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31st, First, and 2nd : Wildlife Care, Books, Ethics, Late Night Musings..

September 2, 2010

As of this moment, it is 12:35 am on September 2nd. The night is warm. I have my sliding glass door closed because my cat has been scratching at the screen door. The glass door is blocking the screen so the cat won’t get at the screen anymore.

She flips out a lot at night. We stopped letting her out sometime last Fall. She had gotten into a bad fight, and almost died. Fortunately, we got her to the vet on time, and the vet told us cats mostly fight at night. So, since that time, we keep the cat in.

She goes kinda crazy – flicking her tail rapidly in an agitated and very interested motion, focusing on and chasing things we humans cannot see. I sometimes speculate if she is seeing small things that are really there – little spirit critters like in the anime flick “Karas” (vol. 1 was amazing, and vol. 2 was horrible beyond words), or “Princess Mononoke,” (pretty good), or “Spirited Away” (beyond excellent!!), or if she is just hallucinating. I don’t know.

Past couple days, my bathroom floor has been worked on by a handyman guy, and the work is not done. There is an old fan facing into the bathroom and blowing to dry the floor. I am supposed to let it continue blowing overnight to dry the floor, but I think it is highly unlikely I will do so, because I would like to sleep!

Right then..

On August 31st, which was Tuesday, I worked 7 hours at the wildlife center. I have tentatively decided to work 2 days a week instead of one. They need lots of help on Tuesdays, so I decided to come in on that day, in addition to Sunday evenings. It is likely the young songbird rooms which are located indoors will only be in operation for a week or two longer. The busy season is winding down, and we are (supposed to be) getting less birds. However, this past Saturday, when I came in (I normally don’t work Saturdays) because of need for extra help, we received 8 birds and a coyote in poor health. This is atypical for days in late August, but we have had somewhat less animals than usual this summer, overall.

Tuesday was one of those good and bad days – I suppose most days are like that – but I mean more good and bad than usual.

The good part was that I was able to do a lot – to be of much help – cleaning and scrubbing and mopping and feeding young birds, and plucking dead ducklings which are used for food for raptors and some mammals (although the mammals don’t need the ducklings plucked – and no, we don’t kill the ducklings, but I know how they are killed and it is terribly inhumane so please don’t ask. I wish I didn’t know), and other tasks.

Also, a screech owl got loose in one of our wings. We have two wings with two halls each, with walk-in enclosures on each side of each hall. The cages and the space over the hallways is covered with chicken wire. The enclosures are all also partially or completely roofed in so the animals have some protection from heat and inclement weather. The chicken wire over the hallways is there so that birds escaping their enclosures do not get far.

An older gentleman, a very hard worker, placed the food for the screech owls in their walk-in cage, and one got out. He’s been working at the center for months now, so I was surprised that he still does not know his owls. He said a Barn Owl got loose, but it was a Screech Owl – they look a lot different from each other. I am guessing this man does not handle raptors, because he came to tell the supervisor about the escaped owl.

The supervisor on duty is one who has been with the center since the ’80’s, and she usually lets me do more cool stuff – more handling of the birds, basic vet. care – than the other supervisor – who has since gone on to a university, and I have not met her replacement. The on-duty supervisor asked me to go catch the owl, and I said, “sure!”

I haven’t had to catch an owl flying around a hall, but have gone after 2 hawks and some other birds that have gotten past me.

Screech Owls are rather small. Cute too. It was wonderful to see the little owl fly. I hated scaring it, but could not help doing so while retrieving it. I used a small, long-handled net, and my gloved hands. I got ahold of it, after a few attempts – the trick to grabbing raptors is getting one hand (or both, if they are large enough) grasping legs and in between legs just above their feet, facing the bird away from me, and if the bird is large enough, getting it to tuck in its wings, which I brace with my elbows.

It was tricky at first getting proper hold of the little owl, but I managed. I wanted to hold it for a little while, but it is certainly not a tame animal, so I walked it back to its cage and put it in.

That was fun.

After that, mostly just grunt work, but did feed the juvenile songbirds in one of the rooms inside the main building. We were feeding these birds little bits of kibble, using tweezers, but the boss decided to puree the kibble and use syringes to squirt pureed kibble into the mouths of the birds. This works better for some birds than others. – Not so bad for finches and sparrows, or jays or robins, but, for their size, mockingbirds have rather narrow beaks, and it is tough to get the puree into their mouths, even with small syringes.

Earlier in the shift, I was asked to later release a barn owl. So, at the end of the shift, I went into its room – just one owl in there – making it safer and easier to catch – harder to catch one bird of prey with others flying around and making it more dangerous. I caught the owl without much difficulty and put it in a cardboard pet carrier.

I then cleaned out the enclosure somewhat, so that the peregrine falcon, which was brought in a few weeks back, and which has recovered quite a bit, can go into that enclosure. I don’t know how long the falcon will be in there, but going into the outdoor enclosures is the last step before release, so that is good. We almost never get peregrines, by the way. The only falcon we even occasionally get is the American Kestrel. Other falcons are very very rare in these parts.

