2019-07-04 Great Day for a Ride! 🚲☀️🇺🇸

Seriously though.. I have no idea if it’s going to be a good day for a ride today or not. Our internet took a dive this week and I don’t have a data plan that supports apps and browsing and all that good stuff so I’m sort of stalled out on multiple fronts. It’s my excuse for not being able to check the weather and also why I’m not making progress on our “save the date” cards. 😜

I’d love to be able to map out a new 4th of July bike ride, which is my tradition for that day. I historically rode from my house to the Keystone and then hit the Bellevue loop to try and ride to the Missouri River. However, with the move this year, I’m now about 20 extra miles northwest of my original starting point and so that plan is no bueno.

The other part of that tradidition was that my ride was always solo, even when I was dating Matt. The holiday had always been a big deal for my perfect little family (pre-divorce) .. we hosted a sizable event with friends and family and had food and drinks and games all day and then a healthy firework display at dusk. Yeah, we were that block family that drove to Missouri to get the good stuff and when the show started, all our neighbors came out and sat around our cul-de-sac to watch.

All of that magic went bye-bye with the separation and I lost custody of the holiday in the divorce. It was always a bigger deal to my ex and the kids love it, so I let them have it. In return, I got Halloween, which the kids also love. From that year forward I would pack snacks and a beverage and get on my bike and just ride. It was great to be free and feel the wind in my hair and listen to my music. It became my time to reflect on the past and was good despite often getting emotional thinking about our family and friends and my kids gathered and having a great time without me.

I did that year after year and each year was a little better. I made peace with the past and myself and my failed marriage and all the loss that cane with it. This year is the 10 year anniversary of my first solo holiday and for the first time in 10 years, I won’t be riding alone. Jim will be riding right along side of me and it feels great to be starting a new tradition. It’s a good time to map a new route!

I’ve got about 4 apps on my phone that show the area trails and not a single one will load right now. Perhaps that means we should just wing it??! 🤷‍♀️

In any case, I’m excited about celebrating with Jim today and have so much to be grateful for!

I hope everyone has a safe and healthy 4th of July!

Cheers to Traditions!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-17 The One About Marriage – Part 2

It’s Monday and the weekend went by too fast. We had a house full of teenagers again this go-round and it feels like I spent the entire weekend cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes. I don’t want this to turn into a rant but I just feel like I’ve gotta get it out. Every single time I walked through the kitchen, there was another mess waiting for me. I say “me” because clearly I’m the one with the lowest tolerance for mess.

In my head I’m all like “how hard is it to rinse your dirty dishes, wipe up spilled cheese or Ketchup, and not explode things in the microwave?” Apparently it’s pretty tough. And they seem fairly oblivious. It’s as if nobody has ever suggested they pick up after themselves before. Don’t even get me started on the lack of attention to recycling. I can’t tell you how many times I pulled empty soda cans and plastic cups out of the trash. I have to fight my own disgust but I do that because I hate to see recyclable materials go into the trash. But, again, I should not dwell here too long. Life is too short.

Among other things we did this past. weekend was the forward progress on wedding planning. I think it was Friday night when I finally breached the subject about my wedding angst with Jim. In truth, I put more weight on the wedding than the marriage, just like I did when I first opened the topic here in “Part 1”.

I began with the story about my first wedding and how it all just happened and I was a tangent in my own life. I never dreamed of a wedding growing up. I never had visions of what I wanted. I never even wanted to get married, as I grew up in a household in constant transition because of failed relationships.

When I was 19 and was unexpectedly proposed to, that set the wheels in motion and it was like a train on the tracks with no brakes. It was all sort of too much and there I was, outside myself and watching it happen. I was focused on finishing my associates degree and navigating a long distance relationship with my betrothed. All the while my future mother-in-law was planning our wedding.

Food, cake, flowers, balloons, centerpieces, bows for the end of the pews in the church, invitations, drinks, glasses to toast with, a knife to cut the cake, and some cute “precious moments” cake topper. No detail was too small and it was all just taken care of. I picked the color theme, midnight blue and black, but I guess midnight blue was tough to accommodate and we ended up with a bunch of stuff that was a lighter shade of blue – bridesmaid dresses, balloons, cummerbunds, and all the bows on everything. I picked the invitation, which was a black rose next to the text and that was the extent of my contribution.

