Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Hope Is The Thing With Feathers... ~ Emily Dickinson ~ ... and, Sometimes It's The Little Things...

"Hope is the thing with feathers --
that perches in the soul --
And sings the tune without the words --
And never stops -- at all --

And sweetest -- in the Gale -- is heard --
And sore must be the storm --
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm --

I've heard it in the chillest land --
And on the strangest Sea --
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb -- of me."

~ Emily Dickinson ~

The infamous Henry...

Pretty well everyone knows Henry. I hand-raised him from a naked little baby, barely covered in down feathers, into a young man, and he is now nearly 10 years old. He is my constant companion, and while people know that I live with a lot of animals, he is my main man. He poops on me off and on all day (... the reason I have a ton of cotton caftans I wear around the house. One keeps a paper towel handy and a clean something-or-other at the ready when they live with 6 parrots.) He has been photographed with me for several magazines, and today, this very day, is the reason I cannot upload any new pictures from my camera.

This morning while I was making the morning latté he hopped over to my desk and chewed right through the ethernet cable on the back of my Apple iMac. Thank the Lord for my laptop or I'd be up a creek and the paddle somewhere on top of the Himalayas where dozens of birds of all sorts, I'm quite certain, carry off ethernet cables for sport.

This is one wily bird. He has NOT gotten over the big white girl that moved in, (Blossom, the Greater Sulfur Crested cockatoo, a rescue.) and feels his honor has been besmirched and some marauder and unworthy bird came along without asking (him) and is taking up entirely too much time (... not to mention space!) Truth be told, Blossom is the sweetest bird and shy and even timid and Henry who does not realize that the size differential is something akin to an elephant and a peanut, and he's the peanut, took to going after her and frightening her to death so I had to move the cages around (it's a merry-go-round of cages here) so that he ended up too close to my desk again. Sigh. I think I'm going to have to buy ethernet cables in case lots. But then again, that little grey man with the burgundy tail who has a penchant for latté foam, many kisses, biting my body parts and making them bleed, and loving me with all of his little heart, has given me more hope for my life and for the whole world in general than anyone else on this earth ever has. Hope is indeed the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.

Dear Emily...
Emily Dickinson is not only one of my favorite poets -- the book of her complete poems sits dog-earred by my side -- but she, too, was a woman living alone, writing, and she loved birds, as you will read in many of her poems. She didn't live with 6 parrots, to my knowledge, but I believe she would have loved them. And Henry especially. He plays a fierce act, but he is shy and sweet and part of the fabric of my life, and my heart (except when he's chewing through the ethernet cables). He talks a blue streak, sings, and uses words I wouldn't dare repeat in polite company. Not that we get much polite company here. Ahem.

It is after 3 a.m. in coastal North Carolina, and everyone is asleep but Sam and I. My little pug will not leave me and wants to go to bed. He came around and looked up at me piteously just moments ago, and I told him, "Hang on Sam, I won't be much longer..." I think I heard him mutter, "Yea, right, like I believe that!" as he went back around and took his rightful place on my feet. All of the other birds are asleep, Moe just got up off the couch and is lying on the floor near me, Coco, the chubby little girl pug is asleep on her bed with the stuffed giraffe and the blue, well, I guess you'd call him a dachsund, or so he must have been at one point before Moe tore out his squeaker and a good bit of the stuffing, but all of the dogs love that toy. I have more toys in this house than I did when I was raising three children. The birds big cages look like Disneyland, and there is a huge basket full of squeaky toys of every size, shape, and color imaginable. Every now and then I sneak a few in the wash when no one is looking. You've got to be so careful about these things...

Parrots are funny creatures to live with. Most all of them give me kisses good morning and good night, they all know my routines and take a nap with me when I do (they are, yes, in their cages, but they actually go to sleep and don't make a peep, nor do the dogs, when I sleep, but are in a circle all around me in the room. I think it's marvelous and certainly very comforting, and once I'm settled and Sam is settled on one of my body parts, we drift off to sleep and wake up to another day. Henry rides around on my shoulder and sings, "Everybody gets CLEAN WATER, the babies do get CLEAN WATER," when I'm getting the birds all of their food and water, and as we go cage to cage he speaks to each bird by name. Grey parrots are truly amazing. And mischievous. He likes to wait until one of the dogs lies down by his cage and then he sticks his tail out and -- PLOP -- goes to the potty right on one of them. Poor Moe gets the worst of it. Tsk, tsk.

And so here I sit in the weesmas (wee small hours), Sam snoring on my toe, and I think of all of the little things in life that bring me such joy, truly, it's the little things in life that DO bring me the most joy I have ever had.

