Ringneck Visitors

Sure, I’m in the middle of the city.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t get visitors.

In this case, though, I think they’re not exactly here for me.

They’re for the bar.

The way this started was with Oscar, the orange wing amazon parrot I have had since 1986.  Bloody long time, right?  Well he’s here.  He’s never gotten lost, I guess I’m too good at taking care of him for that.  I have taken him out back many times when it is raining because Amazon Parrots Love Rain.

Just leave the cage out by the pool in the middle of a thunderstorm and let the parrot play in the water.

Step number one, remove the wire cage from the plastic base.  This must be done without freaking the bird out or catching my fingers in the mesh … or the beak within.

Step two.  Go outside.  Better said than done.  I’m a bit unwieldy at times, somewhat clumsy.  One step down to the Florida Room.  Over the threshold and through the double doors to the Lanai.  Out to the pool deck.

And… trip.

It doesn’t happen often but the last time it did, the cage collapsed and had one rather scared green bird within a metal mesh and me freaking out to try to reassemble the cage without letting the bird fly off.

Oh, did I say that this is with Oscar being “Fully Flighted”?

Never mind all that rot.  He just took it all calmly in.  He stepped on my index finger, let me put him inside the cage, grabbed onto my finger a little harder than I prefer and back onto the perch.

That last grab was probably because he was saying I’m being an idiot I guess.

Basically when I have to put Oscar anywhere it is usually in the back yard.  It is quiet there and while we do get “visitors” they are normally at night when I’m snoring into my pillow.

Yes, you can hear it from the corner… well yes that is TMI so I’ll stop there.

Anyway, if I put Oscar in the Florida Room or out back, the outside birds will come to visit.  They range from finch sized little things to the buzzards that have just come to roost for their annual visit.

We also have the Hawks.  Oscar doesn’t like Hawks and will get loud if they come near.

Remember Parrot = Loud.  If you want a quiet house, don’t get a parrot.

I tell Oscar when he gets loud that he can go play with the hawks if he likes.  He has never taken me up on the offer.

This particular day, Oscar was in the Florida Room since it was sunny.  That was when the Ringnecks came for a visit.  Their call is like something out of The Simpsons with “Meh! Meh!” in a reedy voice.  I knew they were here for a visit with Oscar since he was clearly in view of the big double door in the back.

Settling onto the bar for a bit they watched.  I was in the kitchen puttering.  Oscar made some gentle chatter in the back.

Ok, so I spoiled that visit by taking pictures out the Kitchen window, but hey, it is my house after all.

But they do still visit.  If the hawks are particularly active, I will have a bougainvillea full of small birds hiding.  Not today, but many days.   At least it keeps Oscar entertained.

Rack and Oscar’s Visitor at the Door

This was One Of Those Moments.

One Of Those Moments where you just have to scratch your head in confusion, and laugh.

It all started when I got the house to myself for a long week.  About 10 days.

I was rattling around by myself through the holidays, and December 27th, that was going to end.

Boxing Day, December 26th, I had to pick things up.  It was time to stop being a bachelor, and to begin to clean the house.

Living in South Florida, there is a fine layer of dust and sand that gets all over things.  You don’t notice it at first, but you start looking behind things and under things and on top of things that you forgot to look, and there it is.  A layer.  Sometimes there are whole civilizations of dust mites living in it.

You get used to it, so you periodically “Deep Clean” things.

But in just a week, there’s enough that it needs to happen.  Move the furniture around, clean where it was, and move it all back.  Normal boring crap.  However that means that it would get loud.

Oscar Likes Loud.  Oscar, my Orange Wing Amazon Parrot will make noises with anything in the house.  It could be a pencil dropped on the floor, he will chatter to it.  He laughs like I do, says “What?” in appropriate times, and believes that “Hello?!?!?” is an appropriate response to food.

As in “Hello, you had better be bringing me some or else I will get louder”.

Louder can be heard a half mile away.  You don’t want that.  He does “Louder” when the vacuum is run.  The vacuum would be run through the entire house today.

“Oscar, want to play with the Hawks?”

I put Oscar out on the front porch on Aunt Betty’s white plastic table.  She gave it to me with two chairs when she went back Up North and there it sits.  It was pristine when I got it, now three years of Dust later, it isn’t.

Did I say that the dust is from the beaches 2 and a half miles away?

Did I say that the dust is also from The Bahamas about 120 miles east of me?
Did I say that the dust also comes from The Sahara Desert half a world away?

Yes, really.  And it all got cleaned up.

I got out the vacuum and did the house.  Yes, even under the tv table cart and the couch.  All the chihuahua dog worth of loose dog fur were vacuumed away.  You never knew that a McNab Dog would shed so much, after all, he only has one coat and no undercoat.

At that point things got weirder.  I managed to mop the kitchen fairly quickly, and started on the dining room when I noticed that Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) was acting concerned.  “Concerned” in most dogs will mean they might grumble or even bark.  Not with Rack.  He just stares holes through you with twin yellow-green laser beamed eyes as he melts your heart with curiosity.

