Category Archives: animals

Sparky the Parakeet

   On Thursday, May 4, 2023, at about 9 am edt, I'm contemplating my work-in-progress novel: "A Matter of Time".  This tome contains my evolving philosophy of and over time.
   Sparky, the green parakeet is a minor character on immortal Beon's Cosmo Cruiser. We don't know how he hitched a ride, and Bud the white cat isn't saying.  We only know that Sparky just flew out of nowhere, landed on  Bud's breakfast, walked in the lemon-dill sauce on Bud's grilled salmon, ate a caper, then flew to Beon's almost bald scalp and said "I love you", while pecking at Beon's sparse hairs.
   Bud, who keeps the Cosmos in tune with the motor of his purr, loses interest in the Cosmos or his breakfast and leaps to Beon's abdomen, blue eyes fixed in the bird.
   Beon, who wanted salmon, too, has to settle for carrot soup, because Alfred, his valet robot, has informed him the Materializer is malfunctioning.
  So Sparky is generating vitality for Bud while smearing lemon-dill sauce on Beon's scalp, and Bud is digging his claws into Beon's abdomen while watching Sparky hopping around on Beon's head saying "I love you".
   "I love you, too, Sparky" says Beon.  "I taught you to say that."
   " I love you, too", says Sparky.
   But Beon has a dilemma, because he has to set his hot tea down on the coffee table, over there, and get Sparky off his head and Bud off his abdomen without injury to himself, the animals, or anything in between.
   That's when The Rev, a 20-pound white rooster, decides to preach his religion of Solipsism from behind Beon's head.
   "Cock-a-doodle doo!" he screams.
   Problem solved.  Beon jumps and spills his tea, Sparky flies to the top of the potted orange tree beside the hot tub, and Bud leaps to the coffee table and starts eating his breakfast.
   The Rev waddles to the edge of the hot tub and starts clucking happily at his reflection.
   "I love you," says Sparky, from his lofty perch.
   "I love you, too, Sparky," says Beon, while cleaning lemon-dill sauce from the top of his head and swabbing tea from his clothes and couch.
   Beon sips his carrot soup and watches Bud eating his salmon and The Rev enjoying his prayers over his image.
   The Rev, satisfied with the effects of his activity, stalks out of the room, head high, leaving a white feather and a wad of poop on the floor as a final benediction.
   "I love you," says Sparky, as The Rev departs.

Call Me Confused

Today, Monday, April 3, 2023,at 12:30 in the afternoon, here in the swampy bog of Savannah, GA, USA, the skies are overcast, and thundershowers are predicted later this afternoon.  I've been awake since daylight, called by my bladder and by Speckles, who, like me, is old and arthritic, but he can still crow in metronome fashion to alert the world that morning has arrived.

Since then, a squirrel has suicided on the power line outside my little house, blowing out a fuse and stopping the flow of electricity to my complex of deteriorating, rusting, and rotting structures that constitute my humanoid home.

At the time I heard the loud BOOM! I was handwriting in my journal that sudden loud noises make me jumpy and always have.  

Speckles, my 11-plus-year, home hatched and grown rooster, is now settled at my feet outside, preening his feathers, but we have a long history of power-struggles.

This morning, that squirrel's dramatic suicide managed to out-loud even Speckles, as I was finishing my last sip of coffee.

Desi, Georgia Power's service representative, managed to use his long pole to restore the power around 10 AM, but getting through the telephone menus to describe my situation to a real human being took some doing.  And to describe my whereabouts was even more complicated, because I share a driveway with sister and brother-in-law, so my mailing address is different from my home address, because my mailbox was squashed flat many years ago by some hit-and-run driver. I keep my post office box for my convenience, to dispose of excess paperwork where it accumulates.

Now GA Power knows to send my bills to my PO box, and it knows where I live, which is intentionally hard for undesireables to find.  

Today, Desi was a most desireable visitor, once I located GA Power's outage line, and after I called my sister's house to find they still had power.  Slade had heard the loud BOOM! too, and was already outside investigating the power pole, transformer, and lopty-skew fuse.  Slade intercepted Desi as he drove up, before I even had time to put shoes on.

An OWL!  In the NOW, at 1:10 pm, EDT.

