A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tiny miracles...

What is it that makes us want to cage birds?

For a time Papa kept budgies, bred them and often gifted them to friends and relatives. The birds were his pride and joy. Their cages were like Arabian palaces with the latest in birdbaths, feeders and perches. If you saw this hardened war veteran on his knees, poking his finger between the bars to be gently pecked, cooing like a baby to his feathered progeniture, awaiting a response and imagining one...

At night he brought them off the balcony into the warmth of the bathroom.
Every morning before work he wedged fresh lettuce leaves between the rails, changed the water and delicately blew away the empty husks from the seed trays.

One morning, Papa walked into the bathroom and awoke us with a heartbreaking wail.
All his beloved budgies lay dead at the bottom of the cages.
The cause, we later found out, was a bottle of antiseptic that had fallen out of the medicine cabinet during the night and smashed on the tiled floor, unleashing its deadly fumes on the helpless creatures.

Papa cleaned out the cages and gave them away. He never kept budgies again.

When I went to see him last year, Papa had acquired a couple of canaries which he knew by name.
Every evening he let them out their cage to fly freely around the room. They soared and fluttered until their tiny wings could no longer keep them up and then they came to land on this shoulder or outstretched hand.
Papa looked at me and winked, meaning:
"Son, you've just witnessed a "miracle".


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Blogger DCveR said...

A bird born in a cage will easily fly back to his owner or his cage. I used to keep canaries and would let them fly around too. You can't even free them, else they will die. But now that you mention it... it's been a while since the last one died and I never wanted to have any more caged birds.

20/7/07 8:56 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Delightful. I love birds but not in cages, though we did rent the upstairs flat once from a couple who had a huge aviary in their backyard. That's not exactly the same as having a pet, though. At the time my husband had a male cockatiel named Tess (he was mistaken early on) who adored him but didn't have much use for me ... or my cat. :)

21/7/07 12:11 AM  
Blogger la bellina mammina said...

I'm sorry about those budgies - those must be heartbreaking.

21/7/07 2:44 AM  
Blogger la bellina mammina said...

I mean, that must be heartbreaking for your papa to find them all dead.

21/7/07 2:45 AM  
Blogger kj said...

cream, what a tale you tell. i could feel your papa's heartbreak and see those parakeets at the bottom of the cage.

one of these days i'm coming home with a parakeet again. our last, chris (crytal starlight) died after many years in mid winter. for months he stayed in a shoebox in the freezer until the ground thawed so we could properly bury him.


21/7/07 5:54 AM  
Blogger Cream said...

Yes, DC, domesticated birds do not really survive very long in the wild.

Isn't funny Andrea, how bird lovers can get so engrossed with their pets that they forget about those around them? I still cannot tell the difference between the sexes of birds.

Yes, Bella, Papa was heartbroken for ages.

KJ, honoured that you like the way I tell them.
For a second, I thought you believed in bird cryogenics...

21/7/07 6:50 AM  
Blogger anna said...

Although I'm terrified of birds and would never have one as a pet, I do understand the bond that can form between man and his pet. That story was heartbreaking. Your poor Papa. :(

21/7/07 2:08 PM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Papa's budgies seemed like his babies, I can just imagine how his heart broke. At least now he has a new joy, Cream, they keep him going, don't they? Would you tell him I send my salaams, please? I share Papa's stories with my family.

21/7/07 2:18 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

I don't keep pets either, Anna. We had two cats for over 14 years and when they both passed away, we decided not to keep pets again. I feel that if one can't have time to give them total love, then they are better off with someone else.

Gigi, they were and you should see him with the canaries! He also had a cat once and he made sure that cat and canary played together! Honest!
I told him once about you. He asked if Guyana was near Madame Gascar! He cracks me up!

21/7/07 10:21 PM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

What a beautiful story! I love the way you talk about your father, it is so tender and touching. I also love that word progeniture. Nice, I love when I learn a new word! Very wonderful post!!!

21/7/07 11:17 PM  
Blogger Hayden said...

wonderful story! there is something so magical about birds we keep in cages. I don't know what to call them really. domesticated? they are like tiny jewels. it seems that they are happy enough when well treated, and they wouldn't be alive at all if we didn't want them as pets.... a conundrum. I had canaries as a girl, and a cockateil for 10 years as an adult.... no more birds for me.