Or in this case urgency.  He plopped himself in the middle of the living room staring at me.

I looked past him through the big window noticing that Oscar was not being bothered by anyone.

“Rack, I’m going to need that room soon.”

Rack looked at me again as if to say “You had better check the door”.  He’s great for delegating responsibility since he’s afraid of his own shadow.

I went back to finishing the dining room.

Straightening out my own frame and blocking off the dining room, I found out what was going on.  The house had visitors.

Rack retreated to The Corner where he hides but was keeping an eye on both me and Oscar.

Oscar was looking at something just out of view and lunging at it.

And there it was.  A Muscovy Duck.

Mind you, these ducks are completely harmless.  Since they’re Outdoor Animals, they probably have all sorts of things that I don’t want Oscar getting so I watched.  But instead of going to the door and shooing the creature away, I realized it was watching both me, and Oscar.

I reached for the camera and squeezed off a couple pictures hoping that the light in the window wouldn’t wash things out too badly.  It did and I would find that out later.

But there I was.  I was locked in another Wild Kingdom moment.  My house was visited by the ducks again.  This wasn’t a surprise, we’ve got dozens of them.  I am only a short couple blocks from the nearest river and they never quite leave the neighborhood.  They are non-aggressive and harmless.  Since they eat the grubs in the grass, I can even say they’re beneficial.

They’re certainly entertaining, but I never expected them to come quite this close.

There was one a while back that decided that since I hardly ever drive my Jeep, it would roost under it.  I became a foster parent to a brood of baby ducks that would hide under there from the neighbor’s formerly outdoor cats.  Not wanting to disturb them, I would always make certain that I could get outside quietly and go about my business.
Rack doesn’t seem to mind them, but understands that they don’t belong on the porch.

Like this rather curious one.

It hopped onto the porch to see what this green parrot, Oscar, was doing on Betty’s table, and discovered that there was me indoors watching it, and Rack watching all of us being confused.

I squeezed off a few shots more, turning on the flash for the last one.

The duck had had enough at that point when I tried to walk to the door.  It slowly turned around and walked back under the Jeep.  It had to be a part of the brood here.

So that’s the thing.  You may have been used to living around nature, but nature never quite leaves you here in South Florida.  Sometimes it even pays a visit.

I went back to my cleaning and by the time I was done, it was wandering off the neighbor’s property.

Nice to have a little visit when you’re ready for a break from doing things, isn’t it?

Rack Does Not Want His Food. He Wants Mine.

Up at 5AM, we go through our normal routine.

Rack has been getting more excited about exploring Wilton Manors lately.  He’s been dragging me on a mile and a quarter and then some, almost two full KM walk each morning.

I could use the exercise, he could use the exercise, and it’s great mental stimulation for him

Great, it’s a win-win.  He is showing that he’s less afraid of that monster five lane highway that is Wilton Drive since I specifically take him through there every morning to get him less afraid.

We get on the last block to the house and he’s tugging to go home just like he’s expressing his opinion by selecting longer routes to extend our pre-dawn march around town.

I got back and got delayed.  I had to make coffee, get some things running, a couple downloads, and other odds and ends.  His breakfast got delayed a bit as a result.

That grey brown stuff in a purple bowl is one of the highest quality foods we could find on the No China and No Grain Food List that I keep to religiously.  It’s the color it is because it is soaked in water to soften it.  Rack is missing a “Pre-Molar” and without that tooth, dry food can be difficult.  Soft food is just a major headache and expensive as well.

But he doesn’t like it.  Or rather, he doesn’t seem to.  I was used to Lettie, my departed dog.  If I tossed a bit

of food in the air, she’d get it before it hit the ground.  To feed her by hand, I had to tell her to “Take Nice” or I’d feel teeth hit my skin.  That’s more normal.  To give a “normal” feeder a pill, wrap it in a piece of cold cut and toss it over your shoulder.  It wouldn’t hit the ground either.  In fact, the act of going into the kitchen meant you would have a dog on your heels before your hand touched the fridge door!

Rack, well, he’s a ultra-beta dog.  I have to go out of my way to remember to praise him until his tail is wagging that he’s done something right.  That includes eating.  His bowl is on a stack of bowls as a stand to put them at the right height.  The food is the right temperature, not too hot, not cold.  It has to be softened but not too soft. 

Yes, he is picky.  If I just toss it in a bowl and walk away, he starves himself.  A normally 50 pound dog, he hovers in the mid to lower 40s and when I tried that “take the bowl away” trick, he skipped three meals and went down to the high 30s in an eye blink.

No.  That’s cruel.  I have to be involved.  Tapping the bowl, spinning it around, drawing his attention to his food, holding it under his nose.

That’s the trick.  Eventually he eats it.  Grain free, all meat, no poultry. 

Then the praise, then he wandered off and hid.

I swear, he’s part cat.

But I wanted Pork for lunch.  Specifically, Char Siu Pork, cooked in the crock pot.  Chinese Barbecue Pork.  Savory and slightly sweet.  It’s the same recipe as the little bits of sweet pork you get in Pork Fried Rice.  The sauces take a little time to make but they can be made ahead of time, and the pork should really marinade overnight, but it isn’t required.

