Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Take another little piece of my heart.

Dusty Springfield said it best. What tiny part of my heart that wasn't owned by a cute boy residing in my house or in Mark's is now in Oregon with Sasha.

We drove to Oregon on Saturday, hitting Powell's and Torrid in Portland for some tax free shopping before spending the rest of the day with aunt Marianne and uncle Gene at their place in Molalla (and watched Little Children, which is not a movie one would normally watch with ones father's sister. We have an unusual family). At Powell's, we found a used copy of the seminal macaw book with an author annotation and signature. I really do wonder who would sell a book that was a gift from a famous author with her signature and personal note inside. I think I'd carry it around with me and work it into conversation. We're good at doing that with bird topics. I'm sure none of you have noticed, we're so subtle. It's like a Jedi mind trick.

We drove to Eugene on Sunday, checked into our $50 Priceline hotel (woot!) and contacted the intake coordinator at the Eugene Exotic Bird Rescue, at whose house Sasha is living. Being whiny city folk, it seemed like we drove forever to get to her country house. Oh my God, why can't people live in the city?? We pulled into the drive and saw why they can't live in the city, namely the rows upon rows of donated cages waiting to be needed for surrendered birds. The sound was unmistakable, the cockatoo scream that you can hear three counties over coupled with the stream of Amazon chatter and giddy macaw chuckling. We could see one of the loudest perps through the window of the bird room as we walked up as he ran back and forth on his perch and shouted at us, like a white, fluffy guard dog. And she had those too, five of them, from the tiniest, squishiest little Chiahuaha EVER (squee) to an enormous, elderly shepherd who had the saddest face ever put on a mammal. And 22 birds. Say that with me. 22 birds, seven of which were the coordinator's own pets. She fosters some of the birds that are surrendered or rescued and socializes them to the best of human ability before they are adopted or given to rescue aviaries. 22 birds. And y'all think we're nuts.

The coordinator got Sasha out of her cage with a handheld perch as she, like many birds who have passed from hand to hand (most parrots will have an average of eight owners in their lifetime), is cage aggressive. However, once out of the cage, she was the sweetest, prettiest little muffin head I've ever seen. She was fairly tolerant of us on that first day, and we spent about two hours holding her and talking to her and bribing her with treats.

Mmmm...carrots, lucky girl.

The coordinator graciously offered to give us the class required to adopt when we returned the next day so we wouldn't have to drive down for it later in June. We had a take home test and an application to fill out together. We did quite well, I might add, and better than most, apparently. Thank God the hours of reading all the contradictory literature in aviculture has served some purpose, because my vet doesn't agree with most of it.

We returned to the coordinator's house the next morning after checking out and eating breakfast at the Original Pancake House (mmmm, coconut pancakes), next to a famous UofO athlete who had little boys clamoring for his autograph as we left and after a visit from the Oregon Duck and his girl, who are supposed to look like Donald and Daisy but actually looked like the Mexican knockoffs we saw on our Mazatlan shore excursion from the cruise.

Anyway, we returned, took the test and spent more time with Sasha, where I found that I am only a mere incidental compared to Christian. I'm quite jealous, actually. She showed such an obvious preference to his broad shoulders and manly scent that she would leap off my hand and onto his if he got within feet of me. Well, Cyril likes me better. Nyah.

After the test and visit, the coordinator told us that we were just the kind of people who should have Sasha in their home. We were thrilled, and only have the home inspection hurdle to overcome before we can get her and bring her home. As it turns out, one of the board members/home inspectors was in Seattle over the weekend and could have seen our home and allowed us to take Sasha with us when we left. Sigh. Regardless, the inspector from Olympia should be calling us soon to arrange a time to run over our house with a white cotton glove. Thank God we're mostly tidy. I can't bear to think of what would happen if they decided we just seemed too sketchy to have the little fluffy bunny head. However, I think we're keen. We can provide written testimonials.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

One of several men with whom I share a shower.

I read a hilarious article a while back about the realities of bird ownership, and, until two weeks ago, thought that the answer to the question on bathing would forever describe how our birds felt about our attempts to get them wet. When we would try to approach any of them with the spray bottle or bring them to the shower, they would shiver in terror and fling themselves to the floor. Once we got them into the shower, they would clamp down their feathers so tightly that the water would merely bead up and roll off, like off of a freshly waxed car. But, as one of the most important things that a bird owner can do to help keep their birds' feathers in good condition is bathe them, we kept trying.

