Learning to Fly

This is a post about babies of multiple species.

My dad helped me… no he did it… my dad got a really disgusting clog out of the vacuum cleaner last night. And then we (with my stepmom) went to Tic Toc Diner to harass teenager #1 at her first official job as a waitress. The young man assigned to our table recognized me and asked if we wanted her to serve us, and I said that wasn’t necessary we were happy observing her from afar. But he gave her the table anyway.

That’s my baby, and she was buzzing around looking very focused. There is a strange heartwarming and heartbreaking feeling when you see your baby becoming independent.

Earlier that day, Vesta and Minerva went to the adoption event at Petsmart. But no one inquired about these Roman Pride babies. I brought them home to Hermes.

Teenager #1 is with her dad right now, so I spent some time working with our foster kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. I’m going to post some videos from today to show progress.

Hermes is afraid of human hands. And Mars— oh spunky Mars— bit one of our fellow FURR volunteers when she tried to move him from the habitat at the Petco in Easton to the one in the Phillipsburg area.

Video: Manhandling Mars (and Hermes)

Video: The Roman Pride

Meanwhile, I decided I had to let go of my fear of harm coming to the parakeets. I opted to let them free fly for the first time since Boo-Boo’s death (see Farewell Boo for details). And it was the first time for the babies. My room is oddly silent right now because all SIX birds, including Nala the Goffin (who turned five this week), are sleeping. The budgies flew so hard!

Video: Baby birds awkward flight

And here’s a video of Hermes from yesterday: Hermes amid the vacuum

So all the babies are doing well!

My favorite cat litters

This won’t be the most game exciting post, but as a foster parent for feral kittens and a long-time cat mama, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of development in the cat litter arena.

I thought I’d share the cat litter we stock in this house in case it would help anyone else.

In our main living area boxes we use So Phresh from Petco, on repeat delivery. It’s nothing fancy but the price is very reasonable and it ships to the door. Plus, the plastic buckets are reusable and the kitty on the bucket looks like our Fog. I apologize to the UPS man every time we get a delivery. We fill our four cat boxes downstairs with this litter (one on the sun porch, one in the dining room, two in the bathroom).

Even though the fosters receive donations from the supporters of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, because we currently have five cats in teenager #1’s bedroom, we order Arm & Hammer’s Clump N Seal from Chewy.com. This is my favorite clay litter, but it is pricy so I can’t justify buying it for every box. But it really does seal in odor and isn’t dusty. So for the two boxes in the teen’s room, Arm & Hammer it is.

Both of these litters are fairly scent-free because I know cats have sensitive noses and I do, too.

Now there are occasions when we use Yesterday’s News and Feline Pine. Yesterday’s News is a pellet litter made from recycled newspapers. It dissolves when urinated on, but does not clump with poop. Same is true with Feline Pine. With both, you can scoop out the poo and shake the box and the box refreshes in a way. I like that the pellet litters are easy to clean up when they get kicked out of the box. Yesterday’s News is very clean and scentless— so when a cat is recovering from surgery or illness it’s a safe choice. I also use it in the tray of the bird cages.

But I like the pine smell of the Feline Pine when the cat uses the box, so I keep a tiny litter box in my room with that litter. It’s small because with the birds, cats aren’t typically in my room.

Teen #2 has two boxes for her two cats in her room, and I suggested she use one pellet and one clay litter so her cats have a choice.

Our foster cat godmother from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab recently traded in her traditional cat boxes for a horse trough. That is a brilliant idea!

The Harder Side of Rescue

We have worked with three litters of kittens trapped by Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab: The Greek Pride, The Roman Pride and the Norse Pride.

  • Artemis
  • Apollo
  • Hermes
  • Hades
  • Zeus
  • Mars
  • Minerva
  • Jupiter
  • Vesta
  • Fenrir
  • Loki
  • Vale

And when they are trapped young and healthy, it’s easy to socialize them and find them homes.

