My pet bird blog:
Harley, a Timneh African Grey; and fond memories of a thousand Finsters, and Peanut, a green-rumped parrotlet who died in 2006.

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My nephew wrote a cool flashlight application for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Check it out! It's called !Flashlight! (with the exclamation points).

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The Finster Log

Bobbing For Green Beans

Posted on: 11/08/11, 18:13:39 | | link
My laziness is showing: these photos come from last season. Apart from the time stamps on the electronic files, I can tell because Harley is eating green beans. We got so many green beans from our CSA last season (and after the first lovely weeks they got quite woody) that this season, Bruce couldn't even bring himself to look at a green bean. Which is too bad, since this season's crop looked much nicer for much longer. I made a few batches of pickled green beans (both sweet and spicy), gave a batch or two of the pickles to a neighbor, and gave the rest of the fresh beans to another neighbor — so they didn't go to waste.
African Grey with green beans
Let's hope Bruce is over his green bean phobia next season, because Harley seems to like to play with them.
African Grey with green beans
Occasionally he likes to find the "bean" inside the vegetable sleeve. But mostly it really is a good bobbing game.

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Posted on: 09/12/11, 17:30:47 | | link
The other afternoon I overheard Harley continually ask Bruce "Wanna go!" and Bruce ask Harley "What do you want!" Over and over. Harley can usually be placated when he's upstairs in the bedroom, but sometimes he just doesn't know what he wants to do. So after I finished up downstairs, I grabbed some edamame we got from the farm and cooked them up (no salt, in deference to Harley). Usually nobody eats in bed, but Bruce was getting pretty fed up, and I knew our blanket needed washing anyway. So we all got naughty.
Harley loves edamame
Harley loves food that he can "shell," which is why I wrap up so many treats for him in paper. I offer Harley cooked lentils and mung beans all the time, but he doesn't seem to pay any attention. But edamame naturally come in their own packaging. So much fun!
yummy mess
Sometimes I'll squirt out a bean halfway for him, and he'll grab it from the shell. Other times he'll just chomp into the whole thing, and work the bean out for himself. Or, I should say, parts of the bean.
African Grey parrot
Harley didn't get this whole plate for himself: Bruce and I shared them. But Harley might have gotten a few more than I realized since I went down to the basement to get the camera. He certainly made enough of a mess.
edamame are messy
Harley is a pretty lazy eater, and doesn't hold many things in his foot while he's eating. Paper-wrapped snacks are one of the few exceptions.

I'm pretty sure that the young soy beans packaged in the U.S. for edamame are not genetically modified. But so many other soy products in the U.S. ARE, that I'd check your package if you're going to try to offer any to your bird. (Look for added salt, too.) Since ours came from a local farm source we know, I feel safe giving them to Harley.

I Am An Electronic Hoarder

Posted on: 07/09/11, 12:58:32 | | link
You know when you go to create a new folder on your computer desktop, called "desktop cleanup," into which you plan to drop all the miscellaneous documents that have been accumulating on your desktop in order to, you know, organize things, but you can't: because you already have a folder on your computer desktop called "desktop cleanup" that's at least six months old - well, when that happens, you know you have a problem. That sentence even needs cleaning up.

Let's just say that I currently have the following folders on my computer desktop: "desktop cleanup" (which now contains several fewer items than it used to - because I CLEANED them UP), "desktop cleanup 2" (seemed the most "organized" way to do it quickly), "Harley cleanup" (which contains pictures of Harley), "work cleanup," and "house cleanup." I also still have thirteen documents on my desktop, of various kinds and sizes, because I am a lazy slug. Mind you, the "desktop" is not the ideal place to "store" anything on a computer, which is why I also have three "aliases" on the desktop, which is Mac speak for things that look just like folders but are instead magical little things that point to the actual folders that are where they should be: officially on the hard drive. These are called "ideas" (which contains 287 images of interesting things), "backups" (which contains 369 different versions of the same three databases dating back to late 2007) (pauses for a moment to wipe the tears from her eyes), and - somewhat ironically - "to be archived," which contains (you must know what's coming) nothing. I kid you not.

Obviously, I have a problem when it comes to dealing with electronic artifacts from my life. Which I've slowly been trying to tackle, and is precisely why I now have that new "organizing" folder on my desktop called "Harley cleanup," which contains (I'm pretty sure exclusively, but at this point my brain is not necessarily entirely reliable when it comes to organizing things), 53 photographs and movies that I took off of my iPhone, which serves as my mediocre camera.

Now, let me point out two things. First, I am pretty sure there's at least one other group of photos still on the phone that should be put into "Harley cleanup" instead. I am choosing to ignore this fact for now. Second, cleaning up the photos on the iPhone is a point of contention, since I keep trying to organize the photos on my computer, where it's easy, instead of on the phone, where it's difficult (since there are, um, about 600 of them), but apparently, until the next software upgrade which should happen sometime in September, the phone overrides things I've done on the computer. That is, the organizing folders copy over just fine, but all the photos I opened individually and carefully trashed from the computer still exist on the iPhone. Because the iPhone knows better than me. Apparently. I am choosing to ignore those photos, at least until September.

