Monday, October 5, 2009

Miss Pixel, our Girl, is Gone 8-24-07 to 9-29-09

It still seems impossible. I keep looking for her among the rest of the flock. But Miss Pixel is gone. She passed away, unexpectedly, on September 29.

I was scheduled for a complete hysterectomy on September 28. On Sunday, the 27th I noticed Miss Pixel was fidgeting with one wing a bit. Other than that she seemed fine. I watched her for a bit, then picked her up for a closer look. I examined the wing and found a rather large lump on the top inside of her wing. All the birds have been molting, so I did some research and determined for myself that it was possibly a feathercyst, which would need treatment, but wasn't immediately life threatening.

So, Monday, the next morning, before leaving for the hospital for my surgery I called the vet and scheduled for her to be dropped off by my husband, Joe, on Tuesday morning. I explained, and wrote a written note as to what I'd found, and how she had been behaving...good appetite, playful, sleeping fine, etc. I explained to Miss Pixel that Joe would take her to the doctor who would check her wing and make things better. I told her, and all the birds, before I left, that I loved them.

Joe took Miss Pixel first thing Tuesday to the vet, and then came to visit me at the hospital. Mid-afternoon we called and I was able to talk with the doctor, who told me it looked like a benign tumor, and that given it's placement and proximity to the blood supply on her wing, that his recommendation would be to leave it for the time being. As long as she wasn't picking at
it, and it didn't become too large, or infected, that she should be fine. That she seemed fine.
So, relieved, that was the plan. Joe would pick her up in early evening, and come back to the hospital later.

That is what happened. He took her home where she played with the rest of the gang. He put them in together so he could visit me at the hospital, where I was still in and out of sleep from the anesthesia.

When he got home later that night he called me in a panic as she wasn't doing so well. He explained that he put her in the travel cage to rest, but that she was sitting at the bottom of the floor of the cage. The birds often do that in there, as it is a small cage. I recommended that it was best he put her back with the rest of the birds on the platform perch for comfort.

Initially I had gotten the home phone number of our pet shop owners in case of emergency. With all the hustle and bustle of getting to the hospital, and so on, I had neglected to take it out of my wallet to give to Joe. Since I thought Miss Pixel would be better in with the rest of the gang, and I was rather out of it, I didn't call in a nurse to get my wallet out for me. I should have. I really, really should have. I should have called back home.

Joe was in a panic and was watching Miss Pixel closely. He was searching for an all-night animal emergency hospital in the area. By the time he had figured out where one was, she had passed away. He told her he loved her. That we loved her. He covered her and placed her in the travel cage and spent the rest of the night and early morning tossing and turning and unable to sleep.

He showed up very early to the hospital on Wednesday morning. The distress in his face was clear. He told me he was so sorry, but Miss Pixel had passed away. A wave of nausea and disbelief passed over me.

He told me what happened. He blamed himself. I comforted him. I asked a few questions. Explained how could we possibly know. We had just taken her to the vet. We had done the right thing. But had we?

I spend a great deal of time with the birds. I watch them play, clean their cage, their food, water, play gyms daily. They get fresh vegetables and fruits. They have lots of exercise time, and a healthy, toxin-free environment. I like to think that I am very aware of how they are doing.
Tori has had a tough time in the past year, and, so far, seems to have recovered well, and is doing fine.

It's so hard to think we could lose Miss Pixel so suddenly.

She was such a Diva. But the sweetest Diva around. She knew what she liked, where she wanted to sit, sleep, eat, etc. She didn't hold back if she didn't like someone else's behavior or opinion. No one could lecture like Miss Pixel. All the boys tried to woo her. None of them really won her heart. I think she liked it that way. But they all miss her. As do Joe and I.

We found a place in the garden for her. Joe and I covered her in pretty fabric and put in some flowers. We'll find a pretty garden stone and put her name on it. She's near the day lillies. Near the bird feeders. She'll be accompanied each day by the song of the wild birds in the yard. And I will tell her good night, each night, as I tuck the rest of the birds in to bed.

Good Night, Miss Pixel. I love you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No house this time...

So, we heard back from the realtor. The house we were interested in has been sold. Disappointment sets in.

We learned something though...that we really do want to move. That we really are ready to start preparations to sell our house and find another. We know we are tired of a few of the troublesome characters in the neighborhood. We'd like a bit more space, a little more privacy, and not to have to deal with an iced-down alleyway in the winter.

We will keep our eyes open...

Just a jumble of things...

My, my, my that's a lot of birds! Have I gone completely crazy and added a full-sized aviary with residents in tow? No, no...we went to the "Wings Down Under" exhibit at the Milwauke Zoo. It was a good time. Joe could hardly get me to leave. It was hard to keep me from reprimanding others on how to handle birds as well. Joe calls me Parakeet Girl for a reason, I guess. Anyway, we spent nearly two hours in with the birds. More pictures another time.

Once we got home we showered and then visited with our lovely flock. Didn't want them picking up any diseases or anything from the zoo gang. Just need to be careful.

We've been busy being a bit lazy, actually. We had a Tiki Garden Party a couple weekends ago, there was a lot of prep, and afterwards, after a successful and lovely party, we just sort of crashed and took it easy. Now I've got to get back to getting things done.

I finally saw a new doctor about my fibroid situation. She is wonderful. It was such a breath of fresh air to really be listened to. To have someone on my side, and to have good suggestions, and the time to explain my options. Unfortunately, given the pain I'm in pretty much all the time now, and the size of my fibroid and uterus, the best option I have is a complete hysterectomy. Joe and I talked it over. The deal is, let's just get this done and move on. Time for me to feel better. I expect my general energy level and sense of well-being will improve big time once this is over. I hope so. Hopefully, the surgery will be completed by end of September or early October. Just in time for my 46th birthday. I'm feeling old for so many reasons...

In other news...Joe and I happened by a house for sale last weekend on the Root River Parkway in West Allis. We really haven't been looking, but talk about it now and then. Especially when we get frustrated with our neighbors, or the snow plow situation in the alleyway. Anyway, we liked the look of the place, so I looked it up. It seems to be a great deal, probably due to the present economy for one thing. But it also looks to need some work.

It's a 50's style, masonry and frame house. On a lot of land. Lots of trees and privacy. Kind of has a Frank Lloyd Wright feel. Was built in 1953. We're trying to get in to see the inside before deciding to pursue it.

If it doesn't work out we'll be fine. But the idea is pretty darn exciting. And nerve-wracking. A hysterectomy and a new house all in the next few months? Isn't that how things go???

More soon...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Whistle Duet

Google likes mischief. As evidenced in the photo here. He was impatient and wanted a snack, so decided to dive into the food bin instead of waiting for me to freshen up his dish. He's good at mischief.

Another thing Google is good at is whistling. Originally I started trying to teach him "Funkytown". He tried, but it sort of morphed into his own call. So, now, when he's in the mood, he whistles and I follow instead. Next up, I'll work on the harmony part.

In the meantime, check out this short video of Googles whistling talents.

Enjoy! And thanks for watching!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wild Kitten Update

Just figured it was time for a quick "wild kitten update". Here are two of the three siblings that have been visiting our backyard garden this summer. Of course, Momma visits, too. These two decided that an afternoon lounging on the backyard swing was on their agenda. Don't they look comfy?

Joe dutifully puts out fresh food and water for them each evening. Then he keeps watch to see when they come by, alerting me when they visit. Once in a while we happen upon them when we are outside. They won't really let us get very close, but they will rest comfortably, like lions in the tall grass of the jungle, beneath the vibernum bush in the corner of the backyard.

I love having them here. I openly wonder where they are on days when they don't come by. Partly worried that something has happened to them, or that they've found better accommodations. Surely we have the nicest spot on the block, don't we? Why would they want to hang about elsewhere? Really, Kimberly, jealous of anyone else in the neighborhood with wild and adorable visitors? Yeah, that's me. I don't lose any sleep over it though.

Not yet, anyway.

The Parakeet Tree

Last winter I got this great idea to make a tree for the birds. Along the lines of a coffee mug tree, but sized bigger for the birds. Using a drill and saw aren't exactly my strong points. I can drill a hole, no problem. But drilling and cutting and assembling to specifications, that's a bit of a challenge for someone clumsy like me.

So, after several tries at getting the diameter of the holes right for putting the smaller dowels through (and working out how to drill the hole without destroying the post), I was finally able to assemble the piece. It's not as stable as I'd like it to be, but it's pretty good. I thought about painting it with food coloring or kool-aid, but haven't gotten 'round to that yet. In the meantime, I set it up next to the big playgym on one of the desks in birdland and waited to see what would happen.

Over the next couple months the birds began using it. One, maybe two at a time. But, lately, and it seems more often close to night-night time, they've all been flocking to the tree. I'll realize they've gotten quiet and I hear them grinding their beaks quietly, then turn from the computer to see the tree branches full. The Parakeet Tree is a success.

