When (Wo)men Make Plans… – or – Emotional Whiplash In Paradise

I will never understand how some people seem to control their destiny.  From a young age they are sure of what they want to be and do when they grow up, they set out to accomplish those goals, and then live out the lives they imagined for themselves.  I think most people are more like me, though: Mr. Magoo-ing our way through life, drifting like a leaf on a stream, being bumped and jostled by rocks along the way, and ending up somewhere they never envisioned.

Never has this been more apparent for me than the past three months or so.  In July, I wrote out a five year plan for my life and business, had a conversation with some close friends about how Austin was my home and I had no intention of leaving it, went on a beach vacation with my family, and then – for better or worse – on the second to last day of vacation I just happened to check Facebook right when the manager of the Parrot Garden at Best Friends Animal Society happened to post a job opening in her department.

I’ve known Jacque, the Parrot Garden manager, for almost three years now.  She contacted me in early 2011 asking permission to give copies of my Bird Owner’s Manual out to their adopters.  Of course I said yes, and we’ve kept in touch ever since.  So when I saw that she was hiring, I didn’t even pause to think about it; I sent in an application.  Within an hour I heard back from HR, requesting an interview a few days later, and then after the phone interview I was asked to come out for a two week evaluation period, that just a little over a week later.  I had nine days to settle things with current clients, refer them out to colleagues, wrap things up with Dr. Bendall, and prepare for my trip.

The two week evaluation was a blast.  I knew that this was the job for me, and worth completely unending my entire life at the drop of a hat.  I was offered the job, and had almost, but not quite, two weeks to get back home, pack up my life, wrap up loose ends with my business and with Austin Parrot Society, and move up here.

The Move

Frantic doesn’t even begin to describe our moving process.  We were packing and loading the van literally up to the last minute, and when we ran out of space in the van, I ended up leaving several travel cages, playstands, garden supplies, plants, and worst of all, my beautiful Betta fish, Zephyr, behind.  I was bawling as we pulled away from our house.  But even worse, because we left several hours later than intended, our plan to have the cats and birds in their crates in the car (with the windows rolled down, of course) hauled behind the U-Haul did not go over well.  They were overheating before we even started moving.  So we made a pit stop at my parents’ house, brought them all inside, gave them showers, and waited until sundown to get back on the road.  To call me an emotional wreck would be putting it nicely.

The overnight trip through Texas was uneventful.  I guess the only noteworthy part was when we drove through the massive windfarm, where each windmill had a blinking red light on it, so there were blinking red lights against the black sky as far as the eye could see.  And then, right in front of us, a bright green meteorite exploded amidst all the red lights.  Surreal.  I wish I could’ve gotten pictures of it; it was truly something I’ll never forget.

Although our drive through Texas went smoothly, if there was anything that Chuck and I learned on this trip, it’s that we are apparently allergic to state borders.

We crossed the New Mexico border right after 5 am, and as the sun rose I had reached my limit.  I was about to pass out, completely drained from the emotional departure and the all night drive (actually, Chuck had driven for a few hours in the middle of the night, but I was still so tense from the day’s mishaps that I didn’t sleep at all).  So, just past the border, I pulled into a gas station to fill the tank, grab a drink, and let Chuck take over driving.  Unfortunately, there was an emaciated and limping pittie girl sitting right in front of the pumps, looking simultaneously pathetic and hopeful.  Not wanting to run her over, I took a shorter turn than I should have and ran over the curb with the back tire.  The tire instantly exploded.

Too sleep deprived and spent to think straight, Chuck saved the day by finding the number of the U-Haul roadside assistance, so I gave them a call, and a little under an hour later, someone showed up and saved our butts.  I will be forever grateful to that man, for not only showing up at the buttcrack of dawn to fix the U-Haul, but also for being cheerful, encouraging, and generally awesome while doing so.  He cheered us up, made us laugh, and got us back on the road feeling better than before the whole incident happened.

