Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day which we get to imagine we're the Irwin Family

I dreamed about the fires. There is some kind of counseling program that's teaching people to respect the victims who chose to stay in their house instead of fleeing. The idea is that if these people had lost their house they would have lost everything.

The dream gave me a lot to think about.

I'm not very materialistic. There's no THING in my house that's precious enough that I'd want to risk my life or my family's life to save it.  But we have insurance. We also have family who could and would help us if we lost our house. I don't think all people are that lucky. What will happen to these people who lost their homes? Can and will the government help all of them? Will our Red Cross donations be able to provide everyone with new houses?

It was very touching to watch all that was done for the fire victims: refugee camps with donated clothing; visiting rock stars; children in circles playing games; politicians hugging families.

But where will these families be five years from now?'

I fear that most of them will be forgotten. There will be new tragedies for us to think about.

I know Australia has raised a lot of money for the fire victims. Does any of the money go to long-term projects, or is most of it just for immediate relief?

All right. This website says that people who owned destroyed homes can get a recovery grant of $50,000. That's pretty good, but I'm not sure it's good enough. Is that enough money to rebuild? I sort of doubt it.

I'm NOT trying to criticize the Australian Government in any way. I know we're all in a financial crisis. I know there's not enough money around to make everything perfectly okay again.

It's good that so many people are reaching out to help. Bad things do bring out the best in people. Maybe that's why they happen. Still, it's awful, and millions of generous hearts can only do so much. The sad thing is we're still left with some people whose lives are forever destroyed.

Well, this is a cheery post.

Okay, time for other stuff.....

I did laundry again that morning. Don't ask me why we already had more clothes to wash.

We then went to a nearby town called Gungahlin. I don't remember why we decided to go here. We did still needed a charger for Jack's Nintendo DS and that's what we looked for at the mall. Maybe that's why we went?

Tim finally found something that would work for us. It's something that allows you to connect the DS to a laptop and get charged that way.

The name of the town reminded us of McLeod's Daughters because the town they'd drive almost every episode to is called Gungellan. The look of the town reminded me of Poltergeist! It looks so much like Questa Verde. I should have taken more pictures. Oh well. You guys will just have to trust me on this one.

We ate lunch at a coffee shop.

I don't remember the name, and miraculously neither does Jack.

I'm thinking maybe I have things backwards. Maybe we went to the mall and then I did the laundry. Not that it matters really.....

Later in the afternoon, we headed to the zoo. Our tour didn't begin until 4:00, but we decided to go early so we'd have a chance to tour the zoo. I foolishly worried that our tour tickets wouldn't get us prior admission to the zoo. I don't know why I would think that.

They let us in. The woman working at the admission desk was American. She had moved to Australia. I wasn't jealous or anything. Not at all. Jealousy is not in my vocabulary. I'm fine with who I am and what I have.

All right. I was EXTREMELY jealous.

I've come to the point where I'm usually okay with the idea of us not moving to Australia. I'm fine with the idea of just blogging about Australia and visiting every few years. But when I meet a person who has migrated, all those feelings and desires rush back.

Anyway, we walked around the zoo.

We came too early. The zoo's really not that big. Still, we enjoyed ourselves.

Tim had a major bonding moment with a Capuchin monkey. He would do things and the monkey would copy him.

I was a little jealous about that too. I once had a thing going on with a Capuchin in Chattanooga. Tim's monkey love reminded me of my own past one.

I had blood sugar issues again. I worried about being hungry on the tour so I decided to eat then. The only thing I had was the Cadbury candy bar Tracey had given me. I ate that, but since I had to share with Tim and Jack, I was still hungry. Tim remembered they had a cafe so we went to get a snack.

Then we had our tour.

The zoo keeper woman was very sweet. Jack adored her. And I think she was impressed with how much information he has floating in his little head.

Jack is very smart. I TRY not to push him to display his brilliance in front of people. I know that annoys the hell out of people and it also greatly annoys Jack. But I'm very pleased when he reveals it on his own. Sorry. I can't help it. I'm wicked. What can I say?

We fed the sharks first. Actually, the sharks weren't hungry so we really fed the fish that were in the shark tank.

Next, we got to hold a snake. Tim passed on that activity. Watching was enough for him. I should have told him not to worry. If a snake strangles you, it just feels like a mosquito bite.

Jack fears ants. Tim fears snakes. I'm afraid of bears. They give me the creeps. They're so big. Yikes.

But my fear of bears is not as bad as my fear of vomit and Irukandji. It's something I can face, and I wanted to set a good example for Jack. He knows about my dislike of bears and was curious to what my reaction would be. I think he was pleased to see me choosing to participate in feeding them.

We fed a tiger.

We fed a lion.

I never really felt like we were in danger. I think they're pretty good at keeping tour participants safe. I wouldn't feel good doing any activity, with Jack ,in which we actually went into the enclosure with a dangerous animal. I think that's way too risky. I don't care how friendly and tame an animal is. There's always the chance they could attack. I've heard that Cheetah's are not likely to cause harm. We might try an encounter with them someday. But I wouldn't have trust in any establishment that allowed children to enter an enclosure with lions, tigers, bears, etc.

Zoos themselves are always a bit risky whether you do a tour or not. In San Francisco, a tiger escaped and attacked the people who had earlier been taunting him. In Dallas, a gorilla escaped and harmed four people. Recently in NSW's South Coast, an escaped Lioness was shot dead before she could harm anyone. It's very sad.

I try to forget those stories when I'm visiting any zoo. When it comes down to it, we're definitely more at risk when we're DRIVING to the zoo.

We learned the Canberra Zoo is privately owned. The owners actually live at the zoo. It's like the Irwins! Don't they live at their zoo?

Yikes. I just looked at the Irwin's zoo website. They have tiger encounters. They don't allow children though. That's good.

Well, back to our tour....

The one enclosure we did get to enter was the Emu one. I was scared to feed Emus in Tasmania because they look very aggressive. It looks like they'll bit your hand when you're handing them the food. Well, it turns out they DO bite your hand. But the bite doesn't hurt. It's kind of like a pinch, but you don't really feel it.

The keeper then talked about the mountain lion den. I figured that would be next on our agenda to feed.

We went into this cave area and the keeper went to a cage. I assumed for some reason the mountain lion got live prey. All the other carnivorous animals got fed dead animals.

Despite the fact that I'm vegetarian, I'm not really that sentimental about animals. I understand the whole circle of life thing. I know that animals eat each other in the wild. I've seen snakes eat mice and didn't whine or shed tears about it. But for some reason, I suddenly felt incredibly sad that this animal was experiencing his last moments of life.

I watched the keeper reach into the cage. She took out a snake! I was a bit surprised. I expected it to be some kind of large rodent.

Now I felt worse. I'm more of a reptile fan than a rodent one.

Poor snake. So sad.

And then she told us his name.

Shit! They name their food?

No. I quickly realized that this was not the mountain lion's dinner. In fact, we weren't even going to be feeding the mountain lion. She had brought us in here to show us some American animals. This little guy was a corn snake. He was cute. We got to hold him.

I was so glad he got to live which is ridiculous. We used the meat of other animals to feed animals that day. They were once as alive as that little corn snake. They lost their lives too. Yet, I felt nothing. Why? I don't know.

The zoo tour ended.

Jack bought a rubber snake with his allowance. He pretended to give us zoo tours in the car. He loves to do that.

Later, we went back to Gungahlin for dinner and ate at a place called Central Cafe. It was a very friendly place. The portions were HUGE though. I can't remember if the food was good or not. I think it probably was. I can't remember it being bad.