Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Parliament of Owls and a Singular Lunatic

Last week, I realized that I was crazy, as in certifiable.

I've always known that I have some not-of-the-norm tendencies, veering a tiny bit towards OCD (such as quickly scanning the glass of water at a restaurant for foreign particles, fingerprints and residual lip marks or holding my breath when someone sneezes or when feeding Booboo her stew, I remove food from the can, carefully spoon by spoon because I don't want anything to drip or get caught on the tiny lip of the can- the can which will be rinsed & recycled anyway... ).

Well, everyone's got a few quirks here and there, I just happen to have a few more. So let's take my few extra quirks and combine it with my enormous empathy for animals and you have the following situation which I shall relay to you now:

I have been hard at work producing a shoot which will take place in Los Angeles next weekend. There are all sorts of elements that go into setting up a photo shoot: hiring the stylist, hair/makeup artists, setting up catering, renting photo equipment, arranging travel, hotels & transportation, managing logistics & schedule, finding a great location, juggling egos of agents & their talent. This is just a sampling of what goes into a production.

The location element is extremely important to the shoot. The photographer relays what he's looking for and I hire a location scout to scout some suitable areas. One of the places that we had in mind was the Tustin Airfield in California. It's an abandoned military base with two gigantic hangars that is available for photo & film shoots and other rentals. It's an amazing location.

The location scout went out to the base and took pictures of all the angles and nooks & crannies that our photographer would be interested in- (scouts go with a compass, noting exact locations & time of day). The last image in his scout was something he had titled "Local Wildlife". It was a picture of an owl.

Well, it was obvious to all that this owl was not well- what was it doing on the floor, letting someone take a picture? It had to be hurt. I immediately fired off an email to the scout asking about the owl- whether it's wing was broken and if he had told anyone. He answered back that it must have been hurt because it was chomping it's beak at him. In a series of email back and forth, he replied that about 20 owls lived in the hangar and that he was sure the owl would be fine. And no, he didn't want to give me the contact of the hangar because they would not want to be bothered with this.

My concern for the owl was rapidly escalating- it would probably starve to death on the ground with a broken wing. It looked like it next to a pile of poop- probably it's last meal. I began my online research.

First, I tried to find contact information for the Tustin Airfield, but it was only available through the location service. I didn't want to ask the location service because I didn't want to lose the location for the shoot by pissing them off.

I started searching for raptor rescue groups in California, but I had to figure out the zip code & county for Tustin- I know nothing about California. Anyway, once I got all that sorted, I got a list of wildlife groups and picked the one with the same area code as Tustin. My thinking was that a group nearby might be willing to drive out to the airfield. After going through several lists, I came upon The Pacific Wildlife Project. I called them and left a message about an owl at the Tustin Airfield. I realized that this could be a wild goose chase- who would send someone out there when there wasn't even a contact for the base and then how would they find this owl in this vast hangar. And what if the owl didn't have a broken wing or maybe just old and sick? But there was definitely something wrong because it would have flown away if it could instead of squawking at the scout and backing itself against a wall... It probably wouldn't be lying next to a pile of poop if it were well and being the nocturnal creature that it is, probably wouldn't be out during the day on the floor either.

The wildlife organization returned my call rather quickly and left a message with two other numbers to call for injured raptors. I called one of the places which had instructions to call the Orange County Animal Care who would pick up the injured raptor and bring it to the raptor rehabilitator. I started having doubts about whether or not to pursue this because I didn't really have anything concrete to go on except a picture and a location. I still had tons of real work that I needed to get done and decided to leave things be because maybe I was crazy in pursuing this...

The next day, the owl was still on my mind but I know that I wouldn't have much to tell anyone, so I debated some more. Before I let it go, I had to give it one more try.

I called Orange County Animal Care and the operator asked where I was calling from. I told her that I was calling from New York and then I started blabbering about the shoot, the scout & the owl and how crazy it all sounded, but I wanted to do something to help. This is the difference between calling an agency outside of NYC and NYC, I was shocked that she didn't brush me off brusquely and tell me that there's was nothing to do without concrete information. She actually said she would transfer me because maybe someone could drive out there. Wow! I was just grateful that she didn't hang up on me, but to also tell me that there might be a way...

I was on hold for some time. A man finally picked up and I relayed my whole entire crazy story and asked if there was anything that could be done. Again, I was shocked and surprised how he took the time to discuss this. When he realized that he knew the Tustin Airfield, he explained to me how it was offered to their agency as a shelter for the animals, but the expense of upkeep for such an enormous space was too much. He asked me if I knew for sure that the owl could not fly because if I knew for certain, they would go out and find it.Wow.

Unfortunately, I didn't. I did explain to him about the poop & the squawking while it's picture was being taken. He told me that he knew about the owls that lived there. I told him that I knew there were guards because the airfield is gated (I saw the guardhouse in a picture). He said that the guard on the grounds is supposed to report on any injured animals. I then reminded him that the owl was in the hangar and then I asked if he could ask the guard to go check in the hangar. He agreed and said that he would tell his lieutenant (didn't realize that they were officers, even more impressed that this animal cop took all this time to talk to me) about the matter and see what they could do. I thanked him for his time and the work they do in helping the animals. Who knows if he was just blowing me off? I doubt that the conversation would have been that extensive if he was not going to attempt to help. So crazy as it was, I had to at least try and I did.

