Needy

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.

img_2907

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.

img_2908

Willow continues to be Willow, and that’s a good thing.

trashcan

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.

Advertisements

Are You Sure You Want A Parrot?

Let’s face it, having birds looks exotic and exciting from the outside looking in, and that’s where many become ensnared.

Most people don’t truly realize what goes into living with a parrot, or how time consuming and difficult it can be.They see only the flash and glitz, and none of the daily dirt. This can result in the bird suffering, being surrendered, or re-homed; something that could easily have been prevented if the human involved had an idea of what living with a parrot is really like.

That’s what I hope to convey in these (hopefully weekly) Are You Sure You Want A Parrot? posts. Don’t get me wrong, I love our birds. I thank God for them, but as with many things in life there are struggles and challenges that go along with the joys and high points. Living with parrots isn’t all sunshine and butterflies.  I hope by sharing these pictorials anyone who is considering taking on a parrot will stop a moment and truly ask themselves, am I sure I want one???

img_2866

This, from a bird who loves me.

 

2016 Growing Season: What I Learned

Last year the gardening bug bit me in the worst way, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. Living in a condo, Mr. Awesome and I don’t have property of our own to plant on, but what we do have is roughly 516 square feet of porch, deck, and balcony space. You can grow just about anything in a container provided it’s large enough.

garden1

Winter-sown seeds germinating

I had just enough success during the growing season of 2015 to get me wholeheartedly curious and moderately obsessed with gardening. Thanks to a slew of mouth-watering seed catalogs and a number of library books, I was determined to plan 2016 down to the minutest detail and have an epic year. But once the leaves began changing their colors and fluttering to the ground and the days cooled down, the realizations that I had not fulfilled half my plans for this growing season, that I would have to wait another six months to try again, and that what I could do this time of year I probably shouldn’t be spending money on, threw me into a full fledged pity party.

Ungrateful much?

Saturday morning I sat in bed with my journal. As I sipped my cup of coffee, I thought about all that had gone on this past spring and summer, and I realized that, far from having wasted the year, a good deal had been accomplished and I had plenty to thank Jesus for:

  • God answered my prayers about our light situation. Our condo is in a fairly wooded area and our deck is shrouded by several large walnut trees. This caused me considerable worries as most of the things I’ve been dying to grow do best in full sun. After praying for some help in the matter (“Lord, would you please just get rid of that tree… and that tree?”), I decided to go ahead and experiment, and praise God, the tomatoes ripened and roses bloomed in places I had some serious doubts about. I now have a better idea of what will grow where.
  • I end this season with fourteen rose bushes and three ferns I didn’t have last season. The ferns came from a kind neighbor and the rose bushes were mostly birthday presents from Mr. Awesome and my grandmother. I became fairly rose obsessed early this year and prayed that Jesus would let me have three roses by the end of the year, which He more than answered.  A subject, no doubt, for another post…
  • This past winter I discovered I could compost in plastic totes in our garage with few issues.
  • I made my first seed order by mail, the result being I purchased entirely too many varieties. But now I have a large mason jar full of seeds, most of which should be viable next year.
  • I gave winter sowing a try and had a good bit of success with it, though I think I will  make some changes to my method if I try it again.
  • I grew enough tomato plants from seed that I had more than enough seedlings to give away to family and friends.
  • I discovered Dave’s Garden and the Garden Watchdog, which have proven to be very valuable resources when choosing mail order seed and plant companies to order from.
  • I improved the soil in our containers by adding our homemade compost as well as Dairy Doo.
  • I attended a garden expo at a local nursery and took in several seminars. It was a joy to be in such a contagious gardening atmosphere.
img_2672

The Bill Reid rose

So, I didn’t grow all forty-some varieties of seed I purchased, and many of the ones I tried to grow didn’t make it, but some things did. Two of the sixteen rose bushes I bought expired, and the others had mildew and cabbage worm problems, but some gave us beautiful blooms. I didn’t entirely cover our deck with  pots and raised beds as I had fantasized, but through the kindness of others I received many plants that should last for years.

As six months of winter race towards us, I thank the Lord for all He has given me this growing season and for all He’s taught me.  And I still have much to look forward to. While the earth rests and snow piles up outside, I can armchair garden, sating myself with gardening books and seed catalogs. I can continue to learn, dream, and plan; praying that 2017 will be my best gardening season yet.

Of Parrots and Bathrooms

Everyone needs their spot- a place of solitude where you can pray, relax, recharge. A “happy place”, if you will.

