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The five ducklings I acquired this spring have become a handsome, shiny flock of young ducks, and have been joined by a completely superfluous pigeon-size bantam drake. I got them a bigger pool today, and while its sides look taller at home than they did at the hardware store, it's only breast height on them, so they should be able to get in and out. I just put them away for the night and it looks like they finally managed, but it took them hours.

Watching a flock of ducks sadly stare at a tub of water, trying to figure out how to climb into it, was almost as entertaining as watching them eat plums.
summer_jackel: (Coba ^_^)
Merry merry and all of that.

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That's the pretty one. The others are of the dogs. )
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Does anyone know what these adorable little birds are?

cut for the cute! )
summer_jackel: (Default)
May all of you have a beautiful Autumnal Equinox.

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Some animals this week )
summer_jackel: (Coba ^_^)
I was certified for scuba diving with four wonderful friends in Monterey this weekend, and it was wonderful. I have coveted the ability to dive since that I learned what it was (I remember the moment; I was pretty young, and my mother very firmly emphasized how dangerous it was). As an adult, the equipment and perceived difficulty and expense in gaining the skill intimidated me, and despite my obsession with marine life and looking for it in the wild (in tidepools, up until now), I don't know that I'd have done it if friends hadn't had the idea and poked me. How fortunate I am.

It turns out that the equipment is relatively straightforward once one understands its use, its danger is not great if one takes proper care, and that obtaining certification was quite manageable. It's hard to explain how just delighted I am to have had this experience.

On our second dive, while hanging around under about 20 feet of water, holding onto a rope anchored in the sandy bottom of Monterey Bay and taking turns doing exercises, I saw a wild octopus. It was tiny, and the color of sand. It held very still, tentacles pulled in close and curled slightly upwards. I wouldn't have seen it if one of my companions had not pointed it out, and it quickly took its chance to disappear down one of the many tiny burrows that lines the seafloor. It was enchanting and beautiful. I hardly expected to achieve one of my life ambitions in wildlife-watching on my first weekend of diving.

So yeah, I want to do that lots more.

I managed to see a lot for relatively short dives in which our time was mostly spent doing the necessary certification exercises. (I hope that my mask never again has reason to be all the way off under water; it was a very sensible thing for us to learn how to deal with, but man, I hated that). Wild otters came very close on both days, hoping that our float contained abalone. Other sealife I spotted included a beautiful fish that I am reasonably certain (after a lot of time spent with my fish book and google) a black perch, a sculpin of some kind, a couple of truly enormous giant stars and sea cucumbers. There were oodles of bat stars everywhere, and I saw one gorgeous sunflower star. I have a very healthy respect for those; I have met them in tidepools, and they are very fast and inquisitive if you offer to touch one. I will not be offering to touch one the size of my face any time soon.

There was a glorious garden of tube-dwelling anemones, some with beautiful black tentacles, and cute little strawberry anemones.

A bunch of adorable juvenile sanddabs scuttled around on the sandy bottom, and a diving cormorant, who wasn't in the least bit concerned about us and practically brushed against us as it dove past. (That photo may not be the same species of cormorant, but you get the idea).

It was amazing and I loved it.
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Some pictures from the last couple of days.

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cats, dogs, beach dogs, wildlife )
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It's been a busy week in the best way. I'm now 35 (as of the 31st). I'm loved by some wonderful people, and am very happy and grateful for that.

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Check out the cake that [livejournal.com profile] kynekh_amagire made me. It is a rainbow catfish cake! The woman has SKILLZ, ok?

An assortment of various photos: cake, cats, beachdogs, alien dinosaur people and garden brags. )
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I showered, just now, with two African parrots.
The grey one makes his "running water" sound;
it means something like "a little to the left" or
"stop hogging the spray, you."
The little greenish one is quietly blissful.
I am glad that there are no
pinfeathers on my face, it must be unpleasant
but warm water is nice for all of us.
summer_jackel: (Default)
I have the day off and have spent the morning pedaling the trainer. Yesterday's ride was difficult and intense, but yielded ideal results in terms of mental space. This morning, as I pedal up, I alternate between 'ow! ow! legs hurt! Why are you on a bike now?!' and an overall sense of floating well being. There are animals here to distract me. They do things like this:

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Adventures of Tiger and jays )
summer_jackel: (Default)
I've come home late after dance class and am checking my email. There is a grey parrot on my right knee and a wolfdog pressed closely against my left. Jez holds her nose so tightly against my leg as I pet her face that it squishes upward and she has trouble breathing; this cannot possibly be comfortable, yet it has been her way all of her life, so who am I to judge? As I pet her, she will wrap one long paw over my wrist and meet me with a soft gaze, which is also a preference I only partly understand and don't question, so long as the paw is reasonably clean.