The northern half of New Mexico is indeed enchanted, as they claim.  Sadly, we didn’t get to go through my favorite part, which is basically everything from Santa Fe north, but I did love the scenery and probably would have loved it more under more desirable circumstances.  And while Chuck was driving, I finally reached the point of exhaustion where I was able to cat nap for about 45 minutes or so.

However, once again, we were just a few miles from the Arizona border when we stopped for gas at a station where a huge biker club was parked.  Their motorcycles were sprawled out across most of the parking lot, leaving very little room for us to maneuver the 20-ft U-Haul with the car in tow.  Chuck pulled up to the pump uneventfully, but when we were done and tried to pull out of the parking lot, we got stuck.  I got out to help direct Chuck as he tried to correct our trajectory, but he couldn’t hear me when I was yelling at him to stop, the car trailer jack-knifed, and one of the chains broke off the trailer.  It was Chuck’s turn to be nonplussed.  Fortunately, thanks to the catnap I was at the point of exhaustion where I was too irritated to give a fuck, so I grabbed a wrench, forced the bent O-ring open, jerry-rigged the chain back around so it would once again secure the car trailer to the U-Haul, put a new link in the chain through the O-ring, and forced that bitch back closed again.  I know it wasn’t that big of a deal, but at the time, and under those circumstances, I totally felt like a badass.

The parts of Arizona we drove through were also fairly magical, and someday I’d like to go back and explore a few of those areas, but by this time I was so exhausted and in so much physical pain that I just wanted the whole thing to be over with.  Consequentially that drive felt like the longest stretch of the trip, even though in reality it was actually the shortest.  The U-Haul was carrying so much weight that I was having to really press into the gas pedal just to get it up to 55 mph, so my legs were completely swollen and sore.  I was so tired that I was physically in pain from head to toe, and nothing seemed real.  We were in a race against the sunset to try to get to Kanab before dark so that we didn’t have to unload the truck in pitch black, but it wasn’t to be.

Once again, we got to Page, which is just a few miles from the Utah border, and yet another mishap struck.  One of the roads to Kanab from Page was washed out a few months ago, so there was a detour sign posted to send folks to the other, un-washed-out highway.   Unfortunately, the creators of these roads weren’t all that creative, so both highways are named 89.  And also unfortunately, the people who set up the detour signs weren’t super good at posting clear, easy to follow directions.  So when we followed the detour signs from the 89 we were on to the 89 that was the detour, we accidentally ended up turning left on the 89 that was washed out instead of the 89 that wasn’t washed out.  We realized our mistake when we passed a flashing red sign that said “road closed”, but our talented road-smiths *also* aren’t very good about thinking to themselves, “Gee, we should probably create a safe place for trucks to be able to turn around, in case they accidentally head in the wrong direction.”  So we kept driving for a couple of miles, looking for a place to turn around, and finally found a place that *looked* wide enough.  Oh no.  It wasn’t.  And once again, we jack-knifed.  We were stuck.  The car and trailer were facing the wrong direction; the U-Haul was facing the right direction, but had no more road to drive on.  So we decided, hey, no way around but forward.  Those frail-looking sage bushes surely would be no match for a several ton U-Haul, right?  WRONG.  I drove over one.  It lifted the front tires right off the ground, and that thick desert sand sunk the back tires down almost to their axles.

At this point, I full on, straight up, lost my shit.  We had been awake for 40 hours, and driving for 26.  We had already encountered and overcome two major obstacles right around state borders.  I simply didn’t have the reserves to gracefully and intelligently tackle this third one.  I called the U-Haul roadside service number again, but this time the operator on the other end had difficulty understanding me through my panicked sobs.  I also called two of my future co-workers, incoherently babbling at them through sobs that I needed them to please come get my animals, because we were going to be stuck out there in the desert at night, and snakes would get into their crates and eat them.  *Of course* that’s completely absurd and irrational, but sleep deprivation and stress will do that to your ability to think and behave rationally.

