Archive for 2008

Art Saves Lives

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

My sister gave me this pin for Christmas, and it sparked a line of thinking that I’d like to share.

Art – as we think of it in the usual context – does indeed save lives in an emotional and spiritual sense. So many times in my life, seeing something beautiful that someone else has created out of love or yearning does something to lift my spirits or touch my heart. It can also be life-changing at critical times.

But there are other kinds of art too – the “skill in conducting any human activity.” These skills can save lives too.

2009 will be challenging emotionally and financially for my family as we deal with the excision of the rare tumor my sister Carrie has in her jaw. We already know that it will take most of the year for the entire jaw reconstruction process to be completed. She’ll face many fears, experiences large losses, and feel a lot of physical pain, but she is a very dear person and her special art is her honesty and the way she brings light to others (well,that, and also being a fantastic cook!). So I figure she’ll burn all the brighter for her experiences.

I know some people who never see that they also are masters of very important art forms: the art of smiling, the art of kindness, the art of storytelling, the art of caring for animals with a passion and deep respect, the art of cooking, the art of being a good friend, the art of listening – well, you see my drift?

All these arts do save lives, believe me! So from one artist to another (and that means all of you), thank you for keeping up your skills, and may they bring you joy and satisfaction in this new year.


Sunday, December 28th, 2008

One of the lastest blog posts on Parrot Musings was all about cockatiels. I agree with everything Mary has said about cockatiels – and I have two of them, both male. Chipper and Charlie did not grow up together, and Chipper is at least 3 years older than Charlie. It took them awhile to warm to each other, but there was the instant attraction when they first met of being the same species.

Chipper is totally tame and trusting of humans when he came to me; Charlie is wild and totally distrustful of human hands (he’s missing a toe, which the vet says was an injury). But they have formed their own flock within my larger flock of four birds. They would miss each other terribly if one was absent.

And, yes, they call to each other also if I have Chipper in hand and move to another room where Charlie can’t see where Chipper is. They depend on each other without letting the other know it!

If I had no other birds in my house, cockatiels would be my first choice – though I love all my birds exceedingly. They have a cheerful sunny, disposition. They are easy to care for. They have larger than life personalities. They are always happy to see me first thing in the morning and whenever I’ve been away. They make me laugh and often put me in my place if I’m too serious. What more could one want in a feathered friend (or any friend, for that matter!)? I just always hope I give to them what they need to be as happy as they can be under a human roof.

Speaking of making me laugh, Charlie and Chipper have mimicked a certain mouth noise I make, and Charlie here is showing off his expertise. We will often have such “conversations” and both cockatiels love it!

Birds, Birds, and More Birds!

Friday, December 26th, 2008

My family knows I love birds of all kinds. They also know I don’t need any more live birds!

When in doubt, they always know a gift of a non-live bird will always be a hit with me.

My father is also a ceaseless thrift store peruser and he finds fantastic things for just a few dollars.

For instance, this darling sapsucker knocker is handmade and from a thrift store. If you pull the rope underneath the “tree,” the bird taps against a hidden nail head, creating a realistic knocking sound. The tip of the bird’s beak is reinforced with a nail head also, so the wooden beak will not wear down. Clever!

From my sister I received this handpainted tiny accordion book filled with cranes – the type that overwinter in New Mexico. You see these bluish-gray cranes everywhere in empty country fields and at the wildlife refuge.,/span>

Also from my father via the Goodwill, I received this beautiful handmade Native American flute in the key of G. I found out, via a search on the internet, that it is a “High Spirits” flute made by Odell Borg and I believe is called a Redtail Hawk flute. Again, another bird! But I never get enough of wild birds, and so I am very pleased with these new additions to my home.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Joyful holiday greetings to all my friends, family, and readers.

Thank you for being there!

Merry Christmas, Everyone

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

I hope your holidays are good and full of your loved ones.

Our family is reeling from the news today that my little sister has a rare “benign” tumor in her upper jaw called a desmoplastic ameloblastoma. It’s so benign that she has to have 5 teeth and part of her upper jaw removed to stop the tumor from its aggressive march. And in time a bone from her hip goes into her mouth to recreate the jaw part that’s been removed. The good news is that if the procedure goes as planned, there will be no recurrence.

Nevertheless, we’re looking at a long slog here that will require lots of fortitude, moral support, and liquid foods.

But for now, we take things day by day.

The good thing is that we’re all alive, and that is a great gift.

