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The Finster Log
Not A Bird
Posted on: 02/04/07, 16:54:02 | | link
It's freaking cold out. Arctic front, wind chill factors, etc. Not as cold as some places, but cold enough to STAY. INSIDE. ALL. DAY. Reminding the Finsters how lucky they are to be inside. And popping out just long enough to feed the Wild Finster Cousins and squirrels.
Gratuitous squirrel photo, another lucky camera shot (although the overcast light outside helps).
The Ears! The Ears!
Posted on: 02/02/07, 13:54:16 | | link
After Wasabi (Peas) died, Jen mentioned that the event was sad for the other Finsters. Now, I try not to anthropomorphize my birds, but anyone who reads this blog knows that I've been worrying about that every day
. But, even though I feel
"I hope none of the Finsters are sad," I try to describe the worry differently. Like, "I hope none of the Finsters had paired up exclusively with Wasabi (Peas) and is feeling more vulnerable now that he's gone."
Subtle difference, eh? Grin. Interestingly, even Paul Theroux — who recently wrote an article about his geese, and against anthropomorphism, in the Smithsonian Magazine — didn't always get it quite right. It's hard not to assign human motives and feelings to animals that clearly have motives and feelings of their own. At least, it's hard not to use the same words. You can read Theroux's article online: see "Living With Geese
" from the December, 2006 issue.
Oolong has been on my mind lately: she spent a lot of time with Earl Grey, and she spent most of the day sitting with Wasabi (Peas) the day before he died. Also, she spent the night with him in the hospital cage, since I didn't want Wasabi (Peas) to be sick, in an unfamiliar cage, and alone, all at the same time. But she seems to be doing fine.
Here she is with Szechwan (Pepper), on the (dirty) white concrete perch. The two of them were snoozing there yesterday afternoon until I woke them up by taking pictures.
You will probably notice that they are both very, very naked. Szechwan (Pepper) is completely bald, and is showing off the fact that his beak is too big for his head. Oolong is slowly getting all the feathers plucked off her head, from the back to the front. You can also see both of their left ears, click for a close up that has them both circled
(pops). Don't let Szechwan (Pepper)'s dark-colored skin fool you: that's a little ear hole in the side of his head!
Truth is, I haven't noticed any patterns in the Finsters' pairings. Sometimes it's one pair, sometimes it's another, and I'm pretty sure they all sleep in the same nest box together. Szechwan (Pepper) is probably singing more often than Cinnamon, but both males are singing their Hunka Hunka Burning Love songs. So, while I suppose the other Finsters miss Wasabi (Peas), they don't seem sad about it.
So, while I suppose the other Finsters know Wasabi (Peas) is gone, their behavior hasn't seemed to change because of it.
[By the way, this is a fantastic photograph. I have a five-year-old digital camera that has lots of nifty manual settings, and a 10X optical zoom. But the truth is, the Finsters don't pose long enough for me to use manual settings. I used the zoom for this photo; everything else, including the flash, was on auto. This time, I got lucky.]
He's Still Dead (Joe's O's)
Posted on: 01/29/07, 16:53:20 | | link
[I don't know how to title these entries with new pictures of Peanut. I'm afraid if I don't remind myself
us all that Peanut is dead, we'll go a little crazy, expecting to see menacing little zombies everywhere. Not that that's necessarily a bad
After the first installation
of the "He's Still Dead" story, Mam Adar reminded me of the photographs I took of Peanut staring at the wondrous bounty of a bowl full of Cheerios
. I'm not surprised she remembers those pictures. They're some of my favorites, and Bruce's Mom used one of them on the Peanut Clock
Being an equal opportunity cereal eater, Peanut and I also tried out the Trader Joe's version, which is quite good. (Some knock-offs of brand name foods are terrible, like Whole Foods' version of Triscuits. But Joe's O's are pretty good.)
Enjoy a Peanut close up!
...And Then There Were Five
Posted on: 01/26/07, 21:18:01 | | link
Wasabi (Peas) died early this morning, a little puddle of feathers on the floor of the hospital cage. Because I was watching for the event, and had an appointment with the vet already set up, and was a little worried about those wheezing noises, I took him in for a necropsy (the term used for an autopsy on an animal). I followed the directions I found on the Winged Wisdom Pet Bird Magazine
: get the body as soon as possible after death, sprinkle with a little cold water, put it in a plastic bag, store it in the refrigerator and/or cooler (with ice) until you can get it to the lab or doctor's office. My vet confirmed this is a good way to keep the body preserved well for the procedure.
