Friday, April 29, 2011


Yesterday when I came downstairs for coffee, I saw that the green bird, the Amazon parrot who loves the Sober Husband and hates me, was clinging to the Sober Husband's finger with her beak while lying across his shoulder. "She won't let go of my finger," he said, demonstrating on how he tried to pull his hand away but the bird clenched it all the more tightly with her beak and one claw.

We both regarded the parrot. It was splayed across his shoulder, with a death clench on his finger, throbbing and making cooing noises. These noises built until the parrot appeared to reach a peak, after which she exhaustedly let go of his hand and slumped quietly on his shoulder.

An awkward silence filled the room. I turned to the coffeemaker without comment.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

excess, in its various forms

Over the children's spring break, we took them down to see the Hearst Castle. My original idea was to drive down to Death Valley and go camping. Back before I had children, I loved backroads camping, and Death Valley was my favorite place to strike off and set up camp far from any other human being. I also wanted to make a run up to to the Pacific Northwest to visit a slew of friends up there, including my best friend from high school, but that was going to either $2,000 in airfare or thirteen hours in the car with the children. Death Valley would be about a ten hour drive.

As the time grew nearer, I started thinking more realistically about what road tripping with the children would be like. Also, the Sober Husband has only been at his new job for two months, which is early to take much time off. I couldn't face the idea of thirteen hours of driving the children without adult backup, and camping with them by myself was even scarier. I imagined curling up with the children at night in a tent, with them nonstop complaining of the cold, the hard ground, the lack of television (on Iris's part) and the presence of feared cryptids (Lola). So instead I decided to take the children to the Hearst Castle. Iris uber Alles, who is insane for Oprah, has been wanting to see nearby San Luis Obispo ever since Oprah explained on her show that San Luis is "the happiest place in the United States", so the matter was settled.

I booked our tour of the Hearst Castle ahead of time, since these tours often sell out. There are four different tours to pick from, each visiting a different part of the Castle, and I selfishly didn't want to take the first, introductory tour because I've done that one before myself. Less selfishly I picked the tour which features visiting the bathrooms of the North Wing, because Lola is obsessed with bathrooms. Particularly nice ones are called "lands of wonder", and sometimes she draws pictures of imagined lands of wonder.

When we got to the Hearst Castle, I noticed a middle-aged woman on our tour was holding a Barbie and a Ken while we were waiting for the bus to drive us up from the visitor center to the castle. She carefully put them into a large ziplock bag before the bus came. Up at the Castle, she took them back out of the bag so they could see and be photographed in front of the magnificent Neptune Pool. I noticed she was wearing a Warhol-styled Barbie shirt, with four Barbie faces.

As the tour went on, the Barbies went in and out of the ziplock. Sometimes the Barbie enthusiast would give them to her male companion to carry. I found this oddly fascinating, but it soon turned to annoying. The Barbie woman explained loudly to our group that the Ken she was carrying was "the first brown-haired Ken", from the sixties. She explained what made this Barbie so special and worthy of mating with the first brown-haired Ken, but I didn't pay enough attention to absorb that. Whenever something in our tour reminded her of the Barbies, she'd speak up in a loud, carrying voice. Some reference to travel made her, in a world-weary voice, explain to the world in general that she attends Barbie conventions every year, which take place "wherever they want us."

The children were dumbstruck by the Castle and said nothing (later Iris confided that she had so loved the Neptune Pool that she had been considering staging a fake fall into it). They kept close to the tour guide and moved quickly, their eyes wide. Meanwhile the Sober Husband, who hates tours and groups, lagged at the back. His strategy was to linger in a room after the tour had moved on, so he could feel he was exploring by himself. (Back when we were touring elementary schools to pick one for Iris, he used to break off from the group altogether and go into completely different rooms of his own choosing).

