With ongoing pandemic lockdown, I decided that if we couldn’t leave the house in search of food and fun, I would shop online and bring it to our doorstep in the form of a pet. Great idea or what?!
My seven-year-old daughter wanted a fluffy dog. My three-year-old son wanted a fluffy cat. I wanted a pocket-sized chihuahua. Lucky for them, I was willing to compromise with a fluffy pocket-sized chihuahua that had a passing resemblance to a cat.
“No inside animals! Pets should live outside.” Regrettably, my husband was opposed to the idea of an inside pet. Bah, what a party pooper!
We argued that our fish once lived in the house and they were considered pets! Well, until the unfortunate fish massacre. Since we lost our treasured Zane (greedy angel fish) and Archie (chilled albino catfish), my husband has been reluctant to return to pet ownership.
Due to the lack of a proper backyard, we agreed that our pets needed to be hardy and low maintenance. While it was my intention to have the children be responsible for looking after our new pet, realistically I would be the chump lumped with the task. So, I wanted a pet that didn’t need regular exercise (because I hate sweating) or grooming (because I’m lazy) and could survive not eating and drinking for a few days (because I’m sketchy at best).
We are now the proud owners of a thousand new pets. You read correctly, a thousand, give or take a few and they only cost us a measly fifty dollars. Have you guessed it? Worms. Wriggly, slippery and icky worms.
They came packed in some worm bedding inside a plastic bag and packaged in a cardboard box. In true Kathy form, I threw away the instruction booklet and in doing so, inadvertently discarded the troubleshooting pages. I could have saved myself a gigantic amount of pain if I had taken the time to read the ‘what can go wrong’ pages, for I’ve encountered a great deal of problems.
There’s been the Great Plague of the Vinegar Flies caused by my overzealous feeding with organic waste. FYI, flies really love banana skins. I tried vinegar/soap fly traps, moist cut up paper scrap barriers, removed big food scraps, conditioned and aerated the soil and changed the order of the trays. I stopped adding organic waste for a few weeks and eventually, most of the flies have disappeared.
Next came the Invasion of the Black Ants caused by the worms hibernating instead of eating during a short period of blistering cold weather. I ended up googling and putting trays of water around the legs of the worm farm to prevent ants from entering the trays. I also tried to drown the suckers with extra watering.
And because of my lack of restraint, I have a problem with potworms. Turns out, an overly moist environment, abundance of rotting fruit and vegetables and ungrounded eggshells have encouraged the growth of these unwanted worms. Originally, I thought these tiny white worms were finally the results of my worm farming mastery and happy worm bliss coupling. Not the case. Again, I consulted the wise ol’ Google and was advised to put a stale piece of bread drenched in milk to entice the potworms to the surface for disposal.
Now, I have another attack of the Black Ants AND a healthy population of Prolific Potworms. Sigh. So much for low-maintenance pets. Anyone got any ideas other than gifting it to my dad?
It’s a good thing that we live in a world where information is at the tip of our fingers. For without YouTube and Google, these worms would have already died a painful death from my mismanagement and negligence. Can you get a fine for worm cruelty?
The children want nothing to do with the worm farm, complaining that it stinks (It doesn’t!). The husband isn’t interested in co-ownership, even with supposed “benefits” thrown in. I’m on my own folks.
I know people say that a pet is for life and not just for Christmas… ahem, I mean lockdown, so now I have only one question. What’s the lifespan of a worm? Or in my case, a thousand worms?
A couple of weeks ago, I came across a tweet from SBS Voices inviting budding writers to submit their stories about growing up in a diverse Australia. There is a prize pool of $10,000 by writing a first person memoir of 1000-2000 words. Seeing that most of my blog posts are first person and memoir-ish in nature AND I grew up in Australia, I thought I’d give it a crack.
My first attempt turned into a scene from my childhood that had no real point to the story. I tossed that in the “Use as blog post if desperate” folder.
My second attempt also ended up as a scene from my childhood and it was just sad to read. I tossed that in the “Woe is me” folder. Otherwise known as the bin.
A seed of an idea crossed my mind, and I decided to call my parents to get clarity on some of the information.
“SBS? No. No. No. I don’t want anyone knowing about our past!” My mum didn’t want me to enter the competition. To be fair, she is afraid of her own shadow so her reaction wasn’t surprising.
“Why? Your childhood isn’t anything special!” My dad must have poor memory if he thinks our life was normal. It may not have been special or even unique but to me, it was worth writing about.
Anyway, with no help from my parents, I went back to the drawing board. I discovered that writing memoirs are not easy. I didn’t want to write a “This is my life” spiel, and I didn’t want to overwhelm the reader with negativity and sadness. I wanted to write a story about my life in a way that was raw, honest and uplifting.
I ended up twiddling my thumbs and staring at a blank screen for some time. I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t know what I wanted to say. My mind was a jumbled mess of ideas that I struggled to organise in a coherent way. There were many events, factors and people who influenced my childhood and the person that I have become.
In the end, I decided to focus on my parent’s refugee experience and how their trauma of displacement and lack of social connection shaped who they became and how that influenced their parenting style. I wrote my experiences living with an angry dad and a broken mum. I wrote about moving from home and finding my sense of cultural identity and belonging. Interspersed among the heavy revelations were humorous glimpses of my past. It was a cathartic writing experience.
I submitted the memoir today. I don’t expect to win but if I did, I hope my parents will be proud.
If you want to check out the competition, here is the link. You still have a few days to get your writing in.