But the Greek Pride was already a little wild when we got them, and they had kitty cat respiratory infections. Hades sent me to the hospital with a cat bite within the first 48-hours. I stayed four days.

She never settled into a house cat routine and ended up in a barn. I was giving her eye meds at the time she bit me— while I scruff my cats relatively frequently I hadn’t scruffs a kitten in a very long time and didn’t have a good grip.

Apollo got so sick he started sneezing up blood. He would let us swaddle him, wash his face and feed him antibiotics but once he got healthy the experience left him aloof. His sister Zeus was the runt and she was always a goofy love. She didn’t get as sick as the others.

Luckily, her FURRever family adopted her AND Apollo. He still remains aloof, but loves the other cats in the family. His mom is so patient with him.

Artemis was actually adopted first, and he is doing great at his home. His mom is now my Facebook friend and I heard he had a cold last week. My heart hurt for the poor little guy.

Hermes is still with us. Not only did he get eye infections and respiratory infections, he also had two bouts of ringworm. As a consequence we are still working on his fear of human hands. Video: Hermes

The Norse Pride have all been adopted and every communication I receive has been positive.

That leaves the Romans.

The softest tuxedo kittens ever, now about six months old.

Vesta and Mars just spent about three weeks at the local Petco and Minerva has been attending the Saturday adoption events at Petsmart.

Today, another FURR volunteer tried to move Vesta and Mars to a different Petco where she thought they would do better and someone had expressed interest.

Then we got a text that Mars had bit her.

So they are with us again, and we hope Vesta and Minerva can go to Petco instead while we see if Mars was just nervous and scared or if something else was going on.

Mars (left) and Vesta

We have had problems with shyness and skittishness but no one in this litter has ever bit anyone before.

Video: Mars in bed

Video: Original arrival at Petco

Video: Vesta and Mars

Full of Cupcakes

I was exhausted and grumpy most of the day. But not a single thing happened to make me grumpy, I was just tired.

It was a nice day. Teenager #1 and I took a friend to her podiatrist appointment, and as promised said friend provided a nice coffee and added a surprise— home baked matcha cupcakes. I love matcha and I have loved matcha for far longer than it has been trendy.

So it’s gonna be a good day, because matcha cupcakes. Which reminds me of one of my favorite songs: Good Day.

While our friend is at her appointment, we run to Sheetz. The teenager took my money and bought herself a turkey wrap. Not sure why a turkey wrap screamed breakfast to her but she also brought me my favorite cupcakes, Hostess orange cream cupcakes. More cupcakes!

I saved my cupcakes.

The teenager didn’t even get to eat her wrap because she got a phone call from one of our favorite diners, Tic Toc, asking her if she still wanted a job as a waitress. She was quite flummoxed. She starts later today (it is 1 a.m. now).

My maternal instincts say this will be the perfect job for her. She has the patient, cordial nature and coordination for the job. And the girl loves her food so I think she’ll have the knack for details.

And I love that she’s not working in a grocery store, or a fast food joint. I think she’ll learn a lot and gain a lot of new stories to tell. And while working for a small local business will have its own unique challenges, I’m glad she’s not getting the big corporate crap job for her first official work experience.

Speaking of work, my average time per fix was between 4.25 and 4.58. I QC’ed 83 fixes and that’s— as usual— really low. But higher than last night! I took two naproxen sodium and pain was down around a 2.

And the friend I mentioned gave us hand me downs— so I got to go to work in new-to-me jeans. She had several sizes so everything really small went to teenager #2.

And to warm my heart, there is always, Fog, who started life as a feral kitten. Teenager #1 rescued him and his brother last winter. He was so shy he wouldn’t come near me for a month. Gradually he started sleeping in my bed, until a couple months later he was sleeping at my feet. Then my knees. Now he waits for me to come home from work and we go to bed. Video: Time for Bed

In the morning I have a chiropractor appointment, she has probably taught me more about my cerebral palsy’s impact on my body than anyone else.