We arrived at a room in the North wing famous for its portraits with following eyes. The tour guide explained that because these portraits (of rather stern nobility) had been painted facing straight on but with no apparent light source reflecting in the eyes, wherever you were, you had the feeling that they were watching you. The group made the kinds of jokes you would expect about how it was a good thing these paintings were in a sitting room, rather than a bedroom, but the Barbie woman had a world-weary attitude about it. Addressing the group she explained that she was "used to it. In my bedroom, I have over one thousand Barbies. All watching." Her male companion said nothing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

grounding Pigwidgeon

The conclusion the Sober Husband and the children came to, after our African grey flew away and was lost but then found and returned to us, is that Pigwidgeon's flight feathers need to be clipped more often to try to ensure she won't be lost again. I had a different take. After she came home from her big adventure, she's been flying around the house constantly. She gets so much joy from flying that I find it highly depressing to clip her wings.

The take-away lesson I got from losing her was not to take her into the garden (which I find sad enough; the green parrot's happiest times are spent in the backyard. She spends hours climbing around in our magnolia tree, and on the few truly hot days we have, we spray her with the hose, and she spreads her wings out wide and beats them happily in the spray). I felt that if we were careful, she could have a happy life flying around in the house. We already have to be careful with the doors, as we more often than not have undersocialized feral cats staying with us from my volunteer work, so I felt it wasn't a big increase in surveillance and caution.

The Sober Husband found this attitude of mine maddening. "I refuse to be held responsible for the parrot escaping! If she gets lost again, you have to promise that you will never say it's my fault!"

"I can't make that promise; I'm a lawyer!" I said. "I can think of lots of scenarios in which it would be your fault."

"But what if it was an accident?"

"If it was your fault, it's not really an accident; it's negligence," I quibbled. He looked disgusted.

Later he said, "I just really don't understand it, because when we got the green bird, I was on the other side of this. I thought it was sad to clip her wings, and you were so firm about it."

"That's because Amazons really aren't great fliers; it's really enough for them to be able to climb. But Piggle's not an Amazon; she's from Africa. She's not as much of a climber." The children broke in to back up my statement, reminiscing about the time I put Pigwidgeon in the magnolia tree and she fell out.

In reality I have all along had Piggle's wings clipped, just not very frequently. I wait until her talons are too long, and I take her to have both her wings and talons done at once. The Sober Husband argues that now she should be clipped regularly, "every two weeks. It was stressful and expensive when we lost her." At the time we got Piggle back, he was happy to write the reward check, but now that time has gone by, the joy of the reunion has faded but the memory of writing that $500 check remains strong.

After some very intensive nagging from him, I took Pigwidgeon down to be clipped yesterday, even though her talons weren't yet in desperate need of a trim.

For the children, this was not done soon enough. In the morning I asked Iris to get me a cup of coffee, and a crazed, caffeine-craving Pigwidgeon flew directly at the cup in Iris's hand. Iris jerked her arm reflexively, and the coffee splashed everywhere, but still Pigwidgeon managed to get a few swallows of it. Iris went for a refill, and the same thing happened again. "Pigwidgeon's going to be terrible this morning; she's had coffee," predicted Iris direly. In actuality she wasn't discernibly different (she's usually manic in the mornings and then settles down by afternoon), but the children, who are usually at school of a morning, thought she was too noisy and crazy.

In the afternoon we took Piggle to get her wings clipped. To add to the general inconvenience of having the bird trimmed, the man I take her to has become semi-retired and now grooms birds only two afternoons a week. There's always a long wait (you can't make an appointment).

Another reason to dislike taking the birds for grooming is that I always get a guilt trip of some sort or another from the bird experts. Usually it revolves around my giving Pigwidgeon too much freedom (and yes, I am fully aware that the bird people have been proven right on this). Once they told me off for giving her an entire banana, which so impressed the children that they thereafter have treated bananas with the utmost suspicion and tried to stop me from bringing this suspect fruit into our home. Yesterday I was luckily able to head the incipient guilt trip off at the pass. The bird grooming man raised his eyebrows and looked at me over his glasses. "Don't you have two parrots?" Clearly he was expecting me to confess that the other one had died or been lost. "Oh, that one's my husband's bird," I said airily. "I can't get it into a carrier without him. And we're more worried about this one." Thankfully that went over well, and there was no guilt trip. Indeed I looked like a model bird owner compared to the ones who were ahead of me, who brought in four tiny birds in a shoebox. One escaped and had to be stalked and captured.