Willow’s “happy place” is our second floor guest bathroom.

When we brought Willow home, Mr. Awesome and I had few options of where to put the the 2 1/2 ft. x 2 1/2 ft. x 5 ft. cage that was to be her new abode, the only truly legitimate option being a wall adjoining the guest bathroom. We thought little of it at the time, but placing her there would prove to be both a blessing and a curse.

One of the challenges that faced us initially after bringing Willow home was how we would go about getting her to step up. She had not show a great deal of aggression towards us initially, but anyone who has been around an animal with a beak that size will sympathize with the fact that we were a bit cautious in our overtures, and I prayed she wouldn’t maul us too badly. But I need not have been so concerned.

As Mr. Awesome and I made our trips in and out of the guest bathroom, we noticed a marked transformation in our new feathered charge. On the opening of the bathroom door, Willow’s eyes would light up and she craned her neck to get a better view of what, for all we could tell, appeared to be a wondrous and amazing thing in her sight. Noticing her marked interest, I offered her my hand and asked if she wanted to have a look. She stepped up eagerly.

This was a victory. Previous to this moment, most of Willow’s stepping up had been out of necessity- she flew off her cage and needed to go back, she fell, etc. But now she was stepping up willingly to do something that interested her. Thus, that wonderful moment occurred when a bird realizes human hands are useful for transportation purposes and good things happen when you step up.

bath3As we entered the bathroom, all glowing with incandescent light, Willow looked and gawked to her heart’s content. Her intense interest in seeing different things pleased me greatly, as I believe she spent a good deal of her previous life in her cage. Eventually I was able to set her on the sink top, and she had a grand time tapping the porcelain with her beak and tugging on the hand towel hanging nearby. Her curiosity eventually led me to open the linen closet and let her have a look inside, which she found immensely interesting. I should have known I was in for trouble when I started having issues with getting her back out of said closet.

Over the course of a few days I let Willow down to have a walk around the bathroom floor. It wasn’t long before she waddled behind the toilet, and that’s when all bets were off.

bath2

When asking myself why my African grey was so awestruck by our fairly boring guest bathroom, I came to the conclusion that, with it being an interior room with no windows and lots of nooks and crannies, it probably looked like prime real estate for nesting. My theory gained further credence when I realized she would happily squat behind the trash can for as long as I was willing to let her. To a ten to fifteen-year-old parrot whose biological clock is no doubt ticking, our guest bathroom must look like paradise.

But the honeymoon couldn’t last. Considering the situation, it didn’t surprise me too much when Willow started getting very protective of her spot. After a few charges, strikes, and quickly returning her to her cage, I decided it might be best if the bathroom became off limits.

The thing about parrots though, is they’re agonizingly persistent.

 

It didn’t take long for Willow to start climbing down off her cage and barging in the bathroom whenever she felt like it. This makes for tricky morning routines as we try to medicate the budgies and give everyone clean water, not to mention the fact that it’s hard to do your business when you hear the click-click-click of little birdy feet outside the door and a black beak trying to chew its way in.

bath4For a while I thought we had an adequate compromise as Mr. Awesome (aka “Daddy”) would put Willow on his shoulder as he went through the morning preparations in the bathroom, and again when they were repeated at night. A shaky truce reigned for a few weeks, but then I caved.

I started letting her roam about the bathroom again, and things seemed to be going really well for a while. She pleasantly sat behind the trashcan in her spot and didn’t seem to be harming anything. She even quelled her anger and started stepping up when asked to go back to her cage. Everything was going smoothly, until the party she had when we were away.

Prior to this incident, I had been able to distract her from chewing by strategically placing rolled up towels along the places she seemed most interested in devastating, but after her weekend rampage, I fear there is no going back. I’ve tried the rolled towel trick, but as Mr. Awesome pointed out, no matter how much we discourage her, it is very likely that she will just find something else to chew. And it makes sense. That’s just what you do when you are trying to renovate a nice nest hole.

img_2852

And so the battle ensues. I love the idea of Willow having an area to enjoy away from her cage, and I had hoped the bathroom would prove to be one such place. I mean, if she has an “accident” at least the linoleum floor is easy to sanitize. But I suppose it isn’t too bad if we have to try something else. After all, it’s rather disconcerting being stared down by a cantankerous grey face every time you want to throw away a tissue.

bath1

 

 

 

 

Hanging On

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.”

“You too.”

“Bye.”

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.

nypl-digitalcollections-24648940-4708-0130-2500-58d385a7b928-001-v

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.