Tag Archives: mindful compassion

Possum Magic, or How to Feel 100 Grams Better in a Bad, Mad Season


La Nina has come to visit and she’s outstayed her welcome here in formerly sunny-almost-every-day Queensland.  Enough with the rain, enough with the floods, enough with the inland tsunami.

The dams are beyond fuller than full.  Adults and children are dead or missing.  Houses are wrecked and their occupants homeless.  Enough.

What is it with this crazed climatic family?  Before La N., El Nino hung around for years and years, kicking dust in our faces, spitting desiccated chips in our eyes, killing our native animals and livestock, burning off bushland, burning down houses, and burning out the light in so many people’s eyes all over Australia.

They’re like guests who come to holiday with you, this Nina, this Nino.  They arrive smiling with promise and potential, and their baggage – and don’t they have so much of it – but, like glitter, twist ties, and repeats of Two and a Half Men, you just can’t get rid of them.

What can you do about power that’s way beyond the control of teeny-weeny humans?

The other day, our state Premier, Anna Bligh, stood up to be counted, after a long period of dilly-dallying and less than inspiring shenanigans from the government benches.  She made a speech in which she called on everyone to remember who we are, and it bears repeating.

We are Queenslanders, she said.  We’re the ones they breed tough north of the border.  We’re the ones they knock down, and we get up again.

Strange to say, but a small marsupial must have been listening in at the window when Our Anna roused the citizens to get up again.

Meet Claudette, the sweetest little ring-tailed possum to grace our garden since – well, she’s the only one we’ve found so far.  But you get the drift – see photo for adorability factor up to wazoo.

Claudette – her name appeared from nowhere on a breeze of idle thought – was abandoned, we think, by her mother.  The pair may have been attacked, or frightened, or both, and in these circumstances, the baby – who usually travels on her mother’s back once she’s big enough to leave the pouch – gets shaken off as the mother goes into defensive mode and tries to save herself.  Unfortunately, possums don’t always return to collect their possumettes.

Lola found Claudette in a palm frond, wide-eyed, alone, waiting.  We waited, too, and watched, hoping for Claudette, senior, to return.  By the afternoon, with butcher birds gathering above Claudette’s tiny head, ready to knock her off her perch and – let’s not go there – we stopped watching and took action.

Once we managed to retrieve her from the tree – courtesy of Lola’s magical marsupial manoeuvrings – and place her in a comfy container, she went instantly to sleep, probably a little dehydrated, and certainly exhausted by the effort to remain alert.

We phoned the local vet for some wildlife carers’ names, and found Lyndal, a possum expert and all-round decent human being.  Lyndal put Claudette in a custom-made possum pouch – soft, bunny-rug fabric, just the right size for a 100 gram ring-tailed girl – so she could warm up and calm down sufficiently to be fed a special wildlife formula.

Lyndal phoned us later to let us know that Claudette was feeding and sleeping and doing all the things small furry beings do.  She said Claudette is particularly loving and gentle and she feels confident that once she reaches 500 grams or so, she can go to a soft-release site – an enclosed aviary-style area.  Here, other local carers – all of them volunteers like Lyndal – keep watch as possums like Claudette get used to natural surroundings again and meet other possums – they’re a community-minded bunch, the ring-tails, Lyndal tells us – before their full release into the open.

The moral of this everyday memoir?  Take from it whatever feels good, and I’d like to think that Claudette hung on instinctively until she could make it – with a little help from her friends – to somewhere safer, somewhere loving.

Not everyone has been or will be as lucky as Claudette, but I have to say I’m very proud of all of our fellow citizens who’ve stood up to be counted as these terrible floods wreak havoc and tragedy.

In the end, what we have are the mindful moments that make up our lives and, if we’re lucky – and by now we surely know that nature is random, and careless – each other.


Make Your Day The Compassionate Way With Customer Service Up To Wazoo – Everyday Memoirs for Every Day


You can practise mindful compassion and good customer service any time and with any sentient beings as long as you actively choose to do so.

I was reminded of this truth earlier today, and then discovered Seth Godin’s pithy take on the whole deal in my in-box at lunch time when I began to write this post.  Call it kismet, call it synchronicity, and never call me late for dinner.

Here’s how today’s everyday memoir went down.

This morning on our walk we came across two dogs strolling around the neighbourhood without a care, or any visible owner.

There was that nano-second of temptation to turn the corner and struggle up the hill to home and breakfast and copious cups of black tea at Veranda Life – so close and yet – and then the actual response, which was to call out to them and see if they went the other way, or came to us.  They came to us as though we’d been mates forever, tails wagging, smiling – they’re both smiley dogs, you  know the type – and our morning became another kind of Saturday entirely.

The dogs were two labrador retrievers, or close to it, a male and a female, older, calm, well-behaved and friendly, not barky or scratchy or rowdy.  Let’s call them Sweetheart and Darling, two of my favourite diminutives for my cat, Dotty, also known as Dotteleh, O’Dot, Dotskoya, Dottelini, Dottois, Dottybaba, and any other nationality that springs to mind at any given moment.  She is well travelled herself, this Dotty Donut, if only nominally, never mind the wayfaring dogs.

But let’s mind them for a moment, because the moment we made contact, Sweetheart and Darling became, in effect, our customers.  They had a need and we could provide the service.  So we brought them home and parked them on the patio where Dotty could observe proceedings and keep them in line.

We watered and fed them (Dotty’s lamb and vegetables casserole) and we registered them as found with the city council  and the RSPCA.  I snapped their photos, my partner phoned a dozen vet surgeries in the area, took them to the vet around the corner to scan them for micro chips (no luck), and then made up some Found posters with the photos and went for a long walk to staple them to handy power poles.

One of the vets we called offered to take them for a few days before the pound beckoned.  We decided this was the best option given our lack of dog facilities and our desire to see them reunited with their owner and not with dog heaven.  So we drove them to that vet, who both refused our offer of cash to pay for food and so on, and said she’d also look at the minor injuries on the male’s face and head and give them both the once over.  You’ve got to love a loving vet.

We left our details and left for home, hopeful for Sweetheart and Darling.

Enter Seth Godin in my in-box and his post about Moo business cards with a variety of his aphorisms on the reverse side.  The one that struck me, given our experience, was this:

Care.  That, in just one word, seems to be the essence of good customer service.

I realised that that was what all of us had been doing all morning.  It had been a mindful effort of community care, from our accidental meeting with Sweetheart and Darling, to notifying the RSPCA and the council, to the vet with his microchip wand, and the other generous vet willing to care for them for several days at her own expense.

And if Seth doesn’t mind, I’d like to slightly revise his little gem of wisdom to this:

Care.  That, in just one word, seems to be the essence of good human service.

I think it’s Wayne Dyer who says, Don’t die with the music in you.  Let’s not die with the care and compassion in us, all dressed up and nowhere to go.

Don’t turn the corner and leave – take a mindful nano-second to welcome the opportunity to help, however you can.

As Saint Mary Mackillop said, Never see a need without doing something about it.  Mindful compassion: it’s a wonderful way to create our legacies as memoir detectives and strengthen our ties with one another.

Postscript: At 1.05 this afternoon, Brendan from the council phoned to tell us that Sweetheart and Darling’s owner had contacted them and explained they’d escaped during last night’s thunderstorm.  We told Brendan where they were, and a little while ago we learned from the vet that their owner, Cathy, had picked them up and taken them home to their own comfy beds.  So there you go.  

Who says the days of Happily Ever After are over.  Not me, grasshopper.