed; and in a week or so, I’ll know for sure. In retrospect, if I’d known my health would have gone downhill the way it has in the last two years, I wouldn’t have taken this on. Lucky I did, though: I’m pretty buzzed just on what I’ve achieved; and I don’t regret it one iota. Victoria University (VU) have been adeptly wonderful at accommodating my condition; and they’ve been wonderfully adept at finding solutions to barriers that kept coming down on me like the boom gates at St Albans railway crossing.

One such challenge was printed material. Inks printed with petrochemicals sting and dry my eyes, swell my eyelids (kinda like fragrance does), cause a headache, rash on my face and dry out the skin on my hands. And that’s just the immediate symptoms! Over continued exposure, there’s sensitisation (worsening of symptoms over a quicker time frame), and that ol’ petrochemical vagueness that doesn’t belong in a classroom–or anywhere else, actually. And sneezing, tiredness…

VU Disability staff, teachers (and students via inclusiveness) helped me reorganise the way I study and interact in the classroom in regards to that part of my situation: I used an iPad to take photos and scan documents; students and staff emailed documents rather than giving pages printed in ink (which would need airing out, possibly blow away in the wind or get rained upon, becoming a general pain in the ass–then get put behind plastic sheets in a binder!); we used DropBox for handing in assignments, and receiving them back marked; the classroom textbook was given in PDF (this year, 2014, last year, 2013, and for the last half of 2012 when this crapy condition reared an extra-ugly head I didn’t know existed); and any handouts that were on paper were put behind plastic sheets for me. (Awesome, I know!)

So it’s only poetic-disability justice that, for our last subject ‘Be a Publisher’ and ‘Produce a Publication’, instead of publishing an actual hard-copy of a book, I created and published an eBook! Enter: Netherland Dwarfs: taking care of them in Australia written by Mischa van Loder (aka me!).

Netherland Dwarf Rabbits: taking care of them in Australia

Netherland Dwarf Rabbits: taking care of them in Australia

This is the book that I dragged out of myself along with the help of VU specialty eBooking employee, and author K.A Cook (aka my mate, Kim). I had planned to publish my poetry; but… this year has been a clusterfuck of raw emotion, and other stresses placed on top of an illness that just layered mind-blowing pain on top of agony’s agony, so the idea of sharing my poetry was akin to going to classes with no clothing on. Rather not do that, actually.

I always thought my first book would be clawing with themes of social justice and feminism—not rabbit antics. Enter: Minxy and Tirian. (Below: they had just come home from the vet and having been desexed. Spray much now, boys?)

Dwarfs: Minxy and Tirian

Dwarfs: Minxy and Tirian

Yes, they are fully grown. Minxy (on the left) weighs 930 gms, Tyrian, 980 gms. Almost 2 kg of pure love, right there in the box! These cute little balls of fluff got me through turmoil of mass dimensions. For me, holding a rabbit has a calming affect almost like meditation but more zen; like valium but less edgy; like love but more loving. There were days where, in tears, raging against the unfairness of it all, I wasn’t coping. I was in pain with cotton wool shoved up one nostril (for three months) and constant pain on the left side of my face, a situation, sadly, I accepted and adapted to. And it’s only now, looking back, I can say I was depressed. Possibly clinically, definitely situationally. (More on this in another post.) This book WAS dragged out of me. I struggled to write. The words wouldn’t come. Couldn’t connect my thoughts. I wrote around the photos. But I know that, woo hoo as this sounds, this book chose me; though, I can honestly say there was nothing else I could have written about (possible my dog. Oh, wait, I did write about my Bella Puppia… )

So yeh, I wrote this book with a rabbit—sometimes two—on my lap. Days and nights were spent researching Netherland Dwarf rabbits and checking out YouTube to see if other dwarfs were as athletically talented as mine. I have to tell you, mine do this thing where they scoot across the lawn, fast, then stop and spin, doing a bunny burn out at the end. My dog, Bella, thought they were puppies, endlessly licking them, pulling them closer with her chin. She was fixated.  (Until I employed her skills to help me get them back in the cage after, in my perpetual vagueness, I left it open one afternoon. Now she realises that these are the same creatures that we see run across the tracks on our walks. She’s still fixated; ergo, on waiting for them to run off so she can chase them back into the cage!) MushBunDog     (I will post another post about why I think these make great pets for people with chronic illness, chemical sensitivities. I’ve even worked out how to keep their cage mould free… ) For the last six months my life literally revolved around rabbits… And then there were the photos. Ever an admirer of Anne Geddes photographic work, I took artistic cues from her, while looking to express my ideas via the pictures: rabbits in tea cups; wheelbarrows; on giant mushrooms. Subsequently, I spent many hours behind the camera. Life, well, my perspective on it, took on new form, meaning, dimensions.     DSC01464

Through the lens, I saw the world differently. It was beautiful.

Until I put the camera down. Writing was a struggle and I just couldn’t get my thoughts around the many projects I was supposed to be working on. I suppose the good thing about being that ill and that unhappy is that it forces you to slow down, take stock and focus only on what is actually doable. Netherland Dwarf Rabbits: taking care of them in Australia is a result of that focus. Slowly, over the last six months, life has returned to some kind of normal for me, so many elements have improved on a myriad of levels, that I KNOW, just KNOW, I’m in recovery; my health has made leaps and bounds (more on that soon, too), and from my new vantage point, I can see that, if the Universe throws things at us for a reason, then, this book (as a surprise as what it was/still is), and struggle that it was, is totally meant to be. Now, on to the next one…

Anne Geddes at Work

Author, K A Cook, over at the blog, Queer without Gender, described my work as “gorgeous Anne Geddes-esque photography.”

More from K A Cook:

“I am so damn proud of Miche, and, even though I am drowning, I feel a tiny glimmer of pride for me, too. I have made a difference in someone else’s life. I have been able to start somebody – someone who, like me, exists on the fringes of society; someone else whose needs and wants are drowned out or ignored by a majority who doesn’t listen; someone else who most desperately needs the skills to make herself heard – on the road to something that, I am sure, will be wonderful and amazing. I’ve been able to empower someone in their creativity. At a time when I feel most useless and powerless, that matters. I am drowning and I can still make a difference. There is a power in enabling people to create, and if I can feel it even while smothered in an ocean of grey, it is profound, wondrous and fierce.”

Thank you, Kim. You’re bloody awesome mate! And to any staff or students from my classes at VU, thank you so much for getting it together for me and actually coming to classes free from fragrance. You put the shine on humanity! xx You can buy Netherland Dwarf Rabbits: taking care of them in Australia, here, at Smashwords And here, at Amazon You can like Netherland Dwarf Rabbits: taking care of them in Australia on Facebook, here

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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