Our Buddy turned 14 years old on July 17th! He’s blind in one eye, can’t really hear, and his back legs are giving him trouble, but he wags his tail when he sees us and he loves his walks. Looooooves his walks. Sure, we only walk 4 houses down the street but he is in his glory walking those 4 houses.
Mikey isn’t dumb. He saw what happened to Buster and he knows 14 years is a long life for a dog. For about a month now he’s been planning a birthday lunch for Buddy at Lazy Dog Cafe. We all thought it was a great idea.
We sat outside on the patio. There were dogs at every table, which was awesome. Buddy was content to people/puppy watch while we waited for lunch
Steamed brown rice and grilled chicken! He loved it.
The birthday boy and his event coordinator.
The staff at Lazy Dog Cafe was so, so nice. Buddy was showered with compliments (they aren’t allowed to touch the dogs) and after lunch, they broke the rules a bit and gave him a scoop of ice cream with a candle. I mean, honestly. Buddy was over the moon. When we got home, he walked over to his favorite spot in the family room and slipped into a food coma.
In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, Mikey, Nico, and I started a blog (really a tumblr account) to collect all our Buttercup pictures. It has been so much fun doing this with the boys. Nico is now fully part of the project. I thought he was too little, but then he took one of my ideas and made it far easier and more elegant. Basically, in this picture I wanted to attach streamers to a large bamboo stick. This required scissors, glue, and patience. Nico gentle told me that it made more sense if we threaded the unrolled streamers on the bamboo stick. This also meant we wouldn’t have to cut–and waste–any of the streamers. That boy is a future engineer.
The additional bonus to taking pictures of Buttercup, aside from super-fun quality time with the boys, is that it will force me to finally work on my photography skills. All the pictures are iphone pictures, but there is still a lot of room for me to improve my white balance and lighting. I’m sure there are books or websites that focus on iphoneography. I just need to do a little research and find one that educates rather than tries to sell you the latest gizmo via affiliate links.
You can subscribe to a tumblr the same way you would a blog. I had to research this since I knew nothing about tumblrs until yesterday afternoon. It should be pretty straightforward after you press the RSS link, but if there are any problems, please let me know. I did set up the entire blog by myself, so problems would not be a surprise.
Oh, yes, I sure did!
Our cockatiel has her own instagram account. I loved the idea of posting as many pictures as I like in as many creative scenarios as possible. Mikey and Nico were huge supporters of the idea. It’s not like I needed much encouragement, so I grabbed the ball and ran with it.
Best thing I’ve done this year, aside from allowing Nico to buy a bird. First, it’s a place where I can be my cooky-creative self because for some reason, I don’t feel comfortable doing that on my personal account. I’m not a fan of posing kids in artsy, fake positions and then pretending to the world that I just happened to capture them eating salted caramel gelatto while riding red bicycles. #soblessed #summer
Birds? Birds are a different story.
Second, and most exciting, is that this immediately became a Mikey/Mom project. Mikey helped me with the name (and rejected several of my suggestions), takes all the pictures with me (setting up, holding Buttercup or props), and has even started a list of picture ideas (he wants to dress up Buttercup as a Sith Lord, and is currently making her a miniature light saber). He’s really into it, and I love that this is something creative we can do together. It’s a mother-son bonding thing. Nico is involved, too, but will be more help when he’s a little bit older. He currently provides comic relief and plays with Buttercup.
I’ve received a few questions about Buttercup over the last few weeks, so I thought I’d answer them to the best of my new-bird-owner abilities.
Flying: Buttercup’s wings are clipped, but she can fly small distances. She will be able to fly more once her flight feathers grow back. Yes, flight feathers grow back, and you have to continue to trim their feathers every couple of months if you don’t want them to fly.
Buttercup will fly from my hand to my shoulder, or from her cage to the ground and then to us on the sofa. Sometimes she walks around, but because she’s so tiny, I rarely let her do that for long. I’m afraid she’ll get stepped on! We leave her cage door open much of the day if we are in the room with her, and Nico fashioned a “balcony” for her that is really just a way to make sure she doesn’t poop outside her cage.