I started out to the kitchen.  I heard the thump of a tail hitting the plastic of the crate.  Four feed padded almost silently into the kitchen and stopped.   I had company.  I was having twin brown eyes staring at me, turning into lasers to burn holes through my resolve not to feed, and my heart.

I’m a soft touch.  I admit it.

I started to make the first sauce.  Hoisin sauce.  It’s a sweet garlic sauce.  Dark and deep brown, it’s used in a lot of Asian Cuisine.  It is also quite expensive at the stores, so I found a killer recipe to make the stuff

Reaching into the fridge for the Soy Sauce, even Oscar the Parrot got involved.  “HELLO!”.

No, you silly bird, you don’t want any of that!

I did wander back, stepping around the speed bump that is Rack, and opened up Oscar’s cage.  In reality, Oscar just wanted some Out Time.

Coming back into the kitchen, I stepped around the black and white cookie that was my dog, the canine Speed Bump, and got the honey out of the cupboard.

See a trend?  This repeated for each of the ingredients for the Hoisin sauce.  While the hoisin sauce is excellent on its own for recipes, I wanted Char Siu.  The spices were different. 

Rack was still staring.  I went to put the peanut butter away.  Rack’s ears perked. 

“Show me what you want, boy?”

Rack stared at the peanut butter jar. 

“Oh here you go” I gave him a little peanut butter on the tip of the butter knife and went back to making sauces.

Tossing the Hoisin into the crock pot, I added the other spices to the mix to change it to Char Siu. 

Normally, this step of making the sauces and marinades takes about 10 minutes to complete.  20 with help from my Rack.

All that stepping around the furry speed bump would slow me down.

I got my sauce done with the addition of the last bit of honey and sesame oil and stirred it in the crock pot with a whisk. 

Rack was still staring.

I grabbed the pork that was on the counter and slid it into the crock pot.

At this point, Rack went into overdrive. 

“No, Rack, it has onions, you can’t have any”.

A McNab Dog, like my Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) is an amazing creature.  If you have never experienced it, you have to take my word for it.  You speak in English, he learns abstract concepts.  I told him before that “Onions will kill you, you can’t have any” and any time he hears onions, he stops begging.  Like a light switch. 

Yeah, that smart.  Freaky smart.  I am waiting for him to pick up on the Spanish I am trying to learn.

Donde esta los calcitines?  Los Calcitines es aqui, en sus pies.

(or something like that.)

He left the kitchen at this point.  Went out to the front room, sniffing around clearing the floor of Oscar’s food, wandering around the house in a Perimeter Search, and made himself scarce.

He understands Onions.  Smart boy.

I still had another bit of work to do clearing out all the spices and wiping up the counter.  He decided it was no longer time to beg.

So, being a soft touch has its benefits.  I get company of the best sort in the Kitchen.  Rack doesn’t demand much, although he does beg for food.  I don’t get told that I put too much onion in the sauce, or I’m overcooking something, or I need to add something to thicken the barbecue sauce instead of reducing it. 

I’ve heard all that before.  Too many cooks spoil the broth and get growled at by the Chef anyway.

But Dog, go eat your own food without any back talk first, OK? 

It’s almost as hard as getting me to eat Olives. 

No.  I won’t do it.  I’ll call out for Pizza first!  Even crappy frozen pizza before olives.

Oscar and His Drink Chip

My parrot, Oscar.  You might think he has a drinking problem, but it’s a bit more playful than that.

You see, I can’t really take him out for walks like I do with my dog, Rack.  In order to do that, I’d have to trim the toenails first. 

If you have ever heard the rather sarcastic stories on how to bathe a cat, it’s similar.  Imagine talons as sharp as a sewing needle being thrust into your flesh as a beak that is like a pair of diagonal cutters being wielded by a man with intent to maim are coming at your body.

I stopped trying to keep his toenails filed down years ago when I realized it made me look like an extra in a slasher movie.

Don’t try to teach a pig to dance, it won’t work and only annoys the pig.

I can trim his flight feathers.  He allows that, although he complains about it.  I got very good at getting him so that his flight was a controlled descent.  I stopped doing that too since my departed dog, Lettie, was a bit too interested in him.  I figured that if a 45 pound McNab dog was quick on her feet, old Oscar needed to be quick enough to fly away.

I don’t think Lettie saw Oscar as prey, more like an unruly bit of the flock that needed to be herded.

I didn’t want to take that chance.

Since then I have tried to make sure that Oscar has plenty of toys to exercise his mind.  After all, if he’s chewing on a hard plastic ring or preening a piece of cotton rope, he won’t be shrieking at the music that is playing here.

All bets are off an hour after dawn or the hour before dusk.  That is the Call To Flock time, and well, they call to the flock to make sure they’re all back in the trees.  Turn the music down, mute the TV and especially commercials, and hope for the best.

