Monday, March 08, 2010

Drugs, Dog vomit and Distinction

You know it's going to be a pearler of a long weekend when there's vomit in several places on the living room rug and none of it is human.

Instead there's some chunky parmesan-smelling piles that contain blades of grass, snaffled sausage, tinned dog food and the scary remnants of a raw chicken wing and the culprit has slunk outside to hide in her kennel. She knows that her offering isn't a nice one, but we've never ever punished her for it, and nor would we. As if a dog or a human can help it when Mr Technicolour Yawn tortures the intestines...!

All was forgotten when I donned the very first Litter Ninja t-shirt ever invented and attended the Clean Up Australia Day thingy at our local park. Luckily it wasn't an entire day, but 10am to noon: I guess 'Clean Up Australia In a Coupla Hours' ain't quite as catchy a slogan.

After pulling on the rubber gloves, my nervous attempt at conversation to the man standing behind me - "Hey, bend over and touch your toes" - didn't quite endear me to him or the organiser, so with two large bags (one for recyclables) I gratefully set off, eager to escape my chatting catastrophe.

On the far edge of the park - away from the bloke who now assumed I was insane - the tune 'Woolly Bully' was playing in constant repeat in my head as I set to work. It soon ceased when it became evident that syringes would form the majority of what I collected; as were disinfectant sachets, balls of alfoil, spoons and the hard thin plastic that is commonly used to tie up cardboard boxes. It seemed that drug deals alfresco were occurring only three streets from where I lived.

In theory, I already knew this. That's life in the gritty innercity, right folks? But seeing needle after needle in a spot only three metres away from the walking track was instantly sobering. I took a quick photo but could not bring myself to move the camera thirty centimetres to the right to snap a child's pink hair scrunchie and squashed Happy Meal Box.

A hundred and twenty minutes, two fifty-cent scones from the fund-raising stall and a few speeches later I was able to escape the damp and sordid proximity of the drug spot and head home.

Over lunch, I idly started reading the box of Love Chunks' antibiotics.

'Avoid excessive skin exposure to sunlight and sunlamps while being treated with this medicine', urged the green label.

'Do not take alcohol while undergoing treatment with this medicine unless otherwise advised by your doctor or pharmacist' urged the hot pink sticker.

'This medicine may affect mental alertness and/or coordination. If affected, do not drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery,' warned the red one.

"Geez, all that concern for your toe fungus!" We both chortled into our second cup of Krups-machine coffee. I leaned over to squeeze his hand; we were both aware of just how lucky we are.

Only the day before, we three returned home from a bike ride and lunch at the paint-peelingly decrepit Fairfield boat house and saw the sky darken, the wind pick up and that forbidding ozone smell lurking in the air.

The ultimate weather nerds' clouds had arrived: the Mammatus. Yes, so-named because they look like boobies. Well, boobies if there were hundreds of them dangling from the ceiling like light globes.

No sooner had we wheeled our bikes through our narrow gate and up the even-narrower side path to our tiny shed than the hail hit. Hellishy hard.

So hard we might as well have been standing in front of the Marshall speakers at an ACDC concert. We rescued Skipper the rabbit from the outdoor playpen and as he coolly enjoyed Sapphire's cuddles and sweet nothings, Milly dashed inside and hid, shaking in fear, under my desk.

We screamed at each other but couldn't be heard as ice the size of twenty cent pieces pummelled our roof. Some of the larger specimens were put into the freezer at Sapphire's urging and the grass rapidly turned white before the trees went into shock and dropped all of their fresh green leaves.

We were all home and safe and dry and for us it was exciting. Exhilarating even, as I snapped away with the camera and whooped each time a larger hailstone was found. We were all wet from the splashes and our street was a raging river, piling up leaves behind the wheels of the parked cars. It was the first time I felt glad that our bingled magna was at the crash repairers' and not in danger of being made into a dodgy piece of hammered copperart outside.

When most of the din and destruction was over, we towelled ourselves off, put the rabbit into his weatherproof hutch and went inside for a cup of herbal tea.

The lights flickered on and off intermittently as the thunder boomed but we risked it all to watch 'Up' together on DVD. Milly had now come out of the study and was sitting at our feet; I was busy knitting and Love Chunks and Sapphire were snuggled up together on the sofa.

I knew how lucky I was.

And it is only now, as I hurriedly finish this, that I realise that the syringes I picked up the day after the hailstorm were not covered by mud, leaves and wet debris. They were fresh and more recent, presumably used and discarded by people desperate enough to risk being hit by lightning and be soaked to the skin in order to score a fix and feel better.

I know how lucky I am.


Cat J B said...

Yep, there but for the grace of God....or a bad decision...go I.

That storm was a doozy wasn't it? And it's raining again right now, the kids are lovong it.

Pandora Behr said...

I admire your litter ninja escapades - as frightening as the discoveries are. Richmond isn't much better - our hot water service room is filled knee high with syringes. That storm was amazing - I had a tarot client with me - glad she was here, Thought the windows were going to cave in.

eleanor bloom said...

The storm looked amazing on the news. melbourne really does have some entertaining weather.

i'm looking forward to seeing Up. just the highlights make me laugh.

Baino said...

Terrifying isn't it to find these things just lying around! As for the storm, Adam was telling me that the streets of Melbourne were awash with flash flooding, I must have missed the news.

Lidian said...

What an opening line!

And what a day, my goodness (she said lamely, but very admiringly)

Nutynotons said...

I wonder if we can create an international brigade of litter Ninja's now that would be good to join, as I always seem to be picking it up around work most days, I do not understand the mentality of some people they just do not appreciate the planet!

River said...

Well, I certainly hope Milly's tummy is okay and no more "surprises" are in store. This is one of the reasons I hate carpet. Cleanup is a b****. (Let's not mention the dust/hayfever) If I thought the landlord would agree I'd suggest ripping up the crappy orange carpet that's here and just having the floorboards.
Sad about the syringes so close to home, I've seen one or two between me and the shops in any direction, but no more than that. Have to admit I don't look very hard.
We had rain here yesterday, not much though and no hail.

Vanessa said...

The drug paraphenalia is very sobering isn't it? I hope to cocoon my kids in family dvd days, hot chocolates and love. Deep down I believe that having meaningful relationships is they key. My brother has been a drug addict since the age of 13, my eldest is almost 11 and I can't imagine losing her to drugs.

Helen said...

I found syringes while geocaching on the farm - literally miles from anyone...

Scary stuff! I guess I hadn't thought about it like that though - I really am very lucky!

Benjamin Solah said...

I was stuck on a tram for half an hour in St. Kilda on my way to mosh at the Espy. The kids on the tram were having the time of their lives which made it somewhat interesting.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

What's worse than dog vomit?

Cat vomit - that's what. You never know what the little buggers have been eating.





Rowe said...

That was an amazing, freaky hail storm Kath. Poor litle Mills shaking away. I don't think life could be any worse than being a junkie. Poor buggers is all I can think when I see them. Badly lost souls. We are so very lucky in comparison to not have their burden or to have found ourselves drawn down that path that ravages their bodies and minds. A terrible, sad waste.

Kath Lockett said...

I think an even sadder sight than the junkies we occasionally get in our area is a guy - maybe 20 years old? - who was walking along Racecourse Road holding a plastic bag up to his face sniffing paint.