Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: small furries (Page 1 of 12)

Shamed on Social Media

I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to come back here, but I guess it is like riding a bike: Fall off, climb back on again. I am not sure that if your legs are broken it is even possible, but, given time, even with broken but mending legs, it is said to be the best medicine. Right now I probably need this medicine. I am doing this with my heart in my mouth.

When is the right time to respond? Is it too soon? Is it too late? Will I be accused of starting it up again?

Just over a week ago I made a hideous mistake based on a completely knee-jerk reaction about a goat that I perceived was in distress. Coupled with my reaction was an idiotic post I made on a Facebook group that I am part of, asking for help. After I saw what had happened, and how the thing had spiralled down into hideous, racist, Islamophobic assumptions by idiots commenting on my post, I rushed to make a very public apology, so fast I even messed that up, and then apologised again, and then again. The family who I hurt accepted, and then later questioned and rejected my apology.

I will be very surprised if you, my readers, have not seen the resulting fallout from #goatgate, on social media, in the newspapers and on the radio. I was made fun of, threatened, trolled, called names. I was sent private messages of the most filthy abuse. My blog was targeted, my apology rejected, my personal details distributed, screen grabs (not including my apology) shared, my work threatened, my name ridiculed, my past discredited, my politics rejected. I was made fun of by South Africa’s comedians, I was given lessons in what I should have done, I was threatened and silenced and warned that my actions were indefensible. I was vilified by actresses in the industry; some who know me and some who don’t.

Three articles featured prominently on IOL, M&G and Cape Times. These were shared like holiday sweets on Facebook and Twitter. One of the articles was written by a Facebook friend. Not once was I asked for my side of the story, or even to comment. With all my contact information totally accessible to anyone (for abuse), I was not contacted by the ‘journalists’ even though I was quoted by them, when they lifted what I had written on Facebook. The only media outlet that made contact with me was Radio Islam who asked if I would come onto their morning show to give my side of the story. Of course I said yes. They were the only ones ever who asked.

Alongside the deep shame and humiliation I felt about this horrible thing was the powerless sense of my silence. I understood the temperature of the room and realised that anything I said was fuel to the fire and I had to keep quiet, get off social media and only invest in one-on-one interactions. It was clear that my apology didn’t support the narrative and was mostly left out of any further portrayals of me, the racist, hater, whitesplainer. Two people asked to meet with me, to hear what I had to say, of the hundreds who sent messages of abuse and name calling. Two people who were very offended by what I had done; one publicly and one privately schooling me and putting me in my place. These meetings have not happened yet.

The fallout has extended further into my world of work. I have always understood that I have a public profile that lends itself to controversy. I don’t do myself any favours by writing about theatre, here on meganshead and for Weekend Special. I saw two plays last week and couldn’t write about them. I knew that people would be looking at the ‘who’ of the review instead of the ‘what’, and that everybody would suffer.

When I think about it with a bit of distance the one thing that is funny is that I am always desperate for publicity for my work. I struggle to get media attention for my plays; always begging friends and colleagues for airtime and press. I haven’t been on the radio talking about my plays in years. I have to rely on my own small publicity machine on social media for any exposure. But all over all media, Megan Furniss – well known theatre maker, actress, director, famous in South African theatre circles, made headlines.

I still feel sick about this. I still feel silenced and ashamed. I still wish I could turn back the clock and take it all back. And yet, I know, in a world more gentle, and kind, my real concern for an animal in distress (regardless of it being part of a petting zoo at a children’s birthday party) would have been just that. Me. Super sensitive about an animal tied to a pole.

Why having both cats and dogs is necessary

Both Big Friendly and I have been under the weather, with a looming lurgy that hasn’t fully realised but has been simmering; not bad enough to take us to bed, but horrible enough to make the daily grind more grindy.

Jasmine, the old Florence Purringale of the house has kicked into action, following us around, sleeping hard up against us and purring her head off. Chassie has been joining me in the bathroom, rubbing his head on my feet while I sit on the toilet (very disconcerting but well meaning), and the dogs Frieda and Linus are a tag team of love and devotion. It is only Jonesie, the part time cat, who has not picked up on our needs, and continues with his irrational demands to be let in and out again whenever he screamingly calls for it.

