Birdie Business

I’ve been writing this post for about three years now. I’m happy to let it out of its coop, finally.

There are dog people and there are cat people, but I - we - are bird people. Birds have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was raised with a series of budgies and finches, flirted for a few years with a pair of very naughty lovebirds and enjoyed a very deep 25 year-long bond with Pookie, my cockatiel buddy. When we lost him a few years ago I was at a loss in more ways than one. There was suddenly a gaping, bird-shaped hole in my life. I allowed myself the time to grieve and left the question unanswered: could I live happily without sharing my life with a bird?

After months of gawping at wild birds (which I normally would’ve done anyway), considering their birdie shapes and their sheer, wonderful…birdiness I decided I couldn’t. It hit me hard one day - in the shower I just started sobbing. I needed feathers in my life. I needed claws and scratches and birdie kisses and fluff wafting around the house. Moreover, I need a buddy. I decided then and there that no matter the cost (well, I did have a budget of $2000), no matter the inconvenience and the mess, I was going to adopt a parrot.

A few months later (though it felt like forever at the time), I was stood in front of a shallow tray holding a clutch of four nearly fully-fledged African Grey parrot chicks. “Okay,” I said, “who wants to come live with us? There’s going to be lots of books and knitting and tea.” Perhaps this was a bit twee of me, but you’ve gotta let a guy know what he’s getting into, right? No sooner were the words out of my mouth than one of the chicks looked up and made a somewhat shaky beeline (birdline?) directly towards me, his black eyes shining. He had made his choice. And that was the first time I met Earl.
Three years on, life with Earl is many things, but one thing it isn’t is boring. He continues to hold me to my “books and knitting and tea” pledge every single day by diligently inspecting and/or getting involved with all of the above. Just yesterday he took the time to ensure that my knitting was up to his high standards.
Perhaps you’ve been keeping up with his (mis-)adventures on my Twitter, and if not, please feel free to start. Earl actually has his own Twitter, so if you like you can follow him as well.  He is, after all, a professional tweeter. Regardless, you can expect more Earl content to turn up here in the future.

Gnome Spores

Some people have warts, spoon collections, or small dogs. I have gnomes. Gnomes which, I should add, are uniquely fond of all of the above (weirdos.)*

I keep my gnomes (or rather, attempt to keep my gnomes) outside in a prepared garden that I dug especially for them. It's nestled beneath a Norway Maple that someone should've ripped out, but didn't about 25 years ago. I've kept it suitably woodsy and wild for them out there and as I've had no complaints from the wee bastards I assume that they're pleased with it. Nothing like urinating beneath a nice stand of lily-of-the-valley to get a gnome's blood flowing in his gnome-veins. Makes them feel alive.

Sometimes they like to do a bit of decorating of their own (and not just with their own bodily fluids!) Sometimes they coax mushrooms to grow. The other morning I looked out the window to see this going down: a classic, gnome-instigated mushroom party. I had to go out and investigate.

Gnomes have a lot in common with mushrooms, and not just because some (most?) of them are sort of damp, smelly, and fairly toxic if ingested. We know that mushrooms (and other fungus) spread via spores, and I strongly suspect that gnomes reproduce in the very same way, and just as quickly, too. One minute there's nothing and then poof, there's a whole mess of the little darlings all over the garden, running the show. I mean, how can one otherwise explain either mushrooms or gnomes?**
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go investigate a suspicious clang that I just heard downstairs. I thought that I had kicked them all outside this morning.***

*N.B.: My gnomes may not be representative of all gnomes. Maybe you're lucky. Maybe yours are the polite kind. Maybe your gnomes aren't gross little nutjobs who like to do the two-step in jam and then go smear their sticky feet on the good carpet. Mine find this to be a inexhaustible source of amusement (weirdos.)

**Not a rhetorical question. You can't. Don't try.

***I had. They came back.