Saturday, December 7, 2013

Swing!

I cannot even express how much I love it when one of my parrots is hanging out on their swing.  Usually, it's one of the caiques.  In this case, it was Calypso.  Even though his door was open and he could have been hanging out on the outside of his cage, he chose to perch on a swing.  He has several in his cage, and I love it every single time.
When I see this, I fawn all over him, pick him up, and we make kiss sounds at each other.  So I'm probably reinforcing it, but I also like to think that it brings him happiness thinking about being free on swinging branches.

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Life continues to be extremely busy.  I just broke things off with the last guy I was seeing.  He was just too weird, and I had enough of that in my marriage!  However, I think that he has (inadvertently) convinced me to write a book.  It may be a book that only my friends read, but already, "That's gotta go in your book!" is being exclaimed frequently.  So many funny stories!  Right now, I'm thinking it will be fiction, but pretty much based on my past few years.  A lady who thinks she's in a fabulous marriage to her best friend, but actually he's a personality-disordered loser who cheats on her with a clone of his mom.  Then her subsequent reaction and journey into a great new life where she realizes that she was culpable in pulling the wool over her own eyes.  We'll see what happens.

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On my run this morning, my running partner and I saw a downy woodpecker.  Or maybe a hairy woodpecker.  I can never tell them apart unless I'm looking at pictures!  But it was a lot of fun and I love that my running partner loves to look at birds as much as I do!

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My dad and I have season tickets to our local NCAA basketball team.  This evening, I went to a game with him, my best friend, and my best friend's husband.  They love my parents, so we had a great time.  And, while the team was not very good last year, they are doing really well this year!  The last two games have been so well-played.  Tonight, we had great seats.  We could hear the players trash-talking and really see the physicality of the game.  I love it!  Unfortunately, the next home game isn't until next year -- nearly a month!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Steps

This evening, I'd let the parrots out of their cages while I was reading a book in the living room. As usual, the caiques behaved by playing on their cages and whistling back and forth with me. Also as usual, Max was another story.

She is fascinated with my stairs. Usually, she'll walk over to them and then dance and make sounds (whistling, singing, talking, kisses) to bring my attention to her. She has, so far, been unable to climb them at all. In our old house, she could climb them because there was carpet that she could attach her beak to, but here she could get no purchase. However, this evening, I kept finding her on the first step. I couldn't figure out how, until I realized that I'd taken my running shoes off while sitting on the step, and left them right there.

She'd used the shoe on the floor as a step to get to her destination -- smart girl!

Since I run a lot and therefore wear through shoes regularly, I had a bunch waiting to be taken to the running store to be turned into a track (through Nike's Reuse A Shoe program.)
I tried to get it on video, but it was too dark, and she kept stopping once she saw the camera to dance.  However, she was a very happy lady tonight.  Not sure how long I'll keep them there for her; it probably depends on her behavior and whether she uses the shoes to chew on my wood.  If so, they'll be gone, and she'll be under stricter supervision.

Curious

When I clean Andreas's tank, I put him in his hide, and I put his hide in a box top. This makes it easier for me to keep him contained as he is shockingly quick and I don't want to have to chase him around and risk him getting stuck somewhere.

Last time, I could just barely see his little hand:
But when I called his name, he stuck his head out.
I suspect this was just a coincidence, but it still made me smile!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Greetings!

My internet went out earlier this week, due to the wind knocking branches off of my pear tree that took down my phone line.  It took a couple of days for the service to be restored.

When the technician got here, as soon as he stepped inside my house, Max yelled, "Hello!!!"  The technician replied, "Hello!" -- it turns out he has a grey and a cockatiel.

Max has just started enthusiastically greeting everyone who enters our home. She's also decided that she wants to do her tricks for everyone; luckily this guy was interested (and it only takes a minute to run through them) -- she was so happy for an audience!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Club

I read. A lot.  I frequently read in the living room, so the parrots get ambient attention while I'm there.

The caiques are content to stay on their cages and occasionally whistle to me (of course, I always respond.)  Max, on the other hand, is more hands-on.  She usually climbs up onto the couch:
And then will spend hours on my leg:
I was wearing gray tonight; perhaps she felt more bonded to me than ever? (Just kidding!)

Andreas

Andreas is doing so well in our new home. I don't really know that much about taking care of lizards, even though he's been with me for 6.5 years now. I've done a ton of research, but there is conflicting information, and stuff that doesn't pass my gut check. I read about what people said about parrots in the early days of bird-keeping, and it seems similar, in terms of saying that they don't want attention, for example.

