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» Thursday, September 26, 2013...
How many things have changed from last Thursday.
I'm not sure I want to even talk about it all, but I must. It's bottled up and needs to flow. Some times were good. At work we took a co-worker who was leaving out to lunch on Friday at Olive Garden. Found out my team lead used to work at NASA in a clean room, making containers for equipment on the space shuttle. Cool. Saturday we had Hair Day in the morning and a birthday dinner for David Gibson in the evening. John and Betty had just come back from vacation; they went to the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Devil's Tower, and John had photos on his phone (ain't technology wonderful?). Sunday, after grocery shopping, we went to the Michaels sale so I could get a few things for Christmas crafts, and then we had a birthday dinner for Aubrey Spivey, who just turned twenty.
Overlaying the entire weekend was the fact that Schuyler wasn't feeling very well. She'd started her fall moult some days ago and it slowly became evident that this was a more extensive moult than usual. Her spring moult has always been very severe, and I started the same procedures I always do in the spring: making sure she is warm, having extra fruit, and monitoring her droppings. On Thursday she was mostly her usual self; I was playing John Denver records while I worked rather than having the television on and she was pissed at me. I sang a couple of songs to her and that mollified her somewhat. Over the weekend, though, she got quieter and I did everything I'd done in the past when she wasn't feeling good, half-covering her cage and giving her millet to tempt her appetite. She was sleepy enough on Sunday that I was worried about her.
Monday all three of us were sick. I know better than to eat shrimp on a day before I need to go in to work. Schuyler was fluffed but eating, which is about normal when she did a big spring moult. Willow threw up. All of us slept most of the day.
Tuesday Skye looked her worst. She'd eaten a grape and the skin was stuck to her nose, and it had made her droppings loose. I had to clean her beak for her and around her vent feathers. After that she actually perked up a little. I talked to the vet in the evening, but the most they could have done was kept her under observation until Wednesday at one o'clock. I put a heating pad under her cage, and she was eating ravenously again. She was so hungry that when I refilled her pellet dish she actually sat on my hand to eat the pellets before I could actually get it put back up. In six years my little wild child refused to sit on a finger. Oh, she wanted company! When I ate oatmeal she begged for some, and if I came by with mandarin oranges she wanted those, too. Her favorite time was when we danced together at the beginning of Ellen or I put her cage on my television tray so she could watch with us. She was totally social as long as it didn't involve sitting on a finger.
Wednesday her eyes brightened back up. She was preening herself again, even her tail, eating, taking little naps, and then starting the cycle over again. Not talking much, but one doesn't get over being sick quickly. Kept her warm with a heating pad under the cage. Felt good enough about how she was feeling to go to work Wednesday morning for a few hours: I had an award to post, two modifications to do, a short training class to attend, and I wanted to pull a file to use as reference. Then I came home to finish doing research for a new order and keep an eye on Schuyler. I was happy with what I saw. Her eyes were bright and her droppings were normal, just a bit wet. Again, typical for moulting. I was still keeping her warm with the heating pad.
Wednesday night she climbed into her swing to sleep as always and slept there all night. When I peeked under the cage cover this morning, she gave me that quizzical, sweet look she always did if I peeked under the cage cover: "Mommy, is that you?" She looked okay. I went to get dressed and move my desk into place so I could work.
By the time I got back to uncover her, she was looking a little odd. She seemed unbalanced as she climbed to the bottom of the cage, and she stumbled around a bit before she found the flat dish I had put at the bottom of the cage so she could forage and pecked at a few seeds. This wasn't good. I was able to reach into the cage and catch her easily, where as even two days ago, when she looked worse, I had to take her into a darkened room to be able to do it. I looked her over but nothing seemed to be wrong except that she was still thin from eating little on Friday and Saturday. When I picked her up she started screeching at me, and even when I settled her in the little carry box she still was crying out and couldn't seem to stand up straight.
I was dressed, but not to go out, and threw on pants and a shirt and shoes and got my wallet and rushed down the stairs with the box just in time to see the guys arrive to cut the lawn. Well, they were going to have to wait for their payment. I was just getting in the car when Schuyler screeched again and started kicking and thrashing her wings. I knew something bad was happening and it was happening now and stumbled out of the car and into the house. All I wanted to do was hold her.
Habit was too strong. The rule is that before I touch the bird I have to wash my hands.
And by the time I did that she was gone, her third eyelid slack.
So that is what has been happening this week. That is what happened. I finished my fourth quarter work successfully and got praised on two fronts, and had a happy luncheon and two happy dinners, and it doesn't matter because my little wild child is gone. My little hen who loved oatmeal and grapes and Zupreem fruit pellets and Mandarin oranges...who loved to travel to that "little room with a teevee" and never turned a hair, even going up that steep, steep hill to the cabin in Gatlinburg, even when her sister the dog was whining because she couldn't figure out why we did this weird vacation thing...who loved Kathie Lee and Hoda, and Ellen, and her most favorite things of all, birdies on the television and the Murray Gold arrangement of the Doctor Who theme (really—she'd hear the music and shriek happily in a volley of chirps)...who answered every night when I came home and called her name. She never sat on my finger, and after a while I didn't care. Schuyler stayed true to herself; she had her likes and her dislikes and never changed because it was expected of her.
James came home from work to keep me company. He said I needed to eat, so we went out to lunch, and then we had to go to Lowes, to buy a concrete paving square to use as a grave marker. We also had to buy grass seed because when they cut the lawn, the lawn guys got their power mower stuck in the swampy grass next to the house. Pulling it out left three big gashes in what scraggly lawn there was there. We spent about an hour tilling the soil, then wetting it down and scattering grass seed. And I cut down the nandina and we set St. Francis on a piece of paving stone so you could see him better. It kept my mind off things.
Funny, it was cloudy grey all morning, but as we came out of Lowes the dark clouds were gone and the sky was brilliant blue and white, just like Schuyler's feathers. Her way of telling us, perhaps, that she made it home.
We buried her next to Pigwidgeon, under the trees, with the birds flitting overhead eating from the feeders. It was almost sunset, but the sky was still blue and white, the breeze soft and cooling. A perfect day...an imperfect day. Life's like that.
Schuyler Hedwig Young, April 23, 2007 - September 26, 2013
"Sleep well, my little love."