Somehow, we always manage to pull through some really bad times and make the best of things. And laugh later, if not now! We are, after all, fighting Irish.

Still, it doesn’t stop me from wishing: “All I want for Christmas is my sister to be healthy.”

Serenade in Geneva

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

I just came across a fun video I took in Geneva, Switzerland a couple years ago. Very often you will come across some excellent musicians who busk in the city – some who do it for fun, some who obviously do it fulltime as a way to make the next meal.

This was so festive and fun that I thought it fit into the season. I’m only sorry I didn’t let the video roll a bit longer – they were just warming up!


Friday, December 19th, 2008

Sam often plays on top of his cage, where I have placed permanently a large wooden bowl full of foot toys and stuff I know he likes to chew on.

He recently discovered how to remove the stainless steel bowls on the very top of his cage. He loves the noise they make and the rise they get out of me and everybody else!

Heeere’s Sam doing what he does best (besides eating)…

Chipper and a Case of the Night Frights

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Mary at Parrot Musings reminded me that I had a blog post to write about this subject. It’s not unusual for birds to experience “night frights” or “night terrors,” which dictate a wild flee or die response. But while this can be life-saving in the wild, it can be life-threatening inside a cage at night.

There is usually a perfectly good reason for a fright to a bird’s reasoning: a sudden noise in the dead of night; the sense of a spider traveling across the cage (birds’ hearing and touch senses are acute), etc. In the case of the last episode some months ago, I deduced the next morning that the water tub I put just outside the front door for the young fawn to drink from during the heat wave got tipped over in the night by the fawn or a raccoon and must have made a bit of noise.

Chipper is a very deep sleeper, so when he is suddenly scared to wakefulness, his modus operandi is to bolt and ask questions later. But the cage bars stop his flight, and therefore, he ends up thrashing for dear life against the cage bars until I hear the noise, wake up, and take the matter (himself) into my hands. And once one bird begins, everybody else follows the call to flee.

It’s always Chipper who ends up injured. The last time he broke a blood feather and lost about a dozen new and old feathers. Blood feathers are the blood-filled emerging feather shafts that eventually turn into a normal-looking feather. It’s amazing just how much blood one of these contains, as I discovered the next morning when we were all calm and rational. Smears and drops everywhere.

Poor little Chipper! It is always imperative to stop the blood flow as soon as possible in a parrot, as they do not have the same coagulants in their blood make-up as we humans do. In this case, I chose to dab normal wheat flour against the wound instead of the more caustic KwikStop (I use that for nails and beaks). That seemed to work. Next, I added a drop of Bach’s Rescue Remedy in his water dish and fed him some from my finger. This stuff always works on my birds, helping to calm them and get them over trauma shock very quickly.

Chipper had a hard day following (me too, bleary-eyed and worried about him). He was tuckered out from the episode and slept most of the day. And his affected wing obviously hurt! He’d go through normal motions, and stop them midway with a little verbal birdie “ouch”! I watched him closely to be sure he was eating and gaining in strength in case I needed to take him to his avian vet.. He did a fair amount of preening the next evening, cleaning things up. But no further bleeding. By the second day, he was almost back to normal so I could breathe a sigh of relief.

One thing about Chipper is that while he is the biggest cry-baby in the house, he is resilient. His confident cockatiel nature “sunny and playful“ always returns to amaze me and make me laugh. He’s quite a character!

Nurnberg Treasures

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

I mentioned in a previous blog that some of my Christmas ornaments came from Nurnberg, Germany. These tiny hand carved animals were actually hard to find. I searched all over the old town to find them and was quite happy when I did.

Even though they are carved in a blocky style, they capture the essence of the animal portrayed.

Hope you enjoy them!

Nightcrawlers, Anyone?

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

For as long as I can remember, and before I began living in my town, the folks across the street from the Post Office have always displayed this sign on the tree in front of their house. Presumably, there really are nightcrawlers available, by the dozen, at the rear of the house.

The reason I think this is for real is that the price keeps going up – albeit, slowly – over the years. Now it’s $1.50 per dozen, but these nightcrawlers are touted as “THE ONES THAT GET THE FISH”! So probably price is really no object in this case?

The other eccentricity of this property is the permanent display to the side of the house (where one would expect a garage), which changes according to season and mood of the exhibiters.

Christmas obviously causes the exhibiters to pull out all the stops, as you can see from the current display, which I snapped this morning. You can see a light dusting of snow on the edge. Nothing – not even the worst of inclement weather – stops the display. It’s tradition!

Enjoy! (?)