Monday, October 30, 2006

Skinker, Slinker, Shrinker and King

My favourite cat, Sibyl, is a skinker. That’s right, skinker. Unlike our other three cats, she doesn’t stalk birds or rabbits or mice or rats. No, she spends her entire day with her nose firmly embedded in the dirt searching for skinks. I’m forever finding skink tails here and there – minus the skink. Sometimes we find the skink under the mat in the laundry – of course, by then, it’s too late. Today she brought one in, and as usual, let me know in no uncertain terms. “Mffflllrow!” The sound of a cat crying with a mouthful. She lets it go in the laundry and it promptly runs under the washer. Great! With some well-appreciated help from my daughter’s boyfriend, we managed to capture the poor thing and release it – still with tail intact. I have no idea what makes Sibyl a skinker. Her nose is forever dirty from snuffling in the dirt, so I have to clean it. But she seems very proud of her achievements, so I won't complain.

It never fails to amaze me how different one cat can be from another. They all have their own little personalities. Another weird thing about Sibyl is she hasn’t quite figured out that our labrador, Jasper, can’t feed her. She’ll come in and head-butt him continually to try to get him to get up and go to the refrigerator. He’s a bit worried about this, since our other cat, Percy, will come in and lick him as though cleaning him, then unexpectedly take a bite out of him. Sibyl’s sister, Piper, has her own little oddities. She's a slinker. She doesn’t like her head touched by anyone but my daughter and her boyfriend – her true owners. This despite the fact she’s lived with us for almost all her adult life. Once she went missing for over 9 days. We were sure she was gone for good – even had a small funeral service for her. Then one evening there she was, up on her perch looking for food. We still have no idea where she was for all that time, but aside from looking slightly skinnier, she’d come to no harm.

Jessica, our long-haired tabby, is a shrinker - overly skittish. If there’s the slightest sound while she’s on someone’s lap, she’s off like lightening; usually leaving welts and screams of pain behind.

Percy is the king of the house – though I’ve never seen him swipe at, bully or abuse any of the females. He must have some secret code that keeps them all subservient. But I do believe he teaches them bad habits. As a kitten, Percy brought in frogs and crickets and moths. He quickly advanced to mice, then rats and finally large rabbits. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find the remains of a cow in our living room one morning.

Daily I’m bemused by the foibles of all our felines. I don’t think I could ever live without a furry four-legged friend in my life.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Our Planet in Peril

At the moment we’re experiencing the worst drought we’ve ever had. We’ve been short of rain for over ten years, but now it’s becoming an emergency situation. The reservoirs here in Victoria are less than a third full. We live in a country renown for its dry climate, but, until now, there’s always been water to sprinkle our gardens, wash our cars, shower, do laundry. In some areas they’re trying new recycling plants. These plants actually recycle sewage for drinking water. It sounds foul, but the end product has been tested over and over and no signs of any toxins or organisms are evident. It’s pristine. But it just goes to show how desperate the situation is.

Melbourne has a population of roughly 3.6 million people. Already the city is on stage two water restrictions. An expert has been quoted as saying by the year 2010 we will be out of water completely. What will happen to these 3.6 million people? And the other millions living in rural areas, like us?

We all take many things for granted. We take it for granted the sun will come up each morning, the moon will come out at night, the seasons will change. Man can’t change these things – at least not yet. However, we can change our planet drastically so people, animals and plants will suffer.

Treasure your water, your food, your shelter and be pro-active in saving our planet from a slow death. One day, if things don’t change, many of the things we take for granted will no longer exist.