Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blessed by Fresca

 From Merriam - Webster:

 Main Entry: : par·a·keet
Pronunciation: \ˈper-ə-ˌkēt, ˈpa-rə-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Spanish & Middle French; Spanish periquito, from Middle French perroquet parrot
Date: 1581
: any of numerous usually small slender parrots with a long graduated tail

Main Entry: bud·ger·i·gar 
Pronunciation: \ˈbə-jə-rē-ˌgär\
Function: noun
Etymology: modification of Yuwaalaraay (Australian aboriginal language of northern New South Wales) gijirrigaa
Date: 1840
: a small Australian parrot (Melopsittacus undulatus) usually light green with black and yellow markings in the wild but bred under domestication in many colors; sometimes called, "Budgies."

Main Entry: wacky
Variant(s): also whacky \ˈwa-kē\
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): wack·i·er; wack·i·est
Etymology: perhaps from English dial. whacky fool
Date: circa 1935
: absurdly or amusingly eccentric or irrational : crazy

Good morning, Darlings.  Today is brought to you by refreshing Fresca!  As I type, he is preening; vain little brat.  Sitting atop his cage, he stops to gaze around, then back to primping.  Oh.  Pardon me.  You thought I meant Fresca... the beverage?  Well, no.  While both are light and refreshing, the Fresca I'm referring to is my twelve year old parakeet. We named him Fresca because when we got him, his body was the color of that yummy soda.  If you pour some of it into a clear glass, Fresca has an amazing color.  To just quickly glance at it, one might say it's a murky gray color.
While the colors are very hard to photograph, 'Fresca' looks like a Moonstone; opalescent blues and yellows.

  Even as a child, I noticed that it had a yellowish, yet very cool blue tint to it; almost like a moonstone.  Fresca had this same coloration.  Even my own children, who were very young at the time, said "The birdie looks like that Fresca over there..."  Fresca he became.  More on Fresca, later.

I'm not exactly sure who had the love for parakeets first;  Mom or Dad?  I tend to lean toward my mom.  I have heard countless stories about her birds from the days way before I was even thought about.  Dickie Bird.  I can't tell you what color he (or she) was, but I can tell you that mom thought the bird was a genius.  Every bird we ever had was compared to Dickie Bird.  Even my dad would compare, and I'm pretty sure he never had the privilege of knowing Dickie Bird.  

So began a life with birds; or Life with Aves.

I always tell people that I can count on one hand the days in my life where I did not have a bird in my home.  Okay, perhaps that is a wee stretch of the truth.  I believe I was five when we got our first FAMILY parakeet;  Snoopy.  Named by me.  light blue and white.  Dad bought a huge hanging cage.  It even had a blue plastic 'porch' that attached to the outside of the door.  To this day, I have searched everywhere and can't find one to save my life.  You'd think something as simple as little plastic... Sorry.  Rambling again.  

Snoopy became my best friend. If having a parakeet taught me anything as a child, it taught me how to be patient.  I can remember being so excited about getting a parakeet because both of my parents told me that you can not only train a parakeet to play, and to sit on your finger and shoulder, but that they can be taught to speak.  SPEAK!  I wanted so badly for Snoopy to be taken out of his little cardboard transport box (Dad and I swore the BEST place to buy a parakeet was the pet shop in G.C. Murphy's at PG Plaza) and to learn to say my name by the end of the day.  Didn't happen, of course.  Snoopy was terrified and had no intentions of befriending anyone in this new caddywhompus place.  Every day, mom and dad would open the cage door and speak to him.  Soon, Snoopy would hop onto the perch near the blue plastic porch, and soon enough, he learned that the porch was a great place to sit.  

With guidance from my folks, I too learned how to speak to Snoopy; repeating the same phrase over and over.  "Hi, pretty birdie.. hi, pretty birdie!"  I love how he listened to me;  He'd cock his head sideways as if he was saying, 'Pardon?  Would you please repeat that?'  And I would.  Before we knew it, Snoopy was chattering words and the "Charge" call, and flying all over the apartment,  exploring his new world.  Dad built a playground that he placed onto the windowsill of our large picture window.  That became Snoopy's (And every other bird's) second home.  