The truth is that they probably asked me and I didn’t care. I was the anti-bridezilla. I didn’t even have my own dress. His mom gave me her dress and it fit and was good enough so I went with that. It was great because then I would not have to spend time dress shopping or spend any money on something I was only going to wear once. I digress.

On Friday night I told Jim I wasn’t sure about the whole wedding thing and that spending thousands of dollars just doesn’t seem justified. Let’s just say we rented a hall. That’s like $1000 right there. Catering will likely be $2500 and I have no idea how much decorations or all the little details will cost but I can easily see that the whole thing could cost $5000 or more. That’s enough for a really great vacation. Poof, gone.

We didn’t get very far with that conversation because there were other goings on and it just melted into the drama of other thoughts. He just said, “well just keep looking at the options and see how we feel”. We were seeing our first possible venue on Saturday so i agreed and so that was it.

On Saturday we went to check out two possible celebration locations and seeing those did nothing to sway my feelings. It didn’t make me excited and I had a hard time visualizing the event despite One of the spaces being decorated for a wedding reception already. The gal showing us the spaces was nice enough and provided a lot of detail for both. She even showed me pictures on her phone of different ideas.

All I kept thinking was that on top of everything else, the lions share of deciding how it should look is going to fall on me. Knowing what you want is sometimes the toughest part of any decision. How do you choose your job, your weekend plans, what to eat for dinner?. I’m so “go with the flow”, I don’t typically care. Perhaps it was good My now ex-MIL planned the last one.

I just did the math. That was 26 years ago. Good grief!!

One of the venues was ruled out completely because it was presumably too small for the amount of people we will likely invite. The other was large enough but I just didn’t get the right vibe. I could not tell if that was just me or because I didn’t like it. The best thing that came from the whole affair was the conversation that it spurred.

We talked about the guest list, what we both think about the entire weekend and what might be best in light of different dynamics involved. It was good for me to hear his thoughts. It makes it feel like more of a joint effort where both of us are involved. It makes me think that at the heart of my trepidation lies fear of divided and targeted roles and lines in the sand.

I don’t want to be the sole person responsible for always deciding things and always cleaning the kitchen. I’m looking past the wedding to the important part.. the marriage. It needs to be a partnership and a team and this whole wedding planning thing is a great litmus test. Though I have no idea what I would do if we fail.

By my latest estimate, we have about a month before the “save the date” postcards need to go out. That’s a thing now. I spent some time on Sunday going through hundreds of pics I’ve taken in the last year looking for good snaps we could use in the announcement. It was a nice reminder that the last year of my life has been pretty freaking great.

I know all of our years will not be like the first one we met, but if I hold the past year up as it’s own test, the marriage we are planning will be wonderful. I just need to keep that in mind. The wedding is just a blip in time, the marriage is what really matters.

I need to count myself among the fortunate ones. I’ve already figured out what I want and what I need and finally found that. So much of life is perspective and perception.

This “Part 2” is not the conclusion. There is more. I’m just peeling back the layers which will hopefully lead me to the answers I seek. It’s who I am. It’s why I’m here. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m no longer procrastinating thinking about it. Baby steps, you know?

The minutia of the day plays a part in all of it of course. And that will be fine as long as I don’t get stuck there in an endless “while” loop.. washing piles of dirty dishes and fishing soda cans out of the trash. Can I get a line of code with a conditional exit please? 😜

That’s all for today I suppose. T-minus 24 hours until I’m “on the move” again. Tomorrow’s agenda will be another change of scenery.

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-07 The One About Marriage – Part 1

It’s been about 9 and a half months since my love proposed to me. It was a beautiful setting, the green space outside of the location we met for the first time. It was a warm day and though the sun was shining, there were isolated showers. He started giving what sounded like a speech and I just knew what was coming. In truth, I’d had suspicion that it was going to be soon and even told my daughter early in the day I was nervous about my date that night. It was my birthday and he insisted on taking me out, just the two of us, which isn’t particularly odd for a birthday dinner, but like I said, I just had a feeling.

