B Is for Pets

This is a long one, so hold onto your hat!

Pets can be a real blessing in our lives. They bring us joy, companionship, and sometimes even protection and assistance with our tasks. Sometimes, though, they can be a pain in the posterior, like the neighbor’s dog barking at 2am or the cat that scratches up the furniture.

My family has had a number of different kinds of pets: dogs (Amber, Tiffany, Daphne, Nosey, Belle, Sasha, 2 Dalmatians I don’t remember the names of, Katie, Chanel, and Ginger), 3 rabbits (Midget, Phydeaux, and Kitty), a guinea pig, a crawdad, Renfield the lizard, and an assortment of pet stuffed animals.

For myself, though, I’ve only had one dog, and that only briefly. He made me sneeze brain cells and he upset my bird, so he happily went to another home where the kids there will have a grand time with him. The rest of my pets have been birds. That’s why B is for Pets.

I have had very many birds, and although I would like to have very many more, I may be on my last one … unless I can convince her that other birds are not out to steal her territory.

My first birds were a pair of cockatiels, Sijon and Lockheed. Sijon was a gray cockatiel, and Lockheed’s pictured below (I don’t have a pic of Sijon). Sijon was deadly serious. He could wolf-whistle, which he did often. My duty was to answer him exactly as he whistled, or he repeated the whistle until I “got it right” and sometimes he hissed when I was “wrong.”



For the longest time, I thought Lockheed was a dude, but then “he” laid an egg and solved that bit of confusion. Lockheed is the source of my online gaming moniker “GeriatricTiel.” She lived to a very old-for-cockatiels age of 30. She was the sweetest little bird, the only one I could trust with kids. Whether or not I could trust the kids with her was another matter. Her favorite hobby? Making spitballs out of whatever paper she could get her beak on.

My next bird was a cockatiel named Spot. She was a graduation present from some friends. She would have been excellent at Avian X-Games. That bird was either ADHD or an adrenalin junkie. She would walk to the edge of the cage and step off … and only start flapping halfway to the floor. When I put her back on top the cage, she’d do it again. She would also unload my purse for me, taking everything out one object at a time. I guess she was looking for a nest hole and had to get my junk out of the way.



Freebie, too, was a cockatiel. He was, as his name implies, free! I was working at a pet store when he arrived with injured feet. The manager was convinced the bird had gangrene and was going to have the vet put the bird down. I asked if I could purchase the bird at cost and take him to my own vet. The manager just gave me the bird with the caveat “When that bird dies, I don’t want to hear about it.” I called my vet, who had an opening that evening, and I brought the little ball of yellow fluff in. The green gunk on his feet? Bird poo. Yes, his feet were a bit cut up from the cage mesh, and he was missing toenails, but he lived on for many years and regaled me with “Good morning!” no matter what time of day it was.



Then came the white-capped pionus, Johnny. He worked with me at the pet store until the pet store got tired of him not selling. The breeder wouldn’t take him back because he was too old, so I bought the bird for just over cost. Johnny was a terrific bird. He was goofy, chatty, and at times even cuddly. He loved his jalapeños, seeds and all. The most interesting thing about this bird was how defensive he got. On a couple occasions he flew off my hand or shoulder and went after someone who showed some aggressive body language.

Johnny B. Good

Johnny B. Good

Another pionus, a Dusky Pionus this time, came into my world. He was a fledgling. Tiercel was a sweetheart … until he came of age. Then he became a sharkbeak. I tried several ways to calm him down, but he wasn’t having any of it. In the end, I rehomed him with someone else, and he’s doing much better there.

Tiercel (Picture was taken by the breeder)

Tiercel (Picture was taken by the breeder)

That brings me to my current goofball. Masika (formerly named Rebel) is a Timneh African Grey. She’s a rescue baby with a rough past, and so she isn’t exactly hand-tame at this point. We’re working on it, though, and she has made terrific progress, especially now that she is the only bird.

Masika D. Greyt: Silly Bird on the Loose!

Masika D. Greyt: Silly Bird on the Loose!

Masika’s breed is known for their phenomenal talking ability, but she rarely says a word. She can say “Hello” or “Wow” or “NOOOOO” in several different pitches, and I’ve been told that she says “Howdy, pilgrim.” I’ve actually heard her bust loose with a “Hello, baby!” She doesn’t talk much, and I think that might have contributed to or resulted from her poor treatment as a younger bird.