Fortunately for us, a lovely couple lives right off the road right by that area where so many people before us had attempted to turn around like we had, and they saw us get stuck, and they drove up to us and asked us if we needed any help.  Chuck handled this one for me, since he was far more calm and stable than I was in that moment.  He explained what was going on to the couple, and they told us that trucks get stuck in the exact spot we did every single day, for the exact same reasons we did.  So they were used to helping hapless victims get unstuck.  Also, somehow another dude showed up in a truck, and between that dude and the couple who lived there, they got our U-Haul hitched up to the Mystery Dude’s truck.  I didn’t think it would work, honestly.  What’s one truck against several tons of U-Haul/car?  But let me tell you something: that Ford F150 slogan?  You know the one, “Built tough”?  Yeah, that’s not just advertising.  That’s legit.  Mystery Dude’s truck’s hitch was bending at a 45 degree angle like it was about to snap off, but it hauled our U-Haul right over that deceptively sturdy sage bush, out of the soft, deep sand, and back onto the road.  We thanked them all profusely – me through my sobs, which I could not for the life of me get under control – and got back on the road.

It was almost midnight when we pulled up to our house.  Too exhausted and sore to unload anything, we just grabbed the sofa cushions, some blankets, the animals, and all of our overnight bags.  I gave all the babies fresh food and water, set up litter boxes, and got ready for bed.  Are you familiar with the word “cankles”?  You know, where your calves go straight down to your feet because your ankles are the same width as your calves?  Well, I had “thankles”.  My feet, ankles, and knees were so swollen from the arduous drive and pressing that damn gas pedal to the floor for a full day that my thighs went down to my feet in a straight line.  No exaggeration.  I propped my legs up on some pillows, placed bags of frozen veggies over my knees and ankles, and promptly passed out.

When I woke up in the morning, I could’ve kissed our property managers for leaving us hand soap, toilet paper, paper towels, and epsom salts.   Never were such simple gestures of hospitality and thoughtfulness more greatly appreciated.

***01.29.13 EDIT***

I had intended to finish this blog, talking about settling into the the new job and new town, but got busy and forgot.  It’s been five months since we moved here now, so this entry is way after the fact, but whatever.  I’m just going to post it as-is and move on.  Maybe in a few months I’ll remember to post another entry.

P.S. I clearly suck at blogging, since I never freaking remember to actually do it.  🙂


The Traditional, Albeit Belated, New Year’s Post.

Well, if January is anything to go on, the theme of 2013 is going to be Learning How To Manage Expectations.  So far, every single plan I’ve made has been thwarted.  Everything I’ve looked forward to and hoped for has fallen through.  Everything I have set out to accomplish hasn’t happened.  And as I described here, I’ve taken a series of financial and emotional hits.

I find myself, at the end of the first month of the year, drained.  Exhausted.

And yet.

On a cerebral level, I can see how these events are good for me.  From an objective standpoint, this month hasn’t been bad.  Aside from Zuma almost getting his tongue ripped out, I can tick off the benefits of all these disruptions and  unexpected events.  When I think about it, even Zuma’s accident has yielded a beneficial change in my life: due to the decision to no longer housesit, I have decided to start boarding birds instead, which will be a good source of income while allowing me to stay at home more.  The unproductive east side of my garden and Archie’s death and subsequent burial on that side of the yard has inspired new plans to put in a memorial xeriscaped / succulent garden.  The disruption of my plans on a few occasions has resulted in new friendships being formed.  The financial hit I’ve taken has encouraged me to get back to my healthier, home-cooked eating habits.  It’s all good things.

I can't wait to do something like this in my yard.

I can’t wait to do something like this in my yard.