But there was no escaping the final thing I hate about taking Pigwidgeon to have her wings clipped: the same horrible, eternal conversation. "Oh! I see you have an African grey! How many words does she know?" It is so profoundly humiliating to be the only stupid owner of a stupid African grey whose stupid parrot doesn't talk. Yesterday was no exception, with the proud owner of a roseate cockatoo looking shocked and disappointed in me after his admiring sally, "You must have such conversations with her all the time!", was met with a shameful confession that the parrot only knows how to make cat noises.

At home, Piggle was effectively grounded. She can't fly more than a few feet with fresh, severely cropped wings. I felt sad for her, but everyone else felt that it was high time indeed. The children cited the coffee incident as proof that Piggle had gone too far. "She drank coffee!" Iris said repeatedly. "She flew right at me and stuck her beak in the cup!"

Monday, April 18, 2011

games night

One of the main benefits of having children is having people around to play cards with. Iris and Lola and I often play crazy eights or a delightful game called "Rat-a-Tat Cat." Lola refuses to play poker because it is too heavily identified with Iris (once Iris had a marathon poker session with another child, ending in cleaning out the other child's accumulated allowance entirely, which we made her pay back later). We've tried many other games, but veering away from crazy eights or Rat-a-Tat Cat usually ends in disaster, and last night was no exception.

Last night after dinner I started up a game of Fan Tan, a card game we learned a few years ago when visiting relatives. Lola, who had wanted to play Apples to Apples, was indignantly fussy after her father's victory at Fan Tan. I said, "Lola, if you said, 'I'd like to get Apples to Apples' now, that would be a lot nicer than your screaming and crying, 'I wanted to play Apples to Apples." Lola cut me off in midsentence: "Please, darling exalted Lord Mommy, I would like to get Apples to Apples."

Sadly Apples to Apples didn't go any better for Lola than Fan Tan had. At one point it was the Sober Husband's job to judge, selecting the best fit for "protective", and he was determined to select Lola's card because she hadn't won a single hand yet. He peered closely into Lola's face, looking for a tell to see which card she'd played. Unfortunately however Lola was charmed by the card I'd played and reacted most to that one, so he chose that, and Lola burst out in tears. "Oops! I made a mistake! 'Flying Squirrels' is what I meant to pick!" he said.

Iris was outraged. "Flying squirrels, they aren't even protective! Why did you play that? Flying squirrels!"

"Flying squirrels are famous for how protective they are of their young," I said.

"I've watched as many nature shows as you have, and I don't remember that," said Iris fiercely.

"I don't just watch television, I've traveled," I said. "I've been to places like Borneo, and flying squirrels are famous for being so protective of their young. They will just FLY AT YOU."

Iris grew more and more indignant, not accepting this. I continued. "And don't step between a flying squirrel and its nuts! That would be a terrible day for you, indeed."

Around this point it became clear that carrying on a civilized game of Apples to Apples was no longer possible. The children wandered off to create their own Apples to Apples cards, with such curiously-omitted-from-the-real-game subjects as "Lola's Buttocks."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

readjusting to home

So Pigwidgeon, our affable yet dimwitted African grey parrot, has been home for a week after her harrowing freakout and flight from our yard, resulting in her traveling a mile in the middle of San Francisco, spending a night and a day outdoors, and being caught by a stranger and staying with him and his roommates for three days.

