Thursday, June 21, 2007

Care and Well-being of your Parakeet

It's been quite a full day. I slept longer than I thought I would, with strange dreams I keep forgetting to write down when I wake up. This time, I woke to the sound of my neighboring vacant house's garage door opening. It appears the Bank sent the "preservation" crew the jerk talked about yesterday to winterize the house. But they did much more than that. The crew went in and threw everything in the house into a dumpster trailer. All her homey touches, her curtains, her 50's dinette. Things that actually had use and were nice, like a bookcase, a pet crate, unused storm windows, an air conditioner, the stove, a microwave. Had I known that that's what they were going to do with the poor dead woman's belongings, I'd have told the neighbors to come over the evening before. Possessing a key to the house, I'd have opened it up and let them take what they needed. None of it went to Goodwill or anything. A dead young woman's things in a pile to be carted off for the landfill.

While they were tearing everything out of the house, I found I needed to get myself busy on something to keep from getting uptight about it. I picked up the rest of my leftover aluminum siding that I hadn't sold for scrap, flattened it and put it in the trunk. Under the aluminum siding, when I was taking it off the house, was a layer of asphalt shingle manufactured to look unconvincingly like brick. The corners of this layer were finished off by angle iron, only for some reason the metal was solid copper, which I had decided to keep. I flattened that out and put it in the trunk too. I knew where the nearest scrapyard was, so I left the crew to their ransacking and set off.

The place was closed. Boarded up, even. I drove back home, my trunk lid crunching, in spite of tying it down, onto the raingutters. I found another option. Got into the car and drove there. After driving at geriatric pace to keep from incurring further damage to my trunk lid, I get there and drive up to the scales, hemmed in on all sides by huge equipment and trailers stacked high with flattened Oldsmobiles. A guard stops me. Not only did they no longer take aluminum or copper anymore, but, so the man told me, I'd cut line in front of that massive amount of huge equipment pulling flattened Oldsmobiles. I imagined them cussing me out from their high seats in their airconditioned cabs.

From my brief conversation, it appears that the scrap market in Indiana has had a major upset. You heard it here first, folks. One company has bought everything out. Scrapyards are closed down. This second one I went to worked in bulk and didn't deal with the likes of me and my trunkful of siding. I drove to another place the guard described and waited in line there. Sat patiently in line behind truckfuls of appliances. Wound my way over no-doubt nail-ridden gravel to a garage door, where I waited in line. A kid wheeled a high-power magnet around the cars to pick up nails, etc, but since this was the aluminum/copper line, it wasn't likely that there was going to be much he'd be able to pick up with that. I extracted my scrap; it was thrown on a scale. Outside all sorts of heavy machinery moved with the apparent carelessness of a traveling midway. A 4-clawed thing threw water heaters and stoves across a yard into a dump-truck or a steel container, all with the logo of this new scrap conglomerate; the only thing in fresh paint. The folks at the desk demand my ID. Demand I hand it to them, not just show it; it must be scanned into the computer--with the high price of scrap these days, people have been known to steal the siding off a house to sell for beer money. I get me receipt and cash for $56--copper sells now for over $2 a pound.

Sitting on the porch this evening, I finally get around to writing a letter. In between paragraphs, I look across the street and think as the occasional yellow-green leaf falls from the water-hungry tree that shades much of the east side of the intersection. One leaf falls and acts strangely, tumbles across the street in almost birdlike fashion. I stare at it, but it's hard to make out from where I am. I go back to writing. I look back up after a sentence or so. The yellow-green leaf hasn't moved, then with a breeze, tumbles up the curb to end up in the neighbor's lawn, which seemed to be a bit contrary to the direction of the wind. A bird, really? That color? I'd recently been on websites to confirm that we had a few mockingbirds in the area, had browsed around to see the other birds in Indiana. The catalogue of such bright birds was short, to my recollection. I leave the letter and my glass of wine and get up to investigate.

A lime-green parakeet. Stripping grass of its seed at the curb. It eyes me warily, but lets me feed it. The neighborhood cats will have this thing dead within the hour. With some struggle, I catch it and carry it into the house. It stands patiently on my speaker. Someone's pet, obviously. I canvass the neighborhood. No one has a bird.

I return to the house. I have no cage. I now have birdseed. I have no idea what to do with this bird. Once it gets on my finger, it doesn't want to go anywhere else. It is now sleeping on one of my picture frames. Does anyone have accommodations for a bird? It's truly a wonderful animal--walks like a drunken sailor up my arm and chirrups. I'm also pretty bad at names--a few years ago I found a pet rabbit in my yard, which I named Bunnybunny. I'm up for suggestions.

I read that parakeets need to be in a room where people are, so I moved it out of the back porch, which was evidently a bad room to start with, due to its big windows and so forth (I'd thought mainly of the fact that it has a linoleum floor and nothing I'd be upset about getting poo on) and brought it into the office, where it sat perched on the lip of a glass next to the computer keyboard. It then flew up for someplace to fall asleep, and is now, even as I type, as pictured, no doubt dreaming of pooing on my artwork.

*"Dreams" picture adapted from a still from The Life and Death of 9413, A Hollywood Extra


brizbrizuri said...

Call it Sprite, which is so much better than 7-Up as a name. I think you should keep it, unless someone comes looking for it. It sounds as if you are just the person it needs, and since the bird is only marginally less needy than a cat, which you can't have since you are allergic, you should be fine. Besides, imagine the yellow/green poetry you can write in homage to it.

Kristen said...


Definitely keep him/her, but get it a nice large cage for times you aren't home to keep an eye on him/her.

Just a warning--they don't tend to live very long.

Tess said...

Keats is a great name. Dave--I know that this isn't the time of year for it anyway, but keets will die if they're exposed to drafts. Cold is sort of okay, but not a cold breeze. And it might like showering in your sink. (A thin ribbin of drip, not a stream.) And it might climb your curtains. And I'd take it but Claw is a good hunter. And I'm moving in with Ella. The end.

Brian Burtt said...

My mom has a cockatiel who likes Chopin. When I'd play it, he'd dance and try to sing along. You'll have to explore this birds musical tastes.