Those toys are gathered from strange sources.  Green bamboo cut from the backyard gives hours of fun, and it is kind of interesting to watch him turn the sticks into toothpicks, then later splinters.  It also saves my woodwork.

Any time we have a street festival, I look for something that might be interesting to him, or Rack.  The beach ball serves as a road block for Oscar.  He doesn’t like it because Scary Ball Eeek! but he and Rack both like to preen the Hedgehogs I keep.

Because, HEDGEHOG!

Plush toys the size of your fist are a winner here, trust me on that.  If Beanie Babies were more sturdy, I’d have let them play with those years ago.

One of the strangest things that you find here in Wilton Manors are drink chips.  You folks who come from all over the world, sometimes travelling days to get here like to drink.  You usually travel here to drink with your phone in your hand looking at things that your friends you left behind are doing instead of finding something to do here.

Once bored with being online with your friends back home, you get bored with the bars.  You wonder why you came all this way just to sit in a dark and noisy corner when nobody will talk with you.

Here’s a hint, Sunshine, Put. Down. The. Phone.


You slide your precious little fetish device into the pocket, along with your drink chip, and you stagger out to the cars.

Yes, you do, we notice.  We, being the locals.  Don’t drive impaired, because if you do, I truly hope that you’ll get stopped.

As you get to your car, you reach into your pocket.  Here is when Oscar gets a new toy.   Sliding that phone out of your pocket, your precious drink chip that you saved promising yourself that you’d come back tomorrow because that corner perch wasn’t so bad and even comfortable, and that person over there by the window was cute when you got smiled at… falls on the ground and rolls under your car.

Yeah, the car with Ohio Plates.

You curse and get in and drive off.

The next morning, or perhaps even evening, we’re out on our dog walk.  The little green chip is spotted and goes into my jeans pocket.  If it’s a “Good One” it goes into the bowl with the others that will probably never get used.  If it isn’t, and I have found chips from bars that had closed 5 years before, it goes to Oscar.

I’ll set them on the counter next to his cage as he spots it.  His eyes will pin shut in excitement, and he will begin calling to his new toy.  Eventually I let him out and he explores.  Walking over to it he tries to pick it up. 

The only thing left after mankind’s society falls will be Cockroaches and Drink Chips. 

These things survive everything, including a curious parrot’s beak.  That’s a good thing since I get them for free, even if the original owner paid five bucks for that drink that was secretly watered down.

Unfortunately for me, it means that I keep a bowl with chips in it that is sitting in plain view.  Like those magazines that you swear you are “Reading for the articles”, the chips are “For the Parrot”. 

You may not believe it, but at least I have proof, and a happy parrot is the payoff.

How To Keep A Parrot Happy – Don’t Blink

I have had Oscar, my Orange Wing Amazon parrot since 1986.  It’s entirely possible that he will outlive me.

That is common with the midsized and larger parrots, they have long lives, and there was a Yellow Naped Amazon who lived in Homer Alaska to the ripe old age of 106.

Yeah, Alaska.  Of All Places.

You end up having to find coping strategies with them.  You see, it’s not like with a dog.  Dogs bond in a pack mentality, friends is a good way to describe it.  You work together as a team, even if that work is sitting on your lap and keeping you comfortable.   They do jobs, they give you companionship, they give you help in many different ways, and they give you love.  I have even heard a pretty good discussion as to how the Human Race would not have survived had it not been for the assistance of the dog.

But Parrots?  Well they’re a very strange creature in their own right. 

You see where Dogs see you as a co-worker, Parrots see you as a mate.

Yes, for 29 years I have had a small green mate in my house.  It takes getting used to. 

There are better bonded parrots.  I had a Goffin’s Cockatoo named Sonny who was so closely bonded to me that he would “get loud” until I opened the cage, and no matter where I was in the apartment, he would then hunt me down so that he could be near.  Then he would act silly.  Backflips, barking, chattering, and the like.

Squeak, my Grey Cheeked Parakeet used to ride all over Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia inside my shirt.  I would walk into shops, he would climb out just enough to see where he was, then if he liked the people there, he would climb out to say hello. 

But Oscar is somewhere in between indifference and bonding.  He is named Oscar because he’s a bit of a

grouch.  It’s a coincidence that he’s green like the Sesame Street character and that was what got me calling him that. 

He will interact with you but only on his terms.  I am his favorite person, which is to say he won’t shred me to pieces with that beak of his all of the time.  I can get him to go back into his cage when I say “Go Home”, and he shows his appreciation by talking to me.

At sounds louder than a Jet Engine at 3 in the Morning.

So I have learned.  He is an intelligent creature and requires mental stimulation.  If he doesn’t get it, he makes his own, learning how to bounce sounds off of walls for echo location, especially if those walls are three blocks away.

At least that is what I think he’s trying to do.  I can’t fathom why else 130 db are necessary other than to gauge distance.

But there his cage sits on the room divider.  I keep oddball things there to keep him from eating the room divider because anything that is wood will be chewed.  We would like to keep the divider in one piece since we are somewhat attached to the architectural element of it.

