An update: I heard ‘Millicent’ sneezing today and decided not to take any chances. I took all 3 kittens to the vet for a check-up today and Dr. Steven confirmed that they have cat flu, which could be deadly to unvaccinated kittens such as my three. Fortunately, I had brought them in on time, and at this stage, their flu is entirely treatable. I also learned during the course of the consultation that ‘Millicent’ is actually a male kitten (How could I, an experienced volunteer/rescuer/pet parent, have made such a mortifying blunder?) and I have since renamed him ‘Mitchell’. The kittens are now on clindamycin hydrochloride solution and should be on the road to recovery soon. A combination of medical treatment, wholesome meals enriched with vitamins and supplements, and warm and clean lodgings couldn’t go wrong.
Tuesday, 7th July – Wednesday, 8th July 2009: On the road again...
Since I had a week of debauchery (which doesn’t seem to involve anything wilder than polishing off Vegan Eugene’s supply of crème de menthe and raspberry vodka these days) left before I start my new job, I decided to join a friend on a short trip to Lumut. I decided that it would be good to take a break from editing and from my frenzied spring cleaning sessions, and so I waved all the kitties goodbye for the day. Our first stop was Raymond’s workshop so we could top up the Battletank's air-conditioning refrigerant. Raymond now has a contract to service and repair military vehicles and has army Land Rover Defenders and fire engines parked outside his workshop. I had a great time climbing all over the military vehicles and got myself gloriously greasy and dusty in no time at all. Soon, we were on our merry way to Lumut, where the clement and cool sea breeze would offer us some respite from urban smog.
An ocean creature-themed snorkelling and dive centre near Lumut Beach.
Boats moored to the rocks right outside the entrance to the Outward Bound School.
Years ago, I had won some money in a competition and asked my parents if I may enrol in the Outward Bound School. “Oh no!” The parents were unanimous in their disapproval. “You’re outward-bound enough as you are! What you need is to go to an Inward Bound School!” Perhaps it was better that I did not enter the OBS premises to see the opportunities I had missed.
The Lumut Promenade was neat and orderly, but the absence of tourists and customers was conspicuous.
Lumut Beach at sunset.
On the way back from Lumut the following day, I decided to drop by Bukit Melawati and the Kuala Selangor Nature Park to see if the injured Silver-Leaf Monkey I had treated in November 2008 did survive his injury. I concurred. I didn’t spot the same monkey but made inquiries with the park attendants and petty traders in the area, and was informed that the monkey had survived and lives somewhere near the side entrance of the Nature Park. He was quite an old monkey, I was told, and although the damage to his skull was permanent, his skin had grown back and downy hair grew on the scar tissue. I didn’t care if his recovery was due to my intervention, I am just grateful to know that he is alive and well.
This is a clear case of “Do as I say, don’t do as I do”. You should NOT feed wild monkeys because it causes them to lose their fear of humans, become aggressive and learn to depend on humans for food. However, the monkeys in this area could not by any stretch of the imagination be described as being wild.
Reached home late in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day doing housework and feeding and cleaning up after the kitties. It was good to get out of the city limits for a bit, breathe the crisp sea air and get grubby with my monkey pals.
Thursday, 9th July – Friday, 10th July 2009: Focus on Seahorses and Seaside Communities
Serina made one of her rare appearances in the city to render a talk on her UNDP project, “Empowering Coastal Communities For Marine Biodiversity Management”, at Aquaria KLCC on Thursday evening. I had doubts about the venue, because according to (rather reliable) hearsay, the survival rate of the animal exhibits is pretty low and there are concerns that they may be sourcing their displays from illegal wildlife traders. The talk took place in the conference room, so I was spared the sight of suffering piranhas and miserable nurse sharks in crowded aquariums. It was wonderful to have Serina back again, if only for a few days. She had a talk to render, her project supervisor to meet up with, a school competition to judge and a host of other personal matters to attend to.
Serina had invited Cindy and I to be her assistant judges for a project on seahorses at a primary school, SK Bukit Damansara . The school chooses an endangered animal as its focus animal each year, and pupils from Year 1 to 5 produce artwork, factsheets and skits on the focus animal. Funds would be raised from donations and the sale of handmade craft items for a chosen environmental charity, and this year the funds would go to Save Our Seahorses .