As you can see in the above picture (and in this one), Buttercup doesn’t try to fly away when she’s outside. She sees us as her flock/family, so she has no desire to go anywhere. I put her on my shoulder when I clean out her cage every day, and to do that I have to make several trips outside. She looks around, but that’s about it. Birds are very hierarchical–they don’t call it a pecking order for nothing–and in her mind I’m the boss. Even when she gets spooked, like if a big trucks rolls by, she’ll fly and turn around to see what I’m doing/where I’m going. More on that hierarchical nature in a minute.
Sounds: male birds are louder and sing more than female birds. We won’t know if Buttercup is a male or female until she is about a year old, but right now she’s pretty quiet. Sometimes she chirps, and sometimes she wolf-whistles. Here is an example of what that sounds like. Mainly she calls out to us, me in particular, when we get home or if we’re in another room. Here is an example of what that sounds like.
Food: Buttercup eats a raw seed mix that we keep in the garage freezer so it doesn’t get buggy. A lot of cockatiels eat pellets. Millet is her treat, and we keep several stalks in her cage. She also eats fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and grains like Cheerios. Broccoli is her favorite. She’s not really a fan of fruit, though I can get her to eat freeze dried pineapple bits. She can eat whatever we eat with the exception of chocolate, avocado, alcohol, onions, mushrooms, tomato leaves, caffeine, or uncooked beans. Why anyone would feed a bird alcohol is beyond me.
Temperament: Cockatiels are just like cats or dogs. They are unique individuals with their own personalities, so one cockatiel isn’t going to be like the next. Buttercup is a sweet, docile bird. She’s very timid, very affectionate, and needs lots of snuggles throughout the day. That’s a picture of her dozing while I rub her neck. She doesn’t not like us to be gone for very long, and on the rare occasions we are, she pouts. We were gone most of yesterday, and when I got home I was greeted with a deafening silence. No chirps, no hellos, not even a wolf whistle.
Having a gentle, submissive bird is great, but there are drawbacks. When we first met Buttercup, we had to decide between her and her sibling. The obvious choice for me was to bring home both of them. That’s what we did with Buddy and Buster, and what I assumed we would do with birds. We were advised against that because of Buttercup’s temperament. Buttercup is dead last in the pecking order–at least in her mind. They had to separate her from her brother (put them in separate cages) because she was so submissive that he wouldn’t let her eat and she became dangerously underweight. When we brought her home, I had trouble getting her to eat, and again she lost weight. I finally realized that she is a ground feeder. Now I put her food in the food bowls and give her servings of the same foods on the floor of her cage. She’s almost back to her initial weight!
The bird farm said that, for now, Buttercup needs to be the center of attention to build up her confidence. Only then can we try to pair her with a friend. The bird farm said this would take about 6 months to 1 year.
I’m learning something new about birds every day! I never knew how social they are, how affectionate, and how structured they keep their societies. It’s very interesting! If you have any more questions, I’ll do my best to answer them–but keep in mind I don’t know too much. In the meantime, if you would like to see more of Buttercup’s (and mine and Mikey’s) antics, you know where to find us.
p.s. This is a pretty good video on common cockatiel behavior.
The first week of summer vacation has come and gone. (Thanks for all the great comments Friday–glad to hear I have support on the TV Is The Devil stance.)
I went on a two mile walk on Sunday. I saw a flowering cactus. The only reason I mention this is because I took a picture of this cactus on one of my first walks last year. I want to be that committed again. I’m working on it. The boys are on swim team, and there is a gym I can use right next to the pool. I might walk on the treadmill and skip the pretty pictures in favor of air conditioning.
On Saturday I went to Hobby Lobby for the first time in my life. Now I know where all the distressed wood ended up! Wowza. I didn’t see much I liked there, but I did like their terrarium section. I searched for something simple, but no luck. I ended up buying this faux rusty one because I really, really need a terrarium if I have any hope of keeping my maidenhair ferns alive. They just aren’t meant for my area, but heck if that keeps me from buying them the last 14 years. This is the longest I’ve been able to keep them alive, and it’s because I treated them like Beyonce. I misted them every day, plus gave them showers, plus moved them around the house in search of perfect light. Two weeks into that nonsense and you understand why I wasn’t leaving Hobby Lobby without a terrarium. I haven’t had to do much to them other than check their soil, and it’s still moist 48 hours later!
Buttercup, of course. She needs her own Instagram account so I can take pictures of her to my insane, bird-loving heart’s content. Did you see the video of her taking a bath? I mean, honestly.