The vet did a gross necropsy, which does not include tissue biopsies and probably other things I don't know about. It also means she doesn't know exactly why Wasabi (Peas) died. But his lungs and air sack looked good, and she didn't see any sign of infection. That's good news. The wheezing I heard yesterday was a new symptom to me, and I was a little concerned he had something contagious. In fact, the vet thought what killed him may have been the old scourge of the Finsterium: liver problems.
Clearly, I need to do some research on liver problems in birds, because that one comes up all the time. Expect Peanut, apparently.
[In retrospect, a necropsy on Peanut would have been a good idea. At the time, I was incapable of thinking.]
I didn't think to ask for Wasabi (Peas)' body back until it was probably too late. That's okay. It's different, since I've always buried little dead birds. Or, you know, kept them in the freezer for awhile. But I'm not sure I'm prepared to have three birdsicles in the freezer right now.
Oh! And I don't think I ever mentioned: apparently I didn't bury Frank deeply enough, and the brick I put on top of the site didn't deter a wild animal from getting an exotic Frank Snack. Mmmmmmm, tasty! That was a little disconcerting when I discovered it the next day, but it wasn't too awful. After all, it's nice to have wild critters in my neighborhood. And they need snacks, too.
So anyway, maybe not
getting Wasabi (Peas)' sliced up little body back is okay.
Wasabi (Peas) hid his illness pretty well. It wasn't until we caught him last night to put him in the hospital cage that we realized how badly he was feeling. Such a brave bird.
R.I.P. Wasabi (Peas), ? — January 26, 2007.
More Wasabi (Peas), Please!
Posted on: 01/25/07, 14:16:50 | | link
Here's a pretty nice picture of Wasabi (Peas) and Oolong's tail.
Wasabi (Peas) isn't feeling very well, I'm afraid. I noticed a few days ago that he was dozing a little on the ground near the heat lamp, and I haven't heard him sing his Hunka Hunka Burning Love song much lately. But I try not to worry every time a bird takes advantage of the toasty warmth from the light bulb, and he may have stopped singing because Szechwan (Pepper) is a big (very naked) bully.
But today he's been napping a lot, and he often makes little wheezing noises as he breathes. He's still eating and drinking — or at least pretending
to. But I'm worried.
Not too much to do, I'm afraid. It's bitter cold out, and the stress of catching him, and taking him out (to the vet's office) in the cold would be a bad combination. So far I'm just watching and worrying. And worrying and watching.
[Note that you can get a bird to the vet's office when it's only 18 degrees F, it's just difficult. You need to warm the car up, put a heating pad in the bottom of a cardboard box and turn it on, put a small towel (or something similar) on top of the pad, put the travel cage with the bird inside on top of that, cover the cage with a bigger towel, and close up the cardboard box. Obviously, unplug the pad when you're in transit, etc. You can't easily regulate the temperature in the cage, and you have to move fast, just in case. I've had good luck with this so far, but it definitely adds to the stress for both birds and humans.]
He's Still Dead: The Movie
Posted on: 01/23/07, 15:58:35 | | link
Here's a little movie of Peanut eating bread. To be honest, he isn't eating the bread so much as tearing it into crumbs, looking for tasty seeds. One of the things I miss most about Peanut is having him eat my food.
Click to watch Peanut Eats Bread, The Movie
(October 10, 2005).
Nothing fancy on the audio. We had the TV on, and there was a very noisy blue jay outside; but the happy little squeaks are all Peanut.
Please note that I'm still trying to sort out this movie-making thing. If anyone knows the ideal settings to "share" clips on the web using iMovie, please let me know. I deliberately made this clip at a nice quality: 17 seconds, just over 2 MB. Too big for web sharing? But he's so cute
! And he's in my food
! I couldn't help myself.
He's Still Dead (Unfortunately)
Posted on: 01/16/07, 18:44:27 | | link
You may have noticed that the recent site redesign did not entirely eliminate all references to Peanut. This is partly because — Hey! It hasn't been that long since he died, and he was Master of the Universe and all.
Also, he is still in the freezer, and will remain there until either 1) he rises from the dead as a small but menacing zombie, capable of devouring a human brain in 32,467 tiny nibbles of love
bone-crunching chomps from his Nasty Beak Of Biting; or 2) we get ready to move, which will either result in A) me crying over his small plastic tub for awhile; B) me finally deciding to (probably) cremate him; or C) probably both. (Well, actually, I'm kinda hoping for #1. Wouldn't that be COOL?!?!?)
And finally also, because I've discovered a butt-load of photographs of him on my old computer. Here's one:
I still think about Peanut — not all the time, but, you know, all the time. Just the other day I was in the hardware store glancing at things on shelves thinking, "now that
would make a nice Peanut toy!" (Well, almost everything would make a nice Peanut toy.) He really came to shape my whole life, which isn't surprising, considering I lived with him for nine years.
