Saturday, December 22, 2012

Winter hiking

I went on a date this afternoon with a man who loves being out in nature as much as I do! His degree is in something nature-related, and he works in the local parks system. As I waited for him to arrive at the park, I was treated to three deer walking by the parking lot:
The sky was so blue today, it almost looked like it could be summer.  If only there were leaves on the trees and no snow on the lookout guardrail!  (Oh, summer, please get here soon!  I am already sick of the cold!)
At least the snow is beautiful:
So gorgeous:
And even more so as the sun began to set:
It was so fun to go out hiking again!  It had been a few months since I'd been out, and I've really missed it.  I have made it a goal for 2013 to spend more time on the trails.  Mr. Nature and I have tentative plans to go out hiking again.

We did see two red-tailed hawks circling and then swooping near us, which was fun.  He's more into plants than birds, but I told him that birds are much more interesting to watch!

It was so refreshing to have delightful conversation, and to be with someone who pleasantly greeted other hikers we encountered.  My new beginning reinforces all that I'd been missing out on this past decade!


Winter means clementines, so the parrots are happy! Even though I only took pictures of Max eating the clementine pieces, the caiques enjoyed them as well. Yay for citrus!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas present

I put up my Christmas tree today (first time in over a decade!) Next year, I hope to be in a house and have a larger tree, but this little guy (on loan from a friend) fits perfectly in my apartment!

I'm hoping to get the parrots to pose as ornaments, along with the rest of the bird ornaments I have on the tree, but they are not there yet. For now, I will have to be happy with Calypso kind of posing as a present (but mostly trying to get back to me!)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lizard yoga

Andreas has been contorting himself into all sorts of awkward-looking positions lately.  Here, it's his back left leg.  I suppose it feels good for him to stretch as well!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Making an appearance

As I've mentioned in previous posts, Max likes to hang out in the bathroom.  She doesn't attempt to destroy anything; she just likes to stand, alone, in the dark.  It is very odd.

Prior to making this video, I had been trying to get her to come out of the bathroom and join me in the dining room.  I called her name, whistled, asked for kisses; nothing worked.

And then inspiration hit.  I put on her current favorite CD, by Father John Misty, and she ran right out, dancing along the way.  Less than a minute in, she got bored and returned to the bathroom.
After the video, I brought her out onto her stand, where she happily played; the bathroom, forgotten.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bicycle Race

In honor of the Queen tribute band I will be seeing this weekend, Max poses for a picture to represent their song "Bicycle Race" (which I sing to myself every morning as I bike in to work.)
I'll have to see if the parrots will cooperate in reenacting other Queen songs this weekend.  They have no idea what is in store for them!


Sometimes Max gets spooked, and she flies around looking for a safe place to land. She's still not entirely comfortable with my apartment, having lived here only about 8 months, compared to 7 years at our old house.

Last month, she ended up landing on this ledge that I have that surrounds my dining room:
At first she just struck cute poses:
But then she had to pull out all the stops so I would rescue her.  Even though she could have flown to me or back to her stand. (If I put my foot out really, really far, she has to pick me up, right?)  Of course, I did!

Max finds a new favorite artist

Last month, a friend called and asked me if I wanted to see Father John Misty perform.  I had never heard of him, but I decided to go.  Even though it was in a city over an hour away and it started at 10 pm on a work night!  Her friend had canceled on her at the last minute and she didn't want to go alone.

I loved it!  He was such a great performer (I might have picked up some new dance moves) and the music was great as well.  I purchased his CD and have been listening to it quite a bit.  One of the few albums that I love front to back.

I never know what music will strike Max's fancy. Sometimes I need to encourage her to dance, but sometimes she just likes the way something sounds.  She loves Father John Misty! 

Had I thought to take a video at the beginning on the evening, she would have been even more enthusiastic -- I think she was getting a bit tired here:
One of my new good friends works at the organization that comprises the three best concert venues in town, so I have been going to so many concerts these past few months.  I had forgotten how much I love to see live music!  This weekend, another friend and I are going to see a Queen tribute band.  Apparently the lead singer really channels Freddie Mercury.  I can't wait!

Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm alive! And actually fabulous!

Thanks to those of you who have posted, wondering how I am.  It's hard to believe, but in less than a week, it's the one year anniversary of finding out Thomas was cheating on me!

