Georgie’s Mind and Mine

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My dear African Grey loves to whistle and talk but unfortunately his go-to sound is the sound of the smoke detector! It sounds so much like a smoke detector that he has fooled firemen that came to the house years ago to check on the aftermath of an oven fire. In recent months —well, really, this past year, his smoke detector sound is almost constant. So here is this bird that can talk but can not tell me why he is defaulting with more regularity to this annoying sound. There have been a lot of changes in our household this last year and I realize that some of those changes don’t please him. Like a detective in an animal kingdom TV special, I have set out to solve this mystery. Well, actually, first I just set out to STOP the screaming, or banish him to far corners of the house to avoid hearing those annoying beeps. But eventually, and as slowly as a stubborn parrot, I discovered some things. I am sure that the high pitched beeps are complaints about the sounds of our Airbnb guests in the guest room. And some parrot beeps are about our special TV family time which has been seriously impacted by Bob’s work and my rehearsing of the play. And Georgie REALLY doesn’t like it when I go in and out of that guest room with piles of bedding, cleaning it in preparation for new guests. I imagine he thinks I am tending a gigantic nest box in there and he wants to be part of it. But who can really say? Some things will just remain a mystery. But if I am honest, there are also the beeps that sound his complaints that I have long understood: He doesn’t like all that AZ sun shining into his cage, he doesn’t like the black hole of darkness in that same window when I don’t pull the shade down, and he doesn’t like his dinner past six. But I have known about these preferences for a long while. I felt almost defeated trying to explain the beeps for seemingly every other hour of the day. I thought he might be happier elsewhere. And I was really sad about that. Renewed in my purpose, and not to be thwarted by —a bird, I have discovered a pattern, and something so different from the previous 17 and a half years…..Georgie seemed to like spending his morning in another smaller cage in the master bath….hmm? Because there was less sun? Because there was less morning-dog-chaos involving frisbees? Who knows?
Then I noticed, through trial and error, that mid-morning, he liked sitting on his bird stand in the living room. Really? His nighttime bird-stand when no TV was on? Ok. No beeps or few beeps until about mid-afternoon when he finally seems happy to return to his regular and large cage by the now less sunny window. It isn’t perfect. But it is much better. He’s talking more and beeping less. Why was I surprised that the life-changing events that have occurred this past year wouldn’t also affect this sensitive soul? Truth be told if my body could register a stress sound, I am sure it would manifest as frequently as Georgie’s beeps. Being calm, trying to figure out what’s going on with Georgie has also pointed me to do the same for myself, helping me identify my own stress-ers. A friend said I handled my firing a year ago “with grace and dignity” but my near meltdown over the clutter on my kitchen island or the chaos in my bedroom closet would be described as anything but graceful and dignified. High pitched smoke detector beeps were going off in my head. As our new routine is establishing itself, slowly calm is returning, the high pitches are lessening and peace is replacing upset—in Georgie and in me.

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