So why am I feeling drained?  Because of my emotional attachment to my expectations.  Every time a plan has been thwarted, my reaction has been frustration, rather than acceptance.  Instead of embracing the unforeseen, I’ve been clinging to my own personal agendas.  Having something ripped from my emotional grasp is painful; if I can learn to voluntarily let go, the experience will be painless.

So, instead of doing New Year’s resolutions like I have in the past, I want to set only one goal for myself: to accept, joyfully and willingly, whatever happens in 2013.  Instead of making more resolutions, I need to learn to be less resolute, more pliable.  So here’s to the next 11 months, and whatever they may bring!

News From the Garden

It’s funny that I kind of lost interest in this blog until I started gardening, and now I want to blog about it all the time.  To (mis)quote Anne of Green Gables, “If you only knew how much I want to blog about my garden and don’t, you’d give me some kind of credit!”

But anyway,  much has been happening in the garden lately.  First of all, a little house sparrow family made a nest on one of the columns of my porch, and the babies fledged a few days ago.  I walked out one day, and there they were!

For a few days, every time I went outside, they’d be hanging out somewhere in the garden.  I got kind of fond of the little dudes.  I even had heart palpitations when I found them hiding among the rocks of the pond; I was so afraid they’d fall into the water!

I got to know the crew a bit during the time that they were hanging out, and I really came to admire the critters.  The eldest was very adept at flying already, while the middle one was pretty good but couldn’t gain a lot of height, and the youngest couldn’t do more than flit around a few feet at a time.  He was also the least skittish; a few times I was able to pet him, and he even hopped onto my hand once.  What was sweet was that, while the parents were too scared to come attack The Big Scary Beast Who Kept Messing With Their Baby, the eldest sibling would bravely stay near the two younger ones, and would keep a watchful eye on me.  The parents would be fussing their fool heads off in the tree above, but the eldest sibling wouldn’t go any further away than the fence at my eye level:

"I am staying at your eye level so I can peck your eyes out if you try to hurt my baby brother, yo."

The youngest kid even started coming out of hiding when I’d come out and call to them.  One day, the other two were hanging out under my herb wheelbarrow, and I couldn’t find the youngest.  I started to get worried that maybe he’d been eaten by a stray cat, or drowned in the pond, or something like that.  But when I started talking to the siblings, asking where the youngest was, he hopped out from behind the morning glory cage and chirping:

"Here I am! Right here! I'm not dead! I was just back here chillin'."

So, yeah, I got attached to the little buggers.  A few days after they showed up in the garden, they had all learned to fly well enough that they moved up into the tree.  I still see them flying around once in a while, or one of them will land on the fence and watch me work in the garden, but gone are the days of hanging out with them so close.  *sigh*  Here’s a video I took of them hanging out together, being cute:

Those aren’t the only babies in my garden, though!  Yesterday, my pond exploded:

See all those little black dots? Tadpoles.

At first I thought they were baby Mosquitofish, because one of my females was about to lay eggs when I bought her (or so the store employees told me), so I just assumed that these were her offspring.  But then a friend of mine, who knows a lot more about pond life than I do, told me they were tadpoles.  Admittedly, they look a lot like tadpoles, and that did cross my mind when I first saw them.  But I never imagined it was possible.  Because, I mean, the big mystery is: HOW IN THE HECK DID THEY GET THERE?  My two tadpoles, whom I named Chicken and Fish, still had their tails as of last week (although, admittedly, Chicken’s was all but gone), so they are obviously too young to have parented these little dudes.  But how in the heck did they get there?  My friend told me that some toads probably found their way to my pond, but I was doubtful.  I live a block from two major highways, in a neighborhood with no water (other than my new pond) and very little plant life of any kind.  Every yard is separated by privacy fences.  And the closest body of water is two miles away (across major highways in every direction).  I just didn’t think it was possible for a toad, much less multiple toads, to have crossed highways, dug under multiple fences, and found their way to my humble little spot of water.  But oh, they did.  And I found one of the suckers hanging out in my pond today:

Way too old to be Chicken or Fish, unless toads can get progeria.