This should have been the worst year of my life, but it's turned out to be one of, if not, the best!  When you're married to an anti-social, emotionally abusive person, reality can get a bit skewed, to say the least!  I never would have left him, as marriage is forever in my mind, so in a very odd way, I have become grateful that he cheated on me so that I could reevaluate and really start living life.

Of course, I really wish that he were even half the man I made him out to be in my mind, or even that he could have given me a small inkling that he was unhappy so we could have tried to save the marriage; barring that, I wish that he hadn't been able to legally steal so much money from me in the divorce, but I am young and will rebuild!

I'd fallen out of the habit of posting, and now I'm sad that I don't have a better record of the past year, which means that one of my goals for 2013 will be to get much better at updating the blog.

Everyone is doing really well.  We've established our new routines, and the parrots (and Andreas) are thriving.

After pretty much never going out during the past 13 years (see: anti-social husband), I've been making up for lost time.  I have plans most nights of the week, and have stayed out past 2 am more times this year than in the previous decade.

My family and friends have really stepped up.  I've made new friends, strengthened old friendships, and just enjoyed not having to walk on eggshells or to attempt to placate someone who was incapable of happiness.  

My running continues to improve.  I again qualified for the Boston Marathon, and several friends and I are planning a trip out there for the 2014 race.  I haven't quite had enough time as I'd like for my other hobbies, but I still try to paint, knit, and read regularly.

Yesterday, I had a very promising first date with a lovely man.  He used to work with a very dear friend of mine.  As this blog is anonymous, I can admit that I spent far too much time convincing myself that it would be inappropriate for me to rip his shirt off in the restaurant. I'm still not sure I made the right decision to behave :)

And now I'm heading off to a friend's house.  She is making me dinner to thank me for helping her move earlier in the year.  The parrots are in bed, and all is calm and happy in the apartment.

More soon, promise!

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 21, 2012

I live in a very bicycle-friendly community now.  However, my bike has been broken (disintegrating tires, among other things) for the past four years.  After I moved out, I had always planned on fixing my bike, but I had never gotten around to it -- until recently!

I intended to have my bike shop take a picture of me with my new bike, but I forgot my camera, so I had to wait until I was back home.  I picked it up this evening, which means that starting Monday, I am a bicycle commuter!  One of my coworkers is also a bicycle commuter, and every day he stops by my office to ask if I've fixed my bike.  This has been going on for a couple of months, so he was shocked when I told him that starting Monday, I might see him on the bike path.

I only live about 2.5 miles from work, and I'm just a few blocks away from a really nice bike path that takes me right there, so I am really excited about this development.
Coming home from the bike shop, I forgot how much fun being on a bicycle can be!  I really should be doing much more cross-training instead of always running!  I have good intentions to start weight lifting again, doing yoga, etc., but running is really the only thing I do consistently.  And now 5 miles per work day of biking.

Just to add a bit of parrot, here's Max, keeping an eye on things.  My apartment building was built around 100 years ago, so there was no such thing as open concept.  That means that even if we're just one room away (here: I'm in the kitchen; Max is in the dining room) she has to position herself carefully in order to watch me.
I had my third date last night with this really fun guy.  We went to see the Queen documentary/concert movie (which I highly recommend.)  I am very sad that I was never able to see Freddie Mercury perform live, but they did such an amazing job remastering the concert footage that you'd never guess it was filmed nearly 30 years ago.

And ending with someone who just thinks she might be one of the cutest parrots ever:
Actually she was probably trying to get me to give her a nut!

Max, Partially Upside-Down

One of my favorite things is when Max walks around the house with her head upside down.  I have not been able to figure out why she does it, but it is so adorable.  I only captured it a little bit here, and even then the lighting is bad (more so in the video than in real life) but since it is my blog, I am posting it anyway.
Since it's just been me with the parrots, I feel like I have become that much closer to them, especially Max.

Max's One-Track Mind

Max is a bit obsessed right now. She is very nesty, and wants to hang out in the bathroom, preferably in the drawers.

