Of Animals & Awards

Okay, time to get started on this thing.

I’ve given it a great deal of thought, and this week I’m grateful that my parents (and other adults throughout my childhood) taught me about animals.  Not just that they need regular food & water to live, or how to hold a chicken without squashing it – but how to detect signs of pleasure and pain, comfort and irritation, fear and anger and uncertainty.  I remember a friend of my parents, Ian Morris, showing me how to hold a snake and stroke its belly & sides.  Apparently snakes like to have their bellies rubbed.  Do you know what a happy snake looks like?  I do!  Every now and then, when I see an upset or angry animal with a person blithely ignoring the warning signs, I hear my mother’s voice – “She doesn’t like that, look at her ears.  He’s telling you he’s afraid, look at his tail.”  My father taught me to handle animals gently but firmly and not jump at unexpected movements or noises.  To be careful, not fearful.

We had an injured kite for a while – Dad picked it up from beside the road and brought it home, where it lived in an unused cage while its wing healed.  We called it Bob.  This was a joke.  Kites look like hawks.  The Prime Minister at the time was Bob Hawke.  Geddit?  A joke!  Hah!  Kites are meat-eaters, so we fed it dog food left over from when we looked after someone else’s dog.  Kites don’t like dog food.  Dad force-fed it this dog food and on the weekends put it out on a rope strung between two trees to get some fresh air… eventually its wing healed up and one day it left.  From my Dad I learned to trust myself around critters, not to drop them or squeal when they object to being helped, but to handle them carefully and gently and shove dog food down their beaks if necessary (Er, I should probably point out that we lived a long way from anywhere and there wasn’t a wildlife sanctuary to deliver the injured bird to – which is the approach I would recommend when rescuing injured wildlife).

Once, I picked up a lorikeet in someone’s back yard.  We were at a party and there was something scuffling around in the shrubbery – it turned out to be a rainbow lorikeet.  For those who don’t know, a lorikeet is a brightly coloured small parrot.  There was consternation among the party guests.  What to do about the lorikeet?

“Have no fear!” I cried. ” I shall save the lorikeet!”

Here’s a thing you need to know about lorikeets: they might be small parrots but they got big-parrot attitude, and they BITE.  Also, wild lorikeets don’t like being picked up.  So I emerged from the shrubs with a lorikeet firmly attached to one finger.  More consternation among the party guests.  I called for a plastic cup – plenty of them around at a party.

With the lorikeet’s head now wedged into the plastic cup and the bird eyeing me evilly from inside, we found a suitable box and took it home.  At home I fed it honey & water (lorikeets are nectar feeders – no need to force feed this, just hold a teaspoon in front of it) and the next day found an appropriately licensed wild bird rescuer to take in the lorikeet.  He said it was thin – apparently when lorikeets lose too much weight, their legs become paralysed.  Unable to use their feet to perch & climb and too weak to fly, they fall to the ground.  Or the shrubbery, in this case.  As I was removing the recalcitrant lorikeet from my finger and jammin the plastic cup over its head, I could hear my father’s voice in my head – “Be careful.  You’re not hurting it – you’ll get bitten if you let go”.

I was thinking about the animals thing because a few doors down from us there’s a dog that barks at night.  Last night it was barking at midnight.  It was left outside, in below-zero weather, all night.  No wonder it was barking.