PS— i survived today by drinking too much coffee, having several sugary snacks, taking a nap and eating too much.

À demain, mes amis. À tout à l’heure.

Mindless Satisfaction

Today featured some magical moments— Mr. Accordion stopped by to pick up his food from the marching band fundraiser (and brought ‘deconstructed halupki’ soup, which I loved as did the two teenagers) AND in the middle of the night, the snow disappeared from our alley.

So I returned to work at the Bizzy Hizzy, a position Mr. Accordion asked me about. I told him it paid decently for the time of work it was and it wasn’t hard.

Of course, tonight I worked in regular pick for 3/4 of the night (only picked 64) and then direct pick for the last two hours where I got my number to 104. Pathetic, but interesting to note the difference direct pick makes. The pain in my spine had reached a seven by meal break so I doctored myself with the trifecta— 600 mg of ibuprofen, coffee, and a honey bun. Painkillers, caffeine and sugar. I ended up walking 21,000 steps.

I love the mindless satisfaction of my job. I listen to every sort of podcast and contemplate my own life. I feel like I learn a lot about myself and the world at large.

And tonight my daughter changed my sheets so I came home to my boy Fog and a clean bed. A welcome combination of the hair raising experience of getting the car in the garage.

Today’s cocktail: Apple Juice and Smirnoff Kissed Caramel Vodka

Snowy day all around

The snow started its gentle cascade yesterday and has kept going, blanketing the world in cold and stillness.

Yesterday I cleaned the birdcages— the budgie family is doing well— and spent some time cooking and checking on friends.

Snow days are for chili, and several others on Facebook had the same idea. My chili was a vegetarian version with kidney beans, black beans, black eyed peas, carrots, spinach and corn (and a Yuengling to make it just right).

I did some more concocting today. Made some pineapple-curry quinoa patties I had in the freezer and chicken potstickers with some sautéed pineapple anticipating that the teens wouldn’t be keen on the “burgers.”

I even used the juice from the pineapple to whip up some homemade sweet and sour sauce. Somehow though I grabbed the chocolate vinegar so my sweet and sour sauce turned chocolaty which actually accented the pineapple.

The animals meanwhile are either sleeping or in mischief. Minerva of the Roman Pride played in some red paint and Mistofelees decided he was a bird.

A video of Misty in the bird cage: Silly Misty in Bird Cage

The snow is still coming down and my shift at the Bizzy Hizzy has been canceled. I’m going to take my vitamins and watch another Brockmire.

I’m a Hank Azaria fan, in part because of his diverse and longstanding voice work on the Simpsons but also because he was hysterical in the Birdcage with greats Nathan Lane and Robin Williams.

I gave Brockmire a test run because of an interview on Fresh Air (this should link to the podcast). I’m finding a lot of humor and a lot of societal commentary and perhaps just reality. Some of Brockmire’s comments about larger issues like climate change surprise me. In general, Brockmire as a character experiences a lot of growth.

And he gets a tortoise in season three. As a former tortoise owner, the tortoise humor slays me. Even though he does keep calling it a turtle.

Clip featuring Clemenza: Clemenza, Brockmire’s tortoise

So now that my dishes are going and my coffee is done, let me head back to my Brockmire.

Consolidator

At Stitch Fix, Monday was a paid holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Day. But we still had to do 8-hours of mandatory overtime. So I worked 10-hour days Tuesday through Friday. And then today I worked 10-2. I’ve been experimenting to what works best for my life and my body. After those 10-hour shifts, my four-hour one passed quickly. Super quickly.

Right now I am in an Epsom salt bath, trying to get Nala to play in the water.

The wind is howling vigorously outside. Nala’s more than a little nervous. And I’m having trouble staying warm in this tub.

I’ve worn a couple of my new shirts from Dolls Kill— which the teenagers unboxed here: Teenagers unboxing Dolls Kill haul. I’ve received some compliments.

