It has been a while, friends. Two months. I know this because two days after my last post, my department suffered an unspeakable tragedy. Two months. And I still can’t speak of it. Not yet. Looking at the image on Time’s website, I can barely breathe. The snake I am holding in the photo died the next day despite our best efforts. Such a stupid phrase, really. Despite our best efforts. As if we would give an animal in our care less than our best. The snake I was training on in my last post is gone. And it’s hard.
Moving on for the moment. Because I have to. The last couple of months has been a series of tests and more tests and inspections and questions and answers we don’t even have, and if I focus on it too hard, I’ll never be able to get out of bed. So I am looking for the good. Because it’s always there if I look. When I get to feeling sorry for myself, it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of despair. So I am choosing good today.
Here’s what’s good in my life, what brings me joy. The little things that make every day worthwhile. Click to enlarge and to read the captions.
Tiny rescued opposum. I kept him warm by tucking him into my bra while I drove him to the rehabilitator. She had dozens of them already.
Tiny toad. I am raising these at home, and it has been a great success. The key is preparing for their metamorphosis a month or more ahead of time. The toadlet enclosure has to be seeded with tiny invertebrates so these little guys have something to eat. When they metamorphed, they were the size of a pencil eraser.
Meatball the Radiated Tortoise. I am so in love with him!
Royal Panaque. When we put this guy on exhibit, we didn’t see him for a year. An entire year. Then one day, he decided to make himself known.
My male Ornate Uromastyx is so beautiful, and he’s so funny!
Butterfly bush. I made this happen. Shade AND food for small tortoises.
Honeysuckle is terribly invasive, but is smells incredible. INCREDIBLE. It’s a gift I’ve been given.
Someone bought a lemon bundt cake for me because I did something kind for them. I didn’t expect anything in return, and this cake was such a sweet surprise.
Giant Tortoise juveniles are sometimes willing to walk out of their exhibit to go inside when it’s cold. I’m also grateful to my friend who took the time to help me move them.
My best selfie. I love Big Al the Aldabran Tortoise. Right after this shot, I was sitting and keeping him company. He came and put his head on my shoulder. I needed that.
My ideas sometimes pay off. I got this giant stump so I could stuff browse in it. I wanted my animals to use different muscle groups to get their food. They are willing participants. And Princess G. G. uses the stump sometimes to scratch her bum.
I am target training my darling tortoises. And Al is ready for it to be his turn. I looked down, and his head was right between my knees.
A precious kindergarten class made me this book as a gift for giving them a meet-and-greet with Big Al. I am so touched. The kids wrote facts and drew pictures inside. How did I ever get this lucky?
My Gila Monster. I love these lizards, and I finally have progressed in my venomous training enough to work with them.
Tiny Radiated Tortoises enjoy a meal. Meatball is the smallest of the group. Not for long, though. That kid can EAT!
There are other things, too, things that are not possible to capture in a photograph. The zoo guests who stop us in our work and tell us how sorry they are for our loss, the people who come each week as volunteers to help meet Al’s need for attention. My daughter, upon learning her cousin didn’t have an officiant for her upcoming wedding, takes it upon herself to become ordained online. She is now a card-carrying, ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. That’s right. The Girl-child is now a Pastafarian. Our kids inherit our eyes, our hair, and our genetic garbage. It brings me great joy that mine has also inherited my off-beat sense of humor. And she’s available to perform weddings if you’re looking to get hitched. Who wouldn’t want to go to a wedding where the keepsake is a package of Ramen noodles?