I found a long time ago that he will go quiet if I put toys on top of the cage.  Beach Balls are the best since they are light and too large for him to get his beak around.  They also won’t destroy anything when they are ejected in his favorite game of “Make the Human Fetch”.  Anything left on the room divider is fair game to be ejected, to the floor, post haste.

Don’t leave anything “food related” on there because he does want to sample.  Usually at 130 db. 

Yes, the word Hello gets used loudly and often since he has figured out that I pay attention to it.  In his little world, Hello really means “I Want”.

I want that food you have.

I want your attention.
I want a shower in the rain.
I want it NOW.

It’s like living with a two year old version of Verucca Salt from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movies. 

At 130 db.  A pain inducing one hundred and thirty decibels.

So if you see me covered in rain, parrot feathers, some scattered food, and a couple of scratches on my arms, it’s a normal day in the life of a parrot owner.  Just don’t blink.  He’ll be into something else real soon.

What’s Cookin’ Dad? Hedgehogs?

You just can’t make this stuff up.

My dog, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) has a thing for Hedgehogs.

When I say a “thing” I mean a “I’m going to carry this around the house until it falls off” thing.

Every house that has pets, or rather pets and kids because after a fashion they are the same thing, has toys.  Toys that go everywhere.

I have a dog and a parrot and there are toys, fur, and feathers here.  If you are expecting a 1950s Mrs Cleaver house where everything sparkles I suggest you try the house down the block.  The one where I dropped off the mangoes the other day?  That one.  They have a housekeeper.  I’m too busy trying to live something that passes as a normal life while keeping up to date on technology.

Ever feel like you’re out hunting a moving target?  Yo.  That’s me.

The other day I was migrating from the dining room where I had my laptop set up, to the big green chair next to the window.  It was late enough after the dog walk that I wanted to push everything away and actually do what passes for relaxation here.  Turn on the TV, set the laptop on the table, plug it in and sit down and I hear….


That lump under my butt would be the hedgehog.

That noise called Rack over.  I didn’t really mean to call him over, but it was going to happen.  He left his new hedgehog on the chair.  I say “New” because we had found one in a thrift store for a dollar and got it to replace the original hedgehog.  Then there were two.  Recently having the pleasure of a house guest, Craig, bring us two more hedgehogs, we’re set for quite a while.  My little monster, Rack, is very gentle with his toys although he does have an unsettling habit of chewing the eyes off the stuffed beasts.

Handing the toy over to my dog with a cheerful “Hedgehog!  You’ve got a Hedgehog!”, I went back to what I was doing not thinking too deeply about it.  Getting goosed by a stuffed toy is one of the hazards of having dogs in the house.

The next day I started cooking.  It was time to make some pork tenderloin for lunches.  Since you can get a really good slice of pork for much less than the price of some really cheap hamburger beef, I go for the pork.  Besides, it can be leaner.  Crock pot cooked to 140F in barbecue sauce and slice in the sauce will finish the pork by bringing the entire pot up to safe temperature and you have a meal better than Mrs Cleaver ever made.

But it has its own challenges.  It makes me hungry enough to chew my leg off.  It perfumes the house with whichever recipe I choose to make for that day, and usually a hint on the air for a day or three after.  It gets the parrot saying Hello every time I walk into the kitchen.  He begs.  Constantly.  I am a soft touch, so I usually toss a bit of fruit at the parrot because if he doesn’t get what he wants, he can get loud.

Ear shatteringly loud.  Like Mount Krakatoa loud.  The noise that circled the world four times loud.  All from a pirate parrot bird.  SHADDAP!

But that merely brought Rack into the kitchen snuffling around.  He’s looking for handouts as well.  I didn’t want to get him started doing that begging thing but I’m used to it.  Practically every time I go into the kitchen, he’s on task with the twin brown laser beams.

I turned around and stopped.  “How on Earth did you?”.  He had a hedgehog stuck to his collar.

He also wanted some of that pork tenderloin that was swimming in the red Char Siu Barbecue sauce I had made up that morning.

Laughing I said “No matter how creative you are going to be with that toy, I am not giving out samples at this time!”.

He merely licked his lips and went back to staring at the crock pot.

A loud “HELLO!” came from the other room.

I freed the toy from Rack’s Collar and pet him on the head.  I was wrong thinking that would send him on his way.  He simply sat there and stared me down.

“Sorry, boy, you’re out of luck this morning.  This is for lunch!”.

It only takes 3 1/2 hours to get a 3 1/2 pound pork tenderloin to cook to temperature. 

Lunch was going to be a good one for me, and a sample for Rack.  Oscar the parrot? Nope.  Not happening.  I didn’t have the right vegetables for him.  But we did all enjoy it.

Even the hedgehog.

Teaching The Dog To Beg For More Breakfast

“He knows who to go to, you’re the soft touch in this house!”

Yes, I am.  Everyone in this house begs food from me.

Oscar, my orange wing parrot, knows that if he says “Hello?” enough, I’ll probably cave and give him a sample.  Mango Season is starting, the neighbor’s Hagen Mango tree is beginning to drop fruit.  They gave me permission years back to hit the tree for my Mango Needs.  It helps the people who live there because nobody wants a two pound fruit falling from 30 feet up smacking into their car.

