Karen and I spent the afternoon at Greyhaven. While Karen bustled about her chores, I read up on the sanctuary and the birds residing there.
Greyhaven does not allow the birds to reproduce. As many of the birds were in pairs, I asked how the volunteers prevent this. First, they don’t provide any nesting material. Nevertheless some birds persist in laying eggs; when this happens a volunteer will poke a hole in either end of the egg and give it a good shake, then return it to the nest. If the volunteer simply removed the egg, the bird would lay another.
The most distinctive bird at Greyhaven is Spook. His head and wings has green feathers while the majority of his body is as naked as a supermarket chicken. In fact, every time I looked at him he reminded me of the twenty chickens I plucked a few months ago. He looked, not exactly yummy, but disturbingly edible. There is just something about a chicken that has just died and has been de-feathered only moments ago…that’s the look that Spook had.
Spook is a permanent resident of the sanctuary because this was a choice on the previous parrot submission form. Currently, Greyhaven insists that all birds be placed in permanent homes outside the sanctuary.
We had two visitors today, a young couple. They looked at each bird, making their way to the back of the room where I was reading. I didn’t pay attention to what they talked about. When they left Karen turned to me and I began asking her questions.
From the door we heard a panicked “excuse me.” It was the girl and Spook was on her head. She wanted to leave but the parrot was stuck firmly to her scalp.
I suggested that Spook really liked that girl. No, said Karen. Spook really likes men. Since the man went out first, Spook probably thought he could hitch a ride on the girl to get to his man.
Later, when Jonesy came with our lunch, Spook resettled on Jonesy’s leather jacket. When Jonesy began to demonstrate his new bagpipes Spook was completely enamoured. There was no removing him from the shoulders of this enticing specimen of manhood who made the bizarre new sounds. We tried putting a towel over Jonesy’s shoulders to protect the leather jacket, but Spook attacked the towel. After a struggle, Jonesy was freed and went to practice his bagpipes in the car. Spook threw his toys around, then attacked his bell. He retired to his box to sulk.
Sean suddenly was on my shoulder (last picture on the bottom, Sean is on the left). I felt piratey. He watched each forkful going to my mouth. He walked down my arm to the hand holding the fork.
“Alright, Sean, you want to eat some salad?” Sean took a delicate bite out of everything and spat it out. He rummaged through the bowl sampling everything. Then he tried one of the cucumbers in Karen’s salad. He liked the dressing and licked it off the cucumber. Shameless bird!
If I were to have any of the birds, a dozen or so budgies would be the birds for me. I walked into the budgie enclosure and all the birds instantly hushed.
When one walks into any of the enclosures the most important thing is to step gingerly and always look under your feet. Two birds hid under the paper at the bottom and were crushed to death. Another lovebird slipped under the foot of a crouching volunteer and when she got up she inadvertently crushed the little bird. It did not die instantly.
After this morning’s hissy fit (“World events aren’t going the way I want them to!”), I wished my Muslim doctor a Merry Christmas. I also noted an increase in irate car-honking. But all that is over and done with. I am back in my insulated world of books.
I am flipping back and forth between my grade five teacher’s book, The Daring Game, and a new book by Mark Abley, Spoken Here: Travels among Threatened Languages (the first review in this Amazon link is from a guy who lives in Wulai, Taiwan!).
Abley’s book has some interesting trivia:
1. The Mati Ke language of northern Australia put nouns into different classes: weapons belong with lightning while places and times go together, leading the author to quip, “Mati Ke, you might say, anticipated Einstein by several thousand years.” There are three speakers of this language left when this book was published. And two of them can’t speak to each other because of a taboo; the third speaks in dialect.
2. In the Nootka language one speaks differently to children, ravens, circumcised men, and people who are fat, short, left-handed, crippled, hunchbacked, greedy or have eye defects. Still spoken.
3. Kakardian (or Circassian) of the Caucasus Mountains has 48 consonants and 2 disputed vowels. It still survives.
4. Ubykh, also of the Caucasus Mountains, has 81 consonants. In 1992, the last fluent speaker of this language died.
5. Abkhaz nobility, from the Caucasus, had a special language (now extinct) just for hunting.
6. The Guugu Yimidhirr language, which gave the word kangaroo to Captain Cook in 1770, has about two dozen speakers.
7. The Iora language that gave us koala, kookaburra, dingo and boomerang is now extinct.
Saturday November 29th 2003, 11:01 am
Filed under: News
Britney says: “We should just trust the president in every decision that he makes.” Snort!
