Author Archives: Gillian Zali

Update for heaven’s sake!

Holy smokes! Way too much time since posting, but that just tells you I’ve been busy and, happy to say, getting still busier.

Needless to say, with the ever-expanding ways to keep in touch, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and all the rest I don’t even know, at least my nearest and dearest stay close to my heart…love you guys!! I will endeavor to start writing more again, but in the meantime, continue to watch for my (mostly) critter-pix on the aforementioned platforms.

The circle of life is ever turning, but my current menagerie is thriving, ranging in age from almost 13 years (Bluebell) down to 6 weeks (Dot and Olive – two baby guinea pigs with their Mom). Not going to tell you the total number though!

I have two final exams left to take on my Veterinary Technician course which I need to do in the next two months, then all the classes are complete…finally!!. Have been on the Dean’s List each semester, so that feels good, but I definitely won’t be attempting to make a living at it, for several reasons. Firstly, I just love being my own boss, working with a select handful of seriously awesome clients, but secondly, really, the pay for a Vet Tech is horrendously low for what is expected of you, and what is expected of you is quite physically demanding.  I was doing the occasional paid housecall in town with a mobile vet for a while which was fun, but I don’t even have the time for that anymore.  For me it is far more rewarding to do this work for free, which I continue to do, happily, one day a week at the local shelter spay/neuter clinic.

So it is all good with me, thank you for asking, and hope it is with you too.


P.S. Did I say how much I love being my own boss? Yes!

Rainbow

March rainbowHello.  I am still here.  My menagerie waxes and wanes, governed by the inevitable circle of life.  Currently all rabbits and, after 18 plus years Oliver the box turtle, have crossed the rainbow bridge, but in their place we have taken in Chuck Norris, Big Ginger, Cotton and Tilda, and still have the amazing little Fig(aro) who rounds out the guinea pig herd.  For felines we have the spectacular Mayday and now his still bratty young sidekick, Mingo.  The canines are the old ladies, Daisy and Bluebell, joined by the inimitable Lucy, who continues to prove herself a fantastic save.

Of course, I have seen and done much since the last posting, but importantly did want to share that my waylaid but never forgotten desire to study veterinary medicine has now become a reality and I am half-way thru a Veterinary Technology course.  It’s by no means easy, but it feels awesome!

This goes along with a photo of a recent and relatively rare local rainbow (nowhere near the aforementioned rainbow bridge), and is intended as encouragement to all to hold on to the things in life you want to do, keep them alive in a safe place inside.  One day will be the right day to start doing them.

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Mad Skills

Yummy Breakfast

This is breakfast made for me by my son last weekend.

Not only does he have mad culinary skills (yum, right Bluebell!!), but sitting and chatting with him I am so so happy to find he is thinking about the world, about religions, about politics and government.  He’s mad and sad about a lot of stuff. He’s listening, reading, discussing with friends, sharing with me.  He’s uncovering the perceived truths from all different manner of perspectives… lots are bumming him out, making him think about disengaging from this mess and going up to Canada or some other place to escape.

The choices are indeed flight or fight.  You can throw up your hands and say that’s it, I’m outta here, or you can take decide to stay and take action.  There has never been a better time to communicate at lightning speed with so many, we should make sure it stays that way by being present don’t you think?

He will make up his mind as he should.  I made up my mind several years ago to get involved and I couldn’t be happier.

Cloudy with a chance of full English Breakfast


This was taken on Saturday, November 10 – a thick and lovely layer of low, fluffy, pink, just like cotton candy randomly tossing out big drops of rain.

It reminded me of my summer vacation this year – the England part of it at least. Riding the train from Newcastle to Plymouth or vice versa, basically the length of the country, is a favorite part of any trip back home for me, and the clouds this year were incredible.  So I took some photos, mostly not that great, but I’m sharing them here anyway just to give you a sense of the English countryside I passed thru – and if you’re paying attention, you might catch a full English breakfast thrown in.

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Cheers!

A Merry Last Day of May

After a busy but rather fun day this last day of May 2012, thought I’d share a few images from my backyard, taken while the last remnants of the day’s sun were still hanging around.

Let’s start with the crazy back wall, bursting with blooms that have crested the top – plumbago, sweet pea, nasturtiums, and the fig tree in full leaf, ready for fruit.  This picture doesn’t capture the half of it, but the nasturtiums this year are especially vigorous – grown from one seed packet brought over from Spain for me several years ago!
And some other pretty colors all around…

And now Bluebell’s find – she was spending a LOT of time looking into one of the discarded containers behind the garage, so much so that I finally went to investigate. Lo and behold, a critter was hiding – waiting til dark to slink away.

Ending with Miss Lucy, who just wants to play 🙂


… and onwards to June and Italy and Summer already!

 

Bringing Home Lucy

I’ve been a volunteer at my local animal shelter for over a year now and I continue to love it.  The environment is of course challenging, but that makes my time there feel even more worthwhile.

