It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Bird!

Because it wasn’t raining Sunday morning, as it had been for 40 days and 40 nights in the Chicago-area, I sat outside by the pool with my dogs, a cup of coffee, and my laptop. I consider that to be a perfect way to start my day.

As I read e mails and blogs I heard a flapping noise right over my head and then a flopping noise coming from the pool. A bird had crash-landed in our pool and had obviously not been given swimming lessons as a gelding, or whatever you call a baby bird.

I grabbed the first thing I could find, which was a very small skimming net with a short handle, and ran over to try to coax the bird out of the water. I knelt down and sort of offered the net to the bird, which seemed like a stupid and hopeless thing to do. I knew I could never get close enough to save this bird, but it had other plans. It flopped on over to me and hopped right onto the little net.

It stayed on the net as I brought it over to the garden to dry out. It didn’t fly away and seemed perfectly happy and untraumatized. I can’t say the same for me.

Protecting his identity

Protecting his identity

It finally dawned on me that this was not your garden variety wild bird. Slowly I realized that what I was looking at was a pet-store-type bird; it even had a little band around its leg.

It was happy just hanging out in the garden, and then suddenly took off and flew right into one of our sliding glass doors. Fearing the worst, I went to assess the damage. The bird was totally fine and unfazed. I extended my finger and it climbed onto it. It was beautiful. I began to lactate.

It flew into a nearby bush at which time I realized:

1. I was home alone with no one to help me.

2. I have two dogs.

3. They slept outside through the entire search and rescue.

4.  I should take the dogs inside just in case they noticed the bird and wondered if it tasted like chicken.

5. I was still in my jammies.

6. I could feel the presence of our resident Cooper’s Hawk and, because I am a bird whisperer, knew I had better get the bird to a secure, undisclosed location before it became an amuse-bouche.

7. I don’t know nothin bout raisin no birds.

It turned its little head onto its little back and went to sleep on one of the little branches of the little bush. I took that opportunity to calmly lead the dogs inside, find a basket, get the mesh dome we usually use to keep flies out of the humus when we’re outside snacking, and a plastic cup of water.

Making sure the dogs didn’t follow me outside I walked over to check the bush, praying the bird was still there. It was still snoozing away. When it awoke I offered it a stick — hoping it would hop aboard, which it did — and placed it into the basket. I gently tossed in a few handfuls of grass and sticks and then poured water from the cup into the basket. The bird came up to the cup and drank the water as I was pouring it.

After it finished drinking, I placed the cup of water into the basket and then topped it off with the mesh dome. Knowing the bird was safe, I stayed with it while calling neighbors to see if anyone was minus a bird.

No one was. I called one of the local pet stores to see if they would take it in, but they wouldn’t. My friend Roberta told me to “tweet” on Twitter and post on Facebook about it to see if I’d get any nibbles. Not even a peep.

My friend, and bird enthusiast, Art came over to help. He immediately identified the bird as a male parakeet. I asked him to walk over to our neighbor’s house where an estate sale was in progress. Perhaps the bird had escaped in the midst of all the commotion taking place at their house.

But it wasn’t their bird or anyone else’s.

I called my mother who said, “Have you considered just asking the bird what its name is”? She is so smart, but the bird was not. It didn’t appear to know its name.

Finally Joanne, one of my neighbors, called to tell me she would take the bird for her 15-year-old daughter if no one claimed it, but she couldn’t get it until the next day. She said she had a cage but needed to find it in her attic, and wanted to get the appropriate parakeet accoutrements so it would be happy in its new home. I breathed a sigh of relief; the bird relieved itself in the cup of water.

As soon as Richard came home I asked him to watch the bird, even though it was safe in the MacGyver-style cage I had fashioned. I went to the pet store to buy parakeet food and, of course, a parakeet toy.

That bird ate like a …much bigger bird. It stuck its head into the bowl of food and didn’t come up for air for ten minutes.

I had plans with Rosa, who happens to be Art’s wife, that afternoon. She and Art offered me one of their bird cages to use until Joanne could locate her cage. The bird loved the cage because he had the freedom to fly around, eat, drink, and crap. Isn’t that what we all want?

The bird rested comfortably in the cage in my office that night. Meanwhile, the dogs still had no idea there was a bird living in the house.

Joanne, her husband, and their daughter came over last night to pick up the bird. I have never seen anyone as happy as their daughter was. As soon as she walked into the house, before she even saw the bird, her smile was so big I could see each and every one of her teeth. I should probably tell Joanne that from what I saw she should have her daughter’s wisdom teeth looked at.

Later that night Joanne called to tell me they had named the bird “Zed” and that everyone was doing well. I was exhausted. I had spent most of the day sitting in a pile of dirt babysitting a parakeet while in my jammies. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Margaret’s Adventures in Blogging ; Part I

My friend, Margaret, recently sent me the following e-mail:

Dear Leslie,

For years, I’ve been writing articles for a blog. The problem is I never set up the site. I always laugh so hard when I read your stuff, especially when I read about Richard. The articles I’ve written are sitting on my desktop. I’m all blogged up with no place to go. What’s a girl to do? O Techno-goddess can you help me find my footing in the Blogosphere? Here’s what I need to know:

1. Where do I start?

2. How much does it cost?

3. How do I find readers?

4. How can I make my blog look cool?

Sign me, A Budding Blogger

Here is my reply:

Yes, Margaret, there is a Santa Claus. No, wait. Sorry. Wrong story.