It seems they think they should be able to sleep there all night. Something I haven't permitted. But, you know, it kind of makes sense. In the wild I'm sure they congregate in trees, settling in on branches, well camouflaged by leaves and flowers, and drift off to sleep there. So, it seems right that they've taken to filling in the branches on The Parakeet Tree each night.

Plus, it makes a great photo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just a little frustrated...

It's emotional pain I struggle with. Emotional pain I hate. Physical pain, I can deal a point, of course. Part of my genetics, I think. Part of being a woman, too. You just suck it up and deal with it. I'm always bumping into things, scraping myself, poking myself with something, falling off chairs, you name it. Miraculously, I've never injured myself to a point of breaking something, losing a limb, or poking an eye out. Never had to have stitches, other than for corrective foot surgery, or dental surgery. So, pretty lucky.

I never had kids. Joe and I met when we were both in our late 30's, just barely. By the time we settled in together, and then got married, we were well into our 40's. Neither of us had strong reproductive longings...(ok, I do once in a while...but I have friends and family with little ones to cure those). So, we have 7 birds. Those are my kids. Oh, plus Joe.

Anyway, I've never been pregnant. Never gone through the joy and the miseries of 9 months of gestation. So, it's hard to relate. But in the past few years I've had some female issues come into play. And, now, I'm feeling a bit unpleasant.

Several years back I was diagnosed with a of those "female tumors"...I didn't have much of a problem with it at the time. But since then it has grown, and grown, and grown. I've had a few ultrasounds to diagnose the position and size. It's on the exterior of my uterus, on a stalk, growing out and about. The last check showed it to be nearly up to my belly button. The size of two grapefruit, or something like that. But I've been lucky, and only had occasional discomfort.

I've had some frustration with the doctor's office I was going to. First they made a big deal about the fibroid..."Oh, you need to have another ultrasound, since it's getting bigger". Let me tell you this, those ultrasounds are not exactly pleasant. There's poking and prodding, and, soreness afterward. It's much less invasive than other things, I know. Plus, the cost isn't exactly small beans. We have insurance, but it doesn't cover all of it. Not close enough by me, anyway.

Anyway, after I had the test I called to find out the results. They acted like it was an imposition to find the results and confer with me. And, to top it all off, I never even talked or met with the actual doctor in the office. Her assistant did the exam, recommended the test, and then couldn't remember who I was later. They told me that the test showed there really wasn't much change, and that we should just "wait and see. The doctor would like to examine you herself next time, she may have a different take on the situation. Come back in 6 months or so." Oh.

Now, I'm not all fired up to be cut open. I've done my research. I know these things, generally, aren't lethal. They cause problems for many, but not all. I'm well into my 40's, and perimenopause, and hot flashes, are common visitors in my person these days. It's known that these things can shrink after menopause. But that could still be 5-10 years away. In the meantime...

I haven't really done my job of finding a new doctor. I did find a great GP, whom I trust. The past few weeks I've been having some pain. Hot flashes. Pain radiating from my abdomen up, some back pain, and it has been waking me up, and making it a little more difficult to sleep. My cycles are a little goofed up, too. So, I decided to see my GP. Maybe a bladder infection, something like that?

So, I saw the doc this morning. He said there is a slight possibility of an infection, but he doesn't really think so. He checked me over. His instincts are leaning towards the fibroid causing the pain. So, we discussed it further. By his estimation, it's up to my belly button. Or, rather, it has pushed my uterus up to my belly button. Where most women find it once they are in the latter months of pregnancy.

I tried to talk him out of the test. But the discomfort is turning into pain. And I don't exactly like the idea of it crowding out all my other organs. So, I agreed.

But then what? There are a few different options available. But due to the position, and the size of the fibroid, there won't be as many as for some. Do I go on some kind of hormone drug to reduce its size before trying to remove it? Hysterectomy? Myomectomy? Have the blood supply to it cut off and let it die a slow, painful death and then, possibly, have it roam around freely in my body? Not too keen on that.

I'm lucky. I know. It's not cancer. I haven't ended up in an emergency room with an emergency hysterectomy. Hopefully, we'll sort it out and just be done with the whole thing.

It's just been frustrating. I really felt like a number at the one clinic. I'm lucky to have found a GP that I can trust.

Been there? Done that? Wanna share your experience? I'd be happy to hear from you.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Here's what I've been up to lately

Granted, the "before" photo is a few years old. It certainly didn't happen overnight. But the most recent change - painting the garage - did have a major impact. I'm pleased. It's pretty much what I envisioned. Our little sanctuary in the backyard. Still working on getting a bit more privacy from the alley and the neighbors backyard (chain link fence), but I expect to get there before the end of summer.

I'd never really gardened (or landscaped, if you can call it that) before I met Joe. Never had my own yard to nurture. Joe's family has the gardening gene firmly planted, but it's not something I knew much about. So, of course, I set out to learn. And each year I plant something new, dig up something old and move it, trade plants with friends, attempt to grow things from seed, paint something, search for bargains and alternative garden decor. I've received garden gifts from family and friends. Spent countless hours weeding, digging, shoveling pea gravel, and painting. I've hung candles and lit them all just to see what kind of magic candlelight under a night sky can bring.

It's an amazing thing, planting something in the earth and seeing it grow. Yes, the fruits of labor. Watching the bees buzz from flower to flower, enjoying the sweet smell of trumpet lillies on a summer evening. Their scent wafts through the bedroom window at night...intoxicating.

Butterflies frequent the butterfly bush, the birds pick at the sunflowers. Fireflies flit about in the evening above the freshly cut grass. Sounds like a fairytale, doesn't it? Not quite, but close enough, I suppose. It's somewhere to escape to when the day is done.

So, that's where I've been these past few weeks when I've been short on blogs. I'll be back with more soon.

Happy Summer!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wild Kingdom

I love my backyard. I love the garden that we've cultivated over 5 years or so. Love sitting on the swing on a warm, or even cool, evening. But there's another's wild. Over the past couple years we've been feeding some of the wild cats in the neighborhood and they come to visit. We've never been able to get very close to them, but this season they seem a little braver. We've seen three litters of kittens over the past couple years. One neighbor, who since moved away, rescued several of them. And, yes, we should probably attempt some feral cat rescue/release program. It's on my list, the meantime, we like to make sure they get food and water. And shelter when necessary.

Recently we discovered the latest litter of kittens. There appear to be three. Maybe 6 weeks old. All adorable. Momma cat comes around regularly and I mentioned to Joe a while back that he/she was a bit paunchy and maybe...sure enough...and he is a she.

So, I've been able to get a few pictures. And some video of our visitors. Last week momma cat and the babies were making themselves quite comfortable in our backyard garden. Momma reclining underneath the swing, one of the kittens sleeping sweetly on an old pot, and another underneath a rehabbed birdbath planter. Oh, how sweet.

We had several storms over the weekend, and I haven't seen the furry family since then, but I hope they found shelter somewhere. After all, they don't spend all of their time in our yard. They are indeed welcome visitors, though.

We've got some squirrels in the hood, one famous from a Hallmark card contest entry/finalist of mine. And, of course, lots of birds...finches, cardinals, chickadees, and more. Last year there was a very large possum that happened by. I'd never seen one that big. He'd been eating well, I guess. And there's a neighborhood skunk or two. Joe always worries that he'll go out to feed the cats and there will be a skunk waiting for dinner instead. I keep wishing a deer, or a moose, or something like that would show up sometime. Wouldn't that be exciting? But I'm happy with the wild cats sleeping away the afternoon on the cushion of our backyard swing, or underneath a shady plant.

I have hopes of finding a cute little dog house to add to the garden. One that would give shelter should one of the cats need a bed for the night. I could paint it to blend in nicely with the flowers and greenery. Joe thinks I'm crazy.

What else is new?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Google Shower

I'd read in some of the bird publications that the larger parrots might actually bathe in a shower. I didn't really think I'd have a bird that would do the same. But Google, it seems, likes himself a nice lukewarm shower. Just a simple spray, whilst sitting on my shoulder, dipping his head and body in to catch the drops.

On workdays, I usually let the birds out to play first-thing so they have time to stretch their wings and have some fun before being inside all day while I'm away at the shop. The 'keets are fine on their own, for the most part. They like birdland and are pretty content to have free reign while I shower. Google, on the other hand, cannot be left on his own. Mainly because wherever we are is where he wants to be. And he is not afraid to fly down to the floor and walk the house looking for us. So, when I shower in the morning, I often bring Google and his playgym into the bathroom with me. He plays contentedly on the playgym, has a morning snack, while I shower and sing to him just footsteps away. He can't see me behind the shower curtain, but he knows I'm there.

One morning, after I'd showered and was toweling off he fluttered into the tub, then walked around with his wings held up and wide. I finally figured out he wanted to bathe, too. I turned on the faucet, wet my hands and dribbled some water over him. Happy bird. Twice this happened. The next step seemed obvious to me.

