2016/09/04

On This Day 10 Years Ago: September 4, 2006 — Steve Irwin Died

Da Goddess @ 00:00

Over the years, I’ve written about the impact Steve Irwin had on the lives of my family. Below is a repost of something I wrote in 2009, which still rings true. I’d like to add a few thoughts.

Steve may be gone, but we’ve witnessed new generations carrying on with his mission. Irwin daughter Bindi is officially an adult and continues to talk about the need for conservation, advocates for the animals, and has become a true global ambassador for wildlife. His son, Robert, does the same. Though his younger years perhaps limit his visibility, he aims high and reaches or exceeds that mark with pure, unbridled enthusiasm. Both Irwin kids are passionate, educated, and very well-spoken, which is a testament to not only their mother, Terri, but to the foundation of keen interest and the solid work their father did in the name of wildlife conservation.

As I mention below, my own interest in wildlife began early. My parents were the leading contributors to this, but I was also intrigued by the work of Marlin Perkins, who was pretty much all my generation had in the way of a wildlife educator/promoter. There were others who followed, of course, but that was the start of my budding curiosity. I’m so very grateful for the path Perkins paved because it brought us Steve.

I’m grateful my children grew up in the Age of Irwin. I’m grateful for the first class shows they had, to see the world through khaki colored glasses, to see wildlife conservation as something exciting and important.

For those reasons alone (though there are many more), I continue to mourn the loss of the great wildlife warrior named Steve Irwin.

I’ll never forget the year LD turned two and on Christmas morning he went crazy when he saw one of his presents was a three or four foot plastic crocodile. He immediately jumped it, covered its eyes, called for Terri (his sister given a co-starring role in his funny little world of Croc Hunterdom) to get his shirt off and wrap it around the croc’s head. Yes, LD was two and had absorbed enough Irwinisms to run his own fake rescue and relocation in our living room.

Dressed in his regular uniform of khakis (the boy wanted what he wanted), we headed over to my sister’s house for more Christmas activities. The croc came along. Anyone speaking to LD that day had to address him as Steve. To this day, there are probably a few people who were dating relatives or friends of my sister and brother-in-law who really believe this is my son’s name. We probably should have considered it, but for the simple fact that the ex’s brother carries the same name and they weren’t on speaking terms at that point. Still, my little 2 year old had made his stand about the name and his goals for the day: he would be Steve and he would be on croc patrol. No cats, people, or food would go missing if he could help it! (Okay, maybe a little food, but that was only if it was near enough to a chair he could climb up to get at it.)

And he did it all with an Australian accent. My American born baby boy sported a fair dinkum Aussie accent. Because that’s how his hero spoke.

This was how it went for two and half years, give or take. Halloween costumes were, naturally, khaki and sported fabric paint representations of Australia Zoo’s logo, with the name Steve below that. We’d attached frogs, lizards, and snakes to his shirt (all plastic, of course…our collection was immense…still is) and his shorts or pants, and his hat, although the hat was from the Norwich Gators (close as we could get at the time). Our pumpkins were carved with crocs and “Steve” and occasionally a panda or regular jack o’lantern pattern. But they still represented The Man.

When the news broke during the early hours on Sept. 4, 2006, I was awake and editing for Blogcritics.org at the time. I heard it. And everything stopped. Then I started flipping channels and it was everywhere. It didn’t seem real. Finally, I emailed my friend Pat who lived at the zoo and received the sad confirmation that it was, indeed, tragically true — Steve Irwin was gone.

What unfolded after that was beyond anything most anyone anywhere would have ever expected. Despite the popularity of the Crocodile Hunter series and other spin off shows, no one could have predicted just how widespread this man’s infectious enthusiasm reached. Straight out admiration, parodies, and even a handful of naysayers…the man, his mission, had stretched around the globe and back a million times. He made the scariest animals important, even lovable (except leeches and I’m afraid I’ll never laugh as he did about them), he made us care about the animals he encountered, taught us why they were special, why we should want them around. His plans were grand and he was making great strides in realizing many of his dreams, which ruffled a few feathers and caused some backlash, but Steve did it all for one reason: to protect the land and the animals, and give our children more than just picture books filled with photos and drawings of animals and trees we once encountered on land. Careful management could and can preserve habitats and healthy populations of animals if we can find a way to work together — from land management, husbandry, careful community planning, caring individuals, and sensible care plans from government agencies to help keep nature a viable and valuable part of our heritage.