She was going all night, and I managed to catch it on video:
If she were male, as long as her behavior didn't change, I'd allow this.  However, since she is female, the concern of egg-binding arises.  Therefore, after getting it on video, I removed her and then closed the bathroom door.
Her hopes were up, but I took her away and distracted her, eventually.
Luckily, she has not become more aggressive during her nesty time.  She's almost 11 years old, and this is the first time I can remember that she's been so nesty.  Poor girl.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Morning with Max

The caiques were being ridiculous this morning, so only Max came out.  She kept me company, standing on the ledge by my bathtub, as I brushed my teeth.
I had to leave the bathroom to grab something from the dining room, so she followed me to her stand.  When I asked her if she wanted to shower with me, she declined, so I left her alone on her stand.  I would generally advise against leaving parrots unattended, for their safety, as well as for the safety of items in the house, but I was living on the edge, plus I know Max pretty well, so I left her.

As suspected, by the time I'd finished my shower, she was standing on the bathroom floor, making her sad, come and get me! sound.  I set her on the sink while I dried my hair, and she immediately raced into the drawer I had left open after taking out my dryer.
I took her out as soon as I took these pictures, as I do not want, in any way, to promote nesting behavior.  She nicely stepped up and was back to her normal self after she was out of the dark, enclosed space.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mid-September Update

Hello my dear blog friends,

Yet again, a month has gone by with very few posts and very few pictures taken. I intend to get back to a more normal posting schedule soon, but I've been intending to do so for months now! In any case, please do not take my silence for despair or sadness; on the contrary, things are great!

I think part of me didn't want to post because Thomas knows about the blog and I didn't want him knowing what's going on with my life. But then I realized that he just doesn't care. It kind of boggles my mind, but it's true.  He is never going to check the blog, because we are all dead to him.  So I can write whatever I want!

During one of the last times I had to speak with him, about selling the house (It's final and sold!) I mentioned that Rocky had been adopted and asked if he wanted to know about his new family, and he flat out said no, that he didn't care.

I'm not sure if this is false bravado after realizing that he's lost the only beings who ever loved him (me, my family, and the parrots) or if he really doesn't care, but I'm leaning toward the latter.  I've done a ton of reading on people with personality disorders, so I can understand, on an intellectual level, what is going on with him, but it's still hard for me to really understand what it's like to live that way.

In any case, after making that realization, I now feel safe to post.

The parrots are all doing extremely well.  My job is more demanding of my time, so I don't have as much time to spend with them as I'd like, but they are adjusting.

Here's a picture of Calypso, when he went from his stand to the plant that was next to his stand.  Luckily for him, it is perch-like as I did a bad job of rotating it so it didn't grow evenly!
Max is as sweet as ever.  She loves wandering around the house, looking for me.  She's kind of like a dog that way.  I figure it's good exercise for her, and since it's just me in the house, I don't have to worry about her getting stepped on.  Usually she flies, so she can land on my arm, but sometimes she walks.
Here she is after a bath a couple of days ago.  My mom and I were painting, and Max decided to keep us company.
As for me, work is going really, really well.  Long hours, but I knew that going in.  When Thomas left us just as I'd finished paying for him to go to medical school, right before he was to start actually contributing to the household, and just after I found out I was losing my well-paying job, I was a bit worried about what kind of job I'd be able to find and how I'd be able to support us, since cheaper places wouldn't allow birds.  I am happy to say that I have landed on my feet.  I will most likely buy a house in the spring, and I can't wait to make it all mine!  And the parrots', of course!

I love our new neighborhood!  I can go weeks without using my car, as I usually walk or take the bus to work, and grocery shopping, many of my friends, and tons of things to do are within a half mile of my apartment.  My bike is currently being fixed up, and then I will become a bicycle commuter.  I can't wait!

I have been dating a bit -- a lot of bad first dates -- I will have to relay some of the stories here in the future.  But I've recently met someone who is a bit promising.  It's still really early on, but we laugh for hours, have tons in common, and he is super good-looking!  And he lives less than a mile from me! 

The last 7 or so years of my marriage, I can't remember Thomas complimenting me.  Medical school, residency, and fellowship changed him.  He'd tell me I was fat (I'm a size 4), or that I was ugly and looked like a man (not true) -- which I laughed off as I thought he was joking.  But now I think that he was serious and trying to make me unhappy because he is a fundamentally unhappy person and misery loves company.  It's so great to be around friends and family that are so nice to me!  I was trying to think of the last time someone was mean to me, and I couldn't remember.  It had to have been Thomas, but it's so insignificant now that I can't even remember the specific incident.