All of us who help out there, including the staff, have our favorites.  Some don’t make it out, but a lot get adopted or rescued, especially because we’ve taken the time to find out more about them.  Joe Public comes in every day looking at the dogs and cats.  Some are just looking, some are looking for lost pets, some for replacements of lost pets, and some are looking for a new member of their family.  We try and engage them in conversation, see if they’re looking for something in particular, ask if they have any questions, because the more we can find out about them, the better we can help them find a good match to take home.  Quite often people say they’re waiting to find the one that connects with them… and I know exactly what they mean.

I’d had my eye on a funny quiet little dog with unusual coloring and intense, soulful eyes.  Her intake date was February 1.  She is Corgi mixed with I don’t know what, about 2 years old.  I really liked her, I don’t know why, but I REALLY liked her.  So back in early March, I picked her and several other dogs and cats for an adoption program on a local radio network.  We named her Lucy.  All the other dogs went, one by one, but no-one took Lucy home.  Each time I was at the shelter, I’d go see her, spend a few minutes with her.  She was calm and sweet, she had roommates, so was seemingly good with other dogs.  But as time passed, things changed.  One day someone wrote “food aggressive, feed separately” on her kennel card, I started to worry.  Shelter life is no good, it wears their little spirits down until they’re all used up.

A couple of weeks ago, we took her (and about 29 other dogs) to a big adoption event.  But Lucy couldn’t hang with the noise and the multitude of chihuahuas and terriers, she growled at them, snarled at them, was not happy at all.  I separated her from the crowd and set her aside in a crate with two other small and frightened dogs, and she settled.  But no-one took Lucy home, no-one even wanted to look at her, no matter what I said it was clear she was invisible to everyone else.  I knew her time had all but run out.  So that night, I took her home with me, intending to foster and start networking to find her a forever home.

She was clingy and intolerant of my two big girl dogs, and, yes, food aggressive.  But within two days these shelter habits began to fall away, she stopped being food aggressive and relaxed, found some toys and found herself again.

We fell in love with her.  She is very people friendly, she doesn’t hardly bark at all, she’s good with other dogs, she’s playful, smart, responsive, house-trained, sits, walks well, and makes us laugh so much.  Last Thursday (after only 7 days) we knew she belonged here and so we’ve adopted her.

Click Lucy to see a little video of her playing fetch with her Platypus toy.

From my fostering experiences, I’m always telling folks that all shelter dogs need time in their new home to truly reveal themselves, and now I have Lucy’s tale to recount.  So if you’re looking for a new four-legged someone to join your family, please come to your local animal care and control center and ask a maroon-shirted volunteer or blue-shirted staff member, who their favorite is.  You are quite likely to discover a treasure just waiting for you.

Flight to Freedom

The Chi Yin and Yang

Just to conclude the Gracie and Beanz tale, which I probably need to write out in full one day, cos it’s a heart-warmer.  These two were my fosters from the first week of December to March – we had sickness, extreme fear, anxiety, birth, and in the end new-found self esteem and happiness.  It was quite a ride and so a good outcome was felt very deeply here.

On March 3, I drove them up to Signature Flight Support at Van Nuys Airport and put them on the Wings of Rescue flight up to Oregon.  Beanz was fostered and then immediately adopted by her foster parents, Gracie went to a foster, was instrumental in bringing another tiny, fearful Chi out of her shell, and so she too was adopted by her foster mom.

These kinds of outcomes are why I foster, why anyone fosters I imagine.  And guess what, there are never enough fosters.  Maybe it’s something you want to consider?  If you do, and have questions, I’m here. 🙂

Anyways, here’s the tiny plane.  There were four or five vehicles with at least two dogs each.  We helped the pilot load in as many crates as we could, then he climbed in and took his seat in the cockpit.  We fitted in the last couple of crates and shut him in.  And that was it, he taxied away to take flight on a clear, blue-skied California Saturday morning.

Last week I took in two new girls – Dorothy and Alice (pretty cute, not cuddling yet but tolerating each other at least).  This a short term foster as I’m about to go on a little adventure… but hey they’re available and if YOU know anyone who might make a good home for either or both, PLEASE let me know.  Here they are:

 

Looking for a forever home... can you help?

Extremely huggable little girl, needing a forever home... know of one?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
So there we are, one Chi chapter concluded, another begun.

 

 

Horses and Helicopters

The heady fragrance of fresias is in the air, new friendships are afoot and helicopters, yes, helicopters are a-hover.

Through my work both as a volunteer at the local animal shelter and as part of several disaster preparedness groups, I had the extreme good fortune to be able to participate in a large animal rescue drill last Friday.  These annual drills include the big LA County Urban Search and Rescue rigs with cranes and such, and also helicopters.  Due mainly to the helicopters and the potential dangers inherent with them, I was not going to be allowed to participate, but as long as I could be there, I’d take whatever was offered.

Fate being what it is, the weather had been rainy the day before and it was still heavily overcast on the day of.  My firefighter/paramedic neighbor had already given me the heads up that it didn’t look like a helicopter day to him.