It’s a message I was taught by Marlin Perkins, local Native Americans, and even by my parents (except snakes, but that’s a cause I took up on my own). To me, what was the point of keeping the forest if there were no animals? What was the point of loving the animals if they had no home? I learned it early and have always carried this with me. My conservationist roots run deep and likely always will. I guess my kids came by it honestly.

And then one day, Steve and Terri Irwin showed up and echoed what I’d grown up hearing. They even went far beyond what I’d learned and gave me new ideas, a new means of understanding, new hope! It spread quickly. I wasn’t the only one looking for a way to learn. It became part of our watercooler conversations.

Then we got that punch in the ol’ solar plexus we never wanted to hear. Yes, Steve Irwin was a celebrity and we often roll our eyes when a celebrity dies. But this seemed to run a bit deeper. Here was a young man actively, passionately chasing the dream of educating the world about our natural resources. He wasn’t famous for kicking a soccer ball or wearing the latest styles or releasing a record of music he had little to do with. He was out getting dirty and conducting research that continues to this day to enlighten us on the habits and lives of creatures we previously understood little about. He gave us tools to learn and set us upon a course of caring.

It’s been three (er, now 10) years and it still hurts. Thankfully, there are people everywhere who have picked up the mantle and carry on.

It may mean nothing to you, but it continues to mean a great deal to this family. Each of us, in our own manner, have found a way to carry on educating friends and strangers about the animals we encounter, the land upon which we live, the land that surrounds us, and how important it is for all of us to work together to keep it working.

Steve Irwin may be gone, but plenty of people in this world are carrying out his work, sharing the knowledge, spreading the word.

We miss you, Stevo.

Gone But Not Forgotten

2016/05/19

50 & 14: I Did It!

Da Goddess @ 03:57

I. Fucking. Did. It.

I’ve made it to 50! And the last 14 of those years included blogging. Crazy, isn’t it?

This past year’s been a rough one. Frustration, pain, and heartache seemed to be around every corner. My own health issues, my family’s health issues, deaths of friends and my sweet Celia, and having to say goodbye to Mojo as she packed up for Alaska. But this is all part of life and we get through it, don’t we?

So I’ve survived and am grateful for making it this far. Of course, I wish things were easier, but without sadness I’d never appreciate happiness; without pain I’d never appreciate pleasure. It’s all part of life. LIFE. I’m still here! I almost feel like hunting down that vice principal and a few friends’ parents just to say, “you were WRONG!”

Heavy sigh, deep breath, and many prayers I get to try writing another post like this next year!

2016/01/30

Ouch

Da Goddess @ 19:11

Had a truly wonderful time yesterday with King Arthur’s family. They had a party at his cousin’s house in Santa Monica. She lives not even a block from the beach.

I got in lots of baby time and it was heavenly! Baby Evan is just adorable and big sister Emma was very helpful. There was another baby there as well and I got in a bit of time with her as well.

Today, though, I am wrecked. I’ve taken all the meds I can take and don’t feel any better for it yet. So I’m missing out on another gathering as I type. Big unhappy face.

Plans with my family have been moved back a week. I hope there aren’t any further delays as the lost sister is moving in a couple weeks. Talking with my mom, she’s excited to meet her, too. I’m hoping I’m there for that moment because it means so much to both of them and I very much want them to meet before my mom’s health declines.

In the meantime, I’m icing my back, waiting for my next dose of meds, praying they do the trick. There’s only so much I can take with the pain these days and I’ve reached my limit this year.

2016/01/27

Three Things

Da Goddess @ 02:51

First thing: my favorite doctor I’m currently seeing for my back is leaving to start his own practice or something like that. I found this out on Monday and promptly felt abandoned. There will be another doc taking his place, but it won’t be the same. He could tell just by looking at me how I was feeling and seemed to understand my and anticipate my needs. I’m going to miss him greatly.

Thing, the second: I’m finally going to celebrate Christmas with the family! Woo hoo! Very excited about this.

Thirdly, I’m going to meet my lost sister. I feel as though I have waited forever to meet her, and I suppose that’s accurate. I mean, since I found out about her I’ve wanted to meet her and now I’m going to! (Yeah that super high-pitched thing you heard but thought you only imagined was my squeal of delight.)

Yes! I managed a concise post! Make note of this, friends. It’ll likely never happen again.

2016/01/12

Waiting for Everything

Da Goddess @ 12:17

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I’ve yet to celebrate Christmas with my family.

I know, huh?!

We’re blaming it on the plague. Don’t know how I managed to catch it. I did, though.