Andreas never seemed to want attention in our old home. However, since he's been with just me, he's really turned around.  Since he seems to be thriving and his vet is pleased with his progress, that's what I'm going to use as my gauge to whether I'm taking care of him properly or not.

One thing I'm really excited about is that his entire tail has molted!  It only took six years...  He had a very sad first part of his life.  He's wild-caught, so he had to endure unspeakable travails being caught in Africa and transported to America.  (He had parasites that only appear in wild-caught specimen.)  I don't know any more details, other than he was in a pet store, in terrible conditions and on colored sand, when Thomas bought him.  Parts of his tail had molted, but until recently, his tail looked like this, partly still colored from the sand.

Now, it's entirely black and healthy:
He is more personable than ever -- when I was married, he ran into his hide when we were home (perhaps he could sense something was wrong when even I couldn't?)  But now, he seems to crave attention.
He enjoys scratches, and seems interested when I put Max by his cage (she always yells "hello!" at him, even though he never responds.)
He also likes to take food from my hands -- possibly because he thinks it's dandelion heads!  I like to tell myself it's because he likes me :)
video

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Seriously? Snow?

The view out of my office window earlier this week:
Are you kidding me?  Snow this early?  YUCK!  Luckily it's melted and my landscapers were able to come today to do some prep work.

Landscapers?  That's right!  I don't have a lawn, but the previous owner of my house, just let it go wild.  I hired an environmentally-conscious company to come in and help me out.  They're planting native plants that attract local wildlife, especially birds.  It's going to be amazing in a few years.

Right now, I have pear trees, so I frequently see squirrels eating pears on my patio.

I am getting a new computer at work tomorrow, so I had to clean off my desk where the tech guys will be working.  My desk has been a crazy mess due to many more open projects than I would like.  I could put everything in folders, but I'm more of a piles lady.  As I was leaving today, I realized that my desk was the equivalent of a mullet -- business in the front and party in the back!
I took tomorrow off, as I have quite a few errands to run.  I'm bringing wine to Thanksgiving this year, and want to go to my favorite local winery to get some.  Additionally, my favorite orchard, as I want to get some honeycrisps to eat and some others to make into cobbler.  I've barely taken any vacation days this year since things have been so busy, but we have a use-it-or-lose-it policy and I am determined not to lose any!

When I get back to work, I am going to have two of the most giant monitors ever on my desk.  I can't wait!  Spreadsheets in all their glory!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A present for my father

One of the things I love to do in my new life is go to author readings/book signings.  I am very lucky to live just a few blocks from one of the best independent booksellers in the nation.  I try to go to at least one reading per month, and typically buy the book.  I want to make sure they stay in business.

Recently, I went to an author appearance regarding a book about the 1985 Chicago Bears.  My dad hates the Bears, but he loves football, so I had the author inscribe the book to my dad.  The author told many interesting stories about the earlier days of football, so I'm also going to read it.  I just have to decide if I do so before or after I give the book to my dad!
I hope he takes it with the love behind it -- not sure I'd be as accepting about a book on the Toronto Blue Jays, for example.  (I am still not over the fact that they beat the Phillies in the 1993 World Series; frankly, I'm not sure I ever will be.)

The last time I had gone to a book signing was on a terrible first date.  I kind of wanted to tell the author that I was never going to see the guy again lest he think we were a couple -- he was that embarrassing.  This time, I went with a good friend, and we had a great time.  She's a huge Bears fan, and bought a copy for herself.

Head pets, now!

I love how Max will stop at nothing, including guilt and cuteness, to get what she wants.  In this case, head pets.

I was chopping up vegetables, trying to make dinner, when she climbed up on a container and started scratching her own head, imploring me to take over.
Of course I did; how could I resist her?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Catching Up!

Despite what it may seem, I have not forgotten about this blog! I am still a bit angry with myself for not posting more often, as I'd love to be able to look back and see what's been going on in my life! Yet again, I will try to post more regularly...starting NOW!!!

But, first...I must catch up with the past few months. I'll miss a lot, but hit the highlights relating to pictures I took.

In September, I ran a 50K race with one of my best friends.  She's someone I knew before I found out about Thomas's cheating, barely.  We both volunteered for our local marathon, but I never became friends with her due to Thomas's weirdness and the fact that since he didn't have any friends, he begrudged me mine.

