But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying.
– Psalm 70:5 KJV
The last few weeks have been rough.
Since early spring we have been waiting and watching to see what direction Mr. Awesome’s current job situation would take, but we are now in the final hour as it were, and we are still waiting and watching, wondering where God will lead us next.
Arthur’s recovery continues to be slow. At one point during his round of antibiotics he lost a lot of his mobility. He is unable to perch, so we keep him in the hospital tub, which we eventually moved back out into the bird room so he could be near Robin and not feel ostracized from the flock. It seems to have helped a bit, but Arthur’s progress continues to be a one step forward, two steps back affair, and we are wondering if he will have special needs for the remainder of his life.
Being stuck in a tub, Arthur needs cleaning twice daily. He was having trouble getting his head up to eat and drink from his normal food and water dishes so we picked up containers that would be easier for him to access, but being smaller and lower to the ground they need to be changed more often. With the current setup we can’t leave him alone for more than a few hours, making even overnight trips to visit family problematic.
Throughout Arthur’s illness, poor Robin has had to take a back seat to Arthur’s needing special care and Willow’s insistence on being the center of attention. Still, he appears to be quite content not having to share his toys, and I believe having Arthur back beside him has helped him a bit too. If nothing, it gives him something new to investigate.
Willow continues to be Willow, and that’s a good thing.
And so, with all of the stresses and unknowns of our immediate future (I have to add the looming presidential election to the list), what do Mr. Awesome and I do? We pray. And we wait. Because even though it feels like the world is crumbling beneath our feet, we know there is a Rock underneath that will remain solid for us.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
– Matthew 7:24-25 KJV
I have been through enough rough times with Jesus to know that no matter how dark everything gets, His light will pierce through it. I don’t know what His plan is for Mr. Awesome and I, but I know it’s going to be great when it gets here.
When the phone rang Wednesday afternoon and the woman on the other end asked if she could speak with me, I responded,
“This is she.”
“This is So-and-So with Such-and-Such Animal Clinic. Arthur’s chlamydia test results came back and they’re negative”
“Oh praise God! Thank you.”
“Have a nice day.”
Not an exact quote, but you get the idea. After I hung up I felt wobbly and a little ill. I don’t think I quite realized how much waiting to see if we were all infected with psittacosis was burdening my emotions or how much relief that one bit of news would bring. Nearly to the point of breaking, I’d prayed for something good to happen that day. Jesus answered.
Few things in life make you feel like a clumsy buffoon as does having a sick budgie in the house who needs a daily dose of antibiotics. You towel him as best you can, worried you’ll break him, smother him, or stress him to death. You hold him with one hand while in the other you finagle a syringe which you have to use to gently pry open the microscopic beak he insists on clamping shut. When you finally do get an open window, you hope your reflexes are quick enough, aim, and fire. Some of it makes it in and some of it just oozes down his little face, and as you set him back into his makeshift hospital room, exhausted and weak, you feel rather like a brontosaurus doing brain surgery.
Mr. Awesome chose to name him Arthur because he was so brave when we brought him home. Over the last week he has lived up to his name. There were times I was certain he wasn’t going to make it through the night and watched as my husband cradled his little, limp body in his hand. But each morning Arthur would still be there, hanging on. We realized Wednesday evening that I had been measuring incorrectly and giving him too much of the antibiotic, something I should have known, should have erred on the side of caution. Little can make you feel so low as to realize you’ve been hurting the very thing you are trying to help.
It’s been a long week, and I thank Jesus for pulling us through it. In reflection it makes me thankful for so much. Thankful Arthur is still here. Thankful the other birds don’t seem to have caught what he has. Thankful for a husband with a big heart and gentle hands who has compassion for tiny birds. Thankful for getting to see a few rays of sun peaking out from behind proverbial clouds.
Thankful Jesus keeps us hanging on.
Sorry, but the only other title I could come up with for this post was, “When It Rains, It Pours”, and that just felt much too overused.
But still appropriate.
Late Wednesday evening I noticed Arthur was clearly not feeling well. I relayed as much to Mr. Awesome and after a quick phone call to my mother we removed him to the guest room and put him in the “hospital cage”, a clear plastic tote lined with towels and topped by a screen, then plugged in a space heater to warm him up a bit. Thinking there was probably little the 24 hour emergency vet could do for him other than tell us to keep him warm and call the avian vet in the morning, we watched over him for a couple of hours and prayed.
When we looked in on Arthur the next morning it was clear he was still not well and I made an appointment with the avian vet, who said he was underweight but his heart and lungs sounded good. She ordered a gram stain and chlamydia(psittacosis) test. The gram stain came back with lots of bacteria in it. We wont know the result of the chlamydia test for several days. The vet prescribed an antibiotic and tube fed Arthur so he could regain some of his strength.
Arthur seems to be improving slightly. He’s been eating millet and Mr. Awesome has been able to get him to drink a couple of times. I’m doing my best to towel him each day and dribble antibiotic into his mouth with a syringe, but he isn’t exactly cooperative, and clearly doesn’t appreciate it.
After all that has happened in the last six months with our birds, I feel toasted… and worried. Worried that the psittacosis test will come back positive and all of the birds have it. Worried Arthur isn’t going to make it through this. Worried I made a bad decision, did something wrong, and this is my fault. My mind keeps replaying all of the “I should’ves”.