22/7/07 12:47 AM  
Blogger Camplin said...

I saw a great Doc. about a flock of former caged birds in San Fran. A man was taking care of them. I was such a beautiful story of the birds and the mans survival. Yeah, PBS.

22/7/07 8:03 AM  
Blogger Trac said...


I love your posts about Papa!

Birds are scary things though.

22/7/07 11:28 AM  
Blogger Cream said...

Val, Papa's stories have become very popular!!
I used Progeniture without thinking. It is French, too.

Hayden, you are right. I think caged birds give their owners the feeling that they are taking care of something or someone without all the baggage that accompanies that. But most of all they can get pleasure out of it.

Welcome, Camplin.

Thanks, Trac. Oh, yes! After seeing Hitchcock's "The Birds", menacing flocks of swallows or blackbirds on telephone wires can give you the jitters!

22/7/07 11:52 AM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

Aw your poor Papa. We always had a budgie when the children were young, and they could talk too, the budgies as well as the children.

I'm trying to catch up on the news after my holiday so I scrolled down to see if you'd done any doodles - you have - I love them!

22/7/07 11:57 AM  
Blogger Cream said...

Welcome back, Akela! Hope you loved Egypt.
The kids were copying the budgies, I bet!
Glad you love the doodles, thanks!

22/7/07 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I only had a hamster. It died of a bad case of diarrhoea and I never recovered from the trauma. :(

23/7/07 4:26 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

FH, poor little thing! Must've been all that running around the cage!

24/7/07 8:53 AM  
Anonymous trac said...

Are you always that early? :O)

You should be a cooking detective!
It was those pesky stats that gave me away wasn't it??


24/7/07 9:09 AM  
Blogger Cream said...

The early bird catches the worm, Trac!
I was unusually early for work this morning! The start of the week for us.

24/7/07 9:26 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

I must say I hate to see a bird in a cage as it seems so unnatural. It's nice for us humans to have pets and love them though. Heartbreaking to lose them. Poor Papa. A gentle soul.

24/7/07 12:51 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I rescued a budgie years ago. The owner left the cage down and the children and pets tormented him so badly that he lost most of his feathers. I bought a couple of finches to place beside him, I thought he would benefit from the company. A year later he was a different bird. Unfortunately he ended up a meal for my cats one day when I was out.

There is something about a bond with such a wild creature. Papa obviously felt it.

24/7/07 11:38 PM  
Blogger Brian the Mennonite said...

My daughter, Arianna, just bought her first budgie. She's had it a couple of weeks now and it's just starting to "speak". It sure has our two cats curious, though. I really think that it needs a mate. Two budgies are definately better than one.

25/7/07 12:39 AM  
Blogger Cream said...

Mary, I think pets bring a lot of comfort and joy to their owners if looked after properly.

Christine, sounds like your cats bonded with your poor budgie!

Hi, Brian! Arianna, what a beautiful name!
Go on, splash out on a mate to your budgie. And then you'll have stereo "budgie-speak"...

25/7/07 8:43 AM  
Blogger homo escapeons said...

The Silence Of The Budgies tale was gutwrenching..you will be paying for my therapy!

I would love to live in Australia and have colourful Budgies flying around the backyard instead of boring Sparrows.

We always had budgies when I was a kid. They walked around like miniature, psychodelic, Charlie Chaplins and have a bath in a soupbowl on the table and nibble on your lip (kissing) and shriek like a banshee when you taunted them with a ch-ch-ch-ch-ch sound.

Once we had a vinyl record to teach Budgies how to speak:
Pretty Bird
Pretty Bird
Pretty Bird
Pretty Bird!!
It doesn't get any 'weirder' than that does it? I would go crrrayzee (like Manuel on Fawlty Towers) when my Mama she put on da record Ayyayayayayay!

Must be the same outfit that teaches Americans to speak English:
Howdy Y'all
Howdy Y'all
Howdy Y'all!!

25/7/07 1:53 PM  
Blogger 日月神教-任我行 said...


24/5/10 2:50 AM  

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