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.

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 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?

Oscar Really Doesn’t Like Swag Balls

I have always liked what I’ll call when I’m being charitable, swag.

You know, the junk that you get for free when you go to a trade show?  These days, now that the Republican Induced Recession is fading away, business is getting better.   That means we’re getting better Swag. 

My buddy up in Atlanta, Craig, went off for a visit to San Francisco.  For me that would be a trip of a lifetime, for Craig, he got to learn more about Virtualization and VMWare.  I can hold my own with some of the technology, but his knowledge on the subject is encyclopedic.   He handles a large server farm worth of virtual computer servers for a company up there and can quote you chapter and verse over a beer in a bar.

That’s my test of knowledge, how coherent can you be when you’re on your second beer on a subject.   Trust me, he knows his stuff.

About the second day of soaking in the Virtualization Goodness, I got a picture of the inside of his hotel room with the second bed covered in Swag.  Tshirts, flashlights, blinky things, a USB hub shaped like a little man, that sort of thing. 

We were laughing about the oddball things he had gotten and I guess it struck a chord.   I have a few things from the Swag Collection, including that blue ball that caught my eye.  Having a pool helps with that thing, give it a smack and it blinks with a bright blue light.   A couple years back that quality of crap wouldn’t be given out for free.  The last computer trade show I went to hardly had hard candy at the booths, and the booth babes were just starting to make an appearance in their midriff showing uniforms.

When I got that Box of Swag I opened it up piece by piece in the dining room.  Rack came over and started giving things a sniff.  I can always count on the curiosity of my McNab Dog to stick a wet nose in when something new shows up.  At the same time my own Oscar started chattering.

Oscar chattering is normal, having a parrot in the house means that you have to go out of your way to entertain them or else you will end up having a screeching mess.  You’re not going to have a good time of it.  Step one, make sure that you have plenty of bird safe toys.  Un-destructable things that won’t shatter when a strong beak grabs it and bites down, or when it hits the floor since both things will happen.

It also helps if they’re not something that will scare Oscar.   I have a small beach ball that he hates.  I mean eye flashing growling hates.  He will peck at it until it bounces off that cage and into the dog.

The dog doesn’t get it either.

When Oscar gets a bit too loud, the beach ball helps quiet him down as a result.

Putting junk on the cage helps him go and attack them instead of taking a chunk of beef out of my arm.  He’ll spend time preening the ropes, chewing the fluff off of the tennis ball that is attached to the rattle, and shred the insides of the toilet paper tube instead of screaming at the music that almost always is playing here.

But he has a nemesis.  Anything ball shaped and larger than a plum is just too much.  That is why I was confused he was showing so much interest in the blue swag ball. 

I placed the swag ball on top of the cage and I heard a little fear grunt as he backed off to the far corner.


I picked up the swag ball and turned it around in my hand letting the light catch it.

Oscar started to flash his eyes in curiosity so I set it back down.

Beak made contact and … the ball rolled away only to come back and tap his beak lightly.

Flap wings and regain stability, the green bird went after it again.

Tap.  This time the ball rolled off the cage with a bounce or three on the floor.

It was blinking when I put it back on the cage.  Oscar never expected that as he dove for the door of this cage for safety.   Blinking stopped after about ten seconds and he came back out. 

The Swag Ball is Evil and Must Be Banished.

Tap.  Not quite as forceful as before, plus I had it in a low spot where the toys roll to the center of the top of his metal wire room.

Parrots are exceedingly curious creatures.  They learn quickly.  They also don’t like change.  I don’t think that little walnut that passes for a brain can process why it rolled off the cage before but not now.

TAP!  The swag ball sat there.  TAPATAPATAP!   His dance school impression worked.  It rolled off the high spot and flew off the cage bouncing off the table and onto the floor.

Parroting in English Slang means to repeat something without understanding it.  In Oscar’s Case, he parroted one of my own laughs at the ball as it hit the floor and rolled into the kitchen.  I swear this bird was laughing at the ball and at his success at banishing the evil thing in a triumph of Schadenfreude!

Luckily it was designed to hit the floor.  The ball is intact, the bird is happy, and we found a new routine.   After all, it does tend to quiet the little brat down for a while and he’s interacting with me through the ball.

