Monday, March 5, 2012

Important Notice Regarding Pet Birds

ROSEMARY HARRIS: IMPORTANT - Never keep pet birds in the kitchen or in rooms where the fumes from the kitchen could reach. Birds have a very sensitive respiratory system. Fumes released due to overheated cooking oil, fat, margarine and over heated non-stick cookware may be equally harmful.

Good to know. You may ask why this is here and why I know this since I don't own a bird, never have and have no plans to get one. So imagine my surprise when I discovered this notice in my kitchen. I was looking for a recipe for Aloo Gobi and found this notice about birds. I looked around. Was this a joke? Had one of my friends left in there to gaslight me? (To get reference google Charles Boyer, Ingrid Berman movie Gaslight.)

My best guess is that it came in the paperwork of some appliance or cookware I bought. But it would not have been the first time that something appeared in my home and I thought WTF??? I have claimed the black hoodie and Ralph Lauren sunglasses (whoever left them, it's too late..they're mine now.) I've returned the red plaid flannel shirt. The dog toys..who dog is a klepto at the dog run.

Have you ever found something in your home and wondered how the heck it got there??

JAN BROGAN: Yes, the bird itself. I had a bird, a Quaker Parakeet, which looks like a small green and blue parrot. Despite this excellent appliance or cookware manufacturer's advice, I kept it in a cage in the kitchen for NINE YEARS. Besides being dirty and loud, it was fixated on me ,and every time my husband let it perch on the top of the cage, it flew to my shoulder and crapped on me.

HOW DID IT GET THERE? HOW in GOD'S NAME did I ever allow this obsessed and hostile animal in my home? Because I was an indulgent mom. My daughter badly wanted a kitten. I was so freaking indulgent I had agreed to the kitten even though I'm seriously allergic to cats. Before I could make that mistake, we realized she was allergic to cats as well. Did I take this God-given OUT? NO. Instead I agreed to it. If you take no other advice I ever give on this blog, take this advice. NEVER GET A BIRD OF ANY KIND. They belong in the skies. Not in your kitchen.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: When I was in my teens, I had a menagerie--fish in an aquarium, caged finches, and--OMG--gerbils! I can't believe I ever wanted gerbils. (Did I mention I also had a very feral and clever cat?) This is in my Konrad Lorenz/Gerald Durrell stage, when I wanted to be an animal behaviorist. At least that's my excuse.You can guess what happened to the gerbils. The finches were pretty but noisy and made a horrible mess. I swore I'd never have birds again. Then twenty-five years later, a teacher friend who had a parakeet in her classroom convinced me to keep it over the Christmas holidays. Need I say, she didn't take it back? And he/she was lonely, so we got another one, and when one died we got another one, etc, etc. (Did I mention we had cats?) Now when I say no birds ever again I really, really mean it.There was one lovely moment, though. Our elder German shepherd was not much more than a puppy when one of the parakeets got out, as they are prone to do when you're trying to clean out the cage. The bird flapped around the room in a panic, the dog caught it in her jaws, we gave a gasp of horror--and our dog trotted over and let us very gently take the completely unharmed bird from her mouth.

LUCY BURDETTE: Awwwww, Debs, that's sweet. I think I told you once that we had German shepherds growing up. And guinea pigs. And cats. And hamsters. And white mice. My mother was very tolerant about pets and crazy about them herself. We still have old slides of the guinea pig in the dog's food bowl, noshing on kibbles while the dog looked on. We trained our best (smartest) guinea pig to follow us everywhere, including up and downstairs. Even out for walks in the neighborhood. One of the most tragic days of my childhood occurred when the dog pulled the leash and I accidentally stepped on Guinea. He died a tortured death hours later with all of us sobbing around him.
But geez, that really has nothing to do with the subject at hand, does it Ro?

ROSEMARY: Not a bit!

RHYS BOWEN: All of this reminds me of when my grandson, aged 4 was given two gerbils. His mother came into the room and looked into the cage. One gerbil. She looked at Sam. "Blackberry is playing hide and seek," he said. "He's hiding." We had to play warmer, colder until we located it under a dresser. When my daughter went to college I brought her a plant. I told her if she could keep that alive she could try a goldfish. If that succeeded she could have a puppy or a kitten. And if she kept that alive for six months she could have a baby.But something strange in my house?
One night when we lived in Texas I heard scratching at the front door. I opened it. It was raining and in walked a skunk. Walked around my front hall as if it belonged, while I held my breath. It turned out it belonged to the neighbors. De-smelled.