So, one day when I didn't have to work and could take a little extra time, once I'd finished my shower, I reached out for Google. He obliged. He sat on my shoulder, dipped his head in and out of the gentle spray, fluttered his wings, chirped once or twice, and soon we were done. When I told Joe about this he thought I was nuts. Perhaps you do, too.

Since then Google showers with me maybe twice a week. In fact, one night I was showering after working in the yard all afternoon and could hear Google whistling while hanging out on Joe's shoulder. I whistled back. Google got louder. Soon enough Joe walked into the bathroom and stated that Google wanted to take a shower, too. I put my hand out the curtain and Google hopped on. Happy bird.

The other day Joe was in the shower and I cracked the door open and yelled in that Google wanted to shower with him. "No he does not!" was the panicked reply.

One day...

Google hit the publish button

I wasn't quite ready, hadn't written a word, actually, when Google decided to play on my keyboard and inadvertantly hit the "publish" button. So, I'm editing the post to at least say that "here is a picture of Blogger and Tori" hanging out on one of the playgyms. Tori has really been watching out for Blogger and Mouse. It's very sweet."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tempting fate...

We were down to one med per day. Tori had one bad day a week ago, then was doing well again. Until this morning. I discovered he had thrown up during the night or very early morning. I watched him carefully while I got ready for work. He seemed to be eating fine, flying about. Stopped by to help me dry my hair (don't know why, but he likes to sit on my hand while I dry my hair). I went off to work at least knowing we have an appt with the vet on Wednesday. Maybe this was a fluke. It didn't seem he had thrown up much. The only evidence I had was that his feathers around his face were matted down.

My husband, Joe, got home early today. I called home from work as I was running late. He informed me that Tori had thrown up again. That his face and feathers were really a mess. I asked him to check for evidence in the bottom of the cage, but he wasn't sure what he was looking for. As soon as I got home I went in to see the birds. Tori did look a mess, but he was eating. I took a look at the tray in the cage. There were several piles of thrown up seeds. He'd thrown up a lot. Not a good sign.

I changed my clothes. Picked up Tori, put him on my shoulder. Then we went to the living room. Joe brought Google. The two of them puttered about on the coffee table where we put a small playgym and a small dish of food and water. Tori threw a toy ball off the table several times. He talked to me quite a bit, I expect telling me how crappy his day had been. I sang to him, he sang along. He wouldn't leave my shoulder so I could prep dinner, so I had Joe help me. While dinner was in the oven Tori and I sat with Joe in the living room and Tori took a nap on my shoulder. When dinner was ready he was reluctant to leave me. Finally he went up to one of the playgyms.

Now dinner is over and I'm spending time in birdland. Tori is presently on my shoulder and I am considering having him sleep alone in one of the spare birdhouses for the night. That doesn't always work out so well, though. He usually wants to be with the other birds.

I did call the vet from work before I headed home and he said I could start up the anti-nausea med again. Then we'll check things further on Wednesday. Hopefully that will help Tori feel better in the meantime.

My poor baby. He is such a sweet, sweet boy. It seems every time I blog that he is doing better he relapses. Am I tempting fate? Dooming him to illness? That's crazy talk, I know. But it sure is upsetting and disheartening.

Keep him in your prayers, dear readers. If you don't mind. I love him like you wouldn't believe.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Sunday Night in Birdland

It was a busy day in Birdland. Joe and I did not work today, so we were home most of the time, which mean lots of time out on the playgyms and buzzing the room for the gang. Mouse (pictured above) had a big day, as he buzzed the room for the first time. His flight feathers are finally settling in and he is able to fly short distances, and tonight buzzed the room once entirely with the rest of the gang. You could see the pride in his stance after he'd landed on the playgym on top of his house. He was a happy birdy. I gave him much praise and pointed out to the rest of the birds Mouse's achievement. They pretty much ignored me. Still, it was a happy moment.

Tori continues to do better. I can just see it in him. We have a recheck at the vet on Wednesday. I'm hoping for more good news, that his wellness will continue. It's been such a long road. It's so good to see him playing heartily, tossing toys off the playgyms, buzzing the room, sharing secrets with Pumpkin, eating with gusto.

Blogger and Texter seem to have a blast racing each other around the room, flying from playgym to playgym, and buzzing my head while I'm at the computer. Miss Pixel continues to play the field, and now it seems Blogger may be somewhat enamored of her as well.

Texter seems to be making friends with Google. They tend to follow each other around sometimes.

So, all is well tonight in birdland. Everyone is tucked in snug and sleeping away. I'm including a link to a video that gives a sample of the evening. Enjoy if you wish...

Goodnight from birdland...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Birds to the left of me, birds to the right...

Something interesting is happening now that Tori is feeling better. He's returned to some behaviors from the early days, when he first joined the family. He was the sole birdie in the house then, so he spent a lot of time with me. He sat in the living room with me, perched on my shoulder as I went from room to room in the house. He nestled under my chin while I lay on the couch. It was a sweet time. He discovered that sitting on top of my glasses, and, even better, on top of my nose, allowed him a position of parakeet power. Plus, it was damn cute.

This past weekend, Tori had an early bad morning. A little sickness. But improved throughout the day. By Sunday he was much better. And was being very attentive to me. Surprisingly, he flew to my shoulder and stayed there when I left the bird room. Normally, these days, he would fly back to one of the playgyms. This time he went with me. He even went to living room and sat on my shoulder, sweetly, as I watched a few minutes of television.

Not long after that, he and I returned to birdland, where Google joined us. With Google on one shoulder, and Tori on another, I walked to our bedroom where Joe was watching the bird feeders out the window. Both Google and Tori went quickly to Joe. And I snapped some photos.
It's been a long time since Tori was this adventurous. I'm not sure if it's so much that he's feeling better, or a little bit of jealousy over the fact that Google likes to spend more of his time with us humans than with the rest of the birds. Maybe he felt a little competitive. Maybe.

In any case, I'm enjoying the fun, and I'm relieved (yet still cautious) to have my Tori back in better health. It's taken quite a while. I hope it continues.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to my Mom. To a woman who raised four daughters through trials and tribulations. To a woman who now has a total of seven fabulous grandchildren (none of which I contributed). To a woman with a grand sense of humor, and a grand heart to go with it.
I love you, Mom.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to my sisters. Each of whom has brought beautiful children into this world. Their dedication to their children, their ability to seemingly do it all, amazes me. I have one sick bird and I can't sleep at night. I don't know how a mother copes with the worry while raising a child. But they all do it. And each one of their kids is a complement to them and the world. I love you, Laura, Jackie and Cheryl.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to the women I call friends. The gift of nurturing is not exclusive to those with children. You make my life better just by being in it.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let the birds sing...

The good news today from the vet is that Tori has improved a great deal. His weight is back up to his normal, his energy levels are back up, he hasn't vomited, his appetite is back to normal, he's socializing very well, and his crop is clear of all the slime. Huzzah!

The doc thinks there may have been an underlying yeast problem all along, although it didn't show up on the tests until the previous visit. So, we'll continue with the anti-fungal and phase out the anti-biotics. Which means Tori will soon be down to one med per day. Relief for me, and even more relief for him. As long as it sticks.

Texter went along today for his first wellness exam and passed with flying colors. The vet says he is a beautiful specimen of a budgie in every way. Healthy, athletic, good demeanor, and truly beautiful. This Texter seems to know, and work at. He's been known to bathe two times a day! And he relishes his bath, let me tell you. Every inch of him is wet and attended to. He's a poser for the camera, too. He's a good looking boy and he knows it. I told the doc Texter is our metrosexual. Ha! He does have a thing for Miss Pixel, but she's playing both Texter and Pumpkin along. Such a diva!

Anyway, I wanted to let the good news be known. We have a few more weeks of meds and a couple re-checks until we can say this thing is gone for sure, but things sure look better than they did a week ago.

For me, birdsong is a gift. And so is Tori.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Q-tips are for the birds...

I'm crossing my fingers, and all of my toes. Saying my prayers, counting my blessings, throwing as much love as I can out into the cosmos. It seems to be working. Tori is finally seeming better. Earlier in the week I was very afraid. But the meds must be working. His energy is now more consistant, he's eating well, playing well, and, as far as I can tell (and I check often) he hasn't thrown up again since last weekend. Huzzah!

We still have a visit planned with the vet for Wednesday when we'll find out more. I don't want to take him off any meds until we know this thing is gone. He's such a trooper about taking them, too.

This photo shows Tori and Google playing with one of Google's new discoveries, and one of Tori's old favorites...the Q-tip. There is something so fun about this little wand. They love to pick them up, pill up the cotton tips, then drop them to the floor. I finally had to put the box away since there were so many on the floor and scattered about. I buy all those colorful toys and bells, and they want to play with tissue paper and Q-tips! Sounds about right...