Coughing, fevers, headaches, eventual sinus congestion, the works. The coughing was horrendous. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I’m still stuck with a little, lingering cough, but nothing like I had. And I’m not wanting to sleep 24/7, which is a nice change.

Other than that, my holidays were fantastic /sarcasm.

I can’t wait to get down to see my family now that I’m no longer contagious. I’m hoping we can manage to do so before February. Fingers crossed!

2015/12/21

TJH: Inspire – Ode to Joy

Da Goddess @ 08:12

Tis the season for joy, is it not?

Yesterday, while baking cookies with King Arthur’s daughter and grandkids, I’d noticed something interesting: an upside-down candy cane cookie was right next to a wreath cookie, which was next to a mitten cookie. Looking at the way they were laid out there, it read “Joy” to me. Everyone else came over to look and they saw the same thing. It was appropriate for the occasion, as well as for the season.

Which brings me to my next bit of joy: my kids.

Mojo was down from Fairbanks the 2nd-9th. We only got a bit of one day together, but it was wonderful to see her, AND LD, again. Yes, they both met up with us at a little place down Temecula way. I’d told them we were going to do some photos for Grammy and Papa and they were cool with that. Here are a couple shots from that day.

Mojo 1

My sweet kids

LD 1

My Mojo girl

LD 2

Mojo 2

Handsome LD

A wonderful pair

Beautiful Mojo

2015/11/03

The Lost Sister

Da Goddess @ 02:09

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but in case I didn’t or if you missed it — I have another sister. Yes, I have my older sister, C., and my younger sister, J. But there’s also another sister. One I’ve never met.

When my mom was young, before she and my father got married, she had a child. She gave that child up for adoption. She’d named her, but her adoptive parents gave her a name of their own choosing. My mom never knew what that name was. She said her goodbye to that little girl and went forward with her life.

Years later, this child tracked down my mom. She didn’t want anything other than to know who she was, get some background on her, and, of course, get medical information from her.

I was the last one in the family to find out about her. My mom thought I might not understand. But Mom did finally tell me about her and I always wondered about her. B., as she was named, was a mystery. A mystery I wanted to solve. Or, at least, explore.

It’s been many years since the revelation of this mysterious sister and now I’m finally going to get some answers to the questions I have. Turns out she’s living in California, not far from my younger sister. She walked into the veterinary clinic where J. works and, in the course of chatting, discovered they were related. B. was suddenly a reality for us.

J. called to tell me about her and wanted to know if I was interested in meeting her. Hell to the YES! And now our journey of discovery begins.

I’ll keep you posted on our progress!

2015/11/02

23, Kiddo

Da Goddess @ 03:08

I was going to go with “23 Skiddo” except that it technically means, “get the hell outta here! ” And, really, that’s no good enough for my girl. Nope. Not good enough for her at all.

My Mojo is 23 today.

As I always seem to say, it feels like only yesterday that I help her in my arms. My mom was there in the O.R. with me as Mojo made her way into the world. It was the most amazing moment of my life! This glorious being from heaven above was gracing us with her existence. She changed my life in the best way possible. With Mojo, I finally understood what love was. I finally found my world of wonder.

There’s never been a day since her birth that I don’t thank God for her.

Honey, never forget what a blessing your are to so many people! Happy birthday, my darling daughter. May each day bring you new opportunities to be the best you can be. May you always have dreams. May you always have wonder. And know that you ALWAYS are loved.

2015/10/18

Training Day

Da Goddess @ 17:30

harness and leash training a 4 year old

My current project is training Fletch to feel comfortable in a harness and on a leash so we can take him with us to faire. That’s the plan. Fletch, however, is decidedly undecided about the entire endeavor.

He doesn’t mind being in the harness, thanks to treats and patience. Being outside is sort of okay, too, but just barely. Put Mr. Kitty down on the sidewalk and he loses all confidence. He turns into a wimpy cat, barely moving, almost crawling/slinking his way closer to me. Treats don’t help quite as well when he’s on the sidewalk.

Thankfully, we have time to get him used to the idea of being outdoors, on a leash, and dealing with the myriad of scents and sounds.

God willing, Fletch will soon be a great little travel buddy.

2015/10/05

Snow No!

Da Goddess @ 15:32

Mojo is experiencing her first autumn in Alaska and she’s learning how to deal with snow. Her text the other night went something like this:

I spun out a few times and thought I was going to roll the car a couple times. I was only going 30mph. It’s scary.