Tonight I did a marathon cleaning in the kitchen, all the dishes done, counters wiped, and all of the trash in the house carried out. The birds went to bed with clean food and water because they are always awake first and eat but remain amazingly quiet until the rest of the household stirs. I am so full of tenderness at the thought of each and every animal in this little cottage (and no, the one at the top of the page is not mine, simply the kind of cottage I dream about...), and tonight again I was sketching, drawing plans for the cottage we will all move into some day where we will have more room and a better organized space with a big fenced yard for the dogs, a big sunroom for the parrots, a greenhouse and a garden, a place where we will take in many rescue pugs who are elderly and in need of love.

It is nearly 4 a.m. as I close here but I did want to mention dear little Tia. She is one of the rescue pugs at MAPR (Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue) and if she's not on the main page click on the pug shown there (they rotate, but are all on one page, listed alphabetically, the ones up for adoption). If you can't adopt, you can be an angel, and send a donation. Tonight I sent one in for little Tia. I swear, she will break your heart. She came in with so many problems she ended up with many people wanting to help her, she ended up on t.v., and her valiant little spirit is absolutely unbelievable, as are the rescue-workers and volunteers who help support MAPR, which goes all the way down the East Coast, from Maryland to Tennessee and all around the areas in between. They are my true heroes, and my three rescue pugs came from them.

My life is dedicated to the little ones, and outside, it is the tiny flowers that make me dewy-eyed. The picture that I took and wanted to use for this entry was a "volunteer." A little purple petunia, all by itself, along the side of the sidewalk where nothing will grow and I've no idea where this came from, but that kind of thing is proof to me that miracles DO exist, and they are around us all the time. As soon as I get another ethernet cable that SOMEBODY OR OTHER bit through, I will add the little petunias in here. Truly magical they are.

And so now I think Sam has had quite enough, and before I've slept 4 hours I'll be up getting dogs out, so I bid you all a sweet good night, and will take the puglet attached to my body with me to bed.



A little addendum posted on May 29...
The petunias that came as "volunteers"
where nothing else would grow. They
appeared as if from nowhere!


crazy working mom said...

Just wanted to drop by to say THANKS for the EC ad today. :)

Have a great week.

Margaret said...

You and I are much alike in our love for our critters. I also have a CAG and his name is Riley -- he's such a smarty pants! No naughty words (unless you count "crap" as a naughty word) from him as I've been careful not to swear around him, but he chats up a storm, barks like the dogs and calls them all to "go potty". He's a lot of fun!

I also have a Moluccan who is very destructive, so has to be watched like a hawk when he's out of his cage. The $600 vet bill convinced me that locking him in his crate was safer for all of us.

To round out my group is a rescue Amazon who doesn't talk, but is the sweetest birdie you could ask for.

My dogs don't know what to think of the birds as I don't allow them to intermingle very often and never without supervision. I can't imagine life without my feathered and furred friends.

Keep writing about yours -- I do so enjoy reading about them!


Shinade said...

Oh my I should also thank you for the EC add.

Geez...I never even thought to thank everyone.

I am currently dropping like mad to earn enough to buy an add from you.

I hope you will accept.

I always enjoy my visits here so much.

It's always so lovely and peaceful!!

feefifoto said...

What a sweet and lovely piece of writing. Did you see the recent piece in the New Yorker about the Grey parrot, Alex, who died last year, and the study of how he learned language? Here's a link: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/05/12/080512fa_fact_talbot

kml said...

Henry is most beautiful! Lucky you to have him!

Craft Junkie said...

When I read what you write, my eyes well up with tears. Tears of joy and just a fullness of life. You have such a gift, a way of reminding me to be thankful and find the joys in the little things in this life of mine. My silly Simon (Siamese cat) and Sophie (Himalayan kitty) to our newest baby, Grace, our toy Schnauzer. They are all such a joy. As are the flowers (and even the weeds) in our yard.

Through you, I'm learning to find my joy.

Thank you!

Flo said...

Your home sounds like mine. I am the owned by an Umbrella Cockatoo, an Indian Ringneck, 2 cockatiels, and 2 english budgies as well as a yellow lab and a pit bull. As I type this Sam, the umbrella, is sitting on my left arm (sitting not standing) and leaning against me as he grooms. I just rescued him about a month ago and we're still getting to know each other. I do so love animals. More than most people :)

Shinade said...

I just love dropping by here. It is one of the most peaceful moments of my day.