All the rest of the gang are doing well. I think Pumpkin seems relieved that Tori is better. He keeps watch over him, and he seems a little more at ease now. Me, too. Hopefully things will stay that way.

Just wanted to post an update in case anyone has been wondering. And if you've included my little angel in your prayers and good wishes, I thank you.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Good days, Bad days...

It's a feathered roller-coaster. Each day I watch closely to see how Tori is doing. Some days it seems as if he is better. Last week I became very alarmed because I could tell that he had lost a significant amount of weight. I was terrified. I told Joe about it. He thought I was imagining it. That he was fine. But I could feel it. He wasn't as heavy on my hand, he felt smaller in my grasp when I gave him his meds. Some days he had more energy, it seemed, some days, he seemed so quiet. The moods varied throughout the day.

At work I struggle with the constant anxiety burning a hole in my gut. Trying not to worry about him, or jump to conclusions. I had myself convinced that he has bird wasting disease. A horrible affliction that, basically, starves birds from the inside. They eat and eat, but their bodies don't digest the food, and instead it eats away at the birds muscle, etc., until they die. They lose lots of weight, become weaker and weaker. I did some research online. Cried and cried. Not my baby. Joe said to stop reading the stuff as I was making myself crazy. He has a bacterial infection that is really hard to beat, it will take a while, but it's not wasting disease.

I had set up an appointment with the vet for my day off. We went. I was so nervous. I immediately told the doctor about my worries. He said that wasting disease is still pretty rare, that Tori would not have been exposed to it where I got him (and the rest of the birds), and that I should put it out of my mind. I told him he might have to take MY pulse in a minute, since my fingers were tingling, my stomach was burning, my cheeks were hot. I felt sick to my stomach. He checked Tori over. They found bacteria, still, which wasn't a surprise. And some yeast. So, they cleaned out his crop (not fun for Tori), and added another, anti-fungal, med to his regimen for the next couple weeks.

I took Tori home relieved that he didn't have this horrible disease. He slept quite a bit that night, and I chalked it up to the trauma of the crop-cleaning. It's stressful on a bird. They are fragile creatures.

Over the past few days Tori has been playing with the rest of the gang quite a lot during the day, but by evening, he seems quite tired, and goes off by himself sometimes. I've been trying to get them all to bed a little earlier. Tori needs the rest, and with the extended daylight, they've all been extra wild. So, a little extra rest won't hurt them either.

Today Tori seems very, very quiet. I gave him his meds. Took two tries to get it in him. I put him inside the big bird house with the heating pad dialed up a notch to keep him warm. He wants to come out, but I think he needs the rest. I'll keep him in there a while, just so he is undisturbed.

My fingers are tingling, numbing. My stomach is in turmoil. I am trying to think positive. I love this little guy so much. I hate to see him miserable. He is such a good thing in my life. Such an angel. I'm praying every day now. Over and over. Please save my Tori.

Please, save my Tori.

Friday, April 17, 2009

On the road to Wellville...

It appears Tori is getting better. I've decided to go the long, extended route with the meds just to be sure. Doc said we could do 2 to 4 weeks of antibiotics. We're going with the 4. As stressful as it is to get the meds in him, I want to wipe this bug out so that my baby can stay healthy.

He seems to be playing more. He's more playful. Hasn't thrown up in a week now. Thank goodness. I just pray he continues to get better and better.

The rest of the gang are good. Mouse and Blogger are coming out to play more often. Blogger is quite a good flier and isn't far behind the rest. His landings are still a bit rough sometimes, but he's definitely getting the hang of it. Mouse still flutters to the floor a lot. He's making it short distances, though. And he loves, loves, loves spinach!
I suppose, to many people, they make a lot of racket. But their calls, chattering, and fluttering are music to my ears. Sometimes I watch them fly and play and sing and, corny as it sounds, it just makes me happy.
Just thought it was time for an update...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tori, Tori, Tori...

That's my Tori, as a baby, enjoying his first bit of cucumber. It is a favorite of his, along with broccoli and carrots. He's an expert food flinger. Well, they all are. But Tori can fling with the best of them, I'll tell you that.

This morning I was troubled to see that Tori was vomitting again. He's been on the new anti-biotic four days now, and I was hoping he was feeling better. I could tell by watching him that he was trying hard to stifle the need to vomit. Finally, it won over. This was even more upsetting as I had to leave for work, and couldn't stay with him. I tucked him in with his buddies, kept the heating pad on low, and went to work.

I cried on the way there. I cried once there, telling my boss and co-workers about Tori's further ailment. I called the vet and asked what next. When I talked with him this afternoon we recapped the last time out with this infection, and how we ended up doing two meds simultaneously, an anti-biotic, and a med for helping to curb the vomitting and nausea. I queried him like a frantic mother, asking what might I doing that could cause this. What if this, what if that...he reiterated that last time we used this combination it worked.

I picked it up after work and just gave Tori his meds an hour ago. He is sitting atop one of the playgyms now, chattering with the rest of the gang. Google is next to him, singing and whistling, too. Maybe he will feel better. I have to admire his determination even in distress. He wants to be out and about with the other birds.

But tonight, I will tuck him in a cage on his own, with the heating pad going and a nice cozy blanket to keep out any cold air. He needs rest.

God, I hope this works. The thought of him not being with us is just too hard to bear. I'm saying another prayer (and another). If anyone is reading this, would you mind saying a prayer, too?

Thank you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Little Victories

Progress. That's what little Mouse and Blogger are making. Aren't they cute? Blogger was sharing some seeds with Mouse when I took this photo. They bicker sometimes, mostly when fighting for the same spot on a perch, but otherwise, they are tight. And these days, they are both coming out to play with Tori and the gang. In fact, tonight Mouse climbed out and up to the top of his house, and Blogger flew out, around the room, and up to one of the playgyms. Twice. Both even took the time to explore Google's new house, too.

Now when Mouse flutters to the floor because he's still light on flight feathers, he allows me to pick him up. Or, really, he steps up onto my hand and let's me escort him upward. It's amazing progress. They still don't like it when I try to go inside their house to bring them out, but, if I'm patient, that will come in time. It took a long time for Texter to allow me to do that. He let's me bring him out, and tuck him in at night. Other than that, he makes the call. So, I'm feeling encouraged at this progress. A week ago I was feeling a bit sad and overwhelmed. Wondering if I would do them justice. Presently, it seems, we're doing OK.

Tori seems to be feeling better since starting the new meds. At least he hasn't thrown up since Friday. It's only been a few days, but I hope this continues. He looks a bit rough. He's got some new pin feathers around his face, and the rest are kind of mucked up from the sticky medicine. I'm trying very hard to get every drop in him, but it's a challenge. The vet tech showed me a better way to administer the meds, and it's helping. I hope. I'm trying not to obsess about the lump the doc talked about. Hoping that it's just a wayward fat deposit and it will go away with time, exercise, and more fruits and vegetables. I'm praying.

Tomorrow I'll go and donate blood, try to keep the good karma flowing.

The rest of the gang seemed to have a good day, too. Pumpkin and Google seem to be trying to become friends. One or the other will make an effort, it seems to take for a moment, then one of them gets skittish. They're still getting there, I think.

Texter seems to delight in "stalking" Miss Pixel. His games of "I'm not touching I bothering you?" seem to irritate, and delight, her at the same time. Ah, relationships...

In our neighborhood there is a family that has a parakeet. During the summer I would drive by their house and notice they had their parakeet, in it's cage, hanging outside on their porch. It always caught my eye. I worried they wouldn't bring it in soon enough. That the temperatures would drop in the evening, the bird would get a chill, then get sick. I'm aware that a lot of bird owners/lovers take their birds outside. There are differing opinions on this, and I can respect that.

However, on my way home from work tonight, nearing 7pm, I drove by their house and saw their parakeet outside. Officially, it's spring, but weather-wise, it isn't. The temperature at that time was a mere 36 degrees (F)! I damn near slammed on the breaks a-la Fred Flinstone. I thought, maybe they cleaned the cage with bleach and water and put it outside to air out or something. But it was nagging at me. I drove around the block and went back. Sure enough, the bird was in the cage.

I was fuming. Shaking, even. There was no way I could go home without taking action. I parked the car and walked up to their front door and rang the bell. A young woman answered. I'm not sure how much english she can speak. It was a short conversation. I simply said hello, and that I noticed their bird was outside. Somehow she misunderstood me and thought I said their dog had gotten outside. She went to look for the dog. I tried to explain, pointing, that I was concerned about the bird (I could hear the dog barking inside). She said it was her brothers. He came out. I greeted him. Explained that I live in the area, that I have many parakeets, and that it was too cold for the bird to be outside today.

He insisted, the bird is happy. He likes to be outside. I said, "Yes, but not today. It's too cold. Not until it's warmer." Then I just asked him, "Please, please take him inside. It's too cold. I don't want him to get sick." He humored me. He took the bird inside. I said "thank you".