After I stopped cleaning, I packed up my gear, and the owl. I was supposed to release the owl in a location much farther away than where I actually released it. We are supposed to release animals near where they were found, if possible. I don’t know how many of us actually do this. Sometimes it is impossible, and sometimes, like on Tuesday, it is just not practical.

I got into my car, and checked the gas gauge. I realized that if I drove the barn owl out near where it had been found, I would not have enough gas to get home. Since most of the area for many miles around the center is agricultural – there are hundreds and hundreds of acres of excellent habitat for owls.

I found a very good spot – still in the country, but with enough houses around to attract lots of rodents, and lots of trees, on a narrow, lightly traveled road, and let the bard owl go. I was unable to make a good video of its departure – but doing so is kind of tricky, considering I am almost always alone when I release animals.

Owls are easier to release than hawks, though. Most of the hawks I’ve released, I’ve had to haul out of the carrier boxes first. The owls – 5 barn owl and a screech owl I have so far released since I started working at the center – these birds just fly out really quick after I open the box.

I held the camera in my left hand, and opened the box with my right, but didn’t get the camera pointed correctly, and so no worries. I have vids of two other barn owls I released in July.

These are the good parts.

Now, the bad.

I noticed the front lawn was in serious need of care. I never used a weedwacker before, and should not have bothered with it. It turns out certain power tools and devices require a special mixture of oil and gas. I just put gas into it. It took a long while to get started, then revved very high for maybe 3 minutes then seized up and shut down. I could no longer pull the cord, and it felt hot. I am fortunate the machine did not explode.

I felt terrible though – I am trying to get out of debt, not increase my debt.

I put the weedwacker back, then mowed the lawn with a poorly maintained and rather beat-up lawn mower. When I asked where I could put the clippings, the boss said we have no space for yard waste. This is strange. We have much vacant land in back of the property, where we used to put all the yard waste. That space is still vacant – tons of space for yard waste in a nice compost pile, but no, boss doesn’t want it there, or anywhere. She said to empty the bag in the garbage, then take the bag off and finish mowing the lawn.

Have you used a power mower without a bag? That’s right – the grass and dust blows everywhere. I was not pleased.

I finished the lawn anyway, though, and put the mower back in the shed. Once back in there, out of morbid curiosity, I re-checked the instructions that were printed on a label on the weedwacker. As I sickly suspected, in rather fine print, I spied directions for properly fueling the device. Great.

I thought of trying to get away with it. The gas can had a lid I have never seen before on any gas can, and I found it impossible to open, but wanted to get rid of the gas – didn’t want anyone finding out I’d put gas in the machine, and also, it’s not safe to store with a full tank. So, I did something that was environmentally unhealthy – I put the gas down the drain of our big outdoor sink. Not much gas, considering the weedwacker has a very small tank, but still – not good. I washed the gas down, then poured some smelly detergent and water down the drain after it, then some bleach. No more smell, no more evidence.

But I didn’t feel right about it. Before I realized that I had screwed up the machine, I told the boss I was having trouble with it. She said she could not help me. After I realized my mistake, I dealt with my conscience and rationalizations for several hours, even while transporting the owl. I released the bird, returned briefly to the center to put back the carrier and gloves, then drove home, still fretting.

When I got home, I wrote the boss, telling her I made a mistake and that I’d be willing to pay for repair and or replacement of the dreaded weedwacker. She has not written back yet.

I really felt like shit for awhile, but eventually felt somewhat better. I need to have some integrity. I was thinking of myself as a practicing Buddhist – even though it’s hard to say if I am – but decided that even if I weren’t thinking of Buddhism at all, I’d still be honest, so I felt real bad about the emotional come down from feeling good about catching the screech owl, and the prospect of releasing the barn owl, then crashing down and screwing up the weedwacker and feeling awful about it.

That night I bought a tall can – 24 ounces of beer. I almost never drink. I put fat on so easily, and alcohol is known for putting fat on chest, stomach and hips, where my fat collects anyway. Also, I just don’t think highly of drinking in general, it sometimes doesn’t make me feel well, depending on what brand of beer or what type of alcoholic beverage I consume, and because I think gee maybe I become a Buddhist and Buddhists should not drink..

But I had a 24 ounce beer anyway, and felt better.

I was trying to fight off a fast food craving, but ultimately was unsuccessful and headed out and got some.

I watched several episodes of the first season of “The Wire,” third time through, and decided I was really getting sick of the profanity and the pornographic aspect of the show, and the violence and all of it really. Just sitting on my ass for soooo many hours and doing nothing useful, and my ass just getting sore. I eventually shut the tv down, read a little of one of my favorite books – “Guards! Guards!” by Terry Pratchett, and went to sleep.

Today, I felt somewhat sore – my arms mostly, and rather tired, and a little depressed. I don’t tend to feel depressed about being tired and a little depressed, though. These moods are FAR better than feeling extremely anxious and agitated and hostile or horny or massively distracted by thoughts – imaginary conversations that I have terrible trouble shutting off sometimes. Usually these imaginary conversations are innocuous, but are terribly distracting and bothersome.