I am flattered you’ve asked me to help you start your blog. It is a wonderful, personally rewarding way to express yourself. I say “personally” rewarding because so far I have not been able to figure out a way to earn any money whatsoever by blogging.

But, back to your questions:

1. Where do I start?   Congratulations! You have already begun! You have content, you little over-achiever, you! That’s much more than I had when I set up my blog. I started with a few ideas for the name and eventually settled on Tales of Wild Boomba, which is what my much older brother and much, much older sister called me when I was a baby because of my wayward dark, curly hair and resemblance to an ape.

When it came time to think of content, I’d stare at my computer and hope an idea would float through my frizz and into my brain. My first post is about the reason I decided to call my blog Tales of Wild Boomba. I chose the Google-hosted blogspot.com because it seemed easy enough for me to navigate.

But, like an adolescent boy, Google went through a big mess of changes that at times were more challenging than an adolescent girl. So, I moved my blog to wordpress.com after I noticed more and more of the blogs I read were hosted by Word Press. I am much happier on Word Press, but I lost some of my reader(s) because I couldn’t figure out how to tell them/her I had moved my host site. Eventually my mother found the new site, so everything worked out well.

2. How much does it cost?   Both Google and Word Press offer free blogging capabilities. There are premium themes that cost a certain amount per year to maintain, but I didn’t see the point in paying for an upgrade when I didn’t know what I wanted or needed to upgrade. You e-mailed that you are thinking of paying someone to host your blog. Not a bad move, my friend. You will probably end up with fewer headaches than I.

3. How do I find readers?    Oh, if only I knew the answer to that question. When I started blogging I’d e-mail the link to my blog to my family and friends in hopes they would be able to open it, make comments about how funny they thought I was, and that eventually someone I knew would become a book publisher who would offer me a book deal with a huge advance. Well, that never happened. I have been blogging for my own enjoyment for the past five years.

I’ve also linked my blogs to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter via widgets, but the best way to get readers is to read and comment on as many other blogs as possible. This might involve some occasional stalking, but if you really want readers you’re probably going to have to invest in a decent pair of night-vision goggles.

4. How can I make my blog look cool?   The nice thing about the blog-hosting sites I’ve seen is that they have scads and scads of themes from which to choose. Since you’ve already purchased a domain name, you will probably have access to even scads more than I do because I haven’t paid a hosting site, which would probably make my life easier. I tend to try to endure as many self-inflicted mistakes as possible. It’s not very enjoyable, and as soon as I figure out whom to pay to make my blog look spectacular with a fabu theme that makes formatting a breeze, I’ll just keep puttering along.

A few months ago I spent three weeks trying to understand what I was doing by watching all of the “how to” videos about blogging I could find. I ended up making my blog a little.. prettier. And then today I changed the theme yet again. I actually had this blog post ready to publish at 10:00 A.M. CST, but I began investigating another theme, hoping to replace the one I have now. I thought the fish theme was cute at first, but lately it’s been making me sea-sick, so I thought to myself, “Well, I’ll just get a fresh start by publishing Margaret’s post using a new theme.”  I’m still swimming with the fishes, as you can see.

My computer guru, Matt, will think it’s hilarious that you referred to me as an O techno-goddess. I call Matt almost every week to get me out of some O Techno-screw-up I have managed to get myself into. I think I am pretty much paying his rent by now. I might have even bought him a condo for all I know; and this is without making one red (or any other colored) cent yet, mind you.

For example, I recently linked (lunk?) a second blog called “She Said to No one in Particular” to “Tales of Wild Boomba” by employing a menu widget that allows toggling between the two blogs. “She said to no one in particular” is what I say out loud after everything I say to my family because no one seems to hear or listen to me in this house. The widget works, in theory. I just don’t know how to promote the second blog because I’ve already linked Tales of Wild Boomba to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The thought of having to figure out how to link another blog to social media makes me feel very unsocial.

I know from experience that setting up a blog, at least for me, is not something that can be explained in one post. Heck, I’ve been messing around with different themes and fonts for the past 5 years. So, with your permission, I’ve decided to turn “Margaret’s Adventures in Blogging” into an ongoing series with an unknown number of posts so that we can help each other be the best darned bloggers we can be. I will also end each of our blogging exchanges with a “MAB” : Margaret’s Adventures in Blogging Word of the Day.

I know you can do this. You have the creativity, brains, ability, and a much better command of the English language than I. I hope I have answered your questions and not frightened you away from wanting to become a blogger.  But, I think I’ve frightened myself.

The MAB of the day is widget(s). A widget  is a very funny word that means something about something you put on your blog that you end up screwing up because unless you know what you’re doing, you don’t know what you’re doing.