He ended his little speech (which I don’t remember anything about because of my nerves) and got down on one knee and took the box out of his pocket and held it up to me and asked if I would marry him. Of course I said yes, it was the perfect moment. Then the sky opened up and it began to to pour. We hugged and kissed and I grabbed his hand so we could go inside for a celebratory glass of wine (our first meetup was at a wine bar).

It was sweet and simple and perfect. We were outside and there were not any people around. It was just us.

Since then we have talked about getting married about 10 times. That’s about once a month if one does the math. That’s not a lot.

The first time was when we drove to Minnesota last fall and that’s when we agreed we wanted to have a celebration with close friends and family and not a destination wedding. Our parents, except for my mom, don’t travel anymore and destination weddings are too expensive for the guests anyway.

The second and third time was mostly talking about the possible dates and the guest list. Neither one of us want a “big” wedding so we decided something smaller and more modest would be better. He suggested we get married on our one year anniversary and I sort of snorted what I was drinking out of my nose at the time and then proceeded to have an internal mini freak out. I calmly said “I think that’s too soon”.

Then we talked about summer and weather and a ceremony outside. Then I came up with the idea of getting married on February 2nd, 2020. That, folks, is a stellar day as it is a bonafied numeric palindrome – 02022020 (no matter what continent you are on)!! He said “I love it”. So that was it, the date was set.

And it was delightfully far enough in the future that I could forget all about it for a good little while. And so I did.

Every once and a while the subject came up and something else was more pressing. It was the holidays and then the move and then the sale of my house and then it was just work and kids and too much to do always. Now here it is, June and less than 8 months until that perfect date and I’m done with work and the kids are out of school and I’ve got no excuses not to start planning.

We talked briefly about it again and I cleaned out a few boxes in my closet and found an empty notebook to take notes in. I googled venues in Omaha and made a short list of a few places that looked nice.

I made a few calls and left awkward voicemails and also sent a few emails. We’re “Just checking availability” and not really doing any serious planning. That’s what I tell myself when I feel my pulse quicken thinking about all of it.

Now my calls and emails are being returned. A couple of the places are not available on that date and the next step will be to schedule tours of the rest. Oh gawd. “Tours”??!! That sounds so serious. Eeeek. I’m also looking at price breakdowns and that alone is enough for me to throw my hands up in surrender. It’s all just impossibly.. impossible.

Just this amount of “planning” has caused my eye to start twitching again. I want to celebrate this important time in our lives but I don’t want a grand, elaborate, expensive, look-at-us, sort of thing. He doesn’t either.

All of this and I haven’t even touched the actual subject of marriage. This is all just fluff, you know, next to the fact that on that day, the second day of February in the year 2020, I will be saying vows and committing the rest of my life to this one person. I mean, he’s amazing and all of that but the rest of my life is a long fucking time. I have a healthy amount of anxiety about the wedding but the idea of marriage literally terrifies me.

I’ve had almost 10 months to think about it and work through my issues and the reasons why I might be feeling this way, but I’ve been avoiding it. I’ve procrastinated thinking or writing or talking about it at any length with anyone, myself included. It’s probably about time I approach the conversation with him and let him help me through it. He’s been so great about so many different situations I’ve been challenged with or troubled by since like day-1, so why should this be any different??

Anyway, we have a (mostly) kid free weekend this weekend and it will be the perfect time for some good conversations. I can’t let myself repeat past mistakes and keep it all inside. Communication is key here. And, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the most important components in a successful marriage. I’d better make an effort to keep a good thing good now. It’s a long way till “death do us part”. Oh Gawd. Vows!!!!

Let’s call this little post part 1 of a series and if I can commit to that, I’m accountable to write part 2, which means I have to have the content to have something to write about.. right!?!!

Here Comes the Weekend,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-04 An Amalgamation of Nugatory Thoughts

Last Friday I sat outside in a chair in the shade on my back patio trying to turn the day’s blog post which was wrought with emotion into a poem. In doing so I ended up with a poem and about a dozen bites on my neck and left arm from some unseen spider or bug or four. Now I’m still itchy and resisting the urge to scratch. I ask myself, “was it worth it?”.

The answer is “yes” and of course now Ive learned a lesson too about writing outside. I just love being outside. I think as children we have instincts that take us there and, of course we have time to spare. There is so much lost in the transition to adulthood, it’s quite tragic.