Perhaps they think I'm crazy. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe parakeets can withstand those kinds of temperatures. I have to admit, the bird wasn't puffed up like it was cold. But I did notice that, unlike my spoiled feathered children, he had no toys in his cage. I'm fighting the urge to gift that bird with a few.

I didn't get the impression that they didn't care about the little budgie. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they are putting the bird outside because it likes it. I admit, when I drove by in the summer, it seemed to be singing happily on its swing. But still, it was only 36. Near freezing. I couldn't, in good conscious, let it go. Maybe they'll wait until spring really does arrive to put him out again. I hope so.

I don't know if it's age, peri-menopause, life experiences, or just neurotic tendencies, but I'm finding it harder and harder not to act on things like this. I suppose I could just mind my own business, but I do like to sleep at night. And if I was wrong to butt in, well, I can live with that better than I can a frozen, innocent, little bird.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My heart is breaking...

Tori and I made the trip to the vet today to have him checked further since he is still throwing up large quantities of slimey seeds. The doc checked him over and found an excess of bacteria. It's the good bacteria, but way too much of it. Not a balance of good and bad. They cleaned out his crop again. Lots of slimey goo.

We discussed what could be causing this. I asked about a tumor as a possibility, thinking he would just say no, not causing this. Instead, he said it might be a possibility, and that he does feel a small, movable something below Tori's crop. That possibly it could be obstructing the drainage of his crop. My stomach fell, my head got warm, my heart started breaking.

We discussed the fact that this same scenario took place last spring. We started with one anti-biotic, and within weeks had to try another. After that it was a good five months before Tori had another slimey episode. We traced it to a possible side-effect to a stressful molt. His immune system weaker, stressed, the bacteria took over. I am praying like crazy that's the case this time. And, knowing that, once we have this cleared up with the new meds, that he'll be healthy and happy for a long time. Maybe we can head it off next molt with special molting foods, vitamins, or something like that.

But the tumor thing stuck with me. I asked the doc to show me what he meant when I picked Tori up at the end of the day. I couldn't really feel it, but the doc felt it was there. Sometimes a benign, fatty tumor can show up and not cause any ill effects for a long time. But the position of this, if it is one, could be problematic. I went overboard and imagined losing my baby, my Tori. I feel lonesome already. My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying. The possibility of it all.

Maybe things will clear up, and nothing further will develop with that "thing". I pray so. My gut tells me otherwise, but it's been very wrong before. I hope to God it's wrong this time.

I know it's key to live in the moment. To appreciate today, live now, love now. I do try. I will try. But that doesn't mean I won't go through a box of Kleenex while doing it.

So, tonight we gave Tori his first dose of the new meds. I brought him home, and he spent the evening playing with the gang. He seemed to have energy, appetite, and was particularly attentive to the youngest, Mouse and Blogger. In fact, he seems to be mentoring them a bit.

Mouse flew down to the floor (he hasn't much flight yet), so Tori flew down to the floor to watch over him. Pumpkin joined them, too. Tori seemed to be trying to teach Mouse how to take off, fly upward. Mouse tried, he just doesn't have enough flight power yet. So, Tori hung around down on the floor with Mouse until I went over to help them both up. Mouse has been very shy about getting on my finger or my hand. Tori, as sweet and clever as ever, demonstrated for Mouse what to do. Lo and behold, Mouse followed Tori's lead! See what I mean. He's damn special, Tori is. One of a kind.

I know to some people Tori is "just a parakeet", a "silly little bird", but let me just say that couldn't be further from the truth. He's an amazing, living, breathing, sensitive, sweet, and loving creature and to lose him would wound me profoundly. So, I'll just pray and pray that won't happen. And, I'll tell him I love him every day.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Angel...

Tori. He's my angel. The first parakeet we brought home that led us to five more, plus cockatiel, Google. Tori is my sweetheart. I love them all, deeply. But Tori is absolutely special. Sweet. So much personality. Sometimes so serious. I fell for him pretty hard. The first week we had him I kept him with me every moment I was home and awake. He napped on my shoulder, in the crook underneath my chin. Joe had to insist that I put him to bed when it got to be midnight. I didn't want to let him go.

He learned to talk quickly. Seems like it only took weeks before he said "Hi!". Then, "pretty bird", then "Tori", then "Tori, Tori, Tori", as it was part of a refrain from the "Tori Song" I sang to him so often Joe probably heard it in his sleep. He would sometimes sing along with me, with an extended refrain of "pre-tyyyyy bird!" After awhile I would just listen in wonder as he sat on my knee, or my shoulder, or my nose, and chattered away. He added "sweetheart" to his repertoire, then "how was your day". I felt guilty leaving him home alone all day while I was at work, so we adopted Pumpkin and watched as he and Tori became best friends forever. Their friendship was instant. Day one. Tori didn't speak "people" as much after that, but he and Pumpkin are such great companions, I can do without it.

Every so often Tori seems to become ill. Parakeets tend to hide it when they are feeling poorly, an inherent trait, but I have gotten to a point where I can tell pretty quickly if he's not feeling right. Like parents do with their children, I suppose. He puffs up, keeps to himself. Sometimes he naps on my shoulder. Then I really know he's not feeling well. Then, he does this thing where he throws up slimey, seedy, foamy goo. He gets very upset when this happens, and tries to fly away from me. But once he's done, he's back to sit on my shoulder (and wipe his slimey face on my shirt, or my chin).

I've taken him to an avian vet for this a few times over the past year. We thought we had it figured out. Stress from the big "spring molt" weakens his immune system, and he is overrun by bad bacteria. A course of antibiotics should do the trick. But it keeps coming back. And, though I'm diligent about administering the meds, he sure doesn't like it one bit. It's not easy on either one of us, but at least I can see that he's feeling better.

Just over two weeks ago I could tell he wasn't feeling right. He'd gone through a major molt, all the 'keets did, but he is the only one who seems to suffer the stress of it. I took him to the vet. He checked him over. Slimey crop. Bad bacteria. Antibiotics were prescribed. Two weeks worth. We started right away. Within 24 hours there was a major difference. Within a week Tori had more energy than it seems he's had in a long time. Ah, all we had to do was get through one more week of meds and we were done. He'd hopefully be healthy and wise for a long time. At least until the next big molt got his immune system down.

But tonight, I came home from work to find him sitting, puffed up, by himself, out of touch with the others. He didn't even want to come to me. My stomach fell. Not again. We've barely been done with the meds for 48 hours. My poor, poor baby. I finally got him to come to me, sit on my hand so I could talk to him. It wasn't long before he threw up. That was about two hours ago.
I've already called the vet to see about bringing him back in tomorrow morning. He seems to have rebounded for the moment. He's playing with the rest of the gang. He's flown over to my head several times, hopped down to my hand, told me a story or two. I don't know what to think.

I think of all the possibilities. Maybe he's just got a tender tummy. Hmm, probably not. Another infection? Yeast infection post anti-biotics? Tumor? (please, no...) I go over and over, in my head, what he might be eating, or drinking, or picking at that might cause this. But, over and over, I see that anything he eats, or is exposed to, is the same as the others. And they have all been fine. I clean every day. Fresh water, every day. Rotate water dishes, food dishes, clean ones for dirty. Unlike Texter, or Miss Pixel on occasion, Tori doesn't eat his own poop. So that can't be it.

I know I'll just have to wait and see what the doctor says. I won't be sleeping much tonight. But as long as I'm awake, I'll say a little prayer. I 'll make a wish. Hell, I'll make two. My little angel deserves it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oh so sweet...

Just had to share this recent photo of Blogger and Mouse. Aren't they as sweet as can be? Look how they take care of each other. Both of them are spending an hour or two out of their cage with the other birdies these days. Blogger even came out on his own this evening. They still aren't thrilled with me trying to pick them up, or trying to get them to step-up on my finger or hand, but they have eaten broccoli from my hand. And they do come to the front of the cage, chatter at me, and play the winking game.

So, slow-going a bit, but it's going.

I can take a hint...

Lately, when I'm getting the birdies ready for bed, I've been getting pretty much everything done, then turning off two main lights in the room and turning on their night-night CD. It's a nice mix of mellow celtic tunes that they've really gotten to know as bedtime music. Some nights, after I've dimmed the lights and started the CD I'll sit down at the computer for a few minutes before I officially tuck them in. A good deal of the time it includes actually having each bird hop on my finger and putting them in the house, one by one.

The past week or so they've been going in on their own. When I turn around after a bit at the computer, there they are, all inside, waiting for me to close the door, say goodnight, and cover them (slightly). After that, the nite-lite goes on and they are off to lullaby-land, grinding their beaks until they drift off to sleep.

Google still requires me to tuck him in. He doesn't have the flight yet to get over to his cage and climb in on his own. I expect he will someday.