Oh! And he was Master of the Universe and all.
The funny thing is that in my mind, he was so big, so important, so present. I have to remind myself how small he was, physically. Tiny green bird with the heart of an eagle.
So, depending on my mood, I figure I'll post some of the best pictures of Peanut that are as yet unpublished.
Posted on: 01/04/07, 08:16:28 | | link
I am not a Finster, so there are many things I just don't understand. Like, why seeds from a green pepper are only tasty some of the time (or why seeds from a red pepper never are), or why a clean, new nest box can be Evil. And I certainly don't pretend to know how the Finsters sort out their pecking order. But I know they have one. And it's changed quite a bit in the past few months.
As it turns out, Peanut was part of the Finsters' pecking order. On top, I suppose, since he had that Nasty Beak Of Biting. And when he died in early September, it seems that Earl Grey took over. And something about Earl Grey's reign kept Szechwan (Pepper) from singing his Hunka Hunka Burning Love song.
I don't know the details, but I do know that Peanut died on September 3rd, I wrote about Szechwan (Pepper) not singing on September 26
, and the day after Earl Grey died, I wrote that I heard Szechwan (Pepper) sing again. That's no coincidence. He's been singing a lot lately.
Well, it's nice to hear Szechwan (Pepper)'s song again.
A New Year, A New Look
Posted on: 01/01/07, 16:01:40 | | link
Despite my claim that I run some pretty good web sites, for a living, I haven't given this one a new design since I started it, back in September of 2002. Some web master I am, right? My excuse is that I'm a content person. No, I'm not in a state of peaceful happiness — I focus on the information on a web site. How a site looks doesn't matter if there's nothing good to read. And I am a lazy slug, after all. But I finally decided to make a change, so here we are.
As a reader, you will notice a couple of things: the presentation now has what's known as a "fixed-width" format, so if your web browser window is really big the text columns don't grow wider to fill it, since that can make the page hard to read. The font size is also a little bigger, since some of us (um, that would be me) apparently need to get reading glasses soon.
The other big change is that I've opened up comments. I've gotten enough private messages over the past few months (thanks!) that it seemed like a nice idea to open The Finster Log up to my readers. You are still welcome to write me private notes (on the "Contact" link), but now you can also leave comments for everyone to read, and, you know, comment on.
The illustration in the top left corner will probably change, I'm just not sure how yet. I know, I know, if you're going to use an illustration it should be a good one, and you shouldn't put a rough draft up on your web site. But I've been fussing over it for too long. And besides, you just can't go wrong with Tumbly Finsters.
I'll probably tweak a few other things, but I'm pretty sure that the new site is functioning properly now. Let me know if you notice something weird, though, would you?
Here's hoping you and the ones you love get lots of tasty seeds in 2007.
R.I.P. Earl Grey
Posted on: 12/29/06, 20:41:34 | | link
Somehow, pets seem to get ill and/or die when you're away from home. I don't know if statistics would prove it, or if it's just part of Finster Guilt. But that's the way it seems to be.
Bruce and I were away for most of the day on Wednesday. As far as trips away from home go, this one was pretty safe: I had time to feed the Finsters and give Earl Grey his meds before we left, and we got back home shortly before the lights went out, so I had just enough time to change out the poop paper and give them fresh water. Easy peasy!
But my ministrations bothered the birds just enough to spook them all out of their nest boxes. And when Earl Grey came out, it was clear he wasn't doing too well. He fell out of the nest, he fell forward onto his face, he didn't stop chirping to call out to the other birds, but his voice didn't sound right. Such an unhappy bird! And there was nothing we could do. Cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep....
So Bruce put him into the most popular nest box, turned the lights out, and we waited while all the birds settled down for bed. Earl Grey stopped chirping, and a couple of the birds joined him, which was the best possible way he could spend the night. And Thursday morning, he never came out of the box.
I had to cut the box open to get him out. (Lucky for the Finsters I'd made a fresh batch recently, and had an extra to put back in its spot.)
Who knows, I may not have noticed anything terribly wrong on Wednesday if I'd been home to watch. And even if I'd been there, there's no guarantee a trip to the vet's office could have helped. Besides, just the day before he flew away from me twice when I tried to catch him for his meds, and he took a long, squeaky, happy bath! But birds can go quickly. Even the soft, sweet ones.
In the "Good News" column — because I've really been trying to find good things lately — Szechwan (Pepper) sang his Hunka Hunka Burning Love song today. It's possible that his voice didn't sound quite right, but since it's been awhile since I've heard it I'll just assume I don't quite remember it. HE SANG!
R.I.P. Earl Grey, November 2, 1997 — December 28, 2006.