Linus offers soft love, of the lolling about sort, while Frieda follows me from bed, to table to couch. She is a deep and close snuggler. Chassie looks for Big Friendly and attaches to his legs when he sits down on the couch. Often, neither of us can move because we are being pinned down by an animal who would be terribly disturbed if we did. The spin-off of being looked after by cats and dogs is that they huddle closer to each other too, which is seriously good for my heart.

The Rat

I should have known the particular “Megan!” that Big Friendly shouted, early yesterday morning, before the sun was even up. I should have recognised the tone, but I was still half asleep, so I wasn’t fast enough when he shouted “close the door!” and I jumped up, too late and a thing crawled in and under the spare bedroom door.

Thus began the stand off between us, the thing, the cats and terrified dogs, that is a rat/mouse in the house. The last time it happened, Chassie had caught a mouse and it was screaming for help as he squeezed it in his jaws. It was a Saturday night and it took Big Friendly two hours to catch it after forcing Chassie to release it, then building a fort, blockages and various other obstacles. I was pretty useless. I was used as look-out and pet body guard. The tension between Big Friendly and useless me was big.

Yesterday’s drama was a bit of a repeat. Big Friendly had to create barriers, and take out most of the stuff that was moveable in the spare room. I took the terrified dogs for a long walk. When we came back the rat/mouse/thing was stuck under the small, but very heavy old cupboard in the spare room. There was no way we were going to manage this operation on our own.

Enter Facebum and our fabulous Woodstock group. I searched for pest control and was immediately reminded of Sebastian Seelig from Pest Free SA. I buy GR5 from him, a strong, environmentally friendly, multi-purpose household cleaner. I saw on Facebum that he also does ‘extermination’ and pests. I called him, desperate.

Sebastian came, and the first thing he asked was, “do you want …?” And we knew exactly what he meant. We said, “please do the other thing, release it somewhere.” and he said “sure.”

And between him and Big Friendly they caught the small rat/giant mouse and got it into a cardboard box, and Sebastian drove it away, and we all saw on Facebum later that he released it at Paarden Island. I don’t know if these guys are territorial. I hope we haven’t started a rodent gang war.

Some of the chat on my thread on Facebum was the best. Apparently rodents don’t like damp cotton balls covered in cinnamon or peppermint. Apparently this makes them run away. We didn’t try that, but I’ll bear it in mind.

But Big Friendly and I have spoken, and we want to save our relationship. These rodent encounters are too stressful. And we have 2 and a half cats (Jonesie the part time cat is actually probably a rodent exterminator specialist, since many a front door mat has had to be thrown away with blood and guts soaked fur or feathered dead thing mashed into it). I mean what are they there for, these cats of ours? We need to let them sing (or kill) for their supper. They eat enough Royal Canin Feline Senior Consult Stage 1 anyway.

There is a construction site down the road, that has basically been a dump since we have lived here. All the feral cats, various rodent life and any other scavenging, desperate thing are being moved out. Some are going to find their way here. And next time we are taking the dogs for a very long walk and leaving the thing to the cats. We will deal with the bloodbath after the war.

Telling the time by the passing of animals

When I met Big Friendly for the second date, Gally, my gorgeous white Taiwanese refugee dog, put her paw firmly on his bejeaned leg and chose him for her own. In time Big Friendly was claimed by Pablo, my ancient cat, who demanded that he pour fresh water into his bowl and take him to drink, and Bayla, the oldest Taiwanese refugee dog, and my first heart dog. When I fell in love with Big Friendly it was partly because of and through my animals.

When Bayla died I was in Grahamstown, and it was Big friendly who had to witness and manage her passing. With Gally we were both there. We are still scarred and raw from the death of Annie, Chassie’s sister and most unusual beloved cat, who was run over in the road outside our house on the one occasion she ventured over the wall. That was about seven years ago.

We know dog walkers from Gally and Bayla’s time, who too have different animals attached to them. Our Linus and Frieda, well known in the neighbourhood and on Facebum as our most beloved pups, will soon be five.

Our nephews’ lives are marked in animal time too, with those that were there when they were born, now gone or leaving, and new ones coming into their lives to mark their transition into puberty and teenage-dom.