I hope you have a fabulous week end.:-)

Samsara said...

Maitri - Guess what? For the first time ever, I bought petunias this year! I LOVE them. [Purple ones.]

Is it normal that they have a soft and pleasant flowery musky fragrance or I am I just very very lucky??

Love, Samsara

Maitri Libellule said...

Margaret, my grey is a Timmie! (Timneh) not as big as your baby, but he is my heart and soul. I will be putting my crew to bed soon -- Henry, African Grey; Blossom, Greater Sulfur Crested Cockatoo; Sierra, a Meyer's parrot (SUCH a sweetheart!) and 3 conures -- Solomon, the blue crown, Emmy Lou, Green Cheek, and Thomas, Dusky. All of my dogs and birds get along, but with my 3 rescue pugs I had to do a lot of training. My big dog Moe was raised in the years when I ran a non-profit disabled and able bodied parrots, and Henry, the grey, can just sit there on Moe or right next to him and watch tv. I don't know what I'd do without them, the whole crew. But when someone else has the same situation, it's nice, because they really KNOW! :o)

Take care of you and yours,


Maitri Libellule said...

Shinade, you are so sweet and I would be honored to have you on my blog! You have a wonderful weekend too honey!



Maitri Libellule said...

FeeFiFoto, how are you honey?

I know the work of Alex very well because I ran a non-profit shelter for disabled parrots for years. I also took in parrots who were troubled and unwanted, and it was at the height of Dr.P's work with Alex. I have books, video and more of her work with him and it truly was, not only amazing, but opened the world's eyes to how amazing these birds are.

I have hand-raised everything from tiny finches to cockatoos and macaws of many varieties and everything in between, but no one comes close to the intelligence of an African Grey.

Ha. I remember when I first fell in love with parrots, I wondered why people were all ga ga over those funny little grey people who, looks-wise didn't hold a candle to a colorful macaw or several of the more eye-catching parrots. Well, now I've longsince understood why. They are simply amazing and Henry is on my arm here as I type. He's my sweetie pea, and very lovely dovey and affectionate. He is sending you a grey boy kiss right now! :o)

Maitri, and Henry, and all the rest...

Maitri Libellule said...

Thank you kml, and aren't we all lucky to have our loving animal companions

I'm working on a new blog entry that will be up tonight and it's got a hysterical picture of 2 of the pugs. These animals are my companions, my inspiration, and my little loves. And no one makes me laugh harder. You should have seen the pugs scattering and hiding when it came time to clean their ears and faces. They have those deep creases in their wrinkly puggy faces and you really have to keep them clean. Normally they are practically a part of your body. When the baby wipes come out and the ear medicine there isn't a pug apparent on the place! and then they all slink about cutting a wide berth around me with eyes wide as saucers! Ha ha ha!

So nice to hear from you. Take care and have a wonderful weekend!



Maitri Libellule said...

Samsara, hello dearheart!

Yes, petunias have a wonderful fragrance and I love them dearly. I also adore pansies and always look forward to planting pansies, several flats worth, and lots of violas as well. Sigh... What would we do without the glories of Mother Nature?

Take care honey!


Maitri and her crazy crew...

Maitri Libellule said...


Hello! Good to see you! And yes, parrot people just seem to find one another. :o) I swear, all of my life I wanted a cockatoo -- of my other five parrots Henry, the grey, is the Big Man -- but PHEW, Cockatoos aren't just bigger, they take up A LOT of psychic space! Ha! This is the sweetest angel of a bird and she has fears from being abused, but she loves it here. She is just part of the family now.

One never knows who might show up here but the door is always open for a wee one in need. Currently I'm kind of limiting my intake until I move into a bigger place, and then elderly and disabled pugs will be my priority. I imagine I'll be walking about with parrots on my shoulders followed by a herd of pugs one day! :0)

Thanks for stopping by!


Maitri Libellule said...

Craft Junkie! Your cats sound gorgeous and OH! I love schnauzers. I'd love to see a picture of them. Are they on your blog? I can't remember now?

I adore cats but am very VERY allergic to them. But if I'd be able to have them, you have the 2 I'd have wanted, especially a Siamese. There is something that tugs at my heart when they make that yowling sound that sounds like a human baby crying. Something otherworldly about them... Do the cats get along with the schnauzer?

Come again soon and I'll be checking in on your blog too! I'm off to finish a new blog update.


Grumpus. said...

I love your bit about Henry! I feel the absolute same way about my own bird, a diminutive girl but nonetheless a creature I consider one of the biggest blessings ever.

Post a Comment