He’s not brave enough to leave the cage on the room divider in the middle of my house.  I’m fine with that, especially that since I go absent minded from time to time and leave him out when I wander out into the great beyond of my yard in the middle of the South Florida Sprawl.   He feels safe there now that the Blue Swag Ball has been banished and is content to sit there, staring at me with red ringed eyes from the comfort of his home.

Swag balls or not.

Oscar’s New Obsession

I don’t particularly “get” tennis.

You buy tennis balls in bulk.  Hit them over walls and fences that never seem to stop that line drive.  Grunt and sweat, and try again.

At least it is harmless, even if I can’t wrap my head around why people want to stand on a clay court on a hot summer day in the Florida sun.

It does have it’s benefits though for us pet owners.  Those wild line drives.   I’ve found tennis balls around town.  I have found them a block away, which leaves me scratching my head.

I guess a Labrador retrieved it and lost interest.

Keeping a supply of them on hand, I tend to try for new uses for them.

I did try bouncing the things to try to get Rack interested in A New Toy.  Nah, he was bored with them.  Every so often he will pick them up and herd them into a spot so that they can be watched in case they escape and try to make a run for it.

Lettie loved the things.  If I bounced one into the pool, she would hover at the edge alternately looking at the ball, and at me, and asking if I would be so kind to get that for her.


Not later.


She was an intense dog.

But Rack seems bored by them.  He’ll watch them bounce after things with a Jeff Spicoli stoner look on his face then glance back as if to ask “You really expect me to get that thing?  You don’t know where it has BEEN!”.

I even tried Lettie’s favorite trick.  Slice the tennis ball open to make a change purse.  Maybe a two inch slice.   Stuff it full of dog food or treats.  Then roll it past the dog’s nose.

You just gave a dog a solid half hour worth of fun.  They won’t be back for attention for quite a while.

Two problems with that.

First, Rack doesn’t have a prey drive.  None at all.  He sees cats, lizards, snakes, and other things that go bump in the night on a daily basis.  Nothing.  He got hissed at by one of the herd of ducks we keep running into here.  Muscovy Ducks are to be looked at and ignored.

Second, Rack hardly eats.  It’s something I worry about, but am finding ways to manage.  If I put a bowl down it is more of a surprise than you would expect if he actually immediately ate it.   He may ignore it for an hour or so and come back, or just skip the meal until the planets align and it is once again The Age Of Aquarius.

Peace, dude.

I have to put his food next to his bed so he can dine in the middle of the night while I sleep.   Just lol his head over the edge and get the food into his mouth.

Strange creature.

That left me with tennis balls.  All over my house.  Under the furniture.  Wedged on top of the dog’s crate door to hold it open.  Under my bed.  Gathering dust.

Some of them are slit open to accept some tasty morsels in case Rack changes his mind, but I really don’t expect that to happen.

The other day, Oscar got loud in the way only a parrot can.  He started chattering and screeching to the

conversation I was having in the house.  Here’s where the tennis balls came into play.

Oscar was inside the cage.  He doesn’t like New Things.  Parrots are prey animals, so New Things may attack.  Guilty until proven innocent.

A New Years hat that was saved got put there.  Oscar didn’t like that but it shut him up.  After a minute or three I walked over and took it off.   Oscar calmed town and went back to chattering.

Then screaming started again.

Out came the tennis balls.

He’s not completely terrified of the balls.   He knows he can reach under them, and if he gives them a nudge in the right direction, they will roll off the cage.

Which was what he did.  No problem, he understands that he can do it and it keeps him quiet until it hits the ground.

So this time I grabbed the ball with the slit in it.   I have a plastic loop with a couple rings on the bottom wedged into the wires of the cage.  He has pretty much given up trying to move that thing.  It won’t go.

I got the tennis ball with the slit in it and opened it to wedge on to the top of the loop.  There is a blue plastic ball on there that keeps it in place.

So now we have a tennis ball that won’t move.

Oscar is smart enough to understand that he can chew the opening, and the fuzz.  Since there seems to be an endless supply of tennis balls here in Wilton Manors that go astray at the park, I’m hoping he destroys the ball.

I added another two to the collection just sitting on the cage.

This particular morning, Oscar got loud when I was making breakfast.  Since I was going to sit next to his cage, I opened the door.  I would see if he got into anything he shouldn’t have, so it was safe.

Up to the top of the cage immediately to investigate those three balls.

Two got knocked off in short order.

Oscar tried to push that third one, but it didn’t move easily.

