My wife and son are currently in Johannesburg for a couple of weeks, but they need not worry too much that I'll be lonely, since I have two birds for company.
Now before any of my readers climb on the horn to Ross to report one of his seminarians' "inappropriate female company" - especially with my wife not being here - these particular birds are of the feathered variety. (No - wait a minute - that doesn't sound right either - visions of Las Vegas chorus lines come to mind...).
Let me try again - I'm looking after two birds that are in a cage (oh no, that also sounds wrong - stop it!). Okay, let me get to the point - THESE birds have wings, can fly, live in a cage that rests atop my dressing table, and weigh about 30 grams apiece. (That should do it! I AM after all a minister-in-training, and we DO want to keep this blog as a family show...)
So how did this change in my domestic arrangements come about? Well, with my colleague Christine having also made the journey to the "big smoke" this Easter, I offered to take care of her babies for her. But having established the true (and appropriate) nature of my new relationship with these tiny creatures, I DO have a few confessions to make:
1. I don't know what kind of birds they are, other than being "teeny weeny white jobs".
2. I've forgotten what their names are, so I've renamed them. Because of the little beeping noises they constantly make, I've named the one "R-2" and the other one "D-2" (If you don't know who "R-2/D-2" is, then just go away and read someone else's blog - there's no hope for you!).
3. I have no idea how to tell them apart, so their new names (see 2 above) are being used interchangeably.
4. They are competely gender-neutral (in my eyes, at least) since I don't know how to determine a bird's gender, and they (thankfully) haven't got up to anything that would otherwise enlighten me.
I must say though that generally, they are quite well-behaved. When there's no-one in the room, they keep to themselves. When I go to bed at night, they greet me with a couple of quiet peeps - nothing too raucous, mind; just pleasantly bidding me goodnight. And when I switch my light off, they go to sleep. (I wish I could say the same for some of my colleagues at the seminary, but that's another story! Besides, being alone at Waalhaven during this time has proved to be quite peaceful...).
However, they are obviously missing their Mom, because today they completely freaked out, knocking over their food bowl and sending feathers and seeds flying everywhere! Yet when I discovered this act of unauthorised frivolity, they were carrying on as though nothing had happened. In fact, if birds can have expressions on their faces, I'd say they actually looked quite chuffed with themselves!
In order to restore my bedroom to a state of human habitation, I decided that it was clean-up time. But Problem no. 1 was to get D-2 to get off the floor of the cage and sit on his (her?) perch so that I could unclip the base of the cage. Needless to say, even though Christine is about half my size, I'm scared of her (!), and therefore would prefer not to have to explain why one of her little feathered friends is now out on manoeuvres with the Pietermaritzburg Air Force, or joined the French Foreign Legion, or whatever it is that little birdies do when they escape from their cages.
Having successfully detached the base without either R-2 or D-2 having a stroke or attempting to "boldly go where no man has gone before" (wait a minute - isn't that Star Trek? Whatever...), it was off to the kitchen, where Problem no. 2 hit me: How on earth does a creature that weighs less than a packet of crisps (the small one, which is normally half-full, unlike in my youth where the packets were not full of air gnn gnn gnn...) manage to turn minuscule quantities of bird seed into SO much poop? In hindsight, I could have gone into the fertiliser business!
Enter Problem no. 3: In order to get the poop dislodged, I decided to use some chemical warfare involving Sunlight dishwashing liquid and lots of hot water. Trouble is, once the sink is filled with hot, it is impossible to (a) get any cold in, and (b) remove the plug to let some hot out. Time to be brave. Strong. Who needs skin on their hands, anyway? But having managed to get the base and all the feeding apparatus clean without suffering third-degree burns or emitting too many choice words, I felt quite proud of myself in that I was able to complete the task without too much of a song and dance, only once saying "Oh dear, this water's rather warm" (or words to that effect).
The next challenge was to find a piece of newspaper with which to line the cage. Now this should not be a problem, since we have quite a bit in the flat, but one has to choose carefully. For instance, using the front page of last month's Dimension (the one with the picture of the Presiding Bishop on it) would probably count against me in an ordination screening committee some day. On the other hand, a picture of Julius Malema would have been perfect except for the fact that I'd already used that page the other day to scrape a doggy-do off my shoe. In the end, I settled for a double-spread containing advertisements for plumbing supplies - appropriate, given what the birds will be using it for.
Now all is quiet - with fresh food and water in a nice clean cage, the little critturs have gorged themselves, had a bath, and are busy catching 40 winks. I guess it takes relatively small things to amuse small minds...
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