As for food , the rest of the week consisted of mostly ordering-in due to the stressful work schedule- though earlier on there was talk of BLT's though mine really being BST due to the spinach substitutions...tempeh bacon, nayonaise on spelt- yum!

To go with the BST, a salad which I will simply name, Festive. I had cooked some pinto beans and mixed in canned organic corn, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, olives, hearts of palm, lime & balsamic vinegar.

Had been hankering for that delicious alfredo which Urban Vegan perfected, so there was Capellini (that's all I had) Alfredo via Fettucine Alfredo a la Urban Vegan . Would have turned out great except for the fact that I ran out of unsweetened soy milk and mixed in half with vanilla almond milk. Tasted strangely like dessert, but I can see how it will be perfect next time- the creaminess is amazing and yes, the salt really contributes to the alfredo taste. Have to report: I heated some leftovers the next day and I cooked the sauce down a little more and the sweetness was totally gone. It was delicious!

To go with the capellini, maple-dijon brussel sprouts from Kornfeld's Voluptuous Vegan...
I close with a picture of my newly installed blinds. They are honeycomb blinds and super energy-efficient. They insulate - keeping the draft out and the heat in during the winter and in the summer, will keep the coolness in and the heat out. And they happen to look great!


bazu said...

Oh my god, what a story. Before I read your post, I quickly scanned your photos and just like you, the picture of the owl really tugged at me. s/he has a wild and scared look on her face. I am so impressed and grateful for the time and energy that you spent trying to help this animal. Wow. And I'm impressed that the animal control people seemed like they really cared. I remember seeing an injured rabbit on the street once, and calling the ASPCA in panic and crying, and they didn't really offer any help or suggestions.

And those hangars! I used to live in Irvine, 5 minutes from them (my school is UC Irvine)! Are you going to be at the shoot?? Say hi to Orange County for me! Those are truly scary buildings- just their sheer size, their military history, and the fact that they're being used for movies now... crazy.

Oooh, and your food looks great- especially the festive salad. So bright and luscious.

Those blinds will have paid for themselves several times over if they protect you from the muggy heat of summer!

Fairly Odd Tofu Mom said...

Oh my gosh - like Bazu, the owl pic really caught my eye. Something very hurt or sad there... And I can SOOO identify with your efforts - I've done similar, slightly far-fetched things in an effort to rescue or help an animal. Yes, people thought (think?) I'm crazy at times...
But anyway - I loved the owl story - and I certainly don't think that qualifies you as a lunatic in any way!!

Urban Vegan said...

Kudos and (((hugs))) to you for going to such great lengths to save that owl. You are not crazy! You are kind and caring, and I am sure that the animal control guy looked into it or had someone else look into it. I hope the little guy is okay.

*Love* your new blinds. You are chic and vegan.

Glad you liked the Alfredo. Using a flat pasta and nonsweetened soy milk really does make a difference. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

aTxVegn said...

What an amazing story of persistence. I'm really impressed with your efforts. I too would have obsessed over the fate of the owl - way to go!

Your new blinds are beautiful!

Theresa said...

Wow, that is quite a story. Good on you for sticking with it, I'm sure that the owl would say thank you if he could. After all that, I think you deserve the delicious food in your photos!

not-so-anony-mouse said...

That owl looks SO scared, it breaks my heart. :( Good job in calling animal control- hopefully the little owl is okay. :/

On another note, love the new blinds! Especially with Monkey, They look real cute together. :D

Bet you've been busy, hope you're well...whenever I surface from the icky black tarpool of exams and SATs and clubs, I will give you a call. :)

squeaks and scurries,


Melody said...

That poor owl.. I'm so glad that you helped him.. his eyes are haunting.

laura jesser said...

Wow, what a heart-wrneching photo of the owl... I'm so glad you tried to help. I'd like to think that this story has a happy ending for the guy...

My BLTs are actually BSTs as well, and your photo makes me want one. Right. Now.

runswithdog said...

You aren't crazy - you are what is right in this world....see a problem and try to take care of it.

anony-mouse again! said...

Come baaacccccckkkkkk! *like Rose in Titanic*

Wees misssssses yous. Calls us whens yous gets in, 'kay? 'Kay. :D

Hope you're having fun and hope the Moo isn't lonely. :)

KleoPatra said...

I am incredibly in awe of your care for that owl. What a gorgeous creature!

You are certainly NOT crazy - you are a compasssionate soul. And if you are crazy, then so am i, and so are a lot of others just like you and me. And i'm proud of it if we are crazy in the same way!

Anonymous said...

This owl looks just fine, it just needs some time to let its plumage grow [google young owl pictures]. As for beak snapping - 'tis a common intimidation technique for owls.

Good job caring for a pretty bird.

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