HALLIE EPHRON: A SKUNK?! Yikes. That reminds me of the time my husband and I were camping with our 9-month-old in the Smokey Mountains; we'd just finished dinnner, put the baby to sleep in the tent, when a black bear ambled into our camp site. We jumped into the car, watching in horror as the bear sniffed around the tent. We knew there was no food in there--and they tell you as long as there's no food in the tent the bear won't go in. It was a very very very long 5 minutes later that that bear had eaten the marshmallows off the picnic table and taken off.But what was the question?? We do have a collection of phone chargers left here by daughters and their friends.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: We had a bird, briefly, when I was a kid. A mynah bird, named Yurza. Yurza, Mynah. Funny huh? Yeesh. The bird, I have to say, was awful, a real pain and incredibly annoying. It learned to say "Bird Power" "HI Bird" and to the endless irritation of everyone in the family, it learned to imitate the telephone. I have no idea what happened to the bird, I probably blocked the memory out. Maybe it went to live forever on a bird farm. As for mystery items--maybe you can tell me what the little molded plastic thing I found in our junk drawer is. I'm afraid to throw it away.

ROSEMARY: I'm cracking up at the turns this conversation has taken. Birds, squashed gerbils and phone chargers. And I totally understand keeping the black plastic thingy in case you might one day need it.

Okay..even weirder than the bird instructions? I found this hunk of stone..cement in a pond behind my kitchen. I dug the pond eight years ago so it's not as if this has been there for ages. How did it get there? What does it mean?

Julia Spencer Fleming: Found something in my home and wondered how the heck it got there? You mean, beside the large, food-sucking teens that appeared one day in place of the adorable little kids I had?
Actually, since we're in an almost 200-year-old house, we frequently find things large and small that we never knew we owned. There was the cache of wonderful paneled doors (none of them the same exact size) in one of the barn lofts, the 1940s newspapers stuffed in the wall of the downstairs bathroom, and my favorite, several cardboard boxes filled with candy inside the defunct chest freezer left behind in the cellar by some former inhabitant. Why was it in a non-working freezer? How old was it? The kids probably would have risked a taste test, but I chucked it to be on the safe side.

I fully expect, should we ever have to do a major cellar renovation, to find bones beneath the dirt floor.

ROSEMARY: Any surprises at your house or apartment? Feathered or otherwise?


  1. I was planting bulbs in the back yard and found a statue of Saint Anthony buried there, standing straight up. It scared me.

    I called my Auntie Anna. She said, "Calm down. A previous owner was trying to sell your house and buried him facing the direction they wanted to move."

    Then she said I should leave him there, and when I want to move I could just turn him in the direction I want to go, because obviously it worked.

    I reminded her I was a theology student. "Oh," she said, "and how do you think you got into that fancy school?"

  2. I love it! Maybe I should bury a statue and point it toward the new York Times bldg?

  3. I found three dozen chocolate chip cookies and a clean kitchen yesterday afternoon, courtesy of The Munchkin.


  4. Reine,something similar--we saw neighbors digging holes all over their yard. Turns out they couldn't remember where they'd buried St. Anthony...

    Darlene, send your fairy to our houses too!


  5. Hallie, remind me not to go on The Survivor show with you.

    And I'll be craving one of Darlene's cookies all day,

  6. I once found a very long and perfectly formed snake skin right outside my back door. If it would have been inside my back door, I'd have moved, assuming I survived the heart attack.

  7. I just realized we have roller blades hanging in our garage that none of my kids claims. John and I have never roller-bladed and they are really good skates.

  8. When we bought the house we live in now, we were only the third owners (impressive, since it was built in 1940). The second owners left us a box with a handmade, gold spray-painted, angel decoration (about a foot tall) that the original owner had made and apparently used every Christmas. This angel has a blank face (made from a plastic Easter egg or something?), and it is the creepiest thing I've ever seen. But for some reason, we're afraid to get rid of it, or the ghost of Gladys will come back and haunt us.

    The people we bought the house from also left us a box of bullets in the garage, but that's another story.