So, one interesting thing about life at the Bizzy Hizzy is that second shift (known as midnight society) tends to work where needed versus in a particular position. With a shortage of inventory, we’ve been working inbound even if we are normally outbound.

Working in this warehouse environment makes me realize I am fascinated by operating logistics. Day shift has so many people they are streamlined to factory precision. Evening shift does not have quite that automation.

Last night I worked in men’s inbound— and I have never set foot in the men’s section of the warehouse. It’s clean, uncluttered and quiet. Then for my shift I went back to women’s returns processing. Today I served as consolidator. That was collecting clothes and distributing hangers.

Now there are two schools of thought on whether cross-training benefits the worker.

1. As an employee, we are hired for a certain job and our wage or salary is set by our skill level and what we do. When an employer asks us to perform additional roles without adjusting our compensation, they are taking advantage of the employee.

2. When an employee, particular one in a low-skill arena, agrees to perform more than one function, they are proving their willingness to learn and their capacity, which allows the employer to assess their performance and capacity. This will factor into evaluations and could lead to growth within the company.

Both are valid, and both are horseshit as workers are not really valued in American culture. The United States’ system values business and profit but not so much the individual.

But learning these different roles entertains me and quells my curiosity.

And this morning before work I treated myself to a breakfast at Wendy’s because I really like their seasoned potatoes. And I tried the Breakfast Baconator. I wanted it to be a hamburger. See my review here: Review of the Breakfast Baconator

And after work I stopped to see Mars and Vesta at Petco: Mars and Vesta

Meanwhile at home, Minerva turned a corner: Cuddly Minerva

24 Hours: Adieu to Boo

In my previous blog entry, I mentioned that the cats broke into my room and Peek-A-Boo, my yellow parakeet, was free-flying. Traditionally, I let the parakeets free-fly once or twice a week while supervised.

The routine has changed since kitten fostering, COVID-19, and budgie chicks— and poor Boo found herself in the small bird cage isolated from her friends.

So for her emotional health, I let her free fly more often, but as the stubborn bird she was… she hated going back into the tiny bird cage and wouldn’t go willingly until nightfall.

I would close my bedroom door and let her go.

Thursday night the cats got in before Boo had gotten into her cage. Now my older cats won’t bother her. The hunter in the family now has three legs and more desire to sleep under my bed than play drive to chase a bird. And the dumb one— he already had a run in with Boo and lost. She was in her cage and Oz must have gotten too close. She ripped out a piece of his nose and lip. It’s taken about a year to regrow.

Oz has no interest in the birds. The little jerks dive bomb him, usually with Boo as ringleader, should he wander into the room while she were out.

Now, the younger two (Misty and Fog) and the newcomers belonging to teenager #2 (Venom and TJ) are stereotypical cats.

Chances are that Oz opened the door so he and Opie could sleep uninterrupted in my room and the rest of the Pride took advantage of the situation and scared Boo. She probably couldn’t get to her cage and somehow got out the crack in the door. Or, as there was feathers in my room, one of the cats swept her out of the air and carried her out of my room.

Statistically all of these things seem unlikely to happen all at once but they did. Once Boo made it downstairs, the cats had the advantage and Boo lost quite a few feathers. Somewhere in this time she released some blood curdling screams that teenager #1 “never wants to hear again in [her] life” and teen came running to find Boo cornered between a stool and the wall in the kitchen.

Venom and Fog, the two smartest and food-focused cats we have, stood guard.

Poor Boo was exhausted and had a puncture wound in one wing. Teen #1 scooped her up, and she still had enough spunk to bite. I believe at that point she had neither energy nor feathers to fly.

Teen #1 returned the bird to her cage, covered it partially to give her security and monitored her. She stood quietly and puffy, but we supposed that was appropriate behavior for the circumstances. Then, teenager #1 called her dad and went to Dairy Queen to buy French fries for the birds. Which is a great treat for cockatoos, not sure if it works for budgies.