I will never cease to be amazed by the amazing journey this little dudette made to come lay her eggs here, but hey, she’s welcome to stay.  She can help keep the insect population down to a dull roar.  Maybe someday I’ll write a children’s book about her adventure.

My koi babies are thriving as well!  I’ve given them names and gotten to know their little personalities.  I named the yellow-and-white one Sushi, the orange-and-white one Ceviche, and, as I mentioned in my last blog entry, the blue ones with the orange spot on their tail and head are named Yin and Yang, respectively.  I had originally had their names switched, but swapped names when I got to know their personalities a little better.  Yang (who was originally Yin) is a fiery little dude.  Within days of being placed in my pond, he and Ceviche formed a bond and started boldly darting around the pond together, hanging out in areas of open pond, even coming to the surface, even in daylight.  Yin, on the other hand, is much less energetic and less bold.  He mostly stays under the lotus pot, or occasionally will hang out under one of the rocky crags or a cluster of lotus leaves.  When he does come out, he pokes out his head first, looks around, the slowly ventures out.  The slightest change in environment will send him darting back under the pot.  He finds safety in numbers, and will only venture around the pond by sticking close to Yang and Ceviche.  I have never seen him out by himself.  Sushi, on the other hand, is a loner.  Whereas the other three have chosen beneath the lotus pot as their home, Sushi chooses to live underneath the iris pot all by himself.  He swims by himself, plays by himself, and only joins the others when I feed them.  He’s my little lone wolf.  He’s also super fast.  I’ve tried multiple times to take pictures of him because he’s so beautiful, but this is the best I’ve been able to get:

It's hard to tell, but he's kind of in the center of the picture, between the lotus pot and its lily pads. Ceviche is hanging out just above and to the right of him. It was feeding time.

But just for reference, this is the closest image I could find of a koi that looks like him:

Except, you know, this dude's an adult.

I also realized that I know literally nothing about koi, which officially makes me one of those irresponsible people who buys animals without knowing anything about them.  I should have known better, but the employees at the store acted like it was no big deal and super easy to keep them and blahblahblah–but then again, how many pet store employees act that way about birds?  Why didn’t I even think about that?  So now I’m trying to catch up and learn as much about them as I can.  For instance, I learned that Sushi and Ceviche’s coloration is called “hariwake”, and Yin and Yang’s coloration is called “kage showa”.  I learned that they can live up to 50 years (!!) (apparently, I like to keep animals who can outlive me).  I learned that I can feed them snacks of worms, fruits, and vegetables (FUN!!!).  I learned that they don’t tolerate hot water, so I’m going to have to find a way to shade my pond before summer hits.  I learned that they don’t tolerate cold water (below 50 degrees), either, so I’ll have to get a pond heater before next winter.  Plus, I learned that they are easily victimized due to their bright colors, so some kind of shade or screen will also be necessary to prevent predators from seeing them and eating them.  What have I gotten myself into?!  Now I know how people feel when they get a bird without doing their research first.  BUT!  I will do whatever it takes to make my babies happy, comfortable, and enriched.  I was planning on building a bigger pond in the backyard when the landlord builds the fence back there, anyway, so they’ll have a bigger, deeper home to go to when they start to outgrow this smaller pond.  In the meantime, we’re just going to have to make the best of this little pond that we have!

Here’s a video I shot of the Three Stooges hanging out together.  As per usual, Sushi was nowhere to be found:


Another new development in Gardenland is that I got a Venus Fly Trap the other day when I was at the Great Outdoors.  I had wanted to get some carnivorous plants to go around the pond to help with insect control, but then was scared off by reading how difficult they are to keep alive in this part of the world.  But when I saw them in the green house, so cute and only $6, I thought, what the heck, I’ll just get one and see how it does.  I have a rainwater collection barrel, so I can give it that water and hopefully not kill it.  Well, two weeks into this experiment, so far so good!