Nikola is in an affectionate mood and would like his face pet extensively; when I stop, he turns his head sideways, holds it in his claw and stares at me meaningfully with a half-lidded eye. When I am petting him particularly well, the pale skin around his eye colors delicately in a parrot blush. Jez has wandered off to be replaced by Bliss' long snout; when the dog gets too close, Nickola tells him to "go lay down" or "no." I move him away as directed, maintaining the requested boundary; Bliss is, well, blissfully unaware, as he usually is where his snout is concerned.

I'm tired and, as is often the case, a little lonely and somewhat sad. Before I sleep, I will give the animals I live with some touch and affection to the tastes and preference of each, and in so doing, my need for those things will also be met. This is not the only reason I keep them, but that's part of it---that many of our simple daily interactions are so kind, so physically affectionate, so honest and so essentially similar. That we are all very diverse animals is perhaps too obvious to state; the similarities, the suggestion of a universality of need, interests me.

Bird Spam

Feb. 25th, 2011 05:12 pm
summer_jackel: (Default)
There is a grey African parrot in my living room. I am pedaling hard and listening to music as well as to the parrot, who is whistling excitedly. It's subtle but, I believe, unmistakable; the bird is attempting to match tone and beat to the music. He isn't very good at it, but he's getting enough of it right to convince me that I'm not imagining things. He takes long breaks to listen and is quiet when he's working on it, more confident when he has it right. Adorable. Nicholas Greybird, who I'll be calling "Nikola" in the future due to preexisting associations with "Nicki," is eleven years old; I wonder how good he'll be at whistling along with music when he's in his thirties?

pictures of birds )
summer_jackel: (Default)
When I got home today, Mr. Greybird was happy to see me, hopped right onto my hand and wanted pettings. I'm so touched. I introduced him to his play area and cage in my bedroom (essential to maintain household harmony; most of the sounds he's produced so far aren't any more obnoxious than my little birds', but Nicki isn't quiet, and he can project). He wasn't nervous or hesitant at all; he's hanging out on the tree, watching me ride now. What a sweetie.

Kyn called me this evening, and we both happened to be in the room with birds. Nicki and Ninja started whistling at each other over our conversation; it was hilarious. It is probably for the best that I'm seeing someone who also keeps parrots...

Gavin is regrowing breast feathers, which makes me happy. He still Wants Kaya More Than Anything. Kaya is seeming a little jealous and a bit needier than usual, so I'm giving her extra attention and taking care to handle her before I take Nicki out. None of the other pets seem to care, although of course the dogs immediately added Nicki's cage to their list of areas to check regularly. The area that skirts my birdcages is spotless. This is not because my parrots eat neatly.

Coba and I did a practice obedience trial, and he did very well! We have a real one next month, and I hope we pass it.

I finished a couple more pages of Bone Shard, which you can see here and here. I'm rather pleased at the coincidence that had me finsihing the pages which introduce Travis's Scottish Deerhound, Ghost, on the same weekend that a gorgeous Deerhound bitch took Best in Show at Westminster, for the first time ever. One of my favorite breeds taking BIS is not something that happens much!
summer_jackel: (Default)
Two days ago, this splendid creature came to live with me.

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I have a fluffy grey valentine.

Meet Nicki! )
summer_jackel: (Default)
I'm very pleased; Gavin's shiny new cage arrived today. It's a nice, roomy yet space-efficient model that appears to be the favorite of nearly everyone in my extended social sphere who keeps small parrots, and I am hoping that it, coupled with some other impending life changes, will rock his little birdy mind enough to knock him out of the hormonal haze a bit. There's hope; that sometimes works. He's in that 4-5 year age range where parrots more or less his size tend to enter actual sexual maturity, and (Sally Blanchard, parrot guru, reassures us) his hormonal behavior should level out a bit in a couple of years. I hope so. I REALLY HATE IT when Gavin picks his feathers out. Plucking is my least favorite parrot sin, though of course I might not say that if he was a biter or a screamer instead.