Many of the neighbours are afraid of this dog.  It’s about the size of a bull mastiff.  Its breed ancestry is uncertain, but I’m guessing at a pit bull/bull mastiff cross.  I’ve seen it wandering around outside when it got out one day.  I think it’s actually quite a good-natured animal and would be a good companion animal if it were better kept.  BUT  it barks and throws itself at the fence when people walk by.  I suspect it will eventually be taken away and put down because it is huge and scarey-looking, and its owners leave it outside in a tiny yard with no shelter.  To me it doesn’t seem aggressive, just bored and afraid of the things it can’t see over the six-foot walls around the yard.  I feel bad for the dog, because it’s not fair to treat it that way, and it’s not fair that other people get annoyed at the dog (it’s not a popular dog with our neighbours – strangely, people object to enormous dogs that bark ALL FRIGGING NIGHT).  My husband goes and feeds it ham through a hole in the fence – it’s gone from backing up against the other wall to greeting him happily (and quietly).  So when it was barking at midnight last night he went out and spoke to it… and then it was quiet.  I’m glad that I married an animal-lover.  If we see any obvious signs of neglect on the dog – if it’s hurt or underweight – I think we’ll try and get the RSPCA around to see it.  I’ll admit I’m concerned that one day we’ll come home to find the thing camped outside our back door – as much as I like animals, I don’t need a pit bull/bull mastiff living in my house.  My cats won’t appreciate that.

Okay, now I’m rambling.  Let’s get back on track.

One thing I did that I’m happy about – well, I called in sick today.  That mightn’t sound like much, but I usually try to go in to work unless I’m really obviously sick, and I’m not obviously sick.  I’m dizzy and achey and tired.  The doctor thinks it’s a flu virus.  Yesterday I worked from home, but today I just called myself in sick.  I figured I’d stand a better chance of getting better if I took the day off entirely.  Yay for taking personal responsibility!

One good thing that happened – well, I’ve got three so far, and it’s only Wednesday!  First one: DJ (my husband) got offered a job!  He was made redundant a couple of weeks ago, and our visa eligibility is dependent on his employment, so it was a bit stressful.  But he’s had lots of interest and a number of interviews, and this week was offered a new job – not just any job, but one he’s really excited about.  He nearly didn’t apply for it, because they were offering more money than he thought he’d get and requiring more skills than he thought he had.  When they invited him in for an interview he was considering not going, because it meant buying a train ticket in to London and he thought he had no chance of being offered the position.  But he went, and was invited back for a second & third round, and was told after the second round that they’d offer him the position.  We’re expecting paperwork today or tomorrow – nothing’s final until the paperwork’s signed, but even so he’s really pleased.  Yay for new jobs!

Second, our oven was replaced today!  The door shattered when it was being installed last October.  The company promised to replace it before Christmas… then in early January… then in late January… so I was pleasantly surprised to have a call this morning saying that the guys were on their way with the new one.  They took the damaged one away and fitted the replacement, so it’s all sorted.  Hooray!

Third, I won an award at work!  Every year, if the company’s met forecast performance, they run an incentive program.  You have to be nominated by your manager and have achieved your personal performance targets AND done extra good stuff above & beyond what they expect of your role. I don’t remember the criteria, because I didn’t think I was likely to win – so I’ve never paid attention.  The prize is a weekend trip away, all paid for and partners invited.  This year it’s to Prague.  So we get to go away and stay in a fancy hotel for a weekend, which is something I’ll never say no to.  Hooray!

There, that’s the first proper post done.  I’m grateful for being well-trained about animals, I called in sick, and a bunch of good stuff happened.  Now I’m going to go make a cup of tea & try not to feel sorry for myself being achey and dizzy and tired.

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The Beginning

So, here’s the thing.  The last couple of years have been challenging.  They didn’t seem it at the time, but as I look back they seem to have been… well, challenging.  This year isn’t really looking any easier.  I’m a positive person in most circumstances, but my innate optimism is starting to wear thin and develop patchy holes that I don’t realise are there until I put my foot through one.  In an effort to keep my head above water I’ve decided I need a project.  Something that doesn’t require too much energy or need me to make space in my horrifically untidy house.  I realise it’s February, but I’ve just decided on my New Year’s Resolution: to keep a blog, and post every week one good thing that happened, one thing I did that I’m happy about, and one thing I’m grateful for.  Along the way I’ll probably write more than is necessary about my history and health, and it’s highly likely there’ll be a fair amount of complaining – but I’ve decided that’s okay, as long as I also post one good thing that happened, one thing I did that I’m happy about, and one thing I’m grateful for.  Starting next weekend, so that I’ve got some time to think about it.

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