It will leave a dent.

I must eat about 200 pounds of Mangos each year.   Strictly speaking I also pass them out to friends I know who enjoy them, and I make jelly which uses up a lot of them.   Mango puree with a bit of lemon is wonderful to bake chicken in, and the puree itself is tasty.  Recipes use up a lot of Mango in sauces.

Oscar knows that and he starts chattering, and moving to the end of the cage nearest me when he sees me making up my breakfast bowl of Mango Chunks and Yogurt.

I really should just add that to the blender and make a Mango Lassi, but this is easier.

What shouldn’t have surprised me was when Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM), began to beg for it as well.

I was having a bit of an Indian themed breakfast that morning.  A bowl of cereal was long forgotten as I grabbed the egg, mayo, and Curry Powder from the fridge.  Making a Curried Egg Salad Sandwich was easy, mash it all up in the cereal bowl, spread on the toasted English Muffin, and enjoy.  Just a dusting of Curry Powder on top.

Rack was there, boring holes into me with twin brown laser beamed eyes.

*Sigh* Rack, at least wait for me to get the stuff finished before you glue yourself to my side.

The toaster announced it was finished with a thump and I made my sandwich.  Surprisingly good this morning.  Time to add mayo to the shopping list.

That left me with a bit of curried egg at the bottom of the bowl.  I could rinse that out in the sink…

Nope.  Ok, Boy, here you go!

He proceeded to try to lick the white off the glass.

Some dogs are truly aggressive with begging.  Pawing your leg or arm.  Barking incessantly like Oscar and his “Hello” routine.  Other behaviors which are truly unacceptable.

Rack is like Lettie was.  Sit down nearby, in sight, and stare holes through you.  If he hears the dreaded “Not For Dogs!” he heads out to the other room, mopes, and stares from a distance.  I guess that’s the McNab Dog Way.

Otherwise, when I finish, I tend to leave a little morsel in the bottom of the bowl for him.  I do this because his stomach was quite unsettled when he was a puppy.  When we got him, he was severely underweight due to worms, stress, and the trauma of being an Owner-Surrender.  He simply would eat only under certain conditions, and certain foods only.

If I ever met the guy who had Rack before, trust me, I’d have a “conversation” with that man.

Two courses are done.  Final course.  This was what got Oscar talking at me.  You simply can not out-shout a parrot.  No way, No how.

I began to slice some mango chunks into the orange bowl.  Rack came back sniffing.  The first time I gave him a mango chunk he walked away, I thought I was safe.

That mango was a bit under ripe.  A little sour, a little on the Yellow side instead of the bright orange I was hoping for.  I sliced the flesh away from the skin with the butter knife and piped up:  “Oscar?  Mango?”.


When he learns how to say Mango, I am truly in trouble!

Rack feigned studied indifference.  I padded across to the living room, dropped a mango skin with a bit of sweet and sour yellow Mango flesh still attached.  May as well give him the bits I don’t like.  He will work on that fruit, skin and all, through the day.  I gave him something to keep him busy.

All the gloves were off right about now.  Rack realized I was giving Oscar Mango so he wanted some too.  I heard a deep humming and realized that Rack was glowing with antici… pation!

I filled the bowl with 8 ounces of mango chunks, and 1/2 cup of plain homemade yogurt.  Lost in my own sweet reverie I was wondering if there were any more trees around ready for the picking.  It’s still on the early side but have Mango Pole, Will Travel.

Rack didn’t care.  Laser Beams were boring a hole through my mind saying “Feed Me, Seymour!”.

I was in trouble.  “Let me finish my breakfast, will you?”.

Rack doesn’t like being told no, so he did his avoidance act.  Looked away just enough that I was in the corner of the eye.

I laughed at the pitiful display as I finished all but the last couple spoons of yogurt and one small bit of yellow mango.

“Here you go, Rack, Two treats today!”  I dropped the orange bowl on top of the curried egg bowl earlier.  You’d think he was starving with the gusto he tore into the yogurt.

I finished making up my coffee, quietly, as Rack tried to lick the orange off the plastic bowl.

The thing with him is the Social Aspect Of Feeding.  He’s a weak beta dog.  Rack will eat only when asked, and invited.  If he’s eating, he’s very easy to disturb.  However if I am eating, being the pack leader, he will power through the meal and make it a point to finish.  After all, he’s used to me giving him that last bit of food when I finish my meal.

I’m making a good approximation for how a pack of dogs, or even wolves, eat in the wild.  The Alphas eat first, the Betas get the leftovers.  I’m speaking dog.

He understands.  Finishing the last bit of yogurt, I lift the two bowls from the top of his purple food bowl.  “I’ve got to rinse these for the dishwasher, boy.”

I turn to my work and he proceeds to try to taste the purple to see if purple plastic tastes different from orange plastic.

All in all it’s a good day to be a pet.

Oscar, The Mint, and The Rain

I live by that old Boy Scout Motto:  Be Prepared.

