Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And Your Bird Can Sing...

but not anymore. Sadly, my cockatiel, Ophelia, died today. He (yes, he had a female name) just suddenly got sick and passed on. I buried him in the Perriwinkle flower bed.

My son and I bought Ophelia for about $35, oh, probably 15 years ago (or maybe longer; I don't remember). The person who sold him to us told us he was female, but female cockatiels have less flashy coloring than males. Imagine our surprise when Ophelia developed the orange circles on his yellow head--he looked as though he put on too much rouge.

My daughter taught him to wolf whistle, which lifted my spirits considerably. Every time I'd come into view, he'd whistle. He developed a game--he'd whistle a certain pattern and expect me to repeat it back to him. If I didn't do it exactly right, he'd screech at me, then whistle, then screech--well, you get the idea! Dorothy also taught him to say "Pretty bird" and "I love you." After a while, he began to put the two together: "I love you pretty bird," or "I love you bird." The cats liked to sit next to his cage--after I used the water spray on them, they stopped attacking the cage. When the cats would sit next to him, Ophelia would talk non-stop until they left. I think that confused the cats. The birds outside don't talk.

We used to have a dachsund named Oscar. Oscar and Ophelia developed a close relationship, so much so that Ophelia used to call Oscar when he wanted a visit from the dog. I'd have to pick Oscar up and hold him next to the cage.

Ophelia was an excellent "watchbird," a trait he shared with geese. Whenever he saw or sensed a person around the house (birds have excellent hearing, after all), he would screech loudly. He also used to scream if he heard sirens.

I'm a bit unsettled. After losing Judas, one of my older cats, and then Ophelia, I'm a bit undone. Yes, they are "only" pets, but I had special relationships with both of them. They have been steady, dependable companions, and their loss is difficult.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Let the Madness Begin...

Classes begin in five (count 'em-5) days! Where has the summer gone?

I guess teaching summer school for two months does eat into spare time, as do grading papers and driving 90 miles every day. But the class was good, not stressful at all; I had a wonderfully small class of students who wrote well and were funny, too. So that made the time pass quickly.

This semester, I have four classes--one Intro to Fiction (with 35 students), two Advanced Comps (one of those online--each class has 20 students), and a new class, Writing in the Humanities (this one has 13 people so far). In addition, I'll be teaching an intro knitting class for Continuing Ed for six weeks; that just provides me an excuse to knit and talk about knitting for two hours! It's built-in relaxation for me, a good reason to begin new projects, buy more yarn, and escape from academe for a while. I forsee, however, long days. The good news? I have a semester of three-day weekends again!

I mowed the grass this morning. It's so dry that I may not have to do this again for a couple of weeks, unless we get some rain (I'm not holding my breath!). I complained (sort of) about all the rain at the beginning of the summer, but everything is dry and dusty now. My garden has suffered greatly--first from an excess of moisture, then from its absence. But isn't that nature's way? Always the extreme!

Even the cats feel the heat; they spend most of their time inside (I keep having to clean the litter boxes--they've got an entire acre for a litter box, but they still come inside to do their business!). I would think they'd be out chasing the neighbor's chickens, but even that's not enough to tempt them right now. I can't blame them. I don't even like to go out to get the mail until the sun goes down.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I Finally Did It!

Two socket sets and almost as many weeks later, I managed to finally change the oil in my riding lawn mower. I banged up my hand trying it, but was amazed to discover how important the right tool is for accomplishing a task. Once I had the right socket and a ratchet extender, getting the oil drain plug off was a cinch! Now that's done, and I can wait for a while before I do this again. And, of course, I mowed the entire lawn. Hooray for me! My house seemed neglected with the tall grass. While I'm not the best mower, I did manage to get the grass down to a manageable height.

So, what else is new? Not much. The summer semester finished up on August 1st, and I've already posted my grades. Now I need to organize and post materials for my fall classes. Looks like all of them will make, but I'm a bit worried. I have one new course that has 11 people in it; I'm hoping that's enough. I don't want to have to scramble to create a new course right before the semester begins.

I think I only slept about five hours last night, so I may have to take a nap. I was reading, and, when I looked at the clock, I was shocked to see the time was 4am. I often lose track of time when I read. I woke up this morning around 9:30am, drank a cup of coffee, and started on the yard. The time now is about 1pm; I'm beginning to feel sleepy. So, yeah, a nap is in order, followed by intense work on my fall classes.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I tried to sleep in...

but my "inner clock" betrayed me! The semester ended yesterday and I promised myself I would sleep late this morning. My body decided otherwise and woke me up at 8am. I stayed up until 2am this morning, and, after meeting my class and working at the bookstore for five hours, I thought I'd be exhausted enough to sleep until lunchtime. But, I guess, since I've been getting up at 7am nearly every day this summer, old habits are hard to break.

The class had an end-of-semester party yesterday (this is the first time I've done such a thing!); if I had known we had so many good cooks, I'd have done it more often! I had fun teaching this summer (though I dreaded it at the beginning of the summer). I had hoped I'd be "off," but I'm glad circumstances conspired against me.

So, maybe I'll take a couple of days off, get my house and yard in order, then work on my fall courses. I'll have three preps in the fall--including one new course and an online writing course--so I have plenty to do. And I'm teaching a knitting class for Continuing Ed. But I don't want to think about that yet. The fall semester will be busy, yes, but I need a break, however short!