So, tonight, I had everything done...their cages cleaned, food freshened, clean waters, the floor vacuumed. I turned out the two main lights, put on the music CD, and left them all to settle down for a few minutes. I walked down the hall to talk to my husband, Joe, about something. It got involved, a few more minutes passed. Mid-conversation I felt something on my foot. I looked down to see Google standing on top of my shoe, staring up at me. He didn't call, he didn't whistle, he just decided he was done waiting for me to come back and took the walk down the hall to come and get me.

Startled, I picked him up and we walked back to birdland. All the budgies were in their beds, waiting for me to say goodnight. I tucked Google in, he went swiftly to his sleeping spot, and I, finally, said goodnight to all my lovelies.

I can hear them grinding their beaks softly now. Dreamland must be near by.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Beginning...

His name was Hutch. Yeah, as in "Starsky and...". It was 1976. It was the hot TV show, and I had a thing for David Soul. Back then. I was in seventh grade. I spent a lot of time at my best friend Diane's house that year. Her mom had a parakeet. He was a very cool bird, and I started wishing I could have one too.

I don't really recall where we got Hutch, but I asked enough, and my mom allowed me to get him. He was a great parakeet. Tame. You could hold him. He had the run of the house. He talked quite a bit. He liked to sit on the edge of the bathroom mirror and admire himself while I got ready for school in the morning. He even knew a cuss-word or two. We went on a summer vacation up north, and we took him along. I believe that's where this picture was taken. His cage was sitting on a dresser in front of a mirror, and he was out for a bit of play. Everyone in the family liked Hutch. Even my dad. Somewhere there's a picture of my dad relaxing in a chair with Hutch sitting on his head.

If I'd have only known then what I know now, Hutch may have had an even better life. A longer, healthier one. Oh I took care of him. Trust me. But if I had known then the dangers lurking. Cigarette smoke. Non-stick cookware fumes. Cleaning chemicals. Fragranced candles. Hairspray. And to feed him fruits and vegetables. If only I had known. He lived maybe 4 years or so. To be honest, I can't remember exactly how long. But I do remember the trip to the vet with my mom, to have him put to sleep. He had developed a very large tumor that is prevalent in parakeets. I remember handing him over to the vet tech, never to see him again. Oh, how I wish now that I had gone in with him. Held him in my hands while he drifted off to sleep. Told him softly, sweetly, how much I loved him. I know that I told him I loved him. But, that final moment. I was scared. Maybe it wouldn't have been the right thing for me then. I don't know. But now, how I wish I had.

He was a great pet. Smart, funny, sweet, talkative. A great companion. For years after, decades actually, I wanted another. In college I got two more, but they didn't last long. A casualty of the environment, the cats, something. I don't really know for sure. But it wasn't the same situation. I don't think I was ready then. I'm sorry for not doing as well with those two. I wish they had been with us longer. I do recall we bought them at Walmart or something like that. So, they probably weren't the healthiest birds from the day they came home with us. Ah, regrets...

So, I pretty much consider Hutch the first and only...until now. Now, decades later, I have parakeets again. And the experience has been an awakening of sorts. Now I know the dangers that lurk out there for birds. I know not to use cleaning products that aren't safe around them. I know not to paint a room in the house with them here. In fact, I'm looking into zero-VOC paints. I know now that they need to eat, and they actually love, fruits and vegetables. I give them spring water, and purified tap water. I buy a special blend of bird food from the breeder filled with nutrients they need. I clean their cages every day. I still make a mistake here or there. Or worry that I have, and lie in bed at night hoping that they will be okay.

I worry about them dying someday. They have had injuries, just a hazard in life. We've made some trips to the vet. A few of them panicked. But, so far, everything seems to be working out okay. I pray that the fresh fruits and veggies, and the lack of toxins in the air we breath, the water we drink, will help them to avoid those drastic tumors. I pray they live a long, long life.

They bring so much joy to my life. Joe and I don't have kids. We're late bloomers (and starters). It's not something we felt we had to do. So, the birds. The birds are my children. My babies. I get it now. All those people out there with pets that they spoil and worship, worry over, cry over, mourn so deeply when they are gone. Not that I didn't understand it before. I've had pets. Lost them, too. But, at this stage in my life, it just means something even more. I get it now, I do.

So, people might think I'm nutty because I spend an hour every night cleaning their cages, getting them ready for bed. A little "off" because we have rituals, and songs that I sing to them. A room full of playgyms, and toys, and CD's especially made for their enjoyment. That's fine.

They make me happy. They bring joy to my day, every day. No matter how terrible a day it might be. Or how upset I might be about something. They can always make me smile. Warm my heart.

They have already taught me so much. Opened up my eyes to things I used to try to avoid thinking about. The environment, animal rights, watching out for the innocent. They make me want to be a better person. A better pet companion. A better friend, daughter, sister, love. A better human being.

Adolescence wasn't a fun time for me. I wasn't one of the popular kids. I didn't have a lot of friends. But Hutch, he was my friend. My sweetheart. If he were here right now, he'd probably be sitting on my shoulder as I write this. And when I was done, he would hop up on my finger, and I would tuck him inside his cage, cover him lightly, tell him I loved him and say good night.

Good night, Hutch. I still miss you...

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Gangs All Here

You could color me surprised. Tonight I left the door to Blogger and Mouse's house open for a bit, sometimes Mouse comes out. Blogger isn't so keen on it. Mouse doesn't have much for large flight feathers right now, so he mostly flutters to the ground, then I pick him up and place him up top one of the playgyms with the other birds. Blogger tends to stay behind. I'm hoping that curiosity will get the better of him and he'll climb out on his own to play with the rest of the gang. So far, that hasn't been the case.

So, after dinner, Mouse came out. The rest of the gang was already out. Except for Blogger. I decided to try and lure him out. He wasn't having any of it. Finally, I just scooped him up and brought him out. Let him hop from my hand onto the top of his cage, to the playgym there. Imagine my surprise, not long after, when he flew around the room. I was stunned! He has more flight feathers than Mouse, but he hasn't really used them much, except for a bit of exercise in his house, on his favorite perch.

Anyway, he showed me. He flew about the room, trying to follow the other birds. They are expert flyers, dipping, and turning, landing smoothly. Blogger had a few rough landings, but, overall, he did quite well. I'm still struggling to get them to be comfortable coming to my hand, stepping up, and so on. But they are young, and I think we'll get there. What's really important to me is that they bond with the other birds, and are interested in following along. Playing, singing, flying, chatting up a storm. They both say "pretty bird" already. It's amazing.

I told Joe my goal for the week was to get a photo of all of the birds together. All seven of them. He said it couldn't be done. So, of course, I had to do it. And, immediately.

So, maybe it's not the best photo of all of them. Some of them aren't even facing the camera. But, heck, have you ever staged a photo shoot with seven birds? It don't come easy.

I had a dream once, shortly after we brought Tori home. I dreamed I was standing in a room, and there were birds all over me. Happy. Cheerful. Singing. From the top of one hand, to the other. The dream was peaceful. Happy. I wonder sometimes if it was a brief peek into the future.

Works for me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Google Speaks

Google was ill last week. We're not sure exactly what it was, but it showed up a day or two after Google tried to fly to me and landed abruptly enough to frighten him into running to me crying, and took me a while to calm him down. We looked him over well once he was calmed down and saw a small blood spot on the tip of a feather, but nothing other than that. He was alert, eating, playing. But two nights later Joe and I discovered he had developed some kind of tremor or flinch of his wings. This later also moved into his feet. I ended up taking him over to see Kay at the pet shop, and, when Kay and Ralph determined neither had seen this before, I set up an appointment to take him to the vet the next morning.

The vet hadn't seen anything like it before either. He gave him a thorough exam. We discussed Google's health at length, the episode, any other possibilities, and I took him home to keep him warm, get some rest, and to watch for the next few days to see if he improved. Thankfully, he did. By Sunday all signs of the tremors were gone, Google had finally gotten a good night's sleep, and he seemed back to himself. Calling out for us in the morning, and getting into mischief. Hopefully it won't present itself again. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, he's started talking! It started on Monday night. He gets very excited to see Joe, and decided that he would start talking while sitting on Joe's shoulder. We made out "pretty bird" very clearly, and few sing-song type whistles, and something else that wasn't clear. Nothing else the rest of the night besides his regular whistle calls.

Last night, once again, while hanging out with Joe, he decided to say "pretty bird" again, and "I love you". Nothing for me. Nope. Nada for the mama who takes care of him, sings to him, cleans his house, makes his food. Oh, boo-hoo.

Then, tonight, while Joe was taking a much needed post-work nap, he was hanging out on my shoulder and very clearly said "Hi", "Google", "pretty bird" and "I love you". I was elated! I couldn't wait for Joe to wake up so I could tell him. And when he awoke I did tell him. Google then took roost on Joe's shoulder, and went crazy.