(Meanwhile, should I mention that I can't find a copy of my resume, either on paper or in electronic format, ANYWHERE?!?!? Yeah, probably not.)

So, this was a long, obsessive-compulsive introduction to the fact that I discovered some photos on my camera, currently in the folder on my desktop called "Harley cleanup," and soon to be moved to a more appropriate archive (because I actually am capable of organizing some things, some of the time), of mediocre quality but still worth posting. Here we go.

I was in the midst of cleaning the Finsterium, as it turns out for the last time, and was performing the longest task (putting layers and layers of poop paper down), but not the most annoying task (sweeping out the cage itself). Harley likes to watch anyone do work, and since the Finsterium was in the same room as he, the sweeping out part was his favorite. I thought it wa's "annoying" because in order to get to the corners, I had to carefully insert the entire upper half of my body into the cage itself, through a door that's just about too small for me to fit through. Of all the things I miss about the Finsters, I do not miss sweeping out the Finsterium. Unfortunately for Harley, the much longer and less annoying task of adding layers and layers of paper to the two side trays took place in the kitchen, just about out of sight of his cage. So he called out, and complained, and called out and complained, and called out and complained some more, and finally flew over to the kitchen table to help.
ooooh, look at that
Which in Harley's world, of course means tearing up the paper into spit balls.
I can chew that
At the time, it seemed like he managed to make an awful lot of spit balls before I finally managed to put him somewhere out of range, but come to think of it, I don't remember encountering very many chewed-up pieces of paper when I freshened up the Finster's cage every few days. Maybe I'm just so used to having random bites taken out of paper products, I didn't notice.

On a related note, I finally took Cinnamon and Ginger out of the freezer on June 3, and buried them next to a newly-planted ornamental grass that I'm hoping will grow to be taller than I am one day. Peanut remains in the freezer, awaiting the Zombie Apocalypse.

HPD #1, Mark 2, Now With Basketifications

Posted on: 06/12/11, 20:21:17 | | link
You may recall the Harley Protection Device #1, designed to keep the wall by the breakfast bar safe from Harley's beak. Go ahead and pop up the picture here, because it's really funny! It didn't take very long to realize that first version was too short, so after a few more bite marks, Bruce went ahead and made the Harley Protection Device #1, Mark 2. This one is a wooden sleeve that goes all the way up to the bottom of the cabinet, and is screwed into the wall (since what are a few screw holes, compared to all the bites taken out of the dry wall?). The nice thing about the Harley Protection Device #1, Mark 2, is that we can screw things into it.

Such as this nifty basket.
Harley Protection Device 1
Designed for rabbits, this basket is made from peeled willow branches. We got it at a local pet shop, The Pet Emporium, but you can get it online from The Busy Bunny. They have several basket designs, made from both peeled and unpeeled willow.

Harley likes it so far.
Harley checks out the basket

I think the first game will be to chew the bottom out of it. We'll just have to see what happens next.
African Grey parrot

Huh, Guess I Lost

Posted on: 05/21/11, 17:30:02 | | link
Turns out Bruce was serious.
dismantling

It took about two hours to take all the pieces apart, and break and saw them into pieces that fit into our garbage bin. (Due to other, much more normal waste, we'll have to wait until next week for the last bits.) The cage held up very well after 15 years of constant use, but it was showing its age. It was heartbreaking to do it, both because it means the Finsters are gone, and because Bruce had made a beautiful thing — it was almost perfect. Finster Heaven, although a little awkward to clean in the corners.

So far, nothing looks right now.
after

You Can Cross "F lettuce" Off The Shopping List

Posted on: 05/20/11, 16:43:49 | | link
The Environmental Working Group tracks the amount of pesticides in popular fruits and vegetables, and publishes the list (currently 49 items) every year. They also create a guide (on a wallet-sized piece of paper, in an iPhone app, and probably other formats) that lists the top worst (that you should always buy organic) and the top best (that you don't have to buy organic if you're trying to save money). These are currently called the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15," although those numbers change from year to year (whether because of actual scientific testing or requests from the marketing group isn't clear [oh I am so cynical these days]).

I usually follow these guides for the humans in the family, but the birds get special preference, since the general consensus is that their bodies have less of a tolerance for nasty chemicals. For example, cucumbers are currently around the middle of the 49 items, but since Harley gets a slice almost every day, I always buy them organic. Lettuce currently appears at what would be #13 on the list of the Dirty Dozen, which is awfully close to dirty, and since the Finsters get it every day, I always buy it organic. Which leads to what should be the actual title of this blog entry:

Ginger died on Monday, May 16, 2011.

Or maybe:
The Last of a Thousand Finsters.

