Hope enters

Not so long ago, in a place that often feels like a galaxy far far away, a little girl appeared at our door.

Emily was sweeping and then carrying the dust mop outside to beat and sweep again into a dustbin. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a quick blur. Hearing her startled reaction, I came to the door. There was Emily bent over a tiny little dog.

The small dog was a reddish-brown poodle, with large intelligent eyes. Hope was so small and underfed that she looked like a puppy. She looked like a puppy that hadn’t been cared for, not for a long time.

We put out a bowl of water for her and started quizzing some of the building’s workers and passing residents. They replied with variations on a theme, “Just ignore her. It’s not your problem.” Their shrugs were almost audible.

Wyatt and Emily showered the little girl, and the name Hope was chosen. After her shower, I toweled Hope off and held her while Emily used a blow dryer and comb. The messy little pup was now clean and fresh. Hope was almost immediately at home.

That afternoon and that evening we watched her closely.

The next morning Wyatt, Emily and I went to Walmart. We bought a chair cushion that became Hope’s bed, and some dog biscuits and chicken sausages. I ordered some dry dog food online. We were worried about the effect of heavy meat on her shrunken stomach. That night Hope slept in with Wyatt. The next few nights her seat cushion bed and towel/blanket were placed beside our bed, on Emily’s side.

Emily gave Hope a haircut and combed out her hair.

Between meals, walks, belly rubs, and the occasional mess, we grew very attached to Hope.

We knew we had to find her a home. We must return to Indonesia each summer, so I can renew my permanent residence. As with last summer, we were home for two months. This summer it will be for a minimum of six weeks. We can’t depend on people we barely know to shoulder the responsibility.

We started to canvas the neighbourhood for Hope’s previous owners. We weren’t optimistic, but we were hoping that this lovable, intelligent fur baby might have a family that was missing her. We found no one. Then we put a notice up in our school’s online groups. Someone close to the school wanted a dog. We asked our Chinese co-workers about this woman’s character. Emily went to meet her to judge for herself.

On Friday morning I took Hope for her walk, brought her back to the apartment, rubbed her belly, and left for school with Wyatt. That would be the last time we saw her. While I was at school, Emily cut and shaped Hope’s hair and gave her another bath. Hope would meet her new family fresh and happy.

Yesterday we said goodbye to Hope.

Hope is the name we chose for a little poodle that wandered literally into our home, and into our life.

Emily met the woman and they discussed Hope’s situation and agreed that Hope would have a new family.

This is not an easy decision, and I keep asking myself if there’s another choice. I know there’s not.

Hope’s new family sent two photos of a very happy fur baby enjoying her new home.

Dear Hope

We will miss you, and we were so happy to share a few short days with you. So long, and good luck. Have a safe and happy life.

Regards, your family

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Tomcats … say hello to my little fiend

If you take an ant and trick out its colours so it looks like an orange and black sports car, then you might have an idea what this nasty little bug looks like.  To be fair, the Tomcat is excellent at pest control. Where this toxic beetle becomes problematic is when humans are involved. Humans tend to swat, crush and smear insects that crawl on them.  The tomcat spreads this toxin without breaking your skin.

The tomcat is also known as the rove beetle. I prefer to call it a nasty little S.O.B.

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The tomcat is stealthy, and before you know it it’s on you. You won’t even feel the toxin. An hour or so later, maybe even the next morning you’ll have a welt.

The inflammation may grow, or it may be followed by more welts unless the toxin is washed from your skin, clothing, towels and exposed surfaces.

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This morning, I’m on my third round with the TomCat. Unfortunately, like a certain MMA fighter … I don’t think I’m the winner. Unlike said fighter, I won’t have a massive payday in spite of my courage and superb fighting skill. My first exposure was likely from a tomcat hiding in a rain poncho I wore, which resulted in a large welt under my arm. The next one, and the current experience seem to be from tomcats in the house.

I am sharing a few images, for which I apologize.

We’ve used bee oil to reduce the swelling. Similar to Kayu Putih(which is a wood oil) it reduces the swelling and irritation. We are going to try Benadryl this time. I’ll let you know how it works.

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The consequences of neglect

Trash, litter, waste, and rubbish may be our actual four horsemen. We have almost as many words for what we throw away as the Inuit supposedly have for snow. We all face the same problems of lives spent leaving an unsightly trail.

As many of us work to improve our neighbourhoods and celebrate our communities, some can’t be bothered to carry a plastic cup to a bin. Children are allowed to drop garbage as they walk. In fact, children are encouraged in the lackadaisical littering by the somnambulant slovenliness of their supposedly more mature elders. What still shocks me, and shouldn’t, is that this attitude carries over into private homes and places of worship.

As you drive through Surabaya you will see high apartment towers, shining malls, mosques and churches. You will also see quite a number of ornate neoclassical and modernist homes. Many of these enclaves of large homes are ringed by gates and staffed with private patrols.

Even in these fortresses, and the schools and shops that serve them, the lack of care is evident. Tables and desks left strewn with the detritus of a task or meal. Trash piled against a wall or left littering church or mosque steps.

Parents, schools, and communities need to be on board for any change to work. Imagine the reaction from Mom and dad when the satpam tells the kid, “Hey, use the trash bin!” Even if it’s phrased as “please dispose of your trash in the appropriate receptacle”. (Insert correct translation as you like) In the west and in Singapore people have been conditioned not to litter, and of course there are fines. We see it here in Surabaya, and in Bali that quite a number of North Americans, Europeans, and Singaporeans happily relax their morality and social conscience while on vacation.

This isn’t about when in Rome … the long term consequences of our actions and inactions have to be considered. The same goes for us as visitors; you don’t litter at home, don’t do it here.

Locally, people will change, even in more traditional communities. They need to see viable alternatives and workable (within their capabilities and resources) solutions.

Governments and industry are happy to tout their respect for local/traditional wisdom as long as it keeps locals traditionally ignorant. Kalimantan, Sumatra, Lapindo, Bali’s water crisis and the mess that is Kenjeran beach are not the fault of villagers and tukang parkir.

Waste and neglect are not an enviable legacy to be left by any culture.