Sunday, October 25, 2009

Budgie alarm

My husband and I have two small parrots. Morning with them on most days are pretty quiet: I go to work before the sun comes up, when our birds are still sleeping or engaging in quiet activity.

On weekends, we normally sleep in. For years, when the sun starts shining into our house, our cockatiel would begin a cheeping. A loud "Cheep!," a short pause, another "Cheep!" and on for some time. Often, he would settle when one of us goes into his room. If not, usually having both of us in the living room would get him to calm down.

Why the insistent calls until we get up? I don't know. But it was neat to see that he felt some connection to us.

About a month ago, my husband's coworker found a parakeet at their wild bird feeder. Wilson is now living with us. When a new pet comes into a household, things change.

Parakeets (also called budgerigars, or budgies) are known for talking to themselves. Whistles, cheeps, crackles, words, and any other sounds they learn to imitate get all jumbled up into a monologue. Our first parakeet does this. But Wilson does it much more. Often, when Wilson starts up, the other budgie joins in.

And that's our new weekend wakeup call: the two budgies talking to themselves. No more insistent cockatiel cheeps. I'm a little sad the birds don't seem to need my husband or I as much in the morning. But I'm glad to wake up to such a happy sound: a budgie alarm.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

That's not part of my job!

Growing up, one of my chores was to do the dishes on certain days of the week. A particular day of dishwashing stands out in my mind: after I had done the dishes—completing this chore the same way I had done for years—my father insisted I wasn't finished. "You haven't wiped down the counter!" Passionate argument ensued, with no resolution.

The next day I went to my mother, full of righteous indignation. After hearing my side of the story she said, "Well, it doesn't seem unreasonable for wiping down the counter to be part of doing the dishes."

I don't remember what was said after that: I was overcome by a feeling of dumbfounded shock. No one had ever asked me to wipe down the counter. I was upset at being scolded over a responsibility I had not agreed to; it had never crossed my mind to consider whether the task was reasonable.

At work, I will soon have some authority (although not supervisory) over a number of other employees. Gaining cooperation can be a tricky task; I have heard many supervisors compare their job to parenting. Perhaps memories such as the dishwashing incident will help my management techniques at work.

I hope I'll do well. I'm excited to have the opportunity to try.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Botanical aid

I complained this spring about an invasive vine threatening my raspberries. I spent a significant amount of time this summer removing the vine from most of my brambles. I was curious about exactly what it was, and took a flowering sample to my local botanical center.

It took several months, but the diligent research of the master gardener paid off: the vine is an American Hog Peanut. Turns out, it's technically a native plant, not an invasive one.

Native plants support significantly more wildlife than imported species. The wildlife in my yard is one of the things I enjoy most about it. So now I don't feel as negatively toward the vine as I did this spring.

I feel lucky to have access to a botanical center with such a helpful master gardener.