She’s quite the whistler and sound effect queen, though. In addition to door clicks, car key fob beeps, and the smoke alarm, she can whistle the first few bars of a couple tunes, namely the musical scales (both upward and downward), the Airwolf opening theme, the characteristic whistle of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and even a wee bit of Doctor Who. Imitations are within her range, too. She does a small dog yipe, doves, cockatiels, and owls. She’s rather shy, though, and will not perform on command. I can’t even manage to record her because she stops being cute and amusing if she thinks I’m recording anything. Even if I hide the recorder, she seems to know and will drastically reduce or stop her chirps.

We – being me and her previous owners who rehomed her with me when they retired – think she’s 30 or so, if we’re doing our math correctly and our assumptions about how long she spent in the dark, bug- and rat-infested warehouse are correct. I am Owner #4 in her world, and if it’s up to me, she’ll only go to Owner #5 if I die before she does. Greys can live to be 80 or more, so it’s possible.

Because she is so terribly territorial, I cannot get another pet, avian or otherwise, at least until I tame her down a bit more. I had Freebie, Lockheed, and Tiercel when she came to me, and I had to take drastic measures to keep her away from them or she became irritable and went into attack posturing if she saw or even heard the other birds, and when I had the pup for a couple days, she was a perpetual grouch.

She’s a cute little goofball, and I can adapt to her idiosyncrasies while I work with her.  We’re making progress! When I first got her, changing her food and water caused full-on panic. These days, she’ll actually step onto the back of my hand and go for a ride … for at least a few inches before she hops off. It doesn’t sound like much, but slow but sure wins the race.

For next time, here’s your prompt: C is for Map

Book Spotlight: Shadow on the Sea by Etta Jean, Part 2

Today, Etta Jean shares some other information with us about herself and the book…

1. Did you come across any surprises writing this?

Maitena, the main character, was full of them. I never know what will come out of that girl’s mouth next! I would type something and then just sit there and stare at it for a moment before moving on. She gets away with so much. Hehe.

2. What was the best part about writing the story?

I love the angelic race I created. I always love the idea of soul mates (this should not be news to anyone) but being able to take it just a step further, to where you have these beings that live knowing they will look into someone’s eyes and be completed . . . it’s really wonderful. There’s a double-edged sword to it, though. I won’t say what. You’ll have to read to find out!

3. Do you have plans for a sequel?

Maaaaaaaybe. In all seriousness, I would like to visit my world of Lightlings again, but this story stands entirely on its own without any loose threads.

4. What constitutes a “good story?”

A story that engages a reader from beginning to end, that makes someone want to go back again and again.

5. Which Muppet do you most resemble?

I would have to say I most resemble Kermit the Frog because all too often do I find myself playing the straight man to my crazy friends. I feel for that frog, I really do.

6. What’s your favorite place?

My hometown. Sacramento is my favorite place to be, and always feels so good to come home to. I can’t see the city for the trees from the freeway, and the buildings don’t give me claustrophobia. (I’m looking at you, San Francisco.)

7. What’s your favorite TV show?

Mythbusters! I’ll watch any episode on TV, and I watch my iTunes collection frequently and repeatedly. I could probably start quoting specific episodes, really.

8. Do you have any critters?

I have four cats. Pirate Princess Patches, Nighthawk, Sebastian, and my little Charlie.

Check out Shadow on the Sea!

Shadow on the Sea cover

Book Spotlight: Shadow on the Sea by Etta Jean, Part 1

Shadow on the Sea is a romantic fantasy for ages 18+.

Check out the author’s description of the book…

The world of Ceres has been ruled for millennia by the winged race known as Lightlings. When the Chalice Kingdom celebrates the birth of the next crown princess, they have no idea just what events have been set into motion. The beautiful angel has a special, shadowy, gift, and only by learning to control it will she be able to claim the lover rightfully hers by destiny, and save her world from an evil bent on consuming them all.

Shadow on the Sea cover

A Is for Cartoon

Cartoons can be fun. Puns, sight gags, general all around wackiness, and sometimes, yes sometimes, some very profound thoughts come from cartoons. I haven’t watched many of the recent ones, but when I need a cartoon or two, I jump over to YouTube and load up some of my favorites: Histeria, Looney Tunes, and the one I enjoy the most, Animaniacs.

Animaniacs is why A is for Cartoon. Three siblings have a variety of adventures, usually involving terrific puns and plays on words. There isn’t an actual plotline to the series as a whole, but often specific episodes tell their own story. Here are a couple of my favorite ones, well, the shorter of my favorites. I enjoyed a bunch of the ones that were as long as the time slot allowed.

For the next time, remember, B is for Pets.

On Mutated Alphabet Blogging: An Introduction

Many of my blog-writing pals have done a series of blogs in which each article starts with the next letter of the alphabet. Sounds a little hokey, but hey, you have a pattern to follow for half a year’s worth of blog entries, so, why not?