Sometimes I get angry at myself for staying in a bad marriage for so long.  I thought I was happy, and I didn't recognize it as a bad marriage.  Why did I not realize when I was being verbally and emotionally abused?  My therapist told me it was like I was in a one-man cult, and I'm such a happy, positive person that I didn't let it get me down.  But that I have to be very careful in recognizing red flags and acting on them so that I don't waste more years in another terrible relationship, with someone who doesn't deserve me.  I have done so much reading and introspection, and I'm glad that I got out when I was young enough to create a new, wonderful life for myself.

Anyway, by putting this out on the blog, I am hoping to start regular posting again.  I love being able to go back throughout the years and see what I was doing this time of year in 2009, for example, and the future me will probably be upset with the present me for not writing regularly!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rocky got adopted

Yes, it may seem like a miracle to anyone who knows of him, but Rocky got adopted!

I have been in contact with his new family, and they love him very much.  He is acclimating well.  They also have a yellow-collared macaw, and the two of them (Rocky and the other mini) have been preening each other.  This is fantastic news, as Rocky always seemed like he wanted to befriend another parrot, but the other birds at my house were not interested.

Stella is also doing well -- I get frequent updates from her new family.  She is also very loved and doing very well.

Thomas still does not care about any of us.  The house should sell next week, and then I will basically have no contact with him, which is apparently what he wanted all along.

As for the three that are with me, they are doing very well.  Calypso has blossomed so much, it's like he's a different bird.  Beeps and Max have adapted to having me as their only human.

I know I keep saying that I will post more, but I have trouble figuring out what this blog should be.  Still mostly about the parrots?  (With the loss of Rocky, there is not as much to report!)  Dating in my 30s? (Frustrating, to say the least!) My life, navigating a completely different one than I'd been planning for the past 11 years?

Right now, my three remaining parrots (Max, Calypso, and Beeps) and I are listening to music on youtube and having a dance party:

This song has given me so much strength throughout the ordeal. I frequently repeat lines to myself, especially about how she had to go through so much war to get where she is today.  That is what my life has become.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Beeps marches on

Beeps, beeping around and thinking about getting worked up.  When I whistle like that, I can usually get him to say "Pretty Baby!"  Had I tried to pick him up in that state, there's a good chance I would have gotten bit.

Caique gymnastics

Gold medal performance!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A little Calypso

Earlier this week, I realized that one of my plants had grown toward the sun in such a way that the stem has become nearly horizontal.

Since Calypso was the closest parrot to me, and he is also the most compliant, I put him on the plant and took a picture.  He seemed to like it for a few minutes, but then tired of it and climbed down to step on my hand.
Here he is, eating a strawberry.  Normally, I'd cut it up, but was feeling lazy, so just gave him the entire berry.  Neither Max nor Beeps felt like having any.  As a special bonus, he smelled like strawberries for the rest of the night, so when I kissed the top of his head, I had an olfactory treat!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Out and about

In my new single life, I have been making it a point to try to do lots of things that I always wanted to do, or do more often, but didn't while married.  I am trying to live my life the way I want to, and not the way that either society or someone else says that I should.

For example, I always wished that I could live my life without driving.  Whenever I went to Europe, I loved just walking and using public transportation.  In my new life, I take the bus or walk to work and just drive on weekends, when necessary.

Last weekend, my bus stop looked like a crime scene:
But it was just that a super fun professional bike race was in town (one block from my apartment!!!):
So they needed to make sure that if anyone crashed into the bus stop, they wouldn't be injured.  I saw one minor collision, where someone's pedal flew off, but both were able to stay upright.

I was spectating, and amazed at how many people walking by that I knew.  Great fun!

Then, on Tuesday, I went to a music festival with friends:
The horn player is wearing a Keith Van Horn jersey -- he was one of my favorite college players in the mid-90s.  I have several of his rookie cards and used to have a framed poster (gave it to Goodwill when I moved to my apartment.)  This band is playing at a festival in town next week, so I'll probably see them again soon.

Then, we saw fireworks.  Since either my camera isn't great, or I had it on the wrong setting, the fireworks looked like they were dancing:
This weekend, I have lots planned again. I am sad that I went AWOL from blogging so have not much to remember these past 7 months by (though these past 7 months were so painful and terrible, perhaps it's best if I don't remember them) so I really, truly, am going to try to blog more!