I can't remember the exact day, but before I knew it, Snoopy would fly onto my head and slide down my long hair to perch on my shoulder.  I was never afraid.  Ever.  He sensed that.  Sweet little birdie kisses on my ears, and soon he would nibble at my neck hairs, making me giggle, and later he would actually make 'nests' in my hair and sleep inside it.  I could literally walk around with a sleeping bird in my hair.   He was fast becoming a true member of the family, and since families ate together, Snoopy was no exception;  He ate with us. 

One of Snoopy's all-time favorite meals was bacon and eggs. 

Have some bacon?
That's him, sharing his breakfast with me.  Literally.  He'd hop onto the coffee table (hey, we were never formal... I always ate there, except for Christmas and Easter.  We all ate in the living room) and proceed to hop happily toward what was once my plate of eggs.  He'd nibble at some bacon, then some egg, then back to the bacon.  He'd get a crumb and fly onto my shoulder and proceed to feed me.  I kid you not.  Then he'd fly back down and repeat the whole thing, all over.  Sure, I'd get my forkfuls, but I always was welcome to share his breakfast.

Soon, Snoopy passed away. I was heartbroken.  My folks were always reassuring me that it was okay... he was in 'birdie heaven' now... I knew they were just as heartbroken as I was.  We put him in a cigar box; wrapped in a pink paper towel, with some seeds, and a four-leaf clover inside... just in case he needed some extra luck in getting to Heaven, and buried him amongst the Zinnias.   

I think we all mourned for about nineteen hours before Dad said my absolute favorite phrase:

"C'mon, Pramps.  Let's go for a ride."  He would never tell me where we would be going to, but I always knew it would be fun.  He took me to the greatest places;  "The Chicken Farm" A wonderful little farm on Mezzerott Road where Dad bought fresh eggs.  Or "Plain N Fancy Donuts" on University Blvd.  I treasured these rides.  He'd flip on WMAL and suddenly all was right with the world... Harden & Weaver joked about stuff and then would play either Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass' 'The Lonely Bull" or Boots Randolph's fun cover of "Walk Right In." Today, however, we would pass by these places and  pretty soon I knew where we were headed.  Hyattsville.  Yay!  Are we going to see Sara & Steven & Kay-Kay?  Turning down the radio, dad would say.
"Noooo.  I think we'll stop by 'The Plaza' ("The Plaza" was Prince Georges or PG Plaza).  I need to get something... maybe stop by G.C. Murphy's... maybe stop for lunch first.  Whaddya say?  Sound good, Squirt?"  Thinking back, I think the man was way more excited than I was.  Of course, he knew where we were going... and why.

Entering G.C. Murphy's, I would always make a dash for the toy section.  Dad followed.  It was one of two places that I could buy my favorite plastic sea shell beads (the other place was Giant Food on Arliss Street in Silver Spring... which is STILL there to this day).  

"More beads?  Don't you have enough at home? (Oh, you silly, silly man!) Okay, but that's ALL I'm buying. Come on, I need to get something then we'll go home and maybe stop at Gino's for lunch on the way home."  I follow dad, shaking my neat-o box of shell beads when I notice chirping sounds.  

"Whaddya think?"  Before I could answer;  
"Snoopy was blue.  I think maybe yellow this time.  Whaddya think, Squirt?  Yellow?  Think Ma'd like that?"
Beads forgotten.  We picked out a bright yellow parakeet.  It cost all of $6.00.  

I carefully held the tiny cardboard box in my lap all the way home.  Mom simply shook her head and grinned.  Mom now had dad hooked;  on parakeets.  