This little bugger eats bugs as fast as it can, and hasn’t been all that much work.  I just spritz it with a little rain water every other day or so and it seems happy as a clam.  We’ll see how it fares as the summer heat sets in, but so far this experiment has been a success.

That’s about it from my garden.  The monarch butterflies have arrived, and have been inspecting my wares.  It remains to be seen whether they make any of my butterfly-friendly plants their home.  I hope they do!  How cool would that be?!

R.I.P. Dani Deacon

Dani Deacon, my beautiful budgie, not to be confused with the musician, Dan Deacon, whom she was named after because her song sounded remarkably similar to his music, died today.  She was only two years old.  Yesterday, she was flying around, singing, playing with her toys, eating and drinking well, normal stools, no diarrhea or vomiting… basically, being her normal, charming self.  I’ve been working overnights shifts at an EC, so my clock is all backwards.  I went to bed at 4 am and woke up at almost 1 pm, checked my email, then got up to feed and water all my birds.  Dani was on the bottom of her cage, dead.  Her keel was well-muscled and her crop had food in it, so it didn’t appear to be a chronic thing, but she had pink-tinged vomit crusted all over her face.  So, I’m thinking that she had some kind of congenital heart defect and she just acutely went into left-sided heart failure, which causes pulmonary edema, which caused her to vomit up the blood-tinged foam that would make her vomit pink.  The fact that she was a mass-bred budgie with a very rare and recessive color mutation makes a congenital heart defect even more likely.  In the grand scheme of things, this is good news, because it means that some kind of contagion that might effect my other birds is very unlikely, and also it means that it was nothing that I did wrong or could have prevented.  Nevertheless, I feel like I failed her somehow.  Even with the best diet and environment, I couldn’t give her the long, healthy life I want for all my birds.

I should stop writing now.  My other birds are hungry and still need me.  But I feel like I need some time to process this information.  Dani’s gone.  Without any warning.  I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

Goodbye, my beautiful girl.  I will miss you.


Bayu and Ixchel actually take flight; I, on the other hand, just feel high.

If it were possible to high-five a period of time, I would have been high-fiving today like every couple of hours.  Great job, Today!  You’re awesome, Today!  Hey, Wednesday, November 10, 2010, you’re a real champ!

Et cetera.

So here’s what happened:

1) Bayu, my male Eclectus who has previously only flown when terrified, desperate, or both, decided this morning that flying was actually a pretty cool way to get around the house on his own.  He flew into the living room to hang out with me for a while, then, when he got bored, he flew back into the bedroom and back to his cage.  Like it was no big deal.  Like he’d been doing it for years.  His landings?  Immaculate.  Whereas his terror-flights always resulted in clumsy- or downright crash-landings, I think he’s been watching Cah’ya and Yodit carefully and learning how to land from their example, because it was beautiful to watch him put his little feet out, throw his tail up, and make a soft, clean landing onto my chair back.  Attaboy, Bayu!

I like to take full credit for his newfound confidence, because after almost three years of living with the boy, it finally dawned on me that what he really needed to help build his confidence and give him a sense of agency was free roam.  I opened his cage door a few days ago and have left it open ever since.  Normally, I don’t recommend letting birds just out to wander at will, as it exposes them to many more dangers then if they’re only out of their cages under supervision.  But in his case, my room is bird-proofed (heck, it’s practically a bird room with a human bed shoved in one corner), and he is so scared of the other birds that out-of-cage time when the others are out isn’t really very fun for him.  So I figured: let the boy decide, in peace, sans other birds, when and whether he wants to come out of his cage.  Let him go down onto the ground and forage around in the bird food and supplies if he wants to.  Let him have free access to the playgyms, window, bed, etc., when the other birds aren’t out to bully him.  Empower him to make his own decisions, to freely explore his environment, and wander without fear of repercussions.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Today he starts flying.  Yeah, it took me almost three years to figure it out, but hey!  At least I figured it out!  At least it’s working!  At least his quality of life is finally, finally improving.