Grabbing the fluff, he managed it to the edge of the cage but it didn’t fall.

Poor bird, you’ve been tricked yet again.

After a good solid 10 minutes of this, he merely accepted it as something that just was.

Walking over to the corner of the cage, he fluffed out his feathers and went to sleep.  Dreaming of the sexy ring neck dove that comes by the window to visit, no doubt.  They could share their avian dreams of tennis balls that can be ejected onto the floor with ease.

There’s always a human to pick them up at any rate and set them back on top of the cage.

Silly bird.

Who knows.  Oscar could just be trying to get the dog to fetch.  After all, Lettie would do that.  Oscar would toss the ball off the cage, and Lettie would tear after it.  I’d find the ball later under the bed or some random piece of furniture, but by dog, that was where she wanted it!

I’m still finding those silly things.  Right where she wanted it…

Oscar, You Will Make My Breakfast Cold!

I had JUST set out all the food to make my breakfast when I knew I was going to have an interruption.


Walking out to the kitchen, I checked my yogurt.  Needs another day on the counter brewing until it thickens up.

The milk and cereal was portioned out.


A Challah Raisin Bagel for some cream cheese and home made cherry jelly was warmed, along with a pretzel roll for the eggs.

A bit of chopped onion for sweetness.

 Urp!  Hah Hah Hah Hah!

Buttering the Pretzel roll I wiped the non stick pan with the butter to get a nice even coat.  Toss the onions on the pan to clarify them.   Sweet onions made sweeter.   Placing a tile wrapped in Aluminum foil on each roll half, the heat would toast them in the butter and flatten them for extra crispyness.

In the meantime I would have my cereal and Challah bagel.  Precisely measured out everything, 42 grams cereal, 160 grams milk, 20 grams each of cream cheese and cherry jelly.  That should stop me from having a “heavy hand” with the condiments.

BRAKKK!  Hello!?!?!

Oscar, it’s raining!

Hah Hah Hah!

Good morning, Oscar!


I managed to finish the bowl of cereal.  Timing is good for the eggs to go on.  Immediately turn off the burners, pick up the pretzel roll halves that are toasted to golden brown perfection.  I pour the scrambled eggs over top of the clarified onions when…

BRAKKK! Hello!  Hello! Hell-O!

Oscar can’t you say anything else?


Rain, Oscar, do you want a shower?

If you have never had the experience of being around an Orange Winged Amazon Parrot, they like a daily shower.   Rain, the shower, a hose with a mister in the front yard, it’s all good to them.   They love it.  You can’t do it often enough.   It helps keep the dust and the loose feathers down, and they get an iridescent sheen to their feathers that is really quite beautiful in the right light.

I take the eggs off of the skillet and pour them onto the bottom of the pretzel roll…


Yes, Oscar, Rain!

Put the top on the eggs…

Hello! Hello!

Can’t you say anything else?


Ok, Oscar Shower!


I walk the cage out to the pool area.  It’s raining enough that I could stand there with a bar of soap in the back yard and get my morning shower in.  Rinse off in the pool?  Not if I am caught!  I don’t think the Salt System would turn soap into chlorine, I really don’t.  Plus the mid 70s temperature of the water in April is a bit too invigorating for my tastes.

Immediately upon setting the big metal cage down, Oscar begins to enjoy life.   The wings open out broadly.  Feathers are spread to catch every last drop of water.  A general quaking and twitching of his body happens as the water is spread around.  The cage top vibrates on the pavement.

Rain gets heavier.  I think that I was in the middle of something, forgetting what it was while the feathered comic is enjoying himself out back.

A cooing sound happens as what can only be described as joy comes from the cage.

I remember what it was.  My forgotten breakfast.  I pad back into the house and close the door.

Oscar, You will make my breakfast cold!   Shower!  Rain!

When I reach the kitchen, the forgotten food was just warm enough to be perfect.   I guess Oscar’s fun didn’t foul my breakfast after all.

Oscar has his fun while I finish off the pretzel roll stuffed with onion and egg.  Not bad for a first try.  I’ll have to do that more often.

Both the food and having Oscar out back.   Wet season is coming anyway.  I really don’t mind a random washout of a day, and Oscar really does truly enjoy it.

Nice day if you’re a Parrot or a Duck!

Strawberry Season is Not For Dogs!