I can see some side effects from this experience. The most noticeable is that she flies everywhere, all the time now. We actually have her flight feathers clipped from time to time, so she isn't as strong a flier as a wild bird (in general these kinds of larger parrots aren't great fliers; they use their beaks to be gifted climbers. This makes sense because they aren't migratory birds, and in the wild they spend a lot of time climbing up and down in trees). Previously Piggle got around in our house mainly by walking on the floor. Sometimes you would be startled by a little peck on your foot, meaning that Pig had walked up to you and wanted you to pick her up. But now, it's like how in Harry Potter Fred and George would apparate across the room once they got their apparition licenses. No matter how much more sense it would make to walk, she's going to fly. To compensate for the trimmed flight feathers, she beats her wings extra hard, so it's sort of frantic.

The first morning after she came home, she flew into every room in the house, touring the house crazily. Then she settled down on my shoulder and groomed herself extensively. The next day was spent intensely grooming as well on my arm. Those first few days she was incessantly noisy as well. "I can't believe I missed this bird so much," I said over the racket.

Now she has calmed down, but yesterday she flew into the upstairs bathroom and settled down on the shower rail. She had never before gone into the bathroom alone. In the past, she'd ask, by incessant screaming, for me to bring her in there when I was doing my makeup, and she liked hanging out in there with me, but she'd never go in by herself. But in the apartment she stayed at last week, she lived in the bathroom perching on the shower curtain rail, and yesterday she went in and stayed in there by herself. In the bathroom Piggle made every noise she knows how to make at top volume, perching on the shower rail and making a hellish racket. Was she reminiscing about the apartment she stayed at? Or just enjoying the acoustics, like a person singing in the shower?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

the truth about pugs

More Warcraft talk, as it seems that certain readers who would never be caught playing the online sensation can't get enough of reading about it!

I've written before that for years I was frustrated in Warcraft because I couldn't reliably find other players to help me do things which require more than one person to work together. I usually quested in those days, and it was a red letter day when I'd find a stranger or two who worked well with me. Whenever this did happen and I was able to get a lot of group quests done, I was very happy indeed. In the early years I never did belong to guilds who had it together enough to run high-level dungeons as a guild (which requires five high level players), but I did belong for a long time to a guild where a player would run our lower level characters through dungeons. This fellow had an amazingly powerful Warcraft character but was himself really lacking in social graces. I didn't care, though, because while I was leveling Chlonnaa, a draenei mage, he'd take me through Zul'Farrak and the Scarlet Monastery, and all Chlonnaa had to do was scuttle behind him picking up loot from all the corpses in his wake. Later he was kicked out of our guild, and I complained fruitlessly. "Who else will run the lower levels? Who?" I said in guild chat, and of course, the answer turned out to be nobody.

Once Blizzard created the "find group" tool, enabling players to get matched up with others and put into dungeons appropriate for their skill level, I was happy not to have to beg for runs on any of my characters. It was much more interesting, after all, to fight the elite monsters on your own, rather than just pick through their remains. But a problem remains, which is beyond Blizzard's ability to solve: a lot of Warcraft players are really awful human beings. There is nothing like a pug (a group of strangers is a "pick up group" or "pug" for short) to make you have sorrow for humanity.

Many players enjoy insulting their fellow players as much as completing a dungeon run. It used to be that the word "noob" was the most common insult, but currently the adjective "fail" is the most popular, as in "fail tank pulled the whole room", "fail healer sucks", "fail shammy doesn't know how to rez", etc.., etc...

And there's the equipment snobbery. This has become worse and more ubiquitous since Cataclysm came out. There's some underlying justification: a character's powers are largely determined by their armor and weapons. As you run more and more dungeons, you can get better equipment, but the catch 22 is that if you aren't geared very well, no one wants to run a heroic with you, and thus it's hard for you to get geared. When I was just-geared-enough to run dungeons in Cataclysm on heroic setting (harder than normal and with better loot to be had), I sat them out after a couple rough ones. I waited until I was mediocrely geared. Now the character I play most is really well-geared, and I don't get any criticism, but it was a rough haul getting there.