Sometimes I take that to extremes.

Well, not exactly Extremes, but I do tend to plan well ahead of current needs.

I was asked by a visitor to my kitchen a while back, why do I have a glass full of half dead weeds in my kitchen window?

After laughing at the abruptness of the phrasing of the question I told him that it was for a mid morning cuppa.


Mint Tea, sniff them.


Scratching his head, he went out and sat in the big green chair as I brought a tray of refreshments.

My personal big green chair, but that’s neither here nor there.

You never know when a cuppa is on order.  I learned that years ago at my mother’s knee around the big white circular table in our kitchen.  I had my friend up from Key West, and if anyone has ever hosted someone from Great Britain, you know that they walk in the house and put on the kettle.

I wonder often whether that isn’t some Pavlovian response to walking in the door or not.  Since it doesn’t effect me, and he does bring his own tea bags, it’s neither here nor there.

He also doesn’t care for Mint Tea.  Silly man.

This particular day it was raining, so I told my friend on my big green chair to hold on, and I popped Oscar’s cage apart and walked it out to the deck with a cheery “Here, old man, have a shower!”.

People do like to watch Oscar flap about in the rain, so my friend was standing in the door way attracting Mosquitoes as I nudged past.

I also reached over and grabbed a sprig of mint as I was out there and walked back to the kitchen.

“Where are you going with that?”

“Refill for tomorrow.  Be Prepared!  May as well, this way it will stay fresh for later!”  I dropped it into the glass looking for anything growing in it.

Nothing to root, my friend went back out to watch Oscar.

“Entertaining old buzzard, isn’t he?”

Yes, I’ve known him longer than just about anyone.  Besides he doesn’t like Mint either. 

Silly bird.

“Here, the kettle is on, have a bit of tea…”

Rack In The Car, Oscar in The Yard, Weather, and Pests on the Phone

Having a picture that just refused to be cropped correctly for a month, I settled in to work on it.

It just wasn’t going to be an easy one.  Most people would shrug and say try again.  I am too stubborn.

The first problem was it looked like something from the criminal’s lair in the campy old TV show from the 1960s, Batman.  Tilted to the one side, it was a picture taken behind my back.  I was trying to be slick.  I didn’t want my dog to be distracted.

One day we had piled into the big blue beast and drove down to the office.  This was one of Rack’s all time favorite things to do.  We would head down A1A and he’d stick his head up just high enough to watch the endless summer parade by with accents of tourists and palm trees.  For a dog that I see shut down way too often, the joy in his canine brown eyes was a pleasure to see.

So I stuck the camera under my left arm, between the seats and tapped the trigger a couple times to fire off a couple shots.  It wasn’t like I expected much.  But I did like the picture if I could “Do Anything With It”.

I settled in this morning to play with the software.  I could eventually paste it into Photoshop, but let’s see what happens in Irfan View with a judicious crop.  Try to find the rotation tool…

The weather alert fires off for the first time in weeks.  I’m actually happy it “still works”.  Listening to Sneezy The Weather Robot, I try to get a little further.

Try 15 degrees…

Marine Warning?  I’m on dry land.  Ignore.

14 Degrees…

Phone rings.   “No, Dave’s not here, man!”.  Yes, seriously.  Cheech and Chong when the phone rings before 9AM is about the best I intend to do.


13 Degrees… Yes! Close Enough!

Oscar flaps around a bit, and I start to crop.  Like a Barber – A little off the sides, a little off the top.  Maybe a Mani-pedi and a little off the bottom.

Suddenly, Monsoon.

I set the computer back on the table.  Grab Oscar’s cage.  A picture of Rack’s Favorite Thing will wait, I have Oscar’s Favorite Thing for the first time in over a week.  Rain.

I take the top of the cage, bird and all, out to the back yard.  It’s raining buckets, but the water hasn’t even gotten off the roof yet to soak the back of my shirt as I walk him out to the pool deck.

That gives me 15 minutes to work on things.  A pass through the Spanish Tutor.  I could eat apples and drink milk with the best of them but only while I’m on the toilet apparently.  Learning Spanish On The Loo it should be called.

I head back out to the chair to work with the picture more and play Photo-barber.  It’s a square format, it will have to do.

The rain stops as suddenly as it started.  Better go after the parrot before the Opossums or the Raccoons do.  The “scale” on the outside of the cage had washed away in the torrent.

I bring Oscar back in and set the top of the cage on the base.  Phone rings.

“Dave’s not here, Man!”.

Tommy Chong, I am not.  I am however getting tired of the wrong numbers.  There’s a car website somewhere that people sign up to opt in for phone calls from people to help them find cars.

Opt in.
To Find Cars.

Why on earth would you ever want to hear from a shouty car salesman?  I have heard from all the high pressure car dealers in South Florida over the last week.  Most of them are blocked.  I have heard from Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Subaru.  Most of them are insistent that this is Dave’s number.

“No, dude, you’ve been scammed, remove the number he gave out mine”.  I usually can’t even get the sentence out before I’m talking to a dead line and a bloop from my phone.