We had an owl attack a couple of weeks ago.  I saw him dive under the guest house after Speckles. I ran around to the other side to see the owl holding on to my not-so-little screamer, about this time of day.  The owl took off when he saw me, and Speckles was only slightly scratched, but he seemed calmer than I felt.  I held him until my heart stopped pounding, put him inside the coop, and went looking for Tweety, who eventually showed her large, red comb from the darkest corner under the building.

Today, because of that suicidal squirrel, I have already had to re-set two digital clocks, using my cell phone to verify the time and date, but techno-confusion reigns in Cyberland, because of perpetual upgrades and add-ons, plus patent and IT competition amongst the various claimants on time, attention, and loyalty.

But my two birdies are safe, in the Now, and Lollipop, the stray cat I've fed for over a year, ate a good breakfast before disappearing on his daily scavenger hunt for rats, birds, and other things he likes to eat.

Spring is here, and parents everywhere are hungry, looking for food for themselves and their little  darlins.  Figs and blueberries can't ripen before being consumed.  Deer corn I supply gets gobbled up by raccoons, which have destroyed the plastic trashcans I used to use for animal food.  Rats, mice, and squirrels have eaten through corners in the attics and crawl spaces of buildings.

And my cell phone is useful sometimes, but convenient it is not.  I'm having to learn how to blog on it and on wordpress, because everything changes so fast.

Tweety, also known as Miss Flutter Budget, Handy Underfoot, and various other monikers.

Speckles crowing
Speckles, The Screamer.  Also the Owl Baiter.

Tweety the Tearorist

Tweety, my little two-and-a-half year-old hen, loves to tear at paper, stray threads on clothes or carpet fragments, gardening gloves, or whatever I'm attending to other than her.
   She is also a pick-pocket and a flutter-budget.  She can find tissue paper in my pockets or knock over coffee cups or water containers by the power of her excitement and joy in sharing.
   Today, Sunday, February 26, 2023, at 9 AM, EST, on this lightly overcast, 70F, 20C degree day, it is peaceful and quiet, but for the sounds of birds chirping and of Tweety-Pie agitating to be released from her coop.
   This conflicts with my ambition to think and write about those Deep Thoughts that play across my mind when my hands and body are busy serving animals or attending to all the other Here-and-Now's of human existence.
   Alas. Up.
   And, at 9:20 AM, I am back at the cell phone, having released Tweety and Speckles and watched Tweety chase Lollipop away from the chickens' empty treat dish.  So the stray cat I feed, Lollipop, is eating his own breakfast in a location hidden from other animals except rats, which are flourishing in this pre-spring warm and humid weather.
   I'm sitting on the porch stoop, protected by the banister from Tweety's insatiable curiosity, which takes her beak to everything of interest.
   This morning, I'm blessed with peace and quiet. I'm grateful that the Gun Clubbers down the street are resting or attending church, and that the military-industrial-complex at Hunter Army-Air Force base is not yet flying its planes and helicopters overhead.  
   But my little tearorist has now found my shoe to peck at, so I will bid the rest of the world a good day.

Squire, In Memoriam

Squire, my 11-plus-year-old rooster, died yesterday, Saturday, September 17, 2022.
S. Squire Rooster, Attorney, for the Law of the Land
This photo, taken September, 2016, shows Squire at his most dramatic, crowing joyfully, but in celebration of Toozie's death and release from earthly struggles.

I hope my Squire-wire feels a similar joyful release.  He leaves a sad but relieved human being behind.

I've watched Squire decline for almost a year, since Brownie died last October.  Although he continued to watch out for Tweety, spar with Speckles, and ascend to the top of the shower stall of a morning, if I didn't catch him first, he has been losing weight, and his crow was beginning to crack, as though he no longer had the wind or vocal dexterity to finish his five notes.

Tweety and Speckles are adapting, but they seem sad, too, as I am, because Squire is no longer there to guard and to crow and spar.

We all have to die sometime.  As I enter my 70s, I feel more acutely than ever the impending personal transition.  

Squire left lots of memories behind, memories I share, in part, with Tweety and Specs.  I see his memory in every situation.

I love you, Squire, and will never forget how you brightened up my life.  May you rest in peace.

Where’s Tweety?