I remember when I was a senior in high-school one of my favorite things to do was to just sit on my front porch. We had a tiny two bedroom house for the five of us and that house had a four foot by five foot cement slab outside the front door surrounded on two sides by a railing and was the first “step” to a series of other steps that led down a fairly steep slope to our one car driveway below. That top landing was just big enough for one folding chair and it was my perch for a whole year and a half before we moved again.

I used to sit there with my notebook, writing and thinking and thinking and writing, I watched the comings and going’s of people and animals. And sometimes I didn’t do anything except feel the warm sun on my face when it was high in the sky. When people say “those were the good ole’ days”, that’s what they are talking about.

It sort of sounds like a girl without a care in the world but nothing could have been further from the truth. And I’ve got evidence. Those notebooks recorded many parts of my adolescent years including the impossibly hopeless crush I had on my neighbor across the street and how my parents were incredibly insensitive about pretty much everything. It’s just the kind of fluff one might expect to find in the pages of a sixteen year old girl’s journal.

Then I grew up and unlearned how to sit still for an afternoon, watching life waft by. I think most adults feel that, possibly. That we no longer have the ability to just sit and observe.

Now I’ve just got to be moving. I’ve got to be active and not “waste” any minutes doing nothing. If I sit for even just s few minutes, I start thinking about things that need “doing”. Lists that need writing, closets needing to be cleaned and organized, dishes, laundry, blah-blah-woof-woof. That’s the real fluff!

What I really need to do is re-learn what’s been lost. Reprogram my neural network to slow down and just enjoy nature and the beauty in being still. What I would love to do is take my kids with me on the ride, and make sure they understand the importance and power in doing nothing.

The inventions of personal, hand-held computers has had such a negative impact on their lives. They have probably already missed many opportunities to enjoy their own imaginations because of phones and social media apps and video games. That’s tragic too.

It’s not lost on me that my daughter is now the exact age I was when I lived in that house. She spends most of the time in her room, with her laptop and phone. The things she’s writing have so much purpose and necessity behind them. She’s already busy doing all the things and not taking care to relax and let her mind be free.

Maybe this summer I can relearn and also teach. Now that, folks, would be time well spent.. not Nugacious at all!!!

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

Nugacious… came from a Latin word that meant worthlessness. It also appeared as nugation, nugament, and nugality. Something nugatious is of no importance. In philosophy, nugae were difficult but trivial matters over which a disproportionate amount of time was taken. Nugaemania was an overwhelming attraction to trifling things. A nugator was an empty-headed person; he was nugatorious.

2019-05-12 Chicago and The Road Home

Our stay here was brief and as uneventful as it could be given the circumstances. My “mystery” sickness is better this morning and I forced down a bowl of oatmeal to prove it. If I had to guess what the hell happened yesterday I would say that it was a mix of a bad migraine and some lingering effects of air travel/dehydration/and 3 glasses of red wine that did me in. I swear the older I get the less I can drink without feeling like complete garbage. The glasses were tiny though, so it could not have been just that alone.

In any case, that ruined my entire day yesterday and the only thing on the agenda this morning is a quick stop back at the John Handkock building for another appointment and then picking up our rental car to get the heck out of this town. I’ll be driving and am really hoping that, despite the fact that it is mothers day, the traffic will not be nearly as dense as it was Friday when we made our way from the airport to downtown. (fingers crossed).

The plan this morning is to make a bee line straight back home… Iowa is a pretty enough state (more beautiful than Nebraska in my opinion), but it is very similar and there is only so much rolling farmland one can wonder at before searching for something more interesting to keep the brain occupied.

I sent my mother the obligatory “happy mothers day” text already. She’s in Colorado with my brother and niece whose high school graduation was this weekend. My dad (her grandpa) didn’t make the trip, of course. That kind of stuff just doesn’t seem important to him. He has three fairly successful children and four grandchildren who are on their own path to being independent and successful but he doesn’t seem to care. Its so odd to me.

