My take on the snake

Connor's and Noah's patio art 2013

Connor’s and Noah’s patio art 2013

There are no words to express the pain that comes along with such awful news. They were innocent little boys and certainly didn’t deserve to have their lives cut short in such a tragic way.

The mom, Mandy, is my daughter Leigha’s best friend. An amazing single mom who gave all that she could to these little boys. The snake owner, JC, is a nice man who kept these reptiles as a zoo and then part of the building was used as a pet shop.

My one and only thought  when I first saw the huge snake was that it shouldn’t live where it did. That was about a year or more ago. The enclosure, deemed as safe by the owners I assume, was a special room and the animal was kept under key. It’s not just that living with such a big reptile may be creepy, it’s that the animal itself should be sitting in the wild doing what it normally does – not sitting there breathing and waiting to be fed without sunlight or company of its own species. I mean they do reproduce and some of them even protect their eggs – they have a certain level of intelligence. But this is what we do, us humans. The worst part of it is that we know when things are not quite right but we still just leave it at that.

In the basement, there were also crocodiles. They were huge. They had their own enclosure and were well kept. Still, it was a limited enclosure and although they hadn’t seen different (they must have been babies when it all started), how is it OK to have kept them that way? I’m not pointing the finger, but the list could be very long if we stopped for one second and really thought about the things we do and see on a daily basis. This so called expert on TV was showing his snakes in these little boxed cages, saying there is really no safe enclosures for such creatures. Did I hear that right?

Instinct is strong. How often do we say “I knew it, I never should have…”.  But it’s become a natural thing to ignore instinct. When Leigha was born I tried breastfeeding and it was awful. They told me to put her on each side for 10 minutes and then to feed her for as long as I could. What was that really suppose to mean? Shouldn’t I have listened to my baby or my instinct? It was a nightmare, one that was replaced by my smarts when my second child was born and I decided to do it my way. The boys’ mother told my daughter she so didn’t want them to go that evening – in the end, she gave in. She let them. Leigha told me JC always gets up in the night to check on the kids – was that by instinct? My dad checked on me every night before he went to bed. He did right up until I left for University at age 18. Once, when I was four I had my tonsils out and nearly drowned in my blood. He found me in his routine check. My dad always felt he should check on us – and he did. He saved two of his four children that way. Bleeders he would call us.

The press is something else and makes it all so much more difficult. I don’t know what’s wrong with the Canadian press, their reports are full of crap. It reminds me of these publications that depend on sensationalism. Hence, I rarely watch the news. I always feel I should wait until everything is out in the open, otherwise I really don’t know ANYTHING. This time it’s different, it hurts because I know the mother and knew the children and as a result I watch the news. But I have my own opinions and that’s even more difficult.

The python may not have fed as it should have as it was enclosed for so long – I think it was ten years (not sure here).  That was my first question to Leigha. Did it eat well? How was it fed? How did it react? Did it react? There may be a lot to be said about these creatures in the wild but have we studied them in such conditions? Then I find out the kids had been playing on a farm with the animals. Obvious now I’m thinking as it must have been attracted to the smell. Food. An opportunistic animal – why not? Now it is said it fell through the ceiling. How’s that? Did it coil up and applied all of its weight in one spot? I don’t think so. Was the ceiling rotten??? How do we know that it would have “gripped” it’s victim with it’s teeth before coiling around it? One can essentially manipulate a little child that age in any way without waking it – especially after a busy day after which it’s “dead” tired. What if the child were completed relaxed and didn’t move  would the animal have had to insert its teeth in its victim to coil around it? What about the people saying that the python would have swallowed them already? Really? My common sense tells me that the feeding process is not instantaneous – it’s not like like the snake has little arms to push its prey into its throat. There seems to be little if any common sense with the press. They are interviewing all these experts and yet asking all the wrong questions.

Then there’s the public and the way people react. My mother is getting older and she’s living in an apartment building for seniors. The information she comes up with is painful for me. I tell her not to listen and assume – it’s always better to ask ourselves questions rather than taking it all in I tell her.

It’s so easy to blame the man who was sleeping in the next room while the life was sucked out of these two little boys.

I blame the community and the authorities who lay dormant before human ignorance. 