In order to prevent groups from being stuck with a truly awful player, pugs can vote a player out. This, however, can be really disheartening and disorienting. You don't have a chance to argue your case; you simply find yourself outside the dungeon, alone, with no warning. I remember the first time I was voted out. I was stunned. Another time I found it crazily maddening: I waited for an hour to get a pug, and then the pug took two hours to complete the Lost City of the Tol'vir. It was a fractious group, and we were having a rough time, but we were finally on the last boss. We wiped (all the players died) due to the mistakes made by the worst player, a hunter who didn't speak English and didn't know the dungeon. Then, for reasons which were completely mysterious to me, I found myself out of the dungeon. I was so angry at having spent an entire afternoon trying to get this damn dungeon run, only to get thrown out in the last few minutes. It was profoundly unfair to boot, because the recounts proved I'd been playing much more effectively than the hunter. It was extra maddening because while the others had been squabbling, I'd kept a shut mouth and stayed out of the fighting.

Studies show that everyone considers themself to be a better than average driver, and likewise Warcraft players tend to think they are all more fabulous than the rest. I, however, will admit that I am an extremely uneven player. I have my moments of brilliance (for example, in one pug everyone died but me on the boss, but I pulled out my earth elemental and got that boss down by myself when no one expected it. "So epic!!" typed the other players). I also have moments of stupidity. The one pug where I most truly should have been booted I wasn't. I logged on to do a daily random pug after a boozy dinner party I'd hosted, and I landed in Deadmines. I was so inebriated that my character could not make her way up the series of rickety gangplanks onto the ship coming back from Vanessa's nightmare. So the other four players had to kill the final boss without me, while enjoying a laugh at my expense (which I freely admitted to them was their right). I shouldn't have gotten the credit for that run, but then again, I shouldn't have been booted from that Lost City run, either.

Sometimes a player wants more people out than he can vote out or he can't get the others to agree on voting someone out. Once a tank [a tank is a player who has the strongest kind of armor and who knows protective spells. This player's role is to draw the attention of all the enemies, so they will focus their efforts on attacking the tank, while the other players attack the monsters with impunity and the healer tries to keep them all alive] threw a giant hissy fit. He didn't think the rest of us were up to his standard, and there was a particular bit of loot likely to drop on the next boss which he wanted. He sat his character down and said that if the rest of us had any decency, we'd each and every one of us leave the group voluntarily so he could get new players in and win that trinket he wanted. Of course we voted him out instead and had a good laugh at his expense.

In another pug, a pair of players were rude and obnoxious. One kept saying "I'm a god! I've downed Cho'Gall! You are all fail!" and trying to get everyone but his friend voted out. The group instead voted that player out after we'd wiped, and he childishly refused to resurrect his character and leave the dungeon. The other player in that horrible group with whom I'd bonded purposely sat his character down upon the bones of the rude, voted-out character, and we laughed with each other in little typed whispers. Finishing that pug felt like a triumph of the human spirit (and yes, I realize I should get outside more often).

Lately pugs are usually a joy for me, because my character is well-geared, powerful, and I've put a lot of work into refining her equipment. It's been a very long time since anyone ever voted me out. I've done a lot of reading online about my character's class, and I've put so much time into reforging her gear, changing her glyphs, getting the right enchants, etc.. Even a particularly immature stranger can't normally find something to complain about with me. However, I hear my guildmates complaining constantly about their rude pugs, being rejected for being insufficiently geared, etc.. "There, there," I type to them. "Don't listen to those idiots. There, there."

Thursday, April 07, 2011

miracle on 17th Street

My idiotic parrot is home, safe and sound!

Last Saturday, in the late afternoon, the Sober Husband and I were working in our postage-stamp sized garden, replanting things which had been temporarily moved due to the neighbors' construction project, weeding, and cleaning. My not-very bright African grey, Pigwidgeon, freaked out during this and flew crazily off, up over a neighbor's roof and out of sight. We went in pursuit, and until it was too late to bother people, we went into as many yards as we could on our block. I told every dogwalker I saw and asked them to keep an eye out.