Standing in my kitchen listening to Armin van Buuren back when he still announced in Dutch, thinking I sort-of understood what he was saying reminded me of a story.

I was cooking and reminded of a story about a friend, Tim who went to Apeldoorn in the Netherlands.  Staying with a friend there, he had a conversation with the friend’s mother.  Speaking no English, and him no Dutch, he said they managed to get the point across.  Not perfectly, but they did seem to understand each other when they had a bilingual conversation.

In the middle of Armin announcing that the next song would be Saltwater by Chicane, I started hearing it.


I knew it wouldn’t be a quiet half hour.

Instead of hearing one of the more beautiful Trance songs written in the last decade, I was going to have to cook to a Parrot Symphony with Dog Accompaniment.

Breakfast was going to be creative.  I had some egg and raisin bagels I made and froze.  Shaved onions onto the skillet, prosciutto was going to be fried.


A slice…



Of Swiss Cheese would be melted on the bagel after it toasted in the butter on the skillet.


Head tilt, stare.

I was getting the full Monte.

I said hello to Oscar and said “Not for Dogs” to Rack.  Luckily he understands that “Not For Dogs” means you’re not getting any.

Yes, I’ve created Pavlov’s dog as well as Pavlov’s parrot.

The parrot wasn’t going to back down any time soon.

The kitchen filled with the sweet and savory smell of frying onions, the meaty scent of prosciutto, and the butter that I used to cook it all, as I reached for my…



Can I walk away from the skillet long enough to get the cover?  Put the bird cage on the floor?

A Parrot’s bond is not a friend bond.  It is a Mate bond.   If you consider that you want a parrot in your life, it really is a long term bond.  30 years is not uncommon and I’ve had my Oscar since 1986.

Armin said some more things in Dutch, and I picked up Art of Trance, Madagascar.  Another truly beautiful Trance track.

The first phase of breakfast was made, the dog had trotted out to stare out the back door.  Pavlov would be proud.  He’s gotten used to having the tail end of my yogurt in the morning.  So much so that when I finish…


with the bowl, he goes over to his food bowl to check if I put it there, even if he is watching me eat it.  I open the back door…


and he trots over to the bowl expecting me to have already placed it there.

He’s just early.  This is also where Oscar goes into high gear.  I’m slicing strawberries.

It’s Strawberry Season here.   I’m the guy who once bought a flat of strawberries in a flea market in Melbourne, Florida and drove up the coast snacking on them while having two conures walk all over my arms trying to steal a bit.  One was my sister’s present, the other I had for a couple years after.

Yes, I do like Strawberries.

I also…


Like yogurt, and I make my own.   Add a little whole cranberry sauce for some sugar and it makes up a rather nice bowl.  Two grams per calorie, Strawberries are easy on the diet.   I sliced up a large bowl…


poured a large serving of yogurt on top, and the rest of the can of cranberry…



on the bowl.

This was getting annoying.  I stared down the dog, which goes badly when you have a very passive dog.  He trotted back out of my little kitchen.  I took the bowl of fruit and yogurt and did what I had to.

I ate it in the laundry room.


I did give Oscar a strawberry.  He’s eating it now.  I didn’t know that I could give them to the dog, but I’m on the fence with that.  Yet another food obsession.

At least the season is short.

Feeding Time at the Zoo or Service Pack 1, You Decide

My coffee table is full. 

Mind you, I almost never use it for actual coffee.  I prefer to set my coaster on the floor next to the low slung Ikea Poang Chair just inside reach.  It’s also within Dog’s Nose Range and he’s getting curious. 

My McNab Dog, Rack, is already hyperkinetic.  There isn’t a dog on the island that can hold a candle to my boy when we’re outside.  He’ll see a dog he likes or some certain people and he’s airborne.  Jumping five feet into the air is nothing to this black and white spring.  We will just avoid giving my dog coffee, even if it is Half-Caff.

But he was much more mellow this morning, the edge seems to be blunting on his puppy hood insanity, finally.

The coffee table on the other hand has gotten filled with laptops.  My neighbor fried his install of Windows 7 and since I helped his mother get him the thing for xmas a couple years back, we’re helping him get back on the road. 

Clicked on the wrong link did you?   We’ll see what we can do. 

Meanwhile, I’m reworking a computer of mine.  It is the one I wanted to use this morning, so I wasn’t looking forward to seeing a helpful message on my screen.  