He's plucked a bare spot in the middle of his chest, for the first time in two years (WAUGH!!!!), but he has left alone the contour that grew back in that spot. Hopefully, that's a good sign. Bird.

I was really pleased to see that Gav's swanky cage is very nearly the same medium white-grey color that Kaya's is. The two will look good next to each other and be as attractive an addition to the decor that something as innately butt-ugly as a birdcage possibly can be. There's no real good solution; dark/cold greys are just too suggestive of jail cells, black is too visually harsh juxtoposed upon a small bird (though it may be the best option for a big one imho), pure white is too stark and hospital-y, green looks like it's trying too hard to pretend it isn't an ugly birdcage and draws attention to its ugliness while clashing with everything, even the bird, and blue just looks dorky.

Yes, you can all laugh at me for thinking about the harmony of my decor. My home is arranged, after all, in NorCal Hippie Modern, with tasteful accents of Coyote Den, featuring mismatched, scavenged couch-pillow dog beds, various rocks, bones and assorted geeky kitsch disarrayed on shelves and sills, and sufficient duff on the floor to always remind one of the redwood forest surrounds.


...Also, I painted Bliss, so have some art:

http://www.furaffinity.net/view/5236399/

Bitty jaybirds. I don't usually paint freehand, without any sketch, and I like how these came out anyway:
http://www.furaffinity.net/view/5236357
http://www.furaffinity.net/view/5236324

The scanner mangled it, of course, but I painted Bliss.
summer_jackel: (Default)
Today was warm and pretty and I went to the park in sunny Sebastopol to take advantage of it. The trail there was still too muddy to be fun, but we got some dog park time in and I did some training on the lawn. I'm planning on entering Coba in an obedience show next month; my goal for entering another conformation ring is a show in September. It was a good session; his attitude is great and he's improving in several places. I would like him to be cleaner on his about turns and sometimes his finish looks sloppy, but his stays are much better now. Hopes that he'll get points in Novice A soon are reasonable.

I figured out how I'm going to train his conformation gaiting, which is the big issue---Coba likes to work very close to my heel, which is fine for obedience. For conformation, he must move in an animated, precise trot, not breaking into a gallop, and do so at arm's length. (This is so that the judge's view of the dog's gait is unhampered). So, I need to teach him that. The command I'm using is 'gait' and what I'm doing is pretty simple; holding the treat in the extended left hand and prompting his focus to that hand instead of my face. Without boinging, please. Ideally, I will gain the ability to hold him at the proper gait with MY gait while I ask for this this; Coba's ability to follow this move is going to be directly proportional to my ability to lead it, as it were. We should have it well enough by September. I hope.

I got the following shot of the shirty little cupcake beast, and while its quality as a picture is embarrassing, it shows Coba's profile really well. Note that he's not properly stacked, so his topline isn't right; for one thing, he's standing on uneven ground. But his head planes look nice; for those inclined to canine geekery, the geometry of a sheltie's head requires the lines of topskull and muzzle to be straight and parallel to each other, separated by a small and gentle but distinct stop (the bit of a dog's face where muzzle meets head). Collies, fwiw, also have the parallel lines, but they have more of a gradual "rolling" stop. Coba also has his ears up in the ideal position, by which you all know that I took dozens of these pictures and this was the only one that got it, because the beast just will not hold his ears.

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Still: Coba totally grew into his promise and I need to get him in the ring now.

conure, pretty sunny day, doggies )
summer_jackel: (Default)
I am just back from Furcon and had a great time...I'm still completely con-crashed, of course, especially since I stopped for my weekly dance lessons on the way home from the con, just to make sure that I was absolutely exhausted, not just a little exhausted.