He said all the things he'd said to me, and more! And a few I couldn't make out at all. In fact, at one point it sounded like he was trying to sing! All this to Joe. It should be noted that he was very enthralled with Joe's ears the whole time. I couldn't tell you what that's all about, but, boy, does he love them.

So, he's talking. And so quickly, too. I do sing to him a lot, though. I sing to them all. But I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous. All this time, and love, and singing, and he decides to share it all with Joe first. Well, I suppose I could take advantage of that somehow. Perhaps I should teach him to say something like "paint the garage", or "clean the basement". That could be sweet...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday in Birdland

Awww, aren't they all so cute? Even the one without the feathers. He's pretty cute, too. Google sure seems to like him. He likes him a lot.

It was a full day in birdland. The kids were up early as it was a bright and sunny, albeit cold, day. Google was having none of that "sleeping in" stuff. So I got up, dressed in loungewear and went off to the living room with him and his portable playgym and a breakfast bowl of Google food. The rest of the gang arose and played in their room. The house was filled with happy bird calls and the flutter of wings.

We were kind, we let Joe sleep in.

Google and I made it to the living room sofa. There I covered up cozy with a blanket and he ran up and down the couch, rested on my shoulder, climbed over the pillows, spent some time on the playgym having a little breakfast, and playing with a toy. After a while we both got drowsy and ended up napping, with Google nestled happily above me on the top of the sofa back where I could see him, his head tucked neatly into his wing. It was a nice nap for both of us.

This afternoon I did some shopping to make Mouse and Blogger's home more functional. I think we've got things set up pretty well for them now. Time will tell, but this evening they seemed quite comfy, and chipper. They even came over to the front of the cage to chatter to me. I wish I knew how to approach them, to make the most of their disabilities and tame them. I guess I will follow my instincts and let time work its magic. It seems to have worked with the others.

Tori came over to supervise and visit with Mouse and Blogger for a bit. Pumpkin, too. Miss Pixel and Texter attempted to make further friends with Google, but he didn't seem to be in the mood. Miss Pixel gave me a look like "What the...". I just told her to try again. Remember, he's just a baby. Miss Pixel can be quite bossy, so I don't think she's giving up yet.

This evening, Google was on the desk playing, while I was cleaning their cages, and got impatient to come over by me. He doesn't have all his flight feathers, and is just getting the hang of things, so he's not always very steady, but he seems to land just fine. He fluttered to the floor and called to me. I said to him from the other side of the desk to come to momma. I expected him to waltz over from under the desk and look up at me to pick him up like he usually does. This time, though, he was running, and flapping his wings incredibly, and calling to me. Running to me as if he had been frightened by something or someone. I bent to pick him up and he leapt fiercely to my chest, climbed up to my shoulder and fluttered his wings like crazy. I could tell he had been spooked, but I didn't know if he was hurt. So, I spoke softly to him. Shushed him. Told him it was okay. He kept fluttering his wings. I wondered if he was hurt. I tried to get a good look, but he was still upset. It almost seemed to me like a "night-fright" without the night. I talked to him some more, walked around with him on my shoulder. He calmed down. I lifted him up on my hand and examined him. I didn't see anything. Eventually, after putting him in a towel and taking a look at his wings I saw a little spot of blood at the tip of one of his feathers. Everything seemd to have stopped bleeding, and he was calm and happy again. But it was a scare. I should be used to this by now, but I'm not. After a while I tucked him in his house for a rest. When he came out to play a while later he was just fine.

One thing that amazed me about this was the difference in behavior. Most birds, when frightened, will fly away from you. Some will, after learning to trust you, look to you for reassurance, but their first instinct is still to fly away. Tori does fly to me if he gets scared, but not quite the way Google did. Even cats and dogs don't do what Google did. Children do that. They run to mommy and cling to her. Fortunately Google wasn't hurt badly. And it melts my heart to know he trusts me so much already. But I'm not in any hurry for it to happen again.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Unexpected Beauties

I went to the pet shop to visit Kay and Ralph. To pick up a few supplies for the gang, and to ask a few questions about our latest feathered family addition, Google, the cockatiel. By the time I left the shop, Ralph had offered me two budgie babies to add to our ever-growing family. They were a pair of brothers, both with some walking disabilities. They are otherwise healthy, very sweet, and quite beautiful birds. I was flattered they would consider me for this, and told them I would think about it.

I wasn't far from the pet shop, and into my afternoon errands, when I pretty much knew I wanted to do it. The birds were beautiful, one gray and white, the other purple and white. Clear-eyed, chipper, they played the winking game (it's a sign...I've blogged about it in the past). Anyway, I tried not to dwell on it, since I figured Joe, my husband, would say "No". Actually, I thought he would say "Kimberly! Are you crazy?!"

So, I went about my day. I was working on organizing my office/the bird room in an effort to make it more functional, and tidy. I needed to purge some things, clean, etc. I worked on that until Joe came home from work. Shortly after he came home we realized we had a problem with the refrigerator. It was leaking water. This did not help Joe's mood, or mine. We set about emptying the fridge and freezer. This was an all-night task, and we were both working on other things at the same time. I didn't mention the birds.

By the time midnight rolled around, and we'd returned our perishables to the cold zone, we sat down for a beverage and to catch up on our day. I started with "I stopped at the pet store to see Kay...and ended with "Ralph offered to give us two baby budgies." I waited for Joe's response. For, "Kimberly! Are you crazy?!" Instead, to my surprise, he semi-smiled. I asked "What?"
He said "Five...Seven...what's the difference?!" We discussed it a bit further, but didn't make a final decision just yet. He went about turning off the TV, the living room lights. When he came back to the kitchen I was smiling. "What?" he asked me. I looked up at him..."I've already picked out names..."

And so it was, that we adopted Mouse and Blogger. Two more baby budgies. Two more feathered bundles of personality. Two more fine-feathered friends named after some crazy computer/internet thing. I brought them home Friday night and introduced them to the gang. So far, so good.

We're still fine-tuning their living quarters to adapt to their foot issues, but so far they seem to be doing okay. They eat, drink, climb, chirp, preen each other, and call out to the other birdies. Tori has been inside to visit them several times and they don't seem to mind at all. They are sleeping just a few feet away from me as I write this.

Am I crazy? Most people would say so. But I've got plenty of love to give. And if it takes just a little longer to say "Night Night", well, what's the big deal? We're not exactly the Waltons, you know.

Not yet, anyway....Good night, John-boy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Window Watcher

He looks so pensive and thoughtful sitting at the window like he does. One day I left the room for a few minutes and came back to budgies only. Where was Google? I called out to him and he answered promptly. But I didn't see him. It's not a big room, but it's plenty full of shelves and desks, and books, etc. And, of course, he was plainly in the room. I followed his whistle and found him sitting on the window sill, behind the curtain, watching happily the backyard view.
It was a cloudy, snowy day, not much happening. But he sat there a while.

Now I have it set up so that we can set a small playgym up there and he can sit on the perch and watch out the window. Even in the mornings, while I put on my makeup he sits watching out the window at my dresser.

As he sits there, contentedly, I wonder, what's he thinking?

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Kids are Alright

My little gang of feathered children sure do amaze and entertain. They touch my heart, and my funny bone, too. It's been three weeks since we brought Google home. The gang seems to be settling in with him. They aren't best friends yet, but they do seem to snack at the same snack bar on occasion. And sometimes the little budgies don't fly away when big, bumbling Google comes along to play. Not that Google is really big, but in the context of a budgie, he seems that way.

He fits nicely on my shoulder. My hand. He likes to nap on both. It's so cute to watch him struggle to stay awake--like a little child (and some grown-ups) not wanting to miss anything. When he can barely keep his eyes open, and his head starts bobbing towards sleep he'll try hard to shake it off. Shake his head quickly back and forth. Like I do when I've been driving too long and I'm so tired, but eager to make it to my destination. Sometimes I sing to him when he does this, and it seems to relax him. Before I know it he's tucked his Google-head into his wings and is cozy and asleep within distance of a quick kiss. He's a good nuzzler, too.

The only other bird who will nap on my shoulder or hand is Tori. He's content to sit quietly on my shoulder, grinding his beak. Occasionally he will go ahead and nap there. Unfortunately, when he does spend too much time napping there it means he's not feeling well and a trip to the vet is evident. Fortunately that hasn't happened for some time now.

We tried a new snack tonight. "Honey Nut" Chex cereal. Everyone likes it. There were two birds hanging off the side of my head, and two on my hand snacking away. They like to nibble at it while I hold it from my lips. I know, I know, it's crazy. It's not how I feed them every day. It's a form of play.

Right now the budgies are buzzing the room. Texter likes to buzz low, around my head, over Google's head. Google looks on with fascination. I'm certain he longs to take flight and buzz the room, too. His wings are clipped lightly, so he's got a little air power. Mostly just enough to make for a safe landing on the floor, or my desk.

Google is sitting on my desk, trying desperately to type on the keypad. He seems quite fascinated with it. I whistle at him. He whistles back. This will go on for a while.