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Miss Tweety Pie, my 2-year-old hen, has a variety of nicknames.  My favorite is "Miss Nemesis," for the goddess of divine retribution.

I only have three chickens, but this follows a 14-year history of chicken-keeping, and the asociated challenges that come with the territory.

In all, 20 chickens have passed through my life, but Speckles and his father, Squire, are troopers, over ten years old.

Animals make great gurus, says Seth (of the Jane Roberts series).  Whether pets or wildlife, animals have a wisdom that awes me.  
After the rainstorm today, which dumped a couple of inches in an hour, the sun came out, and I watched my six deer (mine because I feed them) frolic on the lawn.  Birds flocked to the feeder.  The stray cat I feed showed up for supper, and Coooney the racoon was looking to steal whatever food I might not be watching.

Miss Nemesis has no fear, but Squire watches out for both of them--when he's not sparring through the gate with Speckles. 

I don't have the words or the space to describe the joy Nature exhibits after a storm. Soon a gorgeous sunset, with brilliant orange sky, appeared and vanished while I was getting chickens settled and watching over the cat while he ate his supper. I saw the racoons--at least two of them and maybe more--scouring the deck for spilled bird seed and chicken scratch grains and other treats the ants hadn't finished.

Squire's tail drags when it's raining, but all the chickens love getting outside after the rain stops, just as the other animals, mosquitoes and biting sandflies do.

Ain't Mother Nature grand?  We human beings have the gift of the drama provided by all these actors, and we don't have to leave home to enjoy it.
Squire on his soapbox kco 2017


Monday, September 5, 2022-- We had another torrential downpour in the wee hours this morning, but I was awake, resting from yesterday's relentless but individually petty demands on time, attention and patience.

The animals I care for and about survived the day, but I was worried about Speckles, alone in the coop, especially when the storm started, and Specs had no warming or drying light.

So I collected the basics of rain protection and trudged barefooted with flashlight through the deep mud puddles the 100 feet to the coop, to turn on Speckles' light.

But the rain was so heavy that I wanted to stay with him and wait out the worst of it.

Speckles, my first-born chicken, is a trooper.  He has had a traumatic life for most of his ten-plus years.  He will be eleven years old in late November.

Speckles with Toozie, my second and last- born, taking dirt baths, March, 2012, kco2012
Speckles with Brownie in the coop, 2017, kco2017
Speckles crowing, kco2015
I call him "The Screamer," because he has such a powerful and relentless crow, but he is also a cuddler, having endured my medical interventions repeatedly over our long relationship.  The worst was when scale mites ravaged his feather/scale junction so badly that the resultant ulcers were making it hard for him to walk.

I developed unanticipated veterinary skill in soaking and debriding the wounds, including holding Specs almost upside down to see the edges of the wounds and clean them.

Specs spent several winter nights on the floor of the coop while healing, and his consort, Brownie,  guarded him from her perch on the high shelf.

But Brownie died last October, at ten years, ten months old, and Speckles has had only Squire, Tweety, and me, to keep him from getting too lonely. 

Today, Speckles took advantage of the marginally sunny skies, by taking a long dirt bath under the guest house attached to the coop, while I spiffed up his quarters, in time for hurricane season and winter.

From Damp to Saturated

Highest tide on record, Savannah, GA, October 27, 2015

August 29, 2022– My property is sinking into the marsh. The roof leaks in so many places that I’e lost count, but my head knows how to find the drips, just as my feet know how to find chicken poop that my eyes don’t see.

Still, the county government believes my property is worth taxing twice as much as it charged a mere ten years ago. The county knows what it’s worth to them. Chatham flies its spy planes over my house on a regular basis, but the planes don’t see the roof leaks. The planes do know I live in a flood zone, because the local government has notified me I must obtain flood insurance, to protect my valuable piece of mud.

It’s enough to make me want to walk or float away, provided I can get through the swamps, maybe with an ark to carry my chickens and me. Let the county extort its taxes from the river.

Nature’s art. A stump in the Okefenokee Swamp, Southeast GA, 2000

My Life is Damp

Heat and humidity. The Now competes with my desire for comfort, for myself and my precious little darlins: Tweety (ladies first), Squire (now my senior chicken, who had a re-birthday August 25.) I brought him home from a central Georgia auction 11 years ago for Squiggles, who had gone “broody” and was starving herself for lack of a guy.