On a recent morning when Cyril seemed particularly dry and dusty, was losing a large number of feathers and was bristly with new ones, I thought I'd help ease his suffering a bit by drenching him to the nostrils. Apparently, molting is a pretty crappy, itchy process and the water helps to soothe the skin. I brought him into the bathroom with me on his portable stand and set him on the edge of the tub. Now, ever since I taught him to wave for a treat, he picks up his left foot and touches his beak whenever he sees something he wants. He also turns around in a circle, just like we taught him, thinking logically that a treat will follow, that smart chicken. So, I'm in the shower, and he's waving and spinning and leaning towards the water, which I'd never seen him do, so I picked up the perch and brought him close to the spray. He spread his wings, fluffed up all his feathers, opened his mouth and stuck his head underneath the showerhead. He delightedly shook and fluffed and flapped and squacked and drank and was so happy that, when I tried to move him so I could take a shower myself, he kept yelling and leeeeeeeaning and flying back to me and tangling himself in my hair. I must have held him in the spray for ten minutes. Of course, Christian was in Whistler for a work trip, so he missed the little show. I kept hoping that Cyril would want to shower again, but in the times that I had brought him to the bathroom since, he hadn't shown much interest, until yesterday. I always say good morning to the birds as soon as I get up, and I noticed that Cyril seemed twitchier than usual, so I got the perch and took him to the bathroom, hoping that he'd want to shower. As soon as I set him down on the tub, he started to lean and wave and turn. When I turned on the shower, he fluffed up and started to pace, so impatient. I picked him up on his perch, got in and stuck him under the showerhead. Thankfully, Christian was home this time and caught the bliss on film:

He refused to leave the shower until he was so wet that his tail feathers were dripping. You've never seen anything so scraggly as a wet parrot's ear hole. I then, of course, had to give him a little blow dry, which he also loves, and, like a dog, tries to eat the air as it's blowing in his face. I only use the low setting, of course. He was still slightly damp when I got home. I'm hoping that I can get him to run through the sprinklers this summer.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I know.

I know! Geez, I've been working on a painfully horrifying enormous grant that is due next week but will most likely kill me beforehand due to the stress of it and not being able to sleep because I dream about trainee tables taunting me because no one ever wants to give me their information and I have to beg and promise cookies and ask my bosses to go after people to find out from where Bob Smith recieved his bachelor's degree thirty years ago and I've had La Boheme which will seemingly never end either because this is the longest opera run in creation and I really hate this show anyway so it's just torture to hear the same shite over and over again five nights a week (at least the money is good) and we have birthday parties and baptisms this weekend and a cheese festival that I'm probably going to have to miss although that makes me cry because I love cheese more than life itself and we have to go to Eugene next weekend to meet Sasha and I'm taking the following week off to recover but I have a travel class I don't know if I should reschedule because they only happen every few months but I want to stay in Eugene to take Sasha to the vet to get her checked out (we can't have her if she'd make the poopers sick) and I haven't had the time/energy to vacuum and Mom and Dad are staying with us this weekend and oh shit, I forgot to change the bedsheets in the guest room and I haven't planted the tomatoes, pumpkins and cucumbers we bought last weekend and they're going to die and WHEN THE HELL will I get a chance to do that? Oh yeah, NEVER.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Project Object

I could spend the rest of my life just knitting for the boys.

With models this cute, I could make a killing selling baby knitwear. I love this little sweater. Love. It. I wanted to carry it around with me in my pocket and take it out occasionally when in a bad mood. Of course, the hat was too small for the giant head. I think I should start taking orders now.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A birdly update.

I've been emailing back and forth with the coordinator of the Eugene Exotic Bird Rescue about Sasha, the second mini-macaw they have at their rescue. She is tame, but somewhat cage territorial, as many birds are. That's an easy fix, though, with patience and persistence. Samantha, it seems, will need special care for the rest of her life as she has never been handled or trained. She would, unfortunately, be beyond our capabilities as bird owners. We have made plans to travel to Eugene over Memorial Day weekend to meet Sasha and be interviewed for taking her home. Adopting a rescued parrot is not for the timid or easily intimidated. We have to sit through a rigorous cross-examination, have a home inspection and attend a pet care/behavior class in Oregon before we can bring her home.

I'm always nervous when contemplating getting a new pet. I don't want to neglect Cyril or the little poopers, and I don't want to keep adding to the zoo to satisfy some inner need to be loved. I also don't want to be those people who don't have a square inch of home not occupied by an animal of some sort. I think that ship has sailed, however. The new cage for the little ones is, of course, massively humongously oversized, and removes any sense that we had decor in our house before we started decorating with feathers and poop. I simply cannot wait to remodel. We're going to build a sun room onto the back of the house, behind the kitchen, where the bird cages will go, surrounded by plants and chairs and near a dedicated sink. This plan is all that's keeping me going right now. I can't live in a pet shop forever, despite all evidence to the contrary. I just hope everyone will still want to come over. I'm getting a little embarrassed.