She really stepped up, and we've become so close over the past two years.  In fact, tomorrow we are going trail running, touring a winery, and watching our NFL team at her house as her boyfriend makes us vegetarian chili. Score!

Usually, I run my own race, but we agreed that we would run this 50K (31 miles) together.  It was so much fun!  Here is what we saw near the beginning:
It turned out to be a gorgeous day, and we became even better friends due to this experience.  We crossed the finish line holding hands and collapsed in a giant hug.

Two more pictures of what we got to see during our run:
In early September, Steve Earle came to town!  I've been a big fan ever since I saw him on The Wire (best show ever to appear on TV, in case you're wondering.  I am watching Season 1, episode 4 as I write this post.)  As an aside, on a terrible first date, I met George Pelecanos, one of the writers on The Wire.  He was absolutely amazing, and made me love the show even more!

Steve's live show was every bit as wonderful as expected.  I went with my parents; I've become much closer to them throughout this ordeal, which is one of the many silver linings of finding out I was married to a sociopath and getting divorced:
This is the dessert at one of my new favorite restaurants.  I first shared it with one of my best friends (and fellow parrot-enthusiast) a few months back -- brownie with salted caramel gelato, nuts, cherry, etc.  I went back with another friend, and once I showed them the picture I had taken of my dessert earlier in the summer, they agreed to make it for me, even though it was no longer officially on the menu.  Yay!
Here's my good friend near finishing her first triathlon!  Surrounded by geese, which I loved.  Another one of our friends and I chased her around on our bikes with signs, cheering her on.  It was such a great day!
I had been on yet another bummer first date, followed by a lake cruise with friends.  I feel so lucky to live in such a fabulous city!  The views more than made up for the bad first date!
I cat-sat for my good friend and her husband.  Sprecher was watching me!
And the two of them, eating their food:
This blog was originally started to chronicle the antics of my parrots, so we will now enter that portion of this entry!

Here's Max, eating something (shocker!)  Andreas's tank is in the background.  Speaking of Andreas, he has become so much more personable recently.  He asks for me to pet his head!  I'm starting to think certain animals really can recognize evil people, which is why the parrots and Andreas are so much happier now!
And, Beeps: eating some food as well.
Calypso had climbed into Max's cage and was eating her food!  Since I always supervise, this situation was resolved without bloodshed.
Max, perched on some blankets on the couch.  She likes to be near me as I read after work.
Beeps, again.  He's actually not done as well in our new life.  I had begged Thomas to take him, since he never got along with the other birds and would prefer to be solo, but Thomas refused to take any of the parrots, or (not so shockingly), any responsibility for anything.  I had to figure everything out alone, and made what I thought were the best decisions for the parrots were at the time.  I think he feels abandoned, and hasn't rebounded as much as Calypso and Max have.
I'm still trying to eat healthy; here's a pan full of zucchini!
At my new job, I frequently have to go to fancy fundraising events.  This is a shot from a recent one.  The local professional hockey team were our servers; it was pretty exciting to be out there, sitting on the ice!
The meal (vegetarian option) was pretty, but not as tasting or filling as I'd hoped...
Also during the fall, I dog-sat one night for my closest friend and her husband.  They live only a few blocks from me, which is so convenient!  They currently have two boxers (sadly, one is nearing the end of his life.)  They have adopted me as one of their favorite humans, which is so fun!

I was trying to take a picture of Hans, but he jumped up on me and made a good picture impossible!
He always grabs a toy and tries to get me to play tug-of-war:
He wanted to go inside, but since I wanted to make sure they didn't have any accidents, I kept them outside a little longer!
So he decided to rest on their patio furniture, waiting until he could go inside again:
I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to get both of them in the photo.  The older one was coming in for some attention when the younger one pushed him out of the way:
HELLO!
A few weeks ago, some friends and I ran a 5K race that took place entirely inside a corn maze!  It was a lot of fun (though a bit hard on my knees, with the twists and turns), I ran into an old friend I hadn't seen for a year, and I won first place in my age group!  To celebrate, we went to a fabulous Mexican restaurant:
On yet another bad first date, I had some more macaroni and cheese:
I am not even kidding that I could write a blog about all of my bad first dates.  I've had some good ones sprinkled in, too, so no worries!