Megan’s Head, this blog, is like the historical record of these things, and if that is the only reason to keep it going it is a good one. Frieda’s delicious face stares back at us whenever we open it up.

If you are an animal person you will know how to tell the time with the passing of animals.

Super Crazy Mother Nature

Update: So, Big Friendly read my post, and went and found the leaf. Clearly I hadn’t looked hard enough. Look! Look.

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I was bestowed with a whole lot of plants when my dear friend moved up to Jozi last month. I love plants, but had been going through a lean patch in terms of indoor ones, so I celebrated the bestowal and have been enjoying the green company. My friend had been putting the plants in the bath overnight fortnightly, to soak up grey laundry water, so when I rinsed the dogs I put the plants in that water in the bath.

All was well and I took them back to their positions the next morning. Then yesterday I saw this.

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Something had come in the night, chowed their way through most of the plant, leaving tell tale poo on the chewed leaves. I could not find the bastard. Big Friendly was called to look and there was a cocoon under one of the leaves, see-through enough for me to spy a fat, acid green worm. I was incensed. Who the hell did it think it was and where had it come from?

I saw the plant this morning and it looked a bit worse so I went to inspect. Gone. The cocoon and worm are gone. And I do not know where. Nothing. No leaf that looks like it had cocoon on it, no evidence of a mortal battle. Nothing. And this all happened on the kitchen counter in my house.

So what I want to know is, where is it? Did something else eat it? Did it perform its transformation overnight and become a moth or butterfly that I haven’t met yet? Who buried the leaf it was cocooned on? Is it still in my house?

The Bird Lady

cape20white-eye20pewaAs the year closes in I want to write a little post, a story, that is also a slice of positivity and synchronicity amongst the gloom and news of another celebrity death.

This my story of the bird lady.

About three weeks ago I was still in bed, on my laptop, when Big Friendly came charging into the bedroom. “Jonesie has bird!” Jonesie, our in-and-out cat, who moved in from someone else’s house, is good at catching things and leaving their carcasses on the doorstep as gifts. Actually, considering how well fed he is (read fat) I am sure he steals the bodies from the less well nourished and more desperate street cats in our ‘hood. It is a pretty grim job for Big Friendly to clean up. We have thrown away at least four doormats. This time we both assumed Big Friendly would have to separate Jonesie from the body and throw it away, but then I heard, “It’s still alive!” Big Friendly closed me in the bedroom with all the dogs (2) and cats (3).

He managed to get the little thing into the courtyard and closed the door to stop any further animal investigation or murder. Now what? He kept going out to check and the little pigeon was alert and alive and he couldn’t see where, or if, it was hurt. I am not a bird person. Touching birds makes me feel really funny and uncomfortable, and injured birds really freak me out. I wouldn’t even go and look.

Now we were going to have to ask our neighbour to come and be brave enough to euthanise it, except he wasn’t around. We needed to go the vet anyway to get cat food (oh the irony) and at the vet we asked if we couldn’t bring the bird to be humanely (oh the irony) put down. And the receptionist said, “Here is the phone number of the bird lady. See if she can’t help.”

Brenton called the bird lady and went to drop off the bird to see if it was saveable. He took it, wrapped in a kikoi in the cat box (just to extend the irony a little further). He left it in a special bird-leaving-basket at the bird lady’s gate because she wasn’t home at the time, and followed up with her later. She said a bit of medicine and rest was all it needed. It would survive. The bird lady was a miraculous discovery.

A week or so later I started telling my close friend the story. He was shocked. Just a week before he had taken a baby Cape White Eye baby bird to the bird lady. He had pried the jaws of his cat open to release the teeny thing, and fed it (the wrong stuff that the internet had suggested) every hour, before finding out about the bird lady and taking it to her for saving. When he told the story to another mutual friend she too told her bird lady story; similar in cat assassin and rescue result.

Finally I discovered that another friend had contacted the bird lady for advice about finding a missing parakeet. Her advice was taken and Harvey was found, by my friend, with the help of the bird lady.

I am so grateful and moved that there is a bird lady. Just knowing she is out there, on a mission to help and save birds, makes my world a tiny bit better.

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