I’m proud of every little accomplishment that my kids have and can’t for the life of me figure out what that man values in life. He dotes on his step great grandchildren as if they were his own and I’m constantly struggling with anger rising in my thought when he mentions it. I should be happy that those kids whose broken lives have a solid family they can turn to in time of need, but I can’t help but feel jealous that they are being given something I felt I should have had, and if not me, then most certainly my children. I know he values a greeting card, which seems stupid and wasteful to me. If I visit (because a visit in person is way more valuable than a stupid card) we chat and he pulls out all the cards he got from other people to show me. It’s a shitty tactic. How the hell is that supposed to make me feel. Sometimes when I think about it too much I get sort of angry and then I have to try to calm myself and let it go. It’s this internal dance I do just to maintain some form of relationship with the man.

My kids don’t really have relationships with their grandparents, interestingly, similarly to me not having one with mine. I have some vague family memories of good times (and bad) and that’s about it.

I guess that’s why I always think about mothers day as one of those hallmark holidays (like valentines day) that someone made up just to commercialize sentiments and make money. I don’t fancy buying cards or spending money on throw-away trinkets or even cut flowers that are just going to die. For what? To show someone how much you mean to them? No, I’d rather just say it in words – If I feel it anyway. Sometimes I don’t say it, and shame on me.

One year I was in Austin over mothers day and forgot it was mothers day and then when I was reminded (because Rebecca has kids and they were celebrating) I called my mom. She cried on the phone. “Dustin is in Colorado and Linsday and Jamie are both working and you are in Texas, nobody cares about me.”

“Well I care don’t I, and I called”. I said and then in a softer tone “Everyone has very busy lives and we all love you, and you know that. It’s just one day of the year, and we’ll have lots more days we can get together.” That helped I think but then I had to agree to go to lunch with her when I got back, which I did. It’s fine. It’s just the way she is. Emotional and self centered.

I don’t expect anything from my kids today. I’ve told them as much many times in the past. When I see them (which I won’t today), I’ll want hugs and conversation. That’s it. Nothing special. My daughter being the gifted and thoughtful girl she is has gone above and beyond in the past with putting together special surprises all on her own. I’m overjoyed that she wants to do those things when she knows its not necessary. One year I had the best mothers day gift a mom could ever dream of from here and it was very elaborate and spanned an entire year of our life. It was a gift that kept on giving, all the time. I may have written about it in the past but don’t recall right now.

They are with their dad today as I drive home from Chicago and I will likely not see them until tomorrow after school. Maybe I will get a text from them today and maybe I won’t. No matter.

Pretty soon now it will be time to pack up and walk to get our rental car. Next Stop.. Iowa and the Road Home.

Goodbye 900 Dewitt,

Hope we never meet again!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-05-09 PMS and Bad Poetry

About a week ago I was freaking out because my Fitbit was reporting that my period was like 5 days late. Crazy thoughts go through one’s mind in times like that. I found myself thinking about what it would be like to start over. Another bundle of joy, diapers, Halloween costume creations, and 18 more years before THAT bouncing baby would be where my Z is now – trying to decide what colleges to apply for.

I have no doubt it would be a better parenting experience because now I have a true partner in life. I would be a stay at home mom and I’ve learned so much that I feel I would do a much better job. Still, the idea really threw me. Just before I got to the point of running to Walgreens to get a pee-stick (pregnancy test), I realized that last month my period started when I was in Barcelona and I forgot to record it in my Fitbit. Sure enough when I corrected that it adjusted my calendar and told me I was going to get my period in like 5 days. I was suddenly washed in relief. That’s very telling. I’m 45 and can’t be birthing no babies now.

That was about a week ago and sure enough I have not started yet. My cycle is naturally just a few days longer than the average of 28 days. I always expect to start a few days after Fitbit says I should. The programming isn’t smart enough to learn from past months, so it always needs tweaking. Stupid technology!

All of this just to get to the point where I come clean about the seriousness of my PMS. Some months are worse than others and I never know what kind of thoughts will surface. In the last 6 months, with all the big changes in my life I’ve often been pulled down by an undertow of doubt.

“What the hell am I doing?” Is an oft ast question during these days. How can I possibly be giving up my independence and putting my kids through this life drama, all for a relationship. I’m not my Mother. That’s the kinda shit she did and I vowed never to be like her. I grew up with divorced parents who were dating, moving, getting married, divorced, and moving again. They were absorbed in all their adulting and I was invisible. I was the quiet one, not social or a troublemaker or overly emotional like my siblings. I demanded zero attention and so that’s what I got. I digress.

