Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Since my last post I've been teaching, working on the book, and then taking the Parrot Lovers' Cruise.  When I returned from the cruise I immediately came down with a nasty case of bronchitis that's kept me basically homebound for a week. My mother had repeat surgery on her ear; this time it seems to have been successful -- we hope.  We should know for sure by next Monday.

Tonight I see that little Audrey has died, as well as Brian.  While I was sailing in the Caribbean, Bev's little cockatiel Dylan died, too. 

Ask not for whom the bells toll, Donne told us.  They toll for thee.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Paper Towels and Sentry Duty

Here is a video of Charli ripping up paper towels; her Most Favorite Activity of All Time.  Well, at least for now.

And another one.

She is extremely aggressive about paper lately.

The BobbseyTwins are wonderful, as usual.
Here they are performing Very Valuable Sentry Duty.

People who don't live with happy parrots have no idea what they're missing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Favorite Toy (of the moment)

This is one of the toys Charli loves -- for the moment.  She's still learning that each one has an almond or two, maybe even a peanut hidden inside. 

The lid is connected to the box by a small, safe chewable bit of wood that keeps the lid from opening completely.  It opens just enough for the parrot to see goodies inside.  The parrot must then chew the safe cardboard to release the treats.  There are no glues or fasteners to worry about. Sometimes this takes hours, with much tossing the box around to get a better chewing surface.  Sometimes she can get the nuts out within a half hour.

She's always very proud of herself when the toy is completely ruined and the treats eaten all up.

Most all parrot owners know how important foraging is for our birds.  I really like this particular toy because it already has an almond or two in it, each one with a tiny hole in it to facilitate breaking open the shell.  There are lots of strands of safe color papers to tear off, and two wooden circles attached with thin suede strips.

This toy is made by Super Bird Creations and is called the Almond Foot Forager.  It is probably available wherever Super Bird Creations toys are sold.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


No, I'm not a hoarder, but I frequently watch old reruns of the program on Netflix lest I become absent-minded and allow clutter to take over. 

I have true hoarders on both sides of my family -- my father's side seems to be the worst.  When he died I had to go through his old pick-up truck and an old trailer that was too cluttered to live in any longer.  Frequently he would buy huge lots of items at flea markets and bring them to me -- offerings, gifts.  Items I had no use for, couldn't sell, couldn't give away except to Goodwill.  Occasionally he would bring in some ancient rusted farm implement, despite the fact that I am a city girl, and insist it was useful and that "they" didn't make them any more.

I fight clutter in my life every day.  My dining room table is piled with books and bags of parrot treats, letters and pens.  My laptop is full of unorganized web bookmarks and unfiled e-mail, drafts of poems I'll never finish, drafts of articles and idea I mean to get to soon. My office right now is piled with items I'm putting in a big yard sale I'm having with three other friends later this month -- books, my old tiny refrigerator from my job, housewares I'll never use.

It isn't just physical either.  Emotional clutter is always happy to pop up from time to time -- old beliefs, old patterns of behavior, just waiting to bring havoc in my life.  But I have learned to practice good mental hygiene and can recognize when I need to slow down, get more rest, stand up to whatever belittling belief is threatening to overtake me.

I suppose everyone has a picture of their ideal life -- mine is a clean, clear, peaceful place to write, with everything in my life nice and organized.  For a variety of reasons it's taken me decades to finally have that place, so I don't worry too much if I have to move aside an errant notepad today or some coupons tomorrow. 

But I guess it will continue to be an everyday thing -- this eternal vigilance to keep all my spaces clear.  I'm glad I can do it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Last night the women's chorus I'm in finished its spring season with a fabulous concert; we've never sounded better.  Unfortunately, it was our director's last concert -- after 11 years he finally decided he wanted his Sunday evenings back.  Our new director is fine, but I don't think anyone will ever be as wonderful as John.