We made a poster and put it up around the neighborhood. I put Piggle's cage outside, to help her find our yard. Lola and I stayed up until nearly 3 AM, periodically calling Piggle. The next day we searched more yards and talked to more neighbors, and I posted a $500 reward on Craigslist.

The children and I were concerned that we didn't have good enough pictures of Pigwidgeon, but the Sober Husband scoffed. Noting that all African greys look alike, he picked a photo off the web for our "LOST PARROT" poster. I followed the same strategy with my Craigslist ad. I did find a blurry picture of Pigwidgeon standing next to my laptop as I typed, and I held on to it to use as evidence of ownership if she did turn up somewhere.

On Monday, after the children went off to school and the Sober Husband off to work, I spent the entire day crying. "I feel like such a fuckup," I confided in various friends and the Sober Husband. "I lost my parrot. All my life I wanted a parrot, and I lost her." I quickly gave up on calling for Piggle during the day. PG&E is replacing all the gas lines in our neighborhood, and on top of that, the city was replacing all the water meters, which involved digging into the cement in front of each and every house on our block. If Piggle were out somewhere, she wouldn't be able to hear me in all that hellish construction racket.

The Sober Husband came home early from work, and we went on another parrot search once all that construction had stopped for the day, expanding our area and combing yet more yards. We stopped when it got dark, as I had learned from a "Parrot911" volunteer that there is no point in looking for a lost bird in the dark, as they hunker down and will remain silent, even if they hear a beloved owner's voice ("Parrot911" is a charity existing to help reunite lost parrots with their owners, and they contacted me after seeing my Craigslist ad. Parrot911 gave me some useful information, such as that lost parrots usually double back on their tracks and are therefore typically found in the opposite direction from where they were last seen and that African greys in particular are usually found within a 1-2 mile radius of their home. The Parrots911 people also kindly cross-posted my information to a variety of other lost-animal resources online).

Tuesday was a cold and windy day. Early in the day I decided that I'd make a last, gala search, but as the day wore on, cold and windy, I gave up. It had gotten down below 50 degrees the night before, and rationally there was no point in searching outside. I was in tears all day again. There were no sightings of the bird. Then late at night, I got an email from someone whose friend had found a tame gray bird. "Oh my God, Piggle may be alive!" I told Lola (in all the sorrow, bedtimes had been completely ignored and everyone was living off junk food from a convenience store run). We ran up to tell Iris. I talked more rationally to the Sober Husband. "Either someone has an African grey, or they want to mug me for my reward money," I said.

On Wednesday I was REALLY riveted to the phone, but no call came in. Finally just as it was time to go pick up the children, a friend of the person who'd found the bird called. The bird's finder was having cellphone troubles (it later emerged that his cellphone had been cut off that day). After emails and calls after I got the children, the finder's friend arranged that I would go see the found bird after 9:30. My heart sank when I heard the address, which was in the Mission. The Sober Husband also felt it was unlikely to be our bird, but as far as I could tell, no one else in the city had lost an African grey (African greys had gone missing in Gilroy and Oakland since ours had, but not in San Francisco).

The Sober Husband cynically suggested that we take whatever parrot we were offered, "since it will cost twice as much as the reward to get a new one, and we need another one." Later, after thinking it over, he changed his mind and cautioned me not to take a parrot if I weren't sure it was mine. "We won't know anything about its personality." He was highly skeptical that I'd be able to recognize my own parrot. "All those African greys look exactly alike, how are you going to be able to tell?" "I will know my bird, and my bird will know me," I said confidently.

We hung out in the Mission (the children at home with a beloved babysitter) until it was time. I had a longish chat with the owner of a used bookstore about Philip Zimbardo's findings on institutionalized evil and Victor Frankl. This was interrupted by a very tall and slightly dazed looking young man, who informed us that "at the concentration camps, there were four or six people who could heal themselves with the power of their minds. Whatever was done to them, like cutting them up, they could just use their mind to heal it." He demonstrated by holding out one of his arms and staring at it meaningfully. "Afterwards they came to California to show people." The bookstore owner and I, nonplussed, were silent for a moment. Then the owner went back to showing me a fascinating and obscure study of behavior in concentration camps, written by a Dutch psychologist who was himself imprisoned in a concentration camp and then wrote the book afterward. The book was spellbinding, but I couldn't bear the idea of reading something so depressing in my Piggle-mourning state of mind, so I just paid for my not-that-much-cheerier books about horrific invasions of personal privacy by the U.S. government and the nature of evil.