Coming up with ideas to hold forth about can be tough, or at least coming up with interesting ideas to hold forth about can be tough. I can grouch, ponder, and suggest things all day, but that might not be at all interesting to the rest of the world. Alphabet blogging solves that problem for a while, so I thought I’d go for it, but because I can be a little different, I decided to try something a little … odd.

During my teaching adventures, I often had to attend training seminars on pedagogy. I taught 4th grade for most of that career, so that put me in the elementary crowd. The reading-based classes often spent more quality time on the lower grade levels because that’s where the bulk of the reading issues start rearing their ugly heads.

In one of the classes, the instructor introduced us to a different kind of alphabet book:  Q is for Duck, by Mary Elting.  In this book, the teacher reads the prompt, such as A is for Zoo. Then there’s a page that shows a picture of why A might stand for Zoo. The next page explains why. In this case, you find animals at the zoo.

(c) 2015 Aplonid // Downloaded from Flickr Creative Commons on 4/23/15 and used unchanged

(c) 2015 Aplonid // Downloaded from Flickr Creative Commons on 4/23/15 and used unchanged

SO … that’s the weird mutation I’m going to use. Not to worry, as there are other things that come up (like book reviews, spotlights, and other interesting stuff), I may sneak a blog post in mid-week, but the Sunday blog will be the Mutated Alphabet Blog.

At the end of each blog, I’ll give you the prompt from the next one. If you want to play, try to figure out why that letter goes with that word. In the next blog, you’ll find out the answer. Got it?

Here’s the prompt for next time:  A is for Cartoon. Why do you think Cartoon goes with A?

On Muses

Snead State Community College and Tyward Books, in conjunction with PDMI Publishing, LLC, are proud to present a very special workshop with producer/screenwriter/author Joel Eisenberg. Join us on June 15, 2015 at the Fielder Auditorium for “Catching Your Muse: How To Claim Your Artistic Spirit.”

In addition to numerous film and television projects, Eisenberg is the co-author of the eight-part epic fantasy series,”The Chronicles of Ara”. The first volume, “Creation,” launched March 15, 2015 at a standing-room-only event at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, California. Eisenberg and his co-author Stephen Hillard are presently developing a television project based on this series.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to learn how to catch your creative muse, with all the unique insights and life experiences that only an entertainment industry insider like Joel Eisenberg can present to you. If you’ve ever dreamed of bringing your creations to life on the printed page or on screens small and large, this is your golden opportunity to learn from an experienced master of creative craft. We at PDMI Publishing, LLC can’t wait to see you there!

“Catching The Muse” (Monday, June 15th) is Joel Eisenberg’s seminar at Snead State Community College (Boaz, AL)

“Unleashing The Muse” (Tuesday, June 16th) is the multi-author signing event, being held at Tyward Books. Joel will be signing his books at this event.

Registration link for Joel’s Catching The Muse seminar:

Registration link for the Unleashing The Muse book signing event:

On Job Hunting Ads

Looking for a job can be a disappointing drain on the mental resources. First, you have to prepare a resume. That’s not so bad if you don’t mind tooting your own horn. For those of us who are more reserved, extolling our own virtues is about as enjoyable as taking a nap on a fire ant bed.

If we survive that, next comes sorting through a few gazillion job ads on a vain quest to find something we not only could do but also qualify for. (Want to do is a nice bonus, but not always possible).

This tedious task is broken up by some occasional gems, those rare ads that are unintentionally humorous, like the job ad for a corporate trainer that not only required applicants to lift 72 pounds, but to pick up those 72 pounds from dirt level to shoulder height. Take that, OSHA. 50 pounds is the limit for one person to lift without assistance? Pfff … the ad might as well have said “100-pound women need not apply.”

Other companies play it a little safer, like the instructional designer who might need to lift 49 pounds. (OSHA says 50, but they decided to stay with 49). Play it safe!

Some get very detailed, like the government ecology job that said I would have to pick up 50 pounds then carry it up a narrow flight of external stairs down a 60-foot, box-cluttered hallway to a small room in the back of a building. Wow-Uphill, both ways, through waist-deep snow in bare feet, right?

Not all of the ads have been funny for lifting requirements. There was one for a copyeditor written in texting shorthand. If that’s their idea of “professional,” I’ll pass.

Job hunting is no fun, but from time to time, you can find one of these goofy ones. When you do, take a break those from dull, dry descriptions, and have a good giggle, but not for too long. You still have more ads to sort through.

(c) 2012 Kate Hiscock // Downloaded on 3/13/15 and used unchanged from Flickr Creative Commons

(c) 2012 Kate Hiscock // Downloaded on 3/13/15 and used unchanged from Flickr Creative Commons