Serina picked me up from the Bangsar LRT station at 0800h and we arrived at the school to meet Cindy at the gates. We went into the hall to look at the children’s artwork and projects and grade the ones for Year 4 and 5 (Projects for years 1-3 remain non-competitive). The Year 5 and 4 children then came in to the hall in groups of 3 to deliver their skits and presentations on topics such as “Seahorse Distribution in Malaysia”, “Seahorse A-Z”, “Seahorse Myths and Legends” and “Seahorse Exploitation and Trade”. Some of the presentations were highly impressive. One little girl had memorised all the Latin names of the seahorses and delivered her speech with such aplomb and genuine passion that we simply had to make a special mention of her. (Her team won first place, by the way). We graded all the teams and decided on the best teams and best presenters. Serina announced the winners and the Head gave out the prizes. Cindy and I both spoke on Green Living and the importance of not purchasing new materials to create artwork with. We explained the correlation between consumption/consumer habits and the destruction of wildlife habitats such as seagrass beds for the seahorses. The three of us received a t-shirt, a bound logbook and a seahorse keychain each as tokens of appreciation for being volunteer judges. I surreptitiously gave mine to Serina in the car, to re-use as prizes for the rural schoolchildren of Kg. Tekek when Serina organises competitions and projects for them.
Now that I am stepping down as Green Living coordinator in order to stand for election in the MNS Branch Committee so I may devote more time to advocacy, public policy, media relations and corporate liaison work, perhaps this could be one of the last occasions for which I am invited to be a guest judge or speaker. I shall enjoy it while it lasts.
Saturday, 11th July – Sunday, 12th July 2009: SFX Family Day and SPCA Weekend
I went back to the parental home on Friday night, and spent Saturday attending to Amber and Chocky and the housework. I cleaned the living and dining rooms, hand-washed the rugs and doormats, cleaned the Venetian blinds and helped Covert Dad type out and email a letter to the editor (yes, it runs in the family).
Lillian had requested my assistance in setting up a Green Living booth at her church for their Family Day carnival on Sunday, and I agreed. I left the parental home early on Sunday morning and drove to Lillian’s church, which had organised a very ‘green’ family day carnival. The church members mostly brought their own shopping bags and food containers, and pooled together reusable plastic and paper bags for those who didn’t bring a bag. The Green Living booth was not far from the stage, and as the youngsters made Michael Jackson song requests all morning, I was all Michael-Jacksoned out by noon. It was also the first time I’ve seen anyone do the cha-cha to Bad or ballroom dance to Heal the World. Those church members sure are good sports!
Many families dropped by our booth to play the 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) Game and Water Conservation Board Game, or just to discuss general issues such as whether rubber bands could be melted down and recycled (I don’t know why I would be counted on as an authority on that!). We gave out Green Living booklets to those who completed the games (Winning isn’t a priority). Lillian, Jack and I took turns to visit the other stalls and booths and purchase food, or in my case, play with Father Simon’s aged German Shepherd, Rover.
Father Simon having a go at dunking one of the altar boys.
A candid shot of me absorbed in a copy of Batman Year Two which I purchased from one of the Jumble Sale stalls.
The Family Day carnival was officially over at 1400h, and Lillian and Jack helped me pack up and transport everything to the Battletank. I thanked them for letting me have the opportunity to help out and for a really enjoyable morning. I drove over to the SPCA for a few hours of helping out at the shelter.
Rose, Roli and I bathed dogs, cleaned infected eyes and ears and clipped overgrown claws. I attended to some of the visitors and advised them on spaying and neutering their pets as an alternative to surrendering them.
When the office staff, vets and visitors had all left by 1630h, I got to work cleaning the shelter. I spring cleaned the Cattery, removing each basket and litter tray for scrubbing and disinfection. Some of the baskets haven’t been cleaned or moved in a week or two. When I removed one of the baskets, a small shower of tiny centipedes and roaches fell on the floor and scuttled all over my crocs. I didn’t like having to kill them, but I had to place the interest of the cats over that of the disease-bearing roaches and poisonous arthropods.
It took me an hour to finish cleaning the Cattery. I disposed of the rotten planks and soiled newspapers which had made the Cattery so damp and unhealthy. Reve cleaned the Maternity Kennels while I cleaned the dog cages. As the dogs were still at play in the shelter compound, I commenced cleaning the Front Reception/Admin/Office area. Reve, Jane and I finished cleaning the shelter and returning the dogs to their enclosures by 1915h.
I went up to the Bungalow to shower, change and meet Nicole. Nic is back from visiting Glyn in England and she brought me a souvenir teatowel and – total coolness – Astronaut Food!
Astronaut Food: Freeze Dried Strawberries!
Dinner at Studio 5 was my treat. Barrelled the Battletank back to the BOQ after dinner, tidied the house, cleaned up after the kitties, did the laundry, and read my handbook on refugee status determination to prepare for my entry into the UNHCR on Thursday. It’s been a highly eventful week, even by my standards.
Bravo Zulu, Commando!