For some time now, and certainly since Cinnamon died, I've been focusing on the fact that no Finsters means less work for me. But it isn't really working. It's the end of an era, for sure, and all the humans in the house are having a hard time with it. We really miss having tiny, feathered activity in the house. Interestingly, Harley hasn't been as bothered by Ginger's death as he was by Cinnamon's death.

I have only just started cleaning up and clearing up everything. Partly because I am a lazy slug, partly because I'm busy taking a class, and partly because it's too sad to actually remove things. Bruce thinks having the cage in its usual spot is too harsh a reminder that all the Finsters are dead, I think cleaning things up slowly will make it easier. I guess we're both right (although I know the laziness levels in this household: I bet I'll win). Current ideas to use that space are comfy chairs and a little cafe table, and/or another play gym space for Harley. (Harley will win this one, in either case.)

Let's Make This The Best Bath, Ever!

Posted on: 04/09/11, 19:50:07 | | link
First, I'm having technical issues trying to display the movie. The QuickTime plugin in Firefox 4.0 on the Mac keeps crashing, and IE on Windows has some streaming issues. But Safari seems to do fine, as does Firefox on Windows. If you have any suggestions, please let me know; otherwise I have a couple of still shots for your viewing pleasure.
For awhile there, Harley was sitting in the shower with us, and when I was finished, I would spray him with the mister bottle until the drops just rolled off his absolutely dry feathers. It didn't matter how long I misted him, he was still dry. And yet, this was better than the once-a-month bath he'd take in his water dish. Lately: not so much.

Until Friday evening, when we decided to have pasta for dinner, and Harley decided we should have Eau de Harley as an accompaniment to the garlic sauce, with a generous sprinkling of Feather Dust.

Somebody was asking for a movie of a bird bath, right? Here you are:

We had the TV on to a bad (very bad) science fiction movie, but I decided not to mess with the audio since you can hear Harley's beak hit the pot, and the water splashing.

And, for those who can't see the movie, here are three photos proving that Harley is still dry even after dunking his whole head in the water:
african grey bath

african grey bath

african grey bath

Mr. Puncture Toes

Posted on: 04/05/11, 10:34:34 | | link
Harley went to the vet's for a checkup and to get his toenails trimmed. Here he is, happily sitting on Bruce's knee while we waited for the doctor.
african grey at the vet's office
As usual, he started barking like a dog the moment he realized he was about to get toweled. And he pretty much shredded the parts of the towel he could reach with his beak. But apart from that, he was given a clean bill (hahahaha) of health, and his feet are soft again. Phew!

The only bad news is he's gained some more weight: he was 306 by my scale. The vet said his weight is fine, as long as he doesn't keep gaining. Which is exactly what the vet said last time. So. Looks like my newest hobby is shaking my fist at the Unlimited Snack Monkey.

Here's A Tip For You

Posted on: 04/01/11, 18:41:49 | | link
As I was getting out of the shower the other morning, Bruce asked, "Do you mind if a bird touches every single one of your Q-tips?"

Well, what more needs to be said, really.
African Grey likes Q-tips
Q-tips offer Harley a favorite sensation: two different materials in one beakful. He holds it in his beak like this, and scrapes/bites (some/most of) the cotton off the stick. And then he drops it off the side of the counter, and watches where it falls.

(Only that first photo is really in focus.)
African Grey likes Q-tips
It used to be that Harley was only occasionally interested in a Q-tip, so I'd only give one to him once in a while. But now that Bruce has started giving him the very classy small yogurt container full of swabs every morning, it's become a daily treat.

African Grey likes Q-tips
First, you take each and every Q-tip out of the container and watch where they fall. And then you try to take the cotton off the tips. Good times.

Needless to say, I've started getting my fresh swabs from the very classy storage box from under the sink.

We're Back!

Posted on: 03/27/11, 16:47:24 | | link
Shortly after I finally got around to posting in here again, some mysterious database trouble happened, and the blog was broken.

Figures.

It was probably a relatively easy thing to fix (the MySQL manual hinted about "repair" syntax), but it's been years since I've played with command lines, so mostly I stared at it every now and then, and sighed a little. This probably went on for close to two weeks. During that time, two different people actually contacted me, asking me what was going on.

Thanks guys! I really appreciate that you're still hanging around, after all this time, and that you went to the extra trouble of contacting me about it.

After shaking my fist at the underpants gnomes for awhile, I finally contacted my web host, and Shannon was able to fix the broken table in less than 15 minutes. Seriously. I love her (and I told her so). If anyone is looking for a web host, I have been using Hostgator for years. Good people.

So, this is just a quick note to say I'm back, Harley is back, Ginger is sleeping, Cinnamon has unfortunately NOT risen from the dead, [he and Peanut are still in the freezer, thank you very much], and I plan to continue posting more often.

For now, here is a mediocre phone picture of Harley watching the pantry.
Harley watching the pantry
I'm going to make a backup now.
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