And when bedtime comes, as we prepare for night-night, he'll start up whistling even more. Showing off, wanting my attention, hoping to stay up just a little bit later. He'll get this whole nighttime routine eventually. In the meantime, I'm a sucker for an entertaining Google.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What's a Googlebath?

He's a Googlebath. A very wet one! Google the cockatiel has been with us for a little over a week now, and he seems to be settling in pretty well. He's 10 weeks old. He's very much like our gang of four parakeets, but kind of not, too. In part, due to the fact that he was hand-raised and fed, he is very affectionate. He will sit on your shoulder and go anywhere in the house with you (not that he should). He's already taking naps on my shoulder while I read or work at the computer. My point is, he's very tame and friendly.

He's becoming more and more vocal. Tonight he was repeating some whistles that I was calling to him. A good sign. He's already become very fond of the bathtub we put out for the parakeets. They all like to gather there, take a drink, a dip, socialize. Google is no exception. Well, the one thing he does that the others haven't is bring his toys into the tub to play. So, now we have lots of wet bird toys bouncing about.

This evening, Tori, our oldest parakeet, decided to pay Google a visit in Google's house. All went well. No big to-do, just a simple, cordial visit.

The parakeets (the Four Amigos) are all familiar with the bedtime routine. We clean up, get fresh food and water, sweep or vacuum up the floor, night-night music goes on. Then, one by one, they are tucked in to their house to settle in for the night. I bid each one good night, cover their cage (only partially), turn out any lamps in the room, and turn on their nite-lite. There may be a scuffle or two as they volley for their favorite sleeping spots, but that's pretty much it.

Now Google is part of that routine and he's adapting. But not without a few attempts to woo me to let him stay up. His chatter grows more frequent as we get ready for night-time. Like a tired child amusing a parent for that extra ten minutes, Google seeks to impress and entertain so that he can stay up late with "the folks". He calls out a few times once he is tucked in, but soon settles in for some shut-eye. He's had a busy day, after all, and he needs some sleep.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A fine feathered search engine

I have been warning my husband for the past few months, dropping hints, fantasizing out loud, really, about adding another feathered friend to our family. We have four adorable parakeets, thus far, and I've been thinking six would be a better number. And I have promised that will be the maximum. As long as none of them decides to procreate. So far, no problem.

When it looks as though he's dying to tell me "No way, no more", I suggest we get a dog instead. That goes nowhere. When I really want to get my way I suggest we have a baby. Suddenly, he's quite open to adding another feathered angel to our nest.

And so, as it happens, although we've been discussing adding another parakeet, my latest trip to the pet shop to pick up gourmet parakeet food instead introduced me to a 9-week old, hand-fed and raised cockatiel. Kay told me not to be shy. He's very friendly. She opened up his cage and he popped out, and easily stepped onto my hand where he stayed for the next ten minutes or more. During which time, of course, I fell in love again.

I always have a gut instinct, a "knowing" when the next one appears. I haven't been wrong yet. They all get along so well. With all their personalities and quirks, they are still one big happy winged family.

I went home from the store knowing I wouldn't be able to wait to bring it up to Joe. I started with the dog suggestion, and then worked my way back around to another bird. Then I told him how I'd found the next one. Only it's not a parakeet, it's...bigger. But just as sweet. And already so tame. You know something, he's an incredible man. A very sweet husband. He asked when we would pick him up.

So I spent last night getting the carrier cage, and the baby's new home ready. I worked today, so we made plans for Joe to pick him up this afternoon. He was here when I got home from work. And already settling in.

We spent a few minutes with him, I greeted my original Four Amigos, and then we introduced them to Google bird. Yes, Google is his name. And I might as well tell you right now, the next, and final addition (but not for some time) will be named Blogger. So go ahead, call us techies, we don't care. I'm fond of blogging, and Google is a damned fine name, if you ask me. I hope they don't sue me for copyright infringement.

Google is fitting in just fine already. He's happy to pose for pictures. He likes nibbling on my hair, and eating carrots, and playing with his toys. The Four Amigos are a little tentative yet, but they'll soon realize that he's not to be afraid of, and just one of the gang. They've been spying on him when he's in his house. And I think signs point to them being good friends. As long as they are certain that they all have their designated spots in my heart.

And believe me, they do. I've blogged about it in months past. You can Google it, if you want.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The kitchen chair tried to kill me

Call CSI. I want an investigation. The kitchen chair tried to kill me. Well, I suppose all forensics evidence will just lead to telling me to join Jenny Craig. I need to get into better shape, and I know it. Irony is, I like walking. I do. But somehow I always get distracted by something else.

But back to the events at hand. Yesterday, believe it or not, it occurred to me that I had not had a fall in quite some time. I'm a bit of a klutz. Last winter I had several incidents. One that left my brain shaken for several weeks, and my body incredibly sore. But nothing broken. Ice and shopping mall parking lots are a dangerous mix, that's what I have to say about that.

An encouraging side note to that incident, however, is that when I fell, several individuals came to my aid. Warning me not to move until I knew I was okay, and so on. One person even walked with me a ways to make sure I was okay. Ah, the kindness of strangers. It does warm the heart, even when you're feeling embarrassed as hell.

I fell a couple more times through the winter, shoveling, traipsing through snow banks, and such. And once or twice in the garden during the spring and summer. Just carelessly placed garden implements, or distractedness on my part.

So, here we are, three weeks in to 2009 and I realized, hey, I haven't had a fall in a long while. I'm doing pretty good. Granted, there are many weeks of winter to make it through yet. And, truth be told, I've been known to fall in the house, too. I blogged about a bug incident from the past spring/summer that left me in splits on the kitchen floor.

But last night, while treating myself to a late night, relaxing, facial, I decided to read a magazine at the kitchen table. While sitting there, I had a napkin to toss in the garbage, so I turned sideways, leaning back against the kitchen chair to toss it in the basket. As I did so I heard a telltale crack. But I did not heed its warning.

A few minutes later, as I pushed the chair back to stand up and go wash my face, the chair collapsed beneath me. I sat stunned for a moment or two. My husband rushed in from the other room to see what the hubbub was about and found me in a lump on the floor, surrounded by broken chair parts. The back of the chair had come completely undone. To say the least, I was completely embarrassed and ashamed.

I'm a little sore today, but nothing that won't fade away with a little ibuprofen. My ego is still red with embarrassment. I'm not joining Jenny Craig, but I suppose I feel a bit more motivated to get on that treadmill now.

But if the CSI team does show up, the chair tried to kill me. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Diamond in the Rough

The waiting, as they say, is the hardest part. That's certainly been true in this case. It's been a long two weeks of waiting for the results of Nathan's biopsy to come in. Although the signs were pointing to a good prognosis, life can be so full of surprises, good and bad, that you can never be too certain. I admit it, I was obsessed day and night. I poured over websites about neuroblastoma, I read Wikipedia definitions multiple times. I read the blogs of others fighting the disease. I hoped, I prayed, and I enlisted friends near and far to include him in their prayers and wishes and dreams. And I cried. A lot.

Today was a long day. I knew that Nathan's results were due in. Unfortunately, I hadn't asked my sister what time they were to meet with the doctor. So, last night I tossed and turned. All day long (with apologies to my boss) I struggled to stay on task and not drift into bouts of fear and paranoia about the outcome. I heard nothing all day.

When I arrived home this evening, however, there was a message from my sister to call. Nothing else. I picked up the phone, then suddenly couldn't remember her cell number. I frantically looked for my address/phone book and couldn't find it. I thought, maybe, I could remember the cell, so I dialed it. It wasn't hers, but her husband's. He worked in a few pleasantries. But I wanted the news. Tell me.

As he filled me in on the Oh-So-Good news I burst into tears. The results: the tumor is definitely a neuroblastoma (and not something unexpected), Stage 1, Low-Risk. And the best news beyond that - NO CHEMO. Be still my heart. I have never been so grateful in my life.

I congratulated him. He told me more of the details, the doctors comments, the fact that they will be watching him carefully, doing scans every 3 months. They will continue with the infusions for the OMS that warned them that a tumor was possible. They will continue with the steroid injections for a time. The physical therapy, speech therapy, and so on. All of those things seem like status quo after this. The tumor is gone. He will live.

It is possible that it may recur. But based on the traits of the one they removed, anything additional will hopefully be treatable in the same way. And, with regular scans, they can catch it early, as they were able to do with this one.

As it turns out, they were nearby, having just come from the doctor. So I rushed out to meet up with them. To hug them. To see their happy faces. To see Nathan, and his big, handsome, brother Ben, play together, and laugh and giggle. To take a few pictures. How did I get to be so lucky, to be able to be with them on this momentous day? Yes, I am grateful.

It was a rough day. It's been a rough 12 months since this began. But the diamond is worth it. For he sparkles and he shines. But most of all, he warms our hearts.