Writing, with Parrots – Part 2

Four little free-flying parrots violate the first

imperative of writing: create a situation quiet,

calm, and insulated. The youngest thumps

onto my desk like a feathered rock, rips up

an eraser, fat-foots the computer keys

until the monitor spasms and seizes up. While I

huff and run a finger down the manual’s index

toward Troubleshooting, she wriggles

down my blouse, punctuates my concentration

like a possessive apostrophe.

This, as the unattached male squabbles

like a fishwife with the pair over leftover brunch.

He lights on the back of my chair, drops a sticky

tidbit of waffle onto my white shirt, scrambles

after it. The other two land in my lap and wipe

their egg-smeared beaks on my clean jeans.

A sharp-shinned hawk cruises the wild-bird feeders

at the fence line, and the parrots scream, launch,

orbit like comets trailing colorful tails. Down the hall

they wing to who knows what mischief, perhaps

a tasty snack of closet molding, curtain cord, or,

in a moment of better taste, the delicate,

Bible-like pages of Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems

and a Song of Despair.

Writing, with Parrots

I was surprised at our last meeting when Terry said she had a computer question for me. Ross, after all, is our Computer Guru, our King of Ones and Zeros (binary code).

Terry asked what to do when your parrot (in her case, an adorable cockatiel whose ancestors hail from Australia) pries the keys off your keyboard.

The question garnered more laughs than any answers we could come up with.

Nevertheless, this is what I’ve done over the many years I’ve shared my life and computers with parrots:

  •  Tried to grab the key back, only to have the parrot either drop it and bite my fingers or fly away with it and let it fall behind the desk, dresser, or washing machine.
  • Replaced the missing key with one from the number keypad. I learned to type on a typewriter and use the number keys at the top of the keyboard, so it works to have a keypad 5 become an S. I touch type, so it doesn’t matter what the key says.
  • Purchased a defunct laptop and taken all the keys off the keyboard, put them in a plastic bag, and stored them safely away in a desk drawer as spares.

Peaches, Maggie, Willie, and Sunny have taken turns played hob with my computers over the years, marching across the keyboard to type what may be psittacine wisdom but looks more confusing than Greek to me. Usually in the middle of an important document. (Do I ever type documents that are unimportant, at least to me?)

When I was living in Los Alamos and freelancing out of my home as Business Mom, things like this would appear on the monitor: Third quarter earnings /l;koj787645–thanks to Maggie, whom I had touched on the shoulders with my favorite ballpoint pen and dubbed my administrative assistant. I’m sure he put that job experience on his ré sumé when he applied for the position of Willie’s mate.

As I mentioned at the meeting, the wildest thing the birds have ever done to my computer involved Sunny’s Charleston on the keys. I have no idea what combination she fat-footed, but the results were unforgettable. The screen went blank, and when it came back on, the document had turned ninety degrees. I got a kink in my neck, trying to read it.

I tried everything I knew to get the screen back to normal, then called a computer-savvy friend in New Mexico, then called Lawanna at Two Flags Computers in Douglas. No luck.

Fortunately, a customer who happened to be in her office knew what to do: Right click anywhere on the desktop, click on Graphics Options, then Rotate, then Normal. His fortuitous presence was the only thing that kept me from having to figure out how to prop my monitor up on its side.

Writing, with parrots certainly keeps my life interesting.