At 7AM, I’m walking to my chair, setting the coffee mug on the floor on a bar coaster, and grumbling that there were some updates that needed to happen.  Ok, only three?  Lets do it.

That would be where I needed to actually Read what I saw on the screen, it was a Windows 7 Service Pack 1 update.

Techies know what I’m going to be doing for the next hour or so.  “Civilians”…

Sighing, it’s time to go into the kitchen, make some breakfast.

Rack, my ever faithful sidekick stood at the entry to the galley kitchen.   Nut Brown eyes peering through my soul, I asked “Show me what you want, Rack?”.  He neatly stood up and walked out to the back door.  I let him out thinking that it was great, now I could have breakfast in peace.

*sigh* What is it Oscar?
Here we go!  Boom!  There it is! Boom!  Herewegoherewegoherewego!  Bwa HAHAHAHAHELLO!BOOM!

I see we have a comedian.  I start up on the bowl of cereal and look out on the Cement Pond in the backyard.

Hmm, Boom, that’s a new one.
Hello, Oscar.

I guess the backyard didn’t “take”, Rack is staring at my reflection in the back door.   I sidle over to the kitchen sink, and start talking to Oscar.

Hello, Oscar!  Good morning.
Head cocked to the side, Rack stares a hole through me from the yard.  He’s wanting what I have or more likely what I haven’t had yet for breakfast. 

HELLO! HellLOW!  Urp.

More head cocks to the side.  First left, then right, the white stripe on Rack’s head is signalling low flying aircraft to try to land at the Fort Lauderdale Airport instead of his head.

BahbahbahbahbahHELLObahbahbahWAHHAHAHAHAHAhahahaha!  HELLO!
I finish the cereal, pour out my cranberry and yogurt.  Really good batch this time too.
Head is tilting to the side still. 

I walk out to look in on the technology taking a nap in the living room.   I’m being yelled at by a Parrot, a dog wants my food, and my laptop went to sleep. 

Wiggle the little trackpoint on the keyboard. 

Do Not Unplug Your Computer.
Update 3 of 3.
Please Wait.

I’m now grumbling at Microsoft.   Hey, the cereal didn’t make me “not hungry” yet, I’ve got a right to be grumpy!

Finally, I get low enough on the bowl of yogurt to set it into Rack’s bowl.  He gets let inside and proceeds to attempt to lick the top layer of glass off the bowl.

Like that stuff do you?

Oscar is still making a racket on his cage.  I walk over and open his door.  By now Rack is finished and staring at me.  Fine.  Time for Bird and Parrot to meet.

I get Oscar out of his cage and lower him to dog’s nose.  Oscar didn’t like that and growled.  Rack is a complete paper tiger and trots off.   So I set Oscar on the floor.  You see, despite my technology timing problems, It Is A Good Day.  Why is it a good day?  Every day that a parrot doesn’t poop on the living room floor is a good day!

Rack comes over gingerly and decides that he doesn’t need to be quite so close.   I figure that this is a good quick meeting all said and done and set Oscar back into his cage.

My laptop chores are at an end, I hear the windows chime that says it’s starting up.  May as well grind my gears on the machine.   Service Pack 1 is installed, I’ve got things to do.  If you are tied up for an hour, give or take, you may as well play with the dog and the parrot!  They seem to like that sort of thing anyway.

My Verbal Tic and the Parrot

We all have these phrases we repeat over and again.  Sometimes we don’t realize it, but they are there.

It’s called a Verbal Tic.  Just one of those things I guess.

Some folks start off a thought with a word.  “Well, I’ve …” is common.  It gives you time to think, gather the rest of your thoughts before you run out of steam and wonder why on Earth you started to speak.

I didn’t realize I had one until the other day.   Oscar the Parrot told me that I did by repeating to me what I say.

I’m used to making plans and following them out to their completion.  Part of being a Project Manager, I guess.  You get the plan going and then eventually you have to get started, right?

“Here we go.”   Yep, it’s mine.

I had been playing some music in the house in the Call To Flock hour.   That’s when parrots in a flock will call to each other to gather themselves close for either the evening roost or the morning feed.  That racket you hear when the feral parrots fly overhead serves a purpose.  Other than to give you a headache or annoy you, that chattering and screaming will let the birds in a flock know where the rest are.  You see it in a Mall or a large shop when some kid is screaming for its Mom at the top of its lungs.