When I got divorced my kids were still young. I found my way out of that situation because I was backed in a corner and had flipped into survival mode. When you can’t breathe, you do what you have to. At least that’s what I told myself anyway. Once I was free I made an internal promise to myself to not put my children what I went through, and to always place their interests first.

I suppose that’s why I had issues with any relationships I found myself in. I dated a little bit but my mind was terrified of anything that may have a “future” attached. My heart fell easy my mind was always backing away going “nope, not doing that”. I seemed to always fall in with guys that were “safe”.

Vis was safe because he claimed I “was not the one for him”, still, we dated until he found someone else and broke my heart. Yeah, he broke my heart first by chasing a girl who was bat-shit crazy and I befriended her just to try and stay conected. Probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. (BTW… 👋🏻 Hi.. I hope all is well!).

Josh was a person I turned to both during my separation and divorce with Brian and my break-up with Matt. He was safe because I “wasn’t his type” and “not his destiny”. That was Joshua – Always so dramatic. I would say we also dated but he would probably deny that. He never really broke my heart, but instead just angered me past the point of no return with his approach to life. I was ok just being friends but he always felt the need to remind me about Najah or a girl at our Gym named Emily that he called “Code Red” or some other girl he met on OK Cupid, always someone else on the side. Eventually I just threw my hands up and said “whatever dude”. I knew I deserved better than a life with a person like that.

There were a few others I had brief spins with but I tell you the second I saw a certain look in their eyes, I began to panic. It’s fucked up to say the more they were “interested” in me the faster I bolted. It may just be that I had good sense of what I was looking for and knew what they just weren’t it.

If I’m honest with myself, it’s probably one of the reasons that Matt was perfect and also why things didn’t work out with him. He was into me but not in any hurry to plan for the future. I claimed he was the one that was “commitment phobic” (which he is), but I was too. We were committed enough to let 5 years pass and never make plans for “the future”. We never moved in together and in the end we were so paralyzed we could not even talk about “us”.

Somewhere along the way I grew to want more and to start planning and he just never caught up. I told myself it was better that way, break ties and just cruise through the last years of my kids living at home and then “maybe” look for something more after that. That way I would for sure honor that promise I made to myself about putting my kids first. It was for the best.

Except the Universe had other plans. Enter Jim stage right. On March 3rd 2018 my world changed. Things happened really fast, and it was surprising how open I was to all that rapid-fire change. It was everything I had previously been against, yet, I found myself saying “yes” to everything and having lots of serious conversations about the future. Was I just ready? Was I just so confident about him being the one for me? He is an amazing person and perhaps I was afraid of putting the brakes on for fear that that would make him pull away.

It has been really great and I didn’t want to screw things up. My friend Sam told me not to worry if it goes fast, just “go with it” she said. And that’s what I’ve done. Now it’s like a year later and we live in his house and talk about the future all the time (except for that wedding planning thing). It’s only a few days a month that I feel red flags and my mind wanders to places that are filled with doubt. Stupid PMS. I think about living in this grand house and all the stuff in it and how that’s not me. I think about how I’ve abandoned my career and now sometimes feel “trapped”, like I can’t leave without permission. It’s quite mad actually, since I now have the freedom to truly dive into school and my writing free from worry about all the financial things.

It’s not just the house and all the stuff (though that is the biggest part). There are other troubling thoughts swimming in my brain. Last night I could simply not quiet my mind about the house thing and in my heightened state of feeling swallowed by the situation I wrote a really bad poem about our respective houses and the experience of trying to fit all my things into his house. It’s a truly terrible poem, but I had to get what I was thinking out somehow – set the words free on paper and smooth my mind. Yeah, that happened, and I sort of felt better afterward. Then I descended to the living room from the room that is my office, which incidentally houses my old office furniture and bedroom furniture and all the plants I had in the room above my garage. We watched an episode of “The Handmaids Tale” and then went to bed.

No flow yet this morning (because I know you wanted to know that) and I’m back refereeing this internal struggle about my life, liberty, and pursuit of that “ever elusive” happiness.

I don’t care what people say.

