The Box of Shame

Zim in the box of shame. As you can see, he’s showing no remorse for his deeds.

Last year I took my two cockatiels to the vet after the older bird, Peachfuzz, became listless for a couple of days. One off day isn’t a big deal, and they were molting, which usually means they’re grumpy and sleep a lot, but Peachfuzz is about 21 years old and I didn’t want to ignore something that might be serious. So I packed them up in separate paper shoeboxes and took them to the vet.

Now, Peachfuzz is a real trooper. He put up with having to stand on the scale to be weighed, allowed the vet to listen to his heart (and discovered there were buttons on the vet’s shirt — buttons!), and even toughed it out when it came time to have a blood sample drawn. The only reaction he had was to clench his foot, and having blood drawn is not a small issue for a small bird! But Zim, who is 10 years old, is literally a bird of another feather. He screamed his head off the entire time that the vet was handling him and I’m sure some (I mean, all) of the squawks were the equivalent of four-letter words. Worse, he bit the vet. Twice.

So this year when I took them for a yearly physical I hoped it would go easier. Nope. Peachfuzz just hung out and smiled at the vet’s assistant (yes, animals do smile), but Zim wouldn’t even allow himself to be weighed. This horrible activity consisted of having to stand on a plastic perch attached to a support, which was then put on a scale. Really, it was a bird toy, but Zim flew around the exam room in terror of the multi-colored plastic monstrosity until he was exhausted and landed on the floor, where he promptly tried to hide under a chair. I scooped him off the floor, and that’s when the assistant pulled out the plastic bin. Yep, the plastic box of shame. In you go, Zim!

Of course, he bit the vet again (twice), but the squawking was a bit less than last year’s fiasco. This year I boarded the birds at the vet’s while we went to the Maine Astronomy Retreat and they reported that both birds were well behaved, and had enjoyed whistling with the vet. My husband had worried there would be a Band-Aid surcharge on top of the board fees, but happily everyone survived the ordeal with minimal distress. There’s real hope for next year’s exam!


Playing with Photos

billboard photo of a cockatiel

I used PhotoFunia to put Zim on a billboard poster.

I’m trying to break through the pack ice of my creativity and see if I can break loose a few ideas. The problem with getting caught up with the idea of trying to sell your creative work, whether it’s writing or photography, is that you start to think in terms of whether or not you can sell a piece. I’m trying to back far enough away from that mindset so that I can take some throw-away pictures and see if I can come up with something fun. I’m trying not to think of it as a waste of time, because it really isn’t.

Having a smartphone with a camera has given me a “toy” to play with, as far as photography is concerned. Since I’m not carrying around my big camera I don’t feel like I have to produce a really good photo. It’s no big deal if the photo doesn’t turn out well because there’s no danger of it being “wrong.” So I take pictures of my birds occasionally simply because they’re available as (more or less willing) models. This usually gives me a bit of a challenge because they tend to move around a lot, and they can change from oh-so-cute little fluff balls into the meanest, angriest birds you’re likely to see this side of that popular game. Small they may be, but let me tell you, they know exactly where to bite your hand. And forget that nonsense about not biting the hand that feeds you — these birds have never heard that expression and wouldn’t understand it, either.

Zim poses for a Xolaroid 2000 portrait.

This is the original photo taken with the Retro Camera phone app, using the Xolaroid camera.

Okay, so on to photography. I used my Droid smartphone and Retro Camera to take the picture of Zim, and then I used the PhotoFunia application to upload the image and paste Zim’s photo into this billboard. You can see some of the graininess in the black-and-white image compared to the smoothness of the color part of the image. The whole thing is a bit silly, but it might be useful for a creativity prompt. I’m thinking of experimenting with some more of my informal pictures to use them for the Thursday Writing Prompts posts. This one would be a bit of a head-scratcher for a story, but maybe that’s what creative folks need — a bit of a jolt to get pushed off from those mental icebergs.