Monday, July 13, 2009

In review: summer

1. Si started the second of his summer activities today (camp). HurRAY. In some ways my life as a mom has been a single trajectory toward this point. For two (2) days this week I have the house to myself once again.

2. It's not overnight camp, though. Perhaps overnight camp is the real goal of my Life as Mom (well, college/ job/ leaving the house as a functional adult is my goal. Fingers crossed, here.).

3. Last week Hubs and I went to the only restaurant in Denver I was really excited to try (my palate is tres jaded): Domo. OMFG, you guys. It delivered. All Denverites among my readers, please go.

4. I also had a job interview last week. My excellent interview skillz were again in evidence, although I wouldn't say that overall the interview was a bomb, and this time I actually think the interviewer's lack of interviewing skills was part of the problem. I got the sense he kind of based his decision on whom to hire less on qualifications and more on his gut. Nevertheless, I have been existentially wondering Do I Really Want a Job more than usual (I've also been calculating how much more we could do if I had a regular income of decent proportions. Like: we could redo the kitchen! We could afford new windows! we could hire someone to do the stonework in the back yard, instead of moping about how we don't have the time to do it ourselves!)

5. We had houseguests (my MIL and my nephew) on Saturday night and old friends over for dinner on Sunday. God, it was nice. In fact, overall it was a people-filled weekend--which is how our life used to be. And how it will be in the future.

6. Despite this, I spent an inordinate number of wee hours of the night fretting about Silas and Helen's old friends from our old town, and how due to my negligence and neglect, we are not keeping those ties. I need to NOT DO THIS. Fret, I mean.

7. So! On to a new week!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Life With Birds

Our household pet population includes birds. Specifically, three parakeets and a cockatiel. (Blue, green, yellow, and white, and no, they don't really have names. Thanks for asking.) The first pet we owned as a couple was a bird (a parakeet); that first parakeet got a deluge of adoring attention (a name, for example; also a hand-built climbing tree, the run of the house, and I believe I could have told you his hobbies). I felt Daring and Unusual in owning a bird, since as a child I'd only had the basic pets (gerbils, goldfish, mollies, a dog, and a stray cat that wandered away and got lost). I may have fantasized about teaching the parakeet to talk, or to fly to my finger. I may have actually tried to do these things, but such attempts belong in the Things Best Forgotten File.

The thing about owning a bird, especially one that you talk about, is this: people will start giving you birds. They will pour their birds upon you. They may make a pretence of asking you to pay for the bird, or at least the cage, but when you hesitate they'll say Never Mind! Please just take the damn thing! It's driving me insane!

So pretty soon we had two birds. A parakeet, Papa, who was sweet and mild, and Muriel, the Lovebird. Muriel was horrible. She shrieked. She bit. She bit when you tried to feed her. She bit when you tried to clean her cage. She liked to fly around the house, and if she didn't get to fly around enough, she bit. She bit if you vacuumed near her cage. Nevertheless, she was kind of endearing, in her own high maintainance way, and it was kind of interesting challenge to be able to interact with her without getting bitten. We had a sort of miserable, co-dependent relationship, she and I.

Lovebirds, due to the shrieking and the biting, tend to be popular birds to give away. Within a year we had four lovebirds, an elderly zebra finch, and the parakeet. We bought a companion for the parakeet, since we just weren't able to give him the attention he needed and deserved, what with the Lovebirds (who had all learned how to get out of their cages and get into his, and once in it, tended to bite him), and also the dog, which automatically demoted all of the birds to second-pet status. At some point a friend of ours found a cockatiel on a tennis court in January, and gave him to us. Seven birds at the peak of our bird-owning career, although soon the elderly finch died and the parakeets caught colds and one of the Lovebirds killed another, so then we had five or so.

Then we had a child, the ultimate pet demoter. There is nothing like being woken up from a desperately needed postpartum nap by a bird. Around this time I read a beautiful scene in a Toni Morrison novel about how a grieving woman lets all her parrots go out the window of her New York apartment in a snowstorm. For years after that I fantasized about letting the damn lovebirds go, especially when I was trying to nap and they were shrieking.

Eventually I sold the lovebirds in a garage sale. The parakeets died and were replaced with more (the birds still made me feel Daring and Unusual; also, we had invested heavily in bird infrastructure and it seemed a waste not to outfit it with birds). When we moved into our last house we bought a big five-foot-by-three-foot cage, and the evolution was complete: from cherished first pet to self-sufficient subculture. We feed them; we cover the cage if they get too noisy; otherwise they're left to their own devices, amusements, love triangles, etc. The cockatiel, a female, keeps falling in love with parakeets, having intense relationships with them, and then getting widowed. The third-wheel parakeets have affairs with the hanging bell. They all like celery, I think. At any rate, I keep giving them celery, and one of them eats it.

Lately, the birds have become something of a burden, noisewise. There is no convenient out-of-the-way spot for them in our new house; they're located in our TV room and at night, with the kids talking and the birds chirpity chirping and the TV blabbing away you can't even hear yourself THINK, let alone pay attention to the children or the TV or your spouse. There has been tense talk of Giving the Birds Away, and also melodramatic statements about how you do not just Get Sick Of Your Pets and Ditch Them. Also, one of us has a problem with the infrastructure investment and just giving THAT away--the big cage was like two hundred dollars. (I know, I know, sunk costs, cut your losses, etc. That's just not how I roll, okay?)

So. I think we will continue being Bird Owners, for a while, at least. Once the cockatiel dies, however, we might let the bird thing slide. Maybe. Unless someone happens to give us another bird.