It was a really fantastic convention, though. Speaking of dancing:



[livejournal.com profile] corpsefairy and I had a lot of fun foxtrotting in the fursuit dance competition, although we'd have been better if we had more opportunity to practice our routine. (I'm the lead in the gold leopard mask; she's the follow in the silver leopard. The heads will be better next year, too; I ran out of time and had to rush them). I giggle at the commentary to the video that claims we were "choreographed perfectly," though of course I'm happy that we were appreciated. What I led on stage was only roughly approximate to the routine we'd planned, partly because we had more stage than we were expecting and partly due to leader error. I was literally weak-kneed with stage fright, but I'm pleased to see on the vid that I don't look nearly as bad as I was afraid I looked. I'm fully aware of every glaring flaw in my performance there of course, but hey, it's a recognizable foxtrot.

I just began silver level lessons (omg omg how did that happen??), so next year's performance may be a silver foxtrot. If it isn't a Quickstep.

I have to say that it was extremely amusing to be the only slow ballroom dance in a show full of techno acts---some of which were jaw-droppingly amazing and all of which were quite good, but variety is nice. I'm making it a bit of a personal goal to encourage more partner dancing in the fandom, and to that end [livejournal.com profile] corpsefairy and I taught a waltz lesson on Saturday. I have never taught dance before, so let's just say that I now have a greater appreciation for my own teachers. Still, the class was really fun, we had good attendance and people were totally waltzing at the end! We will be doing all of this again next year, only hopefully with more preparation, more space and a better floor.

I did quite well in the art show and adequately at the dealer table, especially given that I had no real table decoration, prints to sell etc. and have not been a terribly active artist, other than my comic, for a couple of years. It has been a very hard couple of years, but I am pleased to say, quietly, that I am doing better now and really want to make a point of creating more art in 2011.

It was great seeing everyone I saw; it is a wonderful pleasure to spend time with all of you furry folks. FC is definitely a highlight of my year.

I also want to specially thank everyone who came to me offering support regarding [livejournal.com profile] eclipsegryph's cockatiel situation. It was gratifying and touching to have so many people care about this. If you don't already know, we won the case and all three birds are now safely home. I haven't written about this since I took the case; as a lawyer, I owe a duty of confidentiality that does not permit discussing such matters in public fora. However, my client and [livejournal.com profile] kynekh_amagire have made the story public here and in their journals, which I find personally gratifying since this is a case deserving of public interest and concern. So here's my own closure to the matter (including no confidential information and nothing that isn't discussed in much greater detail elsewhere), as a pet owner who once supported Mickaboo and never will again.

This situation should be of great concern to anyone with an interest in pets and pet rescue. Mickaboo's behavior was deplorable and appalling throughout the whole ordeal, and though justice did in fact prevail in the end, a pet owner shouldn't have to fight a corrupt rescue in order to reclaim animals fraudulently surrendered to it by an angry spouse. Some of Mickaboo's volunteers are trying to do good things, but its administration is corrupt and the organization deserves no tolerance or support. Behavior like this harms the birds in Mickaboo's care and the credibility and value of private animal rescue in general.

I have decided to adopt another green cheeked conure some time this spring (more detail about that later) and, wherever I end up getting him, I absolutely will not be adopting from Mickaboo. I urge everyone to continue to boycott the organization and its supporters---but be happy; we won. It's a brand new year, and hopefully this one will be even better than the last.
summer_jackel: (angry wolf)
This is largely reposted from [livejournal.com profile] corpsefairy's journal. She and I sent this letter a couple of days ago, and we are asking that those of you interested in acting on behalf of [livejournal.com profile] eclipsegryph and his three cockatiels send copies or similar letters.

To the Board of Directors of Peninsula Peace and Justice,

We would like to bring an issue to your attention regarding one of the vendors at your upcoming Holiday Craft Fair. We have deep concerns about the ethics of Mickaboo, who are holding three cockatiels belonging to James Spaid.

The birds were joint property of James and Cody Spaid, who are now divorcing. They had verbally agreed that Mr. Spaid would keep them, but Ms. Spaid surrendered the birds to Mickaboo without Mr. Spaid's knowledge or consent. Mickaboo has refused to return them despite the fact that Mr. Spaid has provided them with proof of ownership, including vet records and written statements of the birds' previous owners. Mickaboo has refused to work with Mr. Spaid to resolve this situation, instead forcing him to join it in a divorce suit and expend enormous legal fees to regain custody of his pets.

One of the birds is elderly and all three have special medical needs. Recent legal communications revealed that one of the cockatiels is gravely ill with cancer, but Mickaboo has not allowed Mr. Spaid to see her, nor have they provided much information about the health of his beloved birds.

