Fostering Manu

The Refuge is undergoing some construction to add more room for residents, have more space to play, and a quarantine room. But until it is complete, space is very tight.

Several of us decided to foster parrots for the duration of construction.

I share a house with my mother, a dog, a cat and Kiwi the Grey. I also travel pretty regularly. So I gave as much consideration to this decision as if I were going to permanently adopt. And brought home Manu.

It is kind of a weird choice because I can’t really handle him. He is not friendly and apparently prefers men. He and I have had a “don’t touch me and I won’t touch you” relationship. So this isn’t the most fun creature I could have brought home. But he is unbelievably low maintenance.

He doesn’t make a mess with his food. He doesn’t have any apparent emotional issues. He doesn’t fly (yet) so when he comes out to play, he just wants to hang out on top of his cage with some foot toys and a snack. He just refuses to be touched.

After two months in my house, he will step up if he has a really good reason. Like an almond. Or “get me away from that silly grey parrot”. He lets me spray him with a mister so that he gets a bath. He is learning to use foraging toys.

I can’t keep him, because he and Kiwi really don’t get on. But I am so happy to know that he is extremely adoptable once the right family comes along.

Can’t Even Come Up With a Title for This

I am a member of Best Friends Animal Society and their newletter had a link to this picture. I can convince Kiwi the Grey to go in the sink. But this is ridiculous – so I had to share.

Amazon Stalking

At the Library last night, I went through three boxes of books. Seven were worth listing, and one might be worth $125, which is huge.

On two occassions, a book I listed on a Thursday at the Library sold before I even got home. One was a Christian-themed sex manual and last week there was a style guide. But I keep stalking the web site and we aren’t doing quite so well.

However, we have a notepad on the desk to leave each other notes, and the director left one saying that the in-store sales were up $100 last week from the week before. And that the week before was up $100 from the week before that.

Makes sense, with all of the snow. We were actually closed for three days that I can recall. So I am going to take this note as a sign of Spring.

Star Wars Stories


I added the Star Wars Videos down the side because I like the feature. Then I decided that it really isn’t part of my “juggling work, school and volunteering” theme.

I don’t care. But I guess I should include some Star Wars stories:

My family does not have the same taste in anything, but the Star Wars movies we all loved. (And Queen is the only band we all like, but that is a different story). I am not so geeky that I have read all of the novels, or go to conventions, or try to verify the scientific blahblahblah. But I am this geeky:

The picture above was drawn by the young son of a co-worker. He e-mailed it over with no explanation and said:

Him: Can you identify this?
Me: That is Yoda fighting the Emperor at the end of Episode III.
Him: Actually,, it is Yoda fighting Darth Vader, but that is close enough.
Me: Darth Vader never fought Yoda.
Him: I know.
Me: Oh. So you mean..he used his imagination or something?

Just to tell another story and out my brother, Scott – one summer when I was in college, John Williams was conducting the CSO at the Ravinia Festival. All of my friends were going and in a moment of extreme fraternal magnanimity, I invited Scott. He was 15 or 16 at the time, and tickets for student were free. We were sitting on our blanket playing cards when my friend Noah (and you have to picture it):

Turned a paper plate upside down and placed a marshmallow on it, randomly off-center. In his other hand, he had a pretzel stick. He said, “OK – what is this?” and dropped the pretzel stick onto the upside down paper plate. My brother did not blink:

Scott: It is Luke Skywalker falling from the bottom of Cloud city onto the Millennium Falcon at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

Noah: OK, you’re in.

On My Way Home

I got an e-mail yesterday at work from Rich, the director of the Refuge. He is a cop and was on duty for 36 hours straight, so he asked me to stop by the Refuge – which is actually his house – to shut the place down for the night.

Mostly, this involves making sure everyone is in their place, no one is bleeding (which can happen if a feather breaks awkwardly, or the bird plucks its feathers) and cover them up for the night.

I have told Rich that he should ask for help more often. He is worried about asking to much of volunteers. So when he actually asks, I do my best to be responsive. But yesterday, I really wanted to do my homework. And it was my turn to make dinner. So I compromised and told him that I would stop by on my way home from work, which meant it would still be light out when the birds were put to “bed”. He said it was ok – he would be home by the time the sun came up. How does he ever get to sleep?

So I got there about 4:15. The last set of volunteers had managed to load the dishwasher once. Because water dishes are changed out each day, this means it had to be unloaded and reloaded, and clean dishes set up for the next day’s volunteers. I sometimes feel like the only person that cares about handling this properly – our adoptions director has called me the “dish nazi”. But she wasn’t around back in the day when one load of dirty dishes meant that we had to wait around for the dishwasher just to give a bird fresh water. At 9pm, because there were only two of us and the senior volunteer didn’t get there until 6:30 on a good night.

