Bird brain

I check just to be on the safe side.

He is still bouncing from the sofa to the trampolene shouting “Geronimo!” at fifty decibels in the family room. He’s been at it for about 25 minutes. I detect no immediate indications of a flat battery. This kind of self regulation is to be applauded and encouraged. Horray! I return to the washing up and the view from my kitchen window.

It's bound to be a controversial campaign but something has to be done. I think a complete ban on birdlife is the only route available. There I am, diligently dragging home body bagsful of bird seed, and what do they do? Spread it all over the garden. Little hooligans! Why can't the birds appreciate a free lunch when it's provided? Are they all on some kind of a special diet?

The feeder hangs just outside the house in the empty space between the L of the family room and the kitchen, a view from each site. A special birdfeeder design to deter squirrels, a gift to me and them. Why don't they just eat it? Do they have malformed beaks or something? What is wrong with the modern birds of today? Why aren't they here now, to entertain me with their antics whilst I wash? Do we only have nocturnal birds to visit? Are owls the real culprits?  Flocks of unwise vegetarian owls.  I notice that the noise has died down as my son steps into the kitchen.
“I am be dah mouse.”
“Really.” What a pity he can't match his favoured vermin in the sound production department. I watch the birds gather around the feeder, fluttering and pecking.
“I am be energetic.”
“Indeed you are.” There must be nearly 20 birds. I wonder what kinds they are? I really ought to get a book on bird identification in California.
“Now I am bin done exhausted.”
“Oh, that's good.” I'm a wee bit weary myself. I do so hope ‘bin done’ hasn’t come back to haunt us again? Two little words inserted into every sentence. I thought that phase had faded? All too often they return. I console myself with notion that we’re only too lucky to have any phrases at all.
“I am beed have dah rest.” He exhales to demonstrate.
“What a good idea. Maybe we could sit down and have a cuddle, have a rest together?”
“Nope.”
“No? Why not?”
“Coz now I am bin done……I am beed…..energy…….guy……again.” He tears off back to the family room to resume his regime, and as he roars “Geronimo!” the birds blast away, scattering seeds at warp speed.


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Leisure time

For the Spring break we are at home, with time, lashings of it. 72 days on a “purely liquid” diet, and counting. I whiz up a quick protein shake for myself after a loudish verbal warning to those who object strongly to the sound of all electrical domestic appliances. On completion my daughter requests a banana milkshake. What luck! I avoid adding the spotty bananas to the compost heap. I invite her to join me, a quick lesson. Everyone is in a good humor as we are without a timetable. [translation = schedule] With the routine temporarily shelved, everything is peaceful, apart from the whirring of the liquidizer. [translation = blender] I am careful to instruct her upon the importance of always putting the lid on prior to turning the power on. We giggle at the prospect of a banana spattered kitchen, how bananas quickly oxidize to resemble black slime. What a hoot! I do a quick head count to see who is watching and who might be listening, but we are alone. The boys clean their teeth, or rather eat toothpaste in the bathroom, because the best time to do what you want, is when your mum is otherwise engaged.

By lunchtime, I am peckish. I prepare an adequate [preferred] repast for the smalls and then turn my attention to the nauseating protein shake. Once the ingredients are ready, I plug it in. It is only then, that I notice that I have mislaid the lid. I check all obvious locations. Nothing. My stomach growls rather than gurgles. Perhaps I could put cling film over the top, [translation = Saran wrap] with a tiny hole to allow for air expulsion? A plate? The palm of my hand isn't big enough. I pause as a naked child jack knife's from his chair, as a crumb has touched his skin. The other two cover their ears for protection, an instinctive reflect during every meal. He is in full meltdown for a couple of minutes. We are all grateful that it is only a couple.

I re-dress him and advise upon the many benefits of clothing – think of it as armour! Mollified, but not convinced, he complies and returns to his chair for a second attempt, hunkered down if not entrenched.

By mid afternoon, I am more than a little peckish. I sneak away to the kitchen for the protein drink, contemplating when I might find the time to clean the braces. The milk is now less than attractive, room temperature. [translation = warm in California] I decide to have it anyway, as punishment for being so lax. I check the dishwasher for the lid, and the sink, and the cupboard. Where have I put it? A crash from next door sends me scurrying, even though it is not accompanied by death shrieks. Three lizards have 'escaped' from their aquarium. Three children attempt capture and containment of same, with less than adequate equipment, namely, their hands. The day progresses.

By the time it comes to tuck them all in to bed, I am sorely tempted just to climb in with them. It hasn't been that busy a day, quite a pleasant one all told. I can't imagine why I am quite so exhausted? I go downstairs to start clean up and see the liquidizer harbouring it's nutrients. I debate. Nearly 12 hours in mid 70's heat. If I eat it now, will I die of food poisoning or merely have an upset stomach? I am miffed. I should have just mixed it up with a hand whisk or shaken it in a jam jar. I am an idiot. Where on earth did I put the lid? I run a quick inventory around the house as my brain is accustomed to registering things that are in the wrong place – the toilet brush upended in the bathroom to tempt spiders, the plunger upended in the bath to provide a soft landing for the spider, the towels heaped in the centre of the bed to provide a nest for the spider. No. I cannot recall having seen the top to the blender at any time during the course of the day.

I tip it down the sink and finish off. Upstairs again, I deflate into my own bed, wondering when spouse might reappear after another long day's work. I wonder if he took the lid of the blender to work? By accident? I wonder if by the time dawn breaks I will be a skeleton?

I slumber, restless until he returns. I drift in and out of sleep, with a rumbling tummy.