Speckes, son of Freckles and Squire, adopted as an egg by Squig and raised by her until Squire ran him into the jaws of a fox when he was six months old. Speckles lost all but three of his tail feathers in that encounter, but survived to put out his father’s right eye before succumbing to scale mites, loss of both spurs in attacking me, and becoming companion to Brownie, who finally died last October. Speckles will be 11 years old late November, my first-born, and a Sagittarius.

This is history. Now, Tweety is the queen, and Tweety has everyone wrapped around her mean little beak. Beware anyone who approaches any food she wants, or attempts gardening in her territory, or who tries to pick her up until she’s good and ready to cuddle on her terms.

Tweety has no fear of cats or racoons. She likes the roosters, and they like her. She has adopted Brownie’s habit of standing in the water dish on hot days, which may protect her from mites.

Mites, insects, rats, racoons, squirrels, mold, and mildew are thriving, too,and everything that can rot is rotting, or becoming brittle, like plastic, in this humid, salty, almost tropical, flat setting. And there’s the rust and corrosion on everything metal.

Climate change? Where is the climate not changing? Live long enough, and you may experience it all.

Flood. Ocean rising or land sinking? kco2019
Speckles (the Screamer) and Brownie in the mist kco 2016
Johnston Street flood. Savannah, GA. June, 1999 kco 0699


Rocky the Racoon, kco2020

Brownie and Speckles on the porch, kco2019

Folk art, Telluride, Colorado, kco 2003
The Squire-wire and Speckles sparring through the cove grate, kco2019
S. Squire Rooster, Attorney for the Law of the Land, making his position perfectly clear. Above it all.

Squire atop the shower stall, kco2015

In the Now

Balance of opposites. Each contains the seed of the other.

The ten-year span from August, 2012 until now, August, 2022, has brought many changes, but events continue to evolve and exert their effects in multi-dimensional patterns.

As a plant grows from within, lives grow from the inside out, governed by an individualistic blueprint that may adapt but not change its fundamental nature.

Thus with my life. As I note my 70th birthday this month, I read my personal journal from August, 2012 and feel the continuity of my individuality, even though circumstances have changed.

My introduction to chicken-keeping in 2008 represents the beginning of an exploration into previously unimagined worlds. Each day brings new insights gathered from the Now as it relates to the Then, and to the imagined.

Together, they create a pattern of timeless associations, just as any emotionally significant experience does.

In August, 2012, I turned 60, by the calendar, and this month, August, 2022, I’ve turned 70. I’m now a septagenarian, having lived longer than both my parents.

I’ve also outlived others in my chronological “cohort” and mourn the passing of people, pets, and conditions that held significance for me.

Re-reading my journal for that time stirs emotions akin to what I felt then, but these now have the depth of memories accumulated over the past ten years, the sorrows, regrets, and the longing for what once was but will never be again.

I have the Now and choose to appreciate the gifts it offers. At the moment, peace and quiet, with my three chickens safely roosting in their preferred spots, and the stray cat I feed having eaten a decent supper before Cooney ran him off and stole his food dish. Cooney is one of an apparent family of racoons who have found that I am a reliable source of food, for as long as I can keep it up.

This evening, I learned that Cooney may be trainable, since he allowed Squire and Tweety to finish their evening treats after I ran him off the porch. He came back later, all wet and muddy from a swim in the river, so I let him steal the remainder of Lollipop’s cat food. The cat is skittish, but he seems willing to share food with the coon, and he is particularly deferential to Tweety, who is not afraid of cat or coon.

In the Now, we are all enjoying this break in the heat wave that has made days miserable for everyone except blood-sucking insects and other vermin. The rats and ants are thriving, as well as the chicken mites, termites, mosquitoes, and flies.

The torrential downpours we have had the last few days have cooled things off and are good for the mosquitoes and sand gnats but hard on my Goodwill shoes, floors and rugs.

I was actually glad to hear and see the Malathion Man’s helicopter the other day, as he sprayed the marsh in a futile attempt to control the mosquito population.

The Now is loaded with inspiration, for those who are awake.