Shaddap both of you.  Never mind that, it’s happened for centuries and will happen for centuries after this has been read for the last time.

My life tends to be rather ordered.  Certain things happen at certain times of day.  Meals are planned and served.  Dogs need to be walked.  There are trips out to the store.  Gardening to be done.   Many of those tasks have to be completed by more than one person, whether furred, feathered, or thin skinned.

That last one would be me.  Some of the others around me aren’t quite so thin skinned, I’m sure.

We would go through the ritual of getting things settled and “Here We Go” dinner is ready.   “Here We Go” it’s time to go to the stores and get a gallon of milk, some flour, frozen cherries, and some Fruit Pectin.

Yes, I’m planning on making more Cherry Jelly.  It’s dead easy to do.

What I didn’t realize was that telegraphing my intent was so frequent that the chattering that Oscar does now includes “Here We Go” along with “WAAAAAH!” and “Hello!” as well as other partial phrases and so forth.

He was barking and flapping and making a general nuisance of myself when I heard it clearly for the first time.

Did he just say “Here We Go”?
Yes I think he did.
I guess I really do repeat it enough.

Oscar the parrot has been with me since 1986.  He’s a bit of a grumpy bird, but I guess he’s finally finding himself someone to bond with.  I never thought it would be me, but I’m glad it is.

Now, if I could just convince him to let me listen to music loud once in a while without his own accompaniment, it might be a little better for me. 

There’s this one Soca song that I want to hear on the speakers that was done to the NFL Football Sound Bed and if I can hear it, the neighborhood will hear “BRaahhhhSSS!” coming out of the house.

No You Silly Parrot, You Don’t Want Espresso!

If you choose to take an animal into your life, it is going to change you forever.

It also is a lifetime bond, until one of you goes, that animal should remain with you.

If you can’t handle that truth, get a beanie baby. They cost about a buck at the thrift stores.

On the other hand, they can make things much more interesting.

Having finished what I set out to one Sunday Morning, I decided I would like a nice mug of espresso.  Padding into the Kitchen, I snapped on the lights above my head and went to work.  I filled the maker with some water, put in the grounds – full but not packed, and then set it on the back burner on the stove.

Soon the elements were glowing red, and I went to work.


I got the box that contained my green coffee beans and decided to roast some decaf.  If you get …


If you get unroasted decaffeinated coffee beans, they are a brown color instead of the green of the regular beans…


Pouring them into the popcorn popper, I slid it out to the serving area on the other side of the kitchen window and closed the window down.  Plugging in the popper, I touched the timer on the counter to watch the time.


What do you want you noisy old buzzard?


My noise detector had started to make it’s warning sounds.  You see if you have a parrot in the house, they tend to be quite involved with what you are doing.  A parrot may be “just a bird” or a pet to you, but to that parrot, you are its mate.   They do not form a friendship bond, they form a pair bond or a mate bond with you.  Intensely social, a parrot or other bird will want to be doing what you’re doing at pretty much any moment it is awake.


Yes, Oscar, I’m roasting coffee.   Want a bean?


I’ve had Oscar since 1986.  He’s not at all a cuddly bird.  Named after Oscar the Grouch, he can be quite arbitrary and grumpy.  But he’s mine.

Or rather, I am his.

I went about giving Oscar two decaf coffee beans, still warm from the first batch, and went back to roasting batch two.


I guess I had better turn the music down a bit, I’m well into the parrot…

*sigh* Ok, Oscar, what?

The espresso maker was now gurgling away, I had another two minutes between first and second crack on the third batch of beans.

I raised my hand to scritch him behind the neck and he growled and walked away.

Ok you silly old buzzard, have your bamboo stick.


The espresso was now done, the water had either been made to steam or deep dark espresso.  I poured it over the…


French Vanilla Creamer and began to stir it with the Coffee Spoons that my sister had shipped me down from New Jersey for the holidays.  This one had French Vanilla


Chocolate on them so that I was going to get a deep and rich kick of chocolate and coffee and vanilla.

Noticing that the last batch was now on Second Crack, I made note of the time, gave it another 30 seconds for that darker roast I have been shooting for these days, and unplugged my aging popper.  That was the end of the…


noise for the morning.  I poured the beans out onto a dinner plate to cool and went on stirring my espresso.

*sip*  Yes, Pat, that was a wonderful cup of…

Urp.  Braak.