I told her to slow down. Whatever she thinks is a safe speed, she should reduce by at least 5mph.

I remember my early days of driving in snow while living in Colorado. I’m sure I pissed off a lot of my fellow drivers by going as slow as I did, but I was determined not to have an accident! I did well. I managed to avoid all the dangers of snow and ice… until I had Mojo.

There was the day I’d just dropped her off at day care when I slid through an intersection, up into a driveway, and bumped into a parked car. No damage to either vehicle, but plenty of damage to my nerves. And then there was the morning I was driving her to the hospital for surgery. She was having tubes placed in her ears. We were on the freeway and a small patch of black ice caused the car to slide right into the back end of another car. Thankfully the was no damage to either auto, but I felt so horrible knowing how much worse it could have been for us. The very idea that Mojo could have been injured was enough for me to start thinking about moving back to California.

Hmm ow my baby girl is all grown up and facing snow and ice on her own. I don’t think I like that! But there’s nothing I can do other than pray for her safety and tell her to slow down.

Parenthood ain’t for sissies.

2015/09/27

Vanity, Thy Name Is Fletch

Da Goddess @ 02:35

My darling boy, you are one of the silliest cats I’ve ever known. You are also one of the clumsiest cats I’ve ever known. And yet, you are also one of the vainest cats I’ve ever known.

Fletch doesn’t do it often, but when he does, he does it for hours. Doing what, you ask? Examining himself in the mirror. He’s prone to sitting in front of the mirror for long periods of time. Adjusting his position, this way and that. Stretching his neck. Moving his tail. Turning his body. Practicing poses. He’s like a teenage girl prentending to be a model. When he finds the one pose he prefers for the session, he gives himself a good long look in the mirror, blinks, good long look again, slightly turns, adjusts the pose to get it right, looks at himself in the mirror again, and then when he gets it exactly right, he stares. Stares. And then he stares some more.

I stand off to the side and watch him do this. I try to get his attention in every conceivable way, but he just wants to gaze upon himself. His very lovely self. Not even the promise of food can lure him away when he’s in one of his vanity trances. One of these days, I’ll record him doing this and post it online. One of these days. We’ll see how that works for me.

2015/08/15

The Gentle Goodbye

Da Goddess @ 02:08

International Cat Day model Celia

This is going to be a rather quiet and somewhat sad weekend for us. Come Monday morning, we’ll be taking Celia in to the vet’s to be euthanized. She’s been so sick these past few months and her treatments don’t last as long and are becoming more difficult to give her. So it was decided yesterday afternoon that the kindest thing we could do would be to let her just fall asleep and never wake up again. We’ll cry (I already have — several times) and we’ll say our goodbyes and be there as she goes.

The vet had listed a few options of treatment, all costly, of course, but none of the courses of treatment were guaranteed to help her at all, or to help her long term, or to even heal her. If we were rich, sure we might consider some of the options, but eventually we would have to make the tough decision and do what was, ultimately, the best thing for HER.

I think she knows what’s up. She’s come out of deep hiding and is in visible seclusion instead. She’s no longer flinching when I approach her because she, again, seems to know we’re not going to bother her with meds any further. All I want for her is to come out, spend time where’s she’s most comfortable, and be her lovely self as we prepare ourselves emotionally.

Celia is our gorgeous, furry princess. After she got over her initial shyness and distrust, she became very loving and exceedingly insistent we pet her. It was funny. Whatever it took to get us to bend to her will, well, she was willing to do it. And so were we. On the rare days when she was in play mode, Celia was hysterical. She’d chase and leap and skitter across the floor, she’d meow and make a big deal out of it. And then, five minutes later, she’d be done. Most fun was watching her play with Fletch. They were funny as hell together! Fletch loved it and he was always sad when she’d end the game sooner than he wanted.

There will never be another cat as beautiful as Celia. There will never be another cat as unique as she is. We’re going to miss our Baby Girl.

2015/07/19

Hot… and… Muggy

Da Goddess @ 23:51

Hot and muggy trending high in this part of the coutry. We are not fans. Not in the least.