2) Ixchel also decided to fly today.  She’s been doing great flapping exercises ever since I got her, but today when we were doing our flapping she actually lifted up out of my hand.  She couldn’t sustain lift, though, so I’d have to leapfrog my hands one in front of the other to catch her keel each time she took off, then sank, then took off, then sank.  So finally, she was getting enough lift that I thought she could make the short trip to the sofa.  I extended the hand that she was cradled in and gently tossed her towards the sofa.  Beautiful arc, beautiful landing.  She laughed softly as she landed.  I praised her like crazy, then we tried it again, a foot farther from the sofa than last time.  Again, she made it, and again, she laughed.  We tried it again, a foot farther away, and again: landing, laughter.  The fourth time, I was all the way on the other side of the living room, I extended my hand, but I didn’t even have to toss her.  She knew what was coming and started flapping her wings, then took off on her own, without my help, and landed beautifully on the sofa.  After that, there was no stopping her.  She tried to turn mid-flight a few times and head towards the other birds’ cages, but couldn’t quite  make it all the way.  She’d either land on the floor or I would catch her.  Regardless, every time her flight would end, she would laugh.  Which made me laugh.  Which made Cah’ya laugh.  There was a lot of laughter in my house this morning.

So yay!  Ixchel can fly!  Now that she’s fledging I can start taking her places with me to get her properly socialized and introduce her to the world around us.  If anyone wants to be a part of that socialization process, by all means, let me know.  I need volunteers.

3) Wednesdays are always as least partially awesome because it’s the day that I pick up our weekly veggies from our Springdale Farm CSA.

It has quickly become a treasured weekly tradition for me.  I love going to pick up the bags and chatting with Paula and Jennifer.  I love taking our bag to Nick’s house, finding out what treats and goodies they’ve included for the week, and divvying them up between the two of us.  And most of all, I love taking my portion of the goods home and figuring out what I can do with them!  I have discovered so many new recipes and experienced so many new flavors since joining this CSA, because there’s always at least one thing in the bag that I’ve never cooked with before.  This week, for instance, it’s fennel.  Never cooked with it before.  But I’m definitely going to enjoy doing something tasty with it tomorrow!

4) But also, Nick had a special treat for me when I got to his house today: he gave me a copy of his brand new book, which came out just this week!

I haven’t had a chance to read all of it yet, but so far it’s simply breathtaking.  I highly recommend it to everyone, ever, but particularly to artists and people who are interested in becoming artists.  I’m super inspired to continue work on my own book(s)–especially after reading his chapter on “Cultivating the Proper Mindset”.   That resonated with me so much because it’s what I want and need to do; I’ve just… failed at it, due to various distractions.  *coughIxchelandthisblogforexamplecough*  But!  Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it!

5) That devastating discovery I made a couple of days ago isn’t so devastating anymore, mostly because I have had some time to learn more about it.  And yes, as I suspected, it is ultimately going to lead to healing some brokenness in me that has been there for years and years.  So…you take the bad with the good and recognize that oftentimes the bad is necessary to help lead us to the good.

And again, I repeat: tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it!

(Just give me about 12 hours to fuck it up proper!)

Life lessons

This is another one that I sent to Caitlin and then decided it was again too humiliating/hilarious not to share.  And yes, I realize that of the whopping four blog entries I’ve done so far, I’ve mentioned Caitlin twice and literally no one else even once, making it appear that I only have one friend.  Mmm, I’m just getting more and more attractive every day, aren’t I, world?