I'm relieved the chorus season is over though.  Those Sunday evening rehearsals are hard and learning the music is time-consuming.  I'll go back in September, of course, because I love it, but now I'm glad to have the extra time.  I'm getting things caught up and getting back on track with my book and other projects.
This morning I finally got my two Earth Boxes planted and set out on my new deck: beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, a melon, peppers, roma bush beans, and some broccoli for the birdies.  All organic.  It's nice and hot outside, but we're expecting another big storm later today.  The transplants are droopy, but I'm counting on them perking up by tomorrow.  Next week I'll put up the staking system that comes with one of the boxes, so the beefsteak tomatoes have something to climb on.  I can use plain dowel rods for the other things that need staking.

I spent a few days in Arkansas last week with some people I'd met on the internet.  There were 11 of us, all parrot slaves.  It was nice, and I was glad to meet them in person.

My friend Bev lost one of her two cockatiels a couple of months ago; it was sudden and there was nothing she could have done.  It sounded like a seizure or stroke to me, but I'm not a vet.  Now her other cockatiel just returned home from three days in the hospital; kidney problems and some sort of infection.  She's taking good care of him, but I know how hard and heart-wringing it is to see such a wonderful creature sick.  I've got my fingers crossed for him and her, too.

My backyard is getting overrun with honeysuckle bushes; it's a never-ending battle.  Last week I asked the guy who cuts the grass if he'd come over and just dig the damn things up (as much as possible).  There's also a horrible spread of poison oak that's climbing up two of my trees and onto the side of the neighbor's house.  This morning I looked out the window and noticed that I didn't see any honeysuckle, and that the chair, table, and various pots had been moved next to the deck.  I tried to remember if I'd seen it that way yesterday or the day before, but I've been so busy I couldn't recall.  I wrote the guy to ask when he'd been over, and he said he hadn't (it's rained nearly every day the past two weeks).  So who's been over here, clearing out honeysuckle?  I have good neighbors, but I can't imagine them coming over to do such a thing, especially without me knowing.

Or maybe I'm hallucinating.  Considering all that's been going on this spring, it wouldn't surprise me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Carolina Parakeet

During my recent trip to the zoo I spent a lot of time in a little building that was dedicated to the Carolina Parakeet and to Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon.  The building also houses that beautiful Audubon picture of a flock of Carolina Parakeets (you can see that on the included Wikipedia page link), various news clippings about the demise of Martha, and some tasteful displays about extinction.


Martha died at the zoo in 1914.  Passenger pigeons were the most common birds in the US until we got rid of them.  Evidently, it took us awhile.

The Carolina Parakeet was the only parrot native to the US.  It was displaced and hunted to extinction in the early 1900s.  I knew about the species, of course, from my various readings, but I'd never imagined I would get to see a skin.

Near the back of the building was the exhibit for the parakeet, and it included a skin.  This picture is the best I could do in the dim light and through the display case.  I don't know what, if any, effect time has had on the feathers -- I'd always heard the species was brightly colored, but as you can see, the colors are more soft and pastel.

The Carolina Parakeet was the only parrot native to the US.  It was displaced and hunted to extinction in the early 1900s.  I knew about the species, of course, from my various readings, but I'd never imagined I would get to see a skin.  Here is the display.

Here is as clear a picture as I could get.

It was just heartbreaking to look at this.  Its beautiful feathers and colors, its compact size -- it wasn't much bigger than Charli.  I wonder what its sounds were like, if it would have been as crazy for almonds as the Bobbsey Twins are or as jealous as Charli is.

Somehow, if we ever learn to clone from DNA successfully, I suspect parrots will be at the bottom of the list.  Even one as beautiful as the Carolina Parakeet.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Zoo

Yesterday I went to the zoo for the first time in several years.  I and some friends used to make a trip in early spring to either the zoo or the museum or botanical gardens, but we got out of the habit.  It's one of the better zoos in the nation, and we're lucky it's just an hour or so away.

Most of the exhibits were as I remembered, but they'd added a lorikeet exhibit and I spent some time there.  The staff person who was selling cups of nectar and seed sticks and I chatted about parrots for a few minutes.  A harried mom offered me two seed sticks and I bought some nectar.  I barely had a chance to give the woman money for the nectar before two or three lorikeets flew over to eat and drink.