My dad and I have season tickets to a local NCAA team; the games started recently.  We went to almost all of the games together last year, and it was so much fun!  We're hoping to make all of the games this year:
Last week Saturday, I ran another 50K -- my third of the year.  I wound up third woman!  The race was established in honor of one of my friends who is dying of cancer.  I took what I hope is one of many annual pictures with my friend and his wife (another one of my friends.)  The wife (also my friend) and I will probably run Boston together in 2015.  I have run it before, but was with Thomas (aka "The Dark Cloud of Doom and Gloom") so it wasn't much fun.  Next time, it will be for sure!

Gorgeous picture of me and my race partner running up a hill, at about mile 30.7:
After this recent 50K, there was a campfire to warm us and make us smell delicious:
After the race, my plan was to hang out at home, drink beer, and sleep in.  But one of my friends had another idea in mind.  She's in the process of leaving her abusive partner.  Since I have recent experience with this, I have tried my best to be as supportive as possible.  We went to a haunted house (even though I am terrified of them) and then did a zip line, pictured below:
Today, my parents came up and helped me to winterize my house.  We cleaned the gutters, put some plastic on windows, took out my window air conditioning unit, and played some cards. It was a great evening! 

More to come, on a more regular basis!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Monthly personal update

As frequently as I say that I'm going to try to update this blog more often, you'd think that I would!  However, real life is getting in the way.  When I was married to the most anti-social person in the world, I had plenty of time to blog, but now that I'm doing things with friends and still trying to keep up with the parrots, as well as holding down a much more demanding job, this is something that has fallen by the wayside.  Which makes me sad, as I'd love to have a more complete picture of the past couple years of my life!

But here is a snapshot of the things I did during the month of July:

I went to a baseball game.  I am sponsored by a local running store, and am friends with many of the employees, so they invited me along on their employee outing, which was rather odd, since I was the only non-employee, but they were so welcoming and I have been invited back for next year!
This one was June, but a local street festival was held to celebrate the solstice.  I went with a good friend and her husband.  We met the father of the lead singer of a popular local band (on the verge of signing a national record contract) which meant we met the lead singer and had a memorable evening.
 Supermoon!!!
 Front-row tickets to see three bands from my youth!!!!!
 Boyz II Men (my favorite, and I will get a rhinestone-emblazoned Phillies hat someday):
 Not sure why they look other-worldly, but I love this picture of them singing!
98 Degrees (I am actually a bit too old for them, and I didn't know many of their songs, but they were energetic and fun):
New Kids on the Block -- yes, I should be embarrassed to admit it, but I was there!  And when they went into the crowd for one of their songs, they all brushed past me!  Again, I wasn't huge fans of them, but I knew most of the songs they sang, and they put on a great show.
My sister and I went to a minor-league game that was one of the most exciting games I have ever seen. S he won a pair of VIP tickets.
The celebration after they came from behind in the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs, when they hadn't had the lead for the entire game:
I went to dinner with my friend J.  We split a pizza, which meant room for dessert.  This was one of the best things I have ever eaten.  That's caramel sea salt ice cream on top of the brownies.  And candied nuts.  YUM!!!  I showed my friend at work this picture, she made me show a bunch of other people, and quite a few made it over to this restaurant for this piece of deliciousness:
Celebrating Bastille Days (you can see French flags spread out along the street of this very American city.) 
On a date, I went bowling for the first time in over a decade -- and scored over 100 points (that's me on the top row.)
Same guy, different date.  French toast.  With ice cream.  Amazing concept, and one I'm ashamed to have not thought of myself.  This really was made for two to share, so I only ate half of the French toast, but I did eat all of the ice cream (caramel sea salt again.  Delicious!!!)
My parents and I go to a craft brew fest on an annual basis.  This year, four of my friends (two couples) joined us, and we ran into my cousin there.  What a fun time!  After, we walked to a different street festival, then we walked home, and my parents spent the night.  That part will continue to be a tradition, though I'm hoping to pick up a couple of used bikes for people to use when they visit as biking home will be quicker than walking!
It's still very early days, but I am dating an amazing man.  I was abused (verbally and emotionally) for so long, I rather forgot what it was like to be with someone who treats me as nicely as I treat him.  I'm glad I took many months away from dating to work on myself and figure out what I really want, as I'm in a good place to welcome a good man into my life.

He's met the parrots and finds them amusing and interesting.  Being prey animals, they are a little wary, but he'll win them over.  His middle name is Andres, which is usually what I'd use as his pseudonym, but since it's so close to Andreas's name, I'll have to think of something different to avoid confusion.  Though hopefully no one would think that I am dating my lizard!

Anyway, things are good, life is fabulous, and I need to blog more frequently!