The Struggle is Real,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-04-25 The Miracle of New Life – Part 1

This morning I woke up in Lincoln Nebraska. We’re here for a conference Jim is attending and at the present moment he’s at the welcome breakfast and I’m in the exercise room at the hotel. I like to travel but I also love being at home, sleeping in my own bed, and going about my normal routine. Even though we’ve been home from Spain for a week and a half it feels like we just got home and I really didn’t want to leave the house this week.
I didn’t want to leave my kittens or fish or birds. It’s only for like a day and a half though so there’s no reason for me to be all dramatic about it. We were gone for 8 days before so this isn’t really anything. Still, the first things in my mind this morning are to check the house cameras to see if I can get a glimpse of my kitten perusing through the kitchen or, more importantly at the moment, the birds in our indoor/outdoor room.
We have one of the cameras pointed a birdcage in that room. There’s been quite a bit of drama this week with them and leaving them alone last night was not ideal. To understand, first one must have the backstory on the birds…
If I haven’t mentioned it before, when I moved into the house there were two Zebra Finches in that room. They live in the room and not in the cage. The cage is open and is mostly there for decoration and the finches fly free in the room and perch on curtain rods and the plants. One might think that might make a mess, but it’s really not that tough to keep clean. The two finches that Jim had alraeady, we reasoned out, were both males. The one he originally thought was female (because of its atypical color) is actually a male. The males have distinctive color on their cheeks and also sing. Females chirp, but don’t sing. Our white finch does have some faint color on his cheeks and we heard both of them sing. We decided shortly after having this revelation to buy two females for our boys.
The transformation of behavior in the birds was immediate. They were more active and playful and also started building a nest right away. The location of choice was in a ficus tree that’s in a pot near the middle of the room. It’s pretty low to the ground so we’ve had a good view.
The nest building was lightning fast and I helped out by bringing materials into the room. I brought small twigs from plants outside and unwound twine. They quickly taught me what they wanted by using some things I brought in and ignoring others. It was amazing to watch the teamwork by 3 of the 4 birds. The one with atypical coloring seemed to be excluded from the task as he was constantly being chased away by the other male. Rude!
I think it was within those first two weeks that we had our first clutch of eggs. Each day I would check the nest and each day another egg would appear. There were six in total. According to google they hatch in about 12-15 days. We waited and watched and were probably too intrusive. The adults would fly away to safety when we came around and maybe that was a factor in there not being any viable eggs that time around. Not sure.
It was not long after that, however, that a second set of eggs appeared. This time it was 4 or 5 eggs and I’m not sure exactly because we decided it was best to let them be and let nature do it’s thing. Within about 3 weeks we knew we had babies but in keeping out of their business I didn’t try and see or take pics or count.
As it turns out there were 3 babies and they grew fast. Before too long, they outgrew the nest and two of them ended up on the ground. The one left in the nest didn’t make it and when Jim removed it from the next, it appeared to have its leg caught in the twigs of the next. It struggled so much it just could not survive. Jim had warned me of the high mortality rate when we had the first clutch of eggs but that didn’t really prepare me for the outcome. With two left, he warned me again that the risk factors only go up when they leave the nest.
We had two tiny, fluffy birds huddled together on the ground next to the ficus tree pot. Each morning I would find them in different locations and watched in wonder as they learned how to walk. It was super awkward at first. They would flap wings and fall forward and slowly move themselves forward. These birds don’t really “walk” though. When they are on the ground they hop along. It took the babies over a week, almost two, to get strength enough to manage getting where they wanted to go without it being a big struggle. Still, they weren’t that great at it and each morning I would find them in some new spot, always together.
They were afraid of me and if I got too close, they would scramble away. I watched from a distance and even got to see the momma come down and feed them a couple of times. When the momma got anywhere close, the babies would squeal and pounce near her with their mouths open. I’ve wondered how they get water but I suppose there’s enough of what they need from what the mom gives up.
Of course I’ve gotten myself attached to these two tiny new lives and their story. I’ve looked forward to checking their progress every day. One morning they were right by the door of the room and so when I came in, they quickly tried to put distance between us. That’s the first time I saw one of them attempt to fly. It seemed more natural than the strange waddle/hop they had been doing up to that point. Flying might be one thing but landing is something altogether different and it flew into the wall on the far side of the room and ended up on the floor. It was fine and the other one waddled away and they called to each other until they were in close proximity of each other again.
