2016 review

Here we are, at the end of 2016 and what a year it has been—bad and good.

Vince’s dad passed away on July 13. Brian was 78 and had not been well for a while. The distance between BC and Ontario was profound and it was hard on Vince. The Swales family is holding up as well as can be expected.

In addition, our feathered family’s composition changed significantly. First to leave us on January 23 was my boy Perry. He was 16 years old, and in cockatiel years that means he’d lived a normal, good life. Second to leave us on February 28 was our dear baby Mungojerrie. He was only 7 years old and it was definitely too soon. Lastly, on October 30, the original birdie and the oldest of the flock died. Indy was 28 years old. He was Vince’s boy and responded to him always, even in those last days when we could see he was failing.

Last year, Vince and I had agreed “no more birds”. We’re both of an age now that birds could outlive us if we took on any more. We believe in a forever home. We recognize the commitment it takes. But, as we all know, things happen. In February, the founder of a parrot refuge here on the island died with absolutely no succession plan in place. The refuge had 584 parrots in it. Most of them are of the larger parrot variety, but there were littles too. In June the SPCA ordered vets in and then it got worse—the refuge ran out of money and then out of a home as the landlord gave notice that they must be out by August 1. Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary stepped in, as did Night Owl Bird Hospital, to take and care for the birds. Some birds were too ill and were put down. Temporary facilities have been found for many. Others have been transported to other bird refuges across the country. The vet bill has soared above $150,000. Greyhaven’s staff have taken in many birds themselves, providing foster homes until their forever homes can be found. Many of the larger parrots have issues and require experienced parrot people to take them. There are approximately 270 parrots still to be adopted (as at the end of November). It is said to be the largest rescue in North America.

This is and will continue to be my charity of choice for the near future. Please consider giving: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/greyhaven-exotic-bird-sanctuary/

As for me. Yes, I have donated money to them. But I also adopted two cockatiels from the WPR flock and they came home on October 21. Meet Smokey. His was the hardest name to find. We actually considered Bowie, Mouse and Ash. He is the noisiest of the two and is showing us that he is incredibly smart.

[photo removed]

And this is Piper. There was absolutely no doubt about his name. He is the quieter of the two and the one that Sabrina seems to like the most.

[photo removed]

We think they are not that old. Colouring of beaks and feet, as well as their noisiness and antics give us this thought. And wouldn’t you know it, they got me into trouble right from the start – on the ferry. Animals are not allowed on the passenger deck (I had to travel to Delta to pick them up – bus trips, walking on/off, and a pick up to take me to the foster home; it was a long day). I suppose BC Ferries really should say animals and pets, but now I’m splitting hairs. Bottom line is I had them in a cage inside a duffle bag. In the darkness they should have been quiet, but nope, I got chirpy noisy birds just after boarding. After a conflab with the Chief Steward, as long as I moved up to the upper passenger deck (where there is no food service), I was okay. OY! And so, while we lost three, we gained two. We now have 6 parrots. Being parronts is a lot of work! [P.S. Other feathered family pictures are now posted on this blog under their own album.]

I feel the need to comment on celebrity passings because three, in particular, have affected me. David Bowie’s death hit me hard because he was the first to teach me about pushing boundaries. And Carrie Fisher’s death was like losing part of my childhood. Two social media posts provided wry commentary on the significance of the losses—

Finally, there is Gene Wilder. The song “Pure Imagination” always stuck in my head, and I associate dreaming and hope with Willy Wonka—

Come with me and you’ll be
 In a world of pure imagination
 Take a look and you’ll see
 Into your imagination

As for other news…uncertainty dominated the first part of 2016. In January Vince’s employer announced it was shutting down the warehouse where he worked (one of two warehouses) as part of a reorganization of operations. Employees would have the opportunity to apply for a limited number of positions at the second warehouse. The company didn’t provide a lot of details, only that there would also be severance packages for those who didn’t get a new placement. Vince was fortunate to get a placement, but we didn’t learn this until the beginning of April. Those were the longest months while he waited and I fretted (a LOT, which really didn’t help my mental health).

There were two milestones this year. I turned 50 (holy heck). And I reached the 10 year mark since diagnosis. Wow. Just wow. If you’re interested in numbers, here’s where I stand as of December 31, 2016—

  • 3,798 days (10 years, 4 months and 23 days) since diagnosis;
  • 3,533 days (9 years, 8 months) since my mastectomy surgery.

Yes, I still track those numbers. I always want to know how far I’ve come. But I will never think of myself as ‘safe’ or ‘cured’, I continue to think of myself as thriving.

I continue to do part-time studies. As of June, I had earned a diploma in Public Administration for Public Sector Management. This is my second Public Administration achievement. You’d think that would be enough, right? Nope. This September I began part-time studies towards a Business Analysis certificate. I surprised myself in a conversation recently by saying that I’m on a 5-year plan to leave the office. Does this mean that since I said it I have to achieve it??!! Frankly, I’m not sure I’m capable of such a bold move, but I know not only do I want more money, I want a different challenge. So, let’s wait and see together where all this education will take me. Or not.

Last year a little man came into the world and has been a joy to watch grow. My brother and his partner welcomed a little boy in October 2015.

Health and happiness to all in 2017!