Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Where is Widget?

So, Google was happily playing atop some of the wooden CD birdhouses. They are multi-purpose - the birds can chew on them because they are untreated wood, and they hold CD's. Nothing in my office, it seems, is off-limits to the birds. Google recently chewed through my computer monitor cable. He has this thing about power cords. I've lost several sets of cheap headphones to this guy.  I don't know what it is about these types of cords, but to Google they are irresistable.  We've been through two different telephone sets. We finally found a better place for the unit where he can't get at them.  He's clever, you see, and somehow finds a way. Dedicated little stinker.  Even more scary is the fact that he could be seriously hurt. So, we are constantly troubleshooting and finding ways to keep dangerous objects from him.  Toys?  He'd rather chew my latest paperback, magazine, or headphone cord.  The magazines, eh, I recycle them anyway. The books, well, I try my best to put them away, but I pay the price if I forget.  Good thing I buy most of my books used on Amazon.

Anyway, I digress.  Google was playing atop one of the wooden CD birdhouses, cheerfully singing along, when he noticed that Widget was on the windowsill behind the curtain.  One of Widget's favorite places to play. So, for several minutes Google kept peeking behind the curtain and chatting to Widget.  Not a lot goes on here, but it's cute just the same.

And to think, just last week Widget was chasing Google and he was having none of it.

Never a dull moment with the flock...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Three O'clock in the Morning...

That's right, here I am, 3 o'clock in the morning, and I can't sleep.  The past few days I've been sick with a terrible cold and all I could do was sleep. Now I can't seem to quell the thoughts roaming in and out of my brain. Unable to lull myself to sleep. Might as well just get up and work it out somehow. Then, maybe...

I'm feeling sad. Missing loved ones gone. Today, in particular, I'm missing Pumpkin. One of our precious parakeets.  He left us early last fall, just a week after my dear mother passed away. Two losses in tandem. Something strange about it all.  I felt so guilty. I missed the signs with Pumpkin. Didn't realize he was ill until it was too late. Though the doc says there probably wasn't much they could have done for him. Still, I feel so guilty.  But my mother was so ill and we were taking care of her, sitting by her side. Watching her fade from this earth.  When we put together the photo displays for my mom's service there was a photo of my mom kissing Pumpkin.  A sweet photo. She loved the birds. Loved my stories about them. Her mother had parakeets all the while my mother grew up, and they brought back fond memories for her.  But after she passed away, and we put that photo on the board I discovered the Pumpkin was, indeed, ill.  My sister asked me if we should take the photo down.  I said no.  And yet, a week later, Pumpkin passed away in my arms.

No more will I hear his happy singing. No longer would I see him happily close his eyes and listen to his best friend, Tori, sing to him.  Whenever I tucked them in at night I would give him lots of kisses. Not many of the birds let me do this, but Pumpkin did.  I'd kiss his belly several times. Take in a big whiff of him. His favorite seeds were anise seeds, and he always smelled of licorice. Ah, Pumpkin. I would bury my nose in his feathers and just breathe him in.  I try not to dwell on it, but I miss him.

If only we didn't have to lose the ones we love. I miss my mother every day. Think of her all the time. Think of my father nearly as often. I wish for a sign somehow. A way to know that they are okay, and that they miss us as we miss them. 

These past few days while I've been sick with this cold I've slept a lot. Yesterday, I napped in the afternoon. Couldn't seem to stay awake, though I tried to.  Google, my little angel of a cockatiel, kept watch over me. He doesn't like to be far from me. So I brought his playgym, food and water with us into the bedroom, and he hung out while I napped. From time to time I would awake to see him sitting patiently on my pillow, just watching me.  Ah, the guilt. But, also, how touching. Who would think such a creature could be so sweet and kind and loyal? 

While I napped I dreamed of more birds. That there were more birds in more cages in different rooms in the house. Though it wasn't our house but some dream world house with flowing doorways, and bright windows, and my parents and my sisters in tow.  I somehow knew that I was dreaming and kept trying to wake, but could not.  Then, I felt someone sitting on my bed. Felt them sitting down, then getting up. Then sitting again.

Mom?  Is that you?  No one there. Not that I could see.  But, was it?  Please let it be so.

And, tonight, as I lay in bed, sleep just wouldn't come. But the thoughts did come. Sad thoughts. Regret. Anxiousness and worry. About the past, about the future. Dread at the thought of losing anyone else. Then the rationale that with love comes loss, no matter who you are or what kind of life you lead, or how long you live.  And being brave enough to love, even though, at some point, you may lose that love somehow, will prove to be worth it. For, what is a life worth if there is no love in it somewhere? No matter how small, or how simple.  So, I tried to turn the tide of my thoughts from worry to gratitude. And, truly, that is no small feat when you are in the midst of a worry-tide.

But, worry be damned, I do have blessings in my life. So much to be grateful for. A husband who loves me, and tells me so every day. Sisters I love, and who love me, though we are all so different (and yet, often quite the same). Nephews, nieces, and a great-niece due just about any day.  I have wonderful friends and other relatives who have come back into our lives from a distance. In-laws who are kind and sweet and welcome me into their lives.  My beautiful birdies who bring me joy and song every day. I have memories of those that have gone, and pictures and music to remember them by.  I am blessed. Truly.

But, I'm afraid, it's not that easy. Since I was a small child I can recall lying in bed at night overwhelmed with worry. It was as if I was born worrying. I worried about my sisters. What would happen to them if we had to go to separate schools? What if they were hurt? If someone was mean to them?  What about my parents? What if something happened to them? What would happen to us, then?  I knew nearly nothing of the world yet, and there I was, spending half my night fretting about what was to come. How could that be? Maybe we really are born with those traits. Maybe I had instincts I wasn't aware of yet. Who knows.