  9. Oh, Tammy - the box of bullets reminded me! We found a lamp made from the casing of a World War II bomb shell (about 18" tall). The pulls on the bulb were miniature bombs. We sold it at a yard sale.

  10. A friend's cat brought home a dead squirrel. The garbage had already been picked up that week and she didn't want it to stink and bring in racoons or worse, so she wrapped it in plastic and put it in the freezer. And prayed she didn't die before the next garbage pickup, or her kids would be convinced she'd gone round the bend for sure.

    (Not sure what the story has to do with the question, but it still makes me howl.)

  11. I owned a house that had been built in 1906. I knew this because when they lifted the carpet in the eaves to put in the chimney for my wood stove, the original builders had used newspapers from March 5 to insulate. I gathered them up and saved them. It was so much to read the old papers with the ship arrivals, and of course, the ads for new clothes. I was doubly happy because I realized my house had survived the 1906 earthquake which happened on April 18. Yes, I live near San Francisco.

  12. I grew up in the same house as my mother and grandfather. His parents built it in 1915. We found (and my parents still find) weird stuff all the time - no less than 43 glass candy dishes crammed into a box! Why would anyone need 43 candy dishes?! We also found a red, fringed flapper dress that appears to have come from an actual flapper (who we did NOT find, thank goodness!).

    The weirdest, however, was due to my dad the funeral director. For years a plain, brown box sat on the basement steps. One day I asked my Dad what was in it. He replied, "Mr. Otis."

    Ah. Sorry I asked.

  13. Lil, your story of the San Francisco newspaper reminded me of another. My grandmother found a newspaper under her kitchen floor covering in Salem, Massachusetts. It is a very old house, that my great-grandparents had lived in, near the House of Seven Gables.

    They pulled up the floor covering, that I now think must have been an extra layer of wood to revitalize the floor without rebuilding it. The Salem newspaper that they found under the flooring was printed while Lincoln was president.

    Most amazing is a very brief article about the death of the Lincolns' son, Willie. It was barely noticeable - printed at the bottom of a page in the middle of the paper. Nearby there was a much bigger article about Stephen Foster, the songwriter.

  14. Paula, doesn't everybody have 43 glass candy dushes?

  15. A couple of years after I bought my condo I accidentally knocked a refrigerator magnet onto the floor and it skittered under the fridge. I got out a yardstick, swept it under the fridge - and swept out a totally different refrigerator magnet that I'd never seen before! I still haven't been able to retrieve the one I was looking for. That was a couple of decades ago. A few days later I was at my mom's house, and I told her this story. She advised me not to tell anyone: "they might think you never sweep under the refrigerator." (And Red writers and Readers,we won't go there,okay?!)

    (What ever happened to Mr Otis?? Did he,um,pass along to the next owner of the house?)

  16. A dear friend of mine has her aunt-in-law's flat cemetery marker in her backyard. The cemetery originally only allowed flat markers. When they changed the policy, the family replaced it with an upright marker. I have no idea why the family brought the old one home instead of leaving both markers in the cemetery, but no one could bear to throw it out. So now it looks like Auntie Meta is buried in the backyard. Every time Consumer's Power has to work on the line my friend has to explain that there really isn't a human being buried in the back yard.

    Cathy AJ

  17. Rosemary - apparently in our house they did!

    Deb - as far as I know, Mr. Otis is still on the steps. My parents still live there, so I suppose one day I will inherit Mr. Otis. (yay...)

  18. I almost posted this on Facebook today!
    We have various pieces of silverware that appear in our house. And we built our house, so its not left over from a previous owner. Forks, especially, just appear, looking nothing like the forks I already have. And spoons get up and leave.

    Once again, I am late to the party. :(

  19. Lora--silverware--appears? I love it!

    You know, someone else owned our house before we did..recently I found a cardboard box in the basement..and inside, a stash of newspapers from World War One! Really--amazing, gorgeous, and in perfect shape. I'm sending them to the wonderful Caroline Todd.

  20. Auntie Meta! Not sure the rhubarb stone can top that!
    I did find a box of blueprints in out laundry room a few years back. Very Cool to see how are house had changed and been added to over the course of the last 50 years. Funnily enough something we were considering was also considered by the owners 40 years ago.

  21. I just realized we have roller blades hanging in our garage that none of my kids claims. John and I have never roller-bladed and they are really good skates.

    How to sell your house