“I just read your blog entry.  Funny thing: that almost happened to me this morning.  Ok, I do yoga in my underwear.  I also feed Ixchel in my underwear, because she always makes a big mess and slings formula everywhere, and it’s easier to clean formula splatters off skin than clothing.  And then, because I’ve already been walking around in my underwear doing yoga and feeding Ixchel, I go ahead and feed the rest of the birds in my underwear, too.  ‘Cos why the hell not?  I live alone.  So before giving them fresh water, I dump the birds’ old water into my hanging plants that are out on my front porch.  If I didn’t do that, they’d otherwise never get watered.

So this morning, the birds were all out of their cages, I was in my underwear, and I took a couple of old water bowls out to the porch to water the plants (I should clarify here that my front yard is fully enclosed in a privacy fence, so it’s not like I’m flashing the neighbors).  I shut the door behind me so that none of the birds would fly out the door.  The problem is that my door knob has a little button on it that, if it’s pressed in, locks the door automatically.  So I went out, watered the plants, and then when I turned to walk back in, realized that the knob was locked.  FUCK.  I was envisioning myself running down S_____ in my underwear screaming at the top of my lungs: “BFF NEEDS PHONE!  BFF NEEDS LOCKSMITH!”  And then getting arrested and sent to the State Hospital for apparent mental illness.  Fortunately for me, I have a flare for the dramatic, as you well know, so I half-jokingly threw myself against the front door crying, “Nooooo!”  As it turns out, I hadn’t shut the door all the way, so the bolt hadn’t completely engaged.  My weight was enough to push it back open.  Talk about a stroke of luck.  I mean, for the good citizens of Austin who happened to be on S_____ this morning, more so than for me.  Poor people would have had PTSD if they witnessed me running down the street in my undies.
Lesson learned: always get dressed before taking the birds’ water out to the plants.  I would say, “Always make sure you have your keys with you before you walk outside,” but I think you and I both know that’s a bit of an unrealistic expectation!”

Baby Love

This evening, when I got home from having worked all day at a clinic after only three hours of sleep last night, I laid down on the futon for a quick nap before moving forward with my to-do list.  Ixchel’s box was on the floor at the end of the futon closest to my head, and when she saw me lie down so close to her she scrambled over to my side of her box, cried out in the softly pleading way that baby caws do, and tried climbing/flapping out of the box towards me.   I extended a finger towards her beak, which she hooked onto and used as leverage to hoist her clumsy, crippled little body over the box’s side.  I caught her keel in my hand and brought her towards me.  She couldn’t wait for my slow movements to complete the journey; with an awkward jump and a mighty flap of her wings, she launched herself at my shoulder, burying her face in the crook of my neck and nestling her body in the “u” made by my shoulder and arm.  We slept cuddled up like that for a little over an hour.

When we woke up I held her over her box to potty and then she immediately wanted to come back to the futon.  This time I set her next to me on the futon.  With a determined squawk, she set about the daunting task of climbing up onto my back.  With contorted legs, ungainly wings, and a determined beak, she writhed and struggled and eventually flopped and scooted onto my back.  Once there, she again fought against the deformity of her legs and somehow managed to pull herself up to the highest point of my back: the scapula.  I thought that was her end-goal: to hang out on the tallest possible point.  But once she reached my shoulder blade, she folded her wings and did a slow-motion dive towards my face.  She landed with a rocking motion, kind of like a penguin sliding off an ice floe, then pressed her right cheek firmly against my left cheek, tucked her toes against my clavicle, and stretched her right wing over my neck and head in a gloriously sweet baby caw hug.

In that moment, all the tenderness and affection and love that I feel towards any animal in my care expanded and deepened and intensified, and Ixchel joined ranks with Cassia, Charlie, and Cah’ya.  Don’t get me wrong: I love all the animals with whom I’ve had the privilege of sharing a trans-species community, but some transcend friend and companion.   Some have a special place in heart and life.  Oh, little crippled Ixchel, how I love you so.

She goes into surgery next week.  She’ll be 12 weeks old.  Charlie had his first surgery at 12 weeks old, too.  May the medical similarities end there.