"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!