We named this one Petey; Pete for short.  We had Pete for many, many years.  This is truly the first parakeet I clearly remember.  He was NUTS.  Crazy.  Wacky. Silly.  Talked up a storm.  For many years, we did not have carpeting in our dining room, just smooth dark brown tile.  Dad would put Pete's toy car on the floor and Pete would fly all around the living room, building up speed, to land on the car and go flying across the floor.  He'd dance.  If you stood in front of him and swayed back and forth; his head would start bobbing up and down, and soon he would lift his little birdie feet, one at a time and side-step back and forth.  Faster and faster, whistling and clicking and eventually he'd get so wrapped up in it, he'd suddenly fling himself up-side-down on his perch, and give out a perfect cat-call!  It was the funniest thing I ever saw!  Bobbing his head back and forth, and blowing kisses (perfect 'mwah' kisses!) in between steps. Mom would yell at him from the kitchen:  "You're bad.  Bad boy..."  Pete would start clicking at her. Mom would stop what she was doing and approach the cage.

"You're BAD!  Sooo bad... but you're cute.  So cuuuuute... aren't you, you bad thing!?"  Petey ate it up.

Dad built him a new playground; complete with a plastic 'friend' for him to attack.  He also make him a very long, yet simple swing that attached to the venetian blinds inside the upper part of the window.  a long piece of plain ol' 18 gauge wire, about two feet long and at the bottom was a simple swing that he made out of a small dowel and two screw hooks that wire was attached to.  That bird would again, circle the apartment, and would land on that swing with a loud CRACK!  I was always afraid he'd miss the swing and hit window!  
The playground that dad built for Petey on the window sill.

Especially if he'd been drinking.  Yes, you heard me right.  Dad fed him beer.  Daily.  He'd get a good buzz going, then play on his car on the dining room floor;  One foot on the car, the other pushing it like a skateboard.  Don't drink and drive... or fly.  But he did.  

His favorite supper was spaghetti.  His favorite activity was helping destroy jigsaw puzzles.  We always had one going in Winter.  Big ol' piece of Masonite would be atop the coffee table and Petey would fly down, and proceed to remove pieces, one by one, and throw them onto the floor.  If you had a piece in your hand, forget it.  He would hop over to your hand, wrestle the piece out of your fingers, and would then take it to the edge of the table, lean over, and let it go;  'ploop';  down it went.  He'd cock his head sideways, as if to make sure it was safely down, then come back for another piece. 
"Give me that."
Please, allow me to drop that for you.

 I was the first person he flew to in the mornings.  Some mornings were... well, I was older and staying out later, and they were rough.  Still, he wanted me.  Even when I was a grump.  Even when I hadn't showered.  Or brushed my teeth.  He was truly a devoted friend.  He followed me everywhere I went, including the bathroom.  I was so used to him doing it that one day he flew in right behind me.  I didn't notice that he was sitting atop the shower curtain rod.  I left the bathroom and pulled the door closed behind me.  'Damn!  Somebody must have dropped a towel, the door won't shut...'  Oh no.  Yes.  Leaving out the horrible details, my beloved Petey died in my hands.  I was distraught.  I had a date that night with a guy that would be my very first true love.  He made fun of my loss.  I told him he just didn't get it.  I ended up staying home and crying with my mom.  The next day, Snoopy had a neighbor in the Zinnias. 

Life went on for many years.  Even a few parakeets here and there.  I fell in love, married and had two great sons.  I did what my mom did;  I introduced the wonderful world of Life with Aves to my husband and children.  We have had a few birds ourselves, but Fresca is our joy.  He has his birdie 'friends' and his people friends.  He doesn't talk, but if you sneeze, he'll chirp... every time you sneeze... or cough.  He too likes spaghetti, but his favorites are salads and popcorn.  He too follows me everywhere I go, so now, I'm very careful about doors.  As I type, he has flown over to be nosey.  He hears the 'tap, tap, tap' of the laptop. It's as if he knows I'm writing about him.  I suddenly hear Carly Simon... Gee, wonder why?

"That's F-R-E-S-C-A.  Know it."
"This is boring... where's my toy?"

And with that, he hops over to the arm of my recliner, where the TV remote is.  I don't know why, but he loves to sit on it and preen.  He is the vainest bird I've ever known.  Gotta be pretty!