In the peaceful black of the night we lie together, wordless. I sigh. He’s home. A gurgle that would do justice to the sinking of the Titanic erupts from my stomach. “Blimey! What have you been eating?” he accuses.
“Nothing actually.”
He props himself up on one elbow and rakes his hair with his fingers. I explain the finer dénouements of the day.
“You didn't take it with you by any chance?”

“Of course not! But wait a minute! I seem to remember……..”
He leaps out of bed. I am hot on his heels as he takes the stairs two at a time. He unlocks the front door and nips out barefoot onto the gravel. I hobble behind. He picks up a pink piece of paper in a plastic sleeve with a pebble, a freebie advertisement. It reads ‘Weight Watchers – special introductory price.’
I hope the that “neighbours” aren’t on watch?
“There you go!” he exclaims, “not exactly disguised but enough to blend in!” Clearly our own “visual acuity” needs recalibration.

We retire to the kitchen, where he rinses it for me and assembles ingredients, as if I have returned to 'invalid' status.
“He's such a little monkey,” he beams. “He must have had to unlock the door and everything…….”
Our eyes meet. Did we both fail to notice that Houdini did a runner? [translation = escaped without our knowledge] What if he hadn't come back?

“Of course he came back! He'd made his environment safe, sound proofed as it were!” he gestures open handed. [translation = “auditory sensitivity”]

I have a premonition of my future life spent in an unending search for domestic appliances in the garden.


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Problem solving

I am generally of the opinion that my body is there to assist me in my daily occupations, but other than that, I don't tend to give it much thought. My body automatically does things that I want it to do without me having to exert any energy to achieve my aims. This is because I have an exceptionally clever body. I tend to forget that other people's bodies do not necessarily behave in a similar manner. Other bodies have parts that do not listen to the messages that their brain's command, they are recalcitrant, deaf, ineffectual or ignore important information.

I engage my son in a lecture. I explain carefully that the Eucalyptus oil that I have put on his chest, must not on any account, reach his eyes. There must be no chest hand eye contact. Soap is essential to prevent this cross contamination.
'Do you understand?' is repeated at twenty second intervals, re-inforcing, confirming, clarifying, checking in, anything to prevent the oil in the eye meltdown. It's automatic and formulaic but does not impede the inevitable. We used to put the drops of oil in the centre of his shoulder blades so that he couldn't accidentally brush it with his hand.

I demonstrate that he has not been singled out for this treatment, I too have been anointed, look as the glistening smear in the hollow of my collar bone! See, me too? We can do it, both contaminated. We both benefit from the ability to breathe more easily. It is not a conspiracy, it is a good thing. He is mollified by the fact that we share the same fate, but this doesn't prevent his finger tips from seeking out the spot. Each time I whisk him off to the bathroom where we model hand washing. The spot is a magnet to those finger tips, he can't help himself.

I turn my attention to the other two, so that he's without a finger guardian angel. I have no other option when school is 20 minutes away and everyone is naked.

In the family room I negotiate socks, feet and shoes, all of which are proving problematical with junior. He squalks and flaps as I prompt and persuade. At the table a scream of agony erupts from senior, followed by the thunder of naked feet pounding towards the bathroom, gallons of water and unco-operative soap. I nip round to check progress. He stands at the sink naked and soggy, huge saucer eyes of concern peer out anxiously beneath a hank of hair.
“My fingers did it again, but I got em, I washed em good, I am o.k. now,” he explains with triumph.

He returns to the table and his breakfast cereal which is still only half eaten as his progress is delayed my his unco-operative hands. He takes the initiative and sits on his hands. He stares at his cereal bowl. He casts a glance at each hand, under control under each thigh. It dawns on him that whilst the wandering hands are secure, it is also difficult to eat cereal without their assistance, 'darn it!' He shakes his head and releases one hand, the right one, reluctantly. The spoon makes contact with the bowl's contents, but the bowl is traveling. Against his better instincts he allows the left hand to come out too, to help steady the bowl. Once his mouth is full and munching, the right hand is also occupied with spoon control, but the left one is left free to practice devilment. The drips of milk run down his naked chest which invite the left hand to investigate. The finger tips trace the milk drops, without permission, “ah!” he screams and scrambles off his chair to repeat the hand washing exercise, self initiated, self correcting.
He reappears from the bathroom, breathless and exasperated.
“How are you doing dear?”
“Well,” he sighs, weary from yet another 50 yard dash when the asthma is in full swing, “you know, it not my fault. I think it is the bad hand, it won't do as I say, it won't listen to me any more.” He stomps his foot to emphasize the point, a couple of nano seconds off.
“You know what?” I ask, wait, and count to fifteen.
“What?” horray he got there!
“I don't think it is a bad hand.”
“Not bad?”
“No. It's the milk, the milk drips.”
“The milk drips are bad?”
“The milk drips make the hand move, it's not the hand's fault, it's the milk's.” He doesn't comment, which isn't particularly surprising, as it sounds pretty odd to me too. I should really be having this conversation once I am awake, not at 7:20 in the morning.

I continue to help junior with his flying shoes, whilst senior returns to the table for the next cereal episode. After much persuasion, junior is shod and we commence the teeth cleaning torture session. I check on senior. He is seated at the dining room table, it itself a triumph of accomplishment, as he has achieved a static status. Being static whilst wielding a spoon with liquid should encourage a positive outcome.

When I return again, I find him wrapped in a blanket, several blankets in fact, forming an igloo. His head and right arm pop out of the top. There is no sign of the left arm swaddled beneath the depths. A triangle of spilled milk spreads down the front of the igloo where he chest would have been. I pick up the serviettes [translation = napkins] and stuff them back into the drawer, who needs a square foot of fabric when you get much better results with a two six foot squares of hefty material to weigh down an inhibit tresspassers?

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