Friday morning, she didn’t sing when the sun came up. Nor did she rattle the bars of her cage. And now that I think about it, she didn’t harass me with impatience when I fed everyone else breakfast first.

Friday evening, teenager #2 commented that Boo wasn’t active nor visible. So that’s when teenager #1 discovered her dead on the bottom of the cage.

The last 24 hours of mandatory overtime this week

Wow — that ending up being a long story when I was trying to tell the executive summary. What I wanted to do was give a little insight into the last 24 hours of my mandatory over time at Stitch Fix. After a week of sleeping about 6 hours sleep a night, it was hell, but hey… we were all exhausted and in the same boat.

FRIDAY

10 pm— about 44 hours in to a 54 hour work week— I get a text from my daughter that it wasn’t a complete emergency but she needed to talk to me. Boo boo was dead.

The last two hours of the shift were exhausting.

12 am— I leave work with my gift of Stitch Fix gloves, which the nurse distributes with the joke of “next week they’ll hand out fingers.”

SATURDAY

1 am— Teenager #1 and I have a toast and some cookies and pickles to celebrate Boo’s life.

2 am— We head to bed. I have a recurrence of my Covid cough that keeps me up until about…

3 am— Finally sleep

8:15 am— The alarm goes off. Fuuuck. I’m so tired. The birds don’t like that I am leaving. I manage to feed the cats, get my ass dressed (and I look cute since I had planned my outfit in advance), and drink have a cup of coffee before putting on my shoes at 9.

9:15 am— In the car, listening to NPR.

9:30 am— I arrive. One of my supervisors comes in (she is also a 10 am start), puts her head down, and falls asleep on the table in the main break room.

9:55 am— the assignments post. I am QC Line 2, BA. What the hell is BA?

9:55 am— day shift is chugging away. We stand in line at the time clocks. One of our colleagues is way too perky. Another, in a dark way, makes the comment, “were you doing lines of coke?” We chuckle, but not because it’s funny but because we are tired. I suggest maybe that will be the next free snack in the breakroom. Inappropriate humor I know but my filter is damaged at this point. But we are all so tired. We are human. And I point out, if we don’t laugh, we will cry. Another colleague adds that if I cry she will cry.

9:57 am— I ask a supervisor for clarification on what BA is. She scowls and looks me up on her computer, “Line 2, EIGHT A.” And she points to Valley 1. I refrain from telling her that Stitch Fix needs a easier to read typeface.

10 am— I am on the back of the line. Last week, I spent most of my shifts also on Line 2 but in Valley 2 at table 2B. It seems a good spot for me. In the front of the line. Only one table in front of me. And that person behaves as a peer supervisor. I like watching her QC her boxes, audit boxes, fix problems brought to her by the person who puts the styling cards in the boxes (whom I can also see), and doing tasks on the computer I don’t recognize or understand.

At 2-2B, the line is on my left. I have mastered how to organize my table. At 2-8A, the line is on my right and now I am completely out of sorts. I am in the back of the line which means I have to be very forceful pushing my boxes up the line.

As someone who can’t even bowl straight and has never played shuffle board I suck at this too. Another aspect of QC that doesn’t fall in my natural skill set.

12 pm— no one seems to be going on break. Day shift delivers the pick carts with 4 boxes on top instead of the regular 8. The people in this Valley all speak Spanish and yell back and forth at each other. I have been stationed in what appears to be the Spanish party line. My times suck.

12:15 pm— a colleague from my shift informs me, after I take the wrong first break, that meal will be at 3 pm and last break is 5 pm. I’m already hungry so that kinda stinks but the end of the day will move quickly. The fingerless gloves make my hands feel better. I brought my Stitch Fix water bottle but the straw is bent and it won’t get liquid from the bottom.

1:30 pm— my Valley mates leave. Peers from my shift take their place. People I know! People that speak my language! People who do tasks the way I do them! (Man those subtle differences between the shifts are disorienting.)