In a few days I saw both of them fly but Jim cautioned that they may not survive learning to fly. That room also has a little pond and water fountain (that’s how the adults get their water). He said they may accidentally fall into the water and drown.
One morning I found them on rocks next to the pond and, while I was watching, one of them fell in. It struggled to get out and When it found its way back into the Rock it was soaked. The ledge there was too high for them to just hop back up onto level ground.. I could not just sit by and watch. I put gloves on and cupped them both in my hands and lifted them back to where we keep the bird feeder. We were trying not to intervene too much but this is an unnatural environment already so after that we decided to cover the pond with a thin plastic tarp.
That was fine for about two days and then, just a few days ago, I was in the room and just happened to watching when the next bit of drama went down. There was a piece of tarp draped over one of the pots next to the pond and I watched as one of them waddled right through a gap in the plastic and under the tarp right next to the water. The other one, of course, followed right along. Before I knew it one of the birds tried to fly – UNDER the tarp.
I, again, could not let this be the thing that led them to their end and I moved quickly to pull back the tarp and rescue them out of the water. At that point I was second guessing the tarp and frankly any intervention at all. I found it incredible that I was witness to two “incidents” and thought my presence may be a contributing factor. I mean, it’s not like I spend all day in that room watching. It’s maybe been 10 or 15 minutes a couple times a day. What are the odds that those moments are precisely when the bad shit happens?
I removed the tarp. I decided to only go in just long enough to feed the fish and snails. The last time I saw both babies together was yesterday morning. When Jim came home from work yesterday afternoon he went to check on them and found one on the ground, dead. I asked “where?” and he said right near the middle of the room, not near the rocks or pond or any other potential hazard. We have no explanation, other than perhaps it tried to fly and ran into something and took on too much injury to survive. He took care of removing the body and also said he could not find the other baby.
Fearing the worst, I went in to look and it was not in any of the “normal” spots. Then I saw it floating in the pond. For the third time I put gloves on and worked quickly to get him out. He was completely wet and barely breathing. I held him, cupped in my hands, and was just at a loss for what to do. I set him on the ground and he just flailed and fell over. It looked like it was seriously injured as it could not stand on its legs. Each time I tried to set it upright, it fell over and even flailed and ended up upside down. I felt so helpless. This tiny little being lost it’s only remaining sibling and now was itself in danger of not making it.
I went and got a piece of cardboard and set it on that and knew there was really nothing more I could do. I wasn’t sure if Ieft it alone one of the parents could do anything, but I doubted that. I left him there just the same and tried to not think about what was happening, but I just could not stay away. Every five minutes I went to the window to see if I could see him moving. He continued to move around. An hour or two went by and Jim and I were preparing to leave for Lincoln.
Then one of the times I glanced in the window I did not see the bird. I was shocked. We went in and found him a short distance away, upright, and beginning to look like he was drying off. We left him be. A short time later, maybe 30 minutes, we looked in again and saw him all the way over by the feeder and actually pecking at seeds. It seemed miraculous based on what I had witnessed just a few hours prior.
Knowing we would be gone for almost two days we decided to tarp the pond again, this time securing all the edges so there would be no gaps. At the last minute we made a judgement call to put him in the cage with food and water where he would presumably be safe from dangers while we were gone. This time it was Jim that scooped him up and placed him on the cardboard in the bottom of the cage (which is still open for the birds to come and go).
We situated one of the house cameras on the cage and headed out the door to go to Lincoln.
The first thing we did when we arrived in our hotel room was check the live feed from the camera. We were shocked once again to discover that the baby bird had already found a way to vacate the cage. No sign of it and no way to know where it might have ended up. Like I said, it was the first thing I checked again when I woke up this morning and there is still no sign of the bird.
I’m now 15k steps into my day and recounting this adventure has made my morning cardio extend well past the hour I had intended. At this point I have to get back to the room to start my work day.  I’m not sure what to expect when we get home tomorrow, but it will be another 24 hours before we are back home to see what has happened. Perhaps it’s better that we are not there.
My heart is already attached to these small creatures. It’s probably still a high-risk situation and I should not get my hopes up for this one that remains, but I’m afraid I can’t help it.
To Be Continued…
~Miss SugarCookie