I am at the age where downsizing is a frequent topic of conversation.The house is too big for one person to manage. Do I really need four bedrooms and spacious basement? (Actually, in some ways, I do! Gill needs a room to return to twice a year and the basement still has a large collection of her ‘stuff’ — including furniture she imagines will fill her condo or apartment when she makes her triumphant permanent return to Canada. Ha! We all think that’s not going to happen. But, I suppose I should be prepared just in case Brexit takes a bad turn or the immigration laws again change, making her a candidate for deportation).
It is with all this in mind that, when my oldest canary, ‘Dad’ — the patriarch of my canary flock– took ill and was on his last legs (or wings, I suppose) I planned ahead to repurpose his cage, so that when the dreadful final moment came, it would become Mrs. Beeton’s (the pink parakeet) new home. Dad finally died last week, having spent his last days on the floor of the cage. Oh, he still devoured his arugula salad each day with gusto, but I could see he was tired.
I awoke one morning to find him laid out, still warm but getting stiff. After a cuddle to once more feel his soft feathers and tell him he was loved, I wrapped him in a tissue, put his tiny body in a Dove soap box, labelled it with his date of death, added a notation to our Family Book Of Deceased Pets, and placed him gently in the garage freezer. We will bury him in the summer when Gill is here to pay her last respects to a real trooper.
I know it’s important for humans to draw up wills and discuss their plans with family so there is no confusion as to what is to be done when one croaks. Well, I had made plans to give Mrs. Beeton Dad’s cage…but I forgot to discuss the plan with her ahead of time. I admit, I was remiss in my duties as Flock Manager. I had excellent reasons for my decision: Mrs. Beeton’s current home (aka palace) is, while beautiful and suits her life-sized personality to a ‘t’, extremely heavy and cumbersome to move around. And as regular readers know, Mrs. Beeton travels — a lot.
She spends her days with the flock in L’il Sis’s former bedroom. She spends evenings with me, watching television on my shoulder or enjoying a late night snack in her house that is placed on a table beside my bed. Some days I swear that cage outweighs me — considerably. It is also large of dimension, so carrying it around is a dangerous operation at best. Balancing it precariously in my arms to take it downstairs so Mrs. Beeton can join me for lunch on the deck is, one day, going to end badly for both of us. We could end up a twisted wreckage of wire, bird poop, seed, bent wings and limbs at the bottom of the stairs.So it made sense to relocate Mrs. Beeton upon Dad’s demise.
I cleaned and scoured the cage. I changed perches to accommodate the parakeet’s,uh, I was about to say ‘generous ass’, but perhaps that is unkind. I should go with ‘her lovely long tail’. Everything was ready for her debut in her new, downsized abode.
She hates it!! She is having none of it. It requires a bit of maneuvering on her part to enter and exit the cage. She can do it;she simply doesn’t want to. She has made her decision and, like Donald Trump, is firm(until he isn’t) and not about to be coerced.And she is all about WINNING!
Granted, the porch isn’t optimal — it slants down instead of offering her a flat ‘landing strip’. So I prop it up with boxes to level it and she’s terrified of the boxes. I close drapes, make the room dark and catch her by hand, gently placing her on one of the inside perches. She sometimes goes up on my finger and deigns to allow me to ‘transport’ her but it’s a hard sell. More often than not, she flies off in a show of defiance. I will say, she is getting lots of exercise these days.
What is going through her tiny bird brain? Granted, this house is smaller than her large palace was. But that’s the point…it’s so heavy that I fear both of us going down the stairs in a blaze of glory, ass over tea kettle as my father would say, to our dismemberment at the bottom. Not a good look for either of us. I have explained, belatedly I admit, to look at it as ‘downsizing’, much as my fellow empty nesters are doing. She is not impressed with my logic. To her, plain and simple, it’s nothing but a demotion. The Queen has been dethroned!
She has taken to giving me the ‘stinkeye’ whenever I get close to her, figuring I’m going to attempt to catch her and deposit her, both feathers and dignity ruffled beyond repair. We did make small strides last night when we watched “The Voice” on television. She loves the singing. Hungry for a snack, she flew quite purposefully over to her house, actually landed on the propped-up porch door, considered her options for a bit, then decided she just couldn’t do it and flew three times around the room to return to my shoulder. Mrs. B. is nothing if not stubborn, rigid, and doesn’t take kindly to a change in routine (the latter quality she gets from Gill). But I suppose if you’re a beauty queen to begin with, used to having everyone fawn over you, admiring your gorgeous pink plumage, and accustomed to tea on the deck in the summer, you’re bound to be a bit persnickety.
I’m hoping she forgives me and gets over her grudge before Gill comes in the summer. Nobody needs to see a petulant pink parakeet. It’s enough to ruin a perfectly good vacation.