Now I remember why I am glad I didn’t immigrate to the US. Hmm, I don’t know about Vancouver being more like Europe, but I’ll stick in my “aye” for Montreal.
I turned on the TV for the first time in a month last night. It made a crackling noise. This is a normal sound for a TV, isn’t it?
The last time I used the tv was to watch a video. I tried one other time to watch a Bollywood video show but I got distracted by things happening in the rest of the house. Aside from this aborted television-viewing session, I haven’t watched my television since April.
Before April I loved my television as much as everyone does. I even had shows that I watched on a regular basis. Then I moved back to Canada. I thought I could finally stop watching the sexist, mindless dribble Japanese television excells at airing.
But, wait! What happened to Canadian/American television? Every single channel has shows about sex. Then the commercials are about phone lines. I rather imagine that if people are watching shows about sex they are not actually having sex. Yet, worse was to come.
I came home right at the height of Gulf War the Sequel. What the hell were CNN and other news channels reporting? I had left the sexist, mindless dribble of Japan for the sexist, mindless, racist dribble of North America.
There is an African proverb: the drums of war are the drums of hunger. I was apparently the only viewer who understood that that applies to us as well as the Iraqis at the centre of it all.
I stopped watching television. Cold turkey. Sure the TV sets at friends’ homes and in bars hypnotized me, but at home my tv was silent for months at a time.
After months of no television, I flipped twice through all the channels to see what was on. This is what I noticed:
1. Our televisions are not as clear as Japanese ones. In Japan the picture is so clear you can see the pores on people’s skin. (I’m not kidding.) Perhaps our TV “stars” would rather not have us discovering their multiple pores, as I was told that white people have worse skin than East Asians.
2. Adam Beach was on one of the channels. Again it must have been the poor quality of our North American pore-obliterating televisions, because he didn’t look so good.
3. The news on TV has more items than the internet or newspapers. For example, last night I discovered that a security guard ran his car over a pier and helicopters and the Coast Guard were searching the water for the poor bloke. Then the police in Seattle were on a televised search for more clues in a woman’s death.
4. There is a new type of three-wheeled scooter.
5. Those reality show hosts revel in the troubles of their hapless subjects.
6. Jackie Onassis really irritates me. What a stupid woman. She was not and will never be elegant. Plus she has a crass nasal voice.
7. Michael Jackson is a real idiot. The more I look at the before-and-after pictures, the more I think so. Plastic surgery for vain purpose is really stupid too.
8. A hostess on a show says, “Next you’ll see pictures of twelve-year-old Michael on a dating show.” Then we see twelve-year-old Michael and a male narrator starts, “What you’re seeing is twelve-year-old Michael on a dating show.” Huh? I already knew that. Why are they telling me twice? I listened some more.
Each sentence on TV seems to be followed by one repeating the exact same information. During the twenty minutes I was listening (not watching) this show, there was nothing new I learned. Everything was given in the synopsis at the beginning and they were just repeating it over and over again.
Like the Jackie Onassis stuff. These people were so convinced she is a classy dame that they aired her answering machine conversation and gushed about how wonderful she was. But where on the answering machine was evidence of her elegance?
No more forays into the world of television for me.
I’ve been spoiled by books.
I should have known.
Hong Kong Style Tea + After 5 PM = No Sleep
So I finished reading Into Thin Air.
Allison is having second thoughts about forming a book club. She approached the local book club but was turned off by the 90-year-old matron on the other end. She wanted a book club for younger types. I made a few suggestions about the sort of books we assign each month, to weed out the old fogeys, and perhaps even advertise itï¿½s a young book club.
Then Kevin remarked that only geeky types go to book clubs. Again I flew in to save the day for book clubs. I mentioned the three very beautiful women who were at the Bookcrossing meeting I attended months ago. If my word is not enough, a fellow at the bar eased his way into our meeting, bewitched by their charms.
We went to a dusty deli and sandwich shop at Kingsway and Boundary. The owner was a real comedian.
I said I wanted the poppyseed bun.
“You want it long and hard?”
I almost absentmindedly said yes.
For one week there was a loud salesman who used killer as a synonym for great.
“How about next Monday at 2 PM? You can? Killer!”
I counted this use of killer five times in two hours.
This salesman went on the road. In his place is a quieter, gentler salesman. He has no idea how to smoothtalk his clients and he runs to get help from the account manager all the time. He can’t remember all the details about the job either. I like him better.