I loved it, of course. One of the lorikeets casually landed on my shoulder as if she'd been trained.  Maybe she had.

Of course, they're all comfortable with people and squealing children, but I was surprised at how stubborn some of them were.  One of them was on a tree branch just above me.  I offered him the nectar cup, and after a slurp or two, he simply yanked it out of my hand, clamped it against the branch with one of his feet, and took his time taking the rest of the nectar.  A couple of times I gently tried to pry the paper cup away from him, but no way would he let go of it.

The staff woman said the zoo feeds the lorikeets all kinds of fruits and vegetables, that sometimes when she comes in the entire ground of their aviary is covered with lettuce and the lorikeets are going to town on it.  There were a couple of lorikeets who looked a bit plucked; the woman said they have had some bully problems.

I took a lot of pictures, which I'll post at future dates. 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

With All Due Diligence


This is Charli, with her Most Favorite Toy in the Entire World -- a roll of adding machine tape.  She will chew and gnaw and rip at a roll of paper for hours and hours until she's filled up the entire corner of the cage.

It's a beautiful Saturday, bright sunlight.  After over a week of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and incessant rain, the sun is like a miracle.  I'm having my deck rebuilt, and the workers barely got the concrete poured for the posts when it began raining (again) last week.  Then, because it rained every day this past week there's been nothing but mud outside my door.   The sun came out yesterday long enough for them to return and get the foundation part done.  They assure the job will go quickly now.

My mom had surgery this week.  The tiny bones of her inner ear had calcified, which is supposed to be somewhat common, and has affected her hearing.  The surgery (which has 27 syllables and is unpronounceable) involves lifting the ear drum, removing the bones, and replacing the bones with plastic/metal "bones."  The surgery went well (all outpatient, two hours, with the magic of lasers), and we'll know next week how much it's helped.

I don't know about you, but I actually got up at four yesterday morning to watch the royal wedding -- what a difference from Diana and Charles' wedding.  Kate's dress was just perfect; I've always said that true elegance is simple, and that dress proved it.

Of course, my favorite of the entire group has always been Harry.  Watching him walk with William in the church I could easily imagine Harry being the one to "save" the kingdom in battle and in politics.  It makes me wonder again about the rumors of Harry being Diana's lover's son rather than Charles.

Well, I slept late this morning and made french toast for breakfast.  Which I naturally shared with my birds.  They're all taking naps now, after stuffing their little beaks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grooming Day -- the horror, the horror

I finally got myself organized enough to get the birdies to the vet for wing and nail trims.  The office wasn't busy, which was a relief since Nicholas tends to screech and call in a voice of about 200 decibels.  You can't imagine such noise coming from such a tiny creature, but you can hear him a block away.

Nicholas has a touch of separation anxiety, so if he cannot see Flash he will begin his ear-splitting calls.  This morning I held him while the vets groomed Flash, and Nicholas shrieked when the towel covered up Flash's little face.

Meanwhile, little Charli sat in her cage and watched the torturous events in silence.

I'm lucky that the vet techs are used to parrots.  In fact, it was this vet clinic that rescued little Nicholas and then gave him to me several years ago.  I must have been deaf at the time not to have noticed how loud he can be.

Soon enough the gruesome deeds were done and all the little birds were put back in their respective cages to eat Nutriberries and pout.  I put everyone in the car and headed home, but first I had to make another stop.

All winter I've been feeding the wild birds.  As you know, it's been a hard winter, and Wild Birds Unlimited actually ran out of safflower seed more than once.  But I made an effort to keep feeding them.

The last week or so I've noticed that the wild birds (I'm assuming doves) have been pooping all over my new car.  Not just a spot -- no, multiple long tracks of it on both front doors and mirrors.  Repeatedly.  As in people in traffic stop and point at my car.  There is a branch or two of a tree that hangs over the passenger side of the car, but by no means is it large enough or close enough to hold that many birds and there's no place for a bird to sit/stand on the driver's side of the driveway.