So, I will lay in bed tonight, and in many nights to come, and I will pray. Because it's the best I can do. Pray for those that I love. For those that they love, and on, and on, and on. Eventually, I just pray for God to look after the entire world. Gee, I don't ask for much, do I?

I could try counting sheep, but then I'd start worrying about the sheep, and then the cows, and the chickens, and, well, you get the picture. I've got enough on my mind.

Sweet dreams...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chasing Google

Little Widget. She's a doll. Precocious, too.  She's taken to racing the other birds around the room. One of her favorite places to roost is on the windowsill. Browser, whose flying skills are quite improved, now likes to join her there. Another pastime of Widgets: chasing Google.  Herewith, a video of such an occasion.  Google doesn't seem to enjoy it so much. However, the other day he was playing peek-a-boo with Widget while she was on the windowsill.  He kept peeking behind the curtain to see her and talk to her. A video of that is forthcoming. For now, Chasing Google...


Saturday, April 9, 2011

If I Were a Bluebird...

 Funny how music can evoke the essence of someone. Today, while doing some cleaning, I was going through a pile of CD's, and came across a CD compilation I put together for my father many years ago. It was the fall of 2003, in fact, and he was losing the battle against cirrhosis of the liver. His had given out and there wasn't a thing they could do.

He and I had been estranged for several years , and it was strange to think that this was really happening, and without time for us to truly reconcile. He lived 10 hours away, and the disease was progressing way too fast. My older sister, Cheryl, was staying with him at the time, so I put together a care package for them, and included the CD.

The one connection we always shared was music. Even at the worst of times between us, we might still be able to connect by sharing an album or a song. When I put this CD together I considered deeply what songs he would enjoy in one way or another. Some were nostalgic, and some just spoke to his likes and the situation at hand. An homage to memories of moments past, a tribute to the one major bridge between us.

So, when I found the CD today, I had to play it. It brought to mind the way I felt at the time I made it, the tears that were shed as I assembled the tracks, imagining my dad listening to it, and what he would think of each song. It was, in a way, a long distance I love you.

Many of the tunes conjure images of days at the cabin on White Ash Lake. We spent many weekends there growing up, and I can remember fishing from the rowboat with my dad. Or fishing off the dock, reeling in sunfish and perch. The sun on the water, the breeze through the trees, the laughter of children, the grown-ups playing horse shoes and telling stories. Sometimes there would even be music - my aunts playing ukelele and accordion, everyone singing along to songs like "You are my sunshine". Bright days...

I recall sleeping on the cabin porch, my parents in the bed across the way. The air so fresh. The night sky laden with stars. And, then, the sound of the birds early in the morning, the chill at the first light of day. I listened to the adults talk over coffee and eggs in the morning, my mom and my grandmother catching up on grown-up things.

A few of the selections on the disc stand out to me...
"Bluebird", by Emmylou Harris, brings to mind the many miles my father traveled for work. He drove a great deal of the time, listening to music on his radio, then 8-track, then cassette player, over miles and miles. He acquired a vast collection over the years, and I would often "borrow" an album or two. I would, in turn, make him a tape from time to time, something new for him to listen to.

One of those tapes was of Jennifer Warnes singing the songs of Leonard Cohen - "Famous Blue Raincoat". He loved it. To this day it's still one of my favorite albums, and every time I listen to it I am reminded of my father.

Tom Waits' "Picture in a frame" - Tom's gruff voice, beautiful words and melody, illustrates how I imagine my father's love for my mother to be. When it was young and innocent. Raw and new. Such a beautiful song. I hope he liked it. Saw himself in it the way I saw him.

"Song of Bernadette" by Jennifer Warnes - this one always brings me to the brink of tears. Such emotion, beautifully sung, the strings, Jennifer's golden voice. I know my father loved this song, and I always will. "Every now and then, we try/to mend the damage that we've done/Tonight/Tonight/I just can't rest/I've got this joy here inside my breast/to think that I did not forget/that child/that song of Bernadette".

Amazing bridge, music. Like magic. The sounds and flavors and interpretations infinite - unlike our time here on this planet. My father used to say that Hell was a place where there was no music. I'm inclined to agree.

Forever Changed

APRIL 7, 2010 -- The change had already begun. But this was the day when it truly became real.  The day the surgeon came to us, and with a simple gesture, confirmed that our lives would never be the same.

He used both hands to illustrate the size of the enemy. The demon that had taken up residence, and that they tried to evict. Cancer was the unwelcome guest, and my mother its unwitting host. 

That day we learned there was no going back. No way around this traffic jam. No detour. We were stuck. Worst of all, Mom was stuck.  Our lives, and, more importantly, her life, were altered forever.  She was in a war with the devil called cancer, and we were going to have to guide her through the trenches as best we could.

For years we would talk with her about her health challenges, and she refused to deal with them.  Aside from a nasty cold or bronchitis, she wouldn't charge into a doctor's office seeking help.  When we tried to convince her that she could be more comfortable, have less pain, discomfort, breathe easier with the right doctors and the right care, she would simply tell us "I'm 70!", as if that age marker meant it's all over - 70 - the end.

As it was, we were too late. The doctor's tried. She tried. We all joined in the fight. But there was no way out, and the demon, cancer, won.  And yet, she was so brave and calm, and accepting. She walked through it all with such grace. Forever changed. And now, forever gone.

Our lives are different now. Her absence always with us. Yes, her memories always with us, too. But there is no doubt about it. Nothing will ever be the same.