This week's blog was written by fiber arts artist Ammi Brooks of Ammi's Art.
I am veering off the subject of my art to talk about the animals I live with. First I will set the scene and then introduce you to them and give you a little information about each one. After that I will tell you how they fit into my world.
I live with my cousin Marybeth. We have two dogs, two guinea pigs and a Quaker parrot. Marybeth is the animal lover. From the time she was young she had birds, dogs, rabbits, and even a pet squirrel whereas I didn’t have animals growing up.
Five years ago I moved to Seattle from Portland to help my cousin sell her house and move down to Portland to be near her daughter. At the time she had Mimzi, a 13 year old pug, and Brodie, a 14 year old Chihuahua Jack Russell mix, and also a bird we called Birdie and often "damn bird."
Mimzie, the pug, died while we were still in Seattle. When Marybeth moved to Beaverton she immediately searched the animal rescue and found Rocky, a Jack Russell Terrier mix. He is a great little dog. He is very obedient and loves people. He has a spot on his back in the shape of a heart. Rocky has a lot of energy and shows great enthusiasm for meal time and walking time.
Here is the Rocky bounce.
Brodie became blind and died after about a year. Marybeth needed a little dog for her heart and lap. She found Juliette online from Animal Rescue and she came up from California. There were 10 other folks who wanted her. We won!
The Guinea Pigs
Marybeth was excited to expand her animal friends and wanted some Guinea pigs to play with and have for my grandchildren to play with when they came to visit.
Marybeth forgot about terriers loving little critters so when Rocky came home for the first time he tried to leap over their cage that was placed on the floor. The idea of playing with the pigs on the floor was not to be realized. Feeding the pigs is my pleasure in the mornings. They are so cute! Check out this video.
Nearly two decades ago Birdie flew into Marybeth’s home when the bird was very young. She hunted for the owners but alas couldn’t find them. Of course she adopted her/him (finding the sex of a bird is very hard unless you sedate them and poke around). Marybeth had a very close relationship with Birdie, carrying he/she inside her blouse and on her shoulder and feeding Birdie at the table. When birdie became an adolescent he/she rejected Marybeth and joined her husband Richard as her constant companion. We now think Birdie is a she.
In 2013 Richard was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and he and Marybeth stayed at his sister's house until he died a few months later. Birdie stayed home and never saw Richard again. Marybeth moved back home to grieve and to eventually return to work.
Birdie was never the same after that. She screeched when anyone came around, especially if there was excitement, except the time the EMT guys came to the house for an emergency. There were four big men…all very calm and Birdie didn’t make a peep.
My Life with Birdie
I took on the care of Birdie because Marybeth had enough on her plate. After Richard died she retired, sold her house, her mother’s house, and bought a new house in Portland.
Someone from Facebook gave me a small cage to transport Birdie to Portland. During the drive I found that she liked music and singing. I knew nothing of living with a bird. Apparently they are in need of a lot of attention, not just the usual feeding and cage cleaning.
I have her cage in the room where I do my art so she is nearby, however if I leave the room she squawks. If she hears a strange noise like someone upstairs moving around she squawks. It has taken a long time for me to figure out the things that make her screech. I know she is afraid of things like the mop and the ironing board invading her space. Depending on my mood I can calm her down. More often than not I shout at her and/or put her in the furnace room with the pigs (close by). Yelling at her works sometimes and helps me to let off some steam.
I look at our relationship as a gauge of my own life. I know that I can give her sweet coos and sing with her. I can ask for kisses. I know that I can put her on my finger and then onto my shoulder. I haven’t done that yet for fear she will bite me (she did that in the beginning but that was because I put my hand in her cage). I see how connected Marybeth is with her animals and see that my own connection is lacking. I am a bit detached, maybe my double Virgo nature, which has it’s advantages, and may also keep me from deep connection. My fear of getting bitten is my fear of other things in life. I see in our future a birdie who is on my shoulder while I make my cat toys and little egg ornaments.
She has her tissues to clean her beak and a mug filled with pens to play with. She has one of Richard's wool socks to snuggle against, when she sleeps at the end of the cage. She has several places to hang out including on the top of the cage, on the basket and the other end of the branch.
This is my animal loving cousin and housemate dropping into a dog grooming place in Tigard.