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I asked my neighbor to hang a picture for me a couple of weeks ago. It was an impulse buy but I was smitten with the muted colors,the not-quite-realistic but still recognizable subject matter…and the fact that it complemented my room’s style. Which is to say ‘eclectic’. And the subject matter of the picture? My neighbor summed it up when he said:”Shocking! You’re putting up a picture of birds in your house? Never saw that coming!” He was, of course, being sarcastic in the extreme.

My house is filled with bird pictures, sculptures, knick-knacks, lamps,books,clothes, a Plaster of Paris footprint (until last year when the neighbor’s dog ate it!) of one of my deceased pet birds, three different (tasteful ceramic and wood) urns containing the ashes of our dead dogs and yes, actual pet birds. In addition to Mrs. Beeton, my flamboyant pink parakeet, I have six canaries — down from my original flock of over twenty avian tenants. Oh, and I must not forget to mention a bird ‘wreath’ on the front door, a clay chicken plant holder driven from California 40 years ago and a metallic crow on the front porch — guarding the settee in which I lounge to read during the summer months.

Years ago, I had a few small finches housed in an antique pie safe in my living room. It was definitely a conversation piece and the birds’ tweeting provided a lovely, calming background sound — better than Michael Buble anytime. Sadly,I had to evict the birds when they began nesting activities. Even I, a somewhat fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mother at the best of times, could see that raising babies in the pie safe (safe for pies, not so much for baby birds) would have been problematic. Besides, what guest in my home wants to be embarrassed by small horny finches ‘jumping ‘ each other? Not exactly appropriate cocktail party etiquette.

So, yes, I admit I’m a bird freak and my decorating reflects it.I believe, however, for all that, the items are discreet and  display a certain amount of decorating savvy and talent.

Others have disagreed –certainly not Gill, Crazy D or L’il Sis since they are similarly afflicted and know better than to criticize my extensive use of bird-themed items.

But in today’s local paper, I was finally vindicated and rewarded with an article about a Charity Home Tour to raise money for our city’s symphony.One of the homes, owned by an architect and his spouse, is filled with animal-themed items. Some are from their world-wide travels, others simply whimsical things that caught their eyes.I will be making copies of the article and sending one to each of my children.

And so, I am considering putting my home up for consideration on next year’s tour! And why not? This year’s ‘most quirky’ home features a taxidermied peacock that competes with, as described, a gold-plated rhino head in competition for most attention-stopping item. I hope it’s simply a sculpture and not a real head dipped in gold! There’s also a giraffe toe bone…positively ghoulish. Oh, and did I mention the sculptures on the front lawn at the tour house of a mare and stallion? I offer the conclusion that my ‘bird house’ should definitely be in contention for next year’s tour.

I would, in preparation for hosting such an event, have to vacuum up all the stray feathers, seal off the bedroom that now houses my pet avian tenants, remove the bird seed supply from the  garage –metal buckets plastered with corresponding bird pictures for my outdoor song bird feeders. I’d also have to shoo away the local ducks that, despite my explanation that I am no longer providing them with an all-you-can-eat buffet every day, live in eternal hope and land on my roof to demand a meal.  Although I suppose, to maintain credibility for having a quirky ‘bird house’, I should let them remain to ‘top off’ the air of authenticity.

Would anyone pay to see this? You bet they would! This is a classic — my very own unique, small birdy version of The Smithsonian!I know for a fact that Gill, Crazy D, L’il Sis and their partners would show up with bells on…or bird whistles.

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