Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This is our new parakeet, Stella.  When we first placed her in her cage, Stella flapped around desperately searching for a place to hide where the scary leering people couldn't see her anymore.

Nailed it

That was a little over a week ago.  Stella eventually crawled out from under her seed dish but spent most of her first week lying low and evaluating her new situation.

 If I walked too close to the cage, she panicked and became a pretty blur. 

When I walked away, she simmered down but remained on high alert.

After one week, we've reached the point where she no longer suffers a hysterical flapping panic attack when I reach in to change her water.  We're getting somewhere.

A couple days ago, Stella thought she might possibly be comfortable enough in her new home to chirp.

Which made all of us very excited and caused a family stampede into the kitchen --

Stella did not like the sudden overwhelming attention --

And since then has made herself very small.

I put a mirror in her cage so now Stella thinks she has company.

 Parakeets aren't the brightest bulbs in the animal world

I come from a parakeet family.  There was always a parakeet flapping around somewhere in my childhood home.  My favorite, named Magoo, loved to eat cereal.  He dive-bombed my dad's cereal bowl every morning, usually skimming the surface and stealing a flake in the process but occasionally missing and landing right in the middle of the bowl.  He had a need, and the need was Wheaties.

Magoo was trained to sit on our fingers and could talk.  He was eventually killed by our dog but that's not a memory I care to relive.

My mom had parakeets before she had children.  She had a parakeet back when she and my dad were dating.  Dad poked at that parakeet so many times, it became a very angry parakeet and began attacking any hand that entered the cage, including my mom's.  It's still a point of contention in their relationship.

Years later, when she was pregnant with my sister, my mom's parakeet got profoundly sick.  The bird lost all its feathers during the course of its illness and became a naked, shivering, blinking, miserable presence in Mom's everyday life.  Mom, pregnant and hormonally challenged, couldn't take it anymore.

She took the bird to the vet but was unable to say she wanted it put down.  She hemmed and hawed and beat around the parakeet-killing bush until the lady behind the desk said, loud enough for the entire waiting room to hear, "OH, SO YOU WANT US TO KILL YOUR BIRD?"

Heads swiveled.  Mom whispered "yes" and ran.  The lady behind the counter called after her, "YOU WANNA KEEP THE CAGE AFTERWARDS OR WHAT?" but Mom said "KEEP IT" as she pushed out the office door with her belly. 

All this to say parakeets are in my DNA.  And by saying that, maybe I can convince myself it's OK to add yet another pet to our burgeoning galley of pets which now includes a praying mantis, an ant farm, about fifty aquatic snails, a schnauzer, the mouse living under our refrigerator, and a bunch of crickets which really shouldn't count since they're only here to be Mantisy's dinner.  But still, I gotta feed those little f*ckers. 

It takes some time to train a bird to love you but we'll get there.  I look forward to the day she does this --

Wheatie bomb!


  1. I cannot imagine any child that would not love your words and drawings in a published book. I would snatch up every book you ever wrote to read to my grandson. I would even tell him I knew her when she first moved to Paris! Ha! Kathy in Iowa

    1. A children's book! I'm on it! I will attempt to leave out the swearing. Thanks, Kathy, have a good one.

    2. What a great idea! A children's book taking place IN PARIS! The wild adventures of Lucien and Camille!:)

    3. I agree - do a book! If you did a children's book for GROWNUPS, you could leave in the swearing. Problem solved. (Think "Go the Fuck to Sleep" as inspiration.)

  2. Ahhhh so that's what's been keeping you away from the blog: a birdie!;) I used to have budgies and a Quaker parakeet: they're a hoot!:) We had so much fun teaching them to speak:) They're so smart!:) Is Stella a parakeet or a budgie?

    Poor things though. They traumatise them in pet shops by reaching into their cages and grabbing them with their bare hands. Then the poor birdies are super afraid of hands. They should really wear gloves when they catch them.

    We had a dog named Magoo when I was growing up (named after Mr Magoo the cartoon, of course:).

    1. Stella's a parakeet and she's fantastic. She loves her reflection in the mirror very much -- whenever I walk away from the cage she mutters to her reflection like she's talking about me behind my back. I admit, it hurts a little.

      Our bird was named after the cartoon, too. Not sure why, he could see fine.

      Bye, Duchesse!

  3. oh how I have longed for the drawings to come back....classic!!

    we used to have a budgee....can't even remember it's name..but then I can't remember mine today either....back to work...

  4. I agree with Kathy. I see a swear-free children's book in your future. Heck, it doesn't even need to be swear-free; "Go the Fuck to Sleep" has sold thousands of copies! ~Sarah

  5. Pictures! Pictures! *claps hands with wild abandon*

    I thought of you this week when I happened upon a praying mantis sitting on top of a bag of marshmallows in the candy aisle of the supermarket. Oh life, you're so wacky.

    I just got caught up on a month's worth of posts over my morning cup of tea. It was a delightful way to start my morning. Delightful I say! I have so many things to say, but I have already forgotten them all. So just imagine that I said them and then you said things back and we laughed and laughed. Good times.

  6. Hah, loving the illustrations. Never pictured your mom as the ruthless, pet-offing type, either.

  7. How do you know Stella's a "she"? In Bird World, aren't the males usually very colorful while the females look rather drab, like 1930s Depression-era housewives?

    I had a parakeet that looked a bit like Stella when I was 14. I named him Arnold (also having no idea whatsoever of his gender). I loved that bird. Let him fly free around my room and didn't even mind having to clean up the poop. But finally, I admit, I tired of having to take care of a bird, and my friend Irene said SHE wanted him. So I thought it was the perfect solution and he'd have a good home. Until Irene left Arnold in the care of her horrible, sadistic, violent druggie step-father (and no, I'm not exaggerating about that) while she and the rest of the family went on vacation. And Evil Step-Dad "forgot" to feed poor Arnold. I've always felt guilty about that.

  8. Wow, that is a sad story, Lisa. But love love love the illustrations, MJ!!

  9. I didn't see this coming! But I love the drawings and the story of Stella so far!

    I get how your mom felt. I once had to have my kid's pet rat put down because he had a tumor growing out of his neck. Wow, that sounds weird.
    Oh, and we got the rat because his friend wanted to save all the rats being fed to the snake in the pet store. She took home 2, and guess what? they were a boy and a girl. So all her friends got pet rats as gifts.
    God, that sounds even more weird.