I've made two trips to the car wash already and since the wild birds had yet again decorated my car yesterday I decided to run it through the car wash again.  I bought some gas then selected the Express Carwash, then drove up to the little building and punched in the numbers.  I explained to the birds what we were going to do, but they were still pouting about the grooming.

The machines whirled to life and the big brushes began their descent, and the birds grew silent.  The water rushed over the windshield and car and then the foam and more brushes and more water.  They kept looking at me to be sure everything was all right then turned their attention back to the brushes and suds and water cascading everywhere.  I told them every step of what was happening and pretended they were actually listening.  I guess this is what living with parrots will eventually do to you.

When the car wash was done, I put the car in drive and homeward we went.  When I parked the car, I got out and made an announcement to the sky.  "Look," I said.  "I went to a lot of trouble to keep you guys fed this winter so please stop pooping all over my car, okay?"  No birds answered me, so I hauled out my parrots in their little travel cages and we all went inside -- where there are no evil vet techs with scissors and no big strange machines with gushing water.

I have to go out again this afternoon -- I'm kinda concerned about what I'll see . . . .

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Overcoming Inertia

Forgive me, readers.  It's been several months since I updated my blog.  In that time I've had the living/dining/kitchen area and bedroom repainted, done major decluttering of closets, had a harmless growth removed from my leg, and am currently recovering from the annual round of springtime allergies that end up being sinus infections requiring lots of antibiotics and extra naps.

This picture is Nicholas, looking out from behind a sort of woven net of bagel bites and some kind of coarse fibers.  I took it a few days ago; I forgot to reset the date on the camera when I changed the battery.

The birds are wonderful.  They like me being home, except that I don't let them out as frequently and for as long as they think they should be out.  It's not really a problem with the Bobbsey Twins since they rarely stray from the open cage door, but Charli's another matter.

There are books in dire need of chewing, she has decided.  And it's so convenient to climb from my shoulder to the book case when I'm sitting on the couch.  We then go through several rounds of her climbing to the bookcase and me bringing her back to my shoulder.  Then she gets mad; her little eyes narrow and she becomes even more determined to get to the bookcase.  I bring her back to the coffee table and show her that her favorite sudoku book is available for chewing, but no . . . . it's the cookbooks in the bookcase she wants.

It's taken me several months, but I think I've finally gotten a healthy routine set out, which means I can get back to some serious writing.  I bought myself a Kindle and I've been reading a lot of books rather than listening to them from  Writing an update is my way of starting to kick some inertia butt!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Impotent Jealously

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I'm snowed in, which means I sit around and surf the internet.  And eat.  And watch trash TV.  And scritch birds.  And stay up until two or three in the morning, then sleep exceeding late.  Which is okay, of course, except that I've basically been doing this for over a month.  And that's not okay.  Or at least it's not okay with me.

It's not like there's nothing to do around here.  I have two closets full of clothes that could be decluttered and organized.  I could clean out my refrigerator and freezer and stock up with nice, healthy, organic foods.  I could be writing the great American novel.  Or poem.  Or article.  Or blog.   I am teaching an English class for an online university, and I'm enjoying that.

But I need to be doing something useful.  Or creative.  Or constructive.  Or something.

I came across this blog this afternoon and was so envious of this person's talent.  The internet is just full of sites and people like this.

Then I was reminded this afternoon of this wonderful little video/poem, which I love

But I absorb these wonderful works of art and become sad and jealous that I'm as dry as a bone, creatively speaking.  And have been for a long time.

I know it's been a hard, destructive couple of years, and I know transitions take some time -- especially when it comes to the Muse.   But I'm impatient.

I've been toying with the idea of taking a trip to some place in Europe for a few days, or maybe a cruise.  Nothing too extravagant but foreign enough to perhaps kick the pump back into gear.  Then I get myself into a morass over all my choices and can't decide between this one or that one.  Whereupon I feel the need to go eat ice cream.

sigh . . . . .