One of these vignettes is true. The other two were dreams. Can you guess which?
They came in cars. A Mini and a Morris-minor both painted a shade of teal echoing the plumage of their passengers. There were no less than five inside each vehicle and a few more perched on the roof. Native parrots. Kea, Kākā, kakapo, kākāriki. All as big as the humans the cars were originally built for and by. Each bird had learned one or more phrases of human speech. They would shriek their pet-phrases at random intervals as if afflicted with Tourette’s and the bird-brained cacophony was hilarious. Then another vehicle pulled up. A white van this time. My grandmother hopped out of the van and kicked Liz up the ass. Then she got back in the van and drove away.
Young kids don’t think that way. That’s what a lot of women say. Bullshit! I was only five years old the first time we visited Toronto. School starts at age 6 in that part of the world. My age was more suited for the equivalent of what we call Kindergarten in New Zealand. Standing-desks were not trendy back then, but very common in school-type environments. So there we were standing by some table busy working away at … Goodness knows what … I can’t really remember, but that was probably when I was playing with the plastic castle that had a trapdoor leading into a secret room that could be accessed by locating the camouflaged sliding door on the side. The girl standing next to me was engrossed with something equally fascinating so I looked around to make sure no-one was watching, then bent down and looked up her skirt.
The beautiful and mysterious world of calligraphy. I don’t think the teacher was explaining it very well. Not my fault that I couldn’t read the blackboard from where I sat. Fortunately, my pencil-case was loaded for bear. I stopped scribbling with the blue ink and switched to felt-tips in bright colours. Then highlighters. At least two other kids at the same table followed my lead — either from boredom or rebellion — and we were soon making a fine mess on our pages. By the time my masterpiece was ready for grading I had used a decent amount of cellotape to ensure that the remains of my peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwhich would remain fixed to the page. The thesis scrawled in bright red tomato-sauce “Remember: The bigger the spider, the bigger the mess.”
So I’ve been looking out my window. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a pervert; lots of people look out of windows. Don’t you judge me! It’s interesting what we focus on. Maybe it’s a case of small things amusing small minds. In this instance I’m looking at a small bird: An Eurasian blackbird, to be precise. And this particular specimen is stone-cold fucking dead. Bird has been dead for 2 weeks now. In that time, Bird has undergone a significant transformation, but let us back up a step. <rewind>
The first week was dead boring. A biologist would tell you that there was a lot going on under the hood – so to speak, but from my perspective the bird simply flopped around a bit as the wind dictated. So anyway, Bird looked just as birds do (sans animation) for about a week.
In the 2nd week, the maggots became visible. Masticating meat-house maggots, merrily munching away. I love how nature cleans up after itself. I know maggots aren’t everyone’s idea of a good time, and I wouldn’t invite them in for tea and scones but the cycle of life is an endless wonder. Yesterday the carcass collapsed in the rain. It looks a bit disgusting but this is where the real fun starts.
There exists a sparrow (one of millions) that is visiting dead-bird, and eating the maggots that are eating aforementioned dead-bird. Bird eats maggot eats bird. Different species of bird, but it’s almost cannibalism-by-proxy. The sparrow works tirelessly, returning every few minutes to gobble more maggots, no doubt whisking the little wrigglers back to the nest to feed the next generation of hungry beaks.
Tweet twiddle diddle pop
Weet twirdle middle bop
Sweet middle fiddle flop
Complete riddle kibble hop
Thou shalt not converse loudly whilst Manu is in the room.
He squawks up a storm, and he can go louder than you can. That’s right, he can go louder than you can. Cockatiel! Cockatiel!
When you spill coffee all down the front of your treasured Gucci blouse and yell “Phooey!”, my bird will laugh at you.
Despite my distaste of keeping animals in cages, I decided to buy a budgie. Despite my decision to buy a budgie, I bought a 3-month old hand-raised cockatiel. it was love at first cuddle. How can you not fall in love with a cockatiel sitting on your shoulder, pulling your hair? His name shall be Manu¹. A hand-raised bird is much more sociable (and expensive) than an aviary bird: The bird is already tame and will bond with its new human-companion much faster.
In the roughly 24 hours that Manu has been here, he has pooped on one of my chairs and one of my friends. I suspect that he is a little pissed-off over his abrupt change in living quarters and family, so I’m resisting the urge to handle him too much whilst he settles in. I want him to feel comfortable and at-home before he becomes acquainted with – and attempts to poop on – the cat. He has broken tapu² already by sitting in both his seed-bowl and water-bowl, but It’s good to see him eating and drinking while he gets familiar with his new lodgings.
That’s Manu in the featured photo. Te Manu tino hiainu. Have a drink. Champion!
1. Manu is the Mäori word for bird, but it also used as a name.
2. Tapu is a Mäori word that roughly translates to sacred or forbidden, depending on context.