Flock dynamics and life

If you can believe it, it's been nearly 4 months (!) since I've been in my new apartment. I have a hard time believing it's been so long.  My lease is over 1/3 over, which is exciting as I hope to buy a house next spring.  I am tired of worrying about the parrots making too much noise for the neighbors, and I'd like to be able to take Basil back when needed.  (But my house in the suburbs, which is on the market, needs to sell first.)

The parrots and I are acclimating well.  We love our new neighborhood.  Beeps loves to fly to the windowsills and watch all of the activity below.  Then he yells "pretty baby!" at the passers-by, but I don't think anyone but me can understand him.

I had hoped that my reduced flock would get along better, but Max and Calypso still attempt to drive Beeps from the area.  I have to be very careful to make sure he doesn't get injured.  Most nights, Max and Calypso play on the stand, like here:
while Beeps hangs out on my leg, under my protection.  I still don't understand how Max can be fine with Calypso but harbor such an extreme hatred for Beeps -- they are both male teenage caiques!  Get along!

All three of the parrots have had to acclimate to sleep cages.  They had been getting up with the sun -- near 5 am -- and beeping, whistling, and yelling, "Good morning!  Wanna get up!" which I'm sure my neighbors didn't appreciate!  And since I can't change my window trimmings due to my lease, I had to take other steps.

Previous to sleep cages, I had been getting up at 5 every morning and putting them into their (covered) carriers, which was obviously not sustainable.  Now I can finally get a full night's sleep!

I'll try to get a picture up, but they now love their sleep cages, which is nice, as they'll be able to take them with them if they have to board at my parents' house when I go on vacation.  If that ever happens :)

Once again, I am amazed at the resiliency of parrots.  Basil and Stella continue to do well in their homes.  Rocky is even enjoying it at the rescue (he has still not been adopted.)  And Max, Calypso, and Beeps have acclimated far better than I ever imagined.

In fact, before, when I'd ask Max for a kiss, she'd usually make one kiss sound.  Every since I've been single, she responds with TWO kiss sounds.  Somehow, she knows!

If you're wondering why blog posting has been light... takes a long time to craft a post when you haven't any fingers!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Another personal update

Time is yet again flying by, and more than a month has passed since my last blog entry.  I just can't believe it!  It's now been over 6 months since I found out about Thomas's infidelity and my entire life changed.

Our divorce was final last month.  The day itself was terrible.  I think that part of me had hoped, until it was final, that he would finally realize what he'd done and do anything to make it right and for us to get back together.  Being in court made me realize that would be impossible.

Since then (it's been about 3 weeks now), I've felt like a huge weight has been lifted off of me.  I am still sad about the way things turned out -- I feel like I wasted over a decade of my life -- but starting to get more excited about my new life.  I haven't even wanted to cry since then, whereas the month or so before the divorce, it felt like that's all I was doing.

Max, Calypso, Beeps, Andreas, and I are mostly settled into our new apartment.  We've been here almost three months now!  Our house is on the market, and there's been some interest, though no offers yet.  Thomas leaves next month for his new job which is in a city about three hours away from us.

I found out I was losing my job right before Thomas confessed his affair, which added to my stress.  However, I have found a very interesting new job -- have been there about 7 weeks now -- which is perfect in every respect except for the longish hours and inability to do personal things (like e-mail and blog) on my work computer.

All in all, it's been a very interesting, and mostly good, few months.  I am trying to look at being single again as a great opportunity to take a look at my life, decide what changes need to be made, and become a happier person.  I've found great solace in my family and friends, who have really stepped up and have been unbelievable support during this terrible time.

I still get regular updates on Basil, Stella, and Rocky.  The first two are doing really well in their homes, and Rocky appears to be happy at the rescue.  He's still looking for a home, and he's so difficult that he might stay at the rescue for quite some time until the right home can be found.  I had hopes that Thomas would take him, but even though he could more than afford to buy a house in his new city where this would be possible, he rented an apartment with a no pets clause.

I've still been running, and last month took first in my age group in an ultramarathon (3rd female overall -- a couple of 20-somethings beat me!) I have a few races scheduled in the upcoming months, and have been training.

I've had trouble finding enough time to paint, but I will get back to it soon, now that things are settling down a bit more at work.  I have no air conditioning, so it's been way too hot to knit, though I have projects lined up for when it cools down again.