As far as my meds go, I’m settling in with the higher dose of Oxycontin and having no real problems with the Baclofen. Well, I’m a bit sleepy on all of this, but that’s to be expected. I have noticed, however, that I tend to kind of fall out in the middle of typing or watching television. If l begin to drift off here, you’ll likely see random letters appear in no particular order. kkkkdddddddoooosssssssds]sssssssss yeah, kind of like that. I don’t even know it’s happening until I snap to and feel the heaviness ooi in my fingers and have to fight to get them to let upllllllllllllllllkkkkkkkkkkkklllll laasddddddddddddddddd

It’s kind of an odd sensation: that total disconnect with all the rest of the world at the drop of a hat. It’s very disconcerting, to say the least. I sort of nod off during conversations, watching TV, trying to type or play a game. Sometimes I’m just llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll do that. I do a lot of backtracking with the TV. And convos. If you saw how many times I’ve had to backspace this post alone, you’d be amazed.

Well, I’m going to lie down and hope I get some sleep. The sleep I’ve had since starting the Baclofen is working out well. I still wake up with numbness and tingling extremities and pain, but the sleep has been significantly more restful than I’ve had in ages. I”ll take it!

Oh, one more thing (I’ve turned into Columbo all of a sudden): My mom just turned 80 this weekend. Have a slug of some beverage of your choosing in her honor, please. We’re going to keep celebrating each and every event with my parents now that they’re both octogenarians.

Okay, now I’m really going to lie down, listen to the rain, and fall asleep.

2015/06/22

Just Rollin’ Along

Da Goddess @ 00:18

Celia’s doing so much better these days, but her recovery has led to another, unanticipated problem: she’s begging for food ALL. THE. TIME. Walking into the kitchen to get some water? She’s there, begging, “feeeed me! Feeeeeeeed me!” Walking by the kitchen? “Feeeeeed me! FEEEEEED MEEEE!” Five minutes after she’s finished eating? “Feeeeeeed me, Seymour! FEED! ME! NOW!” It’s become almost comical. Except it gets very loud at times. On the other hand, it’s a greater alternative to her not eating and slowly dying. So, all things considered, it’s a good thing.

My mom’s doing very since her T.I.A.s. She left the rehab center just a few days after she got there and has since been told she’s fine and needs no further follow-up as far as occupational or physical therapy. YAY! It’s so nice to get good news for a change, you know?

Sadly, my dad is having a rough go of it lately. He just lost a close friend to that fucking bastard cancer. He was younger than my dad and that has made it even worse. This comes on the heels of him losing another friend quite recently. It’s been a lot for Dad to deal with. I understand how tough it is for him to see his circle of friends grow smaller. Suddenly, the people who know and understand you are no longer there. Where does that leave you? I hate to think of him being so lonely. I hate to think of anyone being that lonely.

Mojo and her husband are doing well up in Alaska. They went to interview cats over the weekend as their darling little trouble maker needs a friend. No word yet on the outcome.

Spent Father’s Day with King Arthur’s family down in San Clemente. It was so much cooler down there than it has been up where we live. Reminded me of when I used to live there back in the day and reminded me of why I love the beach so much. KA’s family is a truly lovely clan. I really enjoy spending time with them.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Father’s Day and head into yet another work week with a light heart and kindness for those around you.

2015/06/07

We’re All in Recovery Now

Da Goddess @ 02:54

It’s been a fairly shitty couple of weeks around here.

We said goodbye to my darling Mojo and have been dealing with her absence, fretting about the drive. She arrived in Alaska safely and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

I ended up in the emergency department twice in one day for my back. Spent much of the next six days fighting back tears because I hurt so damn bad 24/7.I’m only now getting to a semi-comfortable place.

Then I get word that a friend’s cancer has spread and gone from survivable to inoperable and terminal. That was after finding out two other friends are battling cancer, too. It’s heavy on the heart, y’know?

Celia had to be rushed to the vet on Thursday as she had stopped eating, drinking, using the litterbox, and went into hiding. Her ears had bubbled up, as had part of her nose and a paw. Luckily, we found a new vet who said it was likely a food allergy, treated her with steroids and antibiotics (secondary infection from open wounds), and sent her home with us. Once home, we closed off the rest of the house so we could get to her and, lo and behold! She ate. And she started acting like our little princess again.

Of course, all that was manageable…and then I get The Call. My sister called to say my mom was in the hospital after having what they thought was a stroke. Now they say it was likely a T.I.A. or two. Her left arm, hand, leg, and foot are weak and she’s complaining that there’s some weakness on the right as well. At this point, I simply lifted my eyes to the heavens and begged for all her pain and infirmaty to become mine. I don’t care that she’s 80! My mom deserves better.

And now here I sit…praying like there’s no tomorrow.

If there’s another shoe or two? No, thanks. I have plenty. Besides, my feet have been swelling.

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