Still, I made my way up to the North East San Fernando landfill, climbing two miles up to where the helipad and the exercise site was.  Sandwiches and thermos in the car, I was ready to settle in for the duration, at a distance, if necessary.

Sure enough, when I arrived I was told that there would be no helicopters this time due to the weather conditions.  As much as I love helicopters, I was still more than excited to witness the exercise.  So, helmet on, camera in hand, I stepped in and started to videotape some of the activities.  Whereupon, I was asked if I’d like to participate?!!  Here’s the little 2 min. video that I actually took and if you listen carefully at the end, you’ll hear that question being asked.  Needless to say I switched from observer to participant in an instant!  DARTexcerpt3-16-12

And just like that, wonderfully guided by the LA County Fire Department / Urban Search and Rescue personnel, my team and I hooked up a horse both standing and laying down (the one standing in the video is “Thunder Bob” – 100% plastic!) to what’s called an Anderson Frame; then we hooked up a different style sling/cradle with Thunder Bob laying down; we hobbled, tied and maneuvered another downed horse (this guy was also full-size, but a heavier, jointed rubber horse called “Lucky”) onto a sled; and finally, I had some one-on-one time with Riley, the drill captain Frank’s live horse, and got a refresher on tacking up and untacking, plus a first hand demonstration of the trailer-ing process.

This learning opportunity, as well as working with the members of LADACC-ERT (LA Department of Animal Care and Control, Equine Rescue Team) – several of whom I had met and trained a little with previously – was a rare and special day for me.  It’s the kind of hands-on training that sticks with you.  My son is currently an Explorer with the LA County Fire Department and I was thrilled at the thought not only that he might one day be doing this for real, but also that I will have an understanding of it when he does.

But wait, there’s more.  As we stood chatting at the end of the afternoon, suddenly a red and white chopper with the words “Fire Attack” emblazoned on its belly, swooped in over our heads and landed on the helipad.  Its crew were there to stretch the winch cable. They hook the cable to a weight that’s secured with a rope on the ground by a couple of crew members, then the helicopter lifts off and hovers above it.  As I watched, I got to see the effects of the downdraft, blasting great clouds of dust and dirt, which my team members had pointed out earlier gets into absolutely every orifice, and which makes up a good chunk of the usual conditions for the drill I’d just participated in.  I totally lucked out!  Here are some photos.

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Working with the Anderson Frame

I guess I got to have my cake and eat it too, didn’t I?!

 

 

 

The Bright and Shiny Things

Here we are, a brand new year.  Births and deaths for my family already, the circle of life, it’s all continuing of course.  But things seem a little brighter, don’t they?  Just a little?

This might help your view.  Try and focus on the small things in your everyday life that make you smile.  I consider myself a pretty good big picture person, but let me tell you, sometimes it’s a burden that needs easing.  I am surrounded by things I love to look at, so I can escape – just for a second or two – when I most need it. The small things, bright with innocence, shiny with simplicity, the beautiful things in your everyday life…there for you to wonder at if you just stop and look.

Yesterday at the animal shelter, there was a pair of peacocks!  When I got there around 2pm they were in the livestock enclosure at the back, doing their thing.  As the afternoon wore on and the dusk drew in, Madam Peahen made a move and jumped/flew over the low enclosure fence, then up on top of the separate chicken cage and up once more onto the tightrope of the boundary fence.  Mister Peacock waited until she’d done her recce, and then joined her.  I ran around and let some folks know and wise Lamar said let them be, if you spook them they’ll fly and they seem like they’re gonna stay.  He was right of course.

This was not a flight to freedom, this was finding a safe place to roost for the night.  Hope they had a good night and came down safely for breakfast!

This isn’t her, but she looked just like this.
And he, of course, had a tail full of these!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be still and know,

The New and Improved Oasis

Much water has passed under the bridge since the last post.  A LOT of busy stuff, mostly good, some not so much, but always there’s flow – new people, new challenges, new foster dogs, visits from loved ones, trips taken and for the future to look forward to.

Though all the stuff, thanks to my friends, family and colleagues – Joyce, Clare and Joao – we have a new and improved Oasis.  Joyce spent many hours out of the goodness of her heart and more than a pint or two of sweat giving the whole yard a spruce up, including the brilliant idea of hibiscus in the Oasis for exotic color (already budding), which will be beautiful and block our icky east side neighbor too :(.  Oasis.2011

She’s also a sprinkler pro and we now have a new sprinkler head smack dab in the middle of the oasis, so the grass is finally green and lush.

And to cover the sprinkler head, Clare and I created the lovely zen circle, which matches the two entry threshholds.

OasisFrontGate.Oct2011

And just this week the multi-talented Joao re-built my Oasis gates in a better, sturdier and beautiful way.OasisRearGate.Oct2011

 

 

Thanks to all and if I had ever gotten around to sending you pix of the original, you’d have a better idea of what’s changed!  Sigh!