I haven't been very good at taking pictures -- I just went through what was on my camera and they were all minute-long videos of my parrots that probably no one else would find interesting, so I'm not going to post them.  I will try to get some new parrot material soon!

Hope everyone has had a great 2012 so far!

Max, my African Grey and Pink

I was painting my nails last week, and I had the bottle on the table.  Max flew over and investigated, as usual.  My head was turned for a second, and in that time, she nudged against the bottle, painting a pink streak on her beak:
It wore off in about a week.  She's back to normal now.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Plant fun

A month ago, my good friend came over to visit. Max and Calypso are both a bit skittish around other people, but Beeps loves everyone, especially if he senses they are bird people.   (The exception to this is my uncle.  Max loved my uncle on sight and actually solicited head pets from him!  He had no idea how special this was, even though we tried to explain it to him, and my mom had her feelings hurt as she has tried to befriend Max for over a decade.) My friend is a bird person (she has two parrots who are probably going to stay with us while the humans go on vacation, so you will get to meet them!)

So he hung out on her leg:
Then, something startled him, and he flew to the plant, which he loved.  He spent a long time in the plant, chewing off the (usually) dead leaves and playing around:
A short video:

This plant has become one of his favorite places to play; it's like an extra stand in the dining room!  He tends to head over there as soon as he flies in.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In which Max explores a bit

Max, who is really quite a brave and adventurous parrot, has been exploring our new apartment.  Since I am posting these pictures more than a month after taking them, she has now established her routines and flight patterns, and I no longer find her in such weird places, like this:
I found her in one of my pantries (I have two!), perching on my lentils and looking out the window.

Later, I gave her a tortellini to eat.  She is as food-motivated as ever!
I have a ledge that goes around my entire dining room.  This is where I place my paintings, many of Mary's paintings, and knick-knacks, such as this wire bird.  The first time, Max accidentally landed up here, but now this is one of her very favorite hang outs:
Speaking of Mary's paintings, when people come over, since they know I paint now, they frequently ask if her paintings are my work.  Are they kidding?  Someday soon I will post some of my work, and you will not even believe the difference.  I think I just have great friends that try to make me feel good!

Bath time, and after

At my new apartment, I have a ledge in my shower, which allows my parrots to perch there, like this:
One time last month, I was taking a bath, and Calypso was on the ledge, as Max is, above.  He was beeping and being quite loud, which is less acceptable now that we live in an apartment and need to not get evicted.

To quiet him down, I placed him on the edge of the tub, so he'd be closer to me.  This worked, but once I'd exited the tub, he started goofing around and fell into the tub, still full of water as I'd only started draining it.  I grabbed him out, but he was soaked.

This required me to wrap him up in a towel and dry him off, which he didn't mind at all (good thing this wasn't Max, as she would not have tolerated such behavior on my part!)

I made a little video of him, as he is just so adorable.  I love it when he makes his big kiss noises, and I *think* he might be saying "kiss" and/or "Calypso," though he garbles a lot, so it just sounds like nonsense.

He is the happiest of all of us about Thomas no longer being in our lives.  Maybe someday I will be able to get to that level of happiness about being alone!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bicycle ride

Beeps was flying around my apartment last month, exploring, when he found himself in my back bedroom, where I am currently storing my workout equipment, including my bicycle.
This is where I found him, beeping and saying, "pretty baby!"

Double trouble

Did I get another timneh african grey?
Don't worry!  I still only have Max.  But she loves to fly to my built-in cabinet/mirror combination and look at herself.  No wonder -- she is a beautiful parrot!

The parrots have taken extremely well to our new apartment.  They are in their same cages and have the same stands, so there is some familiarity.

Also, I saw that a celebrity recently named her daughter Maxwell.  I guess I'm ahead of the curve by a decade (though we named Max when we thought she was a male!)

She wakes me up every morning by saying, "Hello, Maxwell!" and she always puts a smile on my face.

When I start to get down about my terrible life situation, how much I was taken advantage of, and how my life will be so profoundly different from what I thought it would be, even 6 months ago, I always have the parrots who do their best to cheer me up.  Of course, they will also most likely prevent me from every marrying again, but seeing how the last marriage ended, perhaps that's not such a bad thing!