I start getting texts from someone who insists I need to look at a video on my phone.  No, I won’t bother, the idea that I have to watch a commercial in order to watch a video that lasts less time than the commercial is insane.  All that is blocked on the computer.  Adblock Edge to the rescue.

Phone rings.  More “Dave”.  http://www.truecar.com has my ire.  I will never be able to block all of these things.

Look at the watch.  A 10 minute crop and edit has taken an hour and a half already.

Oh well, by the end of this I will have every single car dealer in South Florida Blocked.  Thankfully I have a modern Android phone that lets me do that sort of thing?

One last burp.  The music in the house.  It stutters, I think nothing of.  I’m almost done here..

The internet goes down.  Damn Comcast!  I walk into the laundry and reset the cable modem.  That doesn’t help.

Comcast is down until 2pm.

(Sigh) One Of Those Days.  I’ll have to use the bluetooth keyboard and finish the post on the phone.

Oscar 1, Rack 0

When you have more than one pet, hilarity may ensue.

When one of those pets is much more fearful than it should be, it’s bound to go much differently than you might have expected.

I got Oscar many years ago.  He’s my Orange Wing Amazon Parrot, and he’s named Oscar for a reason.  He can be a grouch.

But lately, his personality is starting to blossom.  He’s demanding more attention, and he seems to be more interested in what anyone is doing around the house.

He used to simply sit in his cage and growl.  As in Leave Me Alone, I’m Going To Attack You If You Get Closer growl.

He did have a time where he was somewhat more cuddly but for some reason, he decided that wasn’t for him.

Now he’s deciding that he wants some human contact.

We are adjusting.

He sits in his TV Set sized cage on the room divider in the middle of the house.  I put him there so he can see everything that is going on during the day, and that he can basically sleep in peace at night since the dogs have always stayed in the bedroom overnight without too much running around.

Lately he has been asking to be let out.  Asking as in repeatedly calling “Hello” at an ever increasing volume that approximates the volume of the explosion of Mount Krakatoa.  I’m wondering if there won’t be a visit from the City asking what is that noise and telling me that there have been complaints from someone screaming Hello and laughing repeatedly, but that’s an entirely different story.

Once the door is opened on the cage, Oscar has been content to sit on top and watch the goings on with an occasional foray onto the room divider to clear the top of it of anything that I may have had the temerity of leaving there.  If it is in reach, a parrot will eventually chew on it.  Then they will either knock it off whatever it is sitting on it, poop on it, or sing to it.  Their choice.  Not yours, and it will always happen when you least expect it.

One day, I was sitting in my bouncy chair and I heard a soft movement of air in the house.   That was followed by a loud rattle and thump.

Looking around, I saw one green bird sitting happily on top of the door to the dog’s crate.

Well!  This is new!

I turned my chair to have a better view.  Oscar didn’t mind me but he was intent on staying on the door.

Rack was sitting in the crate, craning his neck to see what was going on.  Watching me, then Oscar, he was wary.

Oscar got bored quickly when he realized I wasn’t going to chase him away.  Climbing down the cage after first testing the dog’s mats on top for taste, he stepped down to the floor, then pulled himself into the crate.

I wasn’t going to stop this, but a curious bird and a fearful dog, could make for a volatile mix.

I was able to grab my camera and walk into the living room for a seat on the coffee table.  This needed to be watched since there were many tasty things around for him to get into such as wallboard, woodwork, and fragile things inside the house that also included the dog.

Oscar had placed himself inside the crate as if in greeting.

Yeah, right.  Greeting.  That’s what we will call it.

Rack is a patient dog, but not terribly assertive.  He waited watching Oscar.

Oscar used to preen Lettie when she would allow it.  She didn’t allow it much, and it usually had to wait for when she was asleep and when I was brave enough to put him on the ground. When she woke up, she’d be out of the room in a shot.

Maybe that was what was churning around inside his head when Oscar was inside of the crate.  Go meet this new dog.  Maybe we can preen.

Oscar likes to preen.  If I stand next to his cage, my ear and my hair will get a thorough preening.  He hasn’t gotten too rough yet, and I haven’t ended up with a pierced ear but…

Oh right, Oscar, in the cage.

At this point, my mind was wondering how much longer would this last.

Rack was being approached by Oscar.  He was going to have his leg preened.

Nope.  Just Nope.

45 pounds of black and white fur flew out of that crate and trotted as far away from that feathered beast as quickly as it could.

Oscar remained in the crate alone.  He was probably just looking for a friend but he had ejected Rack thoroughly.

Then he actually laughed.  Some may say that parrots don’t understand human noises, I disagree.  He’s done silly things for his own entertainment and has laughed afterwords.  I think this was one of these times.  He laughed at the fact that he could eject a dog from a crate.

More like shooting fish in a barrel than anything else.

But it has established a pattern.  Oscar has found out that he can crawl into the crate, fly around the room, and visit.  Rack may not like it, but it will make for an interesting story.

After all, how many people can say that their parrot bullied their dog?