3 pm— day shift appears to be gone now. We stare out the windows at the light outside in shock. A supervisor, the one who had a rubber chicken on an earlier night and started at 8 am, threatens to blacken them out to make us more comfortable. We have a good laugh.

3:27 pm— I head to the restroom. I stop first at the water bottle refill station. It is filtered and fully automatic so it senses when my water bottle is there. I get so excited I want to tell my friend Gayle. I wind the lid onto the bottle, some how trip on a wrinkle in the rug and end up falling onto the floor with a bang to my left knee and punching the electrical box with my left hand. I use the restroom, wash my hands and realize I will need to see the nurse so I don’t bleed on the clothes.

3:31 pm— I clock in and visit the nurse, who is not my favorite nurse. I explain what happened and despite my assurance that this will not become a workmen’s comp claim has to create an incident report. The clumsy, exhausted employee with cerebral palsy tripped. That is all.

3:37 pm— back to my table. Without thinking, I finished my morning seltzer, drank a V8 Energy Drink (the kiwi strawberry which tasted like a 50 calorie Snapple with vitamins. Love it), and consumed a “cup o noodles” on my meal. This will be important later as I will soon very badly need to urinate.

5 pm— I need to pee. Break. I need to pee. Bathroom is being cleaned. Someone senior to me heads to the office where there are two single seat bathrooms. The plant manager suggests we try the bathroom 750 steps across the warehouse.

5:10 pm— I return to my station. This day needs to end.

6:25 pm— I finish my last fix. My times still suck. I want to cry. I need to decompress. My times still suck. I feel inadequate and guilty. But hey I’m done.

6:34 pm— I am in my car. Going home to my teens. Teen #2 has a yummy surprise. I promised them pizza at George’s Pizza. We also promised to start The History of Swear Words on Netflix. More on that in the next post.

10 pm— I will be in bed!

Rip it off fast like a bandaid

It’s 11 a.m. on Friday morning— it looks crisp and clear outside. Teenager #2 is in school. Teenager #1 just emerged from her room as we both got to sleep around 3 a.m.

Mandatory overtime and lack of sleep are kicking my ass. My household is experiencing some knocks too as the Roman Pride tuxedo kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab are vomiting. We hope it is because of a recent change in their food.

I wish I could say the birds have been quiet. But alas, alack, the cats broke into my room while Boo-Boo the yellow parakeet was free-flying and Boo-boo flew downstairs. Now Boo-boo is not a hand-tame bird.

This occurred while I was wrestling clothes in the Quality Control Valley 2 of the Bizzy Hizzy at Stitch Fix. Teenager #1 heard Boo-boo screaming because two of our household cats had taken to swiping her out of the air.

Teenager #1 rescued Boo, who was still feisty enough to bite her repeatedly.

So there was that.

Meanwhile, at the Bizzy, I was thinking about numerology and “angel numbers,” thanks to a podcast I heard the other night. In the midst of all this craziness, as I was leaving work the other night, my odometer read 33533. Palindrome. Prime numbers. “Sacred threes.”

Okay so it’s blurry: 33533

So the boxes that got returned to me last night were sent back for issues with wrapping. One of the people training me finally came over and asked how I tear my paper. I showed her. Carefully. Almost daintily.

“Ah, she said, “there lies the problem. You need to rip it fast like a bandaid.”

I did and the results were very different and better.

My foe

I thanked her for the tutelage and laughed, pointing out that this was not something that did not come naturally to my skill set. I have no depth perception when related to placing items in containers. I suck at folding clothes. It’s agonizing for my body to stand still for 8 hours. And I have no concept of straight lines.

But all in all I am improving and I truly enjoy the challenge of learning something new. It reminds me of when I first learned cash office at Target. I wanted to vomit every time I started my shift.

The person overseeing me thanked me for taking criticism well, and again I laughed, and reminded her that I needed her it. She said a lot of people get frustrated. And I assured her that I was indeed frustrated with myself for repeating the same mistakes. She quickly revised her statement— “No, she said, people get really frustrated with me.”