When the time came, we walked over to see the parrot. I felt very fragile, and the Sober Husband was preparing me for the worst. "I don't think this can be her," he said. "It's just too far." A friendly man came to the door and showed us in. He'd put a piece of paper labeled "BIRD" on the bathroom door to warn his roommates. There on the shower rail was Piggle. She stepped right up on my hand. She made her familiar chirps that sound like a smoke detector with an expired battery, and she bent her head over for me to scratch her neck. "It's Piggle, it's Piggle," I said over and over again. The Sober Husband looked skeptical. The bird's finder showed us in to the kitchen, which, very studentlike, had a large number of liquor bottles standing about. When Pig did this very peculiar thing she often does where she holds my fingers in her beak while frantically whipping her head up and down, the Sober Husband reached for my checkbook to write a reward check. Even he had to admit that it was easy to tell that this was the very same bird we'd lost.

Somehow she survived a night outdoors and made her way down through the Castro, over Dolores Park, and into the Mission. Our good Samaritan saw her outdoors. "She was obviously exhausted, I think that's how I could catch her," he said. She nipped him, but without breaking the skin, and luckily for her she had been found by a persistent and kind person who didn't give up until he'd brought her home. "It was hard finding something she'd like to eat," he said. "She's kind of fickle."

Once we got the parrot home, I woke up the children to see her. They were ecstatic. Piggle ducked into her cage quickly for a snack but didn't want to be caged, so we brought both the parrots upstairs for the night. The green parrot had been very noisy and needy during the grey bird's absence, and they settled down nicely on the parrot tree together.

This morning the Sober Husband expressed a new concern that she'd sneak out again. "I'd like to think she learned a lesson," I said, "but probably what she learned was that if you get lost, someone takes care of you and you have a big adventure and then go home again."

Sunday, April 03, 2011

my heart is broken

Yesterday the Sober Husband and I were doing some much-needed yard work in our tiny, tiny urban garden, and we were careless. My sweet, stupid parrot, Pigwidgeon, flew away.

Mind you, her flight feathers are clipped -- and she's never before reached any impressive altitude -- so we didn't think it was possible that she could crazily fly away down the block, over roofs.

Immediately we went around the block, calling her. I got a couple of neighbors who live in the middle of the block to let me go in their yards to call her and look for her. A very game neighbor got out a big ladder and risked his limbs (ours is a block on a steep hillside) to climb up to look into some adjacent yards. Unfortunately the people who live at the most promising spot on the block weren't home, and there was no way to invade their yards without going through their homes.

We made posters and covered the area with them. I asked everyone I saw walking their dog to keep an eye out. One woman had seen a gray bird in some bushes on the next block, but after investigating, I think it's most likely she saw one of the mockingbirds who live in front of my house. Lola and I stayed up until 2:30, periodically going outside to call her. I put her cage out in the backyard, thinking that if she found her way back to the yard, she'd find it reassuring.

Please, no shame or guilt trips. Everyone feels really terrible and ashamed, and plenty of tears have been shed. All my life I wanted a parrot, and I finally did get one as a generous gift from my husband (I'm not counting the green bird here as "having a parrot" as that one is my mortal enemy), and now she's lost. I worry that she may have already passed away, and it seems wrong to me that she could without my knowing it. The parrot-human bond is so strange and intense, a bit like identical twins. (Watching the Sober Husband with the green parrot is always fascinating, as they appear to be able to read each other's minds). Pigwidgeon and I have a language together and a way of being together, me skritching around her neck, Piggle combing my hair with her beak and making her meowing noises. I can't bear being without her.