And soon, he is all clean, and ready for a nap on his favorite toy:
Sound asleep and snoring.  Yes, birds are a part of our lives, but in our home, it's life as usual. He is old.  I honestly think he may have either broken a leg or had a little stroke a year ago.  He's fine, but flying is a very strenuous thing for Fressie, now. If he does fly, it's not very far.  He'll get halfway to his destination and land on the floor.  He looks at me as if to say "Well?  Are you gonna stand there all day and look at me, or are you gonna HELP ME?" And I'll carry him.  He lives outside the cage, or rather on top of it.  I have a towel on top with paper toweling and his water and seeds in the corners.  I leave a night light on for him.  I kiss him good night every night, and I get a perfect kiss back.  He beats me to it in the mornings, though.  The moment I come into the living room;  a perfect kiss noise. "Good morning, Fress! How did you sleep?" A sweet little 'SeeYou' sounding peep.  Then another as if to ask, "How did YOU sleep?"  I answer back.  "Just fine, my darling..."
You think that's bad?  I reason with him. All the time.  So does Rob.  Rob has a love/hate relationship with Fress.  He doesn't like the squawking, but will sit on the sofa with Fress right beside him, and they watch baseball together.  Rob swears the bird understand the game.

So.  There you have it.  Life with Aves.  When new friends visit, we often forget that Fressie is out and can fly freely.  So, we have a sign:

If he could talk:  "Yeah, I'm bad.  Such a bad, bad birdie; but I'm cute... sooooo cute!"

Until next time...
("peep"... Fressie wishes you peep, too)

Next time...  Got Beads? or Hello My Name Is Mary Frances And I'm Addicted to Beads.


We lost our beloved Fresca on September 19, 2010. We knew he was not well and When I looked at him on Saturday night, I knew ... I felt it; He would not make it through the night. I was right. I went to bed and checked on him, and though he was sleeping, I could tell by the way he was sitting that he was suffering. I went back to bed, but something told me to check again, twenty minutes later. I found him on the floor. He had passed. As much as I wanted his suffering to end, I was still so heartbroken and devastated. I held him and cried.

I buried him under the Hydrangeas, along with Spicie and Scooby; the two birds we had prior to Fresca. I included three pennies with him. How he loved playing with pennies!

As little and silly as he was, he taught us a lot. Soon, we will have a new friend to love, but in a little while.

Fly high, Fress. xoxo


  1. You have just made my day and filled my eyes and heart with rich our little birdies make our lives...they know what it is all about, don't they? Your post is just plain WONDERFUL!! Thanks, Pramps...and thank you, Fressie...

    cuz Karen

  2. I know from an outsiders POV, it really seems odd. But, to me, you, and my other 'birdie families', it's just a part of our every day lives. People spoil their dogs, right? Thanks, Cuz. You really do GET IT. {{hugs}} Love you!

  3. enjoyed your post! beautiful! i didn't think birdie's could be great pets, but i love our two.

  4. Birds are so wickedly smart. I think they are way smarter than we give them credit for. And, some birds simply don't like us, just like people. My dad had a bird; He was EVIL to my dad. I told him I'd take him, sure that I could tame it. It was right after we got Fresca. That bird *WAS* evil. Loved Fressie, but hated me. Even Fressie didn't like him. Others... just love us. :o)

  5. Nice post, Mary. I hope the evil boyfriend was not my brother (but I fear it was) You know how I love 'keets and love having a free range bird too :) And all the talk of PG Plaza makes me want to go to the Italian Inn...mmmmmm

  6. He wasn't evil, Bonnie; he just didn't understand (Man, was I pissed at him, though). I think that was the first argument we had! A lot of folks question how I can get so upset when a parakeet dies. Most folks assume they don't have personalities and just sit in a cage all day. I guess it can look a bit ridiculous to some folks; sobbing over a little bird!

    It's really nice having a friend that totally gets the 'keet thing! ♥ Yep, all my birds are free rangers!

    I think the Italian Inn is still there! My Aunt lives near it... I may have to hit that!

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