I did the dishes and set up the trays for the next day. I checked the medication chart and saw that the two birds that get evening medications didn’t get the morning dose until 11am. Too early. Then I gave each bird an almond and covered them up. I got home shortly after 5pm, started dinner and got straight to the homework.

Compromise.

Dirty Secret

In addition to selling books in the Library, UBS sells some online at Amazon. I learned a lot about it while writing my marketing project and, in fact, made several recommendations on enhancing that part of the program.

During that time, I started listing books for UBS. There are only about six of us that list books online. It requires researching the value and being comfortable with the web site. There are so many donated books and so few listing volunteers that we have a closet full of boxed up books waiting for us at all times.

So I have the log in i.d. and password, and every day (sometimes more than once a day), I log in just to see if anything has sold. Almost once a day, we have. And today, it was one of mine, Year of the Hangman: George Washington’s Campaign Against the Iroquois.

“Mine”, I say. As if I wrote the book, as opposed of just picking it up from a pile and posting it on a web site. As if the next volunteer wouldn’t have done exactly the same thing, and about the same way, with the same result.

OK – I am just slightly competitive. But it’s all for a good cause, right?

Kiwi the Grey

This is Kiwi the Grey. She likes to fly, shred paper and, as mentioned earlier, talk to the dog. She also enjoys flying over the dog’s head and dropping paper on him. He doesn’t mind. My God, she is spoiled.

I took her back to the Refuge not long ago when I was having some housepainting done. I was afraid that she would be traumatized – smaller cage, much less time out and about, strangers in her space. But no. All of the volunteers were thrilled to have her back and she was Little Miss Popularity. Probably got more almonds in one day than I give her in a week.

The better news is that when she came back home, everything went right to normal. Perhaps that isn’t so good.

The Library

I just started volunteering at my local library in July. Friends of the Glenview Public Library started a Used Book Store (UBS) to raise funds. Books are donated and volunteers staff the space in three hour shifts during all library working hours.

I thought this was the coolest thing I had ever heard. For a volunteer gig, I mean. I get to sit in the library for three hours, reading my own books and taking people’s money once in awhile. Sign me right up.

When I started my first class at BU, Principles of Marketing, I found the final project was to write a complete marketing plan. I chose UBS. Our director was unbelievably supportive and I learned a lot. The project only earned a B, but when I sent it over to the UBS director, she said, “I only have scanned this (will read it thoughtfully this weekend), but already I would give you 100+++ “. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why I volunteer.

I wonder if I only managed a “B” because I worried more about being realistic for UBS and less about the actual outline of the assignment? Whatever. I can’t wait to see if any of it can be of practical use.

The Refuge

I don’t even remember when I started volunteering at a Refuge for Saving the Wildlife, but it was several years ago. The Refuge is, among other things, a parrot rescue. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity anyway, and then I had adopted my father’s cockatoo, Hawk.
Yes. Hawk is a stupid name for a cockatoo. I was six years old when he moved in and our favorite TV show was Buck Rogers. Hawk was the name of the birdman.
Cockatoos need an awful lot of attention and my dad was the only person in the house that could handle him. I grew up with this creature and was always afraid of him. Over the years, he was neglected. When I took him on, as an adult, I decided that I had to get over it and make a better life for him. Volunteering at the Refuge taught me how to meet my own parrot’s needs. Eventually, even the cat could put up with him.
Hawk died almost three years ago. He had a heart ailment that I am convinced was aggravated by the poor seed diet we were taught was right for him. I’m sure it didn’t help that my father was a chain smoker.

I kept my weekly gig at the Refuge – it was good therapy. I mulled over adopting for months before I brought home Kiwi, the African Grey. I don’t know why anyone would name a grey parrot “Kiwi”, but when you adopt, you don’t really get to pick the name. Kiwi was five years old at the time.

Kiwi’s favorite playmate is the dog, Shadow. Her favorite pasttime is talking to him. Right this second, she is preening on her playstand and he is lying on the floor underneath, waiting for her to drop him a snack. What the heck do people do that don’t have pets?

Starting School

This past January, as the rest of the world was making New Year’s Resolutions, I considered my goals for 2008. It went something like this:

  1. Complete at least two, preferably four courses toward my degree
  2. Spend one night a week volunteering at the Refuge
  3. Spend at least one night a week volunteering at the Library
  4. Complete 50 Book Challenge
  5. Exercise regularly (blah, blah, blah)

While I am working full time. This is as full as my plate has been since I was an undergrad. Maybe ever. It would make sense to cut back on the volunteering. Am I going to do that? Absolutely not.

I am not married and have no intention of ever being married. I do not plan to have children. I still want to be a well-rounded person. I want to make a contribution to my community. My intent here is to record some of the tales of the Volunteer Sphere, and perhaps help to maintain some perspective as I try to balance each of my roles.