Friday, 28 September 2012

If it ain't broke...

"Listen up.
The 'universe' DOES NOT CARE about you, okay?
It doesn't try and 'tell' you things or reward or punish you for anything.
It just doesn't give a F#$%! It can't! It's a universe... not your f#$%in' mamma. Alright?!
Thank you." -
GDD, former housemate, now long-distance Facebook friend, Facebook post 2012, initials used to protect anonymity.

Every once in a while you get a moment to yourself to pause and reflect on the true nature of the Universe. For me that chance came a couple of days ago as I was rolling around in agony at the bottom of my back stairs.

I was having an incredibly productive day, of the type I haven't had since before my back went dicky. I'd just had my medical and X-rays for my permanent residency application to Canada, I'd had two sales on Etsy, and I'd finally gotten around to buying a new printer after hours of painstaking research. I'd even taken myself out for brunch at Caffiend and had their truly wonderful fetta and basil omelette. It was a benchmark day in my recovery. Life was good. 

I'd popped home to package up the Etsy sales and drop off the printer, then I'd planned to do a run to the post office, then the op shop to try to restock for Etsy, pick up the X-rays and deliver them to the GP, and then do a supermarket shop. Busy, busy, busy! As I headed out I stopped near the bottom of the back stairs to add one last thing to my shopping list on my phone, and then I stepped off... 

Except I wasn't on the bottom stair as I thought, was I? No, I was on the second or third, and I stepped off into the void and went crashing down, landing with a sickening crunch on my right ankle while my phone smashed face first into the concrete. As I lay there trying to breathe through the pain—watching my ankle imitate a tetchy puffer fish and running through the checklist of "Is it a sprained ankle, or a broken ankle?"—I contemplated that I may have been done in again by a case of be-careful-what-you-wish-for. 

Now I'll confess that in my younger days I used to be a bit of a hippy-dippy, esoteric, New Agey thinker, but I got over that. Reason has won that contest, though on occasion Wonder still tries to put her two cents' worth in. I don't believe that 'everything happens for a reason'. In fact, that's a platitude guaranteed to send me into a boiling rage. But I have observed that sometimes if you really want something to happen, it does. Hence you have to be careful what you wish for.

I'm not advocating 'wishcraft' or any of that Law of Attraction hoo-doo, I'm far more inclined to think that wanting something to happen makes you much more receptive to noticing when it does, and probably also makes you act in subtle ways to bring it about. But what I'm taking an awfully long time to get to is that, in my experience, if you are really putting it out there that you want something to happen you had better be specific—like make, model and serial number of desire—because otherwise it tends to come back to you any which way and you must wryly concede that you got what you wished for, just maybe not quite under the most ideal of circumstances. I'm talking getting fired when you hate your job but you haven't yet got anything else lined up, that person you've been crushing on turning out to be a dick once you are dating them or else confessing their true feelings the minute you've given up and started seeing someone else, that sort of thing. In this particular instance I have been very strongly focusing on how I wish I could have several days to work from home because I have so much written material to generate and I'm getting interrupted every five minutes in the office and can't concentrate, and, as is well documented on this here blog, I am really not loving my Android phone and miss my iPhone, particularly since Bek introduced me to Camera+ the other day, which like Hipstamatic is not available for Android users. Amazingly, my phone still works, even though its screen looks like a spider's web.

So, here I am, proving that is is in fact possible to limp with both feet (gosh, I must get around to explaining about that left leg!), trying to keep my fat, sprained right ankle elevated, compressed and/or iced as much as possible and contemplating either a replacement phone screen or the purchase of a second new phone in the space of six months (aaaargh!).

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Not-so-lucky duck

I know I really should be posting about my truly delightful wedding to my truly wonderful new husband, but this evening, now that I have a minute to write again, I am inspired by something a little sad.

You see, there was this duck...

There is a creek that runs down the centre of my street. A couple of weeks ago one of my neighbours asked in a Facebook message if I had seen the new duck that was hanging out in the creek. There are a lot of native waterbirds that forage along the grassy verge, but I hadn't seen a duck. I made a joke in reply about how lucky it was for the duck that I hadn't seen it, since those who know me know I am a pretty enthusiastic consumer of the little dears.