I need to remember that right now, in all of the craziness, to just focus on today and not worry about what is going to happen tomorrow. There’s too much to do right now without adding hypothetical scenarios of what may or may not happen. And deep down inside, underneath all of the fear, worry, and questions, I know Jesus is going to get us through this, and that someday, things are going to feel better. So I suppose another cliche title for this post could easily be, “This Too Shall Pass”.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
I’ve been putting it off but finally decided it was time to just get it done, time to make a new batch of chop. Chop can make feeding your birds for the next few (or several) months a lot easier in many ways, but chop day can be a long day, especially when you are the sort of person who feels they must use every dish and cooking utensil in the house while cooking.
What chop is and how it is made has been written about by persons vastly more qualified than myself, so if chop is new to you, I highly recommend you have a look at what they have to say.
So… what wen’t into this batch?
Bean soup mix (minus the seasoning)
Frozen corn (defrosted)
Red bell pepper
Yellow summer squash
This was meant to be a conservative, trial batch to see if Willow would eat it. Mr. Awesome wisely pointed out that creating a massive batch before seeing if she liked it was probably a bad idea. The budgies are used to eating chop and grain bake, so I wasn’t too concerned about whether or not they would eat it.
As chop batches go, I give this an 8/10 for the budgies, and a 5/10 for Willow. I chopped the vegetables too fine for them to appeal to Willow. In the future I should probably just hand chop the vegetables for her chop instead of throwing them in the food processor. I also want to really focus on adding a better variety of vegetables to future chop batches. I have a tendency to focus a bit too hard on the grains.
One thing I did do differently in this batch of chop that I really liked was to use only fresh vegetables, not a mix of fresh and frozen. This helped to keep things from getting too mushy, something I was sure would turn Willow off instantly.
And how was it received? Willow hasn’t shown much interest, and I’m not sure the budgies have either. It is going to take some creativity on my part to get them excited about it. It’s going to take time and patience, but I’m praying we’ll get there.
Mr. Awesome and I went to visit his mother and stepdad on the shores of Lake Michigan over the weekend. We had a lovely time: did a little shopping, had ice cream, and watched the sunset on the lake. Sunday we were able to attend the church Mr. Awesome’s grandmother called home for many years and Mr. Awesome got to go fishing with his uncle and stepdad. It was a fabulous 30 hours of relaxation.
As we pulled into our driveway yesterday evening, I mentally prepared myself for what would meet us bird-wise when we walked through the door and climbed the stairs. No doubt they would all be good and ready to come out of their cages and quite happy to see us.
What I found was frightening.
As I made my way up the stairs the first thing I noticed was that there was a light on. If we are gone more than a few hours I leave the lights off and the curtains open so the birds can have some darkness when the sun goes down. I was sure I had turned that light off. I always turned that light off. Well that’s weird, I thought. Guess we must’ve forgot. Oh well, no worries.
But then I rounded the corner and looked into Willow’s cage. I couldn’t find her. For half a second I thought my eyes were just having trouble focusing in the dim light. Then I began to worry I was going to find her on the bottom of the cage, dead, struck down by some sudden or unnoticed ailment. Then my eyes moved to the top of the cage…
There she was, perched in her usual place, ruffling her feathers and giving me her best “It’s about time you lot showed up!” face. The cage door was wide open, and there were mounds of parrot doo on the nearby bathroom floor.
My stunned brain swirled and tumbled to find an explanation for what I was looking at. A number of possibilities presented themselves in split second increments to my addled mind. Landing on one I turned to Mr. Awesome (who had followed me up the stairs) and asked,
“Who’s in our house!?”
Mr. Awesome looked a bit quizzical.
“Check the doors!” I exclaimed, and pushed past him to inspect all points of entry.
I’ve watched plenty of true crime and fake crime television programs in my day, so I knew what had happened. Clearly, some deranged psycho had broken into our home, turned on the hall light, and let just one of the birds out. They were no doubt waiting in a closet with an ax to dispatch us in our sleep.
I raced around the condo checking every door to make sure it was secure. All locked! The fiend must have slithered through the basement window. Nope, that was locked too.
I returned to Mr. Awesome and the scene of the crime.
“I have a hard time believing someone would break into our house, let the bird out, and not take anything.” he pointed out sagely. Once again I ran off. My jewelry was still there. We hadn’t noticed anything missing. Not a robbery then.
I padded back to the crime scene and began to rethink things. If a crazed, parrot-loving psychopath hadn’t snuck into our home and let Willow out of her cage… then she must have escaped! I stared at her in awe, considering what kind of genius, feathered Houdini our bird must be to have figured out how to manipulate the latch on the cage door AND swing the safety catch at the same time.
“I think it’s much more likely you just didn’t latch the door properly, or got distracted in getting everything ready and forgot to shut it all the way.” repeated Mr. Awesome, or something to that effect.
How annoying that he couldn’t see we had a bird prodigy. Me forget to lock the door? How could I be that stupid? How could I miss something like that? Put Them In Their Cages When You Are Going To Be Gone For A While was the first subject of Parrot Owning 101.
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. -Proverbs 16:18
But as I gazed at the piles of poop and shredded trim in our guest bathroom, I finally had to concede that at some point in my haste to get on the road, I had neglected to latch Willow’s door, the result being she had quite the party while we were away. Heartily displeased with my own stupidity, I thanked the Lord that it hadn’t been worse. Willow was fine, the budgies were still cozy in their cages, no electrical cords had been gnawed on, and the bathroom trim could always be replaced. Humbled and flabbergasted at the fallibility of my own mind, I grabbed the vinegar spray and broom and started cleaning up.
And so boys and girls, what’s the moral of today’s story? Double and triple check your animals before you leave the house, and don’t rely on your memory to serve you properly in these situations. I think in future Mr. Awesome and I need to create a buddy system: I check, you check. Two sets of eyes are better than one.
I suppose there is one small consolation to this unpleasant event. At least, while we were away, Willow wasn’t bored.