Blakey is lost

Blakey when he was adopted in August of 2012

Last night in this crazy summer heat, I recommended my daughter Gen take her Indian Ringneck on the back balcony so to take advantage of the cooler air setting in. From our back patio we can see the ocean and a lush thick forest bordering the side of the mountain where this little town is set. The back yard and the surrounding neighborhood looks like a little valley on a distance of a few kilometers in width.

It took two minutes, I asked Blakey for a kiss and Gen took him closer to me. He pulled over, kissed me on the lips. Then as she held him he was startled. I don’t know if I did something wrong. He spread his wings and flew over the balcony – I thought for sure he was going to fly down way below and my stomach started to twist. But then like a small airplane, he flew upward and circled above along with the other birds. We tried calling him – frantically. We were hoping he would simply fly around and settle back, but no he ended up on a distant birch tree. Two hours later he started answering to Gen’s calls. As my eldest daughter and I stood at the bottom of the tree, he flew off and that was it. We haven’t heard of him since.

It was a long and difficult night for Gen and I.We barely slept and by 4 AM we could hear the little baby birds calling out for food from their nests. We got up early hoping Blakey would start his usual little morning conversation since he was out in the open. So far, no news but Gen is sitting in the back calling him gently and offering him food. He’s always starving in the mornings.

There is something to be said for the strength of a sick child. She is so much stronger than anyone else. She is so much more than I will ever be and I say this in a good way because she amazes me and touches the bottom of my heart with her beauty. I often wondered how she could put up with her illness. It’s been nearly eight years and she’s hanging in there regardless of the fact that she has little or no life whatsoever . Now I know that the strength of these children is way greater than what we’ll ever be able to imagine. Getting the bird for her was my way of giving her a life that was worth taking care of. She’s done an amazing job with Blakey. He’s very tame although he wasn’t hand fed as a baby. He speaks many words and sentences. They range from “hello, thank you, good boy, peek a boo, wake up, do you want a cookie, come on, come here” to a whole other bunch he mimics from hearing me rant all day long. She cried a lot last night but quickly pulled herself back together, reasoning everything including me.  Is it the illness keeping her so strong? How does she deal with such awful pain all the time?

I can hear her still calling and offering the many gentle words she uses with him. I’m hoping he’s around somewhere so he can hear her, that he will cry out and that we will be blessed by his return.

The defendant

The Defendant, Alameda County Court House, California, 1955 by Dorothea Lange

The Defendant, Alameda County Court House, California, 1955 by Dorothea Lange

Life can be difficult for some people and there is so much more going on out there than we can even imagine. This morning I had to attend court for jury selection and in the process I had to face once again the harsh reality that is life for people who could just as well have been my neighbors.

There must have been 200 or more of us sitting in the courtroom and because this is a fairly remote area, I recognized many of the people summoned. When we were somewhat settled, the defendant entered the courtroom and sat in his chair as directed. As all eyes settled on him and murmurs filled the room, he bowed his head and focused on his hands which were of course the only way he could distract himself from the weight of the continual focus of interest that laid upon him.

In a small town such as ours, things can become very intimidating. People are very interested in others and what they do. The residents of this area can be judgmental and my feeling is that any kind of bad news about anyone is like a piece of candy. People appear pleased or happy about other people’s misadventures – whether they know them or not. It is a very sad situation.

Hence, as this poor man sat waiting anxiously for things to be over, I felt a deep sense of sadness. The woman sitting next to me (whom I knew from work) asked me if I knew him and whether I had seen his children standing in the hallway. I didn’t know him but somehow I could tell he was someone’s father.

Silence was deafening as he was directed to a glass “cell” next to where he was sitting. The judge entered and I felt a certain sense of relief as she spoke to us and then to the defendant in a polite and gentle way. As he pleated guilty, I knew he did not have much of a choice given the allegations that were being held against him. I wondered then if he had acted out of desperation to support his family, after all there is little or no work in this part of our province.

Shortly thereafter we were dismissed and it was on my way out of the courtroom that I realized other jurors also felt a sense of compassion – murmurs gave it away. But the whole courtroom experience wasn’t the worst part of it. In the hallway, two young teens and a woman were waiting anxiously and it was the young girl’s overall state that struck me. She may have been 15 or so and appeared very frail in nature. Her long wavy hair framed her delicate facial features and made her look even younger than she really was. Her eyes spoke loudly of her pain and sense of loss for the father that she obviously loved and needed more than anything.