Buddy sleeps with Mikey every night. Mikey says he can’t sleep without Buddy, and I think the feeling is mutual. Buddy’s cough is so much better when he sleeps with Mikey, and he wakes up more rested because he (Buddy) sleeps in. After Buster, Buddy’s sleep when to pot. He got up, wandered the house, barked to go out, barked to come in, coughed all night, and then got up by dawn. When you sleep with someone for 13 years, it’s hard to adapt to the new normal.
We were running errands over the weekend and decided to eat at Lazy Dog. We were pleasantly surprised with the food and atmosphere. The Mister got to watch World Cup and Nico had plenty of vegetarian options to choose from since he now refuses to eat “pig and bird and cow.” The Mister surprised me by ordering a vegetarian lavash sandwich. I thought for sure he would order a burger. When I asked him about it he said, “If my 7 year-old can do it, so I can I.” I posted a picture of it because I think it’s something easy anyone can recreate at home. It’s just lavash (you can use a tortilla or pita), spinach, sliced radishes, avocado, tomatoes, and gouda cheese with a drizzle of dressing.
Speaking of easy to recreate meals, the pizza I made later that night was amazing. I was originally going to make bread sticks, but pulling the dough out of the fridge reminded me I had some yellow squash and tomatoes fast approaching the point of no return. I ended up making two pizza-like things that we covered in arugula. SO GOOD.
2 packs of pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s plain)
2 yellow squash
Handful of grape tomatoes
Garlic or garlic powder
On one pizza I stretched out the crust and drizzled it with olive oil. I layered the thinly sliced yellow squash and then drizzled them with more olive oil. I dusted the squash and dough with garlic powder, oregano, and Maldon salt. (I’m not being a fancy jerk with that salt. The large flakes give a nice crunch to baked breads and it tastes..softer. I can’t explain it, but it does.) I baked it for around 20 minutes in a 450° convection oven.
On the second pizza the procedure was the same but I skipped the oregano and added tomatoes and basil.
This was a super awesome way to get rid of vegetables that were looking dicey. I think next time I will add red onion to the plain yellow squash pizza. I didn’t have any onions and I think it would add a nice bite to the sweetness of the squash.
OK, ready to face Monday. Not really.
Mikey received special permission to play two instruments next year in the school band, and although he will take music class with the other 5th graders, he may do outside work with the junior high band. Like last year, for his birthday he requested from his grandparents money to go to music camp. Last year he learned the clarinet. This year, he’ll learn the bass clarinet. He brought one home on Monday to familiarize himself until he starts camp end of June. He was so excited when he got home! He opened that case with the same enthusiasm I reserve for opening a gallon of ice cream. Pure, unadulterated joy.
I’ve been looking for a music stand for Mikey for some time now. I didn’t want to spend the money on a nice wood one (they can cost several hundred dollars), but I didn’t like the look of the cheap black ones. I lucked out with Amazon and found a tomato red music stand that folds up into the size of a flute. It even comes with a carrying case! (Think cheap zippered pouch, not burl wood.) The price, $19.99, was exactly what I wanted to spend. I was afraid it was going to be some rickety cheap thing, and while he won’t ever use it to rest heavy books or files of music, it’s perfect for his needs now. I recommend it if you have a beginning band player. It comes in blue and purple, too.
I spent the night with Mikey looking at bass clarinet videos on youtube and vimeo. It’s how we found a French ensemble called Initiative H. They are a little bit of everything: jazz, big band, rock, classical, and even some sort of techno or ambient music. Mikey was amazed, and so was I. Their album doesn’t come out until October of this year, but they’ve produced a few videos. Deus Ex Machina was our favorite. It starts off slow, but midway through you figure out why a 10 year old boy (and his mom) would like it so much.
David Haudrechy – saxes, director. Ferdinand Doumerc – saxes, flute. Gaël Pautric – saxes, Bass clarinet. Nicolas Gardel, Nicolas Algans – trumpet. Olivier "Lapin" Sabatier – trombone. Lionel Segui – Bass trombone. Florent Hortal – guitar. Amaury Faye – Keyboards, piano. Julien Duthu – bass, Double Bass. Pierre Pollet – drums. Florent "Pepino" Tisseyre – percussion.