And that struck me. Because I know what she means. And I have to say, in both my professional and… let’s call them survival jobs, I have had supervisors that understand how to deliver constructive criticism and all kinds of feedback and those supervisors who care about the mission, the corporate line, and/or themselves and how they look, more than they were invested in the people.

So far in the Bizzy Hizzy, I have not met one of those. I also feel I am in the honeymoon phase at Stitch Fix. My judgment may be skewed.

This mandatory overtime stinks. We’re all exhausted. And even the scrambled egg appreciation breakfast and free snacks can’t push us past that.

This might be the spot to mention that one of my supervisors spent most of the night running around with a squealing plastic chicken.

The nurse wandered into the Valley about 12:30 to check on everyone doing overtime (as the “deep cleaners” worked around us— which by the way, they move nothing and just wipe shit down. I find more dust and grime when I do my nightly wipes). I showed the nurse my new skill at tearing craft paper. She gave me a gloved high five.

I’m working a normal 8-hour shift tonight then returning for an 8-hour double time shift tomorrow morning. Now if you excuse me, I must go lay out my quarterly budget as it is 2-weeks overdue.

Travelogue at home

The other day I asked myself— what would happen if we approached our everyday lives like a writer taking notes for a travelogue?

Interesting that I thought of this now, as Facebook reminded me that 5 years ago I was in Somalia eating fruit so succulent it was like ice cream. I remember the dark wood of the built-in wardrobe of our hotel room, the way the guard at the top of the stairs would chit-chat with me as he rocked his plastic lawn chair with his gun across his lap.

That was also the week I decided to overhaul my marriage— because as I was traveling the streets of Mogadishu trying to interpret the paintings that adorned the shops and watched a women make coffee on the side of the road amidst traffic, I realized I had my laptop in Somalia with all of our household information. If anything had happened to me, I didn’t know if my husband knew how to log into our bank account or when to pay the mortgage (or how much it was or who receives the payment).

I suddenly realized my own mortality. And that my control of everything needed to change.

To return this ramble to the idea of a quotidienne travelogue, I always blog while we travel, even to places more mundane than Africa, and M, my traveling companion, would always sit down with his phone and his cigarette about to read the link I sent him.

“Oh good,” he would say, “Let’s see what I did today.”

Life at the Aviary

The colors in the room— vivid pink (almost a fuchsia) walls in semi-gloss, teal swirly floral-paisley curtains and a yellow patterned duvet color with pink sheets adorned with white polka dots— created a cheery environment that brightened exponentially with every ray of sunshine that crept in through the three windows facing south.

The birds grew more animated as the sun intensified, three adult parakeets and three freshly hatched chicks under three weeks old and a Goffin’s cockatoo, a mini-parrot who expressed her nervousness by barbering and plucking her own feathers. Even bird teenagers are prone to rituals of self-harm.

Once awake, I strolled down to the living area, also decorated boldly but simply with sky blue walls with a hint of turquoise and a chalkboard wall under the stairs with a variety of notes. The furniture included a cushioned bench, cozy teal chairs, and an emerald green loveseat that sat oddly low to the ground.

I sipped a very hot cup of coffee with cream not brewed but steamed for me as if it were espresso. Cats swirled at my feet, including one with a gruff, tired face. He wore a Captain America collar. When he moved, his gait revealed his amputee status— having lost his front left leg to kitty cat cancer.

After this, I traveled back to the aviary chamber to help care for the birds. I handled these tiny chicks!

My companion and I departed shortly after our “chores” to have breakfast at Tic Toc Diner. My companion has a love of chocolate milk and pancakes. She insists that both always tastes better at a diner.

I discover what might be my new all time favorite breakfast: Eggs Benedict Florentine with garlic and tomato. As a poached egg is one of my favorite things on Earth, it only gets better when we add some nutritionally dense spinach smothered in hollandais sauce.

The pleasures here and simple and the environment chaotic.