Then I saw it. It was huge! Seriously, its body was about the size of a goose, but it was definitely a black and white duck. It was not even a Muscovy, because, you know, those suckers get big. No, there was no red wattle or anything like that, just a very pretty, very big, black and white, domesticated duck.

I saw it a few times and wondered what its story was - how it came to be all alone in the big (pfft!) city. But, well, we were getting married that week and then we went off to Fitzroy Island with the kids for a few days afterwards and I forgot about it. Then, a couple of days after Charles and the kids had gone back to Canada, I was driving my beautiful bridesmaid, Morgan, to the airport at an ungodly hour of the morning. It was still dark when I got home and as I turned into the street I saw the duck by the creek in the headlights, awake and scared by the light and obviously feeling vulnerable. My heart went out to it and I knew at that moment that it had once felt safe in someone's yard and now it was trying to be a big brave duck and not doing so well at it. I resolved to try to adopt it.

I spent the next couple of days keeping an eye out for it, checking up and down the street, thinking maybe I could herd it into my well-fenced yard and then it would have plenty of safe spots to roost. I'd get it a kiddie pool, the cats would befriend it, I wouldn't cook any more duck at home, and we'd all live happily ever after. I told Charles about it in a Skype session and he laughed his head off at me: "A duck? 'Safe'? At your house?" Um, yes, well, I realise that, on paper, my house would have to be one of the least safe places for a duck to be, but I've never actually killed one myself. Anyway, I couldn't find the duck.

This evening I drove to a friend's house just on dark. Coming up to a T junction three blocks from home, by another creek and the local shopping centre, I saw some red clothing on the road, a t-shirt or something, and I swerved around it. As I stopped at the T a four-wheel drive to my right slowed down and swerved around what I assumed to be another bundle of clothes, black and white. "Hello", I thought. "Someone's lost half their back pack of clothes." As I turned into the road and drove past the lump I realised the lump had feathers. "What the hell? Did someone's chicken escape?", I wondered. Having seen the 4WD swerve I thought I would do the citizenly thing and go and move it off the road because things were going to get ugly real quick on a road as moderately busy as that one. I did a U-ey and went back and as I pulled up I actually said aloud, "Oh, no! It's the duck!" And it was. I just knew it was freshly dead, too, since it hadn't been squashed yet. I felt so sad for it. I got out and grabbed some things from the boot to roll it off the road with. There were three young 'lads' on the other side of the creek watching me: the kind of teenage boy that in this neighbourhood probably would have tried to rob me and steal my car if they'd been on my side of the creek. In my sadness I called out to them since they were clearly following the drama from a distance:
"Did you see it get hit?"
"Did it just happen?"
"Yeah. What is it?"
"A duck."
Followed, in my grief, by the life story of the duck as I knew it, told as I rolled it to the gutter. My parting words to the boys were:
"Pity, it'd probably be really yummy!"
"Are you gonna eat it?"
"(Sigh!) No!!!!"
Mind you, once they suggested it, I thought about it for a second and decided I probably couldn't bear to gut and pluck it. It's a sickness, I'm sure!

So there you have it. The sad demise of one scared duck that boy, oh, boy, don't I wish I'd been able to find earlier in the week now, or that I'd left the house 10 minutes earlier so I would have seen it wandering on the road and somehow managed to herd it to safety. Mind you, given the poor visibility and the speed people drive on that road it probably would have resulted in me lying on the ground with my insides spilling out a little instead. But, please, in light of this, spare a thought for all the lost, abandoned and wayward creatures in your town that might need some care and attention. The charities I choose to support are invariably animal-related: for some reason I am much more emotional about and empathetic towards dumb animals than sentient humans when I am asked to dig deep. I can't even begin to analyse how I can be sad for the death of one duck, yet happy to eat others.

PS This post is also a cover for the fact that my last grandfather died this week. I'm not really going to go there online, so let's just concentrate on the duck for now, shall we?