Schizophrenics think these imaginary people are real, I know they are figments of my mind – and sometimes I imagine having conversations with people I know, or occasionally think about talking with famous people – like Charlie Rose – who has a late night interview show on PBS. That guy interviews actors, writers, musicians, experts on many things, and even foreign ministers and heads of state. Incredible guest list – except that just about everybody I’ve seen Mr.Rose interview is both male and white.. hmm.. the main exceptions being actresses. Mr. Rose had Ariana Huffington as a guest once, and talked over her quite a bit, which I thought was rude, even though Mrs. H is rather liberal and I’m not.

Still, I have always seen being on the Charlie Rose show as a major benchmark of success. I’ve often envisioned myself being interviewed by him, and in these daydreams, I am always on there because I am a famous author – an incredibly gifted, successful and very well -respected writer of fiction. Nevermind that I almost never even attempt to write fiction here at home.

But today, hardly drifted off at all into these daydreams that feel as important and real as reality – what I am actually doing.

Didn’t do a whole lot today, but did spend several hours typing out title after title of an insane amount of Christian books that my dad amassed – mostly during the ’70’s and ’80’s. Now I know one reason why my family has often struggled with money – both my dad and mom get obsessed with certain things – my dad : Christian books, my mom : spurious health supplements – and spend loads of money on useless or worse products. Like my dad really needed all these books??

By the way, he went to seminary for 3 years, and was a pastor for only 2 years, before cracking up.. long story.

I am making a book list for a guy in the midwest who might like to buy at least some of these books from us. I am trying not to think that he will only buy a few and that making the list is a colossal waste of time! But, it makes mom happy and she’s stressing out so much about getting rid of stuff, getting the duplex in shape, on the market, sold, and moving to Idaho. So, it helps, somewhat.

I also tutored my student today. He is not usually in such a giggly mood – but he was today, and funny. He’s a big gentle-giant Mexican guy. Good student too, and the session went even better than usual.

I tutor him for an hour and half twice a week at the library. After the tutoring time is over, we usually sit and talk for a half hour or so, then he leaves, and I go for books (and sometimes DVD’s).

Tonight, I got “The Godfather of Kathmandu,” by John Burdett, author of “Bangkok 8,” “Bangkok Tattoo,” and “Bangkok Haunts.” These are AMAZING books! I didn’t like the 3rd one all that much compared to the others, and the one I got today is the 4th. It was published earlier this year, and I already read it once.

I’ve been spending tons of time in Terry Pratchett’s discworld, and am planning on attending a Tibetan Buddhist seminar later this month, so decided to re-read Burdett’s 4th book about Sonchai Jitpleecheap a rather unusual Thai detective and his most sordid and intriguing adventures. In this novel, he encounters a renegade Tibetan mystic, who has gone evil in some ways, after being an accomplished monk for a long time, and still retaining his magical powers. The book is incredible as murder mystery and story of organized crime and mystical Buddhism. After I am done writing this entry, I will read some more, than go to bed. I shall wrap this entry up soon as I am getting up earlier than usual. Handyman coming back and so forth tmw. morning.

Today I ate fatty foods, did not have a beer, but did have two Djarum clove cigars. Djarum clove cigarettes are no longer available in the supposed land of the free, because our most-esteemed and always-correct president had all flavored cigarettes (except menthol smokes) banned. So Djarum, an Indonesian company, changed their product just slightly. These smokes are filtered, wrapped in paper, just a little thicker than before, with slightly different tobacco (and the ominous little note on the label saying “made with predominately tobacco and non-tobacco ingredients added” – you will see this label on almost all cheap cigars that come in boxes, except Backwoods cigars – which, are still, I think, natural – not healthy of course, but natural – maybe I will smoke some of those again someday).

I did more typing – going through these boxes of books.. and LOTS of typing of this entry.. word count is now at over 3,000, and I suppose it is time to stop soon!

I hope that the slight bleach smell from the unfinished floor in my bathroom continues to diminish, that it doesn’t matter that I’ve already turned the fan off, that I can get enough sleep, have at least a halfway-decent day tmw., that I don’t get burned out on Buddhist thoughts, that I can get myself in better physical, spiritual and mental shape, eat better, and eventually get laid.

Two more things worth mentioning… I haven’t written any postings in awhile, so this one is long – that is how I am sometimes.

Last night, I posted a picture of a drawing I did on a local artists page on facebook, and the guy who runs that page is asking me when I’d like to show my art – and that is pretty cool.

The other thing I want to mention… I was fretting quite a bit for awhile over Christianity and C.S. Lewis, but was able to finally put those thoughts and compulsions away, and had resisted buying a C.S. Lewis audiobook. I had been wanting to view (or actually -re-view – saw part of the program ..) the PBS 2 part show regarding the existence of God – featuring the perspectives of Lews vs. Freud. An actor played each man. The show was rather good, and I really wanted to watch all of it, but this was the unhealthy compulsive feeling, and so with at least some will, that feeling past some weeks back.

This evening, while browsing the DVD’s at the library, I spotted the show. A new edition to the library collection.

I was pleased that I am no longer interested in watching it.

Good.

Alright then.. that’s enough.. for now..

Good Night.

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