As parrot owners and firm believers in social justice, we believe that Mickaboo is an unethical organization and it should not be supported unless it dramatically changes its policies and returns Aki, Aya, and Alcyone to their home. We are deeply concerned about this issue. As a Palo Alto resident who has worked with other pet rescues, I am shocked at how Mickaboo has handled this situation.

We ask that Mickaboo be removed from your list of organizations represented at your upcoming craft fair. Thank you very much for your attention in this matter.

Sincerely,

[name]

The relevant email address is board@peaceandjustice.org. Their website is here. Background on this situation can be found here and here. Perhaps the worst of it is that one of the birds, Aya according to Mickaboo, has recently been diagnosed with cancer and undergone very dangerous surgery. At least Mickaboo treated her, but she remains away from her home and her person. These little birds really need to come home.

Letters to Mickaboo itself might not be a bad idea, either, although they've made it clear that they are going to hang onto these poor birds until the court orders them to do so---which it will, but it may take an unknown amount of time to do so. The legal system works slowly, and Aya may not have much time. Many of Mickaboo's volunteers are ethical people, it's apparently just some of them and the administration that is corrupt. In my opinion, the more public outcry Mickaboo hears about its misdeeds, the more likely someone within it is to actually listen. Their address is mail@mickaboo.org
summer_jackel: (Default)
So, I am freshly returned from a week solo backpacking in the Ansel Adams portion of the Sierras. (well, solo save for my merles). It was glorious and I needed it a lot; this summer has certainly posed its challenges both emotionally and financially, and I just haven't been able to get away before now. Still, there's something incredibly special about being in the mountains in fall. I am so lucky.

Also glad to be back. Miz Kaya is licking the inside of my ear and making happy bird chirring noises at me, and as she is being gentle with her wickedly sharp parrot beak, I'm letting her for the time being. Unfortunately, Gavin plucked all of the damned contour feathers on his breast out, since he wasn't allowed out of his cage in my absence. I need to figure out something else to do with them when I'm away.

I brought y'all back photos! Lots of them; I will probably cut this into a few posts.

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First couple of days of pictures )
summer_jackel: (angry wolf)
I'd really hoped that the situation described below would have resolved before now, but it hasn't, and I would like to bring as much attention to this problem as possible.

Many of you on my friends-list are already familiar with this sad situation, but very briefly: During the course of their divorce, [livejournal.com profile] genmaicha surrendered three cockatiels belonging to [livejournal.com profile] eclipsegryph and herself to Mickaboo, the local parrot rescue, despite the fact that they had agreed that James, who loves and wants the birds, would keep them. Mickaboo is refusing to return the cockatiels to James, their rightful home and distraught owner---even in the face of vet records for the birds in his name and signed statements from two of the birds' former owners that they had given the cockatiels to Cody and James as a married couple. Under CA law, the birds are community property.

That's right---it's the sadly common scenario of one spouse disposing of the other's beloved pets to hurt him; Cody doesn't want the birds and James is very attached, so this is not a case of two spouses fighting over pets. Mickaboo has indicated that it won't return James' birds without a long, costly legal fight, and is now joined in the divorce. Mickaboo's responses to the press have been shockingly callous and unprofessional.

More complete details are to be found on this parrot_lovers community post.

The story has also been submitted to Boing Boing, which sees a lot of traffic; a posting there might really help this cause. Submissions are voted onto the site, so please take a moment to cast your vote at the boingbong submiterrator, here.

There is also a facebook page devoted to this issue.

I am horrified that an overcrowded bird rescue would keep a person's beloved pets from him in the face of a fraudulent surrender and clear evidence of legal ownership by a home who badly wants them back. I am upset that I ever supported Mickaboo. I ask that if you are a Mickaboo volunteer, please apply pressure from within for the return of Aki, Aya and Alcyone. Otherwise, please do not support Mickaboo in any way until this situation is resolved.

Photopost

Aug. 9th, 2010 03:41 pm
summer_jackel: (Default)
I haven't done a photopost in awhile, I realize. Kyn and I went to the beach this Saturday, it was lovely, and there were photos taken. I also have some neat bird shots I never posted from a walk last month.

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Dogs, birds, wild things )

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