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With my upcoming trip to New Zealand, I have to consider care for my canaries and, more crucially,  Mrs. Beeton, my pink parakeet.It turns out that she, too, has travel plans. Bet you didn’t think a bird could HAVE travel plans, did you?You would be oh, so wrong.

As much as I grouse about my grown children returning home to live with me from time to time, it has proven useful in some ways. I never have to worry about pet care when they’re in residence. We have lived through years of looking after dogs and birds so they know what they’re doing. When we had Poochie, care was fairly easy to come by. Most people know how to look after a dog. They need regular food, water, and walks. Beyond that, they’re cool with just hanging around their humans…or someone else’s humans, as long as they have some interaction. But few people know much about the care and feeding of pet birds.

To be fair, there is, as I have learned over the years, a lot to know. The daily food and water and cleaning of the cages is fairly routine. But there are signs of illness (fluffed feathers, sitting on the bottom of the care, listless, not singing) that are crucial. A bird can die quickly so it is important to seek medical advice (for the bird, not the upset human minding the pet) before things take a deadly turn. Gill knows all about this since, when she lived here and I went away for a couple of days, she presided over the death of one of my canaries. It wasn’t her fault — what with the tornado and all– since the bird had been sick when I left. But she has, unfortunately, been the only family member to have been actively in charge when a bird died.She did everything she could and she had the advantage of knowing how to deal with it. She knew the vet’s phone number, where she was located, and how to transport the sick bed in the car. (If you’re wondering, it involves catching the bird, putting it in a small carrying case, covering the case with a towel so the bird can’t watch the big trucks speeding by the car, and wrapping the seatbelt as best one can, around the case.)

Even at that, the canaries are relatively easy. Mrs. Beeton, however, is a whole other story. She has bonded completely with me. She has a daily routine which involves morning time with Mommy (me) while I watch the news and do exercises (she eats while watching me do exercises — almost as though she’s criticizing my attempts to stay fit while she gorges on her all-you-can-eat buffet. I peek in at her during the day when she’s having quality time with ‘her pets’, aka the canaries. She is free to fly around the room, visiting (they might say harassing) the other birds. Then Mrs. Beeton and I have time together in the evenings, watching bad t.v. and perhaps sharing dinner. She is a picky eater, enjoying a limited variety of things: oranges, guacamole, and occasionally arugula.

The point is, she has a routine and does not appreciate disruptions. For this trip, I have had to make elaborate plans for Mrs. Beeton’s care. For the first two weeks, she will go to visit friends. She stayed with them during my Mexican trip and they were quite taken with her. The woman had just had hip surgery so the two ‘girls’ lifted each other’s spirits. Mrs. Beeton had pride of place in the kitchen and had their constant attention. But this time, the husband is having knee surgery during this time period so Mrs. Beeton will go to L’il Sis’s for the remaining week.

But transportation is an issue. Since L’il Sis has few days off work, getting here to take Mrs. Beeton is problematic. Hence a random email late last night from Crazy D. “When are you leaving for New Zealand? I need to know when to pick up Mrs.Beeton.” Say what? I thought L’il Sis was doing that. Did I forget and ask L’il Sis to take her when I’d already asked Crazy D? I thought he was working then and couldn’t take her. What has happened? I swear, Mrs. Beeten needs a travel agent to book these things! I am obviously not up to the task.

A few emails later, the matter is resolved. Crazy D will provide the transportation and delivery to L’il Sis…L’il Sis will then provide care until my return. I have been using Crazy D’s room as a ‘staging place’ for my